ISRAELIS WELCOME NARENDRA MODI IN HINDI AS HE VISITS THE COUNTRY ON 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF DIPLOMATIC TIES

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to visit Israel next month in the first ever state visit of any Indian prime minister to Israel. His three day visit which the Israeli Ambassador Daniel Carmon has described as of “unprecedented importance” will begin on July 4.

The Embassy of Israel in India has also tweeted a video where Israelis are welcoming Narendra Modi to Israel in Hindi.

An External Affairs Ministry release said India and Israel are commemorating 25 years of diplomatic relations this year and the PM visit on this occasion will provide an impetus for deeper bilateral engagements further.

India and Israel had established full diplomatic relations in 1992 after 45 years of indecision fuelled by its principled stand on solidarity with the Palestinian cause, foundation of which was laid by stand taken by Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Though India had formally recognized Israel way back in September 1950, the diplomatic ties could not go beyond an Israeli consulate for the next four decades as India’s non-aligned policy on accepting Israel’s Palestinian geography only if Palestine agreed to it and its reliance on Muslim Gulf countries for its energy needs did not allow it.

And full diplomatic relations with Israel, indeed, were established with the Palestinian leadership on board, in this case Yasser Arafat, who was in India in January 1992 when he had said that it was India’s sovereign right if it establishes full diplomatic ties with Israel and he would respect any such decision.

©SantoshChaubey

NORTH KOREA DECLARES A ‘MISERABLE DOG’S DEATH’ FOR FORMER SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT

North Korea has declared to mount war scale efforts to punish former South Korean president Park Geun-hye for hatching a plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un, the North Korean supreme leader.

According to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), North Korea has declared that “at home and abroad that it will impose death penalty on traitor Park Geun Hye and ex-Director of the puppet Intelligence Service Ri Pyong Ho and their groups, criminals of hideous state-sponsored terrorism who hatched and pressed for the heinous plot to hurt the supreme leadership of the DPRK.”

The KCNA release cited by KCNA Watch, which claims to be a ‘user-friendly interface for viewing NK media’ writes that all these men can never make any appeal against the sentence given to them and they will meet “miserable dog’s death any time, at any place and by whatever methods from this moment.”

North Korea has also asked South Korea to handover Park, Ri Pyong Ho and others citing international convention though the country itself is subject to numerous global sanctions for violating international conventions, crushing human rights and pursuing nuclear weapons.

Park Geun-hye was fired from the presidency in March after the country’s supreme court upheld her December 2016 impeachment and is currently in jail undergoing trial for leaking state secrets, abusing state power and various other corruption allegations including bribery.

The joint statement released by various North Korean ministries has called the plot hideous state-sponsored terrorism and has warned that “North Korea will impose summary punishment without advance notice on those who organized, took part in or pursued the plot, under wartime law.”

According to the release, the South Korean intelligence, in collusion with the CIA, sent a group in North Korea to eliminate Kim Jong-un using bio-chemical weapons or disguising it as car or train accident and the whole plot was pushed forward by Park Geun-hye but the plot failed after the group was detected and was ultimately scrapped with Park’s impeachment.

North Korea had levelled similar allegations against South Korea and the US even the last month and the release ends with the routine North Korean line that it will inflict an apocalypse sort of punitive measure against its enemies, “should the U.S. and the south Korean authorities defy this warning and challenge our resolute measure, they will be made to pay a dear price in an irresistible physical way.”

©SantoshChaubey

UNLIKE MODI-OBAMA JOINT STATEMENTS, THE MODI-TRUMP STATEMENT IS BLUNT AND HARSH ON PAKISTAN

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Counter-terrorism has been a big focus in all recent summit-level India-US joint statements. But what makes the joint statement delivered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump different is the way it is blunt and harsh on Pakistan, showing solidarity with Indian concerns on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in India.

It directly calls Pakistan a terror haven, unlike the Modi-Obama joint statements.

The statement mentions Pakistan thrice.

It calls on Pakistan to ensure that its territory isn’t used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries, and to “expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai, Pathankot, and other cross-border terrorist attacks perpetrated by Pakistan-based groups.”
When we compare the Modi-Trump joint statement with Modi-Obama joint statements, we can see a visible difference.

The three joint statements after Modi-Obama summits in September 2014, January 2015 and June 2016 ask Pakistan to work to bring perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks to justice. The January 2016 Pathankot air-base terror strike was added to the June 2016 joint statement.

But these statements don’t call Pakistan a terror haven.

The June 7, 2016 Modi-Obama joint statement talks about “bringing to justice the perpetrators of terrorism anywhere in the world and the infrastructure that supports them” and emphasizes on “the need to strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats from extremist groups, such as Al-Qaeda, Da’esh/ISIL, Jaish-e Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, D Company and their affiliates.” But it stops short of calling Pakistan a terror haven, with the routine diplomatic line that “the two leaders also called for Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai and 2016 Pathankot terrorist attacks to justice.”

The January 25, 2015 joint statement, titled “Shared Effort; Progress for All,” was issued when Barack Obama was the chief guest at India’s Republic Day parade. It called “for ‘zero tolerance’ and reaffirmed deep concern over the continued threat posed by transnational terrorism including by groups like Al Qaeda and the ISIL, and called for eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and their financing, and stopping cross-border movement of terrorists.”

It also highlighted the need for “joint and concerted efforts to disrupt entities such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, D Company and the Haqqani Network”, noting the US sanctions against three D Company affiliates. But the mention of Pakistan was limited to “bring the perpetrators of the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai to justice.”

Similarly, the joint statement issued after the first bilateral summit between Modi and Obama on September 30, 2014 “stressed the need for joint and concerted efforts, including the dismantling of safe havens for terrorist and criminal networks, to disrupt all financial and tactical support for networks such as Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, the D-Company, and the Haqqanis with the similar worn-out line on Pakistan that “it needs to bring the perpetrators of the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai to justice.”

India has long been complaining to the US about its “good vs bad terror” approach to Pakistan. The US would slam Pakistan for letting the Haqqani Faction, the Taliban and Al Qaeda use Pakistani soil to perpetrate terror in Afghanistan but would never go beyond customary condemnations on Pakistan-based groups pushing terrorism in India. It seems that’s changing now.

Even if symbolic, US pressure made Pakistan put LeT chief Hafiz Saeed under house-arrest. Yesterday, the US designated Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin a global terrorist. And now, there’s a joint statement that specifically asks Pakistan to crackdown on terror networks operating from its soil.

©SantoshChaubey

US SUPREME COURT ALLOWS TRAVEL BAN: IS DONALD TRUMP’S NEIL GORSUCH GAMBLE GOING TO PAY?

The article originally appeared on India Today.

The US Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to President Donald Trump by allowing his temporary bans on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and all refugees to go into effect for people with no connection to the United States while agreeing to hear his appeals in the closely watched legal fight.

The Trump administration had issued two versions of Donald Trump’s controversial executive order on travel ban, first on January 27 and then on March 6 but the federal courts expressed their strong reservations against the discriminatory nature of the order saying that they were in bad taste and were targeted against the Muslim community.

The US Supreme Court has accepted the emergency appeal by the Trump administration allowing travel ban on people from six Muslim majority nations for 90 days, i.e., Syria, Libya, Sudan, Iran, Yemen and Somalia and all refugees for 120 days “who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” while the federal courts had completely blocked it.

DONALD TRUMP’S NEIL GORSUCH GAMBLE

Nominating judges in the US courts has always been the prerogative of the US President and his party. Trump wanted appellate judge Neil Gorsuch, a conservative, to fill the lone vacancy in the US Supreme Court. And with Gorsuch’s approval in April, after a long and bitterly fought confirmation process, Trump had what he wanted.

“Trump had vowed to choose ideologues in the mould of the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon – a prospect that had activists on the right giddy,” a Washington Post report had said. Antonin Scalia, a Ronald Reagan appointee to the US Supreme Court, was seen as a legal luminary but with a conservative mindset who vocally opposed gay rights and abortion.
Scalia’s death last year had given Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama an opportunity to tilt the 5-4 conservative majority in the US Supreme Court in favour of a 5-4 liberal majority but the Senate Republicans didn’t allow Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland, a liberal.

TRUMP SEEKS AN EXPEDITED HEARING IN THE SUPREME COURT

After the London Bridge terror attack on June 3 that left seven dead and dozens injured, Trump, while slamming, the re-drafted version of his administration’s travel ban order as an attempt to be “politically correct”, commented that “the US Justice Department should have stayed with the original travel ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to the US Supreme Court and the Justice Department should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down travel ban before the Supreme Court – and seek much tougher version.”

Before that, on June 1, the Trump administration had filed an emergency application in the US Supreme Court requesting temporary revival of the travel ban plan. And for the moment, the US Supreme Court decision seems to have given what Trump had wanted from the US judiciary, a favourable decision for his orders that are challenged.

There has always been this line of thought in the US that Trump wanted to have a conservative majority in the US Supreme Court so that he could push his agenda and one can always raise the question that the US Supreme Court could have expedited the hearing without altering the ban put in place by so many US courts. A US Judiciary with more conservative judges is likely to have a favourable view of Trump administration’s conservative policies like travel ban or stopping funds to the NGOs working for abortion.

A more ‘likeminded and amenable judiciary’ can be a great help, especially when the US under Trump is witnessing a flurry of lawsuits against his decisions that his rivals see as controversial. That is bound to happen as Trump’s victory has bitterly divided America and he took oath with historically low approval ratings amid nationwide protests.

Trump was always more than ready to move to the US Supreme Court on his travel ban plans where he expected a respite there with a 5-4 conservative majority with Neil Gorsuch’s approval. And with this respite, his administration may now work out his plans pushing for a much tougher version of travel ban as he has sought.

©SantoshChaubey

IRAN’S SUPREME LEADER KHAMENEI AGAIN TERMS KASHMIR AN OPPRESSED NATION BUT WHY NOW?

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has raked up the Kashmir issue again repeating his oft-quoted line of “Kashmir being an oppressed nation”. After leading the Eid al-Fitr prayers in Tehran, Khamenei exhorted the Muslim world to openly support “Yemen, Bahrain and Kashmir”. Khamenei called on the Islamic community to unite against the “injuries being inflicted on the world of Islam.”

According to a write-up posted on http://english.khamenei.ir, Khamenei urged Muslims to “support oppressed nations”. While speaking about Yemen, another front in the battle between Iran and Saudi Arabia to establish regional supremacy, he said that “the World of Islam should explicitly support the people of Yemen” and likened the situation there with Bahrain and Kashmir saying, “our people can back this great movement within the World of Islam. Just as we explicitly express our position against enemies and adversaries, the world of Islam–especially the elites in it–should follow this path and take a position towards seeking to please God, absolutely, even if it leads to dissatisfaction of the arrogant front.”

This is not the first time that Khamenei has raised the Kashmir bogey. India had summoned the Iranian Ambassador in 2010 to issue demarche after Khamenei’s repeated calls to the Muslim community to support the so-called struggle in Kashmir. Though India was a friendly nation to Iran and it abstained from voting on a UN Security Council resolution on human rights violations in Iran, Khamenei went on to declare Kashmir a nation and India a Zionist regime.

His official website mentions at least three other instance, going as far back as 1990, when Khamenei tried to barge-in in an issue that India considers strictly bilateral, between India and Pakistan, with a non-compromising stand that Kashmir is an integral part of India.

WHY KHAMENEI MAY HAVE CHOSEN THIS TIME

It is not coincidental that Khamenei has chosen a time to test the Indian patience again when Indian prime minister Narendra Modi is in the United States and the significance Donald Trump attaches to the visit can be seen from the fact that Modi is the first world leader for whom Trump is hosting a working dinner.

On one side, he will be reminding India of steering clear of any anti-Iran designs of Trump. Khamenei’s anti-India rhetoric again, at this time, when Kashmir is going through a prolonged phase of insurgency, may be aimed at dissuading India and Modi from being party to any anti-Iran front that Trump may discuss with the Indian prime minister, even if, historically, India has been non-partisan on taking sides as we saw in case of India abstaining from UN voting against Iran.

At the same time, he will convey the message to the world and to Iran’s trading partners that who is the real boss in Iran, especially after the defeat of the candidate he was supporting in the recently held elections.

It is said that Iran’s public wants to do away with decades of religious fundamentalism and global sanctions and its most visible example was seen in the re-election of its moderate president Hassan Rouhani against the wishes of Ayatollah Khamenei who was seen supporting Rouhani’s hardliner rival Ebrahim Raisi.

US President Donald Trump has been a harsh critic of Iran. During campaign phase, he would often criticize his predecessor Barack Obama for brokering the nuclear deal with Iran in 2015 that eased sanctions on Iran. It was seen as a big win for moderate Rouhani, domestically and internationally, and his re-election has a put of seal of approval on it.

Last month, during his first major foreign tour to a group of Gulf nations, Trump slammed Iran for being a terror exporter and appealed to the leaders of the 50 Muslims majority countries present there to isolate Iran as long as it didn’t “committed to becoming a partner of peace.” Though Trump extended the relief given to Iran from sanctions in May, it may be more a procedural extension before Trump takes a harsh decision like he has done by withdrawing many relaxations given to Cuba by Barack Obama in another landmark deal that restored diplomatic ties between the US and Cuba after almost six decades.

Iran has emerged as India’s third largest oil supplier and Iran’s second biggest buyer after sanctions were eased in 2015. Last year, PM Modi was in Tehran and India-Iran inked a deal to develop the strategic Chabahar port in response to China developing Gwadar port in Pakistan’s Balochistan province and bilateral trade ties between both countries are rapidly expanding.

©SantoshChaubey

IT MAY BE A DALIT VS DALIT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, BUT NOT A SINGLE INDIAN STATE HAS A DALIT CM

The article originally appeared on India Today.

After the Opposition announced former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, a Dalit politician, as its presidential candidate to take on NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind, the presidential election has become a Dalit vs Dalit contest.

According to the 2011 Census, 16.6 per cent of India’s population are Dalits or SCs. That’s nearly 20.14 crore people. But at the moment, no Indian state has a Dalit chief minister.

16 chief ministers belong to Forward Communities, while six states have OBC chief ministers. It includes the National Capital Region of Delhi. The eight states of north-east India – Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Meghalaya – mostly have tribal chief ministers.

©SantoshChaubey

OBAMA TERMS TRUMPCARE A MASSIVE EXTORTION BILL, TRUMP REITERATES OBAMACARE IS DEAD

The article originally appeared on India Today.

While former US President Barack Obama has slammed the latest version of the healthcare bill unveiled by the Republican Senators to replace the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare as it is popularly known, his successor Donald Trump has reiterated that Obamacare is dead. Enacted by the US Congress, the ACA was signed and put in place by Barack Obama in March 2010.

Obama termed the Republican bill “a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America” whereas Trump wrote on Twitter that “he was very supportive of the Senate healthcare bill and looked forward to making it really special” reiterating that ObamaCare was dead. Obamacare, seen as the most important reform measure in the US healthcare system after 1960s Medicaid, has been opposed by the Republicans. They say it hurts businesses and kills jobs though a BBC report last month said that Obamacare has added 9 per cent more jobs in the healthcare industry since its implementation in 2010.

Barack Obama, a Democrat, in his detailed response on the controversy over Obamacare and its replacement with Trumpcare or the Republican healthcare act, a central campaign promise of Donald Trump, looks to decimate the Republican noise on a bill that is expected to leave millions of Americans out of the US government mandated healthcare protection.

While presenting arguments in favour of Obamacare, Obama writes in his Facebook post that the legislation has helped cover 90 per cent Americans and the insurance companies now cannot ask for more or deny insurance citing pre-existing health conditions. He says that the legislation has slowed down the pace of rising healthcare costs and slams the Republican version as a hastily arrived antithesis to what Obamacare stands for.

He writes that “the legislation rushed through the House and the Senate without public hearings or debate would do the opposite. It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it”, backing his comment on analyses in the US media and the Congressional Budget Office’s assessment which has projected that the new bill would leave 14 million Americans uninsured the very next year and the figure would reach to 23 million by 2016.

He accepts that though a significant step, “ACA was not perfect, nor could it be the end of our efforts – and that if Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I would gladly and publicly support it.”

Trump, during the campaign phase of the US presidential polls, and even after his election, had raised hopes of a healthcare act to replace Obamacare that would guarantee ‘universal healthcare’ but going by the versions of the Republican healthcare bill so far, there has been a growing consensus in the US that if implemented in the current form, the Republican legislation would devoid millions of the much needed healthcare protection and at the same time would increase healthcare cost for many and would ruin Medicaid, a US government programme for financially weaker section that has been in place for decades.

Obama writes that he hopes that even many Republicans who fought for the ACA would see these concerns and would say no to the bill in its current form, “Thousands upon thousands of Americans, including Republicans, threw themselves into that collective effort, not for political reasons, but for intensely personal ones – a sick child, a parent lost to cancer, the memory of medical bills that threatened to derail their dreams.”

And Obama is right. Within hours of the unveiling of the Republican legislation, four conservative Republicans came out to say that they cannot support the bill in its current form, a Reuters report said. Even last month, while delivering a speech during an event, Obama had appealed to the Congressmen to oppose Trump administration’s moves to repeal Obamacare, adding that “the lawmakers should have the courage to champion the vulnerable and the sick and the infirm,” a CNN report said.

So far, either Donald Trump or the Republican senators have not been able to come out with a piece of legislation that would be smart enough to outdo the Obamacare. Democrats have stood united against any proposed Republican healthcare bill so far. But what should be eye-opener that even many Republicans are against the Obamacare replacement in its present form that makes Republican Party, that is in majority, short of votes to pass the bill in the House as happened in May this year when, in a major defeat for Donald Trump, the Republicans had to withdraw the legislation as they could not garner numbers even after months of canvassing. Trump’s assertion few hours ago that he has helped pass and signed 38 Legislative Bills, mostly with no Democratic support, and gotten rid of massive amounts of regulations is of no use in case of Obamacare as long as the whole Republican Party stands behind him.

Accusing Trump of “giving billionaires and corporations a massive tax cut” and bringing a piece of legislation that will put the American people through the pain of massive healthcare costs, unlimited bills and insurers’ rejections once lose their insurance cover under Obamacare, Obama appeals to the Americans to call Congress members and visit their offices and speak out their minds to let America know “in very real terms, what this means for them and their family” because what is at stake here is bigger than politics. It is the character of the nation – “who we are, and who we aspire to be and that’s always worth fighting for,” Obama writes.

©SantoshChaubey

BARACK OBAMA ON TRUMPCARE: NOT A HEALTHCARE BILL BUT A MASSIVE TRANSFER OF WEALTH TO RICH

After the Republican senators of the US presented the latest version of their healthcare bill yesterday to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 or Obamacare launched by Barack Obama, a Democrat, seven years ago, predecessor of the Republican US President Donald Trump, Obama has hit back.

In his first detailed response in months on the controversy over Obamacare and its replacement with Trumpcare or the Republican healthcare act, a central campaign promise of Donald Trump, Obama has decimated the Republican noise on a bill that is expected to leave millions of Americans out of the US government mandated healthcare protection.

While presenting arguments in favour of Obamacare, Obama writes in his Facebook post that the legislation has helped cover 90 per cent Americans and companies cannot ask for more or deny insurance citing some pre-existing health condition and has slowed down the pace of rising healthcare costs, Obama has slammed the Republican version as a hastily arrived antithesis to what Obamacare stands for.

He writes, citing objective analyses and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, “the legislation rushed through the House and the Senate without public hearings or debate would do the opposite. It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it” while adding that though a significant step, “ACA was not perfect, nor could it be the end of our efforts – and that if Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I would gladly and publicly support it.”

Trump, during the campaign phase of the US presidential polls, and even after his election, had raised hopes of a healthcare act to replace Obamacare that would guarantee ‘universal healthcare’ but going by the versions of the Republican healthcare bill so far, there has been a growing consensus in the US that if implemented in the current form, the Republican legislation would devoid millions of the much needed healthcare protection and at the same time would increase healthcare cost for many and would ruin Medicaid, a US government programme for financially weaker section that has been in place for decades.

Obama writes that he hopes that even many Republicans who fought for the ACA would see these concerns and would say no to the bill in current form, “Thousands upon thousands of Americans, including Republicans, threw themselves into that collective effort, not for political reasons, but for intensely personal ones – a sick child, a parent lost to cancer, the memory of medical bills that threatened to derail their dreams.”

And Obama is right. Within hours of the unveiling of the Republican legislation, four conservative Republicans have come out to say that they cannot support the bill in its current form, a Reuters report said.

Either Donald Trump or Republican senators have not been able to come out with a piece of legislation that would be smart enough to outdo the Obamacare. Democrats have stood united against any proposed Republican healthcare bill so far. But what should be eye-opener for Republicans that even many Republicans are against the Obamacare replacement in its present form that makes Republicans, who are in majority, short of votes to pass the bill in the House as happened in May when, in a major defeat for Donald Trump, the Republicans had to withdraw the legislation as they could not garner numbers even after months of canvassing.

Accusing Trump of “giving billionaires and corporations a massive tax cut” while bringing a piece of legislation that may put the American people through the pain of massive healthcare costs, unlimited bills and insurers’ rejections after they lose their insurance cover under Obamacare, Obama appeals to the Americans to call Congress members and visit their offices and speak out their minds to let America know “in very real terms, what this means for them and their family” because what is at stake here is bigger than politics. It is the character of the nation – “who we are, and who we aspire to be and that’s always worth fighting for,” Obama writes.

©SantoshChaubey

TRUMP AIDE KENNETH JUSTER, NEXT US AMBASSADOR TO NEW DELHI, IS AN EXPERIENCED INDIA HAND

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Kenneth Juster, who’s set to be the next US Ambassador to New Delhi, is an experienced India hand.

Juster has been a pro-India voice ever since he was an Under-secretary in the US Department of Commerce in the George W Bush administration. The US-India Business Council awarded him with the Blackwill Award in 2004 for his contributions to India-US relations.

The Washington Post, which first broke the news, described Kenneth as a “consensus pick” and a “top-notch India expert”.

“Senior Trump Administration officials say his impending appointment to represent Washington in New Delhi is a consensus pick that places a top notch India expert in a crucial diplomatic post and he is currently going through a new round of clearances before his appointment can be officially announced,” the Post report said.

Juster has admired India’s technical competence, especially in life sciences and engineering, and founded and chaired the High Technology Cooperation Group (HTCG) in 2002 to broad-base trade of dual-use goods and bilateral high-technology commerce.

In his various responsibilities, he has overseen trade dealing with export of sensitive goods and technologies to other countries. He has also been actively involved in policymaking on China, Japan, Israel, the Persian Gulf and Latin America.

A trustee of The Asia Foundation, a non-profit development organization, and member of the Council for Foreign Relations, a strategic think-tank of global influence, Juster is currently Donald Trump’s Deputy Assistant for International Economic Affairs. He’s also Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, and has been the first contact point for senior Indian officials for access to the Donald Trump administration.

According to Bloomberg, Juster has over 30 years of experience as a lawyer and senior business executive. He completed his law education at Harvard Law School. He went on to earn a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Kenneth Juster will replace Richard Verma, the first Indian-American to become the US Ambassador to India. Verma was appointed by Donald Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, and resigned as Donald Trump took over the US presidency.

©SantoshChaubey

PAKISTAN STARTS FENCING BORDER THAT AFGHANISTAN DOESN’T RECOGNIZE

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

Despite Afghanistan’s strong reservations, Pakistan has started the fencing work along the whole Pakistan-Afghanistan border or Durand Line. According to Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, DG, Inter-Service Public Relations and Pak army spokesperson, the work is part of Operation Radd ul Fasaad, Pak army’s countrywide anti-terror operation and has been ordered by Pak army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bahwa.

The whole work will be completed in two phases with high infiltration areas like Bajaur, Mohmand and Khyber Agencies are being taken in the first phase. According to his Facebook post, besides building up the fence, the Pak army is also new posts and forts to further beef up the security measures.

Nothing looks wrong with it. It is, in fact, within a sovereign country’s rights to do all to secure its borders. But it is not so. The border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, known as Durand Line, is disputed and Afghanistan has vowed to never recognize it. Durand Line, drawn by Britain in 1893, is 2460 Kms long and arbitrarily divides the geographical areas inhabited by Pashtun and Baloch communities. Afghanistan contends that the validity of the British era document that imposed the Durand Line on Afghanistan expired with the collapse of the British empire from the sub-continent in 1947.

Earlier this year, when Pakistan had closed its border with Afghanistan citing terrorists’ infiltration, Afghanistan’s former president Hamid Karzai had hit back using strong words, “the Government of Pakistan had no legal authority to dictate terms on the Durand line.” He added that “while we wish freedom for the people of FATA from FCR and other repressive measures, we remind the Government of Pakistan that Afghanistan hasn’t and will not recognize the Durand Line.” Federally Administered Tribal Areas or FATA is Pakistan’s north-western province that borders with Afghanistan. FATA was seen as a region beyond Pakistan’s control which regulates it now through repressive special laws known as the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) and has announced to merge it with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

©SantoshChaubey