The article originally appeared on India Today on 7 December. 

Omar bin Khetab, the second-in-command of the Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), has been killed in a joint operation by Afghan intelligence and the US military.

Not much information is available about the terrorist – apart from some sketchy details – but the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) called him the seniormost Al Qaeda leader killed in Afghanistan since 2001, when Taliban was driven out of the country.

A NATO release on Khetab’s elimination described him as an expert in heavy weapons and explosives, who trained the Taliban for night attacks.

Also known as Omar Mansoor, Khetab was killed in the Gilan district in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province, the Washington Post reported. He was in his early 40s, and came from the restive tribal regions of Pakistan, the report said.

A 2016 UN report put the AQIS operatives’ count in Afghanistan at 300, and said they mainly came from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives and India. The same report said Khetab handled AQIS operations in the east of Waziristan.

Courtesy: Tolo News

80 more Al Qaeda terrorists were killed along with him, including the top three al-Qaeda leaders in the country. Those who were killed included “Qasim, Hassan Hamza, Jonaid and Mustafa, military head of al-Qaeda, three Punjabi Taliban and two local Taliban fighters”, Tolo News reported quoting the NDS.

Air and military operations were conducted in the past few weeks in Ghazni, Paktia and Zabul provinces of Afghanistan. Details of the operations have not been released yet.

Courtesy: Tolo News


The AQIS has virtually been non-existent so far in India and is trying to make its presence felt in the country. It recently named former Hizbul terrorist Zikar Rashid Bhat – alias Zakir Musa – the chief of its India unit Ansar Ghawzat-Ul-Hind. Before that, in June, AQIS had released a new code of conduct for its members and other terrorists who wanted to show allegiance to Al Qaeda.

In a tape released in August, Al Qaeda chief Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri confirmed that slain Al Qaeda commander Abu Dujana al Pasha was the main driving force behind the formation of AQIS as he “united several jihadi groups belonging to the Indian Subcontinent”.

Abu Dujana al Pasha, who was also known as Abu Dujana al Basha, was the son-in-law of Zawahiri and played a key role in Al Qaeda’s terror operations. Reports say he was known as the “hidden commander” in Al Qaeda, because though he was relatively unknown to the outside world, he worked hard to establish AQIS. The US had declared him a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in 2009.

Zawahiri had announced the formation of the AQIS in a video message in September 2014. Though it was widely reported that al Pasha was killed in a US drone strike, Al Qaeda never accepted it.




Al Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS) have threatened attacks on US for its decision to shift its Israel Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. While ISIS warning says it is coming to liberate Al-Quds (Arabic for Jerusalem) and will unleash bloodbath, pro Al Qaeda channels appeals Muslims that “demonstrations must be followed by explosions and civil disobedience by military anger killing those of the crusaders we find on our land and destroy the western interests until they stop supporting Israel.”

Yesterday, US President Donald Trump had announced that the US will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and today he made its formal declaration. The decision has created outrage in the Muslim world amid the global concern that it will disturb status-quo in one of the most dangerous conflict theatres of the world where escalating tension may easily give way to a larger war involving many countries. If Israel considers Jerusalem its holiest shrine, the Muslim world also views the historical city as the third holiest shrine of Islam and the Palestinians consider East Jerusalem that houses Al Aqsa mosque as their capital. The terror warnings say the whole of Jerusalem in Palestine’s capital and assert that “O Aqsa, we are coming to liberate you.”

The issue has been so sensitive that almost no country so far had recognized Israel’s sovereign claim over Jerusalem and the global consensus has been that the issue must be resolved through negotiation between Israel and Palestine. Even the previous US presidents recognized it and that is why none of them thought to cross the line even if the US Congress had enacted a law in 1995 to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and had decided to move its Embassy there. The UN has also condemned the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem through the UN Security Council Resolution 478.

The Trump’s announcement has breached that global consensus. And while he may have been able to fulfil one of his campaign promise with this announcement, there are fears of its immediate aftermath that it will become rallying point for jihadists and terror groups from across the world and these warnings from ISIS and Al Qaeda only confirm it.

Rita Katz, director of the SITE Intel Group, a US based terror monitor agency, has posted the terror threats on her Twitter handle. She says “the jihadists are capitalizing on the possibility of the US moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and warns that the world should expect to see a long, ongoing campaign by jihadists about the move.” While pro ISIS channels have posted warnings and graphics in English, Arabic and Hebrew in line with the ISIS propaganda practices, the Al Qaeda channels are exhorting Muslims to come forward with comments of Osama bin Laden and other leaders on Palestine.

Rita Katz‏ @Rita_Katz
1. Both AQ & ISIS supporters threatening attacks as US prepares to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. One pro-ISIS Telegram channel posted graphics of Aqsa Mosque, warning in Arabic, Hebrew and English: We will cut off your heads and we will liberate Jerusalem from you.”

2. Jihadists are capitalizing on the possibility of the US moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, insisting: “All of al-Quds is the capital of Palestine”, posting threats, graphics, jihadi leadership statements, and documents.

3) Likewise, pro-AQ channels disseminating statements by leaders like slain AQAP leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi, instructing to “kill those of the Crusaders we find on our land, and destroy the Western interests” until they stop supporting Israel.

4) We should expect to see a long, ongoing campaign by jihadists about the move of the US capital in Israel to Jerusalem, including warnings and threats by jihadi leaders, as the matter is a major rallying point within the global jihadi movement across ISIS/AQ lines.



Hours after his strongest defense of Roy Moore yet, the controversial Republican nominee for the United States Senate election who has even been refuted by many Republicans, US President Donald Trump formally endorsed him in a phone call, pushing the Republican National Committee (RNC) to resume campaign ties with Moore which it had severed last month after allegations by many women that Moore sexually abused them when they were minors.

Trump’s formal endorsement of Roy Moore extended the line of strong views on why he was supporting Moore. Trump exhorted Moore to ‘go, get them (his Democratic rivals)’ after letting America, the world and Moore’s Republican critics know why a Moore victory was a crisis issue for Trump and his party (the Republican Party).

Linking Moore’s victory to the successful implementation of the Republican agenda in the US Congress, Trump highlighted that how the refusal of the Democrats was obstructing the passage of many Republican legislative reforms including the new US tax code. The Republic tax code has divided the US society with many strongly disapproving it. Democrats are calling it a scam that would benefit only wealthy Americans and corporations. “Democrats’ refusal to give even one vote for massive tax cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama. We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, border wall, military, pro life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more,” Trump wrote on Twitter highlighting the Republican legislative agenda.

Targetting the Democrat nominee Doug Jones, a former attorney, Trump called him a puppet of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the minority leaders in the US Congress. “Putting Pelosi/Schumer Liberal Puppet Jones into office in Alabama would hurt our great Republican Agenda of low on taxes, tough on crime, strong on military and borders…and so much more. Look at your 401-k’s since Election. Highest Stock Market ever! Jobs are roaring back!” Trump wrote further on Twitter.

Roy Moore is former chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. His life and career have been controversial and it is not just these sexual abuse allegations that he has vehemently denied. He was who was removed twice from his position of chief justice for abusing his position to take contrary positions from established judicial norms. Trump has defended Moore to garner more numbers in the US Congress to support his agenda that even many Republican don’t follow. For the record, he says as Moore has denied all allegations against him and nothing has been proved, so there is no case.

Moore, who is nicknamed ‘The Ten Commandments Judge’ for installing a Ten Commandment granite monument in a judicial building for which he was punished, is a hardliner like Trump whose first indication on supporting Moore was the statement that “we don’t need liberals there (in the US Congress). Moore says the US Congress should not have Muslim members and calls homosexuality illegal despite the US Supreme Court making it legal a long back. The Senate election from Alabama is due on December 12 and was necessitated after resignation of Jeff Sessions in February this year after he was appointed US Attorney General by Trump.



In his strongest defense yet of Roy Moore, the controversial Republican nominee for the United States Senate from Alabama, US President Donald Trump has linked the victory of Moore to successful implementation of the Republican agenda.

Tying Moore’s election from the state, represented by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier, with numbers game in the US Congress, Trump highlighted that how the refusal of the Democrats was obstructing the passage of the new US tax code that Republican consider a sweeping reform. The Republic tax code has divided the US society with many strongly disapproving it. Democrats are calling it a scam that would benefit only wealthy Americans and corporations.

With the Senate passing the new US tax code this Friday, both chambers of the US Congress, including the House, have passed the legislation that intends to introduce sweeping structural reforms to the taxation practices in the US. The legislation will also be the first major legislative victory for the Republicans who have failed to repeal and replace Obamacare, their long-term agenda and one of the main campaign promises, despite their numerical dominance in the US Congress, indicating that their own house is not in order.

Batting for Moore, former chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and a controversial figure who was removed twice from his position and who is also facing allegations of being involved in sexual abuse on minor girls, Trump targeted the Democrat nominee Doug Jones, a former attorney, without naming him. He called him a puppet of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the minority leaders in the US Congress, whose election would further hurt the Republican agenda of introducing measures on lowering taxes, tougher laws on crime, stopping illegal immigration, strengthening military and defending the US borders.

Trump has defended Moore to garner more numbers in the US Congress to support his agenda that even many Republican don’t follow. For the record, he says as Moore has denied all allegations against him and nothing has been proved, so there is no case.

Moore, who is nicknamed ‘The Ten Commandments Judge’ for installing a Ten Commandment granite monument in a judicial building for which he was punished, is a hardliner like Trump who endorsed his nomination saying “we don’t need liberals there (in the US Congress). Moore says the US Congress should not have Muslim members and calls homosexuality illegal despite the US Supreme Court making it legal a long back and says.

The Senate election from Alabama is due on December 12 and was necessitated after resignation of Sessions in February this year after he was appointed US Attorney General by Trump.



The article originally appeared on India Today.

It is a family member in almost half of the cases who forces a child into human trafficking, says a first of its kind study by the United Nations’ migration agency- the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

Statistics from the Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC), an IOM imitative, reveal that children are “most commonly trafficked for sexual exploitation, beggary and domestic work and are most likely to be coerced into trafficking through physical, sexual and psychological abuse”. The study emphasises on the need to have more specific prevention efforts keeping this in mind.

In India, nearly one lakh children go missing every year, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs data.

The CTDC data also reveals that a family member is more likely to target boys than girls. Statistics also say that the “family involvement is up to four times higher in cases of adult trafficking.”

The 2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons by the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) also corroborates this revelation confirming the insider hand of family, “Most of the time, the trafficking is not committed by highly organized criminal networks, but rather by family members, acquaintances and neighbours.”

With increasing awareness and tough legal actions, the human traffickers’ focus is shifting from women trafficking to the trafficking of men and children.

While 51 per cent of the trafficked victims are still women, the number has gone down from 66 per cent in 2006 whereas in the same period, the number of trafficked men and children has gone up from 34 per cent to 49 per cent now. For children, this figure is now 28 per cent from 22 per cent in 2006.

CTDC is the first global database on human trafficking, hosting information from across the world. It is first of its kind portal that presents to the world an open access to a repository of human trafficking data from multiple counter-trafficking agencies. The portal also hosts 80,000 case studies of human trafficking with victims from as many as 180 countries.

William Lacy Swing, IOM’s Director General says “his organization is taking a leading role in increasing the access to the critical information in order to strengthen counter-trafficking interventions” and has called on governments and other agencies to partner and step up efforts.



When emotions flow
Don’t hold them
For, it is who you are
Free, unhinged
And that is how
A life should be
So, be free like them
And seek their energy
To shape your convictions
And to find harmony there
Emotions don’t ask
They only correlate
To ‘who you have been’
Resolute, spirited
The way
A life should have been
So, be pure like them
And imbibe their soul
For a journey
That should be what
You thought you’d be



A ruthless dictator of 37 years humiliated. His wife having larger than life presence shut down. And people are celebrating the ouster.

And why not? Even if it is for a day! Even it if it is for a week!

They are celebrating the departure of a man who made their country a living hell, who crushed and killed them at will, who lived a lavish life while they were cursed to live a life of have-nots.

‘Zimbabwe and economy’ and ‘Zimbabwe and industry’ have been made misnomers by Robert Mugabe.

They were living and dying in utter poverty while the dictator’s wife was a millionaire shopper of luxury brands in western countries, earning even the nickname of ‘Gucci Grace’.

So, it is their day. They are singing. They are dancing. They are chanting. They are simply overjoyed.

They can openly called names for that man. They can freely mock him. They can make jokes in his (and his wife)’s name without fear of persecution. They were protesting and now they are speaking their mind, something unheard of in the country so far.

Even if it all may be a clever ploy to install another dictator, who used to be the henchman of the outgoing dictator, and is nicknamed ‘crocodile’ for the way he has lived so far.

Zimbabwe’s dictator Robert Mugabe may be paying the price for the foolish acts of his wife Grace Mugabe. It all began when 93-year old dictator-cum-president Mugabe tried to remove his henchman and vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa to make way for his wife Grace Mugabe, a reviled figure in the country. Well, the henchman fled the country, but with designs in his mind.

And then things moved quickly behind the scenes. Probably, Grace was not just totally unacceptable to ordinary Zimbabweans only but also to its army and the sole ruling party Zaanu-PF, the power coterie that has had been sanctifying the Mugabe dictatorship. So, within weeks, the oldest serving head of the state on the planet is gone and his henchman-turned-sacrificial lamb-turned-foe is slated to take over from him.

So, in a sense, nothing is expected to change. The coterie that was behind Mugabe is still calling shots. And Mnangagwa for Mugabe! Well, that is not a change in real terms.

But that should not take away the rare event of freedom and celebration that Zimbabweans have got after for 37 years, ever since the country came into existence after its independence in 1980. That was the year when their revolutionary hero, Robert Mugabe, who was also trained as a teacher, took over the reins of the country.

But a revolutionary who quickly showed his colours, like most of the revolutionaries around the world have done, be it in USSR or in China or in Cuba or in many other countries, and clung to power like a leech. The next decades were testimony to his fiefdom; bleeding and humiliating a nation like even most dictators fail to do. Going of such a person in such a humiliating way is a befitting healing touch for their wounds.

So, they will see what happens tomorrow. For the moment, let them bask in the glory of people power, even if it is symbolic, for they have got this healing touch after decades. The day, the event, has come as a ‘dream come true’ for them.

For them at the moment, they are speaking and Mugabes are silent, and it is what matters for them.



The article originally appeared on India Today. 

Pakistan has long been accusing India of trying to sabotage the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Top Pakistani politicians and army generals have been blaming India for staging attacks in Pakistan through its external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Obviously, all this has been without proof.

But now the Pakistani propaganda has gone a step ahead by incorporating figures like when India founded this so called anti-CPEC cell and how much fund was allocated to it. General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee of Pakistan, while addressing an event in Islamabad today, charged India of running a cell to disrupt the CPEC.

“RAW established a new cell with a special allocation of over $500 million in 2015 to sabotage CPEC projects in Pakistan,” a Dawn report quoted him saying. While addressing an event in Islamabad, he further said, “India’s indirect interference in Pakistan is manifested in sponsoring Tehreek-i-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP), Baloch and other sub-nationalist outfits and many other terrorist groups.”

Now the world can see through such baseless allegations coming from a country that is seen as a safe haven for terrorists and is increasingly becoming isolated in the world for this very reason, especially when it is against India, the world’s largest democracy, a growing global power, both economically as well as militarily and a responsible geopolitical entity.

It is Pakistan, in fact, that has been giving shelter to India’s and the world’s most wanted like Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Hafiz Saeed, Jaish-e-Mohammed’s Masood Azhar, Dawood Ibrahim and is main terror exporter to India, a fact that major world powers including the US and UK have started accepting. How can the world forget that Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was in hiding in Pakistan for years before he was hunted down and killed? How can Pakistan convince the world that it is not home to the Taliban and Al Qaeda factions and the Haqqani Network?

While the ruling Pakistani elite have been brazenly lying about establishing peace in their country and browbeating their propaganda to the world to tell that they have wiped out every terror outfit, the fact is, this year alone, over 450 civilians and around 200 security forces personnel have lost their lives in over 100 incidents in the country, data from South Asia Terrorism Portal shows.


China’s One Belt One Road initiative aims to de velop economic corridors in Asia, Africa and Europe, something that India is opposed to as one of such corridors, the CPEC. India is opposed to CPEC because a part of it passes through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir that is legally India’s. For strategic reasons also, India doesn’t welcome a Chinese presence just across the border in a disputed territory that India considers its own.


Pakistan sees the CPEC, a long term $75 billion project from Gwadar port in Balochistan to Kashgar China’s Xinjiang province, as the next big thing in the nation’s history that will transform it into of hub and economic activity in this part of Asia.

But the fact is, it passes through many restive regions of Pakistan including Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) and Balochistan and terrorists groups that are hostile to China, including TTP and Al Qaeda, have threatened to attack Chinese investments in the corridor to avenge the so-called atrocities against Uygur Muslims in Xinjiang province.

Then there are ethnic people of areas the CPEC passes through who are opposed to it. A combine of religious groups in Gilgit Baltistan has demanded the complete removal of Pakistan’s Army from its soil.

Baloch people, who are fighting the Pakistani establishment for their freedom and have long been accusing Pakistan of exploiting their province, see the CPEC as yet another tool to exploit the Baloch people. Baloch nationalists blame Pakistan for forcefully acceding their province. Pakistani security forces are alleged to have killed thousands of Baloch people. Reports of rape, torture and disappearances are common. Baloch people say they are ethnically different from Pakistanis and are demanding freedom or autonomy to decide their own affairs.

How bad is the security scenario in the CPEC regions also reflects in the fact that Pakistan has raised a Special Security Division (SSD) of 15000 soldiers to protect some 7000 Chinese individuals and CPEC installations that are coming up. This is when the project has just begun. The CPEC was proposed in 2013 and an agreement between Pakistan and China was signed in May 2013.



The killer smog of Delhi has again forced us think where are we heading with rapid industrialisation of our country and its reflection in the society, especially when the governments have failed to take effective corrective measures to check the worsening situation and we are looking again to our courts, the custodians of our Constitution and thus the guarantor of our lives, for relief.

While the National Green Tribunal (NGT) today rapped the Delhi Government again as it failed to come up with a concrete plan to deal with Delhi pollution in spite of the smog continuing for over a week, the Supreme Court of India agreed to hear later today a plea on alarming level of pollution in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR). While accepting the pea filed by Supreme Court lawyer RK Kapoor, Chief Justice Dipak Misra observed that the problem had reached to such levels that it could no longer be ignored.

The higher courts, led by the Supreme Court of India, have, from time to time, worked as environmental watchdogs reminding the government and the industry where to draw the line whenever pollution reaches to alarming levels threatening the ecological balance. The Supreme Court, in fact, way back in 1988 had clearly laid out that if pollution by industries reached to an alarming level, they must be shut down irrespective of the investment made in them and their importance for making products useful for society.


This case was a first where the Supreme Court, concerned by environmental degradation and ecological imbalance it could have caused, passed a landmark order to stop illegal mining. Through this judgement, the apex court tried to define the limit up to which natural resources (here forest) could be exploited to meet the demands of industry and development.

The case goes back to 1980s. Decades of mining in limestone quarries of the Dehradun Valley stripped the Himalayan Mountains of green vegetation in the state of Uttar Pradesh (now Uttarakhand) against which the Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra, an NGO, wrote a letter to the Supreme Court in 1983.

The court treated the letter as a writ-petition starting thus a series of hearings which finally ended in a verdict that for the first time dealt comprehensively with environment review, assessment of national needs from mining activities and reforestation of the affected area.

While delivering the verdict, the court came down heavily on the mining industry of the area, closed their operations and said it was a price that had to be paid to ensure the right to healthy environment, “The consequence of this Order made by us would be that the lessees of lime stone quarries which have been directed to be closed down permanently under this Order or which may be directed to be closed down permanently after consideration of the report, would be thrown out of business in which they have invested large sums of money and expanded considerable time and effort. This would undoubtedly cause hardship to them but it is a price that has to be paid for protecting and safeguarding the right of the people to live in healthy environment with minimal disturbance of ecological balance and without avoidable hazard to them and to their cattle, homes and agricultural land and undue affectation of air, water and environment. “

The apex court also put the government’s responsibility in clear terms while passing the order under the recently enacted Environment (Protection) Act of 1986, “Maintenance of the environment and ecological balance was the obligation of the State and the Central Governments.”




Shri Ram Food and Fertilizers (SFF) was a DCM subsidiary, in fact one of its most profitable ventures. It had various units housed in single complex producing Chlorine and other chemicals. The facility was surrounded by thickly populated localities like West Patel Nagar, Punjabi Bagh, Tri Nagar, Shastri Nagar, Ashok Vihar and Karampura.

In December 1985, oleum gas, that was used in making DDT, leaked from a tank of the SFF factory and soon spread to the populated areas around the factory. The aftermath saw around 700 people being hospitalised for eye irritation and respiratory symptoms and death of a lawyer seven Kms away from the factory, at the Tis Hazari court complex.

The Supreme Court, taking a tough stand in the case, for the first time laid down the principal of absolute liability holding the SFF responsible for putting people’s life at risk by compromising environment. The court observed,

“….gas is admittedly dangerous to life and health. If the gas escapes either from the storage tank or from the filled cylinders or from any other point in the course of production, the health and wellbeing of the people living in the vicinity can be seriously affected. Thus Shriram is engaged in an activity which has the potential to invade the right to life of large sections of people.”

Refuting all the contentions made by the DCM that since it was a private corporation, it could not come under the ambit of activities affecting the Article 21, the apex court went on to enlarge its scope including the right to healthy environment as it directly affected the quality of human life. While accepting the compensation claims made in the case, it said the “applications for compensation were for enforcement of the fundamental right to life enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution and while dealing with such applications, the court could not adopt a hypertechnical approach which would defeat the ends of justice.”