MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 08 FEBRUARY
PICTURE OF THE DAY
Farmers block a national highway in Haryana state during ongoing protests against the central government’s recent agricultural changes. The perpetually busy arterial highways that connect most northern Indian towns to this city of 29 million people now pulse to the cries of "Inquilab Zindabad" -- "Long live the revolution." Tens and thousands of farmers with distinctive, colorful turbans and long, flowing beards have descended upon the city's borders, choking highways in giant demonstrations against new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation.
Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images
As Nepal's political crisis deepens, all eyes are on the Supreme Court
With prolonged hearings in the Supreme Court on a writ petition filed against Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s move to dissolve the House of Representatives, tensions among state organs are increasing and parties are competing to amass people in the street to influence the judiciary and other constitutional bodies in their favour. Oli’s move to dissolve parliament led to the split of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, formed after the unification of two communist forces CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre) in 2018. Politically, the NCP is already divided but the Election Commission (EC) is yet to take legal decisions concerning the split. Ironically, one faction of the party is in government and another is participating in street protests.
Recipe for bringing about lasting peace in Afghanistan
During his maiden visit to Kabul on November 19, 2020, Prime Minister Imran Khan had interactions with the Afghan leaders and underlined that Pakistan’s message to all sides is to work together for a peaceful solution. “A peaceful and stable Afghanistan will open up new vistas of cooperation in trade and regional connectivity”, Prime Minister Imran Khan said. Here, I would like to mention in particular that the economic corridor jointly built and shared by China and Pakistan is right next to Afghanistan. Once peace is achieved in Afghanistan, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will quickly extend westward into Afghanistan, thus bringing Afghanistan into a new era of economic prosperity.
Tens of thousands take to streets in Myanmar to protest military regime
Myanmar rose up in defiance on Sunday, with tens of thousands of people pouring onto the streets of major cities to stage peaceful protests against the country’s latest military coup and the arrests of President U Win Myint and State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday. The Southeast Asian country has experienced four military takeovers since its independence from the British in 1948. The previous military regime ended in 2011. The popular protests against the recently imposed military rule began to gather steam on Saturday in the country’s business hub, Yangon, before spreading to other cities on Sunday, from Kachin’s jade town of Hpakant in the north to the capital Naypyitaw, Mandalay, Magwe, and the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bagan in central Myanmar, to Myawaddy, a border town in the country’s south. There were also marches in Pathein in the Irrawaddy Delta and the ruby town of Moegyoke.
New York State Assembly resolution calls for recognition of Kashmir American Day
A resolution petitioning New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to declare February 5 as Kashmir American Day was passed by the State’s Legislative Assembly on February 3. The 5th is also observed in Pakistan as Kashmir Solidarity Day and a social media post from the Consulate of Pakistan in New York suggests the country had a role in promoting the resolution. If the New York State Governor decides to recognise the day as suggested, it could potentially contribute to an understanding of the Kashmir issue that is out of kilter with the Indian government’s positions and messaging. The resolution, which was sponsored by two Democratic Assemblymen, Nader Sayegh and Nick Perry, says, “The Kashmiri community has overcome adversity, shown perseverance, and established themselves as one of the pillars of the New York immigrant communities.”
India should be cautious about 1st Biden-era military drill: Experts
Chinese experts reminded Indian media not to get over-excited about the upcoming Indo-US military exercises on Monday, as the Biden administration might consider using India as a pawn to contain China under Indo-Pacific Strategy while criticize India's streaky record on race, human rights and religion. The exercise, dubbed "Yudh Abhyas," will be conducted in Rajasthan, a region near the India-Pakistan border from Monday to February 21, and aims at enhancing defense cooperation and bolstering the bilateral ties, and reflects India's role as a key partner in the Indo-Pacific region, Indian media reported, citing an Indian officer.
4G is back in J&K after 18 months, but it can't compensate for what India lost
From demonetisation to the Kashmir lockdown, midnight dramas have become the hallmark of the Narendra Modi government which asserts its power the most while the public sleeps. The announcement of the midnight return of 4G internet in Jammu and Kashmir may have stemmed from reasons other than a narcissist obsession with midnight madness. One may wonder whether the new battlefield of internet shutdown around Delhi, to cage the farmers in the real and virtual eco-systems, and the groundswell of national and international outrage the move has triggered, has anything to do with this surprise development. Or, whether the teeming hurry to apply a cosmetic coat of fresh paint was delayed into the dead of the night by the paranoia of an even more cosmetic ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’?
TTP oversaw reunion of terror groups in Afghanistan: UN
Afghanistan continues to serve as a sanctuary for terror groups including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), according to a recent United Nations report. The twenty-seventh report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team states that the TTP was reported to have overseen a reunification of splinter groups in Afghanistan. According to the document, this reunion of terror groups was moderated by al Qaeda and was expected to increase the threat to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the region. Commenting on the report, Major General (retd) Inamul Haq said controlled terrorism has always been used by the government in Kabul to malign Islamabad’s position and to influence Washington DC’s plan to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan. The TTP, he said, has shifted its base to Afghan territory.
45 international navies coming to Pakistan for ‘Aman 21’
The Pakistan Navy is all set to host the largest multinational maritime exercise ‘Aman 21’ in the North Arabian Sea in February 2021 with a mission to attain regional peace and counter maritime challenges. More than 45 countries including the world’s top navies will take part in the 7th exercise of the series held every two years since 2007. What makes this year’s exercise more significant is that it brings the three largest navies, US, China and Russia, under one platform for collaborative maritime security. This will be the first time in a decade that Russia will participate in a joint military exercise with NATO members.
Biden reviews US global military presence with eye on China
One of the U.S. Navy's newest destroyers, the USS Rafael Peralta, arrived this week in Yokosuka, Japan, its new forward deployed location. Shifting its home port from San Diego, California, the Rafael Peralta became on Thursday the 12th warship to be based in Yokosuka, alongside the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and the command ship of the U.S. 7th Fleet, the USS Blue Ridge. Adding a destroyer to a forward base is no small decision. The ship's 300-plus crew and their families move to the new location. But maintaining the most advanced ships as part of the forward deployment is vital for the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific region, the 7th Fleet said. And such moves are expected to increase as President Joe Biden embarks on a global force posture review.