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Pakistan Press ( 3 Dec 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan Press On ‘Terror Campaign' Inside Pakistan, Pakistan Needs TikTok And COAS And PM Of Pakistan: New Age Islam's Selection, 3 December 2020

By New Age Islam Edit Desk

3 December 2020

•  Ground Realities Of India’s ‘Terror Campaign' Inside Pakistan

By Mushtaq Rajpar

• Pakistan Needs Tiktok, Not Education!

By Kashif Mirza

• Healing Is The Answer! An Urgent Appeal To The COAS And PM Of Pakistan

By Dr Rakhshinda Perveen

• 30 Seconds Over Natanz

By Harlan Ullman


Ground Realities Of India’s ‘Terror Campaign' Inside Pakistan

By Mushtaq Rajpar

December 3, 2020

As the world battles an extraordinary pandemic that has taken away over a million lives across the globe, ties between India and Pakistan continue to worsen. Pakistan has now presented to the UN secretary-general a dossier the second in the past five years on India’s ‘terror campaign' inside Pakistan.

The dossier comes ahead of India’s two-year non-veto membership tenure in the UN Security Council, starting from January 2021. Pakistan's Ambassador to the UN Akram has also briefed journalists on what he said is substantial evidence of India’s hand in destabilizing Pakistan and sabotaging the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which Pakistan sees as key to its future development and security. Though Ambassador Akram did not name the groups that India is said to be pampering and funding, this does shed a light on India’s ability to gain access inside Pakistan's areas and raises some fresh concerns regarding India’s ability to mobilize proxies within Pakistan's borders.

Since the overthrow of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, concerns have been raised about India supporting militant groups, both religious and non-religious the detained Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav being a prime example, apart from other attacks and incidents such as the ones on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi as well as the Karachi Stock Exchange. India's ability to enter two very sensitive border areas should indeed be cause for alarm; another scary revelation the dossier makes is India helping Daesh in Pakistan.

During the vote last June on non-permanent Security Council seats, India’s bid went uncontested for the Asia Pacific region; it was clear from the outset that Pakistan would not be able to do much to deny India access to the Council. However, it can be argued by some that, with the presence of China in the UNSC, we need not worry about any possible Indian move in the Council against Pakistan. The status quo is expected to continue to prevail in the South Asian region for years, and in the present global political situation there are no leaders and governments that find it essential to corner Pakistan.

In fact, other than a few angry tweets about Pakistan, the Trump administration’s overall Pakistan policy remained cordial. If they did not offer major financial packages to Pakistan, they also did not threaten Pakistan nor repeat the ‘Do-More’ mantra. Trump’s chief diplomat Mike Pompeo did not warm up to Pakistan, but the country was still able to get financial loans from the IMF.

In the beginning of the pandemic, the IMF extended a $1.4 billion emergency loan to Pakistan. The argument would be that without US support, Pakistan would not be able to get such loans. This can be seen as an indication that the Trump administration was satisfied with Pakistan’s role in facilitating dialogue with the Afghan Taliban, which Trump and his administration see as one of the successes of his era’s foreign policy objectives.

Post-Trump Washington is likely to review the dialogue process and may delay the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, which means Pakistan will remain important for the US when it comes to any deal or lack of it on Afghanistan. The Biden administration is also most likely to base its South Asian policy on the Obama administration's goal of ensuring a stable, prosperous and at-peace-with-its-neighbors Pakistan.

If the Biden administration does not take a confrontational path to contain China, CPEC may not be an obstacle in US-Pakistan bilateral and regional relations. Given the higher levels of foreign debt, it is in Pakistan’s interest to keep a balance in its relations with China and the West. Despite the fact that China has pumped $22 billion in Pakistan, we are not on our feet in any economic sense; in fact, Pakistan stands more indebted today than four years ago. In 2019 alone, Pakistan borrowed $14.9 billion. The expected $50 billion more coming from China under CPEC also does not offer a clear path to self-sufficiency. It is a vicious circle of debt-trap, which Pakistan is still in denial about.

The role and scale of diplomatic efforts are always subject to a country's economic and political stability. Unfortunately, we lack both. Without such stability, our dossiers may not go beyond providing talking points to spokespersons. The utmost concern for us at the moment should be political stability, which could then lead to economic independence from loans, poverty, deficit and uncertainty. Sadly, that is not the course we are on.


Pakistan Needs TikTok, Not Education!

By Kashif Mirza

December 2, 2020

School closures are stressing our kids and threatening their future. Our children are going through it too and keeping them out of school makes it much worse. The pandemic is testing us all with volatile, uncertain and complex times and our children are going through it, too. The adults in the room worry about their own mental health, education and security, avoiding the virus raging around us. That ambient stress is absorbed by our youngest. And keeping them out of school makes it much worse. The latest closure of schools has not only exposed the weakness of our education system, but also added to the number of out of school children.

On October 9, Pakistan became the latest country to ban TikTok, which was part of a recent slew of platform bans in the country over the past month that includes Bigo, PUBG as well as dating apps like Tinder and Grindr. On this issue our youth and liberal groups had joined in condemning Pakistani authorities for blocking the video-sharing application TikTok. Nevertheless, there has been a great hue & cry among the youngsters who are still mourning this 'Great Loss' and being deprived of a Great Platform to display their natural Talents to the world. TikTok has 20 million monthly active users in Pakistan. Resulting Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) lifted the Tiktok, Bigo, PUBG and other apps’s ban after heavy pressure of our nation especially youth and the companies. Shockingly, the apps have been banned by the government of Pakistan and the decision came after many complaints about the usage of the gaming applications and its effects on many players in the country. The PTA forbade the use of the game as it is reportedly promoting unaccepted behaviour of children while getting involved in the game. The challenge for these apps in Pakistan lies in what constitutes immoral and indecent content, and who is the arbiter of said parameters. In 2016, the country’s parliament passed the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) to ultimately regulate content on the internet, and Section 37 of the legislation.

Pakistan needs TikTok, not education! More than 10,000 schools across Pakistan had already been closed permanently. It’s fear that the latest closure of schools will jeopardise the existence of 20,000 to 25,000 more low-cost schools.

On the other side, our youth rejoiced on November 23, and announced ‘Youm e Shahfqat’ when the government announced the closure of all educational institutions from November 26 to January 11. The decision was taken in the Inter-Provincial Education Ministers’ Conference (IPEMC). The closure will initially include winter vacations from December 25 to January 10. Students with online options will continue their studies through this mode of education. Respective provincial governments will make other arrangements for those lacking this facility. The government also announced the cancellation of the examinations scheduled in December. The examinations for assessment and recruitment will continue. The ban on schools was not something to rejoice. Instead, it not only sets a draconian precedent for any education system operating in Pakistan, local or foreign, but also sends a negative signal for International level already nervous about the education, so all stakeholders can have transparency, visibility, and a fair chance. The ban on schools also poses repercussions for the millions of students that use the platform of schools for creative expression, connection, and even just escape.

All Pakistan Private Schools Federation – APPSF successfully implemented SOPs in schools as success story since 15th August this year and which were praised and admired by government officials included ministers. APPSF announced that they won’t agree with the government’s decision. It will further damage the education system, students, families and the national economy. The educational institutions can work smoothly with strict implementations of the SoPs. More than 10,000 schools across Pakistan had already been closed permanently. It’s fear that the latest closure of schools will jeopardise the existence of 20,000 to 25,000 more low-cost schools.

Thousands of teachers had been rendered jobless after their schools were closed permanently because of the financial crisis. Thousands of teachers will also lose their jobs after the current closure. Most of the public and private schools did not have the resources to provide online education. Teachers and students of such schools will have no choice but to look for other options. Most of the students will either join the seminaries or get low-wage hazardous jobs. They will not come back to the schools. This will be a tragedy. About 26.1 million children were currently studying in private schools and 21.9 million children in public schools. As a result of previous lockdown, 13 million children from public and private institutions did not return to schools when they reopened.

Out of 1.5 million teachers, 0.7 million did not come back as they had got into other work after remaining jobless for months. Only 14 percent of schools and homes in Pakistan had the capacity to access online education. The most had closure hit educational institutions in Balochistan, KP, interior Sindh and southern Punjab where thousands of private schools were shut down permanently because the school managements could not the building rents and salaries. In only Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, a large number of school children are joining the religious seminaries. They will not only remain exposed to the threat of contracting Covid-19 but also lose their path to mainstream schooling.

About 2800 private schools in KPK and Balochistan were shut down permanently because of the previous lockdown. Hundreds will not be functional after the recent decision to close the schools for nearly six weeks, the fact is parents in Balochistan have started sending their children to religious seminaries. These children will not return to the schools. The trend is spreading in other provinces and may result in increase across Pakistan.The seminaries will remain open. Madaris have the biggest board of religious seminaries in Pakistan. It runs over 35,000 registered religious seminaries employing 180,000 teachers and having 3.5 million students across Pakistan. In these circumstances, All Pakistan Private Schools Federation-APPSF also sought soft interest free bank loans to provide financial relief to small private schools and coaching centres.

Almost half of the world’s 1.6 billion primary and secondary students won’t return to school this year, Insights for Education estimates. More than 80% of these live in lower-income countries. Pakistan is a economy with 500 billion rupees of school education and it’s related allied economy with infinite opportunity which damaged bitterly. History has lessons for how children suffer through trauma like wars and natural disasters. A cratered economy also hurts. A research paper found that during the Great Recession, a 5 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate was correlated with a 35% to 50% increase in clinically meaningful childhood mental-health problems. Another thing is that there’s no conclusive, causal relationship between schoolrooms and rising infection rates. Schools reopened this fall for a few weeks, without any large outbreaks, and yet we’re now in our second round of home learning by Zoom for limited access to kids. But start-stop lockdowns make it tough for children to transition online to offline and back. Classroom habits and independence have suffered. Anecdotally, younger children who would typically start reading around this age aren’t able to pick it up and are losing confidence and interest. Research shows that child development is a hierarchical process of wiring the brain. Losing these building blocks impedes future development. These pressures on children seem a poor way to control the virus. Researchers reviewing studies of school shutdowns to contain epidemics, not a single country in all over the world did completely shut-down of school education despite of micro or smart-lockdown.

Pakistan is —the country boasts the fifth largest population in the world, with increasing smartphone penetration and a burgeoning young population, perhaps that are tech-savvy and hyper-connected only for Tiktok, Bigo, PUBG etc, but unfortunately not for education.


Healing Is The Answer! An Urgent Appeal To The COAS And PM Of Pakistan

By Dr Rakhshinda Perveen

December 2, 2020

In an age of glorification of oversimplification, instant success and speed one may wonder how to state what happened on the 16 December 1971 in the Ramna racecourse ground of Dhaka. The dismemberment of Pakistan’s Eastern wing has been summed up by the victorious side as the liberation and by the armed enabler as a humanitarian action. A vast majority of people, including well educated people of the present day Pakistan, could never recognize the magnitude of the misfortune. Rather they were and are led by biased nationalist/regionalist narratives, that too often work in favour of enemy forces. This in turn culminates in clear diversion of resources from priority problems like education, health, infrastructure and population. Those digital media warriors, who already have an anti-Pakistan agenda and/or sentiments; their interest and influence are further fed by the mockery of a human tragedy and humiliation of our army. The cost of this unattended damage is yet to be fathomed and it has certainly affected our collective mental health and happiness.

A quick scan of the academic literature and gray literature around this harrowing occurrence, gives a blurred image of the history that led to the change in our geography. As per the late veteran journalist, Kasturi Rangan, in his special feature in the ‘The New York Times’ (1974), the then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, during an official visit to Dhaka, stated in a public apology that, “shameful repression and unspeakable crimes were committed in Bangladesh by the Pakistani Army before the eastern part of Pakistan gained independence in December 1971.” The archived document also recorded that Mr. Bhutto had been disparaged by a few hundred demonstrators when he visited a memorial for Bengalis killed in the 1971 struggle for independence. During which, the demonstrators shouted, “murderer Bhutto, go back!” Historically, the hostility of the public sentiments had justification in their origins, however it has been cleverly manipulated and a plethora of literature has been produced since then to malign Pakistan army in particular. Sadly, the books with a tilt towards Pakistan, bearing Pakistan’s perspectives or aiming to straighten the record without truth-twisting are not only little known but too few in number. In the last two decades I have been personally inspired by three books. These have convincingly advocated the case of Pakistan in relation to the 1971 tragedy. Dr. Junaid Ahmad (A Pakistani scholar) authored, ‘Creation of Bangladesh: Myths Exploded’ (2017). Besides busting most of the insurgency-related myths, he meritoriously proved the falsehood of the number of Pakistani soldiers who surrendered. Whereas ‘Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War’ (2011), authored by American-Indian academic and journalist Dr. Sarmila Bose not only unfolded how the 1971 war is still playing out in the region but challenged the assumptions about the character of the conflict. Whilst, not exonerating the West Pakistani forces, Bose’s book bluntly states that the Pakistan army "turned out to be fine men doing their best to fight an unconventional war within the conventions of warfare". This statement single handedly is enough to anger both external and internal enemies of our country. The words of internationally acclaimed Pakistani origin American strategist, Mr.Shuja Nawaz aptly describe Bose’s contribution as, “powerful and poignant retelling of the birth of Bangladesh…” and he adds, “her book should help the people of both countries accept the facts of that tragic and bloody separation of 1971 and to take responsibility for the war that stained the verdant Bengali countryside red." One cannot ignore the stunning story “Of Martyrs and Marigolds” (2011), penned by Ms. Aquila Ismail (engineer, academic, writer and current director of the Orangi Pilot Project) .Yet to incapacitate the ache that I receive while relating with some passage, I must share a heart wrenching line, “no one from Bangladesh was party to the surrender document” (p.179). I sincerely wish that our foreign office, strategists from political parties and think tanks could do some deep diving and soul searching into this book.

History should not be tempered, and the past is irreversible. However, a proud history can be shaped, and a future filled with moral victory can be created by taking some intellectual risks and revisiting the moral foundations of politics in our part of the globe

Far from the ecosphere of biased or unbiased academic arguments and research is another biosphere composed of shambolic spots inhabited by some 300,000 to 450,000 human beings who migrated in 1947 to the Eastern part of Pakistan.

More than half of them are in Dhaka. They are characterized by discrimination, identity crises and dearth of dignity. Some local and international non-profits have chosen some of them as target audiences and intended beneficiaries. Their stories and images create data for the research students and development practitioners. The usual superficial nature of the logical framework bound projects successfully fail to look beyond the obvious and answer the unsaid questions of different generations clustered in inhumane conditions. The vocal among the younger ones occasionally voice their anger, their demand for basic human needs and individuality through human rights/NGO forums. The current pandemic of COVID 19 has added more to their existing deprivations and vulnerabilities. A story published in Dhaka Tribune in April 2020 quoted Shahjahan, who lives with his five family members in a single room, “Maintaining social distancing is a dream for us. We have so little space to live. If the virus spreads in the camps, it will result in a famine here.” Internet surfing did not provide any follow up to the stories that intermittently emerge on TV screens and newspapers. In the “camps” of Bangladesh (Former East Pakistan), the unending showcasing of the multilayered deception faced by the generations of forgotten, abandoned and betrayed Pakistani Biharis who sided with Pakistani army in 1971 is neither “newsworthy” nor of any “commercial interest”.

History should not be tempered, and the past is irreversible. However, a proud history can be shaped, and a future filled with moral victory can be created by taking some intellectual risks and revisiting the moral foundations of politics in our part of the globe. These most unfortunate people with many names like Bihari’, ‘Mehsoreen’, ‘Maura’, ‘Muhajir’, ‘etc. have yet to receive a formal, civilized and dignified exit from their current situation which they do not see (and still do not see) as their final destination. There are no easy solutions, but this denial has to be ended. Healing is the answer.

How can this be done and more importantly who can do this? Pakistan as a mature state has to take urgent actions for rehabilitation of those stranded Pakistanis who want to reclaim their Pakistani citizenship . In spite of being a staunch advocate of democratic institutions and without undermining these I would not mince words in disclosing my unaltered believe that this issue of Pakistani stranded Biharis can only be solved by military-civil leadership’s collaboration with the COAS taking a lead. There should not be even an iota of competition or comparison. It is all about compassion and contribution. Nothing is more powerful than the power of purpose. The issue can be and must be settled with the intellectual strength and empathy before enemies of my Pakistan assemble to celebrate 50 years of the fall of Dhaka.


30 Seconds Over Natanz

By Harlan Ullman

December 2, 2020

Given reports of Iran’s continuing uranium enrichment program in its Natanz’ nuclear facilities, according to the New York Times, on November 12th, the president met with his key national security advisors to discuss striking those nuclear facilities. The president, apparently, was keen to take action.

His advisors, fearing consequences that were unpredictable and unacceptable, cautioned restraint.

Today, certain indicators suggest that an American pre-emptive military strike against Iran’s nuclear programs is still possible however unlikely. Central Command deployed a B-52 bomber to the region in a show of force. Two American carrier strike groups are in the region as are a number of nuclear submarines carrying Tomahawk cruise missiles.

In a not so secret and unprecedented meeting in Saudi Arabia, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, an advocate of regime change in Iran. No diplomatic breakthroughs took place other than the meeting itself. But the assassination last weekend of Iran’s top nuclear scientist Moshen Fakhrizadeh did not seem coincidental.

In 1995, Bill Clinton approved cruise missile strikes against a suspected chemical weapons plant in Kenya that was actually producing weed killer. And George W. Bush’s crusade into Iraq was founded on destroying weapons of mass destruction that did not exist.

One possibility is that this assassination may have been timed to provoke an Iranian response that in turn could serve as justification for retaliatory action. This would fulfill Donald Trump’s promise that Iran would never have a nuclear weapon. And it would leave the Biden administration, that Trump still asserts was fraudulently elected, to clean up the radioactive political mess left behind.

Suppose President Trump declared Iran to be a “clear and present danger” requiring immediate action. Suppose further, Trump ordered the Acting Secretary of Defense to execute an attack. Several former Secretaries of Defense and Chairmen of the JCS told me that such an order was probably legal. While the order might also be catastrophic, it was not at face value unethical or immoral. Previous presidents have done worse with even weaker rationale.

Based on a second North Vietnamese PT boat attack against two US Navy destroyers in the Tonkin Gulf in August 1964 that did not take place, President Lyndon Johnson used the incident to gain a near unanimous Congressional resolution to engage in a war that would be lost. In 1995, Bill Clinton approved cruise missile strikes against a suspected chemical weapons plant in Kenya that was actually producing weed killer. And George W. Bush’s crusade into Iraq was founded on destroying weapons of mass destruction that did not exist.

What would Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller do? Would he have the courage as Attorneys General did during the Nixon years and not carry out the presidential order to fire the special prosecutor investigating Watergate? Would he follow the lead of then Secretary of Defence James Schlesinger, concerned about Nixon’s mental state during the October 1973 Arab-Israeli War, who instructed the field commanders to respond only to orders directly from him and no one else per the chain of command?

If Miller, a Trump loyalist placed in the Pentagon to do Trump’s bidding, believed the law to be legal, ordered the responsible operational commander to execute it, what would the commander do? Note that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Army General Mark Milley, is not in the chain of command.

Nor is Congress part of this process except through the War Powers Act that does not immediately apply or the power to declare war which the president would not request. It is clear that the responsible operational commander would consult with his lawyers and certainly the chairman about that order. Whether the order could or would be rescinded is an open question.

The order could be leaked. Given the tightly controlled access list, that might be difficult. The order for Seal Team 6 to capture or kill Osama bin Laden was kept secret until after the operation was successfully completed. But according to the Constitution, the president has the authority as commander-in-chief to direct such actions.

If US forces stationed in land bases in the region were part of the strike, would allies need to be informed in advance? During the 1986 Libyan strike, France refused overflights of US bombers enroute to targets from bases in Britain and the US Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar could also refuse access if they were informed.

Donald Trump tested the basis of America’s democracy by calling the election “rigged” and a “fraud.” Given Trump’s track record as unpredictable and purposefully disruptive, could he also conclude that, in his final days in office, an attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities was warranted? How would the system respond? The system worked in electing Joe Biden the 46th president. But would it work again?

We can only hope we do not have to find out.



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