Washington: With President Barack Obama looking at India as a potential great global power in the 21st century, US wants to deepen its economic, political, and security cooperation with New Delhi.
“Our relationship with India is strong, growing,” State Department Spokesperson Mark Toner told reporters here on Tuesday in response to a question about the direction of US-India relations after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second visit to the US last month.
As President Barack “Obama said, India has the potential to be one of the great global powers in the 21st century, so we want to see our cooperation deepen both economically, politically, and on security issues as well,” Toner said.
In response to another question about the India-Pakistan relationship, he said: “It’s absolutely critical to achieving peace and stability in South Asia.”
On terrorism, the spokesperson said, “Obviously, it’s a shared concern not just between our country and India… but obviously, for many countries in that region.”
Toner noted that Obama, who had his third bilateral summit meeting with Modi in one year in New York last moth, had reiterated that the perpetrators financiers, sponsors of the November 26, 2008, Mumbai terror attack must be held accountable for their crimes.
“We continue to follow the criminal proceedings closely and urge additional action to prevent such an attack from ever happening again and recognise that this was a terrible tragedy for India,” he said.
“In general, we want to see better, stronger, closer counter-terrorism cooperation not only between the US and India but of all the countries in the region, including Pakistan,” Toner said.
“We all need to be on our guard. We all need to be vigilant,” he said.
“We all need to cooperate and share information and intelligence… in order to prevent future attacks. It’s not something we can let our guard down on.”
In a bid to make cities safer, the government has set up help lines and installed security cameras which was a great fail according to the rights activists. A six year old girl was raped in the state of Haryana.
A 6 year old girl was gang raped int the state of Haryana
The gang raped was compared to The Delhi gang rape in 2012
“Meet to Sleep” campaign done by women
New Delhi, December 16, 2017: Five years after the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old physical therapy student in the Indian capital turned the focus to violence against women, small groups turned out in New Delhi and several other cities on Saturday to highlight the need for safety for women in public spaces.
The “Meet to Sleep” movement, under which women took a short nap at a park, is one of several campaigns that have emerged in the wake of massive protests that rocked India after the gang rape. The symbolic nap highlights the need for women’s safety when they are most vulnerable.
“What happened to her [the gang rape victim] happened in a very public place, in a bus, which is a mode of transportation that many women use, but remains unsafe. Five years on, not much has changed,” said 26-year-old Kriti Omprakash.
The gang rape victim was assaulted by six men on a bus that she boarded with her male friend in December 2012. She later died due to the injuries she sustained.
Not only do sexual attacks targeting girls and women continue to pose a challenge – such incidents actually have increased, according to the latest data from the National Crime Records Bureau. Delhi, considered one of India’s most unsafe cities, reported 1,996 rape cases in 2016, up from 1,893 in the previous year.
Women’s rights activists say the biggest change, however, is that women have become more vocal in demanding their freedom and safety and that the subject of violence is now discussed openly in a country where talk of sex crimes previously had been considered taboo.
“In the past five years, one of the most positive things I think is that those kind of agitations have taken teeth and grown,” said Kavita Krishnan from the All India Progressive Women’s Association.
In a bid to make cities safer, the government has set up help lines and installed security cameras, although that has failed to be a deterrent, according to rights activists. They express disappointment that despite the tightening of laws for rape and sexual harassment, crimes are still surging, sometimes against very young girls.
“We feel very, very let down by the system, by the government. The gruesomeness of crime has increased,” says Ranjana Kumari at the Center for Social Research in New Delhi. “There have been very, very young children who have been assaulted in most brutal way.”
Less than a week ago, a six-year-old girl was found murdered with grave sexual injuries in the northern state of Haryana – a case whose brutality led to comparisons with the 2012 bus gang rape.
The mother of the gang rape victim, Asha Devi, also expressed anguish over reporters asking, “Women and girls are still being raped, what changed? The city is as unsafe as it was five years ago.”
Activists also worry about what they feel are efforts to dilute the tough laws that were instituted after the gang rape to punish men and point to a judgment.
Earlier this year, a judge set aside the conviction of a Bollywood filmmaker for rape after ruling that a “feeble no” could indicate willingness on the part of the victim.
Kavita Krishnan stresses the need for more mobilization of the kind that was seen in the wake of the 2012 gang rape to continue to keep the focus on women’s safety and freedom.
“We cannot celebrate the 2012 movement without realizing what is happening around us right now. It has to be a continued fight. It can’t just be a ritual obeisance paid to the 2012 moment,” she said. (VOA)
After few weeks of ongoing drama Pakistan government on Monday made a deal with leaders of an extremist Islamist protest movement, agreeing that Pakistan law minister would step down from his position in return for an end to violent protests that had resulted in brutal clashes and immobilised the Pakistani capital since last few weeks. The law minister, Zahid Hamid, whom protesters had accused of blasphemy, resigned as part of negotiations overseen by Pakistan’s military. Law Minister Zahid Hamid had been accused by clerics of committing blasphemy due to a change in the wording of an oath taken by parliamentarians. The extremists, led by Rizvi, believed the change in wording as representing a softening of the state’s position against members of the Ahmadi sect, who are not permitted to identify themselves as Muslims in Pakistan. Like many times in past once again in Pakistan the government surrendered to the extremists. A dozen of people were killed and around 250 people were wounded in clashes between protestors and security forces.
“On the assurance of the Chief of Army Staff, we are calling off the sit-in,” Muslim extremist and protest leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi representing radical “Tehreek-e-Labaik” told a crowd of around 2,500 demonstrators in Islamabad on Monday.
This is not the first time when Islamic extremists have highjacked the government in Pakistan. Not a single Prime Minister in Pakistan has been allowed to complete his tenure since the country’s inception 70 years ago. The political situation in Pakistan has never been a swift ride ever since 1947, as four times democratic governments were thrown away by military dictators, one prime minister was killed while another one was hanged by judiciary, many were sent home by presidents and two were dismissed by the Supreme Court, the latest been Nawaz Sharif.
The recent developments have again proved that Pakistan’s democratically elected government has no authority, it is the islamic extremists who hold the jar of power dictating government what to do and what not to do. Few days back only, a judicial panel ordered the release of Islamic militant leader Hafiz Saeed who was the mastermind of deadly Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 from house arrest. Hafiz Saeed have a huge following and popularity in Pakistan, and was to take up leadership of a political party which he planned to start. The matter of concern is future of Pakistan with such terrorists penetrating in power corridors.
With growing extremism on one side, separatist movements are also growing in Pakistan. Baloch freedom movement is gaining pace and a large section of Pashtun population are also demanding an independent Pashtunistan. There are several similarities between the Pakistani Army committing hideous crimes in Bangladesh (what was then East Pakistan) and Balochistan & Pashtunistan. Mass killings, the rape of women, laying human habitations to waste, targeted assassinations – Bangladesh saw it all during its Liberation War of 1971. Balochistan and Pashtunistan continues to witness these horrors. Religious minorities are also often targeted including the Shia and Ahmadi muslim population.
With growing Wahhabism on one hand and separatist movements on another hand its really a tough job for Pakistan’s government to keep the country intact. Pakistan should now understand that there is no good terrorism and bad terrorism. [bctt tweet=”Pakistan should now understand that there is no good terrorism and bad terrorism. The snake you raise in your backyard is more likely to bite you before it bite your neighbour.”] In such grave situations, civil society of Pakistan must ponder over the state of affairs and should reject terrorism against India, only then a progressive Pakistan can exist. A progressive and stable Pakistan is equally important for neighbouring countries.
– by SHAURYA RITWIK, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik
Anti-terrorism analysts in Washington and New Delhi are critical of Pakistan’s decision to release a man accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that killed 160, but some say they are not surprised by the move. U.S. officials say Hafiz Saeed is a terrorist.
He was set free by Pakistani authorities after 11 months of house arrest in the eastern city of Lahore on Friday. Earlier last week, a judicial panel of Lahore High Court said there was not enough evidence to continue Saeed’s detention.
While the news of Saeed’s release has caught worldwide attention, some experts on South Asian affairs say Pakistan’s move was bound to happen – sooner or later. “I see Saeed’s release as totally unsurprising. This is a story that’s played out multiple times in recent history: He is put under house arrest only to be released,” Michael Kugelman, a Washington-based South Asian analyst associated with the Woodrow Wilson Center told VOA.
“Pakistani legal authorities had said all along that there was not sufficient evidence to keep him detained, so it was just a matter of time before he was released,” Kugelman added.
Hafiz Saeed is the head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa group (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat foundation (FIF), both of which have been declared terrorist organizations by the U.S. and the U.N. Security Council. Jamaat-ud-Dawa is widely believed to be the front of Hafiz Saeed’s Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) which was included into the U.N.’s terrorist groups list in 2005.
US ‘deeply concerned’
U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Saeed should be arrested and charged for his crimes. “The United States is deeply concerned that Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) leader Hafiz Saeed has been released from the house arrest in Pakistan. LeT is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent civilians in terrorist attacks, including a number of American citizens,” Nauert said.
India, which alleges Saeed was mastermind of Mumbai carnage in 2008, has also reacted strongly to his release. India’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said that a “self-confessed and U.N.-proscribed terrorist was being allowed to walk free and continue with his evil agenda.”
Some political analysts in India also seem to be agitated by Saeed’s release and say it will only further complicate the already strained relations between the two rival nations.
“His release only reinforces the popular belief in India that the Pakistani establishment is either not interested or it’s incapable of putting Saeed on trial in the Mumbai case,” Vinod Sharma, Delhi based political editor of the Hindustan Times told VOA. “In either case it increases the trust deficit between the two countries.”
Insufficient evidence, says Pakistan
Lawmakers in Pakistan dismiss the allegations and maintain India and the U.S. provided insufficient evidence to put Hafiz Saeed behind bars or declare him a terrorist.
“The criticism by the United States is wrong and India’s anger makes no sense as Pakistan is a democratic country where courts are powerful and work with full authority,” Abdul Qayyum, a prominent member of the ruling party PML-N told VOA. “Until and unless there is solid evidence against Hafiz Saeed, how can you arrest or punish him? We have strict rules for terrorists and we do not spare them at any cost,” Qayyum added.
Some experts on South Asian affairs point out that Hafiz Saeed’s release orders came out within days after the U.S. Congress removed a provision from the National Defense Authorization Act 2018 that delinks Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) from the Haqqani Network to reimburse Pakistan for its cooperation in the war on terror.
Ashley Tellis, a senior fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington called the amendment an “unfortunate move.” “It will give Pakistan a way to differentiate between good and bad terrorists and they will make less effort to satisfy the United States against the war on terror,” Tellis told VOA.
Aman Azhar of VOA’s Urdu Service contributed to this report.