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Pakistan successfully tests ‘indigenous’ armed drones – should India be worried?

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burraq

By Harshmeet Singh

Pakistan military’s announcement regarding the successful tests of their indigenous armed aerial drone is discomforting news for many, including India. Named ‘Burraq’, the all weather laser guided and armed drone missile is capable of hitting targets with ‘pin point accuracy’.

Though the Pakistan army called it an indigenous weapon, reports of China putting forward a helping hand with the drone technology have also surfaced in some media reports. Some of the reasons behind such reports include the strong resemblance of the designs and technology of Pakistan’s drones to China’s CH-3 drones. Notably, India is yet to officially announce its ability to mount weapons on drones.

Reactions to India or Taliban?

Soon after the successful tests, Pakistan was quick to announce that it will deploy these indigenous armed drones to keep a vigil on the growing terrorist activities at the Pakistan Afghanistan border. This announcement was aimed that assuring the world that after the US forces back out of Afghanistan, Pakistan would have the capability of keeping an eye on the notorious elements at the Pakistan Afghanistan border. Ironically enough, Pakistan has been protesting USA’s frequent drone strikes, aimed at taking out the militants from Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Soon after the merciless school attack at Peshwar, the Pakistan military went into an offensive mood, carrying out continuous airstrikes in the country’s tribal areas. Hours before the test’s success was announced, an army statement said that 48 militants were killed in the last 24 hours in the recent airstrikes over the tribal areas.

This was Pakistan’s second major military announcement within a week. Earlier in the week, the military conducted successful tests of Shaheen III medium range ballistic missile which also boasts of a nuclear weapon carrying capacity. With a maximum range of 1,700 miles, this missile is capable of striking nuclear weapons to any part of India. This range also equips Pakistan to hit most parts of Middle East, including Israel and Iran. There are also speculations that Pakistan military could be aggravating the range of Shaheen III in front of the media in order to create panic among its neighbouring and far off enemies.

Over the past couple of years at least, Pakistan has been trying to buy offensive drones from the US, a request which the US has continuously declined out rightly. Pakistan military was successful in testing indigenous surveillance drones in 2013 but couldn’t mount it with offensive weapons due to technical shortcomings.

Arms race with India

A number of experts believe that Pakistan’s recent spree of military weapon tests are a response to India’s growing military budget and might. India’s plans of a missile defence system, up gradation of submarine fleet and successful tests of Agni V (India’s first intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of over 3,100 miles) had certainly given some sleepless nights to Pakistan.

While India has a clearly stated ‘no first use policy’, Pakistan has never adopted any such policy with its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan leaders have always maintained that nuclear weapons would protect them should India decide to invade Pakistan. With Indian army easily outnumbering Pakistan’s in terms of the number of soldiers and sophistication of weapons, Pakistan sees nuclear weapons as its saviour on the doom’s day. Recently released data from the ‘Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ suggest that Pakistan currently leads India in the number of nuclear weapons. Pakistan currently possesses 120 atomic weapons as compared to India’s 110.

Multiple reports suggest that Pakistan’s scientists are busy working on a missile system which could evade India’s ‘under construction’ missile shield.

Odd timings?

The successful tests of Shaheen III and Burraq come just a couple of weeks after Indian foreign secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s visit to Pakistan where he described his talks with his Pakistani counterpart as “determination to forge a cooperative relationship”.

During the visit, Nawaz Sharif told Jaishankar “Both the countries need to start a new chapter in their relationship by working towards resolving all outstanding issues through dialogue… we must think together, act together and move forward with the spirit of bringing the two nations closer to each other,”. But with Pakistan clearly running on a dual centre of power, Pakistan’s Government would need to do some work to bring their military onboard and speak a common language towards India.

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Pakistan’s Court Summons TV Team for ‘Disrespecting’ Valentine’s Day Ban

On February 14, Geo TV’s popular Report Card show dedicated a 15-minute segment to discussing the justification of the court’s ban on Valentine’s Day coverage and celebrations

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People buy flowers to celebrate Valentine's Day in Islamabad, Pakistan, Feb. 14, 2018. Pakistan's media regulatory authority, acting on a court order, has instructed all news channels, radio stations and print media to refrain from promoting Valentine's Day. VOA

A Pakistani court has summoned several TV reporters from the country’s largest private TV station over accusations of “ridiculing” last year’s ruling that barred Valentine’s Day celebrations and its media coverage across the country.

On February 14, Geo TV’s popular Report Card show dedicated a 15-minute segment to discussing the justification of the court’s ban on Valentine’s Day coverage and celebrations.

Two of the panelists in the show questioned the rationale for the ban.

Hasan Nisar, a prominent Lahore-based political analyst, declared the restrictions “illogical” and “ridiculous” for society.

“I do not even have anything to say on it, it’s funny,” Nisar said.

Echoing Nisar, Imtiaz Alam, a leading reporter and panelist of the show, said the restrictions were “useless.”

“How can the court interfere as it is against the fundamental rights of the people? Do we have Taliban regime in Pakistan?” Alam asked.

“This is a cultural martial law and curfew to enforce the extreme ideologies. This is a sick mindset, and the moral policing through PEMRA [Pakistan Electronic Media Authority] is shameless,” Alam said.

ALSO READ: 20 best valentine’s day gift ideas for him & her

Valentine's Day
People buy flowers to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Islamabad, Pakistan, Feb. 14, 2018. Pakistan’s media regulatory authority, acting on a court order, has instructed all news channels, radio stations and print media to refrain from promoting Valentine’s Day. VOA

Court order

Last year, on February 13, Islamabad’s High Court declared Valentine’s Day celebration un-Islamic and imposed a ban on any public or official celebrations.

The government reinstated the ban for a second consecutive year earlier this month to comply with the court’s ruling.

PEMRA also issued a fresh directive to remind its TV and radio licensees to refrain from promoting the day on their stations.

“Respondents are directed to ensure that nothing about the celebrations of Valentine’s Day and its promotion is spread on the electronic and print media,” PEMRA’s notification reads.

On charges of failing to adhere to the court’s order and PEMRA’s instruction, Islamabad court summoned the Geo TV host, two guests and the chief executive officer of the station to appear before the court next week and defend themselves in a contempt-of-court case.

“This act of the host and the participants apparently is tainted with malafide, ulterior motives, aims to undermine the authority of the court and to disrespect the order passed by the court, which clearly comes within the definition of the contempt of court,” the court said, according to local media.

The ban on Valentine’s Day celebrations and sensitivity toward it are not new in Pakistan. Some political and religious groups, such as Jamaat-i-Islami, have carried out rallies and protests against the celebration of the day, declaring it “unethical and un-Islamic.”

There have been instances in the past where local authorities prohibited the February 14 festivities in different cities across the nation.

In 2016, President Mamnoon Hussain also warned Pakistanis to stay away from celebrating Valentine’s Day, declaring it was “not a part of Muslim tradition, but of the West.”

ALSO READ: If You Are Going Single Into This Valentine’s Day Then These Tweets Will Lift Your Spirit

Valentine's Day
A couple buys flowers to celebrate Valentine’s Day, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Feb. 13, 2017. A Pakistani judge has banned Valentine’s Day celebrations in the country’s capital, saying they are against Islamic teachings. VOA

General debate

Valentine’s celebrations have increased in Pakistan over the last decade, particularly among the country’s youth.

The enforcement of the ban on its celebration and media coverage for a second consecutive year has sparked a larger debate among some of the country’s liberal and conservative circles.

A section of the society defends the celebrations and considers them harmless, though for others the day does not have any place in their religious practices or their traditions.

Pakistan, for the most part, is a conservative Muslim society. Public displays of affection are not the norm and often are viewed as unacceptable.

But some Pakistanis, like Saleema Hashmi, a Lahore-based artist, and renowned educator, believe the system is focusing on “irrelevant issues” at the expense of more important and pressing issues the country faces.

“Don’t our courts have better things to do instead of passing rulings on celebrating a mere romantic day?” she asked. “I do not understand how celebrating or denouncing Valentine’s Day can impact our religion, traditions, social or cultural norms.” (VOA)