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Trump-Kim summit: beginning of another fiasco?

North Korea will have to wait for a while to see what is more hurting: American sanctions or trusting America. It is interesting that after stampeding Iran nuclear deal only weeks ago President Trump found a willing state to ink a fresh but highly vague nuclear framework. True to his usual Madman approach towards diplomacy, Trump has declared that the North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat. NorthKorean media has since switched over to a jubilant mode, calling it a great victory, claiming that North Korea had won major concessions as the US president said: “the World has taken a big step back from potential Nuclear catastrophe!” “No more rocket launches, nuclear testing or research! The hostages are back home with their families. Thank you to Chairman Kim, our day together was historic!” Trump had twittered. Kim had made great gestures prior to summit, dismantling of nuclear testing site, removal of three top military generals and letting go American hostages alongside a promise of a moratorium on missile testing as well. On the other hand, Trump played hard, he even walked away from the summit; he reverse paddled after receiving a big letter from Kim. Retired Admiral Harry Harris, the US ambassador designate to South Korea has challenged Trump's claim that North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat to the world, saying that "we have to continue to worry about that." North Korea’s media said that President Trump had not only promised to end joint military drills with South Korea, but also to lift sanctions and allow a “step-by-step” denuclearization process, rather than the immediate dismantling of its nuclear program. Independent analysts have pointed to the lack of substance in the agreement that has committed the US to unspecified security guarantees for North Korea in exchange for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Many have said that though Pyongyang had vowed in the past to denuclearize but had repeatedly broken such promises.On paper, there is nothing President Trump could extract from North Korean leader, that Kim’s father and grandfather had not already given to past American presidents. In fact, he got less, at least for now. Did Kim play blind or he has had credible assurances through back channels. While analysts were hoping that after Iran nuclear deal fiasco, it would be Kim, walking away from the summit citing credibility issue with Trump, he was seen as dying for the summit, this eagerness surprised many. Have long biting sanctions sapped Kim’s will to resist, or is there an undercover understanding on the issue between China and the US on the final outcome of settlement.

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India’s ethno-sectarian mosaic

Conceptually, one can trace back domestic façade of Hindu extremism to erstwhile Maha-Bharat mythology. Foundation stone is provided by the religion sanctified Hindu caste system.In the historic perspective, during 1820s or so the British tried to consolidate whatever the caste Hindus were available into a single organized entity. Then on, Hindu community started working towards their national reassertion and around 1925, the concept of “Hindu Rashtra” or Hindu nation state was floated. India is spreading hate-based ideology and Hindutva extremism under present government. Amendments are being incorporated in text books to tarnish Muslim leaders’ image. Prime Minster Narendra Modi, a well-known RSS representative in the BJP government and a flag bearer of the Hindutva ideology of RSS is behind the intimidating plot, rendering full governmental support and protection to the perpetrators of anti-minority drive. The ‘Ghar Wapsi’ movement is based on getting back emigrant Hindus into the folds of Hindutva and converting the Christians and Muslims into the fold of their ‘original religion’. The movement has gained momentum during the current regime. No reversal is expected in Indian behaviour. So, people of the region in general and minority groups living in India should learn to adjust to this stark reality and take measures to mitigate the impact of state practiced exclusionism by India, it is indeed a difficult path to tread. This pattern is likely to go on because “Hindu India” sells well among the rural Hindu masses which form the major chunk of Indian population. Hindu votes will continue to determine who could rule India. Therefore, even the mainstream political parties, which previously prided themselves with secular ideology have largely tilted towards appeasement of Hindu majority, at the cost of minorities. Indian is habitual of ignoring the reports of Human Rights watchdogs which convey their concerns about oppression of Indian minorities quite frequently and rather strongly. The United Nations need to take cognisance of the situation and place India on watch list with regard to its ill-treatment of minorities. Unless appropriate safeguards are built, in line with Universal Declaration of Human rights, majoritarian rule in Hindu India would continue to oppress the Indian citizenry.

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Evolving Pakistan-India thaw or another mirage?

Another Pakistan-India thaw in the offing?

Ceasefire violations across the Line of Control (LoC) and the Working Boundary(WB) became a new norm during Prime Minster Narendra Modi’s government. India reneged on a 2003 cease fire agreement, resulting in loss of property and innocent lives of Kashmiris. During last year alone, India committed 1,881 ceasefire violations, the highest number since the ceasefire arrangement broke down. During five months of current year 1,050 such violations have been committed by India. Notwithstanding, Pakistani leadership kept striving for bilateral talks. Hostility between the two is a significant impediment to the socioeconomic development in both countries. Now one wonder whether India's offer to revert back to 2003 ceasefire agreement is an Evolving Pakistan-India thaw or another mirage? During the current year things began to take a turn for the better. Pakistan invited Indian Defence attaché to attend Pakistan day celebrations; and he attended. Pakistan also hosted India with other Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) members to discuss regional terrorism. In September, Pakistan and India will also participate in SCO joint counterterrorism exercises in Russia. In the meanwhile, Pakistan also hosted a Track II dialogue with India. Last month India's home ministry had ordered its occupation forces in the IoK to stop operations during the fasting month of Ramazan. And a round of bilateral talks pertaining to maritime matters has just concluded. For its part, Pakistan has consistently advocated resumption of structured dialogue with India. And while it was preoccupied with fighting terrorism, it made strategic sense for Pakistan to seek at least a calm eastern frontier. A convergence in India’s strategic thinking towards Pakistan’s point of view could open the door to addressing, if not fully resolving, the major issues. India had also embarked upon a strategy to destabilise Pakistan domestically, and isolate internationally. Both did not work. On the contrary, a significant convergence has emerged between Pakistan and major regional powers, like Russia, China and Iran, on regional matters while India and the US are seen as spoilers. Despite Donald Trump’s anti-Pakistan rhetoric, an open-ended US confrontation with Pakistan and its designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, widely anticipated by India, have not happened. The US continues to rely on Pakistan’s cooperation with regard to Afghanistan end game. India triggered Doklam stand-off with China has also forced India to be realistic in its regional ambitions. India has once again acknowledged the significance of 2003 ceasefire arrangement and as there is no better alternative in place, India should steadfastly implement it.

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America Shreds Iran Nuclear Deal

America shreds Iran nuclear dea

Strategically, nuke and missile rattling North Korea suits the US, for it provides justification for keeping the US garrison in South Korea, setting up Missile Defence systems in the ribs of China and Russia and ultimately procuring a request from South Korea for redeploying US nukes. Under the circumstances, when deal with North Korea was clearly visible, one tend to think whether timing of withdrawal from Iranian deal was carefully selected so as not to let the deal with North Korea materialize. While undoing the legacies of his predecessor, President Donald Trump is ending up in eroding American credibility beyond redemption. With one rash announcement, Trump has imperiled peace and shown the rest of the world that his country cannot be counted on to abide by international agreements. He is in such an indecent hurry that he does not care about the crippling voids he is leaving behind. His latest action of shredding the Iran nuclear deal has not only isolated the US but has also marginalized his persona among his countrymen. Top American generals and UN mandated nuclear regulator International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) are of the view that Iran has not violated the 2015 deal. Leading officials of American military establishment contrary to Trump’s remarks that the deal was most flawed, think of the deal “pretty robust” in the words of Defence Secretary James Mattis. Even officials of Israeli military believed the agreement to be a "fair one". The deal was a win-win deal for all parties involved. While Trump has announced that the US will exit the nuclear agreement for it has “terrible flaws”, he failed to point out any one section of the deal that hampers the US interests. Instead, he relied on evidence that does not suggest a single instance where Iran is in violation of the nuclear agreement. North Korea will think many times over before entering into a nuclear deal in which the US is a party.

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Kishanganga Dam: World Bank too slow to be effective

World Bank too slow to be effective

The familiar pattern is that while World Bank is still busy putting on its boots, India completes its marathon of constructing controversial dams, one by one, on the rivers allotted to Pakistan under the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT). While World Bank drags its feet, it allows India to continue building the dams. One wonders whether it is wilful connivance or (dys) functional inertia. Either way a course correction is needed to keep the World Bank relevant to the ITW. As of now, one may categorize World Bank too slow to be effective.However, the silver lining is that the “The World Bank remains committed to act in good faith and with complete impartiality and transparency in fulfilling its responsibilities under the Treaty, while continuing to assist the countries”.

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Strife Torn Kashmir: Longings for Peace

The Green of the valley has regularly witnessed the blood of militants, Kashmiris, personnel from armed forces and now even those of tourists. In the month of May (2018) earlier this year a school bus was stoned leading to the death of an eleven year old child. This is the background in which Mehbooba Mufti the Chief Minister of Kashmir, sitting on the heap of a coalition, which is ideologically spilt down to the last, requested for a unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir in the holy month of Ramadan. Kashmir lately has witnessed increased violence as Central Government, which is calling the shots in Kashmir has adopted the iron fist policy substituting the earlier one of being part sensitive to the grievances of local population. It is during this period that the fake encounter of Burhan Wani unleashed a series of protests, and the disgruntled and alienated youth intensified their favorite method of protest, ‘stone pelting’. Now the frustration levels of the protesters are so high that they are not scared of the consequences of the repressive steps of the state.UPA II undertook a major step by appointing a team of interlocutors. Dileep Padgaonkar, M M Ansari and Radha Kumar. They undertook extensive interaction with diverse groups within the state and submitted their recommendations, which were basically asking for promoting autonomy of state assembly, dialogue and improvement of relations with Pakistan. The report is lying deeply ignored. It is time that this report, the last major step at reconciliation on the issue, is revived to bring in peace in the Valley. The BJP’s role in the alliance has been very negative and has marginalized the Muslim community in a Muslim majority state. Can Mehbooba Mufti assert herself to articulate the democratic aspirations of the people of Kashmir is the question we need to ask. The anger of people against Mufti has grown immensely. The ceasefire declared by the Government is a welcome move and it needs to be backed up by humane policies to restore peace in the valley.

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Hamid Ansari, Jinnah’s Portrait and turmoil in AMU

Recently (May 2018) Hamid Ansari, the ex-Vice President of India, was invited to Aligarh Muslim University to honor him with life membership of AMU Students Union (AMUSU). He had due security with him, still the Hindu Yuva Vahini-ABVP activists could reach near his place of stay. The pretext of the armed protesters was that Jinnah’s portrait has been put up to please Ansari and that they will not allow Jinnah’s portrait in AMU. The usual violence followed few arrests of Vahini volunteers, most of them let off. This has been followed by series of statements from Yogi Adityanath, who incidentally is also the founder of this Hindutva group, saying that portrait will not be allowed, Subramaniam Swami questioned as to who will teach a lesson to AMU! The students of AMU are on the protest against the violence unleashed by Vahini and ABVP. With this AMU episode Hindu nationalist politics is killing many birds with a single stone. First, to target Hamid Ansari, whom they can’t approve of as his credential is thoroughly secular. Second is to create yet another divisive issue in the form of portrait of Jinnah, to add on to other emotive issues manufactured so far. And thirdly to intimidate the AMU campus in line with what has been done in JNU, Hyderabad universities to name the few. One can say the Ghost of Jinnah, who can be called as ‘Secular soul in Communal body’ will keep visiting us, and RSS combine through its efforts will keep propping up divisive issues one after the other!

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Is Congress a Muslim Party, is it against interests of Hindus?

Ram Puniyani: Currently there is propaganda from BJP combine that Congress is anti Hindu party. On every conceivable occasion it states that Congress is insulting Hinduism. In the wake of the verdict of Mecca Masjid blast cases; as the accused got released; BJP spokespersons went hammer and tongs saying that Rahul Gandhi-Congress have defamed Hindu religion, they should apologize for that. In the ongoing campaign for Karnataka elections (2018) BJP has taken out a Yatra against so called ‘anti Hindu policies’ of Congress. The propaganda has gone to such an extent that even Sonia Gandhi, the ex-Congress President had to say that Congress is perceived as a party for Muslims! Walking the secular talk is becoming more difficult by the day. Gandhi was killed for this and his disciple Nehru is being the subject of vilification and calumny for the same. The Muslim communalists rejoiced formation of Pakistan, where development and amity is missing. With Congress-Gandhi Nehru we could make a small journey towards fraternity and progress. The criticism of Congress as being Muslim party, as being against Hindus, reflects more about the sectarian agenda of those propagating it rather that the nature of Congress, which despite all the flaws has been trying to protect secular values, despite massive limitations!

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The Meaning of Operation Olive Branch

The Meaning of Operation Olive Branch

The gloomy portrait of the Middle East today should not obscure that peace is achievable. The basic premise for any such peace must be to preserve the territorial integrity of states. This means countering all forces that exist only to pursue their dystopias at the expense of others and with the help of outsiders, including Daesh and PKK/YPG terrorists. Their vision of endless bloodshed must be countered and defeated.The Middle East must be kept safe from the threat of sectarianism, spheres of influence, resurgent imperialisms, royal family feuds, and extremism of all sorts, religious and otherwise. The states and peoples of the region — and those affected by it — have suffered enough. A road map toward such a successful future may already be emerging, with Turkey’s resolute leadership. I hope the United States chooses to seize the moment and support that vision of peace.

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Republic Day: An Icon of National Pride

Republic Day National Parade

On 23rd March 1940, a historic resolution passed by the annual session of Muslim League became the basis for the formation of a new nation-state in South Asia: “No constitutional plan would be workable or acceptable to the Muslims unless geographical contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary. That the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign”. Pakistani nation is resolved to redeem its pledge given to its founding fathers that it will protect the homeland. We are a nation with our own distinctive culture and civilization, language, and literature, art, architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of value and protection, legal laws and moral code, aptitude, and ambitions. We have our own distinctive outlook on life and of life. Vision of Pakistan’s founding fathers was prophetic. Post independence behaviour of India towards Pakistan, other neighbours and its own minorities including the scheduled castes indicate that creation of Pakistan was the only way forward for the Muslim majority provinces of British India. Happy Pakistan Day!

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