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Ahmad Massoud, said that people from all the classes should get together and stand for their country against the Taliban, Khaama News reported. Masoud aired his voice clip from an unknown place, hours after Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said that there are unconfirmed reports that Amrullah Saleh had fled Panjshir.
There were reports about the escape of Massoud and Saleh to Tajikistan. Mujahid, speaking at a press conference, said that Panjshir province has been fully captured and added that those who have fled can still join the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Masoud in his voice clip though did not say anything about the capture of Panjshir province directly, added that their forces are present in the province and Andarab.
"National resistance force is for entire Afghanistan. We welcomed the call for a ceasefire by religious scholars in Kabul but the Taliban did not agree and launched attacks on the forces," Massoud said.
He claimed that the Taliban's last night's attacks were backed by foreign forces and added that a new spokesperson of the resistance forces will be announced soon. The spokesperson of the resistance forces, Fahmi Dashti, has been killed but the Taliban said that he was killed in a conflict between the resistance forces.
keywords: Ahmad Massoud, Panjshir province, Afghan, Taliban
The Panjshir resistance has denied Talibans claim of having captured the province. "Taliban's claim of occupying Panjshir is false. The NRF forces are present in all the strategic positions across the valley to continue the fight. We assure the people of Afghanistan that the struggle against the Taliban and their partners will continue until justice and freedom prevails," the National Resistance Front (NRF) said in a tweet.
Taliban fighters have fully captured the very last holdout, Panjshir province, it has been claimed. Acting minister of culture and information and spokesperson of the Taliban, Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement said that their efforts for the establishment of nationwide security has paid off and the province has been taken by the help of 'Allah' and the support of the people, Khaama News reported.
The defiant Panjshir province has been witnessing heavy conflicts between the Taliban and the resistance forces for the last seven days during which both sides have inflicted casualties. As per the statement, some of the resistance forces have been killed while others fled the province, the report said. "We assure the people of Panjshir not to be subject to discriminatory behavior, they are our brothers and will jointly work for the development of Afghanistan", the statement said.
In the last night's conflict in Panjshir province, a key commander of the resistance forces, General Abdul Wodod, and the spokesperson of the forces, Fahim Dashti, were killed.
Earlier, co-leader of the resistance Ahmad Masoud had offered negotiations with the Taliban that were refused by the Taliban.
Keywords: Taliban, Panjshir, Afghanistan, Culture, Development
In the context of the pandemic affecting the world, India being amongst the worst impacted countries, the fundamentals of State-Citizen relationship in a democratic dispensation have come under the focus in terms of defining where the nation's energies and resources would be devoted first. The health emergency caused by Covid-19 has been with us for more than a year -- and still persistent -- leading to enormous loss of lives, destruction of employment and a sharp rise of poverty posing the unprecedented challenge before the ruling dispensation of reviving a derailed economy.
The sovereign state of India has in this period been tested also for its ability to ensure defence of the nation against external dangers and security of its people against internal threats. In the developed West, including the US and UK, no external and internal security risks were encountered and the national governments there could more easily concentrate wholeheartedly on dealing with the pandemic and using their large financial resources towards aiding the population in economic distress. In India, a country with financial limitations, the period saw an escalation of the hostile activities of the two adversaries on the borders -- Pakistan and China -- who had formed a military alliance primarily to damage India's security. The Modi government thus faced issues of defence, internal security, health emergency and economic disruption, all together, and it goes to its credit that a sincere and competent effort was made at the highest levels to deal with this challenge on multiple fronts through these difficult months. Prime Minister Modi's leadership stands out for commitment to nationalism, political will, personal application to solution finding, hard work and quick decision-making on matters across the spectrum.
For a sovereign democratic state, defence of the nation and security of its people will always be on top of its agenda notwithstanding any spells of internal difficulties and socio-economic pressures that the country might have faced at any point. By the time the pandemic hit the country, the Sino-Pak axis had already become active in denouncing India for abrogating Art 370 relating to special status of Jammu and Kashmir. While China started a military build-up on LAC in Ladakh, Pakistan stepped up terror activity in Kashmir using even drones for dropping arms and IEDs from across the LoC in aid of terrorists infiltrated into the Valley.
NCC cadets practice early morning. Photo by Mukesh S on Unsplash.
Prime Minister Modi, in spite of his preoccupation with decisions required to be taken to handle the 'pandemic of the century' and boost up vaccine production on a scale large enough to meet the vast requirement of Indians of advanced age, responded promptly to the aggressiveness shown by PLA in the Ladakh sector and the escalation of trans-border terrorism attempted by Pakistan in Kashmir. He made the bold strategic move of appointing the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen Bipin Rawat, to expedite the process of preparing the defence forces for jointly responding to an external aggression. The creation of this position had been recommended by the Kargil Review Committee but this was not acted upon all these years.
Following the incident of Galwan Valley in Ladakh on June 15 last year -- in which a large contingent of PLA physically attacked the Indian Army patrol at LAC and caused the death of twenty soldiers including the Lt Col in the field -- the Prime Minister himself visited the Corps headquarter at Nimu outside Ladakh accompanied by CDS to interact with Army personnel of the forward post and support their role in firmly countering any aggressive move of the Chinese. The Prime Minister delivered a message to China that India's determination to deal with any aggression was 'as high as the Himalayas' -- he set an example of leading the country from the front. Modi's leadership has given confidence to the nation that on defence and security India was prepared to do its best.
It is to be understood that defence is against the threat of an external aggression or an 'open attack' of the enemy whereas security is protection against a 'covert' offensive of the latter such as is the case with terrorism unleashed by infiltrated agents and insiders who had been won over by the enemy and secretly trained for carrying out acts of violence. While advance information about any military offensive of the enemy helps the defence preparation, security banks very heavily on Intelligence gathered by external and internal agencies and made available in time for neutralising the plan of violence or domestic disruption hatched by the enemy agents. The world is witnessing an era of 'proxy wars' and India has been for long at the receiving end of the Pak-instigated asymmetric warfare in Kashmir in which Islamic militants and radicals were used by Pakistan as its instruments. China, now in a deep-seated alliance with Pakistan, is known for using 'deception' as a war strategy. India, therefore, has to be fully prepared for coordinated attempts of these two adversaries to fish in our troubled waters and make moves to internally destabilise India.
The Indian tricolour flag waving in the wind at the Wagah border near Amritsar in Punjab, India.Photo by Naveed Ahmed on Unsplash.
Internal security has become particularly important in the present scenario and the communal front, regionalism and human rights activism aiming at politics, all need close monitoring. The Modi government is being attacked by the political opponents for allegedly working for 'Hindu majoritarianism' but the latter would be aware somewhere that it is their persistent record of desperately banking on 'Minority' votes that had created a significant backlash and drawn many Hindus to the nationalist-minded BJP regime. Constitutionally, India has 'one man one vote', 'equality' before law and 'freedom of worship' and the ruling dispensation here does not carry a 'denominational stamp'. The paradigms of secularism are thus all met. Mobilisation with communal overtones may have been a familiar feature of electoral politics in India and yet what puts Indian democracy on a sound footing is the astuteness of Indian voters who gave their verdict basically on the performance of a government on the fundamental points of security and economic welfare. People at large see that Prime Minister Modi's intentions to work for both could not be doubted. This is what brought the Modi regime back to power in the 2019 Lok Sabha election with an even larger majority. Blindly criticising all policies of the government has not helped the opposition.
On defence and security, a major test for India is the speed and smoothness with which the CDS would be able to achieve the mission of establishing 'jointness' of the three defence services -- Army, Navy and Air Force -- and bringing about necessary command structures and fund allocation norms for this purpose. CDS is now the Secretary of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) assuming many basic responsibilities of the erstwhile Defence Secretary and he provides the 'single point advice' to the Defence Minister. In the Indian context, two things would prove helpful -- the experience gained by the country on the coordination among the three Service Chiefs achieved through the successful working of the Chiefs of Staff Committee all these years and the positive outcome of the first Tri Services Theatre Command established in 2001 for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands under Vice Admiral Arun Prakash who went on to become the Navy chief.
The Chiefs of Staff Committee had a rotating chairman based on seniority and the only difference there structurally would be the presence of CDS as the permanent chairman. The character of this forum at the apex would not change and to obtain endorsement by consensus on crucial decisions pertaining to 'jointness' of the defence forces after threadbare discussions, should not be difficult. If 'theatrisation' of commands is the direction of reform according to media reports then a combination of geographical factors and threat analysis would surely be a major determinant for that. India's prime defences are on land and sea while the air power as a modern strike instrument, meant to weaken the enemy anywhere, could be used by the national level command in a situation of conflict. That some components of the Air Force would be integrated with theatre commands to strengthen 'joint defence' is an idea that could also be implemented in addition, wherever necessary. It is clear that inter-services operational and rank related adjustments would be sorted out with the passage of time -- facilitated by the past tradition of the three Chiefs at the Chiefs of Staff Committee discussing all matters big or small relating to defence.
An Indian airforce jet at the Aero India 2019.Photo by Vishu on Unsplash.
It is a matter of great satisfaction that Prime Minister Modi has personally attended to the crucial matters of defence and security amidst pressures of the pandemic and economy related challenges. Internal security is also emerging as a task far more important than before for reasons mentioned earlier and the country, therefore, needs a far closer coordination between the central agencies and the state intelligence as well as a much greater recognition of the role of state police as a first responder to national security threats. All this exists already but has to be perfected so that no impediments arose from the fact of politically different dispensations being in position at the Centre and in the state.
A democratic state has to strive to keep national security issues completely above party politics. The annual conference of DGPs called by Director Intelligence Bureau for sharing a review of national security scenario, is the right forum where the centre-state police rapport -- for prompt handling of any imminent threat to internal security -- would be discussed and some illustrations pointed out for identifying the lessons drawn for the general good. Internal security issues seem to be running into political slugfest too often and this is not healthy, if the Joint Parliamentary Committees concerned with defence and security are adequately briefed on the current scenario and the policy framework of the government to handle it explained to them, the opposition would risk getting exposed before the people if it tried to drag these matters into controversies for political motives. People of India are sensitive and receptive towards national security and are willing to even push their personal issues aside for safeguarding it. The Prime Minister has done well to keep defence and security in his focus even when the pandemic and its economic consequences had become matters of overwhelming concern. This would not go unnoticed by the people of India at large.
( This article was first published at IANS and is written by D.C. PATHAK. He is the former Director of Intelligence Bureau of India) (IANS/SB)
Keywords: Defence, Security, India, National Security
The recent armed violence in the Gaza strip was one of the many confrontations between the Israeli Security Forces and an extremist organization called Hamas, that controls the Gaza strip. The struggle between the Jews and Arabs in the region is older than the countries, before the first World War the region was under the Ottoman Empire with Jews, Arabs and Christians sharing the space in Jerusalem and rest of the region.
Jerusalem has been a historic site for the Abrahamic religions, close to the inception of their faith as a community. While the Judaism is oldest among the three, during the Ottoman rule the Arab influence in the region grew to the extend that the Jews began migrating towards the north in Europe due to systemic religious persecution. But something changed around the beginning of the 20th century, Jews began to face anti-Semitism throughout Europe as well. Jews faced discrimination due to a social believe that they have created an imbalance in accumulation of wealth and properties.
The native Christian population began looking at them with contempt for being high earners and hoarders of wealth. This was due to religious limitation imposed over the Christians by their faith- both Christians and Muslims were not allowed to earn profit through lending, i.e. taking interest was a sin as per religious belief. Jews had no such limitation and this resulted in the financial growth of the Jewish community throughout the industrial period in Europe. Some even blamed the Jewish people for the state of poverty and misfortune among the European working classes.
This contempt and segregation by the Christian community reinforced the Zionism movement which demanded separate Jewish state for the Jews. Zionist leaders viewed Jerusalem as their historic homeland and a planned migration to the region began in late 19th century. In the World War I, the Ottoman empire sided with the Axis powers. Meanwhile in 1917, the British Foreign Secretary issued the Balfour Declaration supporting the Zionism movement and establishment of the Jewish state of Israel.
After the defeat of Ottoman Empire in WWI, the British took the territorial control of the region. Immigration into the British controlled Israel continued but this resulted in conflicts between the Arabs and the Jews. The Arabs viewed this immigration as a continued form of colonialism by the European forces. The holocaust in the Nazi Germany was the 'final nail on the coffin', the leadership of the Zionist movement further pushed the migration and settlement plans. After the independence of Israel in 1948 around 250,000 Jews migrated into the new state of Israel. But the proposed state of Israel did not accommodate Jerusalem. The word 'zion' means Jerusalem in Hebrew, thus, it is safe to assume that even thought the Jews had a Jewish state to them, they were far from their intended goal- their return to the holy city of Jerusalem.
Following the Jewish immigration, the sectarian violence grew into an armed conflict with militias forming on both sides. In 1947, the violence finally gathered international attention and the United Nations proposed a two-state solution and asked the then ruling British forces to divide the region into Jewish state of Israel and Arabian state of Palestine. The plan also proposed that the holy city of Jerusalem should become a special international zone because it was of religious importance to all the three Abrahamic religions.
The Jews accepted the plan but the Arabs denied it. The Arabs believed that it was just a continued form of colonialism and oppression by the European forces. According to the Arabs, the Jews had illegally occupied their land and pushed them out of their own territories. And according to the Jews, they had finally returned to their historical homeland after being persecuted for centuries.
In 1948, the British finally left and the Jews accepted the UN's proposal. Meanwhile the Arab League consisting Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Transjordan, had already joined forces in opposition of the new state of Israel and raised a liberation army of thousands of volunteers. Facing this eminent threat Israel had decided to train its population in military combat and outsourced arms from Europe. The now strengthened Israeli forces faced a full-fledged war right after its independence on 14th May 1948.
In 1949, Israel signed Armistice Agreements with its neighbors putting an end to the first Arab-Israel conflict. With this agreement Israel occupied a large chunk of the Palestinian region and western Jerusalem, Egypt annexed the Gaza Strip and Transjordan (later Jordan) occupied the West Bank. This agreement displaced thousands of Arabs into the neighboring sates as refugees and thousands of Jews in the Arab regions were forced to now migrate to either Israel or Europe for safe haven.
The Six-Day war (1967), fought between the Israeli forces and the neighboring countries, proved to be a turning point in the history of Israel. In just six days Israel had seized control of the Golan Heights in Syria, reclaimed West Bank from Jordan and annexed Gaza and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. This regional conflict became a proxy ground for the Cold War when Arabs and USSR supported the Arab League and the United States of America supported the Israeli forces in upcoming struggles. As a result, in 1973-74, OPEC countries sought to punish the US and rest of the world by hiking the oil prices by almost 400%.
In 1978, US brokered a deal and the states of Egypt and Israel sighed the Camp David Accords that returned the Sinai Peninsula back to Egypt. This was the beginning of the end of the major Arab-Israeli conflict.
Intifada and the Oslo Accords
'Intifadah' is an Arabic word meaning a rebellion or movement of resistance. The First Palestinian Intifada began in Dec. 1987 that ended in Sept. 1993, during this time the riots and protest resulted in nearly 2000 deaths put of which 75% were Palestinians (human rights report by B'Tselem). The main reason for the violence was the Israeli incursion of West Bank and continuous movement of settlers in the region.
In 1988, PLO signed and accepted the UN Security Council Resolution 242, which asked the Arab League to accept Israel's right to live in peace within secured and recognized boundaries, and resolution 338, which called for the implementation of resolution 242 in all its parts. In the following years through secret meeting and international involvement, Israel and PLO signed the Oslo Accords. According to the Oslo Accord, PLO re-instated its resolution from 1988 and Israel accepted PLO as a legitimate representative of the Palestinian public and agreed to withdraw in stages from the West Bank. This was the first major step towards a two-state solution.
But the peace was short lived, while PLO turned to negotiations another extremist organization called Hamas started an armed rebellion with a vision for complete Islamic dominion in the region. Hamas rejected the Oslo Accords and started mobilizing suicide attack on Israeli targets. Meanwhile, the Israeli's continued building a road network in the west bank to support settlers and attract more settlers from Israel and across the world. The Palestinians imported arms and raised a security force. The Oslo Accords failed, and talks broke down.
Shortly after, a prime ministerial candidate visited the Temple Mount as an assertion of Israeli dominance over their sacred site, the Islamic followers felt violated because the compound also houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque (third holiest site in Islam). As a result riots broke out and the Second Intifada began.
The second Intifada was much worse than the first and resulted in nearly 4300 deaths, with a similar ration of 75% Palestinians and 25% Israelis.
Keywords: Israel, Palestine, Jerusalem, revolution, Intifadah, Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Oslo