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India needs to change its military and security policy: Shiv Shankar Menon

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New Delhi: Former national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon said that India should change its strategy and extend its military support for peace, as it has not made a single firm policy on Pakistan.

“Our approach and behaviour should change in defence of our interests in West Asia,” said during a lecture organised by the Society for Policy Studies (SPS) at the India Habitat Centre in the evening of Wednesday, as its seven million citizens working there.

“I’ve got no doubt that sooner rather than later India will have to make real political and military contributions to stability and security in this region that’s so critical to our economy and security,” Menon said.

Menon said that his about change and positions in West Asia including Iran, Turkey, Egypt and Israel. He added that these countries can together make a drastic development. Also, they can make free from old Western order.

“To my mind, this world is as much of a challenge as an opportunity for a country like India that wants to change the reality that we have inherited. I only hope that we once again show the wisdom to seize the day,” he said.

Menon gives opinion about the slow growth rate of India which is only 6.5 percent in 20 years.

“We can no longer assume that others will guarantee the safety of the sea lanes that carry our foreign trade and our energy supplies. Nor can we assume that a benign international order will keep the peace,” he said.

Menon started his career in Indian Foreign Service in 1972 as national security advisor and later as foreign secretary. He played a key role in India-US nuclear deal. He said that India’s policy on Pakistan was not working.

While Menon addressed to the audience, he said, “We will have to decide how far we wish to assume new responsibilities, and how far we are willing to compromise on strategic autonomy and work with others on these security issues,”

“At the same time, many more powers, facing the same uncertainty, are and will be willing to work with India in this effort, as we already see in maritime security and counter-terrorism,” Menon said.

“We can’t have one policy, dealing with many Pakistanis,” he said, referring to multiple actors there, each with a different notion and agenda — civil society, the government, the army, Inter-Services Intelligence, religious groups and terror outfits.

“So you run multiple policies,” he said, adding it was in India’s interests to have good relations with Pakistan. They, in any case, have nothing to lose, unlike India. “They have no tourism to talk about and no investment to start with,” he added.

Menon also said about his strategy on Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China and Israel, because of problems faced by multiple actors in Pakistan.

He gave the example of PM Narendra Modi surprise visit to Pakistan and how it led to the terrorist attack in Pathankot.

“Despite this, the prospect is that the dialogue process will continue with several engagements foreseen in the coming months. It is still an open question whether the optics of India-Pakistan dialogue can be converted to substantive results,” he said.

“India has consistently sought to find a modus vivendi or to normalise relations with Pakistan in our own interest.”

Considered an expert on China and fluent in Mandarin, Menon also spoke at length on India’s emerging relations with its northern neighbour with which it shares a 4,000-km-plus border.

“We need to find a new equilibrium with China,” said the key aide of former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who was also his special representative to conduct border talks with China.

“We have little to gain and much to lose if we treat our relationship with China as a zero-sum game. Since both countries have major internal reform and structural adjustment to undertake, the present pattern of cooperation with competition should continue for the foreseeable future, but there are new factors which suggest that India and China need to find a new equilibrium,” he said.

“As for the bilateral issues that divide us — like the boundary, trans-border rivers and China’s activities in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir — we have found ways to manage differences in the last 30 years while growing the relationship,” he added.(IANS)

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Zeenat Shahzadi, Missing Pakistani Woman Journalist Fighting For Jailed Indian, Found After Two Years

A Pakistani woman journalist who was allegedly kidnapped while pursuing the case of an Indian engineer two years ago has been rescued

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Zeenat Shahzadi
Zeenat Shahzadi had allegedly been kidnapped in Pakistan's Lahore city in 2015. Twitter.

Lahore October 21:  It was reported by PTI that A Pakistani journalist, Zeenat Shahzadi had “forcibly disappeared” while working on the case of Indian citizen Hamid Ansari.

  • A Pakistani journalist, Zeenat Shahzadi who was allegedly kidnapped two years ago has been rescued.
  • Zeenat Shahzadi, a 26-year-old reporter of Daily Nai Khaber and Metro News TV channel, was kidnapped by unidentified men while she was reaching her home in Lahore on August 19, 2015.
  • She was pursuing the case of an Indian engineer jailed in Peshawar on espionage charges.

The chief of Pakistan’s Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (CIED) Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal said that Shahzadi was retrieved nearby the Pakistan-Afghanistan border on Thursday night. He also mentioned the key roles of tribals from Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces in her recovery.

Zeenat Shahzadi
Rescue of Pakistani Journalist is celebrated in Pakistan. Twitter.

Ansari, a resident of Mumbai had been arrested for illegally invading Pakistan from Afghanistan to meet a girl he had befriended online in 2012. He was convicted to three years imprisonment on charges of spying and entering Pakistan illegally.

On Shahzadi being kidnapped, her brother Saddam Hussain committed suicide in March last year, making the situation an importance by the media.

Human rights activists, including former Secretary General of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, IA Rehman, have raised their voice to set Ansari free since he has completed to serve his sentence.

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Pakistan Elected to UN Human Rights Council along with 14 other countries

The new members will serve a three-year term from January 1, 2018

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un human rights council
UN General Assembly elect 15 new members of Human Rights Council. Wikimedia

United Nations, October 17, 2017 : Fifteen countries, including Pakistan, have been elected to the UN Human Rights Council by the UN General Assembly.

In a vote on Monday, Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Chile, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Senegal, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine were elected, a Foreign Office statement said.

They will serve a three-year term from January 1, 2018. (IANS)

 

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Pakistan Electoral Body Bars Political Party Due to Terror Ties

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Sheikh Yaqub
Sheikh Yaqub (C) candidate of the newly-formed Milli Muslim League party, waves to his supporters at an election rally in Lahore, Pakistan. voa

Pakistan’s Election Commission (ECP) on Wednesday rejected the registration application of a newly established political party with alleged ties to a banned militant group in the country.

Milli Muslim League (MML) has been disqualified to participate in the country’s state and general elections.

The electoral commission’s decision is said to be based on a request made earlier by the country’s Ministry of Interior Affairs, stating that Milli Muslim League is a front organization for Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a U.S.-designated terror sponsoring organization in Pakistan.

“The government is vigilant and under no circumstances will allow any political party with a proven record of promoting violence and terrorism to spread their extremist ideology through democracy and political means,” Tallal Chaudhry, Pakistan’s minister of state for Interior Affairs, told VOA.

Saif Ullah Khalid, president of Milli Muslim League, dismissed the election commission’s decision and said the party will take the matter to the country’s judiciary.

Political wing

Milli Muslim League was established in August 2017 as a political wing for the controversial Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which is believed to be a front organization for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group led by Hafiz Saeed.

Saeed was accused of masterminding Mumbai’s 2008 terror attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans.

The U.S. government has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest. Saeed has been reportedly under house arrest in the eastern city of Lahore for the past eight months.

In September, during an important by-election in Lahore, when the National Assembly’s seat fell vacant following the disqualification of then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the newly launched MML backed an independent candidate who finished fourth in the race for Sharif’s seat.

At the time, Pakistan’s upper house of parliament strongly criticized the country’s election commission for allowing JuD’s political wing, MML, to participate in the Lahore by-election.

Some experts were concerned about the emergence of militant groups joining mainstream politics in Pakistan. They maintain that the political trend seen in Lahore’s by-election, where parties linked to militant groups are able to mobilize and generate sufficient numbers of votes within a very short period of time, as alarming.

“There should be a debate on this sensitive issue through social, political and media channels. By allowing militant-based political parties to integrate into mainstream politics, it will only escalate radicalization in the society,” Khadim Hussain, a Peshawar based political analyst, told VOA.

“There are people who believe with the merger of such militant groups into politics, we’ll provide them an avenue to maintain a political presence without leaving their extreme ideologies,” Hussain added.

Army’s support

Earlier last week, Pakistan’s army acknowledged they are mulling over plans to blend the militant-linked political groups into the mainstream political arena.

Some analysts side with MML, arguing the party should be allowed to participate in elections.

“I do not understand in what capacity the election commission has rejected MML’s application to register as a party,” said Ahmad Bilal Mehboob, the head of Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT).

“Did they (MML) break any law? If not, how can you bar MML from entering the mainstream politics when they’re doing it through legitimate ways,” Mehboob emphasized.

Zubair Iqbal, a Washington-based South Asia expert, also raised concerns over the validity of the decision.

“This is how democracy works. … There are some extreme groups, some moderate groups and no one should be stopped because of their extreme ideologies,” Iqbal told VOA. “The extremist groups can be barred from entering into the politics only through people and democracy.”

“Unless these parties and individuals are allowed to participate in the political system they might never change their extreme ideologies and might continue operating underground which will prove to be more dangerous,” Iqbal added.

International pressure

In the past few years, Pakistan has faced escalating pressure from the international community for not being able to crackdown on militant groups enjoying safe havens in Pakistan and launching attacks in neighboring countries.

In his recent speech on the region, U.S President Trump put Pakistan on notice to take actions against safe havens in Pakistan. Pakistani officials deny the existence of safe havens on its soil.

Pakistan is also accused of being selective in its pursuit of terror groups. It allegedly goes after only those groups that pose a threat to the country’s national security, ignoring others that threat India and Afghanistan.

Pakistan rejects the allegations and reiterates its stance of having no sympathy for any terror group operating in the country.(VOA)