The inevitable has happened. As India struck a deal with Russia to secure s-400 missiles, Pakistan has declared to buy an arsenal of deadly drones from China raising the fears of escalating global arms race. According to reports in world media, Islamabad is set to snap up 48 state-of-the art Wing Loong II UAV unmanned military drones. This is deemed as Beijing’s biggest such arms-export deal. With a length of 11 metres and a 20.5 metre wingspan, the Wing Loong II drones can carry laser-guided air-to-surface missiles. They can also be mounted with laser and GPS-guided bombs as well as air-to-surface missiles to blast targets. A special anti-tank missile – the Chinese equivalent of the American-made Hellfire missile – can also be launched. The Chinese drones can carry laser and GPS-guided bombs and air-to-surface missiles to blast targets. The Pakistan-China arms deal comes after India announced it was buying five regiments of S-400 air defence missile systems from Russia for around £4.1b ($5.4b). The long-range, surface-to-air missile systems can destroy cruise and ballistic weapons. Pakistan is comparatively weak in conventional arms as against India. It is for this fact that Pakistan is trying to catch up India in nuclear arms capability. According to reports, Pakistan has even surpassed India in nuclear arms production. With the relations between the two countries at its lowest ebb, the possibility of war looms large menacingly. As the exchange of artillery shelling and small arms firing is boomingly a daily affair on the border and line of control, a misunderstanding at command level is enough to ignite the war. What makes the war more predictable is that both the countries have deployed nuclear war ships. India deployed its first nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed submarine in 2016. The second even more advance Indian nuclear submarine began sea trials last November and four more boats are scheduled to join the fleet by 2025. A US defence expert has said that India will have the ability to deliver a nuclear strike by land-based missiles, by warplanes and by submarines. Pakistan does not have the capacity to build nuclear-powered submarines but it has announced to place nuclear-tipped missiles on some of its five diesel-electric submarines. Pakistan is also reported to have reached a deal with China to buy eight more diesel-electric submarines that could be equipped with nuclear weapons. Pakistan military authorities are also reported to have said that they were considering the possibility of putting nuclear-tipped missiles on surface vessels. That makes a deadly recipe for war a between India and Pakistan—a war that would have disastrous global consequences.
It is rather the domestic compulsions that make India and Pakistan to tread on hostile path. The political leadership on both sides of the border should rise above the petty domestic political exigencies and take a holistic look on the situation growing around. In nuclear war no country is more powerful than the other. The destruction is the fate of the each warring country. It is only the amount of destruction which would make the difference. Any nuclear strike on Lahore could have the same consequences even for Delhi as well. The case is vice versa. In the interest of peace and prosperity of the people of the region, the two countries should get on to the table to resolve the issues that affect the bilateral relations. Wars have never resolved issues. It rather gives rise to more issues than resolved the one. Government of India might have a genuine case when they say that talks could be held only after Pakistan stopped ‘exporting terrorism’. But India is not the only country which faces terrorism. Pakistan has faced the wrath of terrorism more than India. Islamabad has publicly accused India of supporting and sponsoring terrorists in Pakistan. A former officer of Indian navy is in custody of Pakistan, who, the Pakistani authorities say, was on a terror mission in Pakistan. The allegations and counter-allegations would go on indefinitely unless some reasonable steps are taken to get people out of the caged mentality. The first step, in this regard, is to restart the dialogue process. That is the only way forward.
It was yet another bloody day for Kashmir. The horrible deaths and injuries of civilians on Sunday have seen streets of Kashmir smeared with blood of innocent civilians. At least seven persons were killed and around 50 others wounded in a blast in southern Kulgam district. The blast took place at an encounter site at Laroo village almost an hour after the gunfight between militants and security forces ended. The security forces used highly improvised ammunition and rockets to blow up the house militants had taken shelter in. Three militants were killed in the gunfight. As the security forces left the place, a huge crowd of local residents gathered on the encounter site to douse the fire the house had caught during the encounter: then occurred a sudden but enormous blast causing havoc.
Limbs of dead and injured persons scattered around, a person without hands; another person with visible chest bones; blood oozing out from the head of other injured persons; some motionless bodies lying here and there is what a journalist on the blood scene witnessed. The bloodbath has caused outrage across the valley. Politicians of all hues including pro India National Conference and PDP have come out with statements expressing anger over the bloody incident. The valley shut on Monday to mourn the death and injured. People used social media to express their anger against the killings. Killing of any person, more so when he or she is a civilian, is always a brute thing never to be condoned. The blame directly lies on the doors of the police and security forces that left unexploded ammunition behind. They left the encounter site without any thorough search for explosives which is mandatory under the Standard Operating Procedure. In 2011 the then government had asked the police, army, and paramilitary forces to draft a standard operating procedure for avoiding the loss of human life after IEDs remain undetected owing to non-clearance of debris at encounter sites. The government had instructed all deputy commissioners and the police to sensitize the people to the risk of visiting encounter sites before the debris is cleared. The most inhuman on the part of the police is that instead of expressing regret over the incident they put the onus the victims saying that the deaths were caused by the “non-cooperation” of the people. As the house was in flames, it was natural for the local residents to gather at the site and try dousing the flames. It is what they did. They did not gather there for some picnic. One must say that the police authorities exhibited extra degree of irresponsibility by putting the blame on the victims.
This capricious behavior of police authorities have added to the outrage caused by the Kulgam killings. Police authorities need to do some soul searching and demonstrate a human heart and face while dealing with common people. Governor and his advisors should take note of the irresponsible and ruthless statement of some senior police officer regarding the incident. Given the amount of anger and outrage in the wake of the killings, it was expected that the people in government would realize their folly and discipline the forces, they only but added to the anger in the streets by their stupid stuff. The incident was avoidable had the police and other related forces acted responsibly. In the first place, they should not have left the place before it was cleared. But once they left, they should have warned residents not to visit the place before it was cleared. They could have used public address system of local mosque for asking people to remain away as they often use it during search operations. By putting blame on the people, they are simply demonstrating their inhuman mindset.
Shocker from Ghulam Nabi Azad
Nothing more can explain the plight of Muslims in India than theassertions of former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Ghulam NabiAzad. On Wednesday Azad, in a function at Lucknow, said that the Hinducandidates of his party who used to invite him for campaigning inelections avoided him now. “Since the days of the Youth Congress, Ihave been campaigning across the country from Andaman to Lakshadweepand 95 per cent of those who used to call me were Hindu brothers andleaders, and just 5 per cent were Muslim brothers,” said Azad. “But inthe last four years, I have observed that the figure of 95 has droppedto just 20 per cent. This means that there is something wrong… Aajdarta hai admi bulane se… iska voter pe kya asar hoga… (Today peopleare afraid to call me… wondering what effect would I have on thevoter), Indian Express quoting Azad reported on Thursday. Azad’sstatement is direct indictment of communal polarization that is beingpromoted in the changing political culture across India. Ghulam NabiAzad is perhaps the senior most leader of the present Congressleadership. He has been associated with the Congress since the days ofSanjay Gandhi. He has occupied high positions in the party as also thegovernment. He had been minister in various Congress governments,party’s general secretary and presently he is leader of the oppositionin the Rajya Sabha. He enjoys an impeccable integrity as Indianpolitician. His revelations are shocking and serious. It is a gravereflection on the idea of India (secularism) it was founded on in 1947after the exit of British. Since the rise of BJP in power in 2014, India is a deeply divided state with Hindu majoritarianism beingpromoted as new idea India. The BJP and its allied group have openlybeen advocating for Hindu India, and some rabid and vocal Hinduleaders have even said that India would be a Muslim-free country by2021. Muslims all across the country are the prime target of Hinduzealots. In the name of cow protections, dozens of Muslims have beenlynched to death, mostly in BJP-ruled states with discreet silence bythe present dispensation at the centre. The silence of the centralgovernment, more particularly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, isviewed as official approval to this new idea of India. The communal(anti Muslim to be direct and straight) has now penetrated deep intothe Indian society to such a scale where people like Ghulam Nabi Azadfeel unwelcome. With media on their side, the Hindu zealots arefinding it quite convenient to dug deep and strong the wells and wallsof communal hatred. Every evening debate is conducted on different TVnews channels to whip Muslims on one or the other issue. The divideseems unbridgeable as the people in power have a vested interest inpolarizing the country on religious bases. The BJP has largelybenefited in elections from the communal polarization. The onslaughtagainst Muslims is carried out mostly in the states where BJP is inpower. The silence of the government at the state as well as centrallevel is virtually serving as license to the Hindu killing squads.This does not auger well for a country acknowledged across the worldas tolerant and accommodative democracy. If one goes by the newsreports and opinion pieces in the international media about the risingHindu extremism, India is losing credibility drasticallyinternationally. This in all respects is a serious challenge for Indiato keep on its image of a tolerant nation. All is not however lost.There are still people who are worried about the drift India as anation is facing. The protests by right thinking people across severalstates of India, held in recent past, against the murderous assault onMuslims provide a hope. They however have to assert more forcefully toinfluence the public thinking to stop the rot.
The US-Taliban peace talks
The Trump administration’s special adviser on Afghan peace met last week with Taliban representatives in Qatar for talks that included “working toward finding a peaceful resolution” to the war. Zalmay Khalilzad, a hawkish diplomat appointed as the US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation last month, has met with six Afghan Taliban leaders. Zalmay had earlier held consultations in Islamabad, Riyadh and Doha also. The meeting, in all cases, is a significant development towards finding peace in Afghanistan. This also reflects the America’s fresh thinking to acknowledge the political and military reality in Afghanistan. America invaded Afghanistan in October, 2001 in the aftermath of terror attacks on the US on September 11, 2001 resulting in dislodging of Taliban government, which the America thought, was shelter the master-minds of American attack. After initial defeats, Taliban, however, gathered their strength again pushed the American and its allied forces to the wall by capturing almost 45 percent territory of the country. The Afghan strategy by Trump last summer, which aimed at boosting Afghan security forces and the presence of the US troops, did not prove to be effective enough to defeat the Taliban. The US seems to have got frustrated by the Taliban attacks in the capital Kabul and other strategic cities. What is most worrisome for the US is that it is losing on all counts and finds itself in a nutcracker situation. It can neither afford to exit as a defeated super power, nor can it stay for long. It has lost the war but is not acknowledging it and badly wants a face saving formula. It can exit only through Pakistan and not via northern network which is no more available to ship out heavy baggage. The US is faring poorly on all other fronts including the domestic front where Trump has become highly unpopular. Both Pakistan and Taliban are defiant and holding their ground. The pressure on Pakistan too seems to have failed.
Since the rise of Imran Khan to power in Pakistan, Pakistan civil and military authority appear on the same page, and publicly demonstrate their guts to say “no” to Washington. The emergence of Sino-Russian camp and the possibility of Pakistan slipping into it with Iran and Turkey, is also giving the Trump administration sleepless nights. The US fears the possibility of Russia giving surface-to-air missiles to the Taliban to counter air threat. The superiority of America in air attacks is the only factor that stops Taliban from walking Kabul. The Russian supplies would then boost Taliban to undefeatable forces. India’s walking into America’s lap and its involvement in Kabul is the last thing Pakistan and Taliban would ever accept. The demise of Tahreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has dealt a severe blow to India’s interests. Pakistan’s decision to repatriate Afghan refugees was another shock not only for India but also for the US and Ashraf Gani administration of Kabul as well. Pakistan also undertook the construction of 830 km border fence and setting up of 400 border forts along the harshest border terrain with Afghanistan. The construction work is expected to be completed by 2019. This has given a major advantage to Pakistan to guard itself against the enti Pakistan elements in Afghanistan. The Pakistan-China economic cooperation in the form of CPEC has come up as a another hissing cobra for both USA and India, which would not only smash their global ambitions and isolate them, but also strengthen their foes China and Pakistan.
The Trump administration seems to have finally understood the dangers of continuing its military engagement in Afghanistan. It is for this fact that voices of talks with Taliban are coming equally from the civil and military administration of the United States. Pakistan has long been pleading for ending the war through negotiations with Taliban; the Afghan and U.S. officials have accused it of aiding and abetting Taliban. Washington, in a bid to put pressure on Pakistan, has suspended $300 million in military aid. A key part of Khalilzad’s assignment is to persuade Pakistan to actively back peace talks. It is quite a positive development happening in the region. Rising above petty interests, all the powers involved in should contribute to these peace efforts.
Subscribe to our mailing list and get breaking news and updates to your email inbox.
Thank you for subscribing.
Something went wrong.