Night Watch

China-Japan: Feedback: A Brilliant and well informed Reader noted that the US Coast Guard was established by Congress as a fully military organization, although not under the Department of Defense. Under US law it is not a paramilitary organization, uses US naval ranks and its members are subject to the US Uniform Code of Military Justice.

On the other hand, it is a lightly armed military organization that is similar to lightly armed organizations in many other countries that describe themselves as paramilitary and have law enforcement authority over civilians. The Chinese describe their coast guard as a "paramilitary force."

The Chinese participate in coast guard forums with the US and the Asian states so their coast guard leaders are very well informed about practices and tactics in non-communist states.

Pakistan: During this Watch, Presidential elections will begin in Pakistan. Mamnoon Hussain, a textile businessman and a close ally of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is expected to become the next president. The opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP) members of parliament intend to boycott the election because the original date of the elections was moved forward in respect of Ramadan observances.

Comment: As noted in a prior edition, the president of Pakistan is elected by an electoral college comprised of the members of the national parliament and the members of the provincial parliaments.

Pakistan no longer has a presidential system of government. That ended after the ouster of Musharraf when Pakistan reverted to a modified Westminster-style parliament. The president only performs the ceremonial functions of the head of state. The head of government does all the rest.

The PPP boycott is symbolic. The party is discredited because of its poor record of government plus it has no candidate for the presidency who has a chance of election. The boycott avoids a humiliating trouncing.

Internal Security. About 150 Pakistani Taliban gunmen and bombers attacked the central jail in Dera Ismail Khan, in northwestern Pakistan, on Monday. The government claims only 40 Taliban escaped, from the 5,000 prisoner population at the jail. The Taliban claim they freed 300 Pakistani Taliban. They killed five policemen and prompted the Pakistan Army to send reinforcements.

Comment: This is the fourth major prison break in an Islamic country in less than a week. The significance is that the militant groups in three countries risked a great deal in coordinated attacks to free veterans. All almost certainly had inside help.

Night Watch

NightWatch is an internationally acclaimed nightly newsletter that tracks and assesses threats to US national security. It has an edgy, executive style unlike any other summary of its kind.

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