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Pakistan Press ( 24 Nov 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan Press On Immigrant Abuse In America, RCEP And Trumpism: New Age Islam's Selection, 24 November 2020

By New Age Islam Edit Desk

 24 November 2020

• Shocking Details Of Immigrant Abuse In America

By Azadeh Shahshahani And Sarah Paoletti

• Capitalism: Pakistan’s Bigger Worry

By Dr Noor- Ul- Huda

• China, Japan And The RCEP - Part II

By Dr Naazir Mahmood

• Will Trumpistan Come To An End? ( Partii)

By Shahid N Zahid

• Welcome Back America – Warning, Foreign Policy Challenges Ahead!

By Saad Masood


Shocking Details Of Immigrant Abuse In America

By Azadeh Shahshahani And Sarah Paoletti

November 24, 2020

In mid-September, several organisations including Project South filed a complaint with the inspector-general of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS OIG) about medical abuse immigrants were facing at the Irwin County Detention Centre in the US state of Georgia. It provided shocking details of medical malpractice including a high number of invasive gynaecological procedures with dubious consent procedures, in some cases leading to sterilisation. The complaint was based in part on revelations by Dawn Wooten, a whistle-blower nurse employed at the centre.

According to media reports, at least 57 women have come forward with complaints of forced and harmful gynaecological procedures endured at the hands of the doctor contracted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to provide medical care and some have faced retaliation by the authorities for speaking up. The medical abuse at the detention centre has once again brought to light the need for the international community to investigate the practices of the DHS and its agency, ICE.

Several weeks after the complaint was filed, on October 23, House Representatives Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley sent a letter to the United Nations, calling for a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) into the numerous, persistent and grave violations committed with impunity by DHS against immigrants detained in its custody.

Shortly after, several civil society organisations, including Project South, submitted a communication to the OHCHR Special Procedures Office with the relevant mandates, also requesting an investigation. The document also calls on the UN to urge the US government to take all necessary measures to end the abuse, and to provide full redress and reparations to those who have suffered in ICE custody at the Irwin County Detention Center, and immigrant detention centres across the country.

The different mandate holders will make decisions about what follow-up is necessary. They may issue a statement of concern urging an end to abusive practices within immigrant detention, protection and redress for those women who have come forward; request an invitation from the US to conduct a site visit to allow for an independent investigation and consultations with affected parties, other stakeholders, and US government representatives; and can ultimately issue a formal communication of their findings and recommendations, including urging an end to immigrant detention except in extremely limited circumstances and only as a matter of last resort, consistent with international law.

A statement or communication from the UN Human Rights mechanisms can then form the basis of advocacy within the US, especially with the incoming Biden administration and within the international community, including countries whose nationals have been directly harmed.

These formal requests submitted to the UN are a recognition of the failure of all three branches of the US government to bring an end to a history of abuse within immigrant detention. This is not just a failure of the Trump administration, but of successive administrations which have continued to pursue immigration policies that violate basic human rights and dignity and enrich private prison corporations.

Violations carried out by ICE officials have persisted and so has abuse in private detention centres. ICE has continued and expanded contracts with such institutions. including LaSalle Corrections, which operates the Irwin County Detention Center. Last year, ICE’s own inspector general issued a report detailing various violations by detention centres, including the inadequate provision of food and medical services.

Human rights organisations have also found evidence of various forms of abuse, including deprivations of the right to freedom of religion; medical neglect with fatal consequences; unsanitary and inhumane conditions of detention; forcible separation of children from their parents; deaths of immigrants at the hands of US Customs and Border Patrol; and retaliation against whistleblowers and others seeking redress for abuses in detention.

For years, immigrants at the centre and human rights advocates have been calling for recognition of their right to dignity and to be treated humanely, but with little success.

Having witnessed for a long time the refusal of the US authorities to hold themselves accountable for these grave abuses, we, as legal experts, have worked together in pursuit of accountability through international institutions.

In May 2018, Project South and the Penn Law Transnational Legal Clinic sent a letter to the OHCHR, which detailed numerous violations suffered by immigrants detained at both Irwin and Stewart, including the rampant use of solitary confinement as a form of punishment and control; forced labour and exploitation of immigrants’ labour; alarmingly inadequate, neglectful and negligent medical care, as well as the provision of unsanitary food and water; a disregard for immigrants’ cultural and religious beliefs and race-based discrimination; denial of due process; and interference in the right to family life.

In October 2018, 11 separate independent human rights monitoring bodies operating under the auspices of the OHCHR sent a formal communication to the US government expressing grave concern over reported rights abuses committed against individuals held in immigration detention at the Irwin County Detention Center and the Stewart Detention Center, also in Georgia and run by the for-profit corporation, CoreCivic.

In the two years since we sent this letter, we have repeatedly called upon the US government to end these abuses, yet instead, they have persisted. Between October 2018 and now, 30 immigrants are reported to have died in immigrant custody, four of whom were detained at Stewart.

The time has come for DHS and ICE to have their reckoning. The international community must respond by leading an independent, thorough and transparent investigation that ultimately results in accountability and redress for the untold number of immigrants and their family members who have suffered at the hands of ICE and the contractors profiting from their detention and abuse.


Capitalism: Pakistan’s Bigger Worry

By Dr Noor- Ul- Huda

November 24, 2020

“Indian agent” is our favorite buzzword. These days, the show-stopper argument in the political drag-race is to prove beyond doubt how one’s rival has pleased Narendra Modi. And mic-drops. It appears in bad humor how Modi’s happiness has become such an over-rated phenomenon. A man’s happiness, after all, shouldn’t be so complex.

The argument probably holds teeth that the India-factor stands behind most of Pakistan’s troubles. I, for one, believe that Pakistan is much greater than playing second-fiddle to any ‘factor’, and Pakistanis are empowered to shape their own destinies in the face of any ‘factor. ‘The corollary follows that the reactions of our leadership to the problems created by India, more than those problems themselves, have actually hampered Pakistan’s progress greatly in the longer run.

A case in point is Pakistan’s siding with the US during the cold-war, due to existential threats from India and the consequent ‘security-state’ that came into being. India, meanwhile, claimed diplomatic superiority by pioneering the Non-Aligned Movement. Calling it a strategic mistake would be a cognitive bias, since none of us today can imagine the burden of sheltering a newly-born state in a hostile neighborhood. However, an unbiased analysis leads to the conclusion that this attempt to ensure state security brought many perils of itself.

Aid never comes as a solitary visitor; it arrives with the caveats of subterranean values and grafts of ill-fitting cultures. As the general scheme of things went in cold-war era, Uncle Sam’s gifts to Pakistan came with a culture of capitalism and neo-liberal economics. In today’s post-COVID world, even the Western economic geniuses are calling for a roll-back on neo-liberalism. In case of Pakistan, the reasons to do so are even more nuanced.

A Hadith narrates that, “The biggest trial of my Ummah would be wealth.” Undoubtedly, this hadith has stood the test of time. Today, everything is subservient to economy. Education, gender, environment, religion, politics; name anything, and it will be found serving only the economic ends. In Pakistan, education is attained merely for the prospects of a better job and degrees are upgraded as a bid to upward economic mobility. Sons are preferred to daughters because of their better economic scope, prostitution and pornography are multibillion dollar industries that cannot be rooted-out by any political strongman and all genders other than the one predominant capital-holding gender are commodified and held as property. Environment is being unsustainably exploited despite disastrous consequences for the country’s very existence. Religion is used as a trump-card in politics and as an established industry in rural areas and suburbs for monetary gains. And politics, by all means, is the game of wealthy Seth’s.

A practically plausible model is that of the mixed economies of Scandinavian states, where wealth is not the sole fantasy, rather, community service and intellectual pursuits are also aggrandized

The destruction doesn’t end here. For decades, the Western policy-makers have been calling out capitalism for its sins. As early as 1938, American sociologist Robert Merton postulatedin his Strain Theory that the contemporary culture puts pressure on individuals to attain the pre-dominant success symbol i.e. wealth. Inability to acquire wealth puts individuals under ‘strain’, hence, crimes are committed to be able to attain wealth and social status. As recently as 2020, economist Noreena Hertz in her book, The Lonely Century, states that neoliberalism makes us “see ourselves as competitors, not collaborators, consumers, not citizens, hoarders, not sharers, takers, not givers.”. Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, top-notch economists, such as the Nobel Prize winning Joseph Stiglitz, were calling for a modified, and more responsible, “progressive capitalism.”

Looking back, one wonders what benefits the Capitalist-bloc brought onto Pakistan. A fragmented social structure vacillating between the traditional Islamic values of the past and the ‘whatever-goes’ capitalist mentality, crippling classinequality and poverty, a tainted reputation around the globe, and rampant Islamophobia. Things would have looked very pleasant for Pakistanis and Muslims had the mujahideen not been trained in Pakistan and had OBL been found hiding in Nepal or Bhutan maybe.

Prime Minister Imran Khan likes to believe that our greatest problem of all is corruption. That being the case, the policy-makers need to address the root-cause of corruption and scratch beneath the surface instead of managing the symptoms by knee-jerk policies. Catching a few white-collar criminals behind the bars would not improve the situation on-ground. We need to realize that a culture where wealth is the sole entity that a child strives for till his last breath does not bide well for any society. A country where a pandemic is undermined just to keep the economy running doesn’t set a good example. It is no surprise, then, to find every single profession marred by various shades of corruption.

We need to change our value system to eradicate most of our problems. Of course, shifting to an egalitarian Islamic economy is not a possibility at this time. However, a practically plausible model is that of the mixed economies of Scandinavian states, where wealth is not the sole fantasy, rather, community service and intellectual pursuits are also aggrandized. The process begins in the classrooms where external exams are not taken in the early school years to discourage cut-throat competition and dog-eat-dog world; and the absence of huge inequalities doesn’t make money a problem. The consequences in these countries are evident; economic superiority, literacy rate approaching 100%, peace, amity, and the lowest crime rates in the world.

Change is the only law of the world, and change we must, lest we should proceed to a world where patriotism, humanity and all other emotions are outdone by the lust for personal success.


Dr Noor- ul- Huda is a doctor and a prize-winning author.


China, Japan and the RCEP - Part II

By Dr Naazir Mahmood

November 24, 2020

While the countries of the Far East and South East Asia have signed the RCEP, where does Pakistan stand? According to the IMF’s estimates, Nepal and Pakistan will be among the lowest performing countries. Not only Bangladesh but even Bhutan, Maldives, and Sri Lanka are performing better than Nepal and Pakistan.

After signing the RCEP, how is China expected to fare? First, due to the corona pandemic nearly all economies of the world are going through a recession, sparing China which is prospering. Just one month’s statistics of September 2020 show a remarkable rise of nearly 10 percent in Chinese exports with nearly 13 percent growth in imports. It is imperative to note that with the onset of the coronavirus, China imposed a strict lockdown for nearly three months facing tremendous losses to its economy before July 2020 when it started its rebound which is likely to accelerate after the signing of the RCEP.

Both America and India will deprive themselves of any possible benefits from the RCEP, whereas Japan will show a much better performance led by its able PM Suga who has already shown his mettle. He has already tried to capitalize off the soaring international demands of Japanese electronic and medical equipment that are considered among the best in the world. Even China is also catching up with Japan in this field. In August 2020, Japan had faced a reduced economic activity as a result of declining exports but now it is expected to bounce back.

ASEAN is a major trading partner of China and Japan followed by America and the EU, but after the initiation of the RCEP, it is going to play a leading role. Here we need to talk about the role of Pakistan because we have seen Arab countries and Israel sign agreements to change the regional economy. On the other side, partnerships such as the RCEP are bringing the countries of the Far East and South East Asian even closer. And here we are in South Asia stuck with a 70-year-old thought pattern that prevents any better relationships with neighbouring countries.

Be it with Afghanistan and Iran or Bangladesh and India, or trade relations within the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), we have failed to alter our thinking at nearly all levels. We see in the Far East and in the Middle East that from Bahrain, Emirates, and Israel to Australia, China, and Japan all move forward by keeping their economic interest supreme. First, they improve their trade relations that result in better political relations. Bahrain, Emirates, and Israel have signed agreements to improve trade relations by removing impediments to business cooperation.

The same is happening with the RCEP in the Far East. Now trade routes are shrinking and to facilitate intercontinental and intracontinental trade, intelligent leadership is playing its role. While we are still repeating the mantra of ‘eternal enemies’. We have been reluctant to open land routes from Central Asia to South East Asia for which we need to give an open corridor.

Such a corridor would bring in hefty economic benefits and also help us resolve the military and political issues at hand. With the trade between the UAE and Israel, both countries will reap rewards worth billions of dollars and create thousands of new jobs. The same is expected in the RCEP countries; but we are nowhere to be seen in this game from the Middle East to the Far East, nor even in South Asia. All our hopes are pinned with CPEC, of which five years have already passed but our economy is still headed to the abyss. The only remedy is wider trade agreements.

From Bahrain, Israel and the UAE to Australia, China and Japan – all have compromised by a give and take process. And here we are trying to take all resulting in meagre gains. We have not been able to reform our foreign policy nor have we altered our military and political priorities. The way to modify these we can find through trade to which General Musharraf did take some major steps by opening bilateral trade via entry points in Kashmir. But then extremist lobbies on both sides thwarted such attempts. When Benazir Bhutto met Rajiv Gandhi and Vajpayee and Modi visited Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan, again all hell broke loose.

We have been coming back to square one time and again, or rather we have gone further back. We need to remember that while signing the RCEP document all ten member countries of ASEAN welcomed it and no one tried to spoil the deal. In ASEAN, from Brunei, Cambodia, and Indonesia to Laos, Malaysia, and Myanmar (Burma) all were unanimous in welcoming the five new non-ASEAN countries – Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea – to the new partnership. Australia and Japan did not try to invoke old enmities with China and South Korea, nor did the Philippines bring in the maritime dispute with China.

It shows remarkable sagacity to keep your military and political differences aside so that your economic and trade relations can flourish. What if the RCEP and Saarc countries try to sign a similar agreement? Ideally, for this region and for Asia at large the best option is to connect the RCEP with the SCO through Saarc, creating a trade bloc stretching from New Zealand to Russia. For this proposal, the CARs and Russia will be more than willing to join but the intractable problem lies with the Saarc countries and especially with India and Pakistan.

At the moment, both India and Pakistan have worsened their relationship to squander their resources on arms and bombs while neglecting the basic needs of their people. Just take India, for instance, which has strained relations not only with Pakistan but also with China. India objects to the Chinese railway project connecting Tibet with the rest of the country because the railway line is not far from Arunachal Pradesh, a state of India, which China still considers as part of South Tibet. So, China is also not above board in this matter.

China is building this nearly 50-billion-dollar project proving China’s superior economy and expertise that India cannot match. India is also trying to improve its infrastructure in this region but China is far ahead. India is consumed by worries that after the completion of the railway project China will be able to transport huge missiles closer to the border with India, reducing China’s reliance on nuclear weapons in case of a full-blown war. The BJP government in India – rather than trying to improve relations with China or RCEP – has been fanning Hindu chauvinism within India.

Whenever some governments fail to perform better economically, they try to use religion as a deflection from people’s problems. With the recent victory of the BJP alliance in Bihar, it has consolidated its position domestically and bullies the neighbouring countries. We also see countries such as China and Vietnam that have fought wars in the past – the 1979 war lasted for a whole month – but still they have managed to forget the bitter war memories and moved forward to extend hands of cooperation and friendship to each other. That is the spirit we need.

Or look at Cambodia and Vietnam which were in a state of war for nearly a decade from 1978, but now they are close friends. This spirit has facilitated first ASEAN and now RCEP, which has kept its doors open for other countries. Will we ever learn?



Dr Naazir Mahmood holds a PhD from the University of Birmingham, UK and works in Islamabad.


Will Trumpistan Come To An End? ( Partii)

By Shahid N Zahid

NOVEMBER 24, 2020

But is Trump alone responsible? Not by any means. His enablers have been many, and many continue to support him. The election results are almost all in, the President-elect has been proclaimed by all the media, and been congratulated by most of the world’s leaders, yet Trump has not conceded, refuses to do so, is hunkered down in his fantasy world playing golf, tweeting endlessly about fraud and the illegality of the electoral process and has proclaimed himself the winner against evidence to the contrary. His lawyers, led by Rudy Guiliani, and supported by Senators McConnell and Graham, along with many other lawmakers, have started legal proceedings to contest the results in several key States. Without any credible evidence it is unlikely that many of the suits will prosper, but that has not deterred the man from pursuing his agenda. Trump’s similarity to despots and dictators is there for all to see but he remains admired and loved by millions of US citizens.

To undo the damage done by Trump will require more than just a change of President. The upper and lower houses of Congress remain bitterly divided, the so-called Red and Blue States at loggerheads, and almost all branches of the administration stacked with sycophants several layers down from the top. And while all US administrations do appoint their own people across all departments, none in recent years have done it as relentlessly as the current one. And the irreversible appointments to the Supreme Court are something the US will have to live with for decades to come.As the new administration comes to grips with all the problems, their primary difficulty will be prioritizing all that needs to get done. The dark cloud that Trump and his minions have cast over the nation will require necessary and urgent attention.

He is a large man with a very large ego, a narcissist with an infantile mindset and behaviour to match. One can only hope for the sake of the USA that the shadow cast by him over that country goes away as soon as possible.

But before they get to that task they need to get to the White House, which the present occupant is loath to leave. Trump has never admitted defeat, and being officially declared a loser, which he soon will be, whether he likes it or not, will be resisted by him as long as possible. There’s a good reason the term Trumpistan is so apt. His behavior over his entire term has been more akin to what one expects from a despotic dictator. The self-praise, the endless lies, the personal attacks on his opponents, the name calling, the attempts at muzzling the media, and vilifying them if they dared to report anything that questioned his greatness or abilities. And the appointments, the nepotism, the sycophancy, the corruption, the total disregard for the rules, regulations, and many times the law. In short, his demeaning of the office and his attempts at turning it into his personal fiefdom, a country that he would like to have renamed after him and reshaped in his image. And aiding and abetting him in all this were his minions, among his staff, and scattered across all branches of the legislature and judiciary.

Anyone who dares to oppose him, or even say anything that he perceives to be against him would be sacked, cast aside, marginalized, and if none of that were possible, vilified in his endless tweets. His twitter feed alone would keep a host of psychologists busy for years if they were to go through and try to analyze his mind and his ravings. But they needn’t bother. His behavior is totally predictable and transparent. He is more than likely to do the wrong thing or say the worst about his opponents. Never expect any graciousness, or civility, or decency from the man. If you do, you will be sorely disappointed. He is a large man with a very large ego, a narcissist with an infantile mindset and behavior to match. One can only hope for the sake of the USA that the shadow cast by him over that country goes away as soon as possible.

The rest of the world has a very different relationship with that country, and each country will have to deal with whatever serves the self-interest of the USA. That has always been the case and will continue. It’s how all countries behave and no one should expect anything different. All the rest of the world can hope for is a more decent, a more measured, and a more responsible approach to geopolitical and international concerns. For that alone, supporting a change in the US administration is worthwhile.


Shahid N Zahid is Development and public policy expert


Welcome Back America – Warning, Foreign Policy Challenges Ahead!

By Saad Masood

November 24, 2020

A fiercely divided vote, one party not conceding the election to the other, baseless assertion of wide voter fraud, firings of key governmental personnel, military commanders stepping into the fray. The reader would be forgiven to think that is a political set piece from a developing country but it is not. These are the happenings in the United States of America! Come what may, this year has surely dented the international credentials of a country that was once the bastion of the free world! And there are yet more challenges to come! Consider the following five-headed hydra of foreign policy headaches for the incoming Biden administration.

First, the growing trust deficit between US and its allies across the world. Over the last four years, the Trump administration has gradually receded inwards and exited from a string of international accords and treaties. On face value, this is akin to the allies being ‘stabbed in the back’ – gradually and even more painfully! UN, NATO, WHO, Paris Accord – the list goes on. Bridging that trust gap will not be easy – not only internationally but also nationally. Trump’s nationalist and protectionist approach to ‘Make America Great Again’ has now been ingrained in the people and with almost half the popular vote still with Trump, Joe Biden will have a difficult time explaining to the American people the principles of his foreign policy. Why democracy is preferred over dictatorships? Why an international leader is more acceptable than a despot? Why friends are needed in this globalised world? Why American prosperity at home depends on US playing its part abroad? Why common ground and consensus building is important within the comity of nations? This is an uphill task to say the least! Then comes the slow reversal of isolationist tendencies of the last four years. This will include engaging with organisations and countries around the world and making sure that betrayed partners understand that America is here to stay and will have their backs no matter what. Again, a tall order.

Second, what to do about Iran? Since Trump walked away from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed between Iran and a six-nation negotiating group, the region is flailing in the wind. At the time of its pact, the JCPOA was a simple and amenable deal – Iran restricts its nuclear programme in return for removal of relevant sanctions and affordable connection with global markets. A lot of water has flown under that particular bridge since then. Trump’s arm-twisting approach and without a diplomatic exit to boot has sent Iran into the arms of China and Russia. Iran has also reneged on its part of the bargain in a tit for tat response to the Trump White House. So much so that Iran is pointedly out of compliance with the JCPOA and is behaving even more aggressively on all other fronts. In this scenario the most that Biden can do is leverage any remaining goodwill in the region to creep back into the deal, get back some or all of Iranian compliance and correct identified flaws in the pact. The one thing in his favour? The huge stress the Iranian economy is under because of various embargoes and the spread of COVID-19. This will provide Joe Biden with a window of opportunity but that window will close rapidly along with the erosion of any meagre amount of political capital left.

Biden will inherit a lot of foreign policy challenges but there is no reason that his years of experience on the US political scene cannot enable him to slowly but surely wade through these troubled waters

Third, reversal of Trump’s populist but highly short-sighted policy on China. For Donald Trump, the trade war with China was a zero-sum game. It need not be that! But this stride towards a realistic and effective policy on China has to start with the acceptance that China is a major player in the word now and will vie for influence as much as the US. Constructive mutual existence will need to be Biden’s key US foreign policy towards China and will be underpinned by three strategies. One, rollback of some of the aggressive trade posturing that was the hallmark of the previous White House. Two, work all his diplomatic magic – keeping the aforementioned trust deficit in mind – to form a united front with America’s forlorn allies to manage the ever growing international impact of China. Three, use China as a unifying factor at home in the US to mimic the oft repeated slogan of ‘strong at home to be strong abroad’.

Fourth, walk the tight rope between lending support to Saudi and pushing the envelope on increased human rights in the kingdom. This challenge also extrapolates to the wider Middle East including Israel. While Biden needs to laud the liberalisation efforts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, he will have to tread carefully around extending further military and diplomatic support, with especially treating the war in Yemen as a litmus test for the region. Further normalisation of relations between Israel and other Middle East countries maybe on the cards albeit difficult but Biden will also have to ensure that the Palestinian concerns are also given credence – which unfortunately had been almost completely ignored by the Trump White House.

Fifth, bring more stability and equality domestically. The last four years have been troublesome at best. It seems that the proclamation in the Declaration of Independence, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’, has taken quite a hit! Partisan politics and partisan opinions have been rampant. So much so that the notion of equality – a given in the US – has come into question. Joe Biden will have his work cut out for him to reconcile these extreme positions and become president for all Americans. But he must, if the US wants to regain even an iota of moral authority lost during the last presidential term.

These are difficult times – a time for serious people and Trump’s fifteen minutes seem to be over! Biden will inherit a lot of foreign policy challenges but there is no reason that his years of experience on the US political scene cannot enable him to slowly but surely wade through these troubled waters. He must, or else his lengthy career as a public servant will only become a footnote in history!



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