After being a freedom fighting colony for centuries, India, since 1947, has assumed the role of a colonialist nation by annexing and occupying neighboring Jammu Kashmir. India has killed more Kashmiris in a few decades than what it may have lost under British rule for centuries. Over year of misrule in Jammu Kashmir, India have burnt its terror fingers in occupied Kashmir, once again, by targeting a n important freedom fighter leader whom Kashmiris respect as their own.
India’s terror strategy is facing serious blow in Kashmir as people stand together to oppose Indian yoke on their soil. Indian state terrorism has reached the climax point. The stage seems to be set for Indian regime to speedily consider surrendering sovereignty to Kashmiris. India should exit from Kashmir – Indexit.
Rising Kashmiri movement
Like many problems in South Asia, the roots of the Kashmir issue stretch back to the partition of British India in 1947. After an aborted attempt at remaining independent during the finals ears of British rule in the region, what was once the princely state of Jammu Kashmir was divided between the two new countries of India and Pakistan, with a de facto border known as the Line of Control. Later Pakistan gave a part of Azad Kashmir to China in exchange for the latter’s economic and military assistance.
Civilian uprisings are not uncommon in Kashmir as military imposes its iron will on the civilians.
In ruthless killing, India has overdone it, again, as its military occupying neighboring Jammu Kashmir has accelerated its attack spree, killing young people as freely as jungle beats do. In doing so, New Delhi has time and again expressed its hatred for Kashmiri Muslims, forcing now the Kashmiris demonstrating in streets protesting against the military killing of a young freedom fighting Muslim.
As India clamps down on Kashmir with an iron grip, it risks permanently losing the hearts and minds of the people. A popular civilian uprising is underway in Kashmir as India’s rule grows weak again.
Indian forces enjoy unprecedented freedom now to kill any Muslim of their choice and governor who represents central government and state government supporting Indian agenda in Kashmir over see the genocides of Kashmiri Muslims with secret orders for the same.
In three decades of armed oppression against the civilian population, supposedly a bid to win back trust in Kashmir, many women and girls have been raped and molested by Indian occupation soldiers. Sexual violence has been used as a channel to impose authority and fear upon the female population, while torture and killings are used to suppress their male counterparts.
While Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on a tour to Africa, Indian troops back in Kashmir were shooting at peaceful demonstrators who were out on streets after the killing of a popular rebel commander. In five days, 36 civilians have been killed by Indian forces and more than 1,500 injured, including 100 with eye injuries. A medical emergency has been declared while the Kashmir Valley remains under curfew.
Six years after he chose to take up arms against the state, Burhan Muzaffar Wani, 22, was shot dead by a joint party of Indian army and police in a brief gunfight in South Kashmir. Wani was a militant commander of Hizbul Mujahideen – an indigenous rebel outfit fighting for an independent Kashmir
Indian military knows Indian government and its corporate lords in the parliament and state assemblies, and their “trusted” media would shield, as their major responsibility, all its crimes against humanity perpetrated in Kashmir or India. So, Indian solders do not hesitate to kill any Muslims in Kashmir on false pretexts.
Last April, five Kashmiris were shot dead by Indian soldiers in India-controlled Kashmir, shortly after protests broke out in the aftermath of the molestation of a young girl by Indian occupation soldiers in Handwara near the capital city of Srinagar. The attempted sexual harassment, as usual, had gone largely unnoticed until the victim spoke to the media, but it was not the first time that a similar incident had occurred in the heavily militarized region.
People support freedom movement
At the outset one matter needs to be explained. Whosoever Indian government and media lords call terrorists are indeed Kashmir freedom fighters who seek sovereignty back from the occupiers. India might call the freedom fighting groups in Kashmir as terrorist outfits and ask USA and EU to kindly add them in their own terrorist lists and never support them. By doing so, India thinks the Kashmir issue is settled once for all in its favor. It might even consider stopping huge cash transfer to USA regularly for their support against Kashmir sovereignty.
It would be worthwhile right here to rewind the Indian freedom struggle when Nehru, Gandhi, others led the movement but for the British rulers they were terrorists punishable under law..
The government’s hold over the territory had strengthened not with positive attitude towards Kashmiris but with the help of mass killings in the early 1990s, and later, with the regional elections held in 1996. In the early 1990s, when India’s grip was weak and the rebels in 1993 had “achieved successes previously unimaginable” and “for the first time established liberated zones,” a government militia was instrumental in crushing popular dissent, leading to the fall of most rebel groups.
Currently, there is one group that is still fighting in Kashmir and continues to gain power: the indigenous Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, also known as the Hizb. In the last few years, the Hizb has managed to climb to the top in terms of popularity, and continues to successfully gain new recruits, who are being celebrated as righteous warriors by the general public.
State crimes and impunity for insane “soldiers”
The armed rebellion against Indian arrogance and misrule in Kashmir started in the late 1980s. In these years of violence, around half a million soldiers in the region used extreme torture and targeted killings against civilians, with hundreds killed in some incidents. Estimates of the number of people killed in Kashmir range from 95,000 to 100,000. And number keeps rising as India continues targeting Kashmiris in fake encounters.
Force was again used in 2008 trying to silence the freedom movement of Kashmiris, when the political narrative in Kashmir took a different shape as youths took over the reins of public dissent and rebellion. Two mass uprisings in 2008 and 2010 showed the brutal face of Indian state machinery to those born during the 1990s, who had not seen such mass violence spearheaded by the state before. Robust military action attacking Kashmiri Muslims further strengthened the younger generation’s anti-India sentiments and brought about a fresh wave of dissent.
India’s draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which provides impunity to Indian soldiers for basically any action, and the Public Safety Act (PSA), which is used to imprison people without due process have been instrumental in crushing the recent popular dissent in the Valley but the résistance has only grown stronger many times.
The lack of political will to account for past and present actions of the security forces, including the state police, is fortified by legislation and aggravated by other obstacles to justice Change of government at the centre, if effected to end the present crisis in Kashmir, would not indeed solve the problem because the trouble India invited has reached the end point and not even Israeli terror goods could bring peace to strategic terror specialists in New Delhi. Amnesty International has been campaigning for the revocation of s the AFSPA and PSA – lawless laws meant for jungle regimes.
The criminal mindset of Indian government gets fully exposed when common people are shot dead by’ soldiers’ in Handwara, for example, and the state government expresses no regret over the killings, and also refuses order an investigation, while the federal government in New Delhi continues to maintain graveyard silence about state terrorism but blaming pro-freedom leaders for instigating the violence. At the core of weeks of violence was an underage girl, who was subjected to attempted sexual harassment and was also forced to refrain from speaking to the media while she was kept under police detention. Activists accused the police of a forced detention to protect the Indian “soldier” who had committed the act; there was no clear response from New Delhi. Government does not open its democratic mouth. The girl was released later. She demanded that an FIR must be filed against the accused soldiers and action be taken against the police officers involved in her detention.
Incidents like the one in Handwara are not the first of their kind such crimes are happening state wide. Men murders and women sexual violence conducted by the Indian forces have long been a mainstay tactic, with no one prosecuted to date. New Delhi and India media lords just shut their dirty mouths and cunning eyes.
On February 23, 1991, Indian soldiers had gone to the two villages for a cordon and search operation. As per various accounts, the soldiers tortured the men and raped the women. The 20-year-old injustice came to light again amidst the swelling public discontent of the last few years. In 2013, a group of women came together to file a public lawsuit that called for further investigations regarding the case. Months have passed since a local court ordered further investigations, but the police have taken no action.
Many of crimes committed in Kashmir by Indian forces come out only 25 years later and secret grave years reveal the death of Indian democracy and law.
Weakening of Indian terror hold
India has pooled all resources in Kashmir to contain and cripple the freedom movement and promote the military and Hindu interests in the valley.
The anti-India rebellion grows in Kashmir in a big organized way as an indigenous movement. Rebel, India says, have been using this strategy for the last few years, taking service rifles and other weapons from the police or paramilitary troops and using them. It also shows the rebels are mainly focusing on their particular areas, mostly in the south of the Kashmir Valley. But lately some attacks and rebel activities have happened in North Kashmir and Central Kashmir also. In the absence of any political solution in the form of sovereignty, the youth have become restless and their anger has intensified.
Today the world believes that the ongoing freedom struggle in the Kashmir Valley is a populist movement. The Indian Army has also started acknowledging the change in the Kashmiri situation. One of the senior military commanders in Northern India, Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda admitted that Indian soldiers occupying Kashmir have little hope of competing against the rebels for public sympathy and Indian forces finds the situation a big problem, a challenge for conducting anti-militant operations now. “Militarily, there’s not much more to do than we already have done … We’re losing the battle for a narrative.”
Growing anti-India sentiments and rapidly rising support for Pakistan among people in India-controlled Kashmir has badly damaged Indian claims and status.
The chief cleric of South Kashmir’s Ummat-i-Islami, Mirwaiz Qazi Yasir said: “symbols are more important and the new rebellion is a symbol,” he says. “Even if there are no resources with them , but still this is a symbol.” However, he acknowledges that “a long-term rebellion” will find it “hard to survive without resources.” India would count on this aspect but both China and Pakistan could help them with resources. .
Pakistan has always tried to show it as an indigenous movement and it is an indigenous to a large extent. “If Pakistan wants to help the movement here, they will have their own interests also. Some observers also believe that Pakistan has changed its approach too, from involving itself on the ground to becoming the political backbone for the Kashmir issue globally.
This endeavor to advocate on behalf of the Kashmiri people was evident at recent United Nations meetings, where Pakistan continuously raised the Kashmir issue, as well as in bilateral talks with India. As a result, India has declared that Pakistan is “needlessly” internationalizing the Kashmir issue. Recently, Indian strategic people ask the Modi government to invade and annex Pakistan’s Azad Kashmir for which Israel would readily extend military support. Now USA won’t support either Pakistan or Kashmir but has to side with Indian narrative, though might not offer military support.
The situation in Kashmir may look better compared now to the peaks of violence in the past, in the heart of the Valley, the rise of anti-India sentiment has weakened India’s control.
JK is being ruled by a coalition of People’s Democratic Party and the Hindutva Bharatiya Janata Party with PDP CM and BJP deputy CM. BJP is pushing for its Hindutva agenda in the valley especially by promoting all Hindutva promotional activities. In order to rule the state, the PDP supports whatever the BJP wants to do in t Kashmir. The rich in PDP, National Conference, Congress and BJP are sharing the resource loot behind the coalition government. .
Further, anti-India forces are hugely motivated by the extreme force used against dissenting voices by the newly formed regional government. The new head of the region’s government, Mehbooba Mufti, recently said that there are only four bunkers of Indian forces in the Valley – a statement that highly angered the people, who have to face soldiers and police regularly in their daily lives. The regional government’s anti-dissent tactics combined with the disappearance of opportunities to construct a solid political solution to provide respite to the ordinary people in Kashmir has only made things worse.
Insane Indian oppression and Angry Kashmiris
Even mourning a so-called terrorist’s murder by military is seen as a major political statement in contemporary Kashmir, as thousands of people join funeral processions for fighting terror of Indian soldiers.
Meanwhile, while Indian core media continue target Kashmiri Muslims as terrorists, social media remain, controlled by Indian agencies also abuzz with people who idolize rebel commanders, like Burhan Muzaffar Wani, a 23-year-old Hizb commander in South Kashmir who has become the face of the new rebellion for sovereignty for Kashmir. The people’s acceptance of this rebellion has grown with the decline of any political process that can hope to empower them. Wani’s brother Khalid was among those killed by the soldiers, and this year, a cricket tournament was organized to remember him, with team titles dedicated to various rebels.
The change in Kashmiri mood against Indian occupational terror tactics to silence the freedom fighting Kashmiris, has its roots in the 2008 and 2010 mass uprisings in Kashmir, during which Indian troops and police, on instructions of Indian government (Home ministry) and JK governor mercilessly shot more than 200 teenagers dead on the streets. This has gradually led to major protests on a permanent basis, drawing in the younger generation, with people from all walks of life vehemently rejecting India’s continued rule in Kashmir.
From the army to the local government, the alarm bells are ringing, but no one in New Delhi is ready for a political solution to solve the long-standing issue. They don’t want to listen to anything anymore as enough is enough and they want all Indian boots are cleared of Kashmir valley forthwith and soverign handed over to Kashmiris. It is no more any formality from common Kashmiris but they are serious about protesting and can go to any extent to achieve their goals
The Modi government is now fully aware of the fact that informally told me that the new generation is angry.
Freedom leaders to fight till sovereignty
Resistance leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik has appealed to the Imams of the Mosques to lead Nimaz-e-Jinaza in absentia to the 40 young brave hearts who were snatched from us by the cruel and inhuman Indian forces and local police in the last week after the martyrdom of Hizb Commander Burhan Wani and his associates. They also appealed them to lead the protests against the brutalities of Indians in uniform. Leaders have condemned the use of brutal force against the protesters and compelling the traders and transporters not to support the ongoing struggle.
Leaders have affirmed their resolve to lead this movement to its logical end no matter how brutal and cruel Indian aggression may be. People have been assured not to panic but show steadfastness, dedication and discipline so that any of the ill intentions of the enemy are not allowed to derail our struggle for the goal of self-determination.
Leaders have assured the nation that they have been fighting the Indian aggression and brutalism for decades and now we are facing do or die situation which demands utmost discipline and determination. They further said that we will never succumb to any pressure as we believe ours is the just cause and we will fight to achieve it till our last breath. Commenting on the more troops from Delhi leaders said that not only three battalions even if India sends whole of its army to Kashmir we will fight them tooth and nail and like always this time also they will be defeated. Leaders further said it is a long and continuous struggle and we need to be prepared for a prolonged but definite phase now. They have appealed people not to fall prey to the nefarious designs of the Indian imperialism or their local stooges and follow the combined programme in letter and spirit.
Insane oppression of Kashmiri Muslims, both men and women, old and youth, by Indian occupation forces merit the urgent attention of UN, ICJ and OICC.
Yes, India is fast long Kashmir as Kashmiris, after the ghastly murder of their leader by the military, see Indian government as their enemy and they continue to seek the support of Pakistan. Unless India changes tactics — big brother India never changes its policies or tactics as it is aggressively arrogant – Kashmir will continue to slip away.
Time is ripe for Kashmiris to gain full and complete independence from India and establish a soverign Kashmir. India may let its military and police stay on in Kashmir until the soverign Kashmir government makes alternative security arrangement.
State terrorism tactics of India have worked devastatingly making the peace loving: Kashmiris to erupt naturally and violently protest against India’s prolonged Zionist occupation of Kashmir: India needs to consider Indexit!
World leader USA and other veto states must help the Kashmiris get speedy justice in the form of soverign Kashmir. They should advice their “anti-terror” companion India to leave Kashmir by opting for Indexit at long last, at least sympathetically.
Indian occupation forces have killed enough Kashmiri Muslims.
The World Biggest COVID-19 Crisis: Failure of India’s Vaccine Diplomacy
As over 100 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated and the world’s daily count of new cases is falling, India faces healthcare system collapse as a second coronavirus wave is devastating. In accordance with the recent statistics of the WHO, in the past week approximately 2 million new confirmed cases were reported worldwide – almost half were from India. Interestingly, India is one of the main producers and exporters of coronavirus vaccines in the world and since mid-January, the federal government has approved a British-made Oxford-AstraZeneca, and a locally developed– a national pride Covaxin (both are being produced in India) for the massive immunization drive that has set the ambitious goal of fully immunizing 300 million people, particularly healthcare workers by the end of summer. Meanwhile, India had initially been planning to set the world record for mass vaccination but they ended up with the world record coronavirus cases, surpassing 400.000 daily COVID-19 cases for the first time.
The development and deployment of an effective and safe vaccine against the coronavirus was a key pillar in the authority’s current strategy to break down the chain of transmission. However, despite a promising start of a vaccination campaign at the beginning of this year, one of the largest immunization programs across the globe, it turns out there is not a sufficient amount of vaccine supplies in a number of states across the country. As cases continue to surge, many across the country have rushed to register for shots but most states are running out of doses and a large number of vaccination centers across India turned away people due to chronic shortages or complete lack of availability of jabs. While India is one of the major producers of COVID-19 vaccines with a monthly capacity of 70 million doses, now forced to import jabs, as local manufacturing facilities are facing challenges to meet growing demand. As India’s expansion of its immunization campaign has been failing badly, it makes a disastrous situation even worse. On the other hand, the current devastation leads to a depression in global vaccine supply and consequently, it hits the low and middle-income countries, as they rely on the Indian pharmaceutical industry.
The second devastating wave was hitting the country since mid-April and apparently, India’s poorly funded public healthcare system is not capable enough to overcome the world’s largest surge in COVID cases. Health facilities overwhelmed as infection rates explode; therefore, many hospitals in the large cities already suspended admitting even the critically ill coronavirus patients as all beds were full and medical equipment, particularly oxygen concentrators, ICU beds, test kits, PPEs and ventilators in short supply, while corpses pile up at morgues and crematoriums. As a death toll rises sharply, additional crematoriums are being built in order to deal with the grim situation, especially in the hardest-hit cities and states. Furthermore, in the midst of a big surge Indian government also launched a vaccination drive for anyone over the age of 18 starting 1st of May. Ironically, along with China and Russia, India was a country that had begun exporting home-grownCOVID-19 vaccine doses to foreign countries, but only less than 3% of its population has been fully vaccinated so far. During a global pandemic, thanks to its massive production capacity, India actively donated locally produced Coronavirus vaccines to the Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern and African low and middle-income nations under the “Vaccine Friendship” program. The initiative was launched in early 2021 and it sought to promote cooperation and cement ties by distributing a dozen of jabs through the Vaccine Diplomacy. In reality, in the battle to gain political influence across the developing world, India shipped millions of doses to poorer countries before managing to secure an adequate amount of vaccines for its own people.
India’s infections keep surging due to the unavailability of medical resources and thus the crisis also affecting the global vaccine and medical supply chains, as over 40 countries, including Russia, European Union, China and the United States and numerous international charities are proactively providing a range of humanitarian aid and emergency assistance.
Many events marking religious festivals and cultural events across the world have been banned because of Coronavirus; on the contrary, despite the high risks of infection several crowded religious festivals and gatherings have been taking place in India’s various holy sites and places of worship with a thousand of unmasked pilgrims and devotees. Additionally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s total23campaign rallies that brought tens of thousands of incautious supporters together caused the spike in coronavirus cases. Hence, the federal government acted reluctantly to impose major restrictions for containing the virus by relying on local authorities to take action.
Indeed, India is the third country with over130 million doses administrated in the world, the highest figure just behind the United States and China respectively, but even the large-scale vaccination process was insufficient to prevent the second wave for a population of more than 1.3 billion people. Although international flights are being suspended to and from India by many governments, a more transmissible India COVID variant, formally known as B.1.617has already been detected in multiple countries and territories worldwide. India’s COVID -19 crisis warns that the risk of infection remains high and many countries could face a strong resurgence of COVID-19similar to India. Health experts concern that a new and more contagious strain spreads more easily and it could even evade vaccines. The current outbreak shows that every country remains vulnerable and could find itself in dire straits unless the adaptation and implementation of strict anti-pandemic measures and policies. However, strengthening the public health system, enhancing safety protocols and sanitary measures, ensuring transparency and accountability, and initiating a successful immunization campaign will be seemingly crucial to combat the pandemic, otherwise, a similar crisis could soon become a common tragedy for the entire world in the foreseeable future.
Pakistan desires dialogue and cooperation with the EU
Renew Europe, a liberal, pro-European political group of the European Parliament, presented a resolution and was passed by the EU by an overwhelming majority of 681 votes against six only. Extremist, racist groups influence the EU. No doubt, the whole world is suffering from intolerance and extremism. There are many racist movements in America and Europe too.
Pakistan being an open and democratic country, enjoys total freedom of expression to its citizen. There must be diverse voices within Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan is a parliamentary system. All matters are discussed in the parliament, which is responsible for building consensus on all crucial issues and addressing the concerns of all groups, factions, parties, minorities, etc.
Historically, Pakistan was a very tolerant and peace-loving, balanced society, but during the 1980s war in Afghanistan, Pakistan was radicalized by design. The western world deliberately promoted intolerance, religious extremist, and terrorism. Almost all intelligence agencies of the leading Western World were engaged in Pakistan for arming, training, and inspiring youth for Jihad in Afghanistan. These international intelligence agencies collected radical individuals from all over the world and concentrated them in Pakistan to launch Jihad in Afghanistan; Many terrorist organizations were created by them in the whole Muslim world, was either, Mujahideen, Taliban, Daesh, Al-Qaida, or ISIS, Boko-Haram, or any other militant group, was the creation of Western World and used for particular objectives. After achieving their goals, they banned them and kept their distance from them. And she was now blaming them for terrorism, Unfortunate!
Pakistan was a close ally of the US, NATO, and Europe (Western World), an essential front-line state in the Afghan war, and a non-NATO ally in the war on terror. Pakistan suffered extremism, intolerance, terrorism, gun culture, and drug culture, promoted by the Western world. Pakistan is a victim state.
The visionary leadership in Pakistan is very much clear about the situation and determined to establish the rit of government while staying within the democratic values of our system. The recent unrest in Pakistan was a domestic issue, just like in many parts of Europe and America. The incident of Capitol Hill, Killing of Gorge Floyd, and followed continued protests and demonstrations in America; agitations, demonstrations in many parts of Europe are witnessed often, it is believed that all governments are trying to resolve their domestic issues within their Constitution. There was no external pressure on either of these governments. It is expected that let Pakistan overcome its domestic crisis, and the capable Government of PM Imran Khan has already resolved the issue amicably.
Under this scenario, the adoption of a resolution by the EU is not appreciated and, in fact, has hurt the feeling of ordinary Pakistani. It reflects the bias of EU only. A resolution presented by the extremist group should not be the voice of the whole EU. Trust, there must be many reasonable, moderate, and unbiased members in the EU parliament who think logically and rationally. The adoption of such a resolution is totally irrational, irresponsible, and against the globalization spirit.
While Pakistan is engaged to clear the mess created by Western World and almost near to succeed entirely, there is a dire need for International support, and coercion may not be fruitful at this critical moment. It is hoped that the EU may re-consider the resolution and revert it immediately. All peace-loving parliamentarians in the EU are appealed to think rationally and logically to promote international cooperation and understanding to defeat intolerance, bais, extremist, terrorism and turn the whole world into a better place to live and gift our next generation peace, stability, harmony, and prosperity.
However, Islamophobia is an international phenomenon in recent decades all over the Western World. The Prime Minister of Pakistan mentioned it in his speech at the United Nations General assembly (UNGA) last year. A similar resolution was also passed in the OIC. The whole Muslim World is worried and unhappy over blasphemy in the few western countries. There were protests and demonstrations by Muslims all over the world, with various intensities. At the same time, Muslims respect other religions and deserve to reciprocate respect for Islam.
The federal government in Pakistan has decided to address the European Parliament’s reservations after the body had called for an appraisal of Pakistan’s GSP Plus status. The development came after Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting involving senior ministers of the cabinet. It was called in response to a resolution approved by the European Parliament a few days ago, calling for an assessment of Pakistan’s GSP Plus status. The premier stressed the government would not compromise on the laws about the finality of the Prophethood. The participants, during the meeting, decided to address the reservations of the European Union. It was also unanimously agreed that the protection of minorities in the country would be ensured. The participants believed the GSP Plus trade agreement has nothing to with blasphemy laws.
In response to the European Parliament’s resolution, the Foreign Office had expressed disappointment over the development.”The discourse in the European Parliament reflects a lack of understanding in the context of blasphemy laws and associated religious sensitivities in Pakistan – and the wider Muslim world. The unwarranted commentary about Pakistan’s judicial system and domestic laws are regrettable,” read a statement by the FO.
“Pakistan is a parliamentary democracy with a vibrant civil society, free media, and independent judiciary, which remains fully committed to the promotion and protection of human rights for all its citizens without discrimination,” the Foreign Office had added.
The FO had emphasized that Pakistan is proud of its minorities who enjoy equal rights and complete protection of fundamental freedoms as enshrined in the Constitution. Judicial and administrative mechanisms and remedies are in place to guard against any human rights violations.
“Pakistan has played an active role in promoting freedom of religion or belief, tolerance, and inter-faith harmony. At a time of rising Islamophobia and populism, the international community must exhibit a common resolve to fight xenophobia, intolerance, and incitement to violence based on religion or belief and work together to strengthen peaceful co-existence.”
There exist multiple mechanisms in place between Pakistan and the EU to discuss the all-inclusive spectrum of bilateral relations, including a devoted Dialogue on Democracy, Rule of Law, Governance, and Human Rights. Pakistan would continue to remain definitely engaged with the EU on all issues of mutual interest. Pakistan believes in dialogue under the charter of the UN. Pakistan desires an early dialogue and settlement of all differences amicably. Any unilateral decision may not be fruitful to either side. It is time to strengthen our ties and mutual support. Only by collective efforts may we turn this universe into a better place to live for humankind. Pakistan assures its best possible cooperation at all times and awaits reciprocity from the EU.
Religion Freedom Index of Bangladesh: Current Developments and Government Responses
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) recently published its annual Religious Freedom in the World 2021 Report (RFR) that scrutinizes the situation for all major religion groups in 196 countries across the world. The report found that, over the past two years, oppression against susceptible faith communities has augmented in all but one of the 26 countries listed in the survey’s worst (‘red’) category. Bangladesh is that only country whose position on the red list of religious persecution remains unchanged.
The annual report says that religious freedom is being undermined in one out of every three countries in the world which composed two-thirds of the world population. 62 countries out of a total of 196 face severe violations of religious freedom. The situation of minorities in India and Pakistan is deteriorating further. The situation in China and Myanmar is the worst. According to the report, the situation is worse in 95 percent of the 26 countries where persecution is taking place. Nine new countries have been included in this list- seven from Africa and two from Asia.
The report on Bangladesh says that the torture of minorities has not increased in recent years but the influence of Islamic groups is increasing in the politics of Bangladesh. However, the government has been successful in subdue the influence and maintaining religious freedom. For instance, after the rise of Islam-fabric politicization leading by “Hefazat-e-Islam”, the top leaders and at least 375 people nabbed for their recent violent activities. The strict position of law enforcement agencies against the rampage of the group denotes the zero-tolerance of Bangladesh government in ensuring religious freedom and upholding “secularism” which is one of the state principals of its constitution. The argument can be evident with the recent report of the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) titled, “Bangladesh and Pakistan: acting against extremism versus making a show of acting against extremism”. Highlighting the activities of the Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam (HIB) in Bangladesh and the radical Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) in Pakistan, the report comments that Bangladesh government has been making “noticeable progress in dealing with the radical Islamist HIB whereas Pakistan has floundered dramatically in its inconsistent, ill-considered and ill-implemented attempts to pacify the TLP”. Besides, the initiatives of the Bangladesh government in protecting the minority rights are so much praiseworthy.
According to the 2019 Report on International Religious Freedom of US Department of State, to advocate the minority rights and to foster religious tolerance, Bangladesh government has taken a number of initiatives such as-
•Providing guidance to imams throughout the country to prevent militancy and monitoring mosques for “provocative messaging”.
•Deploying law enforcement personnel at religious sites, festivals, and events considering potential violence. The Economic Times reported that 30,000 and 31,272Durga Pujas were organized across the country in 2017 and 2018 respectively without any security issue.
•Zero-tolerance to Islamic militancy. For instance, Special Tribunal convicted and sentenced to death seven of eight defendants who were accused in the 2016 killings of 22 mostly non-Muslim individuals at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka.
•Offering stipends to students from the minority groups in the primary and secondary level; and
•Providing funds for minority rituals and social activities.
Most importantly, Bangladesh ensures a level playing field in the employment sectors and a viable people-to-people contact. ‘Dhormo Jaar Jaar, Utsob Shobar,’ (Religion for own, but festivals for all” is a testimony of its secular values and communal harmony. The ACN report itself showed, in Bangladesh, where due to fear of infection, minority faith groups were incapable of offering the last rites to family members, an Islamic charity buried not only Muslim but also Hindu and Christian victims of COVID-19. Besides, reliefs were equally provided to every sector of the society regardless of their race or religion.
To conclude, Bangladesh always believes in fraternity beyond ethno-religious affiliations and practiced secularism in daily life throughout the history. But at present, due to the rise of right-wing populist politics both at regional and global level and rise of fundamentalism, religious harmony in Bangladesh is also affected. However, comparatively, Bangladesh is doing better than many regional states and the country is destined to overcome the challenges in near future due to the pro-active role of the government in this regard.
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