Monday, November 26, 2018
In less than three months another accident in one of the coal mines of Pakistan claimed the lives of three miners. This time the place of accident was Balochistan. It is sad to notice that hundreds and thousands of lives are put into jeopardy on routines basis as the miners work under no safety measures in these mines. It is about time that the government reconsider the labour laws and ensure safety standards and practices in the mining industry in general and coal mining in particular. According to one report, more than 300 labourers died in different kinds of accidents in coal mines since 2010. How many more miners need to perish to catch the government’s gaze? The increased frequency in coal mines accidents shows in the incompetence of the government in ensuring a safe working environment for the labour force of the country. What is the Mines and Mineral Development Department of Balochistan is doing? Clearly, the department is neither regulating the “death wells”, which these mines are, nor is it interested in implementing safety measures in these mines to cut the fatalities.
So far not a single arrest of an owner of any the coal mines suggest two possibilities. Either all mines possess adequate safety systems and measures, or the department does not even bother to inspect what safety measures the owners of all these mines have adopted. The frequent accidents that claim the lives of poor labourers propose the latter proposition to be true.
The website of the Mines department claims that the Inspectorate of Mines ensures the enforcement of the safety laws applicable to mines for the safety of workers. The official website also mentions the existence of a “Mines Rescue and Training Wing” as a quick response force to any such occurrence.
However, the case at hand mocks all such lofty claims as other labourers retrieved the bodies of the deceased. Deaths from poisonous gas that was solved ages ago with simple precautions show that our coal mines have terrible safety protocols.
Opinion Trump's Crude Hostility Is Pushing Pakistan Towards America's Foes: China, Russia - Even Iran
The tweets attacking Pakistan came thick and fast from the White House: "We no longer pay Pakistan the $Billions because they would take our money and do nothing for us, Bin Laden being a prime example, Afghanistan being another. They were just one of many countries that take from the United States without giving anything in return. That’s ENDING!"
Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump Of course we should have captured Osama Bin Laden long before we did. I pointed him out in my book just BEFORE the attack on the World Trade Center. President Clinton famously missed his shot. We paid Pakistan Billions of Dollars & they never told us he was living there. Fools!.. 149K 10:26 AM - Nov 19, 2018 Twitter Ads info and privacy 77.9K people are talking about this Twitter Ads info and privacy
Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump ....We no longer pay Pakistan the $Billions because they would take our money and do nothing for us, Bin Laden being a prime example, Afghanistan being another. They were just one of many countries that take from the United States without giving anything in return. That’s ENDING! 174K 10:41 AM - Nov 19, 2018 Twitter Ads info and privacy 69.8K people are talking about this Twitter Ads info and privacy
President Trump doubled down in an TV interview later that day: "...We're supporting Pakistan, we're giving them $1.3 billion a year - which we don't give them anymore, by the way. I ended it because they don't do anything for us, they don't do a damn thing for us."
It didn't take long for Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan to unleash a barrage of tweeted rebuttals against U.S. President Donald Trump. In his tweets, Khan rubbished Trump’s assertions that Pakistan does "nothing" for the U.S., pointing out the injuries that "Pakistan has suffered in the US War on Terror in terms of lives lost and economic costs."
Imran Khan ✔ @ImranKhanPTI Record needs to be put straight on Mr Trump's tirade against Pakistan: 1. No Pakistani was involved in 9/11 but Pak decided to participate in US War on Terror. 2. Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war & over $123 bn was lost to economy. US "aid" was a miniscule $20 bn. 54K 6:37 AM - Nov 19, 2018 Twitter Ads info and privacy 24.1K people are talking about this Twitter Ads info and privacy
Khan’s tweets were followed by Pakistan's Army Chief issuing a statement via the military spokesperson, pointing out that Pakistan has done more for peace in the region "than any other country."
Pakistan Chief of Staff tweet
Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor ✔ @OfficialDGISPR “Pakistan has successfully fought against terrorism while also contributing to regional peace. Pakistan has done much more for peace in Afghanistan than any other country”, COAS. (1 of 2). 15.4K 7:18 AM - Nov 20, 2018 Twitter Ads info and privacy 4,651 people are talking about this Twitter Ads info and privacy skip - Pakistan CoS tweet2
Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor ✔ @OfficialDGISPR “We have paid the highest military, economic, political and social cost and the world should acknowledge that. We shall continue to contribute towards peace in Afghanistan but Pakistan’s honour and Pakistan’s security shall always stay premier” COAS. (2 of 2). 25.3K 7:18 AM - Nov 20, 2018 Twitter Ads info and privacy 7,459 people are talking about this Twitter Ads info and privacy
Even the Prime Minister’s most vocal political opponents quickly rallied behind Khan’s response to Trump. There was fueled by righteous indignation – but also because anti-Americanism sells across the country, and every political stakeholder wants a slice of the potential political benefits.
In the past, the Pakistani leadership has had to balance its explicitly anti-U.S. rhetoric at home with a clear policy of safeguarding shared interests with Washington. But Khan’s direct confrontation with Trump on Twitter is a clear departure from that.The first is Khan’s own loud-mouthed and undiplomatic nature, which has seen him being compared to Trump, even before either of them was elected as the state leader. The second is the U.S. decision to cut financial aid to Pakistan, which affects the coffers of both the civil and military leadership.
With American aid increasingly shrinking, Pakistan no longer feels obliged to even pretend to toe U.S. policies.
What is important to highlight here, despite the drama, is that neither Trump nor Khan said anything that their predecessors hadn’t. President Barack Obama had repeatedly called out Pakistan for providing "safe havens" for terror groups, while previous Pakistani governments have reiterated the country’s sacrifices in the War on Terror, to deflect pointing fingers.So despite both Trump and Khan reiterating what their respective states have long maintained, this online duel has brought the two states to a confrontation not seen in recent years.
This is because both Trump and Khan put forward their state’s positions in the most undiplomatic of manners, even if completely consistent with the populist drums that they’ve beaten at home.Khan’s completely contrasting diplomatic overtures towards other states like Saudi Arabia and China are further evidence that the Pakistani state now believes that its ties with U.S. are no longer as critical.Islamabad also feels that its financial needs would be covered by these two states, with Saudi Arabia recently giving Pakistan a $6 billion bailout package in exchange for diplomatic support amidst the crisis triggered by the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.Similarly, Beijing has made its largest ever foreign investment in the shape of the economic corridor running through Pakistan, which has prompted Islamabad to put all its eggs in the China basket, even if that has meant compromising on state sovereignty.
Even so, despite the transformation in regional realities a common goal – its varied interpretations for either state notwithstanding – for both U.S. and Pakistan remains unfulfilled in Afghanistan. The most critical, and yet to be answered, question regarding the Afghanistan peace process is the future of the Taliban, over which Pakistan still exercises considerable influence.
Earlier this month, a key figure in this process was removed when the "Father of the Taliban" Sami-ul-Haq was found dead under mysterious circumstances at his home. Ul-Haq – who founded and ran Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania, the madrassa that has been the alma mater of various prominent jihadists in the region – had been approached by the Afghanistan government last month to mediate peace talks with the Taliban.
Since then, Taliban officials have participated in talks in Moscow, hinting at a greater role for Russia in the Afghan mediation process, which clashes with the historical U.S. position in the region. Pakistan is already signing military deals with Russia to fill the void left by its increasing differences with the U.S.
Trump’s South Asia policy, and singling out of Islamabad as the problem in the region, has played its part in bringing the trio of China, Russia and Pakistan together over a wide array of mutual interests in the region, including Afghanistan.And now as this trio seeks a formalized role for the Taliban in Afghanistan, it would allow Islamabad to pursue its duplicitous policy of nurturing specific jihadist groups who serve its strategic interests in Afghanistan and India, as long as the state can exercise its control over them to keep them away from Chinese investments.
In accordance with this strategy, Pakistan has recently taken UN designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed – a mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2018 – off its list of terrorists where he had been placed earlier this year to avoid the country being blacklisted by the terror watchdog Financial Action Task Force.
There is another potential upside for Pakistan to distancing itself from the U.S.: Pakistan can draw closer to Iran.
This would be particularly true in the trade and energy realms, with projects like the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline long stalled owing to U.S. sanctions on Iran, now reimposed by Washington this month. Pakistan would still have to jockey between Tehran's increasingly open arms and major resistance by Saudi Arabia, which is providing essential cashflow right now.With Russia and China orchestrating the Afghan peace process, jihadist groups continuing to function in the region, and Iran finding economic alternatives to ease the pressure of sanctions, the geopolitical picture in South Asia is diverging starkly from U.S. interests and policy.
And while Trump, like Obama, is absolutely right to accuse Pakistan of providing sanctuary to UN designated terrorists – Osama bin Laden, of course, being the most prominent example – the U.S. president’s continued stick without nary a carrot in sight might just have pushed Islamabad away for good.
Frustrations over that, and the backtalk spearheaded by Imran Khan, means bubbling tension only needs another trigger, tweeted or not, to plunge U.S. and Pakistan into to a full-blown crisis.