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Moscow conference on Afghanistan

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Russia, on Saturday, hosted an international conference on Afghanistan. The conference is deemed as significant towards restoration of peace in the war-torn country. What, in the ultimate end, gives one a hope is the participation of Taliban leadership in the conference. It was for the first time that Taliban attended such an event. Countries also present in Moscow conference included China, Pakistan, Iran, India and Central Asian states. The US had the observer status. Even as Afghanistan government was not invited to the conference, Members of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, which oversees peace efforts, were also present. Taliban had said that they would hold talks with the US, not with the government in Kabul. The conference is aimed at kick-starting peace talks after decades of bloody war in the mountainous country. One may not expect quick results from the Moscow conference but the fact that the Taliban and Afghan delegates are in the same room in Russia with Washington also around is seen as significant. Earlier, Taliban representatives had held talks with the Trump administration’s special adviser on Afghan peace, last month, in Qatar. Zalmay Khalilzad, a hawkish diplomat appointed as the US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation had also met with six Afghan Taliban leaders.

Zalmay had earlier held consultations in Islamabad, Riyadh and Doha also. 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 sheltering 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 negotiations 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. What added American woes further is the Russia and China’s growing interest in Afghanistan. As the things stand now, Afghanistan problem has crossed over of US interests. 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 through Kabul. India’s walking into America’s lap and its involvement in Kabul is the last thing Pakistan and Taliban would ever accept. The Trump administration seems to have finally understood the dangers of continuing its military engagement in Afghanistan. Today Afghanistan portrays a dangerous spectacle with Pakistan, America, Russia, China and India—all nuclear powers—involved in game-play. One cannot ignore Iran and Turkey as well. They too have developed their interests in the region. In this backdrop, the Moscow conference is a major initiative towards peace in Afghanistan.

 

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Editorial

Mirwaiz sounds alarm

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Kashmir is not about political trouble alone. It is quite disturbing that grave moral issues are confronting the people of the state more menacingly than the political one. It is for this bitter truth that Hurriyat (M) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq made a departure from his usual Friday address (which generally revolves around politics and religion) last week and centered it around drug abuse. Mirwaiz said that members from cross sections of society have been informing him as well as a large number of letters he is receiving, which suggest that the menace of drug addiction is spreading far and wide in Srinagar and across the valley especially among the youth including girls. Mirwaiz made a fervent appeal to parents, teachers, Ulema, Mohalla Committees and Masjid committees to wake up to this reality and take steps in this regard. He said easy money made available to children makes access to drugs easy for them. He said parents have to take responsibility for this. Mirwaiz’s concern was equally shared by the state Governor Satya Pal Malik who appreciated him for alarming people on this subject of vital social importance. Though no definitive study has been conducted on the number of people addicted to drugs in the state, State Human Rights chief, Justice Bilal Nazki, some time back, said that 70,000 people (4000 of them woman) are suffering from this disease currently in the valley alone. Doctors and NGOs working on the subject say that the figure is much higher. The latest figures say that drug addiction cases have witnessed 100% increase in 2018 in comparison to 2016 and 17. The data says that SMHS hospital alone records 90 patients in its OPD daily. The other hospitals and state-sponsored and privately owned de-addiction centres also have disturbing inflow of drug-addict patients. Recently, a young boy in Shopian died due to overdose of drugs leaving his parents in the life’s worst grief. The boy had previously been admitted in different rehabilitation and counseling centres but in vain. It is not an isolated case. The menace of drugs is catching up in young Kashmir fast and furiously. Be it a way to fight personal crisis, means to wipe the mental scars or just a sign of being cool, a section of youth in Kashmir have fallen into the net of drugs. Charas, brown sugar, cocaine, cannabis, psychotropic drugs et al are the new weapons of mass destruction for the youth. Cannabis, though illegal, is cultivated locally on vast swaths of agriculture land in Pulwama, Anantnag, Kulgam, Bandipora, Kupwara and Baramulla districts. Reports of connivance between the officials of concerned government departments and the cultivators are sometimes stated as a cause of cultivation of this formidable drug. What is more disturbing is that drug peddlers have found their way in the most sensitive areas of our society. They have by now entrenched themselves into spaces of educational institutions as well. Some lower rung employees of educational institutions are reported to be in involved in trafficking of drugs in colleges and schools. Easy access to drugs and uncontrolled activities of drug peddlers are reported to be the main contributing causes of this insidious phenomenon.  The most worrying part is that there is little effort on the part of the concerned people in the administration to curb the menace. A few years back union ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment launched a scheme under which financial assistance is being provided to the states for prevention of the drug abuse. However, Jammu and Kashmir has benefited least from the scheme so far. In this context Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s alarming message must awaken the society as well as the government equally.  It needs a comprehensive and joint campaign by all sorts of political and religious leaders. There are dozens of social and religious organizations, which owe moral obligation towards people to educate them on this issue.  The mainstream political parties too cannot shirk from their responsibility. They are a part of this society, and they should also come forward to build society on strong moral values. The government’s responsibility is more than anyone else. It is the primary duty of the government to guard society against all kinds of debauchery and decadence.

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The quest for truth

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“Truth”, is a slippery term. In theology, it has at least one clear meaning: What is revealed in sacred scriptures is by definition true, and theological argument can proceed on this sound foundation — at least among those theologians who share faith in that particular revelation. Science, however, does not have such a starting point. Popper stressed the now widely accepted view that science can never achieve truth but it can make and then test assertions that are falsifiable. If a theory survives numerous and varied attempts at falsification, one can have a degree of confidence in the reliability of that theory over a broad range of phenomena. Moreover, if a statement is inherently not falsifiable (for example, “God is just”), it cannot be a scientific statement.If a scientific theory cannot be “true”, can it at least be “correct”? Certainly, in the sense that it accounts for a range of phenomena with good accuracy and can be used to predict the outcome of previously unknown events. Scientists, in contrast to philosophers of science, do not worry too much about this point. Given a particular problem, it is usually pretty obvious to the skilled investigator which theory will yield a satisfactory solution.
Truth has many aspects. Infinite truth has infinite expressions. Though the sages speak in diverse ways, they express one and the same Truth. The Absolute Truth is one. God is One; The Uncaused Cause of all creation. The God wom we worship is not an exclusive God: He is your God, as well as mine, theirs as well as ours. He is the Lord of the Worlds to any person, of any faith.There are innumerable definitions of Allah (God) because His manifestations are innumerable. And beyond doubt, we are more than our bodies. There is more to our earthly life than just surviving, existing, and running after ephemeral matters.
A true sustainable fulfilment, meaning and purpose can only be attained, if we rediscover, and live by the Truth of what the universe so clearly, vividly and unceasingly declares within, and surround us. Allah’s Grace, and Beneficial Guidance is not a racial, social, gender, and family privilege. Each individual must earnestly strive for that Eternal Bliss. Our individual or collective success or failure, prosperity or bankruptcy, peace and fulfilment, or suffering, and destruction depend upon one’s reverence and alignment with Allah’s (God’s) Beneficial Guidance. And although Allah is invisible in this realm of existence, He has left innumerable evidences of His Reality through which people can know, be inspired and empowered by Him; if they only look.
There are 7 universal stages and gateways/platforms for creating a clearer and better “Fundamental Understanding” in recognizing the Truth about; our Creator, our birth right, authentic nature and true identity, purpose and mission as we journey through this probationary stage of our earthy existence into the eternal reality of life as in Allah’s (God’s) Presence. Much of the universe remains undiscovered, and we still have a lot to learn … yet they all point to Unity!
A conscious and introspective look at the marvels of universe; from the smallest subatomic particles to the vast expanse of multiverse (from the inner universe within each individual to the outer universes within creation) – their delicately complex and infinitely precise, balanced order, universal harmony and unity of design, reveals, glorifies, testifies, declares, and points towards the existence of “One Magnificent, Transcendent, Omnipresent (present everywhere), Omnipotent (unlimited power) and Lovingly Supreme Creator”.
Allah’s creation could be just called nature by those who don’t believe in Allah. Allah’s prophets as bearer of good news and excellent exemplars could be called just fictional stories from the past – BUT what about a PERSPICUOUS, LIVING MIRACLE as a Clear Evidence for Allah’s (God’s) Existence and His Loving Guidance with no statements of, “you just have to believe”?
Well, here is an attempt to candidly offer the proof that the Quran is the Universal Living Miracle and the Clear Evidence and True Words of Allah, The Lord and Sustainer of the worlds. Every thought, word and action has the potential to take us closer to, or further from Allah. Learn, Understand, Apply and Align, Share and Elevate towards Allah’s Nearness!
“This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those who are conscious of Allah, righteous, and those who avoid evil.” ~Quran 2:2

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A premeditated murder

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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.”

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