December Doings

Spearhead Analysis-19.12.2019

December has been eventful and it’s not over yet. Not that the other months of the year have been event free but December tops the cake.

After the revocation of Article 370 to change the status of Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) and the Ayodhya verdict legalizing the demolition of a mosque and sanctioning a Hindu temple in its place the BJP government in India moved further on its chosen party manifesto driven path. It brought in the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizenship and this while the curfew and repression in Kashmir entered 130 plus days. These may be developments that have internal consequences for India but the region should have concerns—an India on fire may look across its borders to divert opinion. Andrew Korbyko in his article writes— “India as a whole is ablaze after protests against the religiously discriminatory “Citizenship (Amendment) Bill” (CAB) spread from the Northeastern “neo-colonies” to the so-called “mainland” after sweeping through West Bengal on the way to the capital of New Delhi. The increasingly violent protests that are spreading across the self-professed “world’s largest democracy” are driven in a large part by a significant segment of the population’s rage at their government’s efforts to change the secular nature of their state, which the ruling BJP never shied about doing and proudly boasted about in its re-election manifesto earlier this year. They of course didn’t word it that way but their entire platform could be read as pursuing the de-facto imposition of a so-called “Hindu Rashtra” (Hindu fundamentalist state) despite approximately 20% of its over one billion people being religious minorities.— This is a Molotov cocktail of socio-political destabilization if there ever was one, and the fact of the matter is that the ongoing violence could have been avoided had Modi not gone forward with his radical religious “reformation” of the country. –Train stations are ablaze, vehicles have been torched, curfews have been imposed and the internet has been shutoff in parts of the country, and several people have already been killed. To make matters worse, the police stormed the Jamia Millia Islamia (JMU) university on Sunday and injured at least 100 students, with video footage of the raid going viral all across Mainstream and Alternative Media since then— India’s law enforcement officers have shown that they have zero concern for the collateral damage that they’re causing, which dangerously risks exacerbating the protests even further per the typical dynamics inherent with these scenarios. Making matters worse, the Indian Foreign Minister refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the protest movement, instead fear-mongering about “jihadists, Maoists, and separatists getting into student activism” in what might hint at a violent crackdown.’

Afghanistan moved from the Trump triggered ‘no talks’ situation to talks once again. Pakistan helped restart talks by hosting the Taliban in Islamabad and brokering a meeting with the US Special Envoy and followed up by facilitating the Doha talks. Pakistan should, however, be concerned. Two months down the line the results of Afghan elections have yet to be announced and there is general agreement that the US sponsored Unity Government has been a failure. The New York Times blew the lid off the entire Afghan disaster in an eye opening expose. The situation is that the Taliban are strong and confident, the Afghan government is paralyzed, warlords are flexing their wings, Afghan Security Forces are in disarray, the country is awash in drugs and an impeached President Trump needs to get out of Afghanistan to improve his re-election prospects. Afghanistan needs 11 billion dollars annually –it can muster only 2.5 million on its own. Thus far the US has been kicking in with most of the shortfall. So there is much cause for concern.

Pakistan has had its share of issues but it is coping with them. The judiciary raised several questions concerning the extension given the Chief of Army Staff while considering a petition. There were never two thoughts on the reappointment for another tenure. The Court wanted the matter properly regulated through legislation that would decide modalities, remuneration, tenure, extension and reappointment. The Government is busy trying to do what the Court has ordered it to do. It is an uphill task because of the political environment and the acrimony that surfaces in Parliamentary discussions. The end result should clarify the whole issue once for all.

The Judiciary followed up with another explosive judgement—a death sentence to the former President, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff and Chief of Army Staff on the charge of high treason. This has, predictably, kicked up a storm within the country and as of now discussion is raging in the media. The Government and the Military have come out with support for the former President. No doubt the legal process will resolve the matter.

In between these two landmark judgments there was the tragic and brutal attack on the Pakistan Institute of Cardiology by a mob of people now identified as lawyers. This event shook the country and made people hark back to several earlier events that were overlooked or condoned. The reverberations of the attack are ongoing and ignoring it may not be possible as patients lost their lives.

The Prime Minister cancelled his participation in the meeting in Kuala Lumpur after a discussion in Riyadh. He has explained this decision as being driven by national interest. This augers well for the future as the national interest must always be upper most in all decision making. The question that— “is this in Pakistan’s interest’—must be asked before a decision is taken.

The man on the street is worried most about rising inflation. Still ten days to go before December ends–.

(Spearhead Analyses are collaborative efforts and not attributable to an individual)