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Time to Internationalize Samjhauta Express case

Foreign Secretary briefed the Islamabad Diplomatic Corps on the historic injustice done to the forty-four Pakistanis killed in the Samjhauta Express terrorist attack in 2007 in India, with the acquittal of all four perpetrators, including Swami Aseemanand, the mastermind of the heinous attacks and an activist of the Hindu terrorist organization, RSS. A Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) Court in India's Haryana state acquitted four individuals on March 20. Foreign Secretary stressed that the NIA itself had earlier charge-sheeted the perpetrators. Around 224 witnesses of the total 299 testified before the court. Indian media reported extensively about the connection between the Samjhauta Terrorist Attacks and Hindu extremists, including Lieutenant Colonel Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur who were subsequently arrested in October 2008, including for provision of (Research department explosive (RDX). On 18 December 2010, Swami Aseemanand publicly confessed before the New Delhi court that Hindu terror outfits were behind the blasts. Foreign Secretary stressed that despite repeated requests by Pakistan for a fair trial and expeditiously bringing the perpetrators to justice, after a lapse of more than 11 years. Nearly 70 people were killed in the train blasts, which took place near Panipat in Haryana on February 18, 2007. Indian approach of hatred against Muslims is crossing all etiquettes and norms. International community needs to intervene and ask India to behave in a decent way. One is surprised over the judgment. The very confessional statements of Swami Aseemanand, a key figure in the Hindutva terror network, and others of their involvement in Samjhauta terror attack were sufficient to sentence and award the culprits a strict punishment. Given the posture of Indian leadership, Pakistan should not expect that any justice will be done in the case with the victim families. The injustice meted out to the victim families of Samjhauta express must be taken up strongly at all the international forums including during bilateral meetings with the world leaders. If India can move the ICJ over the arrest of its terrorist-spy Kulbhushan Yadav who was involved in sabotage activities in Pakistan, then why cannot we do the same? If NIA does not file an appeal against the verdict, Pakistan should take the matter to International Court of Justice and United Nations Human Rights Council.

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Sufferings of Children: Ugly side of Afghan war

Afghan conflict is impacting the future generation in many ways. Of these, spread of polio virus and deaths through aerial bombing by occupation forces are more pronounced. In a recent telephonic interview with Reuters, Bill Gates was optimistic about the global plan to eradicate the paralysing viral disease—polio, but said Afghanistan’s conflict and power struggles hamper progress. Local Afghan Taliban leaders are hindering global efforts to end polio, but Afghanistan and Pakistan must continue their fight. Bill Gates’ multi-billion dollar philanthropic “Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation” is one of the biggest funders of the polio eradication campaign. The “only potential negative” in the region is instability in Afghanistan, Gates said, where Taliban leaders appear to have no single policy but “decide what they will and what they won’t allow” regarding polio vaccinations. “That’s what we don’t have predictability or control over,” he said. “Sometimes they stop the campaigns from taking place. But the ideal is when they allow house-to-house (vaccine) delivery.”The peace process in Afghanistan, jointly backed by Pakistan and the United States, is aimed at ending the longest war that the US has ever fought. Taliban and the US have negotiated a draft of the deal that revolved around the exit of US forces from Afghanistan and guarantees by the Taliban to not allow use of Afghan territory by terrorist organisations. While the peace process may take its own course, protection of children need to be taken care of by the belligerents.

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Swami Aseemanand Acquitted!

Seeing the pattern of justice delivery system of India currently it seems getting justice, punishing the guilty is not easy. The judgments come as an outcome of the evidence produced by the executive, police in front of the magistrates. The attitude of the ruling dispensation matters a lot in matters of the crimes related to the ideology being propounded and defended by the ruling party. Sometimes the assertion and strength of the ideologies, which are dominant but not in power also influence the delivery of justice. Times and over again this cruel fact has been staring at our face. In Mumbai violence of 1992-93 nearly one thousand persons was done to death, not too many convictions took place related to the heinous crimes committed during this carnage. In the aftermath of this carnage the bomb blasts took place, orchestrated by the underworld . In these blasts nearly two hundred people died. In these cases some have been hanged to death for the crime, many have got life imprisonment and many others got other punishments. This is what should happen in a democracy. The most glaring case has been the contrast between Rubina Memon who is in prison for life for being the formal owner of the car which was used In Mumbai blasts, while Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, whose motor cycle was used for Malegaon blast got the bail. All this comes to one’s mind yet again when the NIA Court has acquitted Swami Aseemanand in case of Samjhauta Express blast in which 68 people (43 of them from Pakistan) died. Incidentally Swami was granted bail in the Mecca Masjid blast case earlier and the factors influencing justice delivery became obvious as the main file, a key document containing the disclosure by Aseemanand, went missing from the Court’s custody. With this the question comes up who is responsible for the death of those 68 people, as usual it seems nobody did the blast leading to Samjhauta express tragedy! What we are witnessing is a sustained effort to undermine the process of justice in pursuit of sectarian nationalism.

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New Zealand Massacre: ‘Clash of Civilizations’ thesis Stalks the World!

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The horrific massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand on 15th March, Friday 2019 has shaken the World. The killer, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, is an Australian citizen. Nearly 50 People died in the attack as two mosques were attacked. Those killed include nine from India. Tarrant had fixed the camera on his head so as to live stream the massacre. What prompted him to undertake this violence was his ideology which holds that today Europe is facing the threat of Muslim immigration and violence. The Christchurch terrorist was consumed by intense racism and hatred of Muslims. He posted a long statement, “manifesto” on ‘white nationalism’ before undertaking the dastardly act. All over the World there were diverse reactions to this horrific act. New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern, who at 38 years of age is also among the youngest heads of government in the world, declared that the victims, many of whom may be migrants or refugees, “are us” and the shooter “is not”. The overriding theme of the Prime Minister’s statements was that her country represents “diversity, compassion and refuge”. “I want to assure people… that all our agencies are responding in the most appropriate way that includes at our borders.” The Pope in a very touching speech said, “In these days, in addition to the pain of wars and conflicts that do not cease to afflict humanity, there have been the victims of the horrible attack against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand… I am close to our Muslim brothers and all that community… ”Today we are facing the times where American politics of control over oil wells led to the formations like Al Qaeda and after 9/11 twin tower attacks; US media popularized the phrase Islamic terrorism. What we are witnessing today is the fall out of the policy which has been pursued to control oil wealth. The aftermath of this has been the White Nationalism which has resulted in Islam-Muslim phobia, which needs to be countered ideologically by promoting the inherent global tendency of alliance between diverse cultures. What is noteworthy is that there is strong parallels between Breivik’s manifesto and ideology of Hindu nationalism – or Hindutva – on the question of nature of Islam—Muslims and coexistence with Muslims. Much like European mainstream rightwing parties BJP in India does condemn the violence for name sake but does not condemn the underlying ideology which is based on Islam phobia.

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Afghan Peace Process: Pulls and Pushes

US and Afghan Taliban Negotiation The US and Afghan Taliban negotiators wrapped up their latest round of marathon peace talks on March 12 with “real strides” made but no agreement on a timetable for troop withdrawal, the US special envoy Ambassador  Zalmay Khalilzad said. He divulged that the next step would be discussions in Washington, adding that “there is no …

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Glorifying Self: Maintaining status Quo

Gimmicks are a part of Modi style of politics. Rather they form the core of his strategies. His act of washing the feet of five sanitary workers and then tweeting it came as another of such acts. Irritated by his act many a social activists responded through tweets. Bezwada Wilson, our most dogged fighter against manual scavenging, who is convener of Safai Kamgar Sangthan, tweeted “105 people killed in sewer and septic tanks in 2018 alone. He kept mum.The deeper goal of RSS, Modi’s parent organization is to maintain the status quo as far as caste system is concerned. One of the major reasons for formation of RSS was rising assertion of dalits, inspired by Joti Rao Phule and Bhimrao Ambedkar. Dalits had started non Brahman movement in 1920s in Vidarbha region. This upsurge among dalits disturbed the upper caste; who rallied around to form RSS in 1925. RSS ideologue Golwalkar regards Manusmriti as glorious book which gave the laws to Hindu society, the laws which gives values for all the times to come. Ambedkar on other side went on to burn the same book as a symbol of opposition to caste and gender hierarchy. The system of manual scavenging began in early India, well justified by caste system and continued in medieval times as well. While the Muslim kings did introduce different techniques at places for water based disposal of excreta. As such the communal politics, as is its wont, is trying to propagate that since the Muslims used Burqua, women could not go out to jungles, they introduced manual scavenging. This is another way of putting the blame of internal problems to external source. This is far from true. Observation and research into the Mughal forts’ sanitation system shows that they had small outlets in the bathing rooms of Mughal forts which were used as toilets. The waste from these toilets was carried by gravitational force to the ramparts with the help of water. This technique has been seen in the Red Fort in Delhi, in the palaces of Rajasthan, in Hampi, Karnataka and in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

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Narendra Modi’s psyche of overreach

India’s intrusion into Pakistan’s Balakote enclave and China’s Doklam bulge will go down the annals of history as fiascos that cumulatively brought down the stature of India from a near global power to a sub-state pygmy. India’s foreign policy and electoral campaigning is pegged around arousing and cashing anti-Pakistan and anti-China sentiment. It is a bipartisan malice but is far more pronounced in case of BJP. Probably Congress has been duly humbled by the outcomes of Indo-China war of 1962 and India-Pakistan war of 1965. BJP is still on learning curve. Each of these fiascos was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s equivalent of Napoleon’s Waterloo. War hysteria is now visibly on down slide. Respective High Commissioners are returning to New Delhi and Islamabad after ‘consultation’. Resumption of international train— Samjhota Express— and barter trade alongside forward movement on Kartarpur Corridor initiative and continuation of weekly communication at Military Operations Directorate level are the steps indicating de-escalation. As of now, Pakistan-India relationship is erratic; it needs an urgent and bold course correction. It needs to be managed in a professional way, circumventing the emotive pitfalls and historic baggage. Relationship is rather complex, and while suggesting a way forward there is always a risk of either over-simplification or overstatement. Overall, there is a need to enhance the crisis management capacity at bilateral level, focused on how can dialogue be made the sole and continuous method and how can its derailment by single, unexpected event, be avoided. A task easier said than done! Prime Minster Narendra Modi is poised to commit more follies to mitigate the impact of earlier stupidities hoping that same thing done over and over again may someday produce a different result. So let’s keep our fingers crossed at least till Indian general elections.

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Pulwama Fall out

One only hopes that the present action by Indian armed forces does not escalate further. The national sentiments have been roused, trade with Pakistan has been curtailed by withdrawing the most favored nation’ status to Pakistan. As such we need to introspect, can this region afford violence over and over again? The underlying factors leading to India-Pakistan-Kashmir discord need to be tackled through a process of dialogue. The hope and prayer is that this limited strike, also being called as ‘surgical strike two’ remains just that and not no more. Imran Khan in the face of aggressive postures has offered to take action if proper evidence is given to Pakistan. He has also shown his willingness for talks. Meanwhile United Nations General Secretary has offered to mediate in the process to bring peace and amity in the region. These are the olive branches we need to grab to see that decade long problem is sorted out. India as a country direly needs to bring the issues related to development, corruption, jobs and agrarian crisis back on the table. It is resolution of these issues which will bring in peace and prosperity in the region, away from the smell of gunpowder on the soil and hate for minorities in the air.

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Modi! Still Itchy?

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Narendra Modi's agony of the day is that he cannot disown the burning Indian aircraft inside Pakistani territory and captivity of a living Wing Commander by Pakistan. Reinforcement of fault lines within Indian state and society are not leading Narendra Modi anywhere. He wants to win elections merely by arousing anti Pakistan sentiment. India got the befitting reply within a day when the PAF struck six targets inside India without crossing the line of control, and also shot down two Indian Air Force aircraft, one of the pilot, a senior IAF officer is now a Prisoner of War. Earlier cowardly incursion into Pakistan airspace by the IAF on February 26 bespeaks of how Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi is entrapped into self-imposed stupidities. Having failed to deliver on many accounts, Modi wants to win another term through mere rhetoric; and anti-Pakistan sentiment that generally goes down well with hard-line rural Hindu populace. Now India will remain on the edge as Pakistan takes its own time to pay back in the same coin. Longer the pause, higher the frustration in Indian political and military circles. Tensions would any way prevail till the general elections in India. Having failed to deliver on many accounts, Modi wants to win another term through mere rhetoric; and anti-Pakistan sentiment that generally goes down well with hard-line rural Hindu populace. Now India will remain on the edge as Pakistan takes its own time to pay back in the same coin. Longer the pause, higher the frustration in Indian political and military circles. Tensions would any way prevail till the general elections in India. Pakistan’s response to the IAF strike would be measured. But the question is will India’s leadership be able to stomach it and whether will it jump up a couple of additional rungs on escalation ladder from where it with neither be able to move up, nor slide down without loss of face.

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Kashmir solidarity day 2019

As the Kashmir solidarity day was observed the World over, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that all those who love freedom throughout the world must stand with the people of Kashmir. And President Arif Alvi demanded of Indian government to uphold the rights of the Kashmiri people instead of “justifying its terrorism” against innocent citizens. This year, the day was observed in Pakistan, both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) and other parts of the world at a time when Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir have reached a new level of oppression and human rights’ denial to crush the indigenous freedom movement against the subjugating forces. Alongside Kashmiris, government of Pakistan had planned a number of activities to mark the day and expose massive human rights violations and brutality being committed by the Indian forces in the occupied Kashmir. International Conference on Kashmir in the UK Parliament was the hall mark of this year’s solidarity day celebrations. Rehman Chisti, currently, chairperson of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pakistan (APPG-Pakistan), was the main organiser of the Conference. This conference was attended by all political parties from Pakistan and UK. AJK President and more than three dozen Pakistani parliamentarians were in attendance including opposition leaders. Dozens of Kashmiris representative groups also participated in the event.A seminar to mark Kashmir Solidarity Day was organized at the Embassy of Pakistan, Washington DC. The event began with screening of a special video message by President Azad Jammu and Kashmir which emphasized the importance of a negotiated settlement of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Charter and UN Security Council resolutions. Speaking at the occasion, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Asad Majeed Khan urged the international community, specifically the United States, to play its due role in resolving this longstanding dispute. A special documentary portraying the unabated and undeterred resilience of the Kashmiri people was also screened. This year the day was observed in the backdrop of intensified atrocities by Indian occupation forces that are systematically eliminating Kashmiris physically as well as economically as part of India’s campaign of ethnic cleansing; their political rights are also being stampeded. Indian leadership is engaged in all sorts of manipulations aimed at bringing about a demographic change to the disadvantage of Muslim population of Kashmir. Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights has effectively exposed the human rights abuses and brutalities by Indian occupation forces against Kashmiris in its report. Constitution of Commission of Inquiry by the UNSG is now overdue; UNSG needs to perform this duty without further delay.

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