Opening up of Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims is turning out to be a major peace offensive of Imran Khan against India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has virtually been caught in a corner with little option to ignore. Though presently the Indian government has rejected all the peace moves initiated by Imran Khan but these are motivated by political exigencies staring at Narendra Modi’s face. The Indian Prime Minister is facing general election within a few months. Any move to make peace with Pakistan will not go well for him in the elections. Not that Indian people do not want peace with Pakistan but for the fact that Modi and his party has, of late, cultivated a support constituency squarely on Pakistan hysteria. Any climb down would mean the loss of this constituency.
As things stand, Modi and his men have little to showcase in the elections as ‘achievements’ to win favor of voters in the elections. The tall promises made by Modi in the last elections have come to haunt him as he has not been able to keep even one of them. Creation of five crore jobs, depositing Rs.15 lakh in each citizen bank account, bringing back black money and teaching Pakistan a lesson—none of them was kept. As against this, Modi government took some giant steps like demonetization, increase in petrol prices and GST which common people viewed as anti-people. If the reports emanating in national press are any guidance, the overall economy of the country has taken a downslide with prices of essential commodities sky rocketing. The even more horrifying is the condition of farmers. Thousands of farmers have committed suicide in the past four and a half year rule of Modi due unbearable burden of loans and other things. Over the past some time, farmers all across the country have been protesting against government’s anti farmer policies.
Recently thousands of farmers from all the country had gathered in Delhi to agitated their problems. At the elections, these are not good indicators for the sitting government. In this backdrop Modi and his party BJP are heavily depending on some emotional card to win back the voters. Pakistan and Muslims (in India) are the only two issues on which the BJP can get together the Hindu voter. The rejection of Imran Khan’s peace moves and frenzy created in the name of building Ram temple are the only issues that can whip up religious emotions. On Tuesday, India did not invite Pakistan to the Custom meeting of the 21-nation Asia Pacific to devise common strategy to counter organized crimes such narco-terrorism, money laundering and smuggling. Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj had earlier rejected Pakistan invitation to the inaugural function of Kartarpur corridor. Then, in response to Imran’s statement that Pakistan and India could make peace if traditional enemies like France and Germany can now be so friendly, Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said that there can be no peace until Pakistan becomes a secular state.
But much to the chagrin of the BJP and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Imran Khan, through his peace overtures, has created a constituency among Indian masses who favor good relations over acrimony between the two countries. A variety of media concerns, through editorial comments, have appreciated Imran Khan’s dialogue offers and are terming Imran Khan as the best bet India could ever have while dealing with Pakistan. What goes to the advantage of Imran Khan is that he has the army’s support. It would be in the best interests of the people in south Asia that Narendra Modi and his party rise above elections politics, and grab the opportunity to make peace a reality in the region.
A premeditated murder
Egypt’s former President Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president who was later ousted from power, passed away on Tuesday. The 67-year old Muslim Brotherhood leader collapsed and died in a court during a session. Reports said that Mursi had just recorded his statement in the court during his trial on espionage charges when he collapsed. He was rushed o hospital where doctors declared him dead. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice political party said in a statement published on its website Monday that Egyptian authorities are responsible for Morsi’s “deliberate slow death” because they “withheld medication and gave him disgusting food. They did not give him the most basic human rights.” The group called for masses to gather at his funeral in Egypt as well as at Egyptian embassies around the world. Morsi was elected president in 2012 in Egypt’s first free elections following the ouster the previous year of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak. Morsi promised a moderate Islamist agenda and a new democratic era, but his time in power proved difficult, with critics accusing him of trying to amass power and impose the Muslim Brotherhood’s conservative brand of politics on the country. He was ousted from power under a military coup. Egypt’s army chief Gen Al Sisi led the coup. He is now the country’s president elected through sham elections which is o less than authoritarian rule. The country’s complete reversion to authoritarian rule has been overlooked by the world community. The United States, once a full-throated supporter of Egypt’s fledgling democracy, quietly acquiesced to the country’s authoritarian revival. Then President Barak Obama lifted an arms freeze against Egypt and told Al-Sisi that the White House would support resuming $1.3 billion in annual military aid “in the interest of U.S. national security.” American stooges, the Saudi Salafies and United Arab Emirate were other accomplices involved in criminality against Mursi, his Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian people. Saudi Kingdom, which symbolizes the monarchy in the region, has shown its horrendous face by not only supporting the carnage of Brotherhood but also declared the socio-political organization as ‘terrorist”. Egypts so-called Salfis, who feed on Saudi charity, too have rejoiced over the brutality against Brotherhood. What they and the West forget is that by persecuting and banishing dissent, they are forcing democratic movements to go underground and become violent.
More than 5000 people were killed and thousands others wounded in the military crackdown against Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Thousands others were arrested and jailed where they were subjected to worst means of torture. Amnesty International (AI), in a report said that 16000 people were arrested and jailed after Mursi’s removal. Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights initiative WikiThawra stated that more than 40,000 people were detained or indicted between July 2013 and mid-May 2014. Morsy and his co-defendants were accused of collaborating with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah to break into several prisons across Egypt in January 2011 and of facilitating the escape of Morsy and 20,000 others. The jailbreak came amid the chaos of the January 2011 popular uprising that toppled longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak and led to Morsy’s election the following year. After his arrest, Morsi gave angry speeches in court and continuously insisted he remained Egypt’s legitimate president. His speeches led judges to order him kept in a glass cage during court sessions where they could turn off his audio. He was later sentenced to death. However, the apex court of the Egypt stayed the death sentence and ordered re-opening and re-hearing of the case. Turkey’s President RecepTayyipErdogan, who was a strong ally of Morsi when he was in power, paid tribute to the former president on Monday calling him a “martyr,” while calling current Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi “cruel.” Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad al-Thani, another backer of Morsi, tweeted his condolences, saying he received the news of Morsi’s death with “deep sorrow.”
Governor’s plain talk
Merely a few days after Governor Sat Paul Malik dismissed the notion of autonomy as achievable goal, the National Conference has reiterated its commitment with the state’s autonomy and said that the party would continue to struggle for the restoration of autonomy. After party patriarch Farooq Abdullah and vice president Omar Abdullah, the NC general secretary Al Mohammad Sagar has joined the party’s autonomy song. Sagar, on Sunday, said that his party was not demanding anything new or outside the gambit of India constitution but what the state had been granted under the country’s constitution. The NC’s call for restoration of autonomy comes just with days after Governor Sat Paul Malik called the proponents of such slogans as “fraudsters cheating people”. Malik minced no words in condemning the political establishment of the state (both anti and pro mainstream) and said that Kashmiri politicians were cheating the people of the state by raising fake slogans. The NC’s reiteration of commitment with the autonomy comes at a time when the party is almost in election-mode. Though no date has been fixed for the assembly elections and the President’s rule has been extended for another six months, there are speculations that the assembly elections could be held by the end of this year. After winning all the three parliamentary seats in the valley in recently held general elections, the NC is dreaming of a great comeback in the assembly elections. The party has activated all its leaders and cadres to reach out to the people ahead of elections. In most of the constituencies, the party has nominated its possible candidates while search for candidates in other constituencies is going on. There are reports that the NC is trying to woo some PDP leaders and former MLAs to its fold to make most of the coming elections. In coming days, the party is going to raise its pitch on restoration of autonomy to the state. analyzing Governor’s dig on the NC with regard to the autonomy, one finds a merit in his statement.
It is a well known fact that the restoration of autonomy or pre-53 position to the state is an old demand of the National Conference but this, too, is a fact that the party had never been serious and sincere about the demand. Whether autonomy is a solution to the issue of Kashmir or not is a separate debate but the very question is whether National Conference (NC) is serious in what it demands. Had the NC leadership been sincere in their demand for pre-53 status to the state, the eruption of militancy had provided them a great chance to barter it with New Delhi. Government of India was desperate to ink a deal with any political party in Kashmir to get the state back on peace rails. Then Prime Minister Narsimha Rao in 1996 promised ‘anything short of Azadi’. “Sky is the limit”, he had said. But the NC leadership again faulted here and they accepted power against the wishes of common people without making any political or constitutional bargaining with government of India. The most humiliating moment for the party came in 2000 when its resolution on autonomy was summarily dismissed by then BJP-led government. The resolution was passed by the state legislature in a specially convened session in June that year. Given the NC’s history of compromises on its political agenda it sounds quite bizarre when its leaders talk of autonomy. The NC never talks of autonomy when in power. That is sufficiently known to the people of the state and the men and managers in New Delhi as well. It is sheer political hypocrisy to demand a thing the party does not believe in. The NC leadership knows it well that the party was never serious in demanding autonomy. They raise the slogan of autonomy only to bargain power with the centre.
India and Pakistan have missed yet a key opportunity to build relations. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s high-powered meeting held last week at Bishkek had brought together the Prime Ministers of the two countries. They could have turned it into a historic opportunity by laying foundation for a road to peace and friendship in the subcontinent. But the two leaders demonstrated the immaturity and juvenile behavior of college naughties by avoiding each other during the meeting. Both Imran Khan and Narendra Modi, along with other leaders, attended the opening ceremony of 19th meeting of the council of the heads of state of the SCO. Imran Khan and Narendra Modi entered the hall together however, they avoided each other while entering the meeting hall. Both the leaders also attended the dinner reception hosted by President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov in honour of leaders participating in the 19th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). But they allowed this opportunity to go waste. Both the leaders were sitting a few seats apart at the dinner in the Kyrgyz capital. However, both of them didn’t exchange any pleasantries even as they greeted other world leaders at the multilateral engagement. It was on the second day of the meeting that Khan and Modi found some moments to shake hands and exchange some pleasantries. The two Prime Ministers had meetings with the leaders of all other participating countries on the sidelines of the meeting but avoided what could have proved crucial and historic. In a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raised the issue of cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan. He underlined the need for Pakistan to take concrete action in order to create an atmosphere free of terror for the resumption of dialogue. Imran Khan is reported to have raised the issue of Kashmir with Russian President Putin during sideline meetings. This is sheer childish and infantile that the two Prime Ministers talked to other leaders but avoided talking with each other.
It goes without saying that India and Pakistan have some simmering problems that are weighing heavily on their relations. These issues—Kashmir being the main one—have potential of pushing the two countries to a devastating war as was seen in February in the aftermath of Pulwama suicide attack. But the leaders and people of both the countries know that they cannot afford war. Since both the countries are nuclear, there can be no limited war. It would be full-fledged nuclear war. Recent warnings by some keen experts have said that, at least, 10 crore peoples with die in a war between India and Pakistan. They have also warned that besides mass death, there could be a nuclear winter for at least three to four months in the subcontinent which could have furthermore deadly consequences. When war is not an option, the Indian and Pakistani leadership have to realize the importance and urgency of dialogue. They cannot live with problems for ever. Problems are to be sorted out and resolved through sustained dialogue. It is unfortunate that despite knowing the importance of dialogue, the two countries are avoiding it. Some recent gestures when Pakistan opened its air space for over-flight of former Indian foreign minister Suhsma Swaraj and its willingness to open the space again for Prime Minister Modi on way to Bishkek, had generated a glimpse of hope that the two countries were opening up for each other but Prime Minister Modi avoided to use Pakistani air space that further dampened the already murky atmosphere. India and Pakistan have to rise above the domestic requirements and compulsions of politics and realize the importance of dialogue in larger perspective. It is anybody’s guess that this compulsion will force the two countries to sit on the table. But earlier the better
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