Biden's Hypocrisy: Putin is a Killer But Modi is a US Ally

"Putin is a killer", declared President Joseph R. Biden in a recent interview with George Stephanopoulos  of ABC News. This stands in sharp contrast to what former President Donald J. Trump said in a 2017 Super Bowl Sunday interview Fox News when host Bill O'Reilly  authoritatively declared Russian President Vladimir “Putin’s a killer.” Trump replied with the question: “What, you think our country’s so innocent?”

President Biden with Prime Minister Modi

Biden is declaring Putin a "killer" while at the same time embracing India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has killed thousands of Muslims. In fact, Modi was shunned by the United States and much of the civilized world for over a decade for his part in the 2002 Gujarat massacre of Indian Muslims. His policies as prime minister indicate that he's not a changed man. 

Biden needs to understand that Modi's Hindutva and America's Christian White Supremacists who attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 have a lot in common. He should listen to Meena Harris, Vice President  Kamala Harris' niece, who recently tweeted: "It’s time to talk about violent Hindu extremism”. Referring to a headline about "violent Christian extremism", Harris said "it's all connected". Hindu trolls have launched hateful misogynistic campaign against Harris and other western female celebrities who have recently tweeted in support of farm protesters. 

In response to a Hindu troll accusing Meena Harris of "Hinduphobia", she tweeted: "I'm a Hindu. Stop using religion as a cover for fascism".  

Rihanna, Greta Thunberg and Meena Harris

It started when singer Rihanna, who has more than 100 million Twitter followers, tweeted “why aren’t we talking about this?!”, with a link to a news story about an internet blackout at the protest camps where tens of thousands of farmers have been protesting for over two months. Teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg also tweeted a story about the internet blackout, saying: “We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India.” Both drew threats of rape and violence from hordes of Hindu trolls rampaging Twitter.  Some hailed the 2009 violent assault on Rihanna by singer  Chris Brown and said it was well-deserved. 

Meena Harris Tweet. Source: Twitter

"Is Rihanna Muslim" started to trend on Google. Many Hindu trolls talked of links between Rihanna and Muslims, Khalistan and Pakistan and even claimed  Rihanna was paid to tweet in support of farmers. 

India Leads the World in Internet Shutdowns in 2020 Source: Access Now

The phenomenon of Hindu trolls issuing threats of violence and rape is not new.  It has been well documented by Indian journalist Swati Chaturvedi in a book entitled "I am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of BJP's Digital Army" as far as 2017. She found that the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi follows hundreds of twitter accounts regularly tweeting abuses and threats of rape and other forms of physical violence against Indian actors, artists, politicians, journalists, minorities in India and individuals of Pakistani origin.

Until recently, the main target of violent Hindu extremists have been primarily Muslims and liberal Hindus. But now the threats of violence and rape against western celebrities are beginning to expose the ugly face of violent Hindu Nationalism. It is  now getting coverage in mainstream western media. 

Meena Harris is absolutely right in her assertion that "it's all connected". It is a historical fact that Hindu Nationalist ideology draws its inspiration from violent European movements like Fascism and Nazism. B.S. Monnje was the first Hindu nationalist who met Mussolini in 1931. 

Hindu nationalists, now led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India, have a long history of admiration for Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, including his "Final Solution". In his book "We" (1939), Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, the leader of the Hindu Nationalist RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) wrote, "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."  

It is important to note that the vast majority of Indian-Americans vote for Democrats but most still support India's Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Modi who endorsed former President Trump in 2020 presidential elections. In December 2020, the Carnegie Endowment published a study detailing the political attitudes of Indian Americans: 56 percent of Indian Americans self-identified as Democrats, 22 percent as independents, and 15 percent as Republicans; 72 percent of Indian Americans planned on voting for Biden this election, while 22 percent responded with support for Trump. The same survey found that while Indian American Trump voters and Republicans were much more enthusiastic about Modi, a majority of all Indian Americans supported Modi

Here's a video clip of American historian Dr. Audrey Truschke on the Nazi inspired Hindutva ideology:

Here's a video of American journalist Mike Wallace asking Louis Farrakhan about Nigeria, calling the most populous African country "the most corrupt nation in the world": Here's Farrakhan's response: Every nation has its problems. Nigeria has serous problems. But it's only 35 years old. And America have been around for over 200 years old and it is in no position to judge others on corruption and democracy. Black people in America got the right to vote only a few decades ago. And America has blood on its hands, the blood of millions of native Americans and the blood of the Japanese who died in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Let's not moralize. Let's help them. 



Riaz Haq said…
Mr. Biden, Enough With the Tough Talk on China
Modest measures can reverse the dangerous decay in relations.

Ian Johnson
By Ian Johnson
Mr. Johnson was a China correspondent for two decades.

March 19, 2021

These harsh exchanges will only contribute to the dangerous decay in relations between the world’s two most powerful countries. Both sides seem to be trapped by a need to look and sound tough. That stance may play well domestically in both countries, but it complicates doing what is really needed: engaging, with realistic expectations, with the other side.

Since taking office nearly two months ago, the Biden administration has been a whirlwind of activity in reforming and revisiting almost every key problem area but one: the chaotic and incoherent China policy it inherited from the Trump administration.

Top U.S. and Chinese officials met Thursday in Alaska for the first time since the new administration took power. The meeting, framed as little more than a chance for each side to state their well-known positions, fell short of even those low expectations.

In a series of blunt remarks, U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said that the U.S. government had “deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyberattacks on the United States and economic coercion toward our allies” — actions, he said, that “threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability.” In a lengthy presentation that went well over the agreed-upon time limit, China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, countered that the United States was the “champion” of cyberattacks and that “many people within the United States actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States.”

These harsh exchanges will only contribute to the dangerous decay in relations between the world’s two most powerful countries. Both sides seem to be trapped by a need to look and sound tough. That stance may play well domestically in both countries, but it complicates doing what is really needed: engaging, with realistic expectations, with the other side.

Now that each government has had its say, the United States should take the high ground and find ways to reduce tensions, even if those can partly be blamed on China’s recent actions.

One way forward would be to reverse some of the Trump administration’s burn-the-bridges measures, like its ending academic exchanges, expelling Chinese journalists and closing consulates.

The Biden administration has sought to characterize its China policy as more nuanced than that of the Trump White House. Shortly after taking office, the president said that the United States sought “extreme competition” with China but not conflict. Mr. Blinken said in Tokyo this week, during his first official trip abroad, “The relationship with China is a very complex one: It has adversarial aspects; it has competitive aspects; it has cooperative aspects.”

But the administration’s actions so far have largely followed the Trump playbook.
Riaz Haq said…
U.S., China exchange strong words, but both label talks constructive

Susan Thornton:

Yes, I think this meeting was about restarting diplomacy with China after a four-year hiatus, basically, under the previous administration.

And you do diplomacy to engage counterparts in private to try to find a way forward on areas where you have overlapping interests. And Secretary Blinken mentioned there at the end a number of areas, North Korea, Afghanistan, Iran, climate change, where there are overlapping interests.

And to sit together with the other side and find out where those areas are and a way forward, that's the art of the goal. So I think that the circus in front of the cameras to start off was a bit unfortunate. I am not sure that that is necessarily a productive way to start this off, but it looks like they were able to savor something for the end.


Susan Thornton:

I think that there is a lot of continuity that we see with Xi Jinping. And I am not that surprised by anything we see in China.

There's — it is not coming out of the blue. Certainly, there has been regression on human rights and in a lot of practices domestically, in China's domestic politics, certainly now also vis-a-vis the United States. They are starting to pursue a policy of indigenization of their technological industries.

But I think, in general, the error that the U.S. makes is in thinking that we are going to have some kind of fundamental way of changing China. I personally don't think China represents an existential threat. I think we need learn to live with China and coexist. They are not going anywhere, but we are probably not going to be able to change them fundamentally.
Riaz Haq said…
Parsing the tense diplomatic exchange between US and China

Normally, diplomats are, well, diplomatic. Not so on Thursday in Anchorage, where high-level US and Chinese officials gathered for the first time since Joe Biden became president. In the public setting of a photo op, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign minister Wang Yi tossed verbal barbs at each other. Marco Werman untangles the exchange and what it means for US-China relations with Susan Thornton, a retired career diplomat focused on China and East Asian affairs, who is now a senior fellow at Yale Law School's Paul Tsai China Center.

Susan Thornton: It was a very unusual opening of a diplomatic meeting by Tony Blinken...The obsession by the US of coming from a position of strength are a bit overweening....the Chinese had to respond to the way they did.....I'm very worried...we'll see a new low....a growing estrangement...if we can not find a way to move forward we could be seeing what happened before WWI...a Thucydides Trap...fears that US and China could be destined for war.
Riaz Haq said…
India Romances the West
In a deepening geopolitical shift, New Delhi is inching closer on many fronts.

By C. Raja Mohan

In affirming that the “Quad has come of age” at the first-ever summit of the Quadrilateral Dialogue with the United States, Japan, and Australia last week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sent an unmistakable signal that India is no longer reluctant to work with the West in the global arena, including in the security domain. The country’s new readiness to participate in Western forums marks a decisive turn in independent India’s world view. That view was long defined by the idea of nonalignment and its later avatar, strategic autonomy—both of which were about standing apart from, if not against, post-World-War-II Western alliances. But today—driven by shifting balance of power in Asia, India’s clear-eyed view of its national interest, and the successful efforts of consecutive U.S. presidents—India is taking increasingly significant steps toward the West.

The Quad is not the only Western institution with which India might soon be associated. New Delhi is set to engage with a wider range of Western forums in the days ahead, including the G-7 and the Five Eyes. Britain has invited India to participate in the G-7 meeting in London this summer, along with other non-members Australia and South Korea. Although India has been invited to G-7 outreach meetings—a level or two below the summits—for a number of years, the London meeting is widely expected to be a testing ground for the creation of a “Democracy Group of Ten,” or D-10.

In Washington today, there are multiple ideas for U.S.-led technology coalitions to reduce the current Western dependence on China. Two initiatives unveiled at the Quad summit—the working group on critical technologies, and the vaccine initiative to supply Southeast Asia—underline the prospects for an Indian role in the trusted technology supply chains of the United States and its partners.

Along with Japan, India also joined a meeting of the Five Eyes—the intelligence-sharing alliance between the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand— in October 2020 to discuss ways to give law enforcement agencies access to encrypted communications on platforms such as WhatsApp and Telegram. Five Eyes is a tightly knit alliance, and it is unlikely India will be a member any time soon. But it is very much possible to imagine greater consultations between the Five Eyes and the Indian intelligence establishment.

To be sure, India’s engagement with Western institutions is not entirely new. India joined the British-led Commonwealth in 1947, but only after India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, made sure the forum was stripped of any security role in the postwar world. Refusing to join military alliances was a key plank of India’s policy of non-alignment.

Many concluded in the 1970s that anti-Americanism was part of India’s genetic code.

Nehru turned to the United States when his policy of befriending China and supporting its sensitivities collapsed by the end of the 1950s. Facing reverses in a military conflict with China on the long and contested border in 1962, Nehru sought massive defense assistance from U.S. President John Kennedy. With the deaths of both Kennedy and Nehru soon after, the prospects for strategic cooperation between New Delhi and Washington receded quickly.

The 1970s saw India drift away from the West on three levels. On the East-West axis, it drew closer to the Soviet Union. On the North-South axis, it became the champion of the Third World. This was reinforced by the sharply leftward turn of India’s domestic politics and a deliberate severing of commercial cooperation with the West.
Riaz Haq said…
Fareed Zakaria on GPS March 21, 2021: "US is spending $1.7 trillion on just the F-35 fighter program, comparable to China's spending on the entire Belt & Road Initiative" #Defense #China #US #BRI #CPEC #Pakistan
Riaz Haq said…
Hell hath no fury like a superpower in decline – Responsible Statecraft

The U.S. leadership must have set some kind of new record in managing to personally insult the leadership of the two other great powers of the world within 48 hours of each other in these early days of Biden administration foreign policy. Almost as if they were graduates of “The Donald Trump Charm School.”

It is simply astonishing that in approaching a new course of relations with Russia, President Biden should have called Vladimir Putin “a killer” and lacking “a soul.”

It is similarly astonishing to have chosen an important opening moment in our delicate relationship with China to employ derogatory language. Did Blinken believe that flashing testosterone at the first high-level meeting of Beijing’s foreign policy leadership would help achieve the diplomatic goals Washington seeks? One wonders who the secretary of state was trying to impress — Beijing or a U.S. domestic audience?

Antony Blinken, seemingly without embarrassment, speaks of the United States as upholding “the rule of law globally” in the self-deception or the belief that such is the case. In fact, Washington has always expected other countries to support the international rule of law — although exempting good friends like Israel and Saudi Arabia. The United States invariably defends its own “exceptionalism” in pointedly not signing onto International law when it suits its interests. That includes foreign assassinations and the launching of several wars without authorization at the international level, provoking “Color Revolutions,” and refusing to ratify UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea or the Rights of the Child, or honor adverse judgments by the International Court of Justice. And It is difficult to understand how Blinken feels comfortable at lecturing China on its domestic failings at a time when U.S. democracy and social policy have never presented a more damaging face to the world.

Surely such self-righteousness on the administration’s part shows a lack of seriousness and honesty about U.S. history and positions. Or, more disturbingly, it suggests that Washington lacks all capacity for self-reflection and self-awareness.

In the end, this initial high-level diplomatic encounter is perhaps most distressing given the high hopes that many Americans held that so many of our problems would vanish with the departure of Donald Trump – rather than undertaking a necessarily painful examination of the inherent deep-seated flaws within the American system.

Perhaps I am wrong in making these harsh observations. Maybe, coming on strong with all guns blazing — Hollywood cowboy style — at these first public confrontations will cause Moscow and Beijing to reflect and even retreat a bit. But I doubt it. I fear these two linked events simply hammer a few more nails into the coffin of cherished American aspirations to global leadership and dominance. In that case, we may be our own most dangerous enemy if we continue to look with nostalgia at former American hegemony. That global dominance, for better or for worse, is increasingly a thing of the past. It represents a failure to recognize the unique circumstances by which America happened to play a major positive global role immediately after the collapse of Europe, Japan, and China after the brutal ordeal of World War II. Arguably, those conditions will not return, which means that the United States will be facing a very uncomfortable future reality for which it seems psychologically ill-prepared.
Riaz Haq said…
#China Doesn’t Respect #US Anymore—for Good Reason. At #AlaskaMeeting , #Chinese officials made it quite clear that they no longer fear our criticism, because they don’t respect us as they once did, and they don’t think the rest of the world does, either.

Yes, China has huge problems. Its leaders are not 10 feet tall, but they are focused on real metrics of success. “China’s leaders are fierce but fragile,” argues James McGregor, the chairman of the consultancy APCO Worldwide, Greater China. “Precisely because they were not elected, they wake up every day scared of their own people, and that makes them very focused on performance” — particularly around jobs, housing and clean air.

By contrast, many U.S. politicians these days are elected from safe, gerrymandered districts and seek to stay in power by just “performing” for their base with populist theatrics.

Whenever I point this out, critics on the far right or far left ridiculously respond, “Oh, so you love China.” Actually, I am not interested in China. I care about America. My goal is to frighten us out of our complacency by getting more Americans to understand that China can be really evil AND really focused on educating its people and building its infrastructure and adopting best practices in business and science and promoting government bureaucrats on merit — all at the same time. Condemning China for the former will have zero impact if we’re not its equal in all of the latter.

At last week’s Alaska meeting between America’s and China’s top diplomats, Chinese officials made it quite clear that they no longer fear our criticism, because they don’t respect us as they once did, and they don’t think the rest of the world does, either. Or as Yang Jiechi, China’s top foreign affairs policymaker, baldly told his U.S. counterparts: “The United States does not have the qualification … to speak to China from a position of strength.”

Surprised? What did you think, that the Chinese didn’t notice that our last president inspired his followers to ransack our Capitol, that a majority of his party did not recognize the results of our democratic election, that a member of our Congress believes that Jewish-run space lasers cause forest fires, that left-wing anarchists were allowed to take over a section of downtown Portland, creating havoc for months, that during the pandemic the U.S. printed money to help its consumers keep spending — much of it on Chinese-made goods — while China printed money to invest in even more infrastructure, and that gun violence in America is out control?
Riaz Haq said…
Fareed Zakaria on GPS March 21, 2021:

"Consider two contrasting exercises of power. America's F-35 fighter jet program, devilled by cost overruns and technical problems, will ultimately cost taxpayers $1.7 trillion according to a document obtained by Bloomberg. China will likely spend a comparable amount of money on the belt and road initiative, an ambitious set of loans, aid and financing for infrastructure projects across the world aimed at creating greater interdependent with dozens of countries that are important to Beijing."

Riaz Haq said…
#Russia could upset #India’s #US-#China balancing act. #NewDelhi’s growing defense ties with #Washington risk upsetting #Moscow, its biggest arms supplier. Relations with #Beijing face a ‘complete re-set’ amid rising tensions. #Biden #Quad #Modi #BJP

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin’s visit to New Delhi last week was the latest symbol of Washington’s desire for the two sides to close ranks against China’s increasing assertiveness, observers say.
Yet in drawing closer to the United States, India could risk alienating its long-time defence ally and largest arms supplier Russia, with whom Delhi enjoys a “special and privileged strategic partnership”.
Since 2016, the US has designated India a “major defence partner”, with the two going on to sign three wide-ranging agreements that allow for greater defence interoperability, as well as Delhi’s procurement of high-end American weapons technology.


India is set to host a meeting of the BRICS nations, an association of five major emerging economies that includes China, later this year – a gathering that Sibal expects to be “awkward” if Chinese President Xi Jinping attends “without disengagement, de-escalation and restoration of the status quo ante in Ladakh” – the region of India bordering China where recent clashes have taken place.
“He will have to be given a cold reception,” Sibal said. “A show of BRICS solidarity will seem artificial as our relations with China has nosedived.”
For Bambawale, “if the border is not peaceful, the rest of the relationship will be negatively affected”. “The India-China relationship is set to deteriorate, become even more competitive,” he said, adding that a “complete re-set” in ties was already under way

Meanwhile, preparations are being made to extend trilateral engagement with Australia and France – the three held talks on the Indo-Pacific for the first time in September last year – as well as an India-Australia-Indonesia grouping that officials in Delhi say is aimed at keeping the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations in the loop with the Quad’s efforts aimed at countering China’s assertiveness.
France is also set to lead a naval exercise involving all four members of the Quad in early April – something Kaushiva, the former vice-admiral, described as an important strategic development “as it seamlessly covers the Indo-Pacific region end to-end” and provides the Indian navy with a “much broader scope of operational choices”.

Riaz Haq said…
In embracing #Modi's #India & confronting Xi's #China, is #Biden just elevating one #authoritarian regime over another? #BJP #Fascism #Hindutva via @slate

Biden has already made Modi’s administration a priority. The two leaders spoke on the phone shortly after the U.S. election results were finalized, and Modi tweeted congratulations at both Biden and Harris on Inauguration Day and again in February. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke with India’s foreign minister that month, while the president used his first international summit to videoconference with Modi as well as leaders from Australia and Japan. About a month afterward, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, as part of the first overseas trip conducted by any of Biden’s Cabinet members, visited India to meet with Modi as well as the country’s defense minister and national security adviser.


Out of all of Donald Trump’s world-leader friends, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the quickest to offer his congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for winning the 2020 U.S. presidential election. India’s ruling, conservative Bharatiya Janata Party smartly adjusted as Biden started coming out ahead in election polls and soon fully embraced the incoming administration change. Modi may have been infamously and publicly chummy with Trump, but his quick pivot made sense. While India and the U.S. have historically had a rocky-at-best relationship, Modi worked well with both Barack Obama and Biden the last time Democrats held the executive office. Plus, Harris, who made history as the United States’ first Indian American vice president, is very popular in India, especially in her mother’s ancestral region of Tamil Nadu. So, despite some vocal ideological opposition to the Biden-Harris ticket from Modi’s right-wing followers at home and abroad, and the fact that Biden has made combating authoritarian movements like Modi’s a central theme of his foreign policy, the Indian leader had good reason to roll out the welcome mat.

For both countries, the relationship is just too important to let slide. After decades of tense neutrality and nuclear fear following India’s independence, the 21st century saw the subcontinent embraced by U.S. officials from both parties—including incoming Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden in 2006—as an essential partner against terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan, an emerging small-d democratic rival to China’s regional and global economic dominance, and an essential trading partner. India and the U.S. also established military and defense partnerships, and hammered out global climate negotiations and trade agreements. Bits of animosity have flared up here and there, and Modi and Biden are not likely to have the same bro-y relationship that Modi and Trump did, but it’s clear the two countries will remain strategic partners for the foreseeable future.
Riaz Haq said…
Sergei Lavrov to visit #Pakistan, 1st by a #Russian foreign minister in 9 yrs. Agenda: #Afghanistan, North-South #Gas Pipeline, #investment, #trade

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will reach Pakistan on Tuesday on a two-day visit to hold important talks with the country's top leadership and the Army chief on bilateral ties as well as on the situation in Afghanistan.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Lavrov's visit will be the first by any Russian Foreign Minister in nine years and that he would personally go to the airport to receive him.

Lavrov visited Islamabad in 2012.

There is no second opinion that Russia is an important country of this region his visit to Pakistan shows that our bilateral relations are taking a new turn, Qureshi said in a video statement.

The two countries want to take forward the North South Gas pipeline project, which is under discussion for quite some time, he said, adding that the Pakistan Steel Mill was set up in Karachi with the Russian help and there was an opportunity to cooperate to pull it out of the current financial crisis.

Pakistan and Russia are playing a role in the Afghan peace process, Qureshi said.

He said Lavrov was coming to Pakistan after visiting India with which Russia enjoys historical ties.

It can convince India to play a positive role in Afghan peace, he said.

Qureshi said he would hold delegation-level talks with the visiting foreign minister who would later on meet Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Lavrov, who arrived in New Delhi on Monday evening on a nearly 19-hour visit, has held extensive talks with the country's top leadership with a focus on various aspects of bilateral ties and preparations for the annual India-Russia summit.
Riaz Haq said…
#Russia to boost ties with #Pakistan, supply #military gear. Pak Army Chief Gen. Bajwa met with #Lavrov & said they discussed “enhanced defense and security cooperation, regional security, particularly the Afghan peace process.” #Afghanistan #US #India

Washington is reviewing an agreement it signed more than a year ago with the Taliban as it rethinks a May 1 withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Moscow has stepped up its involvement there and hosted talks last month between the Taliban and senior Afghan government officials. Lavrov suggested another high-level meeting could again be held in Moscow.

Lavrov arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday from neighboring India, with which Moscow has had a long and solid relationship. The apparent reset in Pakistani-Russian relations, however, is by contrast a more recent phenomena.


Russia’s foreign minister on Wednesday said Moscow and Islamabad will boost ties in the fight against terrorism, with Russia providing unspecified military equipment to Pakistan and the two holding joint exercises at sea and in the mountains.

Sergey Lavrov spoke on the second day of a two-day trip to Pakistan. It’s the first visit by a Russian foreign minister in nine years, part of a warming of frosty relations. It comes as Moscow seeks to increase its stature in the region, particularly in Afghanistan, where it seeks to inject itself as a key player in efforts to find a peaceful end to decades of war.

“We stand ready to strengthen the anti-terrorist potential of Pakistan, including by supplying Pakistan with special military equipment,” Lavrov said, without going into detail about the equipment.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan should be invited to #ClimateSummit : #US Congressman Ted Lieu (Democrat-#California ). “With a population of 216 million and growing economy, Pakistan is central to regional and global efforts to deal with climate change” #Biden - Dunya News

In his letter to US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, Ted Lieu said: "It has been brought to my attention that Pakistan is not among the 40 nations whose leaders were invited to the heads of state and government session at the Summit. I request that Pakistan be included in the heads of state session."

Pakistan’s absence from the list of 40 nations makes little sense from a climate perspective. First, two of its important neighbors, India and Bangladesh are among those invited. Second, according to the Global Climate Risk Indux, Pakistan is ranked as the fifth most climate vulnerable nation in the world, making it uniquely impacted by climate policy.

Pakistan has a greater population than all but five nations invited to participate. Based on the nations invited, some have more carbon emissions and some have less carbon emissions than Pakistan. There does not appear to be any rational environmental standard that would result in Pakistan being excluded given the list of 40 countries that were invited, Ted W Lieu wrote in his letter.

"With a population of 216 million and growing economy, Pakistan is central to regional and global efforts to deal with climate change, I encourage to review the criteria for the list of nations invited and to consider including Pakistan," Ted Lieu said.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan, #Russia agree to build economic, health, energy and defense ties. Russia will provide #SputnikV #vaccine, invest in north-south #gas pipeline, supply #military equipment to build "multidimensional ties"

Pakistan and Russia agreed to develop cooperation in economic, energy and defence fields during the visit of Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. The two-day (April 6-7) visit to Pakistan is the first by a Russian foreign minister in nearly a decade and was described as the beginning of a “new chapter” in Pakistan-Russia relations.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Islamabad, the Russian foreign minister expressed readiness to expand collaboration with Pakistan especially in defence, security and energy sectors. Russia is ready to offer Pakistan “special military equipment” and to expand cooperation in the domain of counter-terrorism, Lavrov said.

Pakistan looks forward to build “multi-dimensional relations with Russia” as it can contribute to regional stability and global security, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said after delegation-level talks. The two sides also discussed the Asia Pacific development and the Middle East situation particularly solution of Palestine issue.

PM Imran Khan meets Russian FM
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in his meeting with the Russian FM Sergey Lavrov stressed upon the “importance Pakistan attaches to its relations with Russia as a key foreign policy priority”. Discussing the growing bilateral cooperation in trade, energy and security, PM Khan reaffirmed Pakistan’s resolve to commence “Pakistan Stream” (North-South gas pipeline) project as early as possible. The multi-billion dollar 1,100-km gas pipeline will link the port city of Karachi to Lahore. Khan also invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Pakistan soon.

Defence ties
Islamabad and Moscow agreed to strengthen military ties with regular joint exercises and counter-terrorism training. In an interview to a Pakistani newspaper, Lavrov said Russia and Pakistan shared a “concurrence or similarity of approaches” to regional and international issues. Russian foreign minister also held a meeting with Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to discuss enhanced defence and security collaboration, regional security and particularly the Afghan peace process. “Pakistan values its relations with Russia and reciprocates the desire for enhanced bilateral military cooperation,” Gen Bajwa said. The Russian official acknowledged Pakistan’s achievements in the war against terrorism and contributions to regional peace and stability, especially in Afghanistan.

The two sides reaffirmed their support to Afghanistan peace process and to facilitate intra-Afghan talks to “put an end to civil war based on inclusive dialogue.” Pakistan appreciated Russia’s efforts in promoting the Afghan peace process within the framework of Moscow format comprising representatives of Russia, China, US and Pakistan. “Pakistan welcomes all initiatives which can bring peace and stability in Afghanistan as the whole region will benefit from it” Pakistan’s army chief said.

Bilateral trade between Russia and Pakistan witnessed a 46 per cent increase hitting an all-time high of $790 million, mainly driven by the export of Russian wheat to Islamabad. Realising the trade potential, the officials agreed to diversify and increase bilateral ties in the fields of energy, industrial modernisation, railways and aviation. Progress on economic cooperation would be followed in the upcoming intergovernmental commission meeting in Moscow.

On cooperation to fight coronavirus, Lavrov said Russia had already provided 50,000 doses of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V to Pakistan and would offer a further 150,000 doses soon. Sputnik V vaccine is currently being administered privately in Pakistan. The two countries also discussed the possibility of local production of the Sputnik V vaccine in Pakistan to help meet the growing vaccination demand in the country of 220 million.

Riaz Haq said…
#USNavy 7th fleet challenges #India's EEZ claim by conducting "Freedom of Navigation Operation" in waters claimed by #NewDelhi. #US Navy does similar FONOP to Challenge #China's claims in #SouthChinaSea. #QUAD #Modi #Biden #Lakshadweep

US Navy Conducts Patrol In Indian EEZ Without Consent, Announces It Publicly
This was the first time in recent memory that the US Navy has publicly acknowledged that a military ship has entered India’s EEZ without consent, saying it was intended as a challenge to India's "excessive maritime claims".

In an unexpected move, the US Navy this week conducted a freedom of navigation patrol in Indian waters without India’s prior consent, declaring that it was intended to challenge India’s “excessive maritime claims”.

The press release issued by the Commander of the US seventh fleet states that on April 7, USS John Paul Jones “asserted navigational rights and freedoms approximately 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands, inside India’s exclusive economic zone [EEZ], without requesting India’s prior consent, consistent with international law”.

It added that the freedom of navigation patrols “upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognised in international law by challenging India’s excessive maritime claims”.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a response on Friday evening that USS Paul Jones was “continuously monitored transiting from the Persian Gulf towards the Malacca Straits”. “We have conveyed our concerns regarding this passage through our EEZ to the Government of USA through diplomatic channels,” said the MEA press note.

There is no indication in the official press note that the US warship was challenged while it was passing through the EEZ.

India and the US have fundamental differences in coastal states’ rights to stop foreign military ships from conducting military activities within their EEZ.

When India ratified the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1995, it declared that in its understanding “the provisions of the Convention do not authorise other States to carry out in the exclusive economic zone and on the continental shelf military exercises or manoeuvres, in particular those involving the use of weapons or explosives without the consent of the coastal State”.

The US has not ratified UNCLOS.

The differences, which began during the drafting of the treaty, is over the interpretation of Article 58 (i) of the Convention.


While the press release claimed that India’s requirement for prior consent is “inconsistent with international law”, the location of the FONOP has also raised concern that it could be a challenge to India’s straight baselines enclosing Lakshadweep islands.

India had notified baselines through a 2009 gazette notification, which included straight baselines around Lakshadweep to declare a new area of the sea as part of the country’s waters. It consists of the strategic nine-degree channel that goes through the Lakshadweep group of islands and is part of the international shipping lane connecting the Gulf of Aden to South East Asia.

According to the Law of the Sea, only archipelagic states, like Indonesia, can use straight baselines to enclose island groups rather than continental states like India.

The United States does not recognise India’s 2009 Gazette notification but has never specifically protested the straight baselines around Lakshadweep.

However, as the 2020 Annual report shows, the US has challenged straight baseline claims through freedom of navigation patrols in South Korea, Japan, Haiti, Nicaragua and the South China Sea.
Riaz Haq said…
The paradox of US-India relations

Yet, despite these many indicators of a burgeoning defense relationship between two countries that as late as the 1980s had maintained standoffish relations for decades, the Austin visit also involved a throwback to those earlier times. Austin voiced his unhappiness with India’s interest in purchasing the Russian S-400 air defense system — the same system that is at the center of a dispute between the United States and Turkey. Ankara has purchased the S-400 and that has resulted in U.S. cancellation of Turkish participation in the American F-35 fighter program.

India’s military, especially the army and air force, has maintained longstanding and close ties to Russia (and previously the Soviet Union). India seems unwilling to jettison those ties simply because Austin told his hosts that “we … urge our allies and partners to move away from Russian equipment.” An Indian S-400 purchase, therefore, is not at all out of the question.

In his recently published volume, “The India Way: Strategies for an Uncertain World,” India’s external affairs minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, makes it clear that India has no plan to align itself fully with either the U.S. or China. As he states in the book’s first chapter, “This is a time for us to engage America, manage China, reassure Russia, bring Japan into play … and expand traditional constituencies of support. … A longstanding trilateral with Russia and China coexists now with one involving the U.S. and Japan. … Positioning is of increasing value in a fluid world, explaining the importance of engaging competing powers like the U.S., China, the EU [European Union] or Russia at the same time.”

Jaishankar writes with authority that derives from far more than his current office. He is a former ambassador to both Washington and Beijing. He also is the son of Krishnaswamy Subrahmanyam, widely recognized as the father of India’s nuclear program, who maintained close ties with Moscow even as he was perhaps the leading advocate of the 2007 Indo-U.S. Agreement on Civilian Nuclear Cooperation. Jaishankar certainly harbors no ill feeling toward the United States; quite the contrary. But he does not see American and Indian interests as entirely congruent.

Jaishankar’s views — which represent a significant swath of informed Indian opinion — do not mean that Washington should not continue to seek to intensify its relations with New Delhi. Both the Quad summit and the Austin visit signify the potential for further expanding cooperation between the world’s two largest democracies. Nevertheless, India will not become an American ally, nor will it drop its close ties to Russia. Instead, it will carve out its own path in an increasingly multilateral international power structure.

American policymakers should approach India with a heavy dose of realism and disabuse themselves of any hope for an alliance with India. If they persist with such illusions, they surely will be sorely disappointed.
Riaz Haq said…
US Navy Warship Lakshadeep: What it Means for India & China

by Manoj Joshi

Under UNCLOS, war vessels can transit through another state’s territorial waters in what is called “peaceful passage”, with its weapons radars and system turned off. But in the contiguous zone or the EEZ, which are international waters, there is no restriction on military exercises and maneuvers.
Under domestic law India requires prior notification for all these activities and the Chinese go a step further and demand prior permission for these actions.

The US says the Indian, and for that matter, the Chinese position, is “inconsistent with international law.” So, Washington, which has itself yet to ratify the UNCLOS, has decided to uphold “the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea” recognised by the law.
Last year, according to an official release, it challenged 28 different “excessive maritime claims by 19 different claimants throughout the world,” and it has been doing this for decades.
The US conducts what it calls Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) since 1979, but the earliest record we have with regard to India is of 1992, when it sent a warship to enter our 12 mile nautical mile territorial sea to challenge our requirement that the US inform us before doing so.
This time around, fortunately, they were some 130 nm west of the Lakshadweep. And this is itself another 200 nm from the Kerala coast.
A 2016 listing by the office of the US Judge Advocate General reveals the various excessive claims that the US accuses India of making. Besides the issue of prior notification for entering India’s territorial seas and EEZ, is the issue of straight baselines.
It has made it clear that it objects to India’s claim that the waters of Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar, till the boundary with Sri Lanka, are historic waters formed by straight baselines. The US does not recognise this and conducted FONOPS there in 1993, 1994 and 1999.

What is perhaps more worrisome is the possibility that the US FONOP near Lakshadweep islands relates to prior notification, which as we noted, they have been doing so regularly in the past, or whether they have come up with a new challenge. This could relate to the 2009 Indian decision to declare straight baselines to enclose the entire group of Lakshdweep islands.
Baselines are points at the edge of the land at low tide from which territorial sea, contiguous zone and EEZ are measured outwards to the sea.
UNCLOS allows archipelagic states like Indonesia and the Philippines to draw straight lines between two basepoints of islands that may be spread out, thus entitling them to claim territoriality over waters enclosed, even if they do not fit the 12+24+200 formula.
But as we said, only archipelagic states have this privilege, not continental states like India and China, which may happen to also have island chains.
By drawing straight baselines around the Lakshadweep chain, India is in violation of its commitment to UNCLOS. New Delhi may view its action in declaring the straight baselines as an important security measure, but, as they say, the law is the law.
But even now, we do not know if the US has challenged our straight baselines in the Lakshdweep. While in the case of China, which has done the same thing with the Paracel Islands group, US in 2016 sent in the USS Decatur into the island group where it loitered within the islands, however, ensuring that it did not cross the 12nm limit of any individual island.

he US action in sailing the destroyer John Paul Jones past the Lakshdweep islands has got India’s normally hawkish strategic commentariat in a tizzy. Having advocated marching lockstep with the US to deal with the Chinese encroachments into the “rules-based international order”, they are aghast at Washington questioning their own commitments to some of those rules.
Riaz Haq said…

US Navy Warship Lakshadeep: What it Means for India & China

by Manoj Joshi

Not surprisingly, the Ministry of External Affairs issued a mealy-mouthed statement merely re-stating India’s 1995 declaration at the time of ratifying the UNCLOS.
It does not amount to any change in the law, but merely states that it “does not authorse other states… to carry out military exercises of maneuvers in India’s EEZ or continental shelf”.
As per UNCLOS, a state can claim 12 nautical miles (nm) territorial waters, a 24 nm contiguous zone to these waters where some law and order activity is permitted and another 200 nm Exclusive Economic Zone( EEZ) whose seabed and fishery resources it has the exclusive right to exploit.
The value of these categories differ in the case of islands, rocks, and low tide elevations. Islands follow the same 12+24+200 nm formula. Rocks have 12 nm territorial sea and a 24 nm contiguous zone, but no EEZ and low tide elevations generate nothing.
Under UNCLOS, war vessels can transit through another state’s territorial waters in what is called “peaceful passage”, with its weapons radars and system turned off. But in the contiguous zone or the EEZ, which are international waters, there is no restriction on military exercises and maneuvers.
Under domestic law India requires prior notification for all these activities and the Chinese go a step further and demand prior permission for these action

India Wants to Safeguard Lakshadweep
The challenge in Lakshadweep is fraught. The islands lie at a very strategically sensitive part of the country. Ships in great numbers from the Persian Gulf and the Suez Canal go to East Asia in sea lanes on either side of the Lakshdweep islands.
To the immediate south of Lakshdweep lies Maldives, which had just some years ago, decided to build a joint observation station with China on its western Makunudhoo island and leased some islands to the Chinese.
By enclosing the islands using straight baselines, India is acting to ensure that foreign navies, especially survey ships, do not loiter in between the islands since those waters are now designated as territorial waters, even if the process is a self-declared one in violation of UNCLOS.
Only the navy of a powerful country like the US would dare to challenge India on that point and what the recent FONOP tells us is that, at the end of the day, what matters in international law is power.
The US today has the ability to conduct such operations around the world and even the second most powerful navy cannot stop them in the western Pacific. We, on the other hand, can chase away a Chinese survey ship from the Andamans, as we did a while ago, but taking on the US on the issue is not an option.
China’s navy is steadily accruing power, in its own region, as well as the Indian Ocean where it is allied to Pakistan. The US example could well provide it with an opportunity to stir up trouble along our coast, on the pretext of challenging our so-called “excessive maritime claims”.

The US today has the ability to conduct such operations around the world and even the second most powerful navy cannot stop them in the western Pacific. We, on the other hand, can chase away a Chinese survey ship from the Andamans, as we did a while ago, but taking on the US on the issue is not an option.
China’s navy is steadily accruing power, in its own region, as well as the Indian Ocean where it is allied to Pakistan. The US example could well provide it with an opportunity to stir up trouble along our coast, on the pretext of challenging our so-called “excessive maritime claims”.
Riaz Haq said…
#Putin's Blank Check to #Pakistan: "I came with a message from my president that tell Pakistan we are open for any cooperation, whatever Pakistan needs Russia is ready for it" #Lavrov said in closed door meeting with #Pakistani officials in #Islamabad

When Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Islamabad last week after a gap of nine years, he had delivered an "important" message to the Pakistani leadership. The message was from President Vladimir Putin.

"I came with a message from my president that tell Pakistan we are open for any cooperation, whatever Pakistan needs Russia is ready for it," Lavrov was quoted by a senior Pakistani official, who attended the closed door meeting between the Russian foreign minister and Pakistani authorities, as saying.

"In other words, the Russian president offered us a blank cheque," said the official, who requested not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The official revealed that Putin had conveyed to Pakistan through his top diplomat that Moscow would help Islamabad in any manner. "If you're interested in gas pipelines, corridors, defence or any other cooperation, Russia stands ready for it," the official quoted FM Lavrov as saying when asked what he meant by "blank cheque".

Pakistan and Russia are already working on the North-South gas pipeline project. The two sides had entered into the agreement in 2015 to lay a pipeline from Karachi to Lahore. The project is estimated to cost $2 billion.

The work on the pipeline could not kick off because of possible American sanctions. The two sides, however, recently agreed to approve a new structure that would pave the way for the start of the work.

Russia is also keen to revive the Pakistan Steel Mills, which it originally built. Similarly, Moscow has interest in hydroelectric projects. Overall, Russia is thought to be willing to make $8 billion investment in different areas.

"It is now up to us to follow up this successful visit," the official said.

When asked the possibility of Pakistan acquiring Russian air defence systems, the official said he could not talk about the specifics but Russia had shown willingness to expand the cooperation with Pakistan.

At the joint news conference with his Pakistani counterpart, the Russian foreign minister had said Moscow was ready to supply Pakistan with "special military equipment" to enhance its anti-terrorists potential. He, however, did not provide further details.

Relations between Pakistan and Russia have undergone transformation in recent years thanks to the new alignments and strategic realities.

The rapprochement between the former Cold War rivals began in 2011 when Pakistan's relationship with the US hit the rock bottom. At that time, a decision was taken to bring a strategic shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy. The shift envisaged reaching out to Russia as part of Pakistan’s efforts to diversify its foreign policy options.
Riaz Haq said…
#India's FM Jaishankar’s slip of tongue, #Lavrov’s #Pakistan trip — why all’s not well with India-#Russia. Describing the time-tested and very cordial nature of the relationship, Jaishankar said “India-US,” instead of “India-Russia.” via @ThePrintIndia

More seriously, though, Lavrov’s visit has been interesting for a number of reasons, not least because his visit to Pakistan from Delhi has been construed as terrible Russia policy. In an interview with this reporter, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s close aide and confidante Vyacheslav Nikonov emphasised that New Delhi need not take the Pakistan trip too seriously, because Pakistan hardly figured on Russia’s foreign policy agenda.

But Nikonov also admitted that Lavrov’s visit was “a signal” to New Delhi about the changing world order. That if Delhi wanted to expand its own repertoire of friendships, notably with the US – which had outright refused to downgrade its own ties with Pakistan – then it could not expect Moscow’s total fidelity in this regard.

That’s why Jaishankar’s slip of tongue is important – it signifies not just the shrunken measure of the India-Russia relationship, it is a tell-tale sign that the “time-tested” relationship is getting misshapen because both sides simply don’t care enough about the sensitivities of the other.

First of all, the trip to Pakistan. There was simply no need for Lavrov to travel to Islamabad at a time when India has clawed its way back into the Afghan great game, which both Pakistan and its patron, China, have successfully prevented all these years.

Lavrov was probably influenced by his own joint secretary equivalent in charge of South Asia, Zamir Kabulov. Now Kabulov used to be Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan a decade or so ago and left no stone unturned in pushing the point that Russia must maintain close ties with Pakistan, because of the leverage it has over the Taliban – keeping especially in mind Russia’s own significant Muslim population.

This is the same US argument – and, presumably, a Chinese one. Which is that it is essential to maintain close links with those who have influence, or leverage, in this case Pakistan. Russia is following the same maxim.

Second, Lavrov was unable to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi because the latter was campaigning in West Bengal – although John Kerry, the US presidential envoy, did manage a meeting the following day. So what prevented Lavrov from coming in one day later, or staying on, like Kerry did?

Considering protocol is more than half the time spent by foreign office diplomats, either the Russians messed up by not insisting on a Lavrov-Modi meeting, or the Indians just shrugged their shoulders and didn’t persuade Modi’s schedule-keepers to try and find a slot for Lavrov – or, probably both.

Third, the perception that India is moving into the US camp is increasingly gaining ground. In addition to all of the above, Modi had quite an encounter with the visiting US defence secretary Lloyd Austin. Then there is the more recent illegal navigation by the US Seventh Fleet guided missile destroyer, the USS John Paul Jones through India (and Maldives) exclusive economic zone because – well, the waters were in its path – without so much as informing the Indian authorities.

The Americans argue that they do not abide by the UN Convention on Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) and therefore found no need to inform India about its freedom of navigation operations. The MEA issued a statement of concern.

Riaz Haq said…
Both Russia and China are opposed to an open-ended US military presence in Afghanistan, a country where both have grand infrastructure development designs and security concerns.

Specifically, America’s military presence in Afghanistan is seen as a stumbling block for the completion of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) trade and integration schemes.

Chinese diplomatic officials have recently claimed in press briefings that the US is using its military and intelligence presence in Afghanistan to stir trouble in China’s far-western Xinjiang region, where as many as one million ethnic minority Uighurs have been interned in so-called “vocational” camps.
Riaz Haq said…
UAE Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba in #WashingtonDC: #UAE played part in #India-#Pakistan cease-fire. Union of 7 sheikhdoms on #Arabian Peninsula home to #AbuDhabi and #Dubai has a large expatriate workforce of Indians & Pakistanis. #Kashmir #Modi #ImranKhan

“At least we want to get it (India-Pakistan ties) to a level where it’s functional, where it’s operational, where they are speaking to each other, where there’s lines of communication,” al-Otaiba said. “That’s our goal.”

Speaking in a video released Wednesday by Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, al-Otaiba acknowledged an Emirati role “in bringing the Kashmir escalation down” between the two nuclear-armed nations.

“We try to be helpful where we have influence with two different countries,” al-Otaiba told H.R. McMaster, a former national security adviser to Trump. “India and Pakistan was the most recent one.”

In February, India and Pakistan agreed to adhere to a 2003 accord over the heavily militarized Himalayan region that had been largely ignored since its signing. Troops regularly exchanged artillery, rocket and small-arms fire across the so-called Line of Control, killing hundreds including civilians.

Kashmir has been divided but claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan since almost immediately after the two countries’ creation in 1947. They have fought three wars against each other, two directly dealing with the disputed region. India in 2019 stripped Kashmir of its semi-autonomy and took direct control over it, sparking unrest.

The sudden cease-fire in February came as a surprise, especially given Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist agenda and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s own comments about India.

The two sides had reached the brink of war in 2019 after what India called a preemptive strike against militants blamed for a suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops. Pakistan retaliated, shooting down a MiG-21 fighter jet and capturing its pilot, whom they later released.

That the UAE could be a trusted interlocutor isn’t surprising. The federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai has a large expatriate workforce of Indians and Pakistanis across both blue-collar and white-collar jobs. Emirati sheikhs maintain close relations to both countries because of it.

In Pakistan, a security official told The Associated Press the UAE did play a role in brokering the cease-fire. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to brief journalists, declined to say where these meetings took place.

An Indian security official told the AP the two countries had decided to keep the talks “secret and low key.” But he described the UAE’s role as providing “nothing but the venue” in Dubai. The official also spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to talk to reporters.

The UAE, which hosts 3,500 American troops and the U.S. Navy’s busiest foreign port of call, remains a close partner in the region, having sent troops at one point to Afghanistan. The UAE has tried to trade on its efforts to host peace talks between Ethiopia and Eritrea, as well as its recognition of Israel, to bolster those ties. It hopes to purchase advanced F-35 fighter jets from the U.S. as part of a $23 billion sale.

Riaz Haq said…
I Got A Front-Row Seat To The Decline Of My (#Indian) #Democracy. Hoped that #Modi would bring prosperity, but instead, India’s democracy has crumbled. Ham-fisted decisions like banning most banknotes destroyed India’s cash-based #economy via @PranavDixit

I was in a cavernous college auditorium on the frigid winter afternoon in New Delhi in 2015 when Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, was selling the promise of India, his home country and the company’s largest market, to 2,000 high school and college students.

“Part of the reason we’re all very interested in India is that it’s an amazingly young country,” he said. “It’s a vast country, and in so many ways, we do think the trends of the future will come from places like that.”

Over the next few years, American tech companies hungry for growth set their sights on India, where hundreds of millions of people were coming online for the first time thanks to cheap Android phones and crashing data prices. Venture capital coursed through Bangalore’s clogged streets. Millions of Indians were suddenly booking their first Uber rides, receiving their first Amazon packages, watching their first Netflix shows, and having their first WhatsApp chats, some of it powered by the free Wi-Fi that Google was blanketing the country’s railway stations with. A great churning was upon us.

My colleague Mat Honan described those years as a “manifestation of the hope and excitement of the next billion not only coming online, but coming into power,” when he profiled Pichai in 2016. “It feels like a nation on the make.”

Tech made us and unmade us. Before Facebook let misinformation thrive, before Twitter let the trolls run wild, and before WhatsApp got Indians lynched, tech companies unshackled us and promised a billion people a seat at the same table the rest of the world was at — as long as they had an inexpensive data plan.

But at the same time, a different kind of churning was underway. In 2014, a year before Pichai flew down to India, millions of Indians had voted for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a right-wing politician with deep roots in the RSS, a Hindu nationalist organization that his Bharatiya Janata Party draws its ideology from. Many people had hoped that Modi would usher in economic prosperity, but instead, India’s democracy has crumbled. Ham-fisted decisions like banning most banknotes destroyed India’s cash-based economy, while crimes against minorities shot up. Journalists were harassed, jailed, and shot; human rights activists languished in jail for years without trials; communal clashes erupted in the capital; millions spoke out against a contentious new citizenship law that fast-tracks Indian citizenship for members of major South Asian religions except Islam; and for months, farmers have protested new agricultural laws that they said would hurt their businesses.

Tech made us and unmade us.
For years, I let these incidents play out in the background of my consciousness. I grimaced as I scrolled through my Twitter feed full of bloodshed and violence and anger each week, and drowned weekends in alcohol and video games to numb the pain. But each Monday, I threw myself back into tech news, trying to keep up with Silicon Valley, a world away from India’s dust and grime and blood and murky politics. To friends in the country who write about crime and politics from the frontlines, I sent WhatsApp texts of admiration and solidarity. But I told myself that I didn’t need to get mixed up. I was a tech reporter, I reasoned, and the biggest news in my industry each September was new iPhones.

Separating what I cover from the horrors unfolding around me became my coping mechanism. But unfortunately, it hasn’t worked for a while. For years, I tried to live in the comforting fiction that what was happening in India and what was happening in the world of tech were separate things — but that isn't true anymore.

Riaz Haq said…
Global Trends 2040 "A More Contested World": Why #US #Spy Agencies Say the Future Is Bleak as Competition with #China Ratchets up in the Next 20 years. #Climatechange, #technology, #pandemics and #financial crises will pose big challenges for the world.

The world envisioned in the 144-page report, ominously subtitled “A More Contested World,” is rent by a changing climate, aging populations, disease, financial crises and technologies that divide more than they unite, all straining societies and generating “shocks that could be catastrophic.” The gap between the challenges and the institutions meant to deal with them continues to grow, so that “politics within states are likely to grow more volatile and contentious, and no region, ideology, or governance system seems immune or to have the answers.” At the international level, it will be a world increasingly “shaped by China’s challenge to the United States and Western-led international system,” with a greater risk of conflict.

Here’s how agencies charged with watching the world see things:

“Large segments of the global population are becoming wary of institutions and governments that they see as unwilling or unable to address their needs. People are gravitating to familiar and like-minded groups for community and security, including ethnic, religious, and cultural identities as well as groupings around interests and causes, such as environmentalism.”

“At the same time that populations are increasingly empowered and demanding more, governments are coming under greater pressure from new challenges and more limited resources. This widening gap portends more political volatility, erosion of democracy, and expanding roles for alternative providers of governance.”

“Accelerating shifts in military power, demographics, economic growth, environmental conditions, and technology, as well as hardening divisions over governance models, are likely to further ratchet up competition between China and a Western coalition led by the United States.”

“At the state level, the relationships between societies and their governments in every region are likely to face persistent strains and tensions because of a growing mismatch between what publics need and expect and what governments can and will deliver.”

Experts in Washington who have read these reports said they do not recall a gloomier one. In past years, the future situations offered have tilted toward good ones; this year, the headings for how 2040 may look tell a different story: “Competitive Coexistence,” “Separate Silos,” “Tragedy and Mobilization” or “A World Adrift,” in which “the international system is directionless, chaotic, and volatile as international rules and institutions are largely ignored by major powers like China, regional players and non-state actors.”

There is one cheery scenario thrown in, “Renaissance of Democracies,” in which the United States and its allies are leading a world of resurgent democracies, and everybody is getting happier. Its apparent purpose is to show that people could, in principle, turn things around. But nothing in the report suggests it is likely.

The gloom, however, should not come as a surprise. Most of what Global Trends provides are reminders of the dangers we know and the warnings we’ve heard. We know that the world was ill prepared for the coronavirus and that the pandemic was grievously mishandled in most parts of the world, including the United States. We know the Arctic caps are melting at a perilous rate, raising sea levels and threatening dire consequences the world over. We know that for all the grand benefits of the internet, digital technology has also unleashed lies, conspiracies and distrust, fragmenting societies and poisoning political discourse. We know from the past four years what polarized and self-serving rule is like. We know that China is on the rise, and that it is essential to find a manageable balance between containment and cooperation.
Riaz Haq said…
#Tech giants happy to do Narendra #Modi’s bidding in return for access to #Indian market. The Indian leader’s autocratic tendencies do not seem to have posed great ethical difficulties for #Facebook and #Twitter. #Hindutva #Islamophobia | John Naughton

Through his wildly successful promotion of Hindutva ideology, Modi is poised to remake India into a Russian-style ‘managed democracy’ – one retaining all the trappings of democracy while operating as a de facto autocracy.”

Quite like Hungary, in fact. Looking at his record, Modi seems to have been following the playbook of Viktor Orbán, that country’s prime minister, except that Modi has added religious and ethnic dimensions to his programme. But the formula seems pretty similar, based as it is on a thumping electoral majority and weak parliamentary opposition. The formula is to promise economic reform and then, when that falters, suppress opposition, control mainstream – and then social – media and undermine the judicial system. To this Modi has added his own distinctive flourish: radical and sustained use of internet shutdowns to hamper the mobilisation of opposition. And, so far, the strategy seems to be working: last year, Freedom House, an organisation that continually monitors the health of democracies, had judged India to be a “free” society. This year, the country’s rating is “partly free”.

Facebook planned to remove fake accounts in India – until it realized a BJP politician was involved

All of which impales American tech giants, especially Amazon, Facebook, Google and Netflix, on the horns of an ethical dilemma. For them, India represents a huge market – bigger than China, in a way, because of the firm grip that the Communist party has on the operations of tech companies in its jurisdiction. The Indian market, being less centrally controlled, has enormous potential for growth. But in order to thrive there the companies must reach an accommodation with an authoritarian government that doesn’t brook criticism, never mind opposition.

In February, Modi’s administration announced sweeping new rules to regulate social media firms, streaming services and digital news outlets. Companies will be required to acknowledge takedown requests of unlawful and violent content and misinformation within 24 hours and deliver complete redress within 15 days. In sensitive cases such as those surrounding explicit sexual content, firms will be required to take down the content within 24 hours and will also be required to appoint compliance, contact and resident grievance officers whose names and contact details will be shared with New Delhi to address official concerns. Each will also be required to set up a local office in India, which means they will have employees on the ground who can be arrested and jailed.

For Facebook, with its long history of accommodating tyrants, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. A recently revealed internal memo released by Sophie Zhang, a former employee who was a data scientist on the company’s “site integrity fake engagement” team, reveals how relaxed Facebook was about the activities of supporters of Donald Trump and foreign autocrats from Honduras, Azerbaijan and Ukraine on its platform. Zhang also observed “a lack of desire from senior leadership to protect democratic processes in smaller countries”. So Facebook’s boss and India’s prime minister will doubtless get along fine. After all, they’re both autocrats.

Twitter, for its part, had a brief flirtation with defiance of the ruling regime. But in the end it seems to have bowed to the facts on the ground. At any rate, after it was pulled up by the government for non-compliance, the company blocked 1,398 of 1,435 accounts that had been flagged by the IT ministry for allegedly spreading misinformation about the farmers’ protests that had been enraging the government.
Riaz Haq said…
China is now applying calculated doses of pain to shock Westerners into realizing the old, #American-led order is ending. #Chinese foreign policy chief lectured American diplomats in #Alaska. Then #China sanctioned #British, #Canadian & #EU politicians

Its gaze fixed on the prize of becoming rich and strong, China has spent the past 40 years as a risk-averse bully. Quick to inflict pain on smaller powers, it has been more cautious around any country capable of punching back. Recently, however, China’s risk calculations have seemed to change. First Yang Jiechi, the Communist Party’s foreign-policy chief, lectured American diplomats at a bilateral meeting in Alaska, pointing out the failings of American democracy. That earned him hero status back home. Then China imposed sanctions on British, Canadian and European Union politicians, diplomats, academics, lawyers and democracy campaigners. Those sweeping curbs were in retaliation for narrower Western sanctions targeting officials accused of repressing Muslims in the north-western region of Xinjiang.

China’s foreign ministry declares that horrors such as the Atlantic slave trade, colonialism and the Holocaust, as well as the deaths of so many Americans and Europeans from covid-19, should make Western governments ashamed to question China’s record on human rights. Most recently Chinese diplomats and propagandists have denounced as “lies and disinformation” reports that coerced labour is used to pick or process cotton in Xinjiang. They have praised fellow citizens for boycotting foreign brands that decline to use cotton from that region. Still others have sought to prove their zeal by hurling Maoist-era abuse. A Chinese consul-general tweeted that Canada’s prime minister was “a running dog of the us”.

Such performance-nationalism is watched by Western diplomats in Beijing with dismay. Envoys have been summoned for late-night scoldings by Chinese officials, to be informed that this is not the China of 120 years ago when foreign armies and gunboats forced the country’s last, tottering imperial dynasty to open the country wider to outsiders. Some diplomats talk of living through a turning-point in Chinese foreign policy. History buffs debate whether the moment more closely resembles the rise of an angry, revisionist Japan in the 1930s, or that of Germany when steely ambition led it to war in 1914. A veteran diplomat bleakly suggests that China’s rulers view the West as ill-disciplined, weak and venal, and are seeking to bring it to heel, like a dog.

In Washington and other capitals it is not hard to hear voices suggesting that China is making rash, clumsy mistakes. Surely China sees that it is souring public opinion across the West, they murmur. There is puzzlement about how China now views its recent draft accord with the European Union, the Comprehensive Investment Agreement, which it had appeared so eager to conclude. That pact’s ratification by the European Parliament is now on ice, and possibly entombed in permafrost, as a result of China’s sanctions on several Euro-legislators.
Riaz Haq said…
Asked about a “thaw” in India-Pakistan relations and Pakistan Army Chief Javed Qamar Bajwa’s remarks that India and Pakistan should “bury the past”, (Shiv Shankar) Menon called it “a fishing expedition”. He said Islamabad is motivated to know how much pressure India is under after what happened on the border with China.

The India-China relationship will be marked by “hard times” over the next five to 10 years, former national security advisor (NSA) Shivshankar Menon said Tuesday as he discussed his new book during an online event hosted by Harvard Kennedy School.

India now faces a China that is “in a hurry” to seize a moment of opportunity outlined in its global ambitions, Menon said during the event. “Xi Jinping sees China as central to Asia.”

However, he said India-China tensions won’t be permanent. “The fact is China is part of our neighborhood and on our periphery… it is never going to be a purely competitive adversarial relationship and it also never was a purely cooperative one. It swings between these two,” he explained.

India and China have been working to ease tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh since the Galwan border clash in June 2020. Last week, both sides held the 11th round of corp commander meeting at the Chushul-Mondo border.

Asked about a “thaw” in India-Pakistan relations and Pakistan Army Chief Javed Qamar Bajwa’s remarks that India and Pakistan should “bury the past”, Menon called it “a fishing expedition”. He said Islamabad is motivated to know how much pressure India is under after what happened on the border with China.

Asked about the formation of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, Menon observed that it has evolved beyond just a security dialogue. “As long as it was a security dialogue, it had a limited purpose. It ran the risk of when any one of the members pulled out or saw those security issues differently, the Quad itself would collapse. That’s what happened to it in 2008,” he said.

Initiated in 2007, the Quad is a strategic and security framework under the Indo-Pacific construct between the US, Japan, Australia and India. The Quad countries held their first summit-level meeting virtually on 12 March.

“Quad is not a closed shop. It can’t deal with the Indo-Pacific unless it involves other people in the Indo-Pacific,” said Menon. This does not mean the Quad must admit new members, but rather find new partners to work with, he added. The group should also be a “catalyst” for economically integrating Europe into the Southeast Asia region, he said.

On FONOP row
Commenting on the US Navy’s Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) in India’s exclusive economic zone last week, which caused a row in India, Menon remarked: “We’ve just had a reminder that we [India and US] have slightly different interpretations of freedom and navigation and the law of the sea.”

He said there are other ways to enhance maritime security, adding: “I’m not sure that FONOPs is the way to go.”

High expectations for India-US relationship
Observing that the India-US relations are at an all-time peak, Menon said expectations are now high for the two countries. They must find “new directions” in this relationship given that the world is changing considerably, he said.

India and the US can do more on the bilateral front in terms of students and education, agriculture, technology and such areas that affect the lives of ordinary people, he said.

Asked about the role of “internal cohesion” in the US and India, Menon said democracy is “still a work in progress” in India. “The social contract, the fundamental political contract itself, is in the process of being renegotiated [in India],” he said.

Riaz Haq said…
Performance legitimacy in the age of COVID

How regime type and governance quality affect policy responses to COVID-19: A preliminary analysis

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has slowed down economies, upended societies, and tremendously affected the daily lives of ordinary people throughout the world. In the international context, various government responses have thus given rise to many political debates and discussions centered around the handling of these impacts and the novel coronavirus itself. Here, emphasis is often placed on how regime type (i.e., democratic or non-democratic) and governance quality influence policies aimed at responding to the ongoing crisis. By examining relevant scientific resources, including the COVID-19 Global Response Index (developed by FP Analytics), Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI), and Bjørnskov-Rode regime data, this study found that regime type was indeed related to governmental policy responses to COVID-19. Results specifically showed that governance quality (especially effectiveness) had moderate impacts on how well these policies were implemented. Due to several limitations, however, these findings should be regarded as preliminary evidence.

As a worldwide pandemic, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) had already caused more than one million deaths fewer than nine months after the outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, China. Still, the number of infections continues to increase at an unprecedented rate due to the dangerous transmission speed of the virus (Harb and Harb, 2020). As with many previous pandemics, scientific research has been pivotal in fighting COVID-19 through the development of drugs and other treatments. By contrast, political discourse has contributed very little to these life-saving measures, but has nonetheless resulted in the formation of targeted policy responses. However, little is currently known about how related political factors have impacted government responses to the pandemic.

Given this situation, Greer et al. (2020) called for synergistic collaboration between individuals working in comparative politics and scientific research. They further identified four variables that require continued investigation in order to explain how nations are responding to COVID-19, including (a) social policy, (b) regime type, (c) political institutions, and (d) state capacity (Greer et al., 2020). A variety of political science studies have addressed issues related to COVID-19 and past pandemics, particularly in regard to the debate on regime type, state responses, and how good governance affects outcomes.

Recent political science debates have focused on a possible link between regime type and national response to the COVID-19 crisis. Judging the timeliness of various government responses, Alon et al. (2020), Cepaluni et al. (2020), and Piazza and Stronko (2020) have argued that authoritarian regimes more promptly impose stringent public health measures, compared to democracies. Indeed, research has shown that nations with stronger democratic institutions tend to implement measures for combating coronavirus at a slower pace (Sebhatu et al., 2020). This tendency is also evident in historical events (Stasavage, 2020), such as the SARS outbreak of the early the 2000s (Schwartz, 2012). In contrast, while authoritarian regimes can more rapidly impose stringent health measures, they may also exercise their power to devise cover-ups that turn local contagions into a global pandemic (Alon et al., 2020). Frey et al. (2020) provided a contrast to the abovementioned studies, contending that democracies mount more effective responses to control the spread of COVID-19 by reducing its geographic mobility.

Riaz Haq said…
Is There a War Coming Between China and the U.S.?

If you’re looking for a compelling beach read this summer, I recommend the novel “2034,” by James Stavridis, a retired admiral, and Elliot Ackerman, a former Marine and intelligence officer. The book is about how China and America go to war in 2034, beginning with a naval battle near Taiwan and with China acting in a tacit alliance with Iran and Russia.

I’m not giving it all away to say China and the U.S. end up in a nuclear shootout and incinerate a few of each other’s cities, and the result is that neutral India becomes the dominant world power. (Hey, it’s a novel!)


Are we up to the challenge? I’m pretty sure we can keep a more aggressive, nationalistic Russia and Iran deterred at a reasonable cost, and with the help of our traditional allies.

But China is another question. So we’d better understand where our strengths and weaknesses lie, as well as China’s.

China is now a true peer competitor in the military, technological and economic realms, except — except in one critical field: designing and manufacturing the most advanced microprocessors and logic and memory chips that are the base layer for artificial intelligence, machine learning, high-performance computing, electric vehicles, telecommunications — i.e., the whole digital economy that we’re moving into.

China’s massive, state-led effort to develop its own vertically integrated microchip industry has so far largely failed to master the physics and hardware to manipulate matter at the nano-scale, a skill required to mass produce super-sophisticated microprocessors.

However, just a few miles away from China sits the largest and most sophisticated contract chip maker in the world: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. According to the Congressional Research Service, TSMC is one of only three manufacturers in the world that fabricate the most advanced semiconductor chips — and by far the biggest. The second and third are Samsung and Intel.

Most chip designers, like IBM, Qualcomm, Nvidia, AMD (and even Intel to some extent) now use TSMC and Samsung to make the microprocessors they design.

But, just as important, three of the five companies that make the super-sophisticated lithography machines, tools and software used by TSMC and others to actually make the microchips — Applied Materials, Lam Research Corporation and KLA Corporation — are based in the United States. (The other two are Dutch and Japanese.) China largely lacks this expertise.

As such, the American government has the leverage to restrict TSMC from making advanced chips for Chinese companies. Indeed, just two weeks ago, the U.S. made TSMC suspend new orders from seven Chinese supercomputing centers suspected of assisting in the country’s weapons development.

The South China Morning Post quoted Francis Lau, a University of Hong Kong computer scientist, as saying: “The sanctions would definitely affect China’s ability to keep to its leading position in supercomputing,” because all of its current supercomputers mostly use processors from Intel or designed by AMD and IBM and manufactured by TSMC. Although there are Korean and Japanese alternatives, Lau added, they are not as powerful.

China, though, is doubling down on research in the physics, nanotechnology and material sciences that will drive the next generation of chips and chip-making equipment. But it could take China a decade or more to reach the cutting edge.

That’s why — today — as much as China wants Taiwan for reasons of ideology, it wants TSMC in the pocket of Chinese military industries for reasons of strategy. And as much as U.S. strategists are committed to preserving Taiwan’s democracy, they are even more committed to ensuring that TSMC doesn’t fall into China’s hands for reasons of strategy. (TSMC is now building a new semiconductor factory in Phoenix.) Because, in a digitizing world, he who controls the best chip maker will control … a lot.
Riaz Haq said…
Elliot Ackerman & James Stavridis, 2034: A Novel of the Next World War

On March 12, 2034, US Navy Commodore Sarah Hunt is on the bridge of her flagship, the guided missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones, conducting a routine freedom of navigation patrol in the South China Sea when her ship detects an unflagged trawler in clear distress, smoke billowing from its bridge. On that same day, US Marine aviator Major Chris “Wedge” Mitchell is flying an F35E Lightning over the Strait of Hormuz, testing a new stealth technology as he flirts with Iranian airspace. By the end of that day, Wedge will be an Iranian prisoner, and Sarah Hunt’s destroyer will lie at the bottom of the sea, sunk by the Chinese Navy. Iran and China have clearly coordinated their moves, which involve the use of powerful new forms of cyber weaponry that render US ships and planes defenseless. In a single day, America’s faith in its military’s strategic pre-eminence is in tatters. A new, terrifying era is at hand.

So begins a disturbingly plausible work of speculative fiction, co-authored by an award-winning novelist and decorated Marine veteran and the former commander of NATO, a legendary admiral who has spent much of his career strategically outmaneuvering America’s most tenacious adversaries. Written with a powerful blend of geopolitical sophistication and human empathy, 2034 takes us inside the minds of a global cast of characters—Americans, Chinese, Iranians, Russians, Indians—as a series of arrogant miscalculations on all sides leads the world into an intensifying international storm. In the end, China and the United States will have paid a staggering cost, one that forever alters the global balance of power.

Everything in 2034 is an imaginative extrapolation from present-day facts on the ground combined with the authors’ years working at the highest and most classified levels of national security. Sometimes it takes a brilliant work of fiction to illuminate the most dire of warnings: 2034 is all too close at hand, and this cautionary tale presents the reader a dark yet possible future that we must do all we can to avoid.
Riaz Haq said…
2034: A Novel of the Next World War
What a US nuclear war with China would look like

World Socialist Website

2034 is co-written by a man who would be a leading architect of such a war. Stavridis was one of the Pentagon’s most prominent political commanders, having been vetted as a potential running mate by the Clinton campaign and a possible secretary of state by President-elect Donald Trump in the fall of 2016.


Finally, the military dynamics are themselves totally unrealistic. The central assumption of the book is that there exists such a thing as a “tactical” nuclear war. Military actions are calmly and rationally discussed and deliberated.

Even so, it is only through an absurd and unbelievable plot twist that a strategic nuclear exchange is avoided. In a ridiculous deus ex machina, India attacks both Chinese and US vessels, bringing about an end to the war.

There is no such thing as a “tactical” nuclear world war. There has never been a full-scale war between two countries armed with nuclear weapons. More importantly, there has never been a full-scale war between “great powers” armed with 21st century technology.

The range, cheapness, and speed of offensive weapons, including drones and high-speed missiles, will mean that a third world war will be conducted everywhere at once, at dizzying speed and complexity. The logic of these phenomena—the complexity of global relations and domestic opposition, the expansion of the battlefield to the entire globe, the delegation of warfare to artificial intelligence—makes nuclear war impossible to control and limit to the “tit-for-tat” military exchanges depicted in the book.

A normal person, that is, one for whom moral derangement is not a professional requirement, would read Stavridis’ book with horror and do everything to avoid the massive level of death it depicts. But the fact is that, for its intended audience within the Beltway and the Pentagon, the tactical nuclear exchanges depicted in the book, constitute, in the words of Dr. Strangelove’s Gen. Buck Turgidson, “getting our hair mussed”—an entirely acceptable consequence of the use of nuclear weapons.

Stanley Kubrick’s masterful Dr. Strangelove, Sidney Lumet’s Fail Safe, and, more obliquely, John Frankenheimer’s Seven Days in May (all released in 1964) were scathing critiques of the military and of nuclear war. No such critical works are being written and produced today, and ground has been ceded to Stavridis’ sanitized depiction of nuclear war from the standpoint of a practitioner.

2034 is a wake-up call. The US military is actively planning and discussing a nuclear war, based on the false claim that such wars can be managed and contained. No, they cannot. Nuclear war threatens the annihilation of humanity. These well-advanced war plans must be opposed and stopped before it is too late.

Riaz Haq said…
#Modi’s #BJP party loses #WestBengalElections2021 by a wide margin amid #COVID19 #pandemic; #India sees 3,689 deaths , a new record in 24 hours. There were 390,000 new infections in 24 hour period. #CoronavirusPandemic #ModiResign #MamataBanerjee

The holding of elections over the past month even as the number of new cases mushroomed has drawn scrutiny in India. The Madras High Court even went as far as to slam the country’s Election Commission for not stopping political rallies that were flouting coronavirus protocols. Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee called the organization “singularly responsible” for the new surge in cases.

During the past month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held several massive campaign rallies attended by tens of thousands of people in the eastern state of West Bengal where his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or the BJP, was in a close race with an opposition party led by a woman. Modi and his powerful deputy, Amit Shah, addressed more than 50 rallies in Bengal, according to NDTV.

By evening, it was clear Modi’s party had lost the bitterly fought election battle. The BJP was on track to lose in two other south Indian states where they weren’t in the reckoning. The party is set to retain power in the state of Assam.

Modi has been panned by critics for sending the wrong message by holding rallies at a time when India was on its way to becoming the worst-affected country in the world by the pandemic, but losses in these elections may signify only a limited test of the impact of the unfolding crisis on his support.

Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of Bengal, known for her streetfighter reputation, asked her supporters to remain at home. “Covid is my first priority,” Bannerjee said in her victory speech. The state capital, Kolkata, has in recent days seen a climbing positivity rate with every second person being tested for the coronavirus turning out to be positive.
Riaz Haq said…
Meena Harris, #US VP Kamala Harris’ niece says those who are neutral on #Israel-#Gaza have ‘chosen the side of the oppressor'. The evictions in #shaikhjarrah are emblematic of an #Israeli government that is trying to push #Palestinians out of #Jerusalem.

(Meena) Harris, a 36-year-old lawyer and businesswoman shared a statement seen across Instagram, along with the caption "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. I stand in solidarity with the residents of Sheikh Jarrah."

Sheikh Jarrah is a neighborhood in East Jerusalem where six Palestinian families are facing eviction in favor of Jewish settlers. The evictions have led to violent clashes in the streets. The Israeli government has said the matter is a real estate dispute that Hamas is using to stoke tensions, but some Palestinians say the evictions are emblematic of an Israeli government they say is trying to push them out of Jerusalem.

The post she shared read, "One cannot advocate for racial equality, LGBT & women’s rights, condemn corrupt and abusive regimes & other injustices yet choose to ignore the Palestinian oppression. It does not add up. You cannot pick & choose whose human rights matter more."

Hamas, the Palestinian terror group that controls Gaza, is no champion of LGBT rights - being gay is punishable by 10 years in prison, and in 2016, Hamas executed one of its own fighters for same-sex relations.

The post had also been shared by model Gigi Hadid, who is of Palestinian and Dutch descent.

In a subsequent post, Meena Harris shared a statement that described Israel as an "apartheid state."

Meena Harris’ take on the Middle East violence seemingly puts her at odds with President Biden. Biden said Thursday he had not seen a "significant overreaction" from Israel in response to Hamas’ rocket attacks, and said that they had been "indiscriminately fired into population centers."

Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Biden in the call asserted Israel’s "right to defend itself." White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden team had had "dozens of calls" with Israeli and Palestinian leaders focused on de-escalating the crisis over the past week.

But earlier this week Psaki said the U.S. had expressed concerns that Israeli evictions in East Jerusalem worked "against our common interests" in finding a solution to the conflict.
Riaz Haq said…
Watch #Modi squirm and walk out of an interview with #Indian journalist Karan Thapar. He was extremely defensive and failed to answer any questions on the massacre of #Muslims in #Gujarat when he was Chief Minister
Riaz Haq said…
Bruce Reidel: #Biden"has not spoken with Pakistani PM Imran Khan. Khan is the elected leader of 6th most populous country in the world with growing nuclear weapons arsenal... Blinken has been to New Delhi but not to Islamabad" #Pakistan #Afghanistan #India

The Biden administration has taken a curious lack of interest in Pakistan. Routine contacts with the army, diplomats, and spies have continued but President Biden has ignored the country. He has not spoken with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. Khan is the elected leader of the sixth most populous country in the world with a growing nuclear weapons arsenal. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been to New Delhi but not to Islamabad. The fiasco in Kabul should be a wake-up call to get involved.


The Afghan Taliban and their Pakistani army patrons are back in Kabul before the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Pakistan’s army Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) has backed the Taliban since the group’s origin in the mid-1990s. Under intense pressure in September 2001, the ISI briefly removed its experts and assistance, creating the same panic and flight to the Taliban that the U.S. withdrawal just did to the Afghan army. But the ISI quickly renewed its support and that aid continues today. The Taliban/ISI victory in Afghanistan will have significant consequences for Pakistan, some of which may be dangerous and violent.

Mullah Omar, the founder of the Taliban, was trained by the ISI during the war against the Soviets in the 1980s. When he was wounded, he got medical attention in a Pakistani hospital. After the Soviets retreated out of Afghanistan, he was one of many warlords fighting for control of the country. As he created the Taliban, the Pakistani army gave him support for the drive on Kabul in 1996 that gave the Taliban control of most of the country. Pakistan provided experts and advisers for the Taliban military, oil for its economy and was their supply route to the outside world.

After the American invasion of Afghanistan, Omar went into exile in Pakistan along with most of his lieutenants. With the ISI’s help, they rebuilt the infrastructure in the borderlands and gradually stepped up attacks on the NATO and Afghan forces. Pakistani aid went far beyond sanctuary and safe haven for the leadership and cadres and their families — it included training, arms, experts, and help in fundraising, especially in the Gulf states. On occasion, Pakistani advisers accompanied the Taliban on missions inside Afghanistan. The ISI is particularly close to the Haqqani network in the Taliban. Omar most likely died in Karachi; his death was not announced for months.

It is fair to assume that the ISI helped the Taliban plan its blitzkrieg this summer. The Taliban’s seizing of the north reflected memories of its enemies using bases there in the late 1990s to resist the Taliban and the CIA using those facilities to bring down the Taliban in 2001. The plan also prioritized seizing border crossings, especially in the west, which kept Iran from providing aid to its Shiite Hazara allies in Afghanistan.


Islamist parties in Pakistan have celebrated the victory in Afghanistan. Undoubtedly the ISI is hailing the fall of Kabul as their humbling of a second superpower, but it is savvy enough to do its gloating in private.

Riaz Haq said…
"While the Bidens of this world still talk about Gandhi, India’s role models have changed. ..(Anti-#Muslim) #Genocide is now openly demanded at public rallies. The “need” for ethnic cleansing can pop up in casual conversations" #India #Modi #Hindutva

And it is only the beginning. In neighboring Bihar, the government is asking people to report “suspected illegal migrants” and officials have been ordered to create awareness of the issue on “an urgent basis.” The state’s high court has demanded a detention center to house migrants, reminding the government that “deportation of illegal migrants is of paramount importance and in the national interest.” Bihar’s 17 million Muslims are on edge about their future. In next-door Bengal, which borders Bangladesh and is home to nearly 25 million Muslims, the BJP has been promising an Assam-like citizenship verification drive if it comes to power in the state.

The chief minister of India’s biggest and most politically important state, Uttar Pradesh, recently blamed Muslims for cornering government-subsidized food. Uttar Pradesh, along with Assam, has introduced a two-child policy blaming Muslims for a supposedly runaway population growth that officials say accounts for the backwardness of these states. The claim is not rooted in reality. Fertility rates among Muslims have in fact been falling rapidly.

But reality is no longer important. It bends to the requirements of the ruling party’s dehumanizing narrative against Muslims. As Jews in Nazi Germany were called “rats” and Tutsis in Rwanda in the 1990s were called “cockroaches,” so BJP members now refer to Indian Muslims as “termites” eating away at India’s resources, denying Hindus what is due to them in their own land.

The destruction of Gandhi’s legacy
The foundations of the secular republic that Gandhi died defending are thus being hollowed out ever more frantically. While Modi pays ritualistic homage to Gandhi, BJP leaders openly glorify Gandhi’s killer, who was a Hindu fanatic. Modi’s ministers and legislators freely call on people to shoot “traitors” and start pogroms, and are promoted rather than penalized for their actions. Modi himself partly owes his fan following and ascent to his lack of remorse over the 2002 pogroms in Gujarat in 2002, when he was chief minister. Hundreds of Muslims were killed and thousands rendered homeless.

Noticeably, not only did the current chief minister of Assam not apologize for the police excesses, he in fact trivialized the deaths of Hoque and Farid, calling Hoque’s death “just 30 seconds” of a three minute video. He also carried on with the eviction drive and even proudly tweeted photos of the rubble of the four mosques destroyed in it.

While the Bidens of this world still talk about Gandhi, India’s role models have changed. So have the standards of acceptable discourse in public and social life. Genocide is now openly demanded at public rallies. The “need” for ethnic cleansing can pop up in casual conversations on politics among friends or family. Death threats are used like punctuation marks in debates on social media.

On Oct. 2, Gandhi’s birthday was celebrated with much fanfare as the International Day of Non-Violence. Two new books on his assassination in 1948 were launched. In Karnataka, meanwhile, a 25-year-old Muslim man was found beheaded for his affair with a Hindu girl, allegedly by a local Hindu vigilante group.

Gandhi continues to be killed in a million ways in today’s India. Bijoy Baniya just added a flourish to it.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistanis have never elected #Fascist leaders like #Modi and #YogiAdityanath. Religious parties in #Pakistan get very few votes and even fewer seats in federal and provincial #legislatures.
Riaz Haq said…
Pieter Friedrich

The Nazi-inspired #RSS paramilitary has been implicated in lynchings, assassinations, TERRORIST BOMBINGS, and over a dozen large-scale pogroms targeting minorities.

(Mumbai High Court Justice Kolse Patil's video attached)
Riaz Haq said…
It Is No Longer ‘Incredible India’ But ‘Intolerant India’.
#Modi's #Hindutva activists are seeking to enforce rigid codes of normative #Hindu culture and #Islamophobia by forcing the withdrawal of progressive advertisements. #India @Diplomat_APAC

The BJP’s troll army soon took to Twitter, with #BanFabIndia trending and some even demanding that models in advertisements should have “Hindu appropriate dressing” with women sporting a bindi, a traditional dot on the forehead of Indian women. A right-wing influencer lashed out at the “secularization” of Hindu festivals, tweeting #NoBindiNoBusiness and calling for a boycott of brands that did not comply with the sentiments of Hindu culture. Consequently, Fab India not only withdrew its promo advertisement but tried to mollify the right-wing by stating that its soon-to-be launched Diwali campaign was titled an innocuous “Jhilmil Si Diwali” (Sparkling Diwali).

While the targeting of the skin bleach advertisement is an attempt to enforce rigid codes of normative Hindu culture with a homophobic worldview, the Fab India advertisement controversy is an attempt to entrench Islamophobia in the masses. The saffron brigade and its votaries, namely the BJP politicians, assign themselves the role of custodians of Indian culture. In their myopic view, recognition of the LGBTQ community and its rights is anathema and they are highly intolerant of introduction of any progressive ideas into Hindu festivals and traditions. Highlighting India’s cultural and religious diversity, especially Hindu-Muslim brotherhood, angers the right wing.

Significantly, the increasing attacks on advertisements have coincided with the mainstreaming of hate politics championed by the BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Islamophobia in India has escalated to ridiculous heights. Linguists point out that the language Urdu is not the sole preserve of Muslims in the country, but Urdu words are widely used in everyday speech and literary texts of Hindustani language.

Incidentally, these were not the only advertisements that were targeted by the Hindutva brigade this festive season. CEAT Tyres was viciously trolled and faced an onslaught of online abuse after its Diwali advertisement featured Bollywood actor Aamir Khan advising children not to burst firecrackers on the streets but within the apartment complex.

BJP Member of Parliament Ananth Kumar Hegde, who habitually spews communal venom, wrote to the CEO of CEAT Tyres accusing the company of “creating unrest among Hindus.” In his letter which he made public on Facebook, Hegde also attacked the actor Khan, who is a Muslim. “Nowadays, a group of anti-Hindu actors always hurt the Hindu sentiments whereas they never try to expose the wrong doings of their community.”

In a long rant, Hegde lashed out at Muslims in general for offering namaaz (prayers) on the roads, which he said was public property. He described the Azaan, the muezzin’s call to prayer, as noise pollution. He issued a dire warning to the CEAT Tyres company to “not hurt Hindu sentiments” in future.

Hindutva leaders are now turning Hindu festivals into a weapon against Muslims, says Apoorvanand, a professor at Delhi University. The backlash against these recent advertisements is certainly an indicator of this trend.
Riaz Haq said…
#Biden & #Blinken hypocrisy: Both attack #China but ignore #UCIRF recommendation to put #India on religious freedom violation list "systematic, ongoing and egregious" violations of religious freedom — for 2nd consecutive year. #Modi #Hindutva #Islamophobia

The State Department has bypassed a recommendation from an independent government commission to name India to its "red list" of countries engaged in "systematic, ongoing and egregious" violations of religious freedom — for the second consecutive year.

Why it matters: The omission is the latest example of leniency applied to India by the administration and U.S. lawmakers. Strengthening ties with the world's largest democracy has featured prominently in both the Trump and Biden administrations' strategy for countering China.

Officials in New Delhi now regard China as their biggest security threat, aligning with U.S. concerns about Beijing's intent around the world.
Former President Trump had no qualms about embracing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist who was once banned from entering the U.S. over "severe violations of religious freedom" during his time as governor of the state of Gujarat.
For President Biden, who's pledged to place human rights at the "center" of his foreign policy, the issue is far more delicate.
Driving the news: Nadine Maenza, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, told Axios the Biden administration "missed an opportunity" to publicly pressure India by naming it as a "country of concern."

"We're disappointed that they're not looking at the conditions on the ground and how they're deteriorating," she said.
Since Modi's election in 2014, India has experienced democratic backsliding and frequent outbreaks of anti-Muslim mob violence.
Critics say Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party has turned a blind eye to discrimination and imposed laws designed to marginalize Muslims.
Between the lines: The Biden administration appears to have made the judgment it would be more productive to address India's worsening human rights conditions in private, unless a more dramatic threshold is crossed.

"With China's belligerent rise — and India's willingness to work with the U.S. and other partners — the Biden administration will not want to put the relationship at risk over the current level of concern in these areas," says Richard Rossow, a U.S.-India expert at CSIS.
In the meantime, Biden has pressed ahead by hosting Modi at the White House and forging new ties through the Quad, a strategic dialogue between the U.S., India, Japan and Australia that Beijing views as hostile.
Biden also reportedly plans to invite India to his "Summit for Democracy" next month.
The big picture: This is not exclusive to India. U.S. administrations have long been more critical of human rights abuses in adversarial countries like Iran, for example, than in friendly ones like Egypt or Saudi Arabia.

Zoom out: The next test of Modi's free pass will be whether India is sanctioned for acquiring Russia's S-400 air defense system. That move is required under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Turkey was sanctioned in 2020 for the same purchase, but unlike India, Turkey is a NATO ally. Its use of Russian military equipment could lead to U.S. security concerns, since the Russians could gain insight into U.S. defense capabilities.
"I think CAATSA sanctions would be simply disastrous for the transformation of the [U.S.-India] relationship," Ashley Tellis, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Axios.

Riaz Haq said…
#Biden's #democracy summit casts a wide, inclusive net. Countries undermining democratic institutions (#Poland, the #Philippines, #India) are invited due to geostrategic considerations in decision process. #Modi #hindutvastateterror #Islamophobia #Pakistan

The Summit for Democracy promised by President Biden during his campaign is now scheduled for Dec. 9 and 10. Deciding which countries to attend this virtual event has always been a challenge and the Biden administration has seemingly made a decision to err on the side of inclusiveness.

Several countries that have been undermining democratic institutions in recent years (Poland, the Philippines, India) have found themselves on the invitation list. Some speculate that geostrategic considerations overtook democratic standards in the decision process. These nations play a role in countering Russian and Chinese efforts to expand their influence.

It strikes me, however, that inclusiveness is the right approach to take in compiling this guest list. Democratization is a process that evolves over time, often with significant setbacks. There is truth in the old saying that democracy is a journey, not a destination

The yardstick for democracy is somewhat different from the yardstick for human rights. Sadly, as we have seen in our own country, abuses of human and civil rights can occur in a functioning democracy. The correctives are political debate, a free press and strong legal institutions that hold violators accountable.

For example, 55 out of the 57 member countries of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) consider the death penalty to be cruel and unusual punishment, a violation of human rights. In 2014, I attended the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting conference in Warsaw, Poland. As the leader of the U.S. delegation, I had to address this issue. I made my personal opposition known. Nonetheless, I couldn’t say that the United States was no longer a democracy because many states had yet to abolish the death penalty. That is hopefully a work in progress.

Democracy isn’t easily defined, yet there are minimal standards: Periodic free and fair elections, a free press, an independent judiciary, protected speech, the right to assemble and freedom of religion (and ideally a separation of church and state). There is a surfeit of evidence that governments that are accountable to the people are enduring and more effective. That evidence is compiled very nicely in the book “Why Nations Fail: The origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty,” by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson.

So why is now the right moment in history to revive the democratic spirit globally? Clearly, the democratic movement has waned in the past decade. I would argue that it is vital that the United States, once called a “shining city on a hill,” offer a corrective to the past four years of an administration that disrespected democratic institutions. The Trump administration gave a green light to authoritarian rulers to undermine a free press, treat parliamentary bodies with disrespect, flout the law and challenge free and fair elections. Viktor Orban of Hungary and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil are just two of the more conspicuous followers of Trump’s anti-democratic playbook.

Some will argue that the United States has even lost its right to host a summit on democracy. I disagree. U.S. institutions held together despite Trump’s antics. We are struggling with a polarized society as are many democracies, but we never pretended to be perfect. That is why we are even more credible as we battle disinformation, attacks on democratic institutions and efforts to suppress the vote. Sometimes it is easier to make the case for democracy when our own vulnerabilities are glaringly obvious. Self-criticism is a disarming tactic.
Riaz Haq said…
In #India, calls for #Muslim #genocide grow louder. #Modi’s silence is an endorsement. Is this the type of “democracy” #Biden and other allies are championing? #Islamophobia #Hindutva #BJP #MuslimLivesMatter @RanaAyyub

“The first time it was reported that our friends were being butchered there was a cry of horror. Then a hundred were butchered. But when a thousand were butchered and there was no end to the butchery, a blanket of silence spread. When evil-doing comes like falling rain, nobody calls out ‘stop!’"

These lines, written by the German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht, came to me as I heard the horrifying speeches delivered by Hindu nationalists during a religious conference this month, when leaders issued direct calls for genocide against Muslims.

“If 100 of us are ready to kill two million of them, then we will win,” said Pooja Shakun Pandey, a leader of Hindu Mahasabha, a militant organization, at a conference in the city of Haridwar, 150 miles north of New Delhi. “Be ready to kill and go to jail.”

At the same event, another Hindu seer invoked the crackdown against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as a model for what can be done to drive Muslims away, a monstrous event that has been covered in the media.

The Dharma Sansad (Hindu convention) was attended by members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party. Videos of the packed event have been circulating on social media. Attendees made pledges to turn India into a Hindu nation. Unsurprisingly, the calls for violence and extermination have been met with silence by Modi and others — a silence that translates as an endorsement.

Inciting violence is a crime in India, but Pandey and the other speakers remain free. The police are supposed to be investigating but have been very slow to act — since they know full well these leaders have the protection of the ruling political class.

In fact, these Hindu leaders have now been emboldened to form a paramilitary force of monks who they claim will lead an armed fight against the 220 million Muslim population in India.

Days after the conference, Tejaswi Surya, Modi’s handpicked youth leader and a BJP member of parliament, called for bringing Indian Muslims and Christians back to Hinduism, “the mother religion.” He then tried to walk back his comments.

What is happening in India, where calls for genocide and ethnic cleansing are a centerpiece of our political debates? Where the Hindu nationalist who assassinated Mohandas K. Gandhi, a global symbol of nonviolent resistance, is glorified by national leaders.

What is happening in India, where the majority Hindu community fails to repudiate acts of terror unleashed in its name? Where Muslims are lynched on the streets, where Christmas celebrations are attacked, where the government has blocked the charity of human rights icon and Nobel laureate Mother Teresa from receiving international donations.

What is happening in India, where Suresh Chavhanke, the influential owner of a right-wing nationalist news channel, calls for people to “fight, die and kill if required” to make India a “Hindu nation” at an event on Dec. 19 in the national capital as the cameras rolled and the police looked on.

What is happening in India, where law enforcement is more likely to investigate journalists over tweets and the sons of critical public figures over alleged marijuana possession, than go after fanatics calling for mass murder?

What is happening in India, where the captain of the Indian cricket team, Virat Kohli, loses his position for defending a Muslim colleague who was targeted for his faith?

The answer is as loud and clear as the hate spewed at those events, as the mobs that have been given a free pass to attack minorities.

Riaz Haq said…
Online ‘Auction’ Is Latest Attack on #Indian #Muslim Women. #India's cyberspace is rife with #misogyny and #Islamophobia. But the two “auctions” have amplified concern about the organized nature of the virtual bullying. #BJP #Hindutva #Bullibai #SulliDeals

The fake site, the second in months, is a sign of the organized nature of virtual bullying, with threats of sexualized violence aimed at silencing the outspoken.

Hiba Bég, a graduate student in the United States, was visiting the grave of her grandmother in New Delhi over the weekend when she learned that she was “for sale” to the highest bidder online — for a second time in less than a year.

Her screen filled with dozens of calls and messages from friends, all sharing the same screenshot of the profile created of her on the app, a fake auction site called “Bulli Bai.” Ms. Bég, a former journalist with an active online presence, wasn’t alone. More than 100 other prominent Indian Muslim women, including artists, journalists, activists and lawyers, found that online images of themselves were being used without permission on the app, which went up on Saturday and was taken down again within about 24 hours.

In June a similar app, called “Sulli Deals,” appeared. (Both terms are derogatory slang for Muslim women.) That one remained up for weeks and was taken down only after complaints from victims. Though the police opened an investigation, no one has been charged in that case.


Karti Chidambaram, a member of India’s Parliament and a leader of the opposition Congress party, wrote on Twitter that he was appalled that those responsible apparently felt emboldened because of the government’s lack of action on the previous auction.

“It is unacceptable that this project of dangerous anti-Muslim misogyny is back,” he said.

On Monday, the police in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh said they had opened an investigation and filed a criminal complaint against several Twitter handles and developers of the app, based on the complaint of a Muslim woman.

But many complaints said the lack of progress on the previous investigations had inspired little confidence.

For years, Ms. Bég has been a vocal critic of India’s governing Hindu nationalists and their anti-minority policies under Mr. Modi. She has faced intense internet trolling, including death threats, on Twitter.

Over the years, as the pressure has intensified, she said, she started self-censoring, avoiding critical posts on the policies of the Hindu nationalists.

She said she had been worried about the rising intolerance, but the latest episode showcased how the online machinery was being used to make vocal Muslim women withdraw from public life, essentially eliminating any counternarrative.

Hasiba Amin, a social media coordinator of the opposition Congress party, who was also featured on the auction app, says the fact that the violence and death threats against minorities online have recently gone beyond virtual is what keeps her awake.

“What guarantees do we have from the government that tomorrow the threats and intimidation online is not going to turn into the real-time sexual violence on the streets?” she asked.
Riaz Haq said…
#US-led containment against #Beijing in the Indo-Pacific means cozying up to #NewDelhi while ignoring #India’s egregious misdeeds. #Hindutva #Islamophobia #lynchings #genocide #Kashmir

A gaffe is a truth inadvertently let out by a politician. So, it’s no surprise that all hell broke loose in India when Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong earlier this month warned in a speech about how healthy democracies could “go downhill” and referenced news reports that 43 per cent of members of the current Indian parliament were facing criminal probes.
New Delhi summoned Singapore’s envoy to the country to express its anger.
The sentiments expressed by Lee, whose country has long enjoyed good relations with India, may be contrasted with those of Britain and the United States. Last year, at a virtual summit between Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi, the British prime minister said: “The UK and India share many fundamental values … The UK is one of the oldest democracies. And India is the world’s largest.”

Riaz Haq said…
US Cites #Indian PM Narendra Modi's Immunity After #Gujarat2000 killing of #Muslims To Defend Protection To #Saudi Crown Prince #MBS. #Modi was banned from entering #US during 2005-14 over his involvement in the 2002 Gujarat anti-Muslim #Pogrom. #Khashogi

"It is a longstanding and consistent line of effort. It has been applied to a number of heads of state previously. Some examples: President Aristide in Haiti in 1993, President Mugabe in Zimbabwe in 2001, Prime Minister Modi in India in 2014, and President Kabila in the DRC in 2018. This is a consistent practice that we have afforded to heads of state, heads of government, and foreign ministers," said Patel.


The US government has cited the example of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to defend the immunity provided to Saudia Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The US intelligence community found that Mohammad bin Salman, often called MBS, ordered the killing of Khashoggi in 2018. However, he not been sanctioned and the US government continues to engage with him and the ruling Saudi family.


The Joe Biden administration on Thursday submitted in response to a lawsuit filed by Khashoggi's fiance Hatice Cengiz that MBS has immunity in the United States as he is a head of a government. MBS was recently appointed the Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. While the decision attracted critcism from Cengiz and human rights advocates, the Biden administration defended the move and cited precedents, involving Modi.

What did US government say?
Modi was sanctioned by the United States during 2005-14 over his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat Riots. The ban wan on his entry into the United States was lifted in 2014 when he became the Prime Minister of India. US Department of State Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel cited Modi and others to defend the immunity to MBS.

Riaz Haq said…
Immunity to Saudi ruler: India upset at ‘unnecessary’ reference to PM Modi by US official
Bagchi also said reports about the Prime Minister’s visit to the US in December were incorrect

India is upset at a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by a US State Department official while defending the immunity it had extended to Saudi Arabian ruler Mohammad bin Sultan, who is facing allegations of killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Frankly, I fail to understand how the comment on Prime Minister Modi was either relevant, necessary or contextual,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said responding to questions about a US official referring to Modi while explaining the reasons for granting immunity to the Saudi ruler.

“Our two countries enjoy a very special relationship which is growing from strength to strength and we look forward to working with the US to further deepen it,” he said, referring to the bilateral ties between India and the US.

When asked about giving immunity to the Saudi Crown Prince over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, US State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said in a briefing last Friday that this is not the first time that the US has done this and it has been applied to a number of heads of state previously, including PM Modi, according to reports.

Bagchi also said reports about the Prime Minister’s visit to the US in December were incorrect.

“No proposal for a visit by the Prime Minister to the US in December has been made by our side. Media reports in this regard are incorrect,” Bagchi said.

He also dismissed social media posts about “false comments” attributed to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and White House spokesperson with regard to the brief bilateral meeting between Modi and US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the recent G-20 summit in Bali.

“We have seen some incorrect social media posts which attribute false statements to the External Affairs Minister, who has not made any comment on this to the press or on social media. It also attributes false statements to the White House press secretary. So, I would request you all not to lend credence to such incorrect information,” Bagchi said.

He said the prime minister met Biden on a number of occasions in the course of the Bali Summit, including a brief bilateral meeting and a trilateral meeting that involved Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

“During these interactions, they exchanged views on a number of issues. Our press releases and tweets as well as the foreign secretary’s briefing in Bali encapsulates all these conversations.

“The US side has also issued its readout of the trilateral meeting and also separately indicated that a brief bilateral meeting did take place between the two leaders,” Bagchi said.
Riaz Haq said…
Ashok Swain
Modi’s Home Minister says the mass killing of 2000 Muslims in Gujarat, India in 2002 was done to teach minorities a Lesson! In which world, a ruling regime takes credit for killing 2000 of its own citizens?


"Rioters Taught Lesson In 2002...Permanent Peace In Gujarat": Amit Shah
Parts of Gujarat had witnessed large-scale violence in 2002 following the train burning incident at Godhra railway station in February that year.

Ahmedabad: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday said anti-social elements earlier indulged in violence in Gujarat as the Congress supported them, but after the perpetrators were "taught a lesson" in 2002, they stopped such activities and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) established "permanent peace" in the state.
Parts of Gujarat had witnessed large-scale violence in 2002 following the train burning incident at Godhra railway station in February that year.

Addressing a rally in Mahudha town of Kheda district in support of BJP candidates ahead of the next month's Assembly elections, Mr Shah alleged, "During the Congress rule in Gujarat (before 1995), communal riots were rampant. Congress used to incite people of different communities and castes to fight against each other. Through such riots, Congress had strengthened its vote bank and did injustice to a large section of the society." Mr Shah claimed that Gujarat witnessed riots in 2002 because perpetrators became habitual of indulging in violence due to the prolonged support they received from the Congress.

"But after they were taught a lesson in 2002, these elements left that path (of violence). They refrained from indulging in violence from 2002 till 2022. BJP has established permanent peace in Gujarat by taking strict action against those who used to indulge in communal violence," the Union minister said.

Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for abrogating Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Shah alleged that the Congress was against it because of its "vote bank".

Riaz Haq said…
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari took India to task on Thursday for calling Pakistan “the epicentre of terrorism”, saying India “demonises the people of Pakistan” to hide its Hindu-supremacist ideas.

The FM’s comments came minutes after his Indian counterpart had accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists, including Osama bin Laden.

In his speech at the Security Council, the Indian minister had said that “India faced the horrors of cross-border terrorism long before the world took serious note of it” and has “fought terrorism resolutely, bravely and with a zero-tolerance approach".

Bilawal hit back at the comments saying “I am the foreign minister of Pakistan and Pakistan’s foreign minister is a victim of terrorism as the son of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. The Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif when he was chief minister of Punjab, his home minister was assassinated by a terrorist. Political parties, civil society, the average people in Pakistan across the board have been the victims of perpetrators of terrorism.”

“We have lost far more lives to terrorism than India has,” he added questioning why Pakistan would ever want to perpetuate terrorism and make “our own people suffer”.

“Unfortunately, India has been playing in that space […] where it is very easy to say ‘Muslim’ and ‘terrorist’ together and get the world to agree and they very skilfully blur this line where people like myself are associated with terrorists rather than those that have been and to this day are fighting terrorism,” he continued.

The FM then went on to say that New Delhi perpetuated this narrative not just against India but also Muslims in that country. “We are terrorists whether we’re Muslims in Pakistan and we’re terrorists whether we’re Muslims in India.”

“Osama bin Laden is dead,” said Bilawal, “but the butcher of Gujarat lives and he is the prime minister of India”.

“He [Narendra Modi] was banned from entering this country [the United States],” he continued, “these are the prime minister and foreign minister of the RSS [a right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation]”.

“The RSS draws its inspiration from Hitler’s SS [the Nazi Party’s combat branch, Schutzstaffel],” Bilawal added.

The FM went on to point out the irony in the inauguration of Gandhi’s bust at UN headquarters by the Indian FM and the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “If the FM of India was being honest, then he knows as well as I, that the RSS does not believe in Gandhi, in his ideology. They do not see this individual as the founder of India, they hero-worship the terrorist that assassinated Gandhi.”

“They are not even attempting to wash the blood of the people of Gujarat off their hands,” said Bilawal, lamenting that the “Butcher of Gujarat” was now the “Butcher of Kashmir”.

“For their electoral campaign, Prime Minister Modi’s government has used their authority to pardon the men who perpetuated rape against Muslims in Gujarat. Those terrorists were freed by the prime minister of India,” said Bilawal.

“In order to perpetuate their politics of hate, their transition from a secular India to a Hindu supremacist India, this narrative is very important,” said Bilawal, claiming Pakistan had “proof” that Modi’s government had facilitated a terrorist attack in Pakistan.

The minister was referring to the “irrefutable evidence” Pakistan had of the involvement of Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in the blast at Johar Town, Lahore last year as three terrorists had been arrested.
Riaz Haq said…

Derek J. Grossman
The US and India are putting pedal to the metal on decoupling from China. Doubt it will work, but I'd like to be pleasantly surprised.


U.S. Pursues India as a Supply-Chain Alternative to China
Biden administration turns to New Delhi as it seeks to steer critical technologies away from Beijing

India’s national security adviser, Ajit Doval, led New Delhi’s delegation this week in meetings with Mr. Sullivan and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and other officials.

The meetings underscore a broader U.S. effort to meet challenges from China through alliances with other countries. The Biden administration has given priority to Washington’s relationship with what is known as the Quad—an alliance between India, Australia, Japan and the U.S. that has focused on countering Beijing.

“President Biden really believes that no successful and enduring effort to address any of the major challenges in the world today…is going to be effective without a close U.S.-India partnership at its heart,” a senior administration official said.
Riaz Haq said…
US gives a 'free pass' to India as worry over China rivalry deepens

“India is getting this free pass on account of China," said Manoj Joshi, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi who has advised previous Indian administrations on national security issues. “The only country in Asia, in terms of size and potential, that can balance China is India."


The Biden administration has decided to remain publicly quiet on India’s democratic backsliding, according to senior US officials, as the US intensifies efforts to keep New Delhi on its side in the rivalry with China.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pressure on religious minorities and the media is troubling, as is his party’s targeting of opposition lawmakers, said the officials, who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations. But the decision to largely refrain from criticizing Modi comes as growing concerns about China make India increasingly crucial to US geopolitical and economic goals in the Indo-Pacific.

The decision on handling India is an example of how President Joe Biden’s emphasis on human rights — and his framing of a global conflict between democracies and autocracies — has run up against the strategic realities of a world where rivals such as China and Russia are vying for greater control.

So while New Delhi’s strong defense ties with Russia and its vast purchases of Russian crude have drawn scrutiny from US lawmakers after the invasion of Ukraine, the administration believes it needs India to buy that oil to keep prices low. And rising concerns about China’s growing assertiveness under Xi Jinping have helped drive the US and India even closer together, these people said.

“India is getting this free pass on account of China," said Manoj Joshi, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi who has advised previous Indian administrations on national security issues. “The only country in Asia, in terms of size and potential, that can balance China is India."

In a sign of the close ties, Biden is set to host Modi for a state dinner in Washington this summer. While Biden might press Modi to take a more explicit stance on Ukraine, one US official said it’s doubtful New Delhi would publicly rebuke Russia, given their close defense ties.

‘Regularly Engage’
Asked whether the administration is reluctant to criticize Modi, John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a statement, “As we do with other nations around the world, we regularly engage with Indian government officials at senior levels on human rights concerns, including freedom of religion or belief."

US officials also have frequently pointed to India’s shipments of humanitarian aid to Ukraine as well as Modi’s comments to Russian President Vladimir Putin that “today’s era is not one for war."

India’s foreign ministry declined to comment. Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has made no secret of his country’s decision not to pick sides regardless of what others may want, echoing India’s Cold War leadership of what was called the “non-aligned movement."

“Whether it is the United States, Europe, Russia or Japan, we are trying to ensure that all ties, all these ties, advance without seeking exclusivity," Jaishankar said during a visit to the Dominican Republic last month.

As India eclipses China as the world’s most populous country with more than 1.4 billion people, the Biden administration believes it’s impossible to solve pressing global challenges such as climate change without New Delhi, one official said, and the country remains a central part of the US’s Indo-Pacific strategy.

That’s led to the relative silence on issues that the US would normally speak out about publicly, and loudly.
Riaz Haq said…
US gives a 'free pass' to India as worry over China rivalry deepens

Most recently, India’s government banned a critical documentary about Modi released by the BBC and sent federal tax authorities to raid the British news organization’s Delhi office.

Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party also won a defamation case against the main political opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi, that has seen him kicked out of parliament. Modi’s government has also choked local and international nongovernmental organizations of foreign funding.

Russian Arms
Other Indian moves also run against a greater strategic alignment with Washington: In recent months, India pledged closer defense ties with Russia. Although India has sought to scale back purchases of some Russian weapons, its military has more than 250 Russian-designed fighter jets, seven Russian submarines and hundreds of Russian tanks. It has also received Russian S-400 missile defense systems despite US efforts to keep those purchases from going forward.

“President Biden would be remiss if he doesn’t raise the Russia issue and restate the importance of supporting Ukrainian sovereignty and explain why that is important for the Indo-Pacific region," said Lisa Curtis, who was the National Security Council senior director for South and Central Asia under former President Donald Trump.

“It’s no use pretending we don’t have serious differences on such a crucial issue," said Curtis, who directs the Indo-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

Oil Politics
The US has also moved on from concerns about India’s vast purchases of Russian crude oil even as the country rejects a Group of Seven initiative to put a cap on the price for which it’s sold.

At one meeting in Delhi between US and Indian officials following the invasion of Ukraine, a US diplomat told a senior Indian official that if their refiners weren’t buying Russian crude and putting it back on global markets, oil prices might have soared to about $180 a barrel, according to a person familiar with the meeting.

Indian officials always viewed Western criticism of their oil purchases as hypocritical, given that Indian refiners do simply put the product on global markets — in many cases for US and European buyers.

Jaishankar, the foreign minister, has often invoked broader sentiment in the so-called Global South as he defended his country’s position on Ukraine amid soaring food and energy prices that have put immense pressure on poor countries. He has waved off US concerns about India’s human rights record, saying “people are entitled to have views about us."

The US’s positioning on India reflects a calculation it’s had to make several times in the past, most prominently with Saudi Arabia. After declaring during his presidential campaign that he would declare Saudi Arabia a “pariah," Biden has had to backtrack as he seeks the kingdom’s help countering Iran and keeping oil prices low.

“I can understand governments’ reluctance" to take on Modi," said Shashi Tharoor, a senior lawmaker in the opposition Congress Party. “There’s an overriding strategic interest on the part of the West, and other countries in Southeast Asia, in staying on the right side of India."

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