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Role of institutions

The strength of state depends how active its institutions are. Visionary leadership invests in institutions which have the responsibility of national security. Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the head quarter of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) where a comprehensive briefing was given to the national and military leadership on regional and national security situation. On this occasion, the Prime Minister appreciated tireless efforts of ISI for national security and expressed satisfaction over its professional preparedness.

Over the past five decades Pakistan is facing threats to national security both on the western and eastern borders in addition to the menace of terrorism within the country. At this critical juncture ISI is keeping a close vigil on the multipronged war strategies of the enemy including the fifth generation war. Unfortunately certain PML-N leaders gave lethal ammunition to India for the fifth generation war against Pakistan

From the past seven years India has kept the tension high on the line of control, with daily shelling of military posts and civilian population. It is also using the soil of Afghanistan for terrorist activities inside Pakistan. The country has lost the lives 80,000 civilians and security personnel in war against terrorism. The war still continues. The frequency of terrorist attacks in Baluchistan is high. It is pertinent to mention that serving Indian Naval officer Kalboshan Jadhev was arrested in Baluchistan.

The credit of collection of irrefutable evidence about the Indian involvement in State sponsored terrorism goes to ISI. The evidence has been compiled in the shape of dossier, which has been presented to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and five permanent members of the Security Council. The dossier dissolved in thin air the Indian narrative against Pakistan which it was selling to the international community. Ironically, former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbassi did not appreciate the presentation of the dossier unmasking India. He criticised it in Private TV channel programme.

In sharp contrast to the last PML-N government’s which all along preferred second fiddle role before India on the diplomatic front; PTI government is playing on front foot to expose the terror financing role of Indian government in the region. Accompanied by the Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Quershi, DG ISPR major General Babar Iftikhar presented an evidence laden dossier in Press Conference. It contains authentic documentary material that unmask the Narendra Modi led how it finances the terrorist groups including the reunified TTP, Daesh and proscribed dissident Baloch groups BRAS.

Major General Babar Iftikhar showed on screen to media a translated letter in Dari that establish four meetings of RAW agent Col. Rajesh with commanders of terror outfits to execute terror activities across Pakistan in the current and next months. He also told with transaction record about the mode of terror financing through Indian banks in third country. He said that India is spending millions of dollars and has raised a militia of 700 persons to carry out terrorist activities in Baluchistan to hit CPEC related projects. This is how the silent warriors of our spy agency serve the country and defeat the nefeous designs of India. Unfortunately, at the behest of enemy, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has started vilification campaign against this institution, while sitting abroad. The people of the country are now well aware of his animosity against institutions of the state.

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Indian farmers’ protest

In sharp contrast to other political parties of India, BJP acts as sole custodian of the financial interest of corporate sector at the cost farmers. The Union government is enacting certain laws to deregulate the agriculture sector, which farmers view detrimental to their interest. It merits mention that against these laws the Union Minister for agriculture Harsimat Kaur had resigned in protest in September. The laws will benefit the big farmers to sell food commodities to corporate buyers and exporters, whereas small farmers then will not be able get minimum support price of their produce at Mandis.

Thousands of Indian farmers are on the roads of Capital Delhi for the last few days. The central government has invited 30 union leaders of farmers for talks on the new laws that deregulate the agriculture sector. The law entirely benefits big businessmen who deal in the agriculture commodities. Then small farmers who produce staples such as wheat and rice will be eventually deprived of minimum support price.

The law also restricts holding of stock by farmers and movement of produce to destinations where small farmers can get better price. Maharashter government opposed the union government ban on stocking and export of onions whenever retail price have tended to go up. The farmers in Punjab and Haryana fear that new law will restrict their freedom to sell their produce at better price. Much of the government fixed support price is paid to farmers at the agriculture products market centers or Mandis. And if government stops buying for building stock, farmers will be then at mercy of private sector, depriving them of getting fair return ratio.

Another negative aspect of deregulating agriculture will result in withdrawal of subsidy that government pays on the purchase of seeds, fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides. Eventually, the agriculture will land in crisis.

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Agony of Guantanamo prisoners

The notorious Guantanamo Bay detention center has not been closed even after 18 years. Some 40 prisoners are still languishing there. Ironically, charges if any, are not brought against them and fair trial is denied to them. Joe Biden election has revived the hope that cases of detainees shall be reviewed and justice shall be done to them, when he takes office. One of such unfortunate inmates is 73 year old Saifullah Paracha who is diabetic with heart condition. He is languishing there without being charged and fair trial provided.

As Republican administrations have never been fairly inclined to human rights, therefore President Trump ended Obama’s administration practices of reviewing the cases of men held at Guantanamo. Saifullah Paracha feels optimistic that in the incoming democrats’ administration he may get justice.

Guantanamo detention center used to be in the hostile light of mass media and was viewed a symbol of US excesses in response to terrorism. Obama administration failed to close it even though it would have required and executive order.

The detention center was set up in 2002 in President Bush administration, where 700 hundred prisoners from 50 different countries were dumped. He had announced to close it at the end of his second tenure but at the end of his second term 242 inmates were still there. President Obama released 197 prisoners, leaving 41 for President Trump. Over the years seven inmates took their lives by committing suicide and one died of cancer and one from heart attack. Setting up Guantanamo detention center and keeping prisoners there without legal access and fair trial adds a shameful chapter to the US history. No other country has ever held people in dentition without charges for 18 years. This has been done by the world sole super power, the US, which claims to be the champion of human rights and the State Department releases a beautifully worded report, accusing the countries under authoritarian rule for human rights violations.

Guantanamo is still open and successive US Presidents did not close it. President Bush did not do it. President Obama announced four times to close it but did not do it. President Trump has not done so. Forty men are still there. Twenty six are deemed to remain prisoners forever. They have never been charged, tried or convicted of any crime. They will likely die in prison, following decades of detention without charges and convictions on the basis of fair trial. Although five inmates were cleared for release by six federal agencies, yet they were not set free. Therefore atrocities perpetrated in Guantanamo detention center are one of the darkest periods in the American history. The whole truth about it will never come out.

The detention center will be remembered a symbol of torture and rendition of gross human abuses. According to Dahane Director of Security of human rights for Amnesty International, Guantanamo Bay is now branded as “symbol of Islamophobia.” It remains a stain on the human rights record of the US. Those who are cleared by the US federal agencies must be transferred to the countries of their origin. Let us hope that President Joe Bide will release the reaming prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. The comment of director security Amnesty International about the detention centers serves a lesson for the rulers and people of Islamic countries as Islamophobia is now used as weapon against them. It gives credence to the argument of conspiracy theorists that the US creates human assets for their global objectives and when they are no longer useful, label them rogue elements.

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Prospects of second Scotland referendum

The Scotland Nationalist Party (SNP) wants a second referendum to get independence from the United Kingdom. The party lost the first one by a margin of 6 percent. This time the head of devolved government of Scotland and leader of SNP Nichlos Surgeon told supporters at virtual conference on Saturday that prospects of winning independence vote are brighter.

Independence was an election slogan of SNP in 2019 polls for the British Parliament. Elections to Edinburgh parliament are due in May, 2021. Opinion polls in recent months have shown greater supports for independence.

On the contrary, British Prime Minister Boris Jhonson has repeatedly rebuffed calls for another referendum, saying that 2014 vote has settled the question for second generation. The Scottish Intendance Referendum Act 2013 set out the arrangements for referendum and was passed by the Scottish Parliament in November 2013, following an agreement between the devolved government of Scotland and the government of United Kingdom. The independence proposal required a simple majority. All EU and Common Wealth citizens residing in Scotland at the age of 16 could vote, with some exception, which produced an electorate of 43,000,000. Referendum was held on September 18, 2014 on the Scotland Independence from UK. An impressive turnout of 84.6 percent was recorded. The no vote was 55.3 percent and yes vote was 44.7 percent. It merits mention that Scotts have opposed exit from the European Union. British Prime Minister is opposing a second referendum for this reason.

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War crime against Afghans

After the release of appalling report by Australian Defence Force about the killing of Afghan prisoners and civilian by its Special Forces, China has demanded a through probe into the alleged war crime. China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lijian Zhao at a news conference condemned that act of murdering civilians by Australian Forces and described it a “hypocrisy of those” who considers themselves as guardians of human rights and freedom. Beijing has called for a thorough investigation and holding perpetrators to account. The stance is identical to the reaction shown by Afghan Foreign Ministry and Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.

A report released by Australian Defence Forces (ADF) brings to lime light the credible evidence on the war crimes committed by their Elite Force deployed in Afghanistan after the incident of 9/11 and subsequent induction of US and NATO troops there. In a series of incidents 39 Afghan prisoners and civilians were killed after their capture and arrest during 2009-13. The ADF blamed the crime on unchecked “war culture.”

The inquiry into the alleged war crime was conducted by Major General Justice Paul Brereton. He interviewed 400 witnesses. The inquiry found evidence that junior officers were told to get their first kill by shooting prisoners in a practice known as blooding. It t tells that the crime was not done by the war tired soldiers but were ordered by the officers in command to do so. Treacherously, weapons and other items were planted near the bodies of the victims to cover up the crime. The report states that additional incidents establish war crime treatment cruelty and ensures for justice the families of victims.

Australia had sent its forces in Afghanistan following the overthrow of Taliban regime in Kabul as a part of US led coalition.

The inquiry report reveals that 25 Special Forces soldiers had taken part in unlawful killings of noncombatants and captured prisoners in 23 separate incidents. It recommended 36 incidents in total to be investigated by federal police. ADF Chief General Angus Cambell said that none of the incident can be described as being in the heat of battle. The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has termed the inquiry report as difficult and bad news for the Australians about its special forces. He has conveyed his sorrows to the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani over telephone.

In response the to the ADF investigation report, Afghan Foreign Ministry said the incidents mentioned in the report were unforgivable but its publication was an important step towards justice. In other words Afghan government wants justice for the families of victims of war crime through due process of law. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission has welcomed the report but noted it had not established enough evidence to ensure criminal prosecution to bring the perpetrators of war crime to justice. The commission urged that the required evidence be sought and adequate compensation be paid without delay.” Only through a series of independent inquiries the truth can be uncovered about the murder of innocent Afghan, which falls within the category of blatant war crime, the commission emphasied.

Ironically, the initial action taken by Australian military authorities is nothing but eyewash, reminding the genocide that their ancestors had committed against “Aborigines”, the original inhabitants of Australia. The Chief of Australasian Army Lieutenant General Rick Burr said on Friday that administrative action notices have been issued to 13 soldiers proposing termination of their services. It is an established fact that leaders of western democracies and Australia have demonstrated racism in their so called norms of human rights. Let us hope that diplomatic pressures from Asian countries will mount to deliver justice to Afghans, for which China has raised a strong voice.

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Fakhrizadeh assassination

Israel has all along shown animosity towards the pursuit of nuclear research by Islamic countries, be it for peaceful purpose of cheap energy generation or producing weapons for defence purpose. It had launched a surprise air strike on under construction nuclear reactor in Iraq on June 7, 1981. The IAE cleared facility was being built with the technical assistance of France. In the attack French engineers and scientist were also killed.

So far Iran has succeeded to thwart such like attacks on its nuclear research facilities. Israel targeted Mohsan Fahrizadeh the father of Iran’s nuclear programme. The prominent Iranian physicist, well known to IAE, was assassinated on Friday near Tehran in a terrorist attack. Iranian Foreign Minister Dr. Jawad Zarif has blamed the attack on Israel. After the alleged killing, a video was uploaded to twitter in which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nethan Yahoo recounted his achievement during the week. Earlier in 2018 he had made an oblique reference to the Iranian scientist.

There are bold indications that the outgoing US President Donald Trump is increasing pressure on Iran to ignite full blown war in the region. The murder of Fakhrizafeh is likely to complicate any effort by the President-elect Joe Biden to revive the detent of Barak Obama presidency between Iran and its adversaries in the region. The incident is an eye opener for the Muslim leaders, if they have the vision and spine to realise the threat posed by Israel to the sovereignty of their countries.

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Foreign troops pull out from Somalia

The return of peace and stability to Somalia seems nowhere in sight, yet the US intends to withdraw its 700 special forces from the country, which has been ravaged for decades by fighting among the Warlords and now it is a safe-haven for the terrorist organizations such as al-Shahab, Al Qaida and a group affiliate to Islamic State. The African Union mMission in Somalia has 19000 strong forces, the draw-down of which has already started. The withdrawal of foreign forces is taking place at such a critical time that parliamentary elections are scheduled for the next month and presidential elections will be held in February, 2021. The Somali national forces are not capable to effectively combat and wipe out the terrorist groups.

The militant outfit al-Shahab, which is regarded as Somali Taliban, has a formidable force of approximately 5000 to 10000 fighters. The country has gone through three decades of chaos, which led to the emergence of terrorist organisations. The logical question is, will the upcoming elections bring peace and prosperity to the country, where no central authority exists? The security analysts warned the situation within Somalia will worsen, after the withdrawal of the US and African Union forces. The Somalia national army is unequipped and not properly trained to tackle this menace head on created by the al-Shahab, Al Qaida and other militant groups. The new report of defense department reveals that the US plan for Somalia army forces to take over the responsibility of their country’s security, next year is “badly off-track.”

The political analysts are not optimistic about holding of violence free elections on universal suffrage in Somalia. They are of the view that the elections must be delayed for a few months to put in place proper and full proof security mechanism in order to achieve peaceful elections. The immediate priority for the international community is to prevent at least the likely violence rotating around the elections, which Somali politicians can induce. The US and its African Union partners have to facilitate consensual negotiation among the Somali leaders to agree on delay the elections for a few months. A short and mutually agreed postponement will be fruitful in making the entire mandatory preparations to ensure violence free polls.

The militant group i.e. al-Shahab has demonstrated its ruthless capabilities several times to carry out deadly and brutal attacks across Somalia with impunity. Against this threat, the Somalia National army has raised only one multi clan unit, Danab Bregade of 850 men. The Bregade had conducted anti al-Shahab operations with the support of the US Special Forces. It had achieved only tactical successes and has not altered any brick in the existing Somali unstable security structure. It unmasks the lack of strength, muscle and determination of Somalia national army to defeat al-Shahab. Moreover, there are fears that Danab Brigades may collapse after the withdrawal of the US forces. The capitulation of Iraqi national army against Daesh is an historical epitome. The presence of the US forces assisted ops on ground and aerial bombing have failed to smash al-Shahab and other militant groups. These strikes only succeeded to prevent al-Shahab from launching attacks on the African union missions forces and stampeded the bases of Somali forces. Although, the US will continue drone attacks and may carry out occasional air strikes against al-Shahab, yet it will not change the security paradigm in Somalia. This menace must be eliminated and uprooted to its core, if the US is serious about protecting their economic and strategic interest form the terrorist groups. If history speaks for itself considering Iraq and Afghanistan, then it has been a salient attribute of USA to enter the country, mess things up and leave abruptly.

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Nayab Umrani case

The Supreme Court on Thursday appointed Advocate Sher Afzal amicus Curiae in case file by Nayab Umrani regarding the retrieval of land encroached by grabbers. She had filed a petition in July 2018, wherein she alleged that her entire family was murdered in a series of attacks in Sindh and Baluchistan in 2015 and on May 31, 2018 her elder sister, who was a lawyer by profession and fighting her brothers’ murder case was also killed by the same people.

A three member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Umar atta Bandial and comprising Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Mazar Alam Miankhel heard the case filed by Nayab Umrani regarding investigation of murders and request for protection. During the course of proceedings the court asked the amicus curiae to submit a report on the issue of division of property in two weeks.

The sister-in-law of Nayab Umrani, Tahira Khoso, wife of Waqar Umrani was killed in 2015. Few months later Waqar Umrani was killed in Baluchistan. The murder was believed to be linked with Umran-Khoso hostility. In her application the petitioner has informed that her step brothers had murdered her brother, mother, sister and sister-in-law to occupy their properties. This is one of the glaring examples of brute culture of feudal dominated tribal society in the provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan. Every year, it claims lives of innocent people. Unfortunately, the political system in vogue gives protection to it.

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Israel-Lebanon maritime border dispute

There is stalemate in talks between Israel and Lebanon on the demarcation of maritime border. The bone of contention is the vast offshore gas reserves worth billions of dollars. The US has mediated four rounds of talks so far in which no breakthrough or tangible progress has been witnessed. The fifth round is due next month. During these talks, the Lebanon pointed to a rock 100 feet south of the current border, citing from French-British agreement of 1923. The Israelis rejected that position, citing a different French-British agreement of 1920, which places the line 2 miles to the north. Both sides lay claim over 860 kilometers.

The US mediator Jhon Desrocher is yet to table bridging proposal for the next round. In the Middle East diplomacy, the US has always endorsed Israeli position, jeopardizing the rights of Arab countries. Like Iran, Saudi Arabia has also political influence in Lebanon. After recognition of Israel it may not give robust support to Lebanon position on maritime border. Not mentioning the lust for grabbing gas reserves, Israel’s Energy Minister said that the main goal of agreement with Lebanon is to create security and stability in the region. Lebanon has always been vulnerable to the military might of Israel. He was less optimistic that the ongoing talks will resolve the maritime dispute.

Lebanon foreign policy is virtually controlled by Hizbollah. It is a strong political party with armed militia and is aligned to Iran. The militia and Al-Qudus brigade of Iran are fighting shoulder-to- shoulder in the support of regime of Bashara al-Asad in Syria. It has also bases in Iraq. The US and Israel carries strikes on Hizbollah in Syria. US have recently sanctioned two of former Hizbollah ministers of Labanon cabinet in the wave of sanctions against Iran. Although Hizbollah is a mainstream political party in Lebanon but the US, Israel as well as some other western co and Arab countries consider it a terrorist group. The escalation in US-Iran tension will certainly impact US mediated talks between and Israel.

Reports from Israeli media reveal that Israel’s defence minister has instructed forces to prepare for a possible strike that US may launch against Iran before President Trump leaves office. Israel considers Iran a major adversary in the region.

Gas is becoming the most dependable fuel of the next decade. It is cheaper than oil; has less carbon content; big bank are fleeing oil industry; coal industry is declining; and renewable energy is years away or even decades away to meet global demand. Hence the alternative fuel is natural gas. Investment is coming in gas exploration. It is fuel that is abundant, cleaner than oil and coal and cheap to produce.

Like oil natural gas has multiple uses. It is used for heating houses and commercial building. The electric power industry is the largest consumer of gas. Likewise, goods producing industries is the major consumer. Cars and other vehicles are run by it. Natural gas is Natural gase is poised to be fast growing fossil fuel. It explains the maritime border dispute between Israel and Lebanon.

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Reversing trend of racism

President Trump tenure in the White House witnessed rising trend of racism against black Americans and unprecedented human rights violations in border detention camps, here migrants were kept. White Police have declared open season on blacks. The migrants kept in border camps in very inhuman condition. LULAC President Domingo Garcia hopes that President-elect Joe Biden will quickly announce an end as to how US detainees Central American migrant Children and families seeking asylum in Mexico. Advocates are pushing him to tackle systemic raciim with day 1 agenda that include ending the detention of migrant children.

UN Human Rights Chief Ms Bachelet had said that she was appalled by the condition in which migrants and asylum seekers are held. She urged to find non-custodial alternatives for migrants and refugee children. A report published in the Atlantic last year, tells about the overcrowding in detention camps. The water provided to detainees is foul and scarcity of food. The authorities never removed the filth. Out of 45,000 men imprisoned 13,000 died of diseases, hunger and exposure to extreme weather condition

US State Department releases annual report on human rights violation in countries under authoritarian rule such as China, Russia, Iran and evolving democracies of developing countries. But over the past five and half years its own track record is fairly blemish of incidents of abuses against black Americans and maltreatment of migrants in detention camps. On May 25, the death of Floyed George during white police arrest in in Mineapolis, Minisota ignited protests by blacks in cities across the United States. There were demonstrations in other parts of the world. Black African women uploaded a video on social media saying, “Nightmare after nightmare in long legacy of racism.” Earlier, the killing of Trayuon Martin by police in Florida led to the emergence of “Black lives matter movement.” Hence, there are greater expectations from President Joe Biden for ending systemic after taking office.