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General as NSA makes talks with India tough: Pakistan daily

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Islamabad: If talks between India and Pakistan take place, “they are now likely to have a very different tone and tenor” due to the appointment of a retired army general as Pakistan’s NSA, a leading daily said on Monday.

An editorial “NSA appointment” in the influential daily Dawn said that in the appointment of recently retired army general Nasser Khan Janjua as the country’s new national security adviser are two stories.

“The first story is the military’s attempt to wrest away seemingly any space from the civilian government in the national security and foreign policy domains. In capturing the NSA slot, there are several advantages to the military.”

“The NSA is an important job and offers direct access to the civilian side of key foreign countries, which only awkwardly have been able to officially liaise with the military thus far. As NSA, Sartaj Aziz played a frontline role in reaching out to Afghanistan and India – and did so in a manner that reflected the civilian government’s priorities,” it said.

The daily pointed out that in the case of India, that was what led to the debacle that was Ufa. “…It is difficult to imagine Janjua being at Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s side and an Ufa-type declaration being approved by the Pakistani side.”

“Moreover, if talks do go ahead between the Indian and Pakistani NSAs, they are now likely to have a very different tone and tenor than if a PML-N appointee were to lead those talks,” it added.

Giving the other side of the story, the editorial noted the failings of the civilians.

“It was Sharif’s decision at the time of the cabinet formation in 2013 to retain the foreign and defence ministry portfolios for himself that set in motion a chain of events that have led to the present sorry state of affairs.”

“Compounding that original mistake, Aziz was made both special adviser on foreign affairs and NSA – merging foreign policy with national security to no obvious benefit and allowing both the Foreign Office and the NSA position to suffer,” it added.

The daily noted that the listless foreign policy performance of the government “created the opportunity for deep military intrusion”.

“Even on India, the only foreign policy issue the prime minister has shown sustained interest in, there have been a series of errors, culminating with Ufa, which has virtually eliminated any possibility of civilian initiatives on India,” the daily said.

“If the military has eagerly grabbed space for itself, it is partly because a three-term prime minister and his veteran advisers have proved utterly inept in the foreign policy and national security domains.

“…Worryingly, the government may find itself further squeezed out, even domestically.”

(IANS)

 

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Jaipur Literature Festival Takes A Questionable Stand On The #MeToo Movement

JLF's fast spreading presence in the international arena, calls for a more substantial stand on its part, as far as #MeToo is concerned.

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The hushed whispers are getting louder. Flickr

After several star speakers of the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, including C.P. Surendran, Suhel Seth and Chetan Bhagat, among others, have been accused of sexually harassing multiple women, on the sidelines of the popular lit fest, the organisers, in a cautiously worded one-sentence tweet on Thursday, have supported the rising tide of the #MeToo campaign in India — but questions still remain.

“The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival unequivocally stands by the women who have courageously spoken out for equity and dignity and is committed to supporting and amplifying their voices,” the official handle of the JLF said in a tweet on Thursday.

The statement came two days after a petition was started on www.change.org by writer-editor Rajni George, asking its organisers to support the #MeToo India and stand up “against sexual harassment”.

#MeToo
Jaipur Literature Festival

“We write today regarding the serious and credible allegations of sexual harassment made recently against a number of men in and around the literary world, as part of the MeToo movement in India.

“We, the undersigned, are dismayed, saddened and angered by these accounts. We admire the work that the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) undertakes. As India’s largest and most recognised literature festival, we believe JLF is ideally placed to take the lead in addressing this urgent issue,” George’s petition said.

JLF’s response in the one-line tweet is general, and does not specifically mention whether any of the allegations that have now surfaced were earlier brought to the notice of the organisers.

It also does not make it clear whether the doors of the festival will remain closed for the accused in its future editions, or not. It further makes no comment whatsoever on several instances that are said to have taken place on the sidelines of the annual event.

#MeToo
Sanjoy K. Roy, with writers Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple as co-directors, has been instrumental in bringing societal issues to the fore.

Notably, many of the accused have featured in prominent sessions at what is described as the “greatest literary show on Earth”, and, in many instances, the festival has been instrumental in increasing their popularity as well as readership.

On its part, JLF, produced by Teamwork Arts, headed by Sanjoy K. Roy, and with writers Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple as co-directors, has been instrumental in bringing societal issues to the fore. In fact, the 2018 edition of the festival in January this year had come to a close with a hard-hitting debate on #MeToo, long before the campaign gained momentum in India.

Also Read: Watch Jaipur Literature Festival Live On Twitter

Many in the literary circles feel the benchmark that JLF has itself set over the course of its journey, its coming of age and gradual but distinct shift from controversies to substance in the recent years, its fast spreading presence in the international arena, calls for a more substantial stand on its part, as far as #MeToo is concerned. (IANS)