IN THE NEWS: MADRASSA REGISTRATION LIKELY TO START NEXT MONTH (SEPTEMBER 18, 2019)

Written by admin on Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Madrassa registration likely to start next month
SOURCE: The News International
Wednesday, September 18, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training is all set to start the registration of over 35,000 religious seminaries (Madrassas) operating across the country from the next month.

The ministry was in constant contact with Madrassa s for finalizing the necessary arrangements in that regard, said Joint Education Adviser Rafiq Tahir on Wednesday.

Talking to APP, he said, all seminaries were bound to register themselves with the education ministry as no seminary would be allowed to function without registration.

A four page form, he said, has been prepared for the registration of seminaries.

It could be downloaded from ministry’s website within the next few days.
The forms should be submitted in regional offices along with the necessary documents, he said.

“Directorate General of Religious Education has already been established in Islamabad.

The Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training has established country-wide 12 Registration Centres for registering seminaries. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: NEARLY NINE IN TEN AFGHANS ARE SUFFERING: GALLUP (SEPTEMBER 17, 2019)

Written by admin on Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Nearly nine In 10 Afghans Are Suffering: Gallup
SOURCE: TOLO News
Tuesday, September 17, 2019

*The percentage who rated their lives so poorly that they are considered “suffering” shot to a record high of 85%
* Study Finds Afghans ‘Slightly’ More Optimistic This Year
* Afghanistan Rice Production Increases By Four Percent

As the country is moving towards the presidential election – the third in Afghanistan’s history after 2001– a new survey by US analytics and advisory company Gallup shows high levels of suffering among Afghans who “remain hopeless” about their future.

The survey, which covers Afghans’ situation in 2018, shows a “bleak picture.”

Afghans’ average ratings of their current lives, and predicted ratings of their lives in five years, matched or fell below previous record lows for any country worldwide.

On a scale where “0” represents their worst possible life and “10” their best possible life, Afghans gave an average rating of 2.7 in 2018 — tied for the lowest in any country since Gallup began this survey. Asked to predict where their lives would be in five years on the same scale, Afghans’ average response was 2.3, a new low for any country in any year.

Afghans’ 2018 life ratings were remarkable not just for the low averages, but because this was the first time in more than a decade of data collection around the world that people’s predicted rating for their future lives was lower than their current-life rating (based on the population average). (more…)

IN THE NEWS: PAKISTAN AND INDIA FACE COMMON THREATS. CLIMATE CHANGE IS THE BIGGEST ONE (SEPTEMBER 17, 2019)

Written by admin on Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Pakistan and India face common threats. Climate change is the biggest one
SOURCE: Dawn Prism
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
By AHMAD AHSAN

*Collective action may just be what is needed to secure the lives and livelihoods of future generations

Climate change is no longer limited to books or scientific papers; it is a reality knocking on our doors.

Longer, sweltering summers bringing in record-breaking heat to South Asia are just one example. The harshest of conditions have yet to come, and
the entire region is woefully unprepared to meet the challenges.

While they may seem isolated, increasing instances of extreme weather are harbingers of a major climate shift for South Asia. Unlike transnational challenges like security and trade, climate change cannot be deterred by conventional methods or unilateral initiatives. Instead, synchronised common action is the viable way forward for sustainable progress to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Let’s look at some of the common environmental challenges facing Pakistan and India and propose strategic measures to address them.

Heatwaves

Over the past decade or so, the frequency of extreme weather phenomena — ranging from blistering summers to freezing cold winters — has increased. Nearly half of these events were heatwaves, surpassing the previous record highs, and resulting in a wave of mortality around the world.

Researchers point out that “the trend in global warming has contributed to the severity and probability of 82pc of record-hot days globally.”
In Pakistan and India, heatwaves have become somewhat of a norm, an expected part of the summer. As a matter of fact, just last year, Pakistan saw the highest official temperature recorded in the world — 50.2 degree Celsius in Nawabshah — and a week later, that record was broken when Jacobabad hit 51°C.

In 2015, a severe heatwave struck Karachi, breaking 40-year records, and resulting in nearly 2,000 casualties. As Edhi morgues and cemeteries started turning dead bodies away, a former head of the Environmental Protection Agency attributed the event to climate change. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: INDIA IS CHANGING GAME FOR CHINA & PAKISTAN IN INDIAN OCCUPIED kASHMIR (SEPTEMBER 16, 2019)

Written by admin on Monday, September 16th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

India is changing game for China & Pakistan in IOK
SOURCE: The News International
Monday, September 16, 2019

RAWALPINDI: The US-China trade war has provided Indian Prime Minister Modi with an opportunity he couldn’t refuse: to change the game in Kashmir for China and Pakistan.

Back in August New Delhi terminated Article 370 of the Constitution, asserting its power in the disputed Kashmir region. This week, India called on China and Pakistan to suspend activities related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Azad Kashmir. “We reject the reference to Jammu and Kashmir in the joint statement issued by China and Pakistan after the recent visit of Chinese Foreign Minister,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar is quoted as saying in Hindu. “India has consistently expressed concerns to both China and Pakistan on the projects in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in Kashmir.”

Pakistan and China desperately need CPEC. For Pakistan, CPEC is the express ticket to building its infrastructure, and sustain economic growth. For China, CPEC is the express link between Western China, the Middle East, and Africa, where China has growing interests. That can explain why Beijing has committed $46 billion to the project.

The problem is that CPEC passes through Pakistani regions claimed by India. That makes it a bumpy road, to say the least — Pakistan and India continue to fight for control of these regions. That’s why CPEC activities are moving slowly in the region. “So far CPEC activity in Pakistan occupied Kashmir has been limited to reconstruction and maintenance of the Karakoram Highway, which was built in the 60s,” says Ted Bauman, Senior Research Analyst and Economist at Banyan Hill Publishing. “But India has objected strenuously to new construction projects, including railways and pipelines. The problem for China is that the only other feasible route for road, rail and pipeline connections to Pakistan and its ports would be through Afghanistan’s Badakhshan pedicle. Afghanistan’s political instability and diplomatic alliance with India and the United States currently make that impossible.” (more…)

IN THE NEWS: THE AFGHAN PEACE DEAL: NOT DEAD YET (SEPTEMBER 16, 2019)

Written by admin on Monday, September 16th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

The Afghan peace deal: not dead yet
SOURCE: The Express Tribune
Monday, September 16, 2019
By KAMRAN YOUSAF

President Trump has again shown to the world why he is perceived as unpredictable. He is a leader who could do things others can’t even imagine. The latest example was Trump’s unprecedented plan to host the Taliban leaders at Camp David. Imagine the spectacle had that secret meeting gone through? It would have been the biggest story in recent times and one that would have been talked over years to come.

But Trump changed his mind at the last minute, calling off the meeting as well as an agreement with the Taliban. The killing of a US soldier in one of the recent terrorist attacks in Kabul was cited as the main reason for the cancellation, although there might be other factors that actually played a part. Even US commentators have speculated if the killing of American serviceman was the reason, the Trump administration would not have entered into talks in the first place since this year alone at least 16 soldiers have been killed in Taliban attacks. So, what could be the real reason? One assessment was that some in the US perceived the imminent peace deal with the Taliban as a document of surrender. John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Adviser, staunchly opposed peace talks with the Taliban. Apparently, he succeeded in scuttling the meeting at Camp David. But Bolton’s unceremonious removal suggests that Trump is still interested in a peace deal. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: FIFTH COLUMN: REMEMBER 9/11 AND WHY IT HAPPENED (SEPTEMBER 15, 2019)

Written by admin on Sunday, September 15th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Fifth Column: Remember 9/11 and why it happened
SOURCE: The Indian Express
Sunday, September 15, 2019
By TAVLEEN SINGH

*Kashmir may once have been a problem between Hindus and Muslims, but for many years now the real problem has been the spread in the Valley of jihadist Islam

Last week the world commemorated the 18th anniversary of 9/11. But, it saddened me that nothing was done to remember that the ideology behind that terrible tragedy has its epicentre in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. We in India cannot afford not to remember. Since Article 370 was removed, we have been repeatedly threatened with ‘nuclear’ jihad by senior members of Pakistan’s government. They speak the same language today as their jihadists do, which is scary.

Intelligence reports indicate an alarming increase in attempts to infiltrate jihadists into India since Kashmir lost its special status.

Article 370 was removed with overwhelming support of both Houses of our Parliament ,but is called an ‘annexation’ by Pakistan’s leaders. Their language has been so belligerent that there are fears of the imminent possibility of an attack like 26/11. It could happen any time, anywhere in India. With Pakistani ministers boasting that they have nuclear devices small enough to be delivered by hand, India cannot afford to ignore these warnings.

It is not just irresponsible leaders next door that should worry us but also the grim reality that the American President thinks that the Kashmir problem is a problem between Hindus and Muslims. Donald Trump seems to have a limited understanding of complicated political issues in faraway places so he can be forgiven for his ignorance about Kashmir. But, he should know that after 9/11, when Afghanistan stopped being a safe haven for jihadists, it was in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan that Osama bin Laden and his closest lieutenants found shelter and support. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: THE CHANCE FOR DIPLOMACY (SEPTEMBER 15, 2019)

Written by admin on Sunday, September 15th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

The chance for diplomacy
Source: The News International
Sunday, September 15, 2019
By MOONIS AHMAR

*India’s unilateral abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A may have given Pakistan a valuable opportunity to internationalise the Kashmir issue

Diplomacy is the skill and art of negotiation to resolve an issue irrespective of whether the issue is universally acknowledged as complicated and complex or regarded by some as quite trivial.

Multilateral diplomacy involves more than one state or organisation in de-escalating tension and averting war between conflicting states. The failure of diplomacy would mean war – as was the case in January 1991, when a US-led multilateral force attacked Iraq because of its occupation of Kuwait. The UN-led diplomatic efforts to convince Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait had failed. The outbreak of Gulf War unleashed unabated misery for the people of Iraq for years.

Yet, diplomacy cannot play an effective role in the process of conflict management and resolution unless the stakeholders possess the political will and determination to proceed in that direction. The Kashmir conflict escalated to new heights when on August 5, this year, the Indian Home Minister Amit Shah presented in Rajya Sabha (upper house of the Indian parliament) a presidential ordinance titled Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, to revoke Articles 370 and 35-A. These Articles guaranteed a special status to Jammu and Kashmir within the Indian Union and protected the identity of its people by denying Indian nationals the right to buy property, vote in elections and seek official employment. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: INDIA’S DEMOCRATIC DICTATORSHIP (SEPTEMBER 14, 2019)

Written by admin on Saturday, September 14th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

India’s democratic dictatorship
SOURCE: Asia Times
Saturday, September 14, 2019
By SHASHI THAROOR

*Modi is seen as ‘tough and decisive’, yet the economy is in free fall and nation’s democratic culture has been rocked by authoritarian decisions and divisive rhetoric

Amid much fanfare, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has completed a hundred days of its second term. Despite his government’s poor record, Modi remains immensely popular personally. This does not bode well for Indian democracy.

The Modi government’s supporters tout a slew of new repressive legislation – including the criminalization of talaq-e-biddat, the Muslim practice of “instant divorce” – as a display of resoluteness. Likewise, Modi’s recent abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, guaranteed under Article 370 of India’s constitution, was undertaken amid a statewide lockdown. Political leaders were arrested, and telephone and Internet services were suspended. There is no telling what will happen when the lid is taken off the pressure cooker. Yet most Indians are offering unstinting support.

Modi’s supporters have less to say about the economy, which is in free fall, and relations among religious communities, which have never been tenser. (The unmanned Moon landing of which they had hoped to boast failed when the robotic rover crashed on the lunar surface on the eve of the hundred-day anniversary.)

Modi’s enduring popularity may mystify his critics. Most of the out-of-the-box solutions he has attempted have done more harm than good. For example, his government’s disastrous demonetization of 86% of India’s currency in 2016 was probably the single biggest blow to the Indian economy since independence, costing millions of jobs and undermining growth. But that does not seem to bother most voters, for whom he comes across as a decisive, no-nonsense leader, willing to break with tradition and attempt bold solutions to India’s intractable problems. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: RESPONSIBLE NUCLEAR BEHAVIOUR AND KASHMIR (SEPTEMBER 13, 2019)

Written by admin on Friday, September 13th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Responsible nuclear behaviour and Kashmir
SOURCE: The News International
Friday, September 13, 2019
By ATIA ALI KAZMI*

‘In the nuclear world, the true enemy is war itself’, warned a nuclear submarine’s second-in-command to his gung-ho captain, who was eager to pre-empt a nuclear war with Russia.

This sentence from the 1995 famous film ‘Crimson Tide’ holds a lesson in responsible behaviour for every hand that may itch to press the nuclear button. Responsible behaviour is not fiction; it is a real life requirement for all nuclear-armed states and is increasingly becoming an imperative for India.

Nuclear weapons are an immense source of power and leverage, which demand a requisite mindfulness on the part of nuclear weapon states (NWSs). The 1945 bombing of Japan ought to be enough an understanding for humanity to make use of nuclear weapons taboo. This lesson so far appears to be ingrained, as eight more states developed the much-enchanted elixir through the post-World War times. Not only have nuclear powers deterred their adversaries but quite paradoxically have been self-deterred because the probability of nuclear retaliation entirely rules out perceived advantages of coercion or nuclear use. However, ‘nuclear war is inevitable unless we (collectively) make it impossible,’ observed Sydney Harris, an erudite 20th century American journalist.

Among several other obligations for NWSs, a responsible posture calls for observing strategic restraint and shunning vertical proliferation. In 1962, the US and Russia (erstwhile Soviet Union) averted nuclear war by exercising mutual strategic restraint. Amongst several bilateral de-escalatory steps, Moscow withdrew nuclear capable missiles from Cuba and Washington withdrew similar short-range weapons from European soil. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: A BRIEF REVIEW OF PTI’S 13 MONTHS IN POWER (SEPTEMBER 13, 2019)

Written by admin on Friday, September 13th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

A brief review of PTI’s 13 months in power
SOURCE: Asia Times
Friday, September 13, 2019
By IMAD ZAFAR

Life for the common man in Pakistan is becoming more miserable with each passing day because of rising inflation and economic turmoil. Perhaps delusion and rhetoric can convince Prime Minister Imran Khan’s blind followers that everything is fine in the country, but this does not change the fact that his poor decisions and misplaced governance have worsened the economic woes of Pakistan. Here is a brief summary of the performance of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s 13 months of rule.

The economy

Since Khan took charge of the government, the economy has gone into shambles. The decision to devalue the Pakistani rupee against the US dollar resulted in a heavier foreign-debt burden, inflation and price hikes, and then the PTI government’s inability to decide whether or not to seek an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package resulted in uncertainty in the country.

In the first fiscal year of PTI rule, Pakistan’s debt and liabilities surged from 29.88 trillion rupees to 40 trillion rupees (US$255 billion). This means PTI added 11 trillion rupees (more than $70 billion) to the public debt in one year. In contrast, the previous government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in five years added far less to the debt.

PTI borrowed a whopping $16 billion in foreign loans in just one year.

This is the highest amount of foreign loans taken in a single year by any government in Pakistan.

However, despite taking in loans and aid, the PTI government has not been able to provide relief to the masses. Also, the stock market continues to witness a bloodbath despite the PTI government giving a bailout package to the big stockbrokers. (more…)