Torment on Rohingya minority has been once again flared up on Friday, allegedly, scores of men purportedly from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), assaulted on Myanmar security forces, killing at least a dozen of personnel. Since 1982 after the denial of Rohingya citizenship in Myanmar (former Burma) several violent attempts have been fabricated to evacuate Rohingya minority from Rakhine state withal Myanmar. Recurrence of tension in Rakhine-state of Myanmar is harrowing world community’s sentiment as well.
Rohingya people are an ethnic Muslim group primarily located in Rakhine state (formerly Arakan-state). Rohingya Muslims usually follow sufi trends, one of the noteworthy versions of Islam. They are estimated 1-1.5 million in number out of 50 million population of Myanmar. But irony of fate that they are treated like aliens in their own fatherland while Myanmar military junta have turned down their citizenship via new citizenship law of 1982. As human being they hardly get rights to live profoundly. To get citizenship they must provide evidence that they are living in Myanmar hereditarily since 1823. For getting married and having work they must need permission from the government by showing symbolic white cards. Very often they face torture by the security forces and local Buddhists i.e brutal beating, gang rape, abduction, molestation, arson, mass killings and so on. Even women and children do not get rid of the turmoil. After being harassed on diverse military campaigns and communal violence they seek to get shelter vastly on Bangladesh and rest on Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
During the passage of 1978 and 1992 separate military expeditions have been forced more than 450,000
Rohingya Muslims out of the country with systematic murders and arson (CBC).In 1978’s “Dragon King” operation, the Myanmar army committed widespread killings and rapes of Rohingya civilians, and they carried out the destruction of mosques and other religious persecution. These events resulted in the exodus of an estimated 200,000 Rohingya to neighboring Bangladesh. Another campaign of forced labor, executions, torture, and rape in 1992 led to a similar number of Rohingyas fleeing across the border (Benjamin Zawacki). Approximately 130,000 Rohingya have been evicted in the sake of communal violence of 2012 between Buddhist and Rohingya Muslims (BBC). In 2016’s clash around 87000 refugees took their shelter in Bangladesh (Al Jazeera). From early 1990 around 400,000 Rohingyas are reportedly living in squalid camps in Bangladesh (TOI). According to the UN Office for the Co- ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, about 140,000 people are now living in internally displaced person (IDP) camps in Myanmar, suffering dire need of humanitarian aid.
Current attack on Rohingya Muslims has had fatal consequences. Human Rights Watch said, satellite image has found 100 km areas (in length) have been calcined due to arson. 110 Rohingya have already been killed. International Organisation for Migration reported 18,500 Rohingya have crossed the border and entered into Bangladesh since the last invasion of Myanmar military on 25th August, 2017.
Ongoing migrant crisis of Rohingya have generated facet humanitarian problems and geopolitical complexities. Inciting violence in Myanmar has imposed burden on Bangladesh in various aspects. Despite having a number of people who live under poverty line, Bangladesh has a potential economic growth which may be a milestone for developing and under developed countries. Notwithstanding, Rohingya refugee flow toward Bangladesh needs more afford to feed the additional people including food, medicine, shelter and workplace. For a developing country ethnic conflicts create hinderance of its economic growth. In sober fact, some Rohingya refugees are convicted of several criminal acts such as narcotics smuggling, illegal arms trade, human trafficking etc. In need of living, they are accessible by cheap render. Using Bangladeshi passport, they are doing illegal tasks beyond boundary which may be pernicious for national image of Bangladesh too international community. These types of felonious acts are contradictory to national interest and national security of Bangladesh. Bitter circumstances have voided the possibilities of Bangladesh-Myanmar relations. Bangladesh-Myanmar relations can’t be harnessed unless the dispute regarding Rohingya issue has been solved. Since the latter half of 1990s, the two towns, Maungdaw (of Rakhine) and Teknaf (of Bangladesh) between the Naf River, have been identified by the two governments as the future strongholds for promoting the border trade (Dr. M. Rahmatullah, 2004). However, without any solutions to the Rohingya issue these two towns will never become a stable area for profitable border trade (Rohingya Issue: A Thorny Obstacle between Myanmar and Bangladesh, Kei NEMOTO).
Rohingyas are often designated as most persecuted people in the world. It is long since international community took rationale steps with a view to wiping out anguish condition of Rohingya commons. Henceforth, Rohingya crisis is a problem of Myanmar government, nevertheless, Bangladesh is being victim of this conflict severely. For those causes, instantly Bangladesh should take the first step for configuring a viable solutions. For diminution of this baneful situation multilateral configuration ought to be portrayed. Bangladesh have to draw attention of intergovernmental organizations and other prevalent countries resembling U.S.A, Russia, India, China, U.K, Japan and other European countries. UN, OIC and ASEAN must play an active role to overcome the obstacles that are encumbering rights of Rohingyas.
First obstacle of Rohingya crisis solution is citizenship law of Myanmar. According to Myanmar citizenship law, ”Nationals such as the Kachin, Kayah, Karen, Chin, Burman, Mon, Rakhine or shan and ethnic groups as have settled in any of the territories included within the State as their permanent home from a period prior to 1185 B.E., 1823 A.D. are Burma citizens. The council of State may decide whether any ethnic group is national or not.” (Myanmar citizenship law, 1982, chapter:ll, article 3,4). This stipulation loads burden on Rohingya and other ethnic groups to prove their ancestors’ residence in Myanmar. The plight of the Rohingyas seems unlikely to improve without an overhaul of the citizenship law. On December 29, 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on the Burmese government to amend the 1982 Citizenship Law so that it no longer discriminates against the Rohingya (Human Rights Watch). Cited by International Federation of Human Rights, ”But present government, led by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party, has failed to adequately address the long-standing discriminatory and abusive practices against Rohingya in Rakhine State”(Fidh :2016). In order to preventing this obstacle, amendment of Myanmar citizenship law of 1982 is obligatory in accordance with UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1961).
Second obstacle which is inciting Rohingya crisis is communal violence. In Rakhine State in the western part of Myanmar, violence had broken out during mid-2012 between the ethnic Rakhine, who are primarily Buddhist, and the Rohingya who are primarily Muslim. A statement of a Buddhist monk is quite astonishing when he has ” denied the citizenship of Rohingya population in Myanmar ” broadcasted on Al Jazeera. Such kind of tendency is provocative for religious intolerance and exaggerates skirmishes. Zainab Al-Suwaij, co-founder of the American Islamic Congress have said, “We have to respect others and we have to understand and not discriminate on the basis of faith… When people do not talk and communicate, everything around them becomes dehumanized… When you mix politics with religion, you get the worst of everything.” With this respect we must take religion out of politics that inflame vehemence.
Third obstacle that impedes the probable resolution of Rohingya crisis is brutal behavior and unwillingness to solve crisis of Myanmar government towards Rohingyas. Paying no heed to UN charter (1945), Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (2012), Myanmar military repeatedly carrying on suppression to Rohingya ethnic group. It’s a matter of concern that in spite of invoking not to abolish human rights Myanmar government is breaching international law frequently. UN and ASEAN should be strict to implement peace in the Rakhine region. As it is mentioned in ASEAN Human Rights declaration on Article 38. “Every person and the peoples of ASEAN have the right to enjoy peace within an ASEAN framework of security and stability, neutrality and freedom… ASEAN Member States should continue to enhance friendship and cooperation in the furtherance of peace, harmony and stability in the region.”
Inaction of world dominant countries like USA, UK, China, Russia, India is also a cause that’s why Myanmar is getting ground to exploit Rohingya Muslims. In 2003, USA invaded Iraq along with other NATO countries pleading storage of Mass Destruction Weapons (MWD) but found null. But, while Rohingyas are being slaughtered in daylight the alliance remains tacit. These dominant countries have to raise their voices through UN Security Council and requiring humanitarian intervention. They ought to create pressure on Myanmar government to stop ethnic cleansing.
Rohingya population don’t enjoy a single portion of Universal Declaration of Human Rights that contains 30 articles. Because of oppression on Rohingya, human rights, human security as well as international law are being violated. Freedom of choice, social rights, political rights, essentials of life, rights to shelter, food, nutrition and education have been suffocated. Humanity has been deteriorated. Rather clashes are exacerbating extreme nationalism among them which may metamorphosis to terrorism.
Is Indian Democracy Dying?
The prominent journalist and editor, Shujaat Bukhari was leaving work when he and his two bodyguards were shot and killed. Suffice to say newspapers are the lifeblood of democracy and Indian administered Kashmir under the decades-long grip of a half-million strong security force has a questionable claim. Yet brave journalists, unafraid, write and sometimes pay the consequences.
Following Mr. Bukhari’s murder and the thousands attending his funeral, the security services have raided presses shutting down newspapers. The internet is not quite as easily controlled, so some have been busy updating their sites.
Since Gauari Lankesh was brutally murdered at her doorstep in September 2017, another four journalists have lost their lives. She, too, espoused views contrary to the ruling party’s current philosophy of an India aligned only with the mores of upper-caste Hindus.
Jawaharlal Nehru and Gandhi, the principal Indian leaders who fought many decades for independence would have been appalled. Gandhi protected low caste untouchables referring to them as the ‘children of god’; they are now known as Dalits. Nehru, a Brahmin by birth, was a socialist in belief. His dream was of a secular, socialist India. The latter is long over, the former under vicious attack as Muslim and Christian minorities are marginalized. In addition to journalists, three heavyweight intellectuals have been killed. All were rationalists, the Indian word for atheists.
Gandhi was assassinated less than six months after independence by a right-wing Hindu nationalist who was angry at Gandhi’s moderate attitude toward Muslims. The assassin Nathuram Godse was a member of the extreme-right Hindu Mahasabha political party, and had his roots in the paramilitary, Hindutva-promoting Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Its militancy has led to its being banned three times: after the Gandhi assassination, during the Indira Gandhi emergency rule in the mid-1970s, and for its role in the Babri Mosque demolition. The British also found its beliefs beyond the pale and banned it during their rule.
Not only is the RSS flourishing now but it serves openly as the ideological mentor of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Together they continue to push their agenda for a Hindu India tolerating only Hindu culture or beliefs, in other words, Hindutva or Hindu hegemony.
Hindutva scholar Shridhar D. Damle confirms what is quite well known, that the RSS is now exerting its influence in academia, government and cultural organizations. The laws restricting cow slaughter are not a Narendra Modi whim. Mr. Modi joined the RSS at the age of eight, was nurtured and nourished by it, the philosophy seeping into his bones like mother’s milk; any moderation necessitated only by political considerations.
The RSS infiltration of academia is pervasive. Last year, its think tank, Prajnah Pravah, summoned 700 academics including 51 university vice-chancellors (presidents) to Delhi to attend a workshop on the importance of a Hindu narrative in higher education; just one example of influencing what can be taught. A gradual loss of academic freedom has been the frightening consequence of constant interference backed up by its militancy — frightening because dying with intellectual freedom, journalists, writers and thinkers is also Indian democracy … slowly but surely, unless the voters stand up to the RSS sharkhas (volunteers) at the next election.
Nobody knows who killed Mr. Bukhari. But when the standards have been set and a certain climate prevails, does it mean much?
US- North Korea talks: A role model for Pakistan and India?
Shahbaz Sharif — Former PM Nawaz Sharif’s younger brother, current PML-N President, Former CM of Punjab (Pakistan) and the party’s Prime Ministerial candidate for the general election — while reacting to the meeting between US President, Donald Trump and North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, stated that India and Pakistan should seek to emulate both countries, and explore the possibility of resuming dialogue.
Tweeted Shahbaz Sharif: ‘The US and North Korea talks should be a role model for Pakistan and Indian. If they can return from their previous hostile positions of attacking each other, Pakistan and India can also resume composite dialogue,’
Shahbaz, an astute politician and a capable administrator has generally refrained from commenting on India. More so, after his elder brother, had got into trouble after his remarks on the Mumbai attacks In an interview to Dawn, the former PM had said:
‘Militant organisations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai”.. Why can’t we complete the trial?’
Nawaz Sharif drew flak not just from the National Security Committee (which includes top civil servants and defense officials). NSC issued a statement, saying:
‘The participants observed that it was very unfortunate that the opinion arising out of either misconceptions or grievances was being presented in disregard of concrete facts and realities. The participants unanimously rejected the allegations and condemned the fallacious assertions.
Some parliamentarians of the PML-N, also said that Sharif’s remarks were ‘inappropriate’. They had to be assuaged by Shahbaz
What are the precise implications of Shahbaz’s statements at this time?
Shahbaz Sharif’s statement is significant because the Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa has sought to extend an olive branch to India via his statements — though the ground situation across the LoC has not witnessed a significant change .
Shahbaz Sharif on his part is seeking to send the signal, that he is all for a better relationship with India, and this will go down well with large sections of the population in Punjab (this includes not just members of Civil Society, but the business community as well). As Chief Minister of Punjab (Pakistan), he had visited India (December 2013), and met with then PM, Dr Manmohan Singh, while also visiting his ancestral village Jatti Umrah in (Punjab, India). Shahbaz had also attended the inauguration of the Integrated Check Post at Attari in April 2012. Shahbaz has sought to strengthen people to people as well as economic ties with Indian Punjab.
In 2017, when both Punjab’s and North India was engulfed in smog, Shahbaz had also written to his counterpart in Indian Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh, seeking a mechanism to tackle the issue of smog, as well as environmental pollution. Said Sharif, ‘..Let us join hands for securing a prosperous future for the people of our two provinces,”
At the same time, in his recent tweet, Shahbaz also raised the Kashmir issue, and does not want to appear excessively soft or a ‘sell-out’. Especially, vis-à-vis the hardliners and the military. Shahbaz Sharif had tweeted:
‘If the United States and North Korea can return from the brink of a nuclear flashpoint, there is no reason why Pakistan and India cannot do the same, beginning with a dialogue on Kashmir whose heroic people have resisted and rejected Indian occupation.
In April 2018, at a rally Shahbaz had raised the Kashmir issue, saying ‘..we will make Kashmir part of Pakistan,”
Fourth, Shahbaz wants to ensure, that the PML-N sets the agenda of the election campaign with this statement he has also ensured, that PTI will need to make its stance on ties with India clear
Mixed signals from Imran Khan
Imran Khan has so far given mixed signals, on many issues including ties with India. Khan has attacked Sharif’s for being soft on the Kashmir issue, and stated that he will be far more vocal and raise the issue on International Forums. At a rally in 2016, the Pakistan-Tehreek-E-Insaaf PTI Chief and former cricketer stated:
“Human rights are being trampled in Kashmir…And no matter what, we will support Kashmiris morally and politically.
Imran Khan also accused Sharif of having a close rapport with Modi and bartering away Pakistan’s interests in the process. The PTI Chief has also sought an enquiry into Nawaz Sharif’s ‘business interests’ in India on more than one occasion.
On the other hand on occasions, Khan has spoken about the need for improving India-Pakistan ties. Interestingly, during a visit to India in December 2015, Imran had called on Modi, and claimed to have had a constructive conversation on bilateral issues.
What is clearly evident is that Shahbaz, a consummate politician, will essentially follow his brother’s approach of wanting to improve ties with India, while not ruffling feathers with the Pakistan army. Shahbaz, also wants to send a message to both the opposition (especially the PTI) and the establishment (Pakistan military and ISI). While the message to the PTI, is that he will not allow it to set the agenda for the election. To the establishment, Shahbaz Sharif’s message is that he is ready to work with them, but will not play second fiddle.
Pakistan & India’s NSG membership: Challenges and prospects
Both the front runners of South Asia have found a new interest in becoming a part of the international non-proliferation regime. This desire was made public when both the states applied for membership in May 2016. So far both have faced disappointment and as the NSG 28th plenary meeting approaches the debate of whether there will be one winner, two winners or no winner at all, rekindles. The decision is crucial for both because they have their own set of concerns riding on this membership. Indian Prime Minister Modi has made the NSG membership the single most important foreign policy agenda for his regime while Pakistan does not want to be blocked out of the trade group by India if it becomes a member.
With the waiver India gained from NSG somehow got stuck in an illusion that this special treatment will apply to all the aspects of Indo-NSG understanding. The hope was killed when no decision was made in the 2016 plenary meeting. However India being India, did not register this clear signal. Part of its lobbying tactics was to become a part of MTCR. The agenda here was two fold: a)it wanted the support of the 34 MTCR members in NSG and; b). it wanted to help China become a part of MTCR (which it was previously rejected) so that China softens its stance on India’s NSG membership. The latter goal has not been met yet. The real problem is not India’s membership into NSG but its vision of itself as the driving force for the region, and as soon as it is able to get NSG membership, this agenda will be on top of its ‘to do list’ to block Pakistan out. If India was to play on fair lines it wouldn’t be as much of a problem. Its desire of blocking Pakistan out is clear by its insistence on a merit based approach through which it assumes Pakistan will be left out for not fulfilling the merit. What it doesn’t realize is that even to set a merit there needs to be a certain criteria for that.
Coming towards the second candidate for the membership i.e. Pakistan, it has maintained a principle stance over the membership of the trade group. If Pakistan cannot become a part of the NSG because the state is not party to NPT then the same applies to India as well and any special treatment would be nothing more than discrimination. What the international community needs to be communicated is that they it cannot have a biased approach for the state of Pakistan solely for the US and India’s strategic interests. The membership needs to be granted to both the South Asian states otherwise the asymmetry will further increase which will destabilize the peace and security of the South Asian region. Furthermore it needs to be brought into consideration that by granting membership to Pakistan, its nuclear program can be streamlined along with the rest of the recognized nuclear weapon states which will bring it under the rules and regulations of NSG. This is something the international community would want for Pakistan because apparently it has reservations regarding the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear program so why not bring it at par with the rest of the programs where the skepticism regarding illegal proliferation can be eradicated once and for all?
Considering the case of both the states the only rational solution which China advocates in the NSG openly is that first of all the factor of states being NPT members must not be ignored since it is an important cornerstone for NSG however if it is to be overlooked then it must be overlooked for all aspirants alike and country specific approach should not be an option. Joining NSG can solve many issues for Pakistan including its problem of energy shortage as well as financial backwardness. Such an opportunity can prove to be beneficial for Pakistan as well as to the other states of NSG because the forum can also be used for confidence building and mutual understanding of each other’s circumstances. However India would not like this to happen so easily because that means compromising the leverage it gets by becoming the front runner in South Asian politics.
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