Monday December 17, 2018
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Race as a tool to keep people Divided: Will Science break the Shackles?

Race as a concept has been used by humans to divide and create divisions among us for deriving economical and political gains.

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Race: Are We So Different at Chicago History Museum
Race is still a big deal in USA and other parts of the World. Pic by Dr. Munish Raizada taken at the Race exhibition at Chicago History Museum. November 2017
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Chicago:

Last week I along with my family went to see an exhibit on Race that is being currently held at Chicago History Museum until July 2018. Developed by American Anthropological Association (AAA), theme of the exhibit is: “Race: Are We So Different?”

The answer is: No, we are not!

There is only one human race, and that is Homo Sapiens.

There are no sub-races in humans. We all humans constitute one race, despite the differences in our colors and contours, morphological features. The latter are largely explained by science.

However, it goes with out saying that Race as a concept has been used  by us to divide and create divisions among us for deriving economical and political gains. In the name of superior Vs inferior race, people have been subjugated, persecuted and killed. History tells us that, genocides have been carried out, citing the basis of race.

Whereas science and anthropological studies have solidified that we the current or Modern human species (Homo sapiens) are all descendants of our forefathers originating from Africa. Evidence shows that about 60,000 years ago, some of our African ancestors (therefore Blacks) started spreading out to other parts of world. Some reached Asia (including India) and others of course to Eurasia and the current Western hemisphere.This implies that we all form one race, called Human Race.

Exhibition on Race at Chicago History Museum
We might look different, but are we so different? This is the theme of the exhibit on Race being held at Chicago History Museum. Pic taken by Dr Munish Raizada Nov 19,2017

This anthropological facts backed increasingly with sophisticated genetics tools accessible now will change our understanding more and more in coming years. Indian nationalists will also be for a shock because their premise of preserving Indians as a very special civilization that uniquely originated in India will be difficult to maintain as the scientific concepts reach to the the public in more easy- to- understand style.

The scientific fact about race makes many people uncomfortable. Because this is a strong antidote to the man-made idea of Race. Historically, Race and color have been used to create power structures and inequalities within human societies. In the game of black and white, many find it hard to digest when confronted with the idea that their forefathers were blacks (coming from Africa).

Now, let us apply this fact to religion. The latter is also a man made concept. Religion (in contrast to spirituality) though seemingly a unifier, has historically played a mixed role. It has molded civilizations after civilizations, but no one will deny that much of the bloodshed, conflict and violence has emanated from the womb of religion.

Despite all this, we are living in exciting times of science and technology. The marvels of science are exploding at an unprecedented speed. The research into medicine, human genome project, human brain project, space and quantum or particle physics are already enhancing our understanding of ourselves and the Universe in a manner unknown previously. Through research into consciousness and ageing, humanity will see new victories in years and decades to come.

The rapid emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will catapult the World – for better or Worse, ‘God” only knows! But, I will agree with what Stephen Hawkins is saying: It is time for the humans to move to other planets before AI starts consuming or replacing humans.

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Copyright 2017 NewsGram

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U.S. Welcomes Pakistan’s Actions Towards Peace in Afghanistan

Pakistani officials say their influence over the Taliban has significantly declined over the years because the insurgents have gained control over large areas of Afghanistan

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Imran Khan, Pakistan, Afghanistan,
Pakistan"s Prime Minister Imran Khan is seen during talks in Beijing, China, VOA

The United States said Saturday it welcomes actions Pakistan is taking to promote a negotiated solution to the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

The acknowledgement came a day after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced his country has arranged another round of Washington’s peace talks with the Afghan Taliban scheduled for Monday.

“The United States welcomes any actions by the Pakistani government to promote greater cooperation, including fostering negotiations between the Taliban, the Afghan government, and other Afghans,” a U.S. embassy spokesperson in Kabul told VOA.

US negotiator

U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, has met, and will continue to meet, with all interested parties, including the Taliban, to support a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan, the spokesperson added.

Neither Khan nor the U.S. spokesperson have disclosed the possible venue for the upcoming meeting with Taliban officials.

Some Afghan sources say Monday’s meeting will take place in Islamabad, but no official confirmation is available.

USA, afghanistan
U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, talks with local reporters at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 18, 2018. VOA

Khalilzad, who is visiting regional countries to gather support for Afghan peace talks, is to lead the U.S. delegation in talks with insurgent representatives. This will not be the first time Khalilzad has met with the Taliban.

Since taking office in September, the special U.S. envoy has held two publicly known rounds of preliminary discussions with insurgent negotiators in Qatar, where the Taliban runs its so-called political office. The talks have been for the sake of talks, according to insurgent and other sources aware of the meetings.

Trump’s letter to Khan

U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this month wrote a formal letter to Khan asking for his help to bring the Taliban to the table for negotiations. A day later, Khalilzad visited Islamabad where he met with Khan and his military chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, to follow-up on Trump’s request, Pakistani officials say.

Speaking in northwestern city of Peshawar on Friday, Khan said the U.S. has changed its tune by requesting help instead of saying Islamabad is not doing enough, as U.S. officials have previously insisted.

“By the grace of Allah, the dialogue is now happening inshallah [God willing] on the 17th [Khan did not mention the month] and Pakistan has facilitated the talks between America and the Taliban,” Khan said. He did not share further details.

taliban, afghanistan
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, right, head of the Taliban’s political council in Qatar, takes part in the multilateral peace talks on Afghanistan in Moscow, Nov. 9, 2018. VOA

Khan recounted Friday that critics used to mock him as “Taliban Khan” for saying the Afghan war could not be ended without political negotiations but now all key stakeholders are jointly working to pursue a political settlement to end the violence in Afghanistan.

“If peace were achieved, God willing, Peshawar will change and become a hub of commerce and tourism, as things around the 2,500 years old living city are likely to change,” Khan said Friday.

Ambassador Khalilzad is 13 days into an 18-day visit to the region. He has traveled to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Belgium and plans to visit the U.A.E. and Qatar.

Withdrawal an issue

Pakistani officials privy to the U.S. interaction with the Taliban have told VOA that until now no progress has been achieved because the insurgents adamantly demand “a date or timeframe” for all foreign troops to withdraw from Afghanistan before the Taliban decides to participate in an intra-Afghan peace process.

Also Read: What to Make of Taliban’s Continued Rare Silence on Ghani’s Peace Offer? 

U.S. officials have long maintained Taliban leaders are sheltering in Pakistan with covert support from the country’s intelligence agency. Washington has been urging Islamabad to use its influence to bring the insurgents to the negotiating table.

Pakistani officials say their influence over the Taliban has significantly declined over the years because the insurgents have gained control over large areas of Afghanistan and continue to pose serious battlefield challenges for U.S.-backed Afghan security forces. (VOA)