Pakistan Army has reacted sharply on US President Donald Trump’s latest accusation that Pakistan is a liar and deceitful country and did little in the war on terror in spite of receiving $33 Billion of US aid in last 15 years.

In what is being seen a first official response from Pakistan’s most powerful institution that has ruled the country for most of its independent years, in an interview with Geo News, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, Director-General (DG) of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the Pakistan Army, said no amount of coercion could dictate Pakistan and dismissed the US claims on financial military assistance.

The spokesperson said the amount received by Pakistan from US for its participation in the war against terror under the Coalition Support Fund should be seen as reimbursement and not aid, and in fact the amount paid so far by the US to Pakistan, $15-20 Billion, falls hugely short of the amount spent by Pakistan in the same period, “We received an amount between $15-20 billion in coalition funds for our military expenditure in Afghanistan, while the national exchequer incurred $123 billion in losses.”

When asked about reports emerging that the US is not willing to consider Pakistan a friend and ally anymore, he said Pakistan could have chosen the erstwhile USSR as its ally but instead preferred the US and still considers them as allies, “As far as Pakistan is concerned, we consider them as allies. Our relationship has had its ups and downs but still, we are friends.”

He said Pakistan had taken action against the Haqqani Network but the US should give some time for its effects to become visible, “Effects of these operations cannot be visible immediately. Only time will show how effective these operations were in establishing peace within the region.”

He said any misunderstanding between the countries at this juncture would negatively affect their efforts in Afghanistan to establish peace and blamed India for differences between Pakistan and US.

He even tried to paint Nikky Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN and an Indian-American, as responsible for worsening US-Pakistan ties, “US should find out the elements which are aiming at deteriorating the US-Pakistan cooperation.”

He also took on Trump’s new South Asia policy that seeks an increased Indian role in the region and while boasting Pakistan’s nuclear capability, said a single country could not be assigned the role to guarantee peace in the region, “We are a nuclear power and a responsible nation; we don’t need a security guarantee from anyone and will continue our role in establishing peace in the region.”



Pakistan Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir has lashed out at the United States. In an interview with BBC Urdu, Dastgir said “it was not possible anymore for the US to dictate terms to Pakistan by withholding aid,” Geo News reported.

In an apparent effort to maintain tough posture after the latest humiliation by US President Donald Trump, he said the action against Hafiz Saeed’s organizations, Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD), a Lashkar-e-Taiba front, and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), was not taken under US pressure.

Instead, the step was taken under Pakistan Army’s Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad after our own internal assessment and serious deliberation, Dastgir added. Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad or operation for elimination of discord was launched in February with an aim to eliminate the residual and latent threats of terrorism like sleeper cells.

He further said, “It is not that we will take up arms against our own country — that time has passed and these terrorists cannot attack their own country with guns” and asserted that “they would now make calculated decisions so that their children can remain safe in schools”.

Pakistan’s Securities and Exchange Commission has issued a directive which bars JuD, FIF and other organizations listed by the United Nations Security Council from collecting donations. Pakistan’s financial regulator has also prohibited people to make donation to such proscribed organizations and individuals. The action came soon after Trump’s tweet and was largely seen as taken under the US pressure.

After Donald Trump called Pakistan a liar and deceitful country in his very first tweet of the year on January 1, and the US subsequently suspended $255 Million military assistance package to Pakistan, the country has been rushing to find ways to respond to the latest accusation by Trump who has been a tough taskmaster to please and Pakistan has been in his firing line regularly.

The initial response by Pakistan obviously was to downplay the accusation made.

Its Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said the tweet by Trump didn’t hold any importance. Later on, he offered the US conduct an audit of its assistance money with all cost paid by Pakistan. Dastgir exhorted Pakistan was capable of defending its motherland. Three high level meetings, first by Pakistan Army, next by its all powerful National Security Council and the third by its Federal Cabinet have been held and another one is scheduled for Friday to discuss the matter.



The article originally appeared on India Today.

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Mike Pence Warns Pakistan, Pakistan in Denial, Pakistan Isolated, Pakistan Terror Groups, Safe Haven, Terror Haven, Trump Afghanistan Policy, Trump South Asia Policy, US Pakistan Ties, US Puts Pakistan on Notice, US South Asia Policy

Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said Donald Trump could hire a US-based audit firm to verify the USD 33 billion figure he cited in a furious tweet on New Year’s Day.

In that post, the US President lamented that the US had “foolishly given” Pakistan that amount of money over a 15-year period. In return, Pakistan had given Washington “nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” he added.

“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” he said. The news agency PTI later quoted a White House official as saying the US, “does does not plan to spend the USD 255 million in FY 2016 in Foreign Military Financing for Pakistan at this time.”

In response to Trump’s tweet, Khawaja Asif suggested that an audit would “let the world know who is lying and deceiving.”


Meanwhile, the Pakistani newspaper Express Tribune reported today – citing sources – that Islamabad “will completely revise its relations policy” with the US, if “if the US reduces or suspends aid to Pakistan or places any sanctions.”

The newspaper also quoted sources as saying Pakistan “has…decided to reduce dependency on the US in different fields and look for alternatives.”

“It will also speed up the process of implementing its strategy for increasing diplomatic, trade and other relations with China, Russia and other countries,” the Tribune said.


Today, Pakistan held an emergency meeting of its National Security Council, in a desperate bid to find a way to respond to Trump’s accusations.

The meeting was chaired by Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and was attended by the Khawaja Asif, Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, navy and air-force chiefs and other high-ranking civil and military officers. Pakistan has also called a Federal Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. Its Parliamentary Committee on National Security will meet on Friday to discuss the matter.

“The meeting discussed the way forward in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s recent anti Pakistan remarks,” is all that a three-line Radio Pakistan brief said after the meeting.



Pakistan today held the emergency meeting of its National Security Council in a desperate bid to find a way to respond to the latest accusations levelled against it by US President Donald Trump but no details of the meeting have been made public so far. “The meeting discussed the way forward in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s recent anti Pakistan remarks,” is all that a three-line Radio Pakistan brief said after the meeting.

But Khawaja Asif, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, did indicated what transpired in the meeting when he questioned the the rationale behind Trump’s latest accusations. In a tweet, after the meeting, he questioned the figure of $33billion quoted by Trump and asserted that “he can hire a US based Audit firm on Pakistan’s expense to verify the figure and let the world know who is lying and who is deceiving.”

The meeting was called after the most direct and hard hitting warning by Trump yesterday that Pakistan had given the US nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of US leaders as fools in spite of the US giving Pakistan more than $33 Billion in aid over the last 15 years.

Trump, in his first tweet of 2018, termed the US aid to Pakistan by his predecessors foolish as Pakistan gives safe haven to the terrorists the US has been hunting in Afghanistan and declared that there would be no help to Pakistan. No more! In what is being seen as a follow up of Trump’s tweet to tell Pakistan that the US is going to walk the talk this time, it soon suspended a part of its military assistance to Pakistan, $255 Million for FY2016, linking it with how Pakistan is going to behave in future.

The meeting was chaired by Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and was attended by the Khawaja Asif, Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, its navy and air-force chiefs and other high-ranking civil and military officers. Pakistan has also called its Federal Cabinet meeting on Wednesday while its Parliamentary Committee on National Security will meet on Friday to discuss the matter.

The all-important NSC meeting, seeking a desperate way to respond to the latest Trump warning saw the Pak envoy in the US, Aizaz Chaudhry, being summoned. The meeting had inputs of Pakistan army to shape its response. Shortly before the NSC meeting, Pakistan army held its Corps Commanders’ conference and prepared its list of suggestions on Pakistan’s official response, Dawn News* reported.


The initial response by Pakistan yesterday was to downplay the Trump tweet. Its Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, while reacting on Trump’s charges, said it held no importance, “We have already told the US that we will not do more, so Trump’s ‘no more’ does not hold any importance.” He said Pakistan was “ready to give all account for every single penny to America in public”. The country’s Defence Minister exhorted that Pakistan was capable of defending its motherland. Pakistan even summonsed the US envoy in Pakistan, David Hale, to lodge its protest on Trump’s tweet.


Trump’s tough talk came a week after the US Vice-president Mike Pence had warned that the US President had put Pakistan on notice for its dubious role in the war against terror. While on a surprise visit to Afghanistan on 22 December, Pence had bluntly warned that “for too long Pakistan had provided safe haven to the Taliban and many terrorist organisations but those days were over as President Trump had put Pakistan on notice.”

Before that, while unveiling his first National Security Strategy on 18 December, Trump had given Pakistan some tough dressing-down reminding Pakistan that it owed to the US, “We have made clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory. And we make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help.”


Pakistan’s National Security Council is the country’s most powerful policy group on national security and foreign policy matters. The country’s president is its chairman and its members include the country’s prime minister, other senior ministers, three services chiefs, leader of the opposition, chairman of Pakistan’s senate, speaker of Pakistan’s national assembly, provincial chief ministers and other senior officials like the intelligence chiefs and the national security advisor. It is said that the NSC was created with the sole intention to formalize the Pakistani military policymaking role.

Earlier, on August 25, Pakistan had to convene an emergency meeting of its NSC after Donald Trump unveiled his Afghanistan centric South Asia policy which called Pakistan a terror haven and a treacherous nation involved in double-dealings. The revamped US policy in Afghanistan has major role for India in the country, something that has unnerved Pakistan.

Then the Pak NSC had outrightly rejected the US policy and the claims made in it, like it has done today, repeating the routine Pakistani bluster that the US is making Pakistan a scapegoat to hide its own failures in Afghanistan.



The article originally appeared on India Today.

Pakistan army has rejected India’s objections over ill-treatment meted out to Kulbhushan Jadhav’s family. Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, DG, and Inter-Services Public Relations said in a press conference that the meeting was a humanitarian gesture and India should rather respect Pakistan’s move.

In response to a question on whether the decision to allow the Kulbhushan Jadhav family was taken under some international pressure, the spokesperson of Pakistan army said there was no such thing and the meeting being a humanitarian gesture and not a consular access is a proof of that.

Maj Gen Ghafoor also reiterated the routine Pakistani rant of freedom struggle in Kashmir and dismissed the reports that Indian soldiers conducted surgical strike inside Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and boasted that “India cannot lure Pakistan into such unprofessional undertakings.”


The ill-treatment of Kulbhushan Jadhav’s mother and wife has outraged India and the nation’s sentiment was reflected today in the Parliament when all political parties came together to denounce the Pakistani act of using pain and suffering of a family to further its anti-India propaganda. Pakistan had allowed Jadhav’s mother and wife to meet him earlier this month and the meeting was held on 25 August.

The meeting that lasted for 40 minutes was arranged in a container with a glass barrier between Jadhav and his family. They were not allowed to speak in Marathi and Hindi. Before the meeting, Pakistani authorities forced Jadhav’s mother and wife to change their clothes and remove their Mangalsutra, bindis and bangles. And after seeing their son and husband, who is on death row, they were allowed to be heckled by an insensitive Pakistani media that addressed them with phrases like ‘mother of a killer son’ or ‘a husband who had killed thousands of innocent Pakistanis’.

Kulbhushan Jadhav is a former Indian Navy officer who was on a routine business trip in Iran from where he was abducted by terrorists and later sold to Pakistan’s notorious intelligence agency ISI. Pakistan, on its part, claims Jadhav was arrested from Balochistan. Seeing an opportunity to further its anti-India propaganda, Pakistan declared the innocent Indian a spy engaged in subversive activities and after a sham trial, sentenced him to death.

Pakistan, the country that has been declared a terror haven by the US, didn’t respond to the multiple demands made by India for consular access to Jadhav. India moved to the International Court of Justice in May against Pakistan which stayed Jadhav’s hanging till the matter was decided.



The article originally appeared on India Today. 

China has warned Japan against efforts to acquire F-35B stealth bombers and modify its existing Izumo class helicopter carriers to host them. Though there has been no official confirmation from Japan on the move, global media including Reuters have confirmed the development citing Japanese government sources.

Reminding Japan of its pledge to follow the path of militarization only for self-defence, Hua Chunying, the spokesperson of China’s foreign ministry, said Japan must not forget the commitment made to the international community, “We urge Japan to adhere to the policy of “exclusive defence”, stay committed to the path of peaceful development, act cautiously in the area of military security and do more to enhance mutual trust between regional countries and promote peace and stability in the region, instead of the opposite.”


But while it may be convenient for China to quote a historical development to press Japan from acquiring advanced military capabilities like aircraft carriers and stealth fighter jets, the truth is, times have changed. While Japan has proved itself as a peace-loving country in order to pay for excesses committed by its imperial forces that ended with the World War II, China has emerged as one of the most hardliner nations on earth with an expansionist mindset and is engaged in territorial disputes with many countries including Japan and India.

No one can forget the repeated war threats by the official Chinese media during the 73-day long Doklam standoff between China and India where China tried to usurp a disputed territory in Bhutan to build a road near the Indian border in order to gain strategic advantage.

What makes Chinese threat even more serious is the fact that the country that is run by an iron grip of dictatorial power, is now a major global power, both economically as well as militarily. In post-World War II era, it has fought wars with India and Vietnam to expand its borders, has built artificial islands to further its claims in the South China Sea in spite of global opposition, claims other islands and territories that are part of other countries and has been involved in countless skirmishes with its neighbouring countries on the issue.


Additionally, Japan is also facing a heightened threat from North Korea, a rogue country with China as its only ally. North Korea has already conducted almost half a dozen nuclear and ballistic missile tests including a hydrogen bomb and is threatening the world with nuclear war in response of the mounting pressure of global sanctions imposed on it for continuing with missile and nuclear programme.

In September, North Korea fired a missile over Japan. In October, it warned Japan of nuclear cloud over its skies if the country continued with its mission of pressuring North Korea to give up missile and nuclear programme. And in November, it launched its most advanced inter-continental ballistic missile that landed in the Sea of Japan. To add to the North Korean threat, there are credible intelligence reports that the country might be on the verge of starting production of biological weapons on military scale.


Japan and China has been traditional rivals. They have fought two full scale wars, in 1894-95 and from 1937 to 1945. The second Japan-China war was the largest Asian war of the 20th Century that cost millions of lives, especially in China. It has been such a sensitive issue in China that the country still observes state memorial for war victims and calls for a Japanese apology are routine.

And these two traditional rivals are vying for leadership role in Asia-Pacific. If China is trying to place itself at the centre of Asia-Pacific, its rivals, the US, Australia, Japan and India, are pushing for an Indo-Pacific vision of the reason. In his first national security strategy that he unveiled recently, US President Donald Trump, in fact, has termed China a strategic competitor while Japan, Australia and India as strategic friends.

The proposed quadrilateral has been a brainchild of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and can further increase Japan China rivalry, replacing the recent events of thaw in Japan-China ties based on points of mutual economic interests. Shinzo Abe and Xi Jinping recently agreed for a new start to mend the bilateral ties as the peace and friendship agreement between the countries enters its 40th year in 2018.

Another issue that potential derail any Japan-China dialogue is China’s contentious claims in East and South China seas. China claims Japanese Senkaku islands in the East China Sea while Japan has been a vocal opponent of China’s militarization of South China Sea islands. Japan has been wary of China’s growing assertiveness in the East China Sea and Western Pacific and earlier this year, it had to rush a record number of fighter jets, significantly higher than the previous year, to Check Chinese activities.


The interplay of these factors make it essential for Japan to acquire military capability to act in self-defence on a scale that can counter missile and nuclear threat. And it cannot be done without advanced defence technologies like F-35A and F-35B fighter jets and the systems to host and launch them, i.e., the aircraft carriers.

Japan is acquiring 42 advanced F-35A stealth jets that require long runways and conventional take-off and landing. But to meet contingencies like a military hostility where missile attacks have destroyed its land runways or as is the case with remote Japanese islands, where only short runways are available, Japan’s ruling establishment is thinking to include F-35B stealth jets as well as these jets require short runways and can take-off and land vertically. The Izumo class helicopter carriers, that are 248 meters long, are designed in such a way that they can be modified and refitted to operate F-35Bs.

And doing so should not violate the spirit of Article 9 of Japanese constitution, as also interpreted by the Japanese establishment from time to time. Though the Article, shaped by the experiences of the World War II and the atomic bombs attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, literally means that Japan cannot maintain armed forces and war cannot be a mean to address international disputes, governments in Japan have reinterpreted it to raise a commendable self-defence force.

But, still Japan has no aircraft carriers. “Under its strictly defence-oriented policy, Japan has maintained that it cannot possess “attack aircraft carriers,” saying the vessels can be deemed offensive weapons that exceed the minimum capacity Japan needs for self-defence in light of the Constitution,” writes Japan Times.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to change that and “China’s growing maritime assertiveness” is central to the efforts, said Japan Times quoting government sources. Japan is currently debating if the Article 9 can be reviewed and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party “is weighing both moderate and drastic revisions.”



North Korea, the world’s war propaganda factory, has come with new threats of annihilating its enemies after the fresh round of crippling sanctions imposed on it by the United Nations Security Council. The latest round of sanctions is, in fact, very harsh as they target the lifeline of any country, its energy security.

They cut export of petroleum products to North Korea by 90 per cent. To cripple the country even more on this front, export of transportation vehicles, machinery, and industrial equipment has also been banned.

And to complete the economic blockade, as North Korea has termed it, all North Korea immigrants who are working in other countries, are to be repatriated within 24 months. These sanctions, in fact, will be far reaching in isolating North Korea, if Kim Jong-Un, Donald Trump’s rocket-man or madman, doesn’t launch a missile or nuclear attack before that, as his country threatens every other day.

Building up on its war rhetoric, the desperate nation that has been on a spree of testing missile, nuclear and biological weapons, has termed it an act of war, “We define this ‘sanctions resolution’ rigged up by the US and its followers as a grave infringement upon the sovereignty of our Republic, as an act of war violating peace and stability in the Korean peninsula.”

And in the routine North Korean way, they say they are going to punish everyone who is acting its interests. “Those countries that raised their hands in favour of this sanctions resolution shall be held completely responsible for all the consequences to be caused by the ‘resolution’ and we will make sure for ever and ever that they pay heavy price for what they have done,” said a release by KCNA, the official North Korean news agency.

The recent advances made by the country in acquiring lethal weapons and strategic capabilities have emboldened its war rhetoric to unprecedented levels.

After a series of nuclear capable missile tests including the one last month that is being touted as its most sophisticated one and a hydrogen bomb detonation, North Korea has declared itself nuclear power and in fact has termed the demands of terrified US, of North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons, a pipe dream, “The United States, completely terrified at our accomplishment is getting more and more frenzied in the moves to impose the harshest-ever sanctions and pressure on our country.”



The article originally appeared on India Today on 22 December.

Pakistan has hit back after the harshest warning from the US on terror havens in the country. Its Foreign Office has released a statement objecting to the language used by US Vice-President Mike Pence that President Donald Trump has put Pakistan on notice on terror havens including Taliban and Haqqani network.

The statement released by the spokesperson of Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign said the comments made by Pence were “at variance with the extensive conversations Pakistan has had with the US administration” on the issue.

Earlier in the day, US Vice-President Pence, while making a surprise visit to the Bagram Airfield, the largest US military base in Afghanistan, had bluntly warned Pakistan that it could no longer escape the writing on the wall that either act on terror havens on your land or face the wrath of Donald Trump, “For too long Pakistan has provided safe haven to the Taliban and many terrorist organisations, but those days are over as President Trump has put Pakistan on notice.”

Reacting on Pence’s remarks, the statement from Pakistan further said that “allies do not put each other on notice” adding that “on notice should be those factors responsible for exponential increase in drug production, expansion of ungoverned spaces, industrial scale corruption, breakdown of governance and letting Daesh (ISIS) gain a foothold in Afghanistan.”

Pakistan is also peeved at US putting India in a pivotal position in its new Afghanistan strategy that Donald Trump revealed in August.

Pakistan has time and again ranted about that it cannot accept an increased Indian role in Afghanistan and today’s remarks by Pence again gave it a chance to vent out its frustration on that front.

While terming Pence’s warning worrisome, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua urged “the US to treat both Pakistan and India on an equal footing.” Reiterating the usual Pakistani stand that it has destroyed all terror havens from its soil, the foreign secretary called US statements on the issue ‘one-sided’.

Relations between Pakistan and the US are going through a rough patch these days with US putting its ally in war against terror on tight notice to crack down on terror network on its soil including the Haqqani network that harm US interests in Afghanistan.

To counter the US pressure, Pakistan has resorted to lame rhetoric that it has no terror havens, that it doesn’t need US financial aid, that it will not tolerate Indian footprint in Afghanistan and that the US, in frustration on its own failures in Afghanistan, is trying to sift blame to Pakistan.

The anger and disappointment on Pakistan’s attitude has gone on to the extent that the US has stopped the part of its economic assistance to the country to take action against the Haqqani Network and has even threatened to end its US ally status. In spite of Pakistan’s claims and reassurances, the Trump administration has refused to budge from its stand on Pakistan that the country is a terror haven and is involved in double-dealings and treachery on terror emanating from its soil that carry out regular attack on US and coalition forces in Afghanistan.



The article originally appeared on India Today on 15 December.

An increasingly belligerent North Korean propaganda has gone a step ahead.

The country’s state-run newspaper Minju Choson – published by the North Korean cabinet – has written in a commentary that fearful of the North Korean might, the fate of America is in hands of its supreme leader Kim Jong-un.

Blaming the US President Donald Trump’s ignorance about North Korea, the commentary says the US tactics of nuclear blackmail and threat will no longer work “whether the US likes or not and wants or not”, adding that “the status of the standoff between the DPRK and US has come under the control of the faith and will of the North Korea which is holding the initiative.”

Claiming that North Korea has always emerged victorious, Minju Choson further writes that Trump is still in deep sleep not realizing the imminent danger he has put America in.

“The Trump group is attempting to seek a way out by pursuing a policy of military confrontation. This is nothing but a deathbed struggle by those alarmed by the might of North Korea.”

Warning the US to become prudent and think twice, the newspaper says the recent annual defence conference of the country under the guidance of their supreme leader Kim Jong-un has filled the North Korean people and its Army with iron faith and if the Americans try to annoy this valorous spirit, they will be forced to go for military confrontation which will ultimately result in victory and glory for North Korea and humiliating defeat for Trump and the US.

Though North Korean propaganda may say the US is blackmailing it, but the recent advances made by the country in acquiring lethal weapons and strategic capabilities, the nuclear capable inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can reach to the parts of America, a series of successful missile launches in recent months and a claimed detonation of hydrogen bomb, has emboldened its war rhetoric to unprecedented levels.

And unlike in past, the world has taken these military claims seriously, increasing manifold the threat perception about the isolated nation.

The most recent development has only added to it.

According to American and Asian intelligence officials, North Korea may have acquired capacity to produce biological weapons on military scale and in fact, the world has no way to find if the rogue nation has already begun it, as such facilities are concealed in its civilian factories.

Some experts also say the North may have been even trying to create super-germs in its labs using advanced genetic engineering.

That is why the world is giving dialogue a chance with no one in favour of direct military confrontation in spite of tough warnings and harsh war rhetoric from Trump and his administration.

World leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the United Nations have preferred diplomacy, dialogues and sanctions over a possibility of war or military confrontation to deal with North Korea, a stand that has forced even Trump and his team to take a soft approach hinting at dialogue.

The call for dialogue and diplomatic efforts was best summed up by United Nations chief Antonio Guterres yesterday when he warned that “the worst possible thing that could happen would be for us all to sleepwalk into a war that might have very dramatic circumstances.”



The article originally appeared on India Today on 15 December.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the telecom regulator of the United States of America, has repealed a landmark law the country passed in 2015 to ensure net neutrality in the US and Ajit Pai, a son of immigrant Indians, is at the centre of the debate. He heads the US FCC.

Pai is a Republican, the same party as American President Donald J Trump, and was made the FCC chief in January 2017, the same month the Trump administration took over the White House.

The FCC, the US equivalent of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), has voted in favour of repealing a 2015 law enacted by itself under the Barack Obama government. The FCC is overseen by the US Congressional chairs and currently, like the US Congress (the American equivalent of Parliament), the Republicans are in majority in the FCC, a fact that helped the proposal moved by Pai score a 3-2 victory. Incidentally, Ajit Pai was appointed a commissioner in the FCC in 2012 by then president Barack Obama.

The move by Pai, whose FCC bio states that “consumers benefit most from competition, not pre-emptive regulation and regulators should be skeptical (sic) of pleas to regulate rivals”, has sharply divided America with critics saying repealing the net neutrality law will kill the spirit of free internet.

Critics argue that the repeal plan will benefit only few big telecom players who wield immense power over the flow of internet and telecommunication channels. Opponents of the repeal bill, named Restoring Internet Freedom Order, say it will effectively shut down or marginalise small players and will start a rush of predatory discriminating practices where one telecom company will try all to disadvantage a rival company’s data flowing through its cables.

And above all, internet users will be the ultimate losers with their freedom to get unrestrained access to all content and data gone, the critics add. Net neutrality, they say, ensures that no service provider will speed up or throttle a particular service because of its business interests.


India has also been through this important debate. The country saw a major controversy over services such as Facebook’s Free Basics and Airtel Zero plans. These differential pricing plans were alleged to be discriminatory in nature as they would have given preferential treatment to content and data of a particiular telecom company or internet service provider (ISP).

Citizens here were up in arms over this and a public outcry forced the government and the TRAI to initiate consultations on building a framework to ensure net neutrality in the Indian market. And, its outcome has been positive so far with TRAI vouching to uphold the principles of net neutrality in recommendations it released last month.

Ajit Pai’s move is threatening to undo that in America, the world’s largest free market for the internet. Pai’s move has also unnerved the internet’s founding fathers Tim Berners-Lee and Vinton Cerf and many other internet pioneers including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker.

They wrote an open letter to US Congress calling on it to cancel the proposed vote yesterday. They called the repeal plan flawed and an imminent threat to the internet.

But Pai was unnerved. He tweeted this morning to let the world know that there would be no change in his plans, “U.S. @SenateMajLdr supports @FCC plan to restore Internet freedom, saying our Internet economy is the “direct result of a bipartisan desire to create an environment of advancement-one that utilized a light regulatory touch.”

Ajit Pai’s parents were doctors. His mother was from Karnataka and father from Andhra Pradesh. They migrated to America where Pai was born in 1973 in Buffalo, New York.

A graduate from Harvard and University of Chicago Law School, Pai’s law career includes assignments mostly with the US judicial services and the US Congress in difference capacities as well as stints with private corporations like Verizon Jenner & Block.