PAKISTAN: US DECISION DESIGNATING HIZBUL MUJAHIDEEN A TERRORIST GROUP UNJUSTIFIABLE

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Pakistan has termed the US decision designating Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) a Foreign Terrorist Organization unjustifiable. According to Radio Pakistan, Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said Pakistan was disappointed with the US decision and he blamed India for it.

Continuing the Pakistan’s anti-propaganda on Kashmir, which is an integral part of India and a part of which is in Pakistan’s forceful occupation, Zakaria said India was in forceful occupation of Kashmir and reiterated the worn out line that “Pakistan would continue its moral, diplomatic and political support to Kashmiri people’s struggle for their just right of self determination.”

After declaring HM chief Syed Salahuddin a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) in June, the US has now proscribed his group as well. Salahuddin also heads the United Jihad Council, the umbrella outfit of terror groups operating in Kashmir.

“The Department of State has designated Hizbul Mujahideen as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224. These designations seek to deny HM the resources it needs to carry out terrorist attacks”, a US State Department release yesterday said.

Pakistan had reacted in the same expected manner when the US had designation Syed Salahuddin a global terrorist in June coinciding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US visit and his first Summit with US President Donald Trump. It Foreign Office had released a statement which called the US decision on Syed Salahuddin ‘completely unjustified’.

HM is the largest terror outfit in Jammu and Kashmir. It was formed in September 1989 as Jamaat-e-Islami’s militant wing by Ahsan Dar at Pakistan’s ISI’s commands. Salahuddin was appointed its patron in 1990 and later became its chief. HM is based out of Pak-occupied-Kashmir’s Muzaffarabad and according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, its current cadre strength is around 1500.

©SantoshChaubey

MAHATMA GANDHI’S VIEWS ON CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES AND CONVERSION

Mahatma Gandhi had strong views on religious conversion. He believed all religions were equal and therefore the need to switch from one to other religion was seldom justified, especially in the then prevailing Indian scenario, where he believed the Christian missionaries were indulging in proselytizing in the name of humanitarian aid.

Gandhi held the belief that “religion was not like house or cloak which can be changed at will”.

He used to say that he was not against conversion when it was in its purest form, driven by heart’s urge for higher purposes like peace and spirituality. His eldest son Harilal had converted to Islam in May 1936. Gandhiji condemned it saying Harilal’s decision was based on greed and sensual pleasures and he could never be a true follower of Islam.

“I just read in the paper about Harilal’s exploit. There could be no harm in his being converted to Islam with understanding and selfless motives. But he suffers from greed for wealth and sensual pleasures. I shall be spared all mental pain if I find my impression wrong and he turns a new leaf,” he wrote in a letter to his other son Ramlal. And indeed Harilal was driven by lesser motives as proved by his reconversion to the Hinduism fold just five months later.

He would say time and again that how happy he would be had the Christian missionaries be content with the humanitarian aspect of their work only and not in increasing the count of Christians. Following are views expressed by Mahatma Gandhi from time to time on religious conversion being performed by the Christian missionaries as available on http://www.mkgandhi.org.

WHEN GANDHIJI WAS ASKED BY CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES, WHETHER HE WOULD ALLOW CHRISTIANS TO CONTINUE WITH THEIR CONVERSION ACTIVITY WITHOUT ANY HINDRANCE, GANDHIJI REPLIED (YOUNG INDIA 27-10-20.)

“(And) if a change of religion could be justified for worldly betterment, I would advise it without hesitation. But religion is matter of heart. No physical inconvenience can warrant abandonment of one’s own religion.”

GANDHIJI’S VIEWS FROM BIHAR NOTES (8-10-1925) INDICATE THAT:

“Christian missionaries have been doing valuable service for generations, but in my humble opinion, their work suffers because at the end of it they expect conversion of these simple people to Christianity …How very nice it would be if the missionaries rendered humanitarian service without the ulterior aim of conversion.”

SPEAKING ABOUT THE BHILS, THE TRIBE FROM CENTRAL INDIA, GANDHIJI SAID (NAVJIVAN 18-4-1926):

“These so-called uncivilized communities are bound to attract the attention of missionaries, for it is the latter’s duty to get recruits for the Christian army. I do not regard such proselytization as real service to dharma. But how can we blame the missionaries if the Hindus take no interest in the Bhils? For them anyone who is brought into the Christian fold, no matter how he has become a Christian, has entered a new life and become civilized. If, as a result of such conversion, converts rise spiritually or morally, I personally would have nothing to say against their conversion. But I do not think that this is what happens.”

GANDHIJI SENT A TELEGRAM TO THE EDITOR OF DAILY HERALD, LONDON, (AFTER 23-4-1931) STATING, THAT THE REPORT ABOUT THE FOREIGN MISSIONARIES WAS DISTORTION OF HIS VIEWS.

“Am certainly against the use of hospitals, schools and the like for purposes conversion. It is hardly healthy method and certainly gives rise to bitter resentment, conversion matter of heart and must depend upon silent influence of pure character and conduct of missionaries. True conversion comes imperceptibly like aroma of rose. Thus, am not against conversion as but am certainly against present methods. Conversion must not be reduced to business depending for increase upon pounds, shillings, pence. I also hold that all great religions are of equal merit to respective nations or individuals professing them. India is in no need of conversion of type described. Whilst under swaraj all would be free to exercise their own faiths. Personally, I would wish present methods adopted by missionaries were abandoned even now and that under conviction not compulsion.”

SPEAKING AT THE CONFERENCE OF THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY, WHICH WAS HELD AT CHURCH MISSIONARY HOUSE, LONDON, ON 8-10-1931. GANDHIJI SAID:

“The idea of converting people to one’s faith by speech and writings, by appeal to reason and emotion and by suggesting that the faith of his forefathers is a bad faith, in my opinion, limits the possibilities of serving humanity. I believe that the great religions of the world are all more or less true and they have descended to us from God.

…Religion is like a rose. It throws out the scent which attracts like magnet and we are drawn to it like involuntarily. The scent of religious contact has greater pungency than the scent of the rose, that is why I hold my view with reference to conversion.”

GANDHIJI FELT THAT HIS CAMPAIGN AGAINST UNTOUCHABILITY SHOULD NOT BE A REASON FOR THE MISSIONARIES TO GET DISTURBED. (HARIJAN, 25-1-1935.) HE SAID:

“But my trouble is that the missionary friends do not bring to their work a purely humanitarian spirit. Their object is to add numbers to their fold, and that is why they are disturbed. The complaint which I have been making all these years is more than justified by what you say. Some of the friends of a Mission were the other day in high glee over the conversion to Christianity of a learned pandit. They have been dear friends, and so I told them that it was hardly proper to go into ecstasies over a man forsaking his religion. Today it is the case of learned Hindu, tomorrow it may be that of an ignorant villager not knowing the principles of his religion… Here is Miraben. I would have her find all the spiritual comfort she needs from Christianity, and I should not dream of converting her to Hinduism, even if she wanted to do so …Take the case of Khan Saheb’s daughter entrusted to my care by her father. I should jealously educate her in her own faith and should strive my utmost against her being lured away from it if ever she was so inclined. I have had privilege of having children and grown-up persons of other faith with me. I was thankful to find them better Christians, Mussalmans, Parsis or Jews by their contact with me.”

WHEN A. A. PAUL FROM FEDERATION OF INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP HAD ASKED GANDHI TO DEFINE CONVERSION, (HARIJAN, 28-9-1935.) GANDHIJI STATED:

“My own detached view may now be stated in few words. I believe that there is no such thing as conversion from one faith to another in the accepted sense of the term. It is highly personal matter for the individual and his God. I may not have any design upon my neighbour as to his faith which I must honour even as I honour my own. For I regard all the great religions of the world as true at any rate for the people professing them as mine is true for me. Having reverently studied the scriptures of the world, I have no difficulty in perceiving the beauties in them. I could no more think of asking a Christian or a Mussalman or a Parsi or a Jew to change his faith than I would think of changing my own.. .It is a conviction daily growing upon me that the great and rich Christian missions will render true service to India, if they can persuade themselves to confine their activities to humanitarian service without the ulterior motive of converting India or at least her unsophisticated villagers to Christianity, and destroying their social superstructure, which notwithstanding its many defects has stood now from time immemorial the onslaughts upon it from within and from without. Whether they—the missionaries—and we wish it or not, what is true in the Hindu faith will abide, what is untrue will fall to pieces. Every living faith must have within itself the power of rejuvenation if it is to live.”

GANDHIJI WAS HAVING DISCUSSIONS WITH HARIJAN WORKERS IN BARDOLI ON 8-1-1942. QUESTION WAS PUT TO GANDHIJI THAT, HOW ONE DEALS WITH THE TEMPTATIONS GIVEN BY THE MISSIONARIES IN FORMS OF BOOKS, SCHOOL FEES ETC., TO WHICH HE REPLIED —

“The missionaries have of course the right to preach the Gospel of Christ and to invite non-Christians to embrace Christianity. But every attempt to press material benefits or attractions in the aid of conversion should be freely exposed, and the Harijans should be educated to resist these temptations.”

©SantoshChaubey

AFTER SYED SALAHUDDIN, NOW HIS OUTFIT PROSCRIBED, THE US IS FINALLY COMING OUT OF ITS ‘GOOD AND BAD TERRORISTS’ MINDSET

After declaring Syed Salahuddin, the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) chief, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in June, the US has now proscribed his group as well. Salahuddin also heads the United Jihad Council, the umbrella outfit of terror groups operating in Kashmir.

“The Department of State has designated Hizbul Mujahideen as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224. These designations seek to deny HM the resources it needs to carry out terrorist attacks”, a US State Department release said.

Unlike earlier, some of the recent moves by the US have been targeted against terrorists and organizations perpetrating terror in India, be it Hafiz Saeed or Salahuddin or now HM and they suggest a clear mindset change.

GOOD AND BAD TERROR

The US State Department had declared Pakistan a safe haven for terrorists five years ago, a historical study of its annual authoritative Country Report on Terrorism says. The annual report for 2012 that came out in 2013 for the first time used the term “safe haven” for Pakistan for letting terrorist groups thrive and operate from its soil.

The 2013 Country Report on Terrorism (for terror activities in the year 2012) used the line “a number of these attacks were planned and launched from these groups’ safe haven in Pakistan.” ‘These groups’ here mean “the Afghan Taliban, HQN (the Haqqani Network) and other AQ-affiliated groups” which continued to wreak havoc in Afghanistan.

From next year onwards, i.e., 2014 Country Report on Terrorism (for terror activities in the year 2013), the US chose to generalize about Afghanistan centric terror emanating from Pakistan by removing ‘these groups’ and adding ‘and other insurgent and terrorist groups’. It meant the US found many more terror outfits operating from Pakistan to perpetrate terror against US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan and it was not just limited to the terror triad of Afghan Taliban, HQN and the AQ-affiliated groups.

So, first few lines of the second paragraph of Chapter 2 of the Country Report on Terrorism (on South and Central Asia) every year would be, “Afghanistan, in particular, continued to experience aggressive and coordinated attacks by the Afghan Taliban, including the affiliated Haqqani Network (HQN) and other insurgent and terrorist groups. A number of these attacks were planned and launched from safe havens in Pakistan.”

We can see the focus of the report about describing Pakistan a safe haven for terrorists all these years have been basically about Afghanistan. But the latest report goes a step ahead in adding the much required dimension to it, i.e., recognizing Pakistan’s complicity in sponsoring terror in India.

India has long been complaining to the US on its double standards on terror emanating from Pakistan rightly arguing that it cannot differentiate between a good terrorist from a bad terrorist. All the US censure, all tough words to Pakistan have been about cracking down on the terror outfits that have shifted their base to Pakistan but continue to target Afghanistan, the US forces and interests there and the Afghanistan’s government.

The civil war, in fact, never ended in Afghanistan. The warring factions were previously centralized within Afghanistan with Taliban being the last ruling faction. Now Pakistan has become the main base for Taliban and other such groups who want to overthrow the process of democratic transition in Afghanistan. And from Pakistan, they continue to run amok in Afghanistan. How serious is situation can be gauged from the fact that even Afghanistan’s most secure area, Kabul’s diplomatic enclave that also houses the seat of its government, is not safe from terror strikes. It has seen multiple attacks.

For Pak based groups perpetrating terror in India, the US brief had not gone beyond the routine lines like ‘Pakistan should expedite the Mumbai or Pathankot terror probes’. The US continued with billions of dollars in aid even if it knew that Pakistan was harbouring terrorists who were India’s most wanted. What made it a theatre of absurd was the fact that even if many of these terrorists like Hafiz Saeed were carrying a heft US bounty on their heads, they were free to roam in Pakistan like respected citizens.

That, seems, is changing now. First, the US pressure left Pakistan with no other option but to house arrest Hafiz Saeed in January this year. Though symbolic, it suggested that the US had started putting pressure on Pakistan. It also told us that the US was coming out of its “good and bad terrorists” mindset. In June, Pakistan had to ban the new front of Hafiz Saeed’s terror outfit, Tehreek-e-Azadi-Jammu & Kashmir (TAJK).

Then in June only, the US declared Syed Salahuddin, the terror lord of Pak based umbrella groups for perpetrating terror in Jammu and Kashmir, a global terrorist.

PAKISTAN A SAFE HAVEN FOR INDIA CENTRIC TERROR GROUPS

Then in July, the world’s only superpower termed Pakistan a safe haven for India centric terror groups.

The Country Report on Terrorism 2017 (for the year 2016) says, “The Pakistan government supported political reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban, but failed to take significant action to constrain the ability of the Afghan Taliban and HQN to operate from Pakistan-based safe havens and threaten U.S. and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.”

And then goes on to do the course-correction that was long overdue by writing specifically against the major India centric terror groups like LeT and JeM and holding Pakistan accountable for not doing enough, “The government did not take any significant action against LeT or JeM, other than implementing an ongoing ban against media coverage of their activities. LeT and JeM continued to hold rallies, raise money, recruit, and train in Pakistan.”

©SantoshChaubey

WHERE WAS CHINESE STATE MEDIA’S FUSS THIS WEEKEND?

The weekend passed without any fuss this time. The Chinese state media didn’t come with any editorial warning India of war or disastrous consequences, be it People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist Party (CPC), or its hawkish tabloid Global Times or China’s state-run news agency Xinhua.

Let’s begin with Global Times, the sister publication of People’s Daily that has been the front of the Chinese state media pushing for an India-China war (scenario?) ever since the border standoff between the two countries on the Doklam Plateau began around mid-June.

The only editorial with harsh war rhetoric available on the opinion section of its website is from August 7. Titled ‘India misjudges China’s hope for peace’, it mocks India for miscalculated assessment of Chinese ‘silence’ and then throws the routine, i.e., ‘countermeasures from China will be unavoidable’.

The pattern of all other editorials, especially during the weekend, have been back to viewpoints like the developments around the South China Sea dispute, or the Sino-US trade row or even the Sino-India trade war but the hawkish tone of military war has taken a leave it seems. Now whether it is temporary or the Chinese propaganda machinery will be back to its virtual war with India only time will tell.

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey

WHAT MADE TOM CRUISE PICK THE MUMMY 2017?

This is a question asked umpteen times ever since the movie hit theatres, a movie that is not just a reboot of a commercially successful series but also the launch vehicle of Universal’s Dark Universe, an ambitious sub-series by the global entertainment giant to tap into the ever-widening profitability net of comic book super-heroes (and super-villains), supernatural characters and obviously the all-eclipsing monsters.

Well, The Mummy of the previous generation was a bad movie series. It could work commercially because humour was an important part of this storytelling that the world is quite familiar with, palaces, kings, queens, princes, princesses, paramours, conspiracies, killings, tombs, mummies and pryramids.

And the natural inevitability – that how far can you go with a tellingly thin narrative – that any mummy is basically identified with Egypt’s Pyramids and some Egyptian royalty because of the controversial history surrounding them – so, a standalone chapter, or at best two can justify their arrival if they are given some good treatment. Even The Mummy’s previous incarnation had to look for other extensions beyond Egypt to keep the franchise lubricated beyond two but then it chose to suspend the movement beyond one more.

The latest Mummy has come to life after 2008, when the last movie of the series was released. The three previous Mummies were basically horror comedies to say best or if we say conservatively, they were action-comedy flicks which didn’t need star power but the treatment that could pull the viewer to the theatre. They were time-pass flicks running high on computer generated special effects. They didn’t need acting credentials for expressions or starry adrenaline for action sequences.

They simply needed a one point linear narrative that how to keep the viewer engaged for 100 minutes by producing a cocktail of commercial cinematic specs like comedy mixed with horror, special effects, good looking canvases and known mythological monsters. They were meant to entertain somehow. They were never meant to excel.

True, it can be argued that Tom Cruise is an entertainer and excellence in filmmaking is a reserved phenomenon. But he is certainly an actor who cannot, at this stage of his career, be associated with films that are meant to entertain somehow. He is a name. He is a star power. He is among the selected few names who are used to sell films.

So, the big question is, what made Tom Cruise pick The Mummy 2017, a poor reboot that fails to create the effect of its mediocre but commercially successful predecessors, especially when the film has failed to create box office magic? Reports say the film generated only $400 million against its overall budget of $250 million. And critical reception, well its flooded with all kinds of negative witticisms – plain, convoluted, satirical, humorous and even comical.

©SantoshChaubey

NOW CHINESE STATE MEDIA WADES INTO US-NORTH KOREA ROW, SAYS CHINA WOULD COUNTER US ACTION AGAINST NORTH KOREA

“China should make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral.”

This is what an editorial in China’s official publication Global Times, known for taking extreme positions, says. The official mouthpiece of the ruling Chinese Communist Party has been issuing war threats and warnings of disastrous consequences to India on a daily basis ever since the India-China border standoff in Doklam Plateau began in June.

It is an established fact that China is the only factor that has let North Korea, a rogue state, become increasingly belligerent over the years in spite of global sanctions that have been in place for decades. China, in fact, is the only major trading partner of North Korea and accounts for over 80 per cent of North Korean trade.

After North Korea’s first Inter-continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) test, that was surprisingly successful, and its increasing threats of launching a nuclear missile on the US, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) last week imposed even harsher sanctions on North Korea in an aim to reduce its exports by one-third.

But seeing the history of China always extending olive branch to North Korea, experts are divided on whether imposing more sanctions on North Korea will be of any help. Even though China has announced to support the sanctions, its track record says it has never implemented such international agreements in past and they merely remained on paper.

In the same doublespeak, China’s state run media says here if North Korea attacks the US, China should remain neutral but would prevent any US or South Korean attempt to overthrow the war friendly dictatorial regime of North Korea, “If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”

That clearly means China would not take any pre-emptive step to stop North Korea from taking that disastrous step and would not allow even the US and South Korea to do so, even if it means a nuclear attack by the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Clearly taking the line of China’s interests first, the editorial goes on to say that “China will firmly resist any side which wants to change the status quo of the areas where China’s interests are concerned.”

US President Donald Trump has warned that the US is fully prepared, locked and loaded, to face any North Korean threat following his reaction to unleash fire and fury on North Korea after it was revealed that North Korea had developed a miniaturized nuclear warhead for its missiles that could effectively reach the US mainland.

In response, North Korea has said that it is readying plans to launch missile attack on Guam, an US island in the Pacific. Guam is a major US military installation housing the Naval Base Guam and the Anderson Air Force Base. Apart from high-end military assets like the B52 bombers and the nuclear powered fast attack submarines, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD), an anti-ballistic missile defence system, are deployed here. Recently, the US deployed THAAD in South Korea to counter any missile attack threat from North Korea. China sees presence of THAAD in the Korean Peninsula a challenge its sovereignty in its area of influence and has been vehemently opposing it.

North Korea has been rapidly revving up its nuclear and missile programme after successful test launches of nuclear capable ICBMs. Trump, who had said earlier that he would not allow North Korea to have an ICBM, had reacted strongly on North Korean ICBM saying the US was drawing plans for its “pretty severe” response.

©SantoshChaubey

DONALD TRUMP SAYS NORTH KOREA WILL BE MET WITH FIRE AND FURY IF IT THREATENS US

The article originally appeared on India Today on 9 August.

US President Donald Trump has warned North Korea that “if it escalates nuclear threat, it will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen”, the US media has said. A tough response from him was expected after it was revealed earlier in the day that North Korea had produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that could be fitted inside its missiles. The revelation was based on the assessment of the US intelligence agencies.

Terming Trump’s threat extraordinary, a CNN report quoted him as saying, “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which the world has never seen.”

On Monday, North Korea ‘vowed’ to teach US a severe lesson. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said if the US used military force, North Korea would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons.

HARSHER SANCTIONS

Earlier, on Saturday, the United Nations Security Council slapped even harsher sanctions on North Korea, in an aim to reduce its exports by one-third.

Hitting back, North Korea said “it would make the US pay dearly for all the heinous crimes it commits against the state and people of this country.”

Experts are divided on whether imposing more sanctions on North Korea will be of any help – because even though China, its biggest trading partner, has announced to support the sanctions, its track record says it has never implemented such international agreements in past and they merely remained on paper.

NUCLEAR PROGRAMME

North Korea has been rapidly revving up its nuclear and missile programme after it successfully test fired its first inter-continental ballistic missile last month which according to experts was a new type unlike the previous North Korean missile tests and with a range of over 8,000 km. Such a missile can easily reach the American mainland.

North Korea’s ICBM had left the major world powers divided. A Russia-China joint statement was soft and put the onus of North Korea’s missile launch on annual US-South Korea military drills in the region and the deployment of the US anti-ballistic missile defence system THAAD in South Korea.
Trump, who had said earlier he would not allow North Korea to have an ICBM, had reacted strongly. He then said the US was drawing plans for its “pretty severe” response.

The US, with South Korea, held a military drill in response to North Korea’s ICBM and the US allies held an emergency UN Security Council meeting where the US’ UN Ambassador Nikki Haley asserted that the US could use “considerable military forces” if situation demanded.

©SantoshChaubey

CHINESE MEDIA NOW PATRONISES BHUTAN, WARNS INDIA OF DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES YET AGAIN

The article originally appeared on India Today on 9 August.

In a clear attempt to patronize Bhutan, an editorial by China’s official news agency, Xinhua now has blamed India to turn Bhutan into its protectorate. Saying that if there is any dispute, it is between China and Bhutan and “it has nothing to do with India.”

Terming Bhutan a weak country, the editorial says India is recklessly invading its neighbour based on “childish assumptions and foolhardy speculations.” “The bottom line in international justice is that no country may pursue its security at the cost of another’s sovereignty,” the editorial further writes in attempts to provoke Bhutan.

The editorial’s line that “China respects Bhutan as an independent sovereign state and resents India’s attempt to turn it into a de facto protectorate,” may be a new Chinese ploy to mould or pressure Bhutan after India has refused to budge from its position in spite of incessant Chinese threats of military action.

Extending the routine of aggrandizing China’s military prowess, it warns that “India should underestimate neither China’s determination nor its capacity to defend its sovereignty and national interests and must dispel all illusions and avoid disastrous consequences.”

Terming India’s thinking that China will back down a wishful thinking, it further says that India, so far, has done nothing to diffuse the border crisis in Doklam and instead is making eccentric demands even if China is known as an expansionist country involved in territorial disputes with around 20 countries.

China has been ratcheting up its anti-India rhetoric through statements of its foreign ministry, defence ministry, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and its state run media, infusing it with war threats, saying it is now up to India to deescalate the border tension and withdraw its troops from an area that it claims as its own.

The editor of the Global Times, a state owned hawkish tabloid, today came up with his second video warning India of war if it doesn’t withdraw its troops from Doklam unilaterally. In his first video message last week, he was seen aggrandizing China’s military strength vis-a-vis India, drawing parallels like ‘if China and India engage in military conflict, the PLA has an overwhelming advantage”. The hawkish newspaper, a sister publication the People’s Daily, Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper, has run a number of anti-India editorials laden with rhetoric ever since soldiers from the Indian Army and the PLA first faced off on the Doklam plataue last month.

Doklam that China considers a part of its Donglang region has been a long running territorial dispute between Bhutan and China and Bhutan even issued a demarche to China on construction of road in the area by the PLA. Indian troops entered the area to prevent the road construction with India informing China that it was against the agreement of maintaining the status quo in the area as agreed in the past.

But an autocratic and expansionist China refused to budge, and in fact, unleashed an intense propaganda war against India aimed to dislodge the legally valid Indian claims and employed every possible propaganda tool in its arsenal, be it the high pitched ‘war possibility’ threat or arrogant responses delivered by its higher level officials including daily briefings of its foreign ministry or indiscriminate verbal firing rounds by its official publications.

©SantoshChaubey

DOKLAM STANDOFF: INDIA CHINA DID TRY DIPLOMACY BUT IT HAS HIT A ROADBLOCK

A Reuters report has said that the efforts to diffuse the Doklam border standoff between China and India at diplomatic levels have hit a roadblock. The report quoting people who have been briefed on the talks, said that “India’s diplomatic efforts to end a seven-week military standoff with China have hit a roadblock “as there has been no further development “on the low-key diplomatic manoeuvres that took place outside the public eye.”

Last week, while speaking on the Doklam standoff in the Parliament, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said that war was not a solution and diplomatic efforts were needed to resolve the crisis. But, according to Reuters, “China did not respond to India’s suggestion in the talks that it move its troops back 250 metres in return if India has to withdraw its troops from Doklam,” quoting a source with deep access to the Modi government.

“The Chinese countered with an offer to move back 100 metres, so long as they received clearance from top government officials”, the Reuters report further said but there has no further headway after it, as clear from increasing war rhetoric from China. “It is a logjam, there is no movement at all now,” the report said quoting another source.

Meanwhile China has continued ratcheting up its anti-India rhetoric through statements of its foreign ministry, defence ministry, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and its state run media, infusing it with war threats, saying it is now up to India to deescalate the border tension and withdraw its troops from an area that it claims as its own.

The editor of the Global Times, a state owned hawkish tabloid, today came up with his second video warning India of war if it doesn’t withdraw its troops from Doklam unilaterally. In his first video message last week, he was seen aggrandizing China’s military strength vis-a-vis India, drawing parallels like ‘if China and India engage in military conflict, the PLA has an overwhelming advantage’’. The hawkish newspaper, a sister publication the People’s Daily, Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper, has run a number of anti-India editorials laden with rhetoric ever since soldiers from the Indian Army and the PLA first faced off on the Doklam plataue last month.

Doklam that China considers a part of its Donglang region has been a long running territorial dispute between Bhutan and China and Bhutan even issued a demarche to China on construction of road in the area by the PLA. Indian troops entered the area to prevent the road construction with India informing China that it was against the agreement of maintaining the status quo in the area as agreed in the past.

But an autocratic and expansionist China refused to budge, and in fact, unleashed an intense propaganda war against India aimed to dislodge the legally valid Indian claims and employed every possible propaganda tool in its arsenal, be it the high pitched ‘war possibility’ threat or arrogant responses delivered by its higher level officials including daily briefings of its foreign ministry or indiscriminate verbal firing rounds by its official publications.

©SantoshChaubey

AN NDA MAJORITY IN RAJYA SABHA: NOT IN NEAR FUTURE!

The BJP and the alliance led by it, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), is now the largest voting bloc in the Upper House of the Parliament, the Rajya Sabha. But they are still short of majority in the 245-member House where a simple majority needs 123 seats while a two-thirds majority needs 166 seats in your fold.

Though The BJP is now the largest party in the Rajya Sabha, the edge is only razor-thin that doesn’t help it when it comes to the numerical strength to pass bills in the Upper House of the Parliament. The party’s 58 Rajya Sabha members of the Parliament (MPs) are just one more than Congress’ 57.

Also, after the dramatic political upheaval in Bihar with chief minister Nitish Kumar and his party Janta Dal (United) joining the BJP the NDA, switching sides from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the ruling alliance now has 89 RS MPs while the strength of the UPA that had 84 MPs, has reduced to 74.

But if we go by the composite numbers of the ruling alliance Vs the opposition, the BJP NDA is still short much short of even the simple majority in the Rajya Sabha, something that would continue to hamper its legislative agenda as the bills passed by the Lok Sabha, where it is in majority, may get stuck in the Rajya Sabha.

Most other parties of the others’ bloc, with parties including the Samajwadi Party (18 MPs), TMC (11 MPs), CPIM (8 MPs), BJD (8 MPs) and BSP (5 MPs, after Mayawati resigned last month) have 68 MPs if we exclude 13 AIADMK MPs who are expected to join the NDA soon. Their combined strength with the UPA takes the combined anti-BJP opposition number in the Rajya Sabha to 142.

Election for 10 Rajya Sabha seats will be held tomorrow, three of them are in Gujarat, six in West Bengal and one in Madhya Pradesh. Out of these 10, the BJP is expected to grab three seats or maximum four, if it can arrange numbers in Gujarat. The TMC is going to retain its five West Bengal quota seats and the Congress one with Pradip Bhattacharya slated to sail over. The TMC has re-nominated three of its RS MPs, Derek O’Brien, Dola Sen and Sukhendu Sekhar Roy while Shanta Chhetri and Manas Bhunia are slated to add to its RS ranks.

The BJP has two RS MPs from Gujarat who are retiring, Smriti Irani and Dilipbhai Pandya. The other one is Congress’ Ahmed Patel. The BJP has re-nominated Smriti Irani while party’s president Amit Shah and another candidate Balwantsinh Rajput are also in the fray. The Congress has re-nominated Ahmed Patel. So there are four candidates in fray for the three RS seats from Gujarat.

The lone RS seat from Madhya Pradesh fell vacant after death of BJP’s Anil Madhav Dave and will go the BJP again given its absolute majority in the state assembly with Sampatiya Uikey, a tribal face, set to join the RS for the remainder of Dave’s term till June 2022.

In Gujarat, the BJP is trying to wrest Ahmed Patel’s seat who can easily win the polls if all Congress and UPA MLAs vote for him. The BJP is trying to make a dent here. But even if it wins the Ahmed Patel’s seat, it will add only one member to its existing tally, i.e., 90 from 89, otherwise it would remain the same.

No other RS member is going to retire before January 2018 when three RS MPs from the Congress will retire. As they are from Delhi, the three vacancies will go to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that will effectively rule-out any change in the BJP Vs opposition equation of the Rajya Sabha. Another RS MP from Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) is retiring in February 2018. The SDF is an NDA ally so there will be no change even then. No members are retiring in March 2018.

The next big change is going to come in April 2018 when 57 RS MPs are going to retire including nominated members like Sachin Tendulkar, Rekha.

To continue….

©SantoshChaubey