Chances of war between the US and Iran
muhammad Jamil

DESPITE the fact that Washington sent a heavily armed carrier strike group USS Abraham Lincoln to the Persian Gulf, and that Tehran has given European partners 60 days to save the nuclear deal, chances of war between the US and Iran are low. Indeed, tensions between the two countries is mounting, but with the denial of the US that it is not sending 120000 troops to the Middle East it appears that the war is unlikely. The US has never hidden its desire for the regime change and wants to keep the pressure on Iran hoping that with the biting sanctions Iran’s economy will collapse and people will rise against the regime due to unprecedented inflation and unemployment. But such strategy never worked, as whenever Iran was threatened or attacked, the people showed unity. There is a perception that after withdrawal from Afghanistan, the US is looking for another adventure.

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Can Afghanistan benefit from Chabahar Port?
muhammad Jamil

INDIA and Afghanistan appear to have a problem at hand with banking transactions for bilateral trade through Chabahar port despite the strategically located port kept out of the purview of US sanctions on Iran for the time being. Already, there was no shipment after the first shipment on 24th February 2019 for other reasons, and now after about three months at least 50 containers of Afghan goods ready to be exported through Chabahar Port for Indian and Chinese markets have been disrupted due to financial obstacles, according to Afghan Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ACCI). According to Bakhtar News Agency, export and import have taken place only once between India and Afghanistan since opening of the Chabahar port. Khanjan Alokozai, Deputy Director of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry while talking to media stated that there are still some problems with import-export trade through the Chabahar Port.

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Clash between the institutions is baneful
muhammad Jamil

UNDER authoritarianism, be it one man rule kingship, dictatorship or plutocracy, the Constitution invariably is for the benefit of the rulers. In a democracy, which is rule of the majority, the constitution is supposed to be for the greater good of large number of people. And Constitution is said to be a social contract between the State/Government and the governed (people) whereby latter give up sovereignty to the former in return of civil rights and liberties. Indeed, the Constitution defines the powers of the various pillars and organs of the State for its smooth functioning. In Pakistan, there are three pillars of the State: Parliament, Executive and Judiciary. Transition from quasi-democracy to full democracy was complete after February 2008 elections, and people had expected that pillars of the State would work within the parameters defined in the Constitution. But soon Parliament-Judiciary standoff was witnessed, as they remained engrossed in asserting power.

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Challenges and the way forward
muhammad Jamil

PEOPLE of Pakistan especially the youth inspired by Imran Khan, who made promises of ensuring good governance and improving the lives of teeming millions, had thronged polling stations in the May 2018 general election. However, they are feeling the pangs of flawed decisions and ineptness of the earlier governments that resulted in ballooning trade deficit, current account deficit, fiscal deficit and unsustainable debt accumulated especially during the last ten years. PPP and PML-N governments did not focus on hydro-power projects and relied on Independent Power Producers who used mostly furnace oil or other expensive fuel with the result that the cost of electricity became unbearable for the common man as well as for industry, which could not compete in the world market. Any further increase in utilities and devaluation of rupee due to IMF conditionalities will be the last straw that will break the camel’s back.

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Imran Khan talks sense
muhammad Jamil

TALKING to media persons on Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan ruled out any possibility of a presidential system in the country, saying no contemplation has gone into such an idea. He added that there was a need for experts to extricate the country from the economic morass; which was the reason unelected people were inducted in his cabinet. By raising false alarm about undoing the 18th Amendment and introduction of presidential system, opposition parties especially PPP and PML-N are trying to divert the attention of the masses from corruption, ineptness and flawed policies of their leaders that have brought the country to the present pass. It goes without saying that PTI does not have two-thirds majority to amend the Constitution; and for replacing parliamentary system with presidential system almost the entire constitution will have to be re-written. According to constitutional experts, only Constituent Assembly is mandated to write the Constitution.

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Masood Azhar designated as global terrorist
muhammad Jamil

JAISH-e-Muhmamad (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar has been designated as a global terrorist under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267, perhaps to appease Indian PM Narendera Modi, as the Security Council Committee put restrictions that have already been placed by Pakistan. Since 2008, the US attempted four times to get Masood Azhar listed under the UNSC resolution 1267 but every time its move was thwarted by China. “The Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning ISIL (Da’ish), al Qaeda, and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities approved the addition of entry to its ISIL (Da’ish) and Al-Qaeda Sanctions List of individuals and entities subject to the assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo.” There was neither mention of Pulwama attack in Jammu & Kashmir nor reference to ongoing struggle of Kashmiris in Jammu & Kashmir.

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US moves could escalate tension in ME
muhammad Jamil

TURKEY, Russia and Iran on Friday condemned the US decision to recognise Israeli sovereignty over Syria’s occupied Golan Heights, which constitutes a grave violation of international law particularly the UN Security Council Resolution 497, and threatens peace and security in the Middle East. In a joint statement, the three guarantor countries of the Astana peace process in Syria reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. The statement came during a two-day meeting in Nur Sultan, the recently renamed Kazakh capital, following an international meeting on Syria in the Astana format. On March 25, US President Donald Trump had signed a presidential proclamation officially recognising the highlands on the border with Syria as Israel’s territory. Israel had seized the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 six-day war.

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Commission should have a wider scope
Amjed Jaaved

Tracing funny money is not easy Our prime minister intends to constitute an enquiry commission to look into ballooning of debt burden over the past 10 years. Let it cover related benami, money-laundering or other pseudo-financial transactions also. While debt burden pauperized citizens, the offenders became richer.

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How money influences India’s elections
Amjed Jaaved

Money and drugs fuel Indian polls India, the world’s largest democracy, stands divided in two worlds, the affluent and the poor Half of India’s population lives below the poverty line of a dollar a day. The poor can be influenced by cash, booze, and other freebies. Money plays an important part in determining the poor voter’s choice. Historically, the richer party wins. In 2014, BJP spent more than Congress. So, it won. It spent Rs714.28 crore. Congress spent Rs200 crore less.

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Life in Modi-2.0’s la-la land?
Amjed Jaaved

More problems than just cows In post-election cow-vigilante’s India, fanatic Hindus’ new pastime is to lynch cap-wearing Muslims. A mosque-goer Muslim in Gurugram was told by a group of cap vigilantes to remove his skullcap and chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’. After his failure to do so, they thrashed him with sticks. A lecturer was arrested for his two-year-old post on Facebook justifying beef eating by adivasis (tribals). Kashmiri students in various Indian states were expelled for their unpalatable posts on Facebook. Three persons forced a Muslim to shave off his beard and then posted the whole episode on the Internet. A migrant doctor was beaten up by nine vigilantes even in his new abode in New Delhi.

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Rising Islamophobia
Amjed Jaaved

The trend is all over It is alarming to see how Islamophobes have begun to dominate secular forces in ‘civilised’ Western democracies. During the 2008 US presidential election several Republican politicians asserted that Democratic candidate Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim. During the 2010 mid-term elections a proposed Islamic community centre was dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque” and during the 2016 presidential election, ‘Republican nominee Donald Trump proposed banning the entrance into the country of all Muslims’. When British Prime Minister Teresa May ‘criticised Trump for re-posting material from the far-right Britain First. Trump retorted ‘it would be better if she dealt with the “destructive radical Islamic terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom” rather than focusing on him’.

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Who would track India’s IED supply chain to IS?
Amjed Jaaved

No scan on Uranium thefts? During a European-mandated investigation by Conflict Armaments Research, a cache of made-in-India-2012 Improvised-explosive-devices (IEDs) components were discovered at Kobane in Syria and Kirkuk and Erbil in Iraq. It contained chemical precursors, detonators, detonating and electrical cords, wires, cables, electronics, fuses, , and other accessories. They also included mobile phones for remote-controlled IEDs. Indian companies hoodwinked customs checkpoints to deliver IED components to IS, within a month. The Pulwama IED, also, was indigenous.

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India: Hub of Islamic state
Amjed Jaaved

Did IS use India for the Colombo blasts? India has been exerting tremendous pressure on China, the USA and Europe for having Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Masood Azhar declared a terrorist by the UN, and has succeeded. While under the Masood obsession, India ignored the lurking presence of Islamic State affiliates in several of its states.

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Which system: Presidential or parliamentary?
Amjed Jaaved

Systems don’t matter as much as people General Zia was enamoured of the presidential system. He claimed that the Quaid-i-Azam had opted for this system in a note in his diary. What was the Quaid’s note? The handwritten note dated July 10, 1947 states: “Dangers of Parliamentary Form of Government: 1) Parliamentary form of government– it has worked satisfactorily so far in England nowhere else; 2) Presidential form of government (more suited to Pakistan)”. But, in true context. The Quaid did not expect elected governments could be dismissed under a presidential system. While speaking in the Indian Central Assembly on the colonial government’s decision to punish the officers of the Indian National Army, the Quaid said: “…when the time comes, my army in Pakistan shall, without doubt, maintain all loyalty, whatever the liability, and if anyone did not do so, be he a soldier or be he an officer or civilian, he will go the same way as William Joyce and John Amery.” (The two members of the English elite, the latter a son of the secretary of state for India, were executed for supporting Hitler during the Second World War).

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How India used trade to wither Pakistan’s support
Amjed Jaaved

Burgeoning trade amid China-boycott calls It appears Indian economics, too, is getting radicalised. Aside from shady efforts to isolate Pakistan under FATF, India is furious at China also. India tried to boycott import of cheap Chinese electronic goods, particularly transistors/chips. Through aid injections, it weaned away some SAARC countries from attending a scheduled conference in Pakistan. India’s developmental assistance to six neighbouring countries, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, over the last four years was over Rs 211 billion. India has committed Rs 45 billion for Bhutan’s 11th Plan – about 68 per cent of the total external assistance received.

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