Friday, May 3, 2019
European Parliament threatens Pakistan that if immediate steps are not taken to dismantle the bodies targeting minorities, it would be compelled to suspend all subsidies and trade preferences given to the country.
In a stern letter to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, 51 members of the European Parliament, have expressed concern and sought and assurance from him that alleged persecution of religious minorities must stop immediately.The letter, in fact, threatens Pakistan that if immediate steps are not taken to dismantle the bodies, which are targeting minorities, the European Commission would be compelled to suspend all subsidies and trade preferences given to Pakistan.
India is seeing this move in a positive light as the government is doing all it can to alienate Pakistan internationally. "It's a good move specially because the letter also talks about forcible conversion of Hindus. India also has been raising this issue for a long time now," a senior government official told NDTV.
The letter points out that women from minority groups are particularly vulnerable to abuse. "A report by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace in Pakistan found that at least 1000 girls belonging to Christian and Hindu communities, often minors, are kidnapped and forced to marry Muslim men every year," said the letter sent to Pakistan PM on April 30.
But what is important for India is the fact that the European Parliament now has acknowledged the growing influence of religious extremist groups, often with the support of the Pakistan government.
Recently India had sent a note verbale to Pakistan Foreign Office, after reports that two minor Hindu girls were abducted, forcibly converted to Islam and married off to Muslim men.The letter further highlighted that today's Pakistan is far removed from being the country that its founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, had envisaged.
"Jinnah had always insisted that Pakistan would be a Muslim majority state, where people from all religions, whether Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Ahmadis or Shias, would be treated equally. Over the last seven decades, successive governments in Pakistan have contributed to implementing discriminatory systems that have resulted in political, economic and social persecution of religious minorities, which have encouraged acts of violence against them by Radical Islamic Groups," the letter said.
By Ahmed Yusuf
Centralisation of power
Economy in ill-health
Accountability and the opposition
AFTER an over two-decade-long career piloting Jaish-e-Mohammad, one of the most lethal jihadi outfits in South Asia, the noose around Masood Azhar appears to be tightening, as the militant mastermind has been designated a global terrorist by the UN Security Council.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Thursday questioned progress on recovery of the missing persons in the country.
“I hear the head of Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances held a long televised press conference today. Missed it, any announcement on how many missing persons have been found? Any progress against those involved in this crime? Is ka ehtisab kon karay ga?” he posted on his Twitter handle.
Meanwhile, in a separate statement issued on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, Bilawal Bhutto said that threats to the freedom of press are mounting in the third world countries as the new tools and tactics are being tested to gag the media in developing democracies. He said the policy of carrot and stick by the government has been let loose at different tiers of media houses and professionals in these countries, adding that Pakistan is no exception.
Bilawal said a vibrant and free media is necessary for a progressive democracy, adding that his party together with bona fide journalists and media persons will resist every kind of intimidation against the freedom of the press in the country. The PPP chairman said that his party had thrown away the draconian press and publication laws imposed by the dictatorial regimes and will continue to act as an umbrella for press freedom in the country despite facing worst kind of victimisation under different pretexts.
Bilawal pointed out that journalists and the PPP leaders and workers have fought shoulder to shoulder against the dictators and anti-democratic forces during the last five decades. “Dictators unleashed the world’s most expensive media trial against our leadership but they could not break the bond between the journalist fraternity and the jiyalas,” he added.
The PPP chairman pledged that being a true representative of every nook and corner and every segment of the society, his party will continue to join hands with the journalists for protecting and promoting freedom of press in Pakistan.
She further shared, “I also saw some old friends (Stephen Colbert) and made a few new ones (Rupaul and Adele).”
“Writing Becoming has been a deeply personal experience,” Michelle earlier shared. “I talk about my roots and how a girl from the South Side found her voice. I hope my journey inspires readers to find the courage to become whoever they aspire to be.”“Becoming” will be released in the US and Canada by Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, and in Britain by Viking, a Penguin imprint. It will also appear in audio format, read by the author.
Michelle’s only previous book — “American Grown,” about the White House garden — was published in 2013.
India claimed decision to stop blocking sanctions on Jaish e-Mohammed leader as victory, but revised wording on listing also took into account Pakistani concerns.Beijing’s shift followed serious attack in Kashmir in February and comes amid growing concerns that China would be isolated over issue.China’s decision to support a United Nations measure to sanction Pakistan-based terrorist chief Masood Azhar after a decade of opposition follows rising international pressure in the wake of a deadly attack in India earlier this year. Analysts linked the climbdown to Beijing’s increasing concerns about being isolated diplomatically at a time of heightened global concern about terrorism, but some also argued that the shift was made possible by a change of wording that avoided angering China’s long-standing ally Pakistan.
On Wednesday, a UN Security Council committee blacklisted Azhar, head of the terrorist group Jaish e-Mohammed (JeM), after China released its technical hold on a proposal that would subject him to an assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo.The shift came after a decade of lobbying from India, during which time China raised several holds on proposals to blacklist Azhar due to technicalities – a move that prompted criticism that Beijing was shielding the terrorist at the behest of its “all-weather” ally Pakistan.There were growing calls to sanction Azhar after the Pulwama attack in February, in which JeM – designated a terrorist organisation by the UN in 2001 – claimed responsibility for the death of 40 Indian security personnel in Kashmir. China’s foreign ministry said it no longer opposed the proposal after it was revised and resubmitted by the United States, Britain and France, and added that it firmly supported Pakistan’s efforts to combat terrorism.“After careful study of the revised materials and taking into consideration the opinions of relevant parties concerned, China does not object to the listing proposal,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement.“In international counterterrorism cooperation, we have to uphold the rules and procedures of the relevant UN body, follow the principle of mutual respect, resolve differences and build consensus through dialogue, and prevent politicising technical issues.”
China’s shift followed Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale’s trip to Beijing in April, where the issue was reportedly raised. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is up for re-election this year, welcomed the decision on Wednesday as one that would “make every Indian proud”.While the opposition Indian National Congress welcomed the UN decision, it also criticised the listing for not explicitly referring to the role Azhar played in the Pulwama bombing, as draft proposals reportedly had.The UN listing accused Azhar of conducting activities linked to al-Qaeda and referred to his former leadership of another terrorist group, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, but did not explicitly mention his activities in Kashmir.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry said previous proposals to blacklist Azhar did not meet the sanctions committee’s technical criteria and criticised “politically motivated attempts” to link the listing to the Pulwama attack and ongoing tensions in disputed Kashmir. It also attacked efforts by Indian politicians and media to paint the move as a victory for India, saying the position was “absolutely false and baseless”.Fawad Hussain Chauhdry, Pakistan’s minister for science and technology, tweeted that the omission of Kashmir in the listing was a “huge victory” for Pakistani diplomacy.While Pakistan has officially banned the JeM militant group, observers say it still operates openly, a claim Islamabad fiercely denies.The Pulwama incident sparked a tense stand-off between India and Pakistan, which have long been at odds over their competing claims to Kashmir.
Zhang Jiadong, a former Chinese diplomat in India and international relations professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, said: “This is a diplomatic concession from China for India, a signal of diplomatic support. “At the same time, it was also driven by the global anti-terrorism trend. Without the February terrorist attack in Kashmir, China may not have agreed to India’s request.”
The shift was the result of pressure mainly from the broader international community, and not just unilateral pressure from the Indian government, he said.“In the past, we mainly took Pakistan’s attitude into consideration, but now we need to balance Pakistan’s relationship with India and the rest of the international community,” Zhang added.But Mosharraf Zaidi, a former adviser to Pakistan’s foreign ministry and now a senior fellow at the policy think tank Tabadlab, said the removal of the more contentious language may have been a result of China’s diplomatic manoeuvring.“The material change in the Masood Azhar listing situation is not that China allowed it to happen, but that the US, France and others changed the language and references in the listing to China’s liking,” he said.“China’s objections would once again have caused Masood Azhar not to be listed, had the language of the listing not been expunged of political references, including references to occupied Kashmir.”Regardless, analysts said the listing removed a major source of tension between China and India, but noted that Beijing had also been put under pressure by the US, which had threatened to bypass the sanctions committee and take the measure to the full Security Council, where it would have to place its objections on record.“This would have isolated China further,” Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor in Chinese studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, said.“China is getting isolated on this issue in the UN committee. China was isolated in the fifties and sixties, and it’s a nightmare for them.”
Avinash Godbole, a specialist in China-India relations at the OP Jindal Global University in Sonipat, India, said growing support for India’s stance in the UN Security Council cast Beijing in a poor light.“India had never let this unreasonable posture on the part of China become an obstacle in bilateral relations and instead focused on building consensus and pressure to resolve the dispute,” he said. “It’s a good step as there has been a lot of angry perception against China, especially since the Pulwama terror attack.”Wang Dehua, head of the Institute for South and Central Asia Studies at the Shanghai Municipal Centre for International Studies, said that resolving the Azhar issue was very important to India, which had complained that China maintained a double standard on counterterrorism.“China likely said that the blacklist proposal was conditional on the removal of Kashmir and Pulwama in the listing,” he said.
“Once this problem is resolved, it should be good for China in its cooperation with South Asia, with India and with Pakistan.”