South Korea - North Korea: Kaesong update. According to a South Korean official, cooperation in developing the Kaesong complex has halted.
"The Kaesong Industrial Complex North-South Joint Committee agreed to meet once every quarter, but this has not occurred," the official said. No progress has been made in bringing internet service to the complex. "There are currently no technical barriers to the establishment of internet within the complex. All that is required is a meeting where an agreement is reached," the official said.
The North also has not attempted to attract a greater international presence, such as holding an expo targeted at potential foreign investors.
Comment: This is another sign that the thaw in relations with the South is over for now. For the duration of the Allied exercises in South Korea, which end in late April, the North will keep frozen any cooperative ventures with South Korea. During the exercises, North Korean emissaries have been courting Japan, holding direct talks and inviting Japanese aid and investment. It will drop Japan and pick up with South Korea and the US mostly likely in May.
The North is engaging in its now shop-worn practice of trying to exploit differences among the Allies for its economic benefit. The tactics of trying to drive wedges between the Allies have never worked, but the North keeps trying. The repetition suggests a regime that is out of new ideas for helping itself and for getting help.
North Korea's sudden policy flip-flops and manipulations ensure that no serious foreign investor would be willing to accept the risks of such an inconsistent and mercurial economic environment. There is no certainty of a return on investment.
China - North Korea: A South Korean news outlet reported that China's Foreign Ministry summoned North Korea's Ambassador to China to warn North Korea that China would oppose any nuclear tests and medium- and long-range missile tests by North Korea.
At today's Foreign Ministry press conference, the spokesman said, "The Chinese side has elaborated on its position about the Korean nuclear issue on many occasions. The current situation on the peninsula is quite fragile. We hope that the parties concerned will keep the overall interest in mind, exercise caution in their statements and actions, and do more things that will help deescalate the situation and resume the Six-Party Talks."
Comment: The South Korean news outlet provided no date for the summons. No other news services have reported it separately. Such a move, however, is consistent with recent stern warnings by President Xi and Foreign Minister Wang about China's determination to oppose any actions that risk instability or war on the Korean peninsula. China is policing its neighborhood.
Pakistan: A Pakistani newspaper and some Pakistani political analysts have reported signs of growing tension between the Pakistan Army and the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Pakistani Taliban Prisoner Release. According to the paper, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif has expressed the army's reservations to the Prime Minister about the government's "unilateral release" of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP = Pakistani Taliban) prisoners last week.
Reportedly, the General said that the army was "kept in the dark" about the release and judges that the sacrifices of its soldiers are being betrayed by the government. He expressed displeasure that the release of Taliban prisoners was not matched by a release of the civilians in Taliban captivity.
The government released 19 combatant and non-combatant TTP members from custody since 21 March. It plans to release an additional 100 detainees in the next few days.
General Raheel Sharif's statement. A second andpotentially more serious point of strain is the Musharraf trial. Speaking at a base of the Army's Special Service Group (SSG), General Raheel Sharif said on Monday that the Pakistan Army will preserve its dignity and pride.
"While our country is faced with multiple internal and external challenges, Pakistan Army upholds the sanctity of all institutions and will resolutely preserve its own dignity and institutional pride." General Sharif made the foregoing comment in response to the concerns of the soldiers about undue criticism of the Army in recent days.
General Sharif said, "The Pakistan Army has contributed immensely towards national security and nation building and will continue to deliver on its mission," he said, according to ISPR.
General Sharif paid glowing tribute to the sacrifices of the SSG soldiers and officers and acknowledged their tremendous success while fighting against terrorists. The COAS praised the SSG commandos for their outstanding professional skills.
Comment: The reason that Pakistani analysts understand General Sharif's statement as a reaction to the Musharraf treason case is the setting. Musharraf is a former distinguished commander of the SSG. As COAS, he planned the SSG's operations to seize the heights in Kargil Sector that led to the Kargil War with India in 1999. When it was settled, he felt betrayed by then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for not backing the SSG and Pakistan's claims. General Sharif's description of the Army's mission is a polite variation of "parens patriae."
The release of the militants without consulting the Army apparently reinforced the Army leadership's sense of betrayal and its distrust of Nawaz Sharif.
Prior to Musharraf's formal indictment for treason last month, the Army had not reacted to the court proceedings against him. Now it has and its reaction carries a veiled warning to drop the case.
Ukraine: Acting Ukrainian President Turchynov said protestors in the eastern city of Kharkiv used weapons and hand grenades against police as they were cleared from a regional administration building.
Ukrainian authorities are attempting to negotiate a settlement with the protestors in Luhansk. Protestors apparently still control the regional government building in Donetsk and have set up a fortified protest camp, modeled after the Maidan protest camp in Kiev/Kyiv whose creation preceded the ouster of Yanukovych.
Comment: Using paramilitary police and commandos, the Ukraine government made progress against the pro-Russian activist movement in eastern Ukraine by taking back the government building in Kharkiv. The group occupying and allegedly fortifying the government building in Luhansk also appears too small to resist for long without receiving reinforcements.
Donetsk is the only regional center where crowds are reported to have joined the pro-Russian activists. It probably will be difficult to impossible to take back that building without violence. Violence and a request for aid by the activists might be sufficient grounds for Russia to respond with an armored intervention force.
End of NightWatch
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