On ‘strike’ and ‘surprise’
Mohsin Raza Malik

Pakistan and India got closer to a full-blown armed conflict last week as both countries remained committed to surprise each other militarily. First, India claimed to have conducted a “surgical strike” on a “terror facility” inside Pakistan. However, not really impressed by such Indian claim, Pakistan also readily vowed to thoroughly surprise India. So, in rather a surprising move, Pakistan Air Force shot down two Indian aircrafts the very next day. Later, Pakistan also returned the captured Indian Air Force pilot to de-escalate tensions between the two countries. But despite such “peace gesture” by Pakistan, India currently looks in no mood of climbing down the escalation ladder. Soon after the release of Indian pilot by Pakistan, Indian army martyred four, including two Pakistan army soldiers, during unprovoked shelling along the Line of Control in AJK.

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Pakistan-India military escalation
Mohsin Raza Malik

The military tensions between two nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours have escalated since the attack in Pulwama. Instantly accusing Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed a “crushing response”. He had given the armed forces a free hand to punish the masterminds of this suicide bombing.

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Pulwama attack: The winners and losers
Mohsin Raza Malik

At least 40 personnel of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) of India were killed on Thursday in what has been dubbed the deadliest attack on Indian security forces in the occupied state of Jammu and Kashmir. In this terrible incident, a suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into a bus in the paramilitary convoy in the Pulwama district in IOK. As usual, in a knee-jerk reaction, India readily implicates Pakistan for this terror attack. And once again, India chose to do so without sharing any credible evidence, and even holding any formal inquiry into the incident. Strangely, Indian Foreign Office summoned Pakistan High Commissioner to India Sohail Mahmood soon after this attack and lodged a strong protest over it. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also instantly came forward with his signature anti-Pakistan diatribe. He vowed a “crushing response” after warning that those responsible would pay a “very heavy price”. “Our neighbouring country thinks such terror attacks can destabilise us, but their plans will not materialise”, he said.

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Anatomy of hindutva
Mohsin Raza Malik

The term “Hindutva” is alternatively used to signify a variety of the concepts such as “Hindu Nationalism”, “Hindu Supremacism” and “Brahmanism” in today’s India. Though “Hindutva” remained prominent in the wake of religious extremism, intolerance and violence against the religious minorities and marginalized communities throughout the Modi-led BJP rule in India, this phenomenon dates back to pre-partitioned India. In the late 1930s, the Congress Ministries in British India essentially displayed a sort of Hindu chauvinism, which has been a hallmark of Hindutva. Similarly, Mahatma Gandhi, the founding father of India was assassinated by an ultra-nationalist Hindu and RSS member Nathuram Godse for “favouring the political demands of Indian Muslims”.

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The changing face of Kashmiri resistance
Mohsin Raza Malik

There was a curfew-like situation in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir during Indian PM Modi’s visit to the state on Sunday. Ahead of his visit, top Hurriyat leaders like Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Geelani, and Yasin Malik were put under house arrest. In fact, this ugly episode just epitomises the general state of affairs in the troubled valley. Soon after coming into power in May 2014, the Modi-led BJP regime in India came forward with its ‘muscular approach’ to suppress the ongoing freedom movement in IOK. It tried to absorb Kashmir in line with its “One Country, One Constitution” policy by scraping the constitutional provisions grating special status to the state of J&K within the Indian union. These strategies, however, have been quite counterproductive. And they have given a substantial impetus to the ongoing resistance movement in the valley.

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PHCs performance in 2018
Durdana Najam

The Punjab Healthcare Commission (PHC) has been established through the promulgation of the Punjab Healthcare Commission Act 2010 as a premier regulatory body to improve the quality of healthcare services in Punjab, including alternate and traditional methods of treatments such as Homeopathy and Tibb. The Commission is also legally bound to eliminate quackery in all its forms and manifestation. Invested with diverse regulatory role, the Commission has also been responsible to do advocacy for the propagation of best health practices. Since its inspection the Commission has been creating awareness among health experts and other stakeholders including patients, about health related issues, such as dengue, quackery, seasonal influenza and smog. To perform all these functions, the Commission has setup six directorates and an Anti-Quackery cell beside other departments.

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A blot on India’s secular credentials
Durdana Najam

To put things in the right perspective, Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP and writer, has introduced a private member’s Bill in the Lok Sabha seeking to protect freedom of literature. Its objective is that “authors must be guaranteed the freedom to express their work without fear of punitive action by the State or by sections of society.” It seeks the removal of three Indian Penal Codes sections, including 295A—a blasphemy law about, “Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.

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Xinjiang and the Uighur question
S M Hali

Setting the record straight Last week I returned from a visit to Shanghai and Urumqi. I had been invited for a series of lectures at the Shanghai University. The discourse with the academics was refreshing and the exchange of ideas wholesome. Shanghai does not fail to impress at each visit, but the real change is apparent in Xinjiang. My first visit to the capital of China’s largest province was in 1974, when Urumqi was underdeveloped. It has come a long way since then and can now compete with any developed capital of the world.

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EU Commission on HR pressurising Pakistan
S M Hali

Desperate times, desperate measures, etc! European Union (EU), which is itself in shambles owing to various issues like the messy divorce of Britain from the Union, the refusal of various EU states to accept refugees from Syria and the harsh crackdown on foreign nationals in the name of security, finds time to breathe fire and brimstone on Pakistan raising several matters.

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Development of Kumrat Valley for tourism
S M Hali

Terror attacks have deprived Pakistan the chance of rising to its true potential of earning revenues through tourism. Nature has gifted Pakistan with immense natural resources like vast sea beaches, lakes, mountains, valleys and plateaus, which can compete with any international scenic spot. The threat of terror attacks by miscreants have deterred tourists from visiting the resorts in Pakistan. Take the example of Malam Jabba, a hill station in the Hindu Kush mountain range nearly 40 km from Saidu Sharif in Swat Valley. It was developed as a ski resort equipped with modern facilities including roller/ice-skating rinks, chair lifts, skiing platforms, telephones and snow clearing equipment. Unfortunately, the resort was occupied by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who destroyed the hotel, the multi-million dollars’ ski equipment and hotels. After reinstituting the writ of the state, Malam Jabba’s lost glory is being restored and ski competitions are being organized while tourists are thronging in large numbers.

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The debate of US forces withdrawing from Afghanistan
S M Hali

US and NATO forces have been in Afghanistan since October 2001. The bulk of the NATO forces were withdrawn in December 2015. But still around 14,000 remain there. Even at the peak of deployment when the NATO forces numbered more than 150,000, they made little or no dent in the war waging capability of the Taliban, whom they had defeated in October 2001. The Taliban took refuge in caves and bided their time, regrouping and rearming till the invading forces grew weary. Even though 300,000 strong Afghan National Army and other security forces were trained and equipped to counter the assaults by the Taliban, the situation in Afghanistan grew grim.

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A perspective on Military Courts
Mohsin Raza Malik

Though the government has agreed ‘in principle’ to extend the tenure of military courts for another 2 years, there is hardly any political consensus among major parliamentary parties in the country over this issue. These military courts would cease functioning in March this year if their tenure is not specifically extended by the Parliament through a constitutional amendment. Following a decision made to this effect in its Central Executive Committee meeting last week, PPP has hinted at not supporting any move in the Parliament to grant another extension to military courts. PML-N, the main opposition party in the Parliament, is still indecisive on this issue. On the other side, speaking to a private news channel last week, DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor favoured the continuance of military courts in Pakistan as a matter of “national requirement”. He, however, equally admitted that it was a prerogative of the Parliament to make any decision on the proposed ‘second extension’ of these courts.

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Bangladesh: Hasina becomes a dictator
Mohsin Raza Malik

The ruling coalition of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed has won landslide victory in the recently-held parliamentary elections in Bangladesh. This Awami League-led Grand Alliance bagged 288 out of the 298 parliamentary seats up for grabs. Surprisingly, Jatiya Oikya Front, the main opposition alliance led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Pakistan (BNP) could win only 7 seats. So, the opposition alliance has rejected the election results accusing the government of orchestrating vote rigging and ballot stuffing. The opposition parties have also complained that they have been denied a level playing field during the campaigning, with mass arrests of their workers and attacks on their candidates by the ruling party workers. Deadly clashes also marred these elections as at least 17 people were killed in election-related violence on polling day. Pointing out a number of electoral irregularities, the media and international observers have expressed some concerns over the credibility and transparency of these elections. There have also been reports about unnecessary delays in issuing visas to international monitors and press freedom groups by the Bangladesh authorities, hampering efforts to independently monitor these polls.

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Adieu CJP Saqib Nisar
Adeela Naureen

I start with a tweet from one of Indian activist Madhusudan Thakkar on twitter on 13 April 2018 READ MORE: 20 Pakistani companies participating in 'LeShow Istanbul' Dear Pakistani Friends, Can we have exchange offer please? You take our 22 Corrupt #SupremeCourt Judges including our CJI Dipak Mishra and give us 5 Judges of your SC bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa :)

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Need for tourism development in Pakistan
Reema Shaukat

PAKISTAN is a blessed country to have variety of seasons. For sure its geographical location is an added advantage because of the fact that in the same country there are mountains, plateaus, deserts, and diverse landscapes. Generally speaking, different forums have been used to quote Pakistan as a terrorist State. The image of Pakistan was greatly tarnished after 9/11 and Pakistan is still labelled as dangerous place by many states. Our country went through a long journey of defeating its enemy terrorism. Pakistan is now quoted as a country of peace lovers and peace builders as they have strived hard to overthrow their adversaries without any demoralization. There is a need to promote soft image of Pakistan, whereas many do not know value of soft power. It is important to know that the term ‘soft power’ was coined in 1990 by Professor Joseph Nye to explain how modern states can use positive attraction and persuasion to achieve global influence. He defined that “soft power is the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments.

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