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A Movement Undead

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Maoism as an ideology originated in China as a form of Communist theory derived from the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong. This theory was developed in the 1950`s-60`s and was widely applied as the political and military guiding moto of the Communist Party of China till 1977-78. But soon it evolved as a way of living and was widely accepted around the world. The idea started off in China and soon spread across the world where democratic nations face an imminent threat from the maoist organizations who have blatantly turned radical in their methods for acquiring their needs.  

Maoism`s aim is to take control of the government and fundamentally transform the country to socialism. As Aristotle one said “The mother of revolution and crime is poverty”, the rise in poverty became one of the biggest drivers of instigating the movement not only in India but in China as well. China encountered a situation where its workers (rural area) revolted against their masters and landlords against marginalization of the poor in rural areas. The Naxalbari Movement lead by Charu Majumdar in 1967, was the first uprising in India  to mark the stepping stone of the ideology. Since then the Indian subcontinent has widened its line of sight for maintaining the internal security of the country which is hampered by these so called “naxalites”.

The current situation is the continuous influx of tribal converted in this region that is helping sustain their fight by supplying them with intelligence and more insurgent members. The years of 2001-14 have been the most active for Naxalites in India for carrying out attacks and building up their relations with support groups. This first started in early July 2001, when naxalite groups all over South Asia announced the formation of a Coordination Committee of the Maoist Parties and Organizations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA). This was the first formal international coalition formed under the umbrage of one ideology to acquire their targets and attain better results. What had raised concerns was that the most dreaded Naxalite groups in India, the People’s War Group (PWG) and Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) were contributing participants to the newly formed CCPMPOSA.

The naxals work on inspiring themselves with ideas from Marxist or Leninist or theories fostered by both. They identify pressure points for targets from sympathizers and intelligence groups and most importantly mobilize funds to carry out attacks. The theories which stir the movement create a simple distinction in the founding years of the political parties. The Communist Party of India Marxist-Leninist (CPI-ML) was formed by All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (AICCCR) in 1969. While the Maoist Communist centre of India (MCCI) was formed in 1975 when the some groups chose to maintain a separate identity from the CPI-ML. Another formal political party was the Communist party of India Marxist-Leninist People`s war commonly known as the People`s War group, an underground communist organization which started off in April, 1980 with the same intentions of serving the poor class. Though the militant group worked under its own discretion in the first two decades, but soon joined hands with the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI) in 2004. The merger of the Peoples War Group, with the Maoist Communist Centre in September, 2004, founded the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) which completely changed the internal security scenario in the country. The merger was able to establish the so called Compact Revolutionary Zone or Red Corridor connecting the Dharmapuri forest area of Tamil Nadu with Nepal, covering the entire forest tracts in between. Home Ministry reports say that the dreadful insurgency has till now spread to 165 districts in 16 states[1].

The 21st Century has proved to be extremely advantageous for the Maoists as they were successful in recognising tactical alliances and adopt precise strategies for attaining their targets. The acts of brutality and anti-government notion soon started surging in their areas of activity. In response the Central government banned the CPI (Maoist) on 23rd of June, 2009[2]. This belated action came three days after the Central Para-military forces had gone to Lalgarh area of West Bengal which is still virtually under the siege of Maoists. Former Home minister P. Chidambaram also exclaimed similar nations in 2010 that left-wing extremism would be crushed within three years, but yet successive governments have been witness to Naxal acts of aggression which even continued in 2019. Over 20 years to 2017, Naxal/ Maoist violence claimed more than 12,000 lives, including 2,700 security forces personnel[3].

Various leaders have vowed to tame the Maoist menace by bringing in numerous urbanised developments to improvise connectivity and achieve better growth. But the aggressive enthusiasm of the Naxalites is fuelled by such actions of the government. Though there might be various other reasons for this revolution to still sustain which include deteriorating human development indexes, social discrimination, poor governance and loss of identity, the most important one of them being the increasing income gap in the country[4]. The crux of the problem in the naxal affected regions is the unequal distribution of the assets which majorly is the land. The incapability of the government to match up with the proper land reforms for the tribal people is something which adds on to their idea of how the government is trying to snatch away their land and give it to Multi-National Companies (MNC`s) for production purposes. The inefficiency of the land reforms has been a traditional policy inherited from the colonial period. This reform changed India`s land ownership patterns to ease the acquisition of land at low prices for mines, plantations, and other enterprises[5].

Main Years of Operation

Maoists since a long time have built their relations on cross border counterparts in neighbouring countries. This interconnected system of financial and strategic support between communist driven groups has helped them grow and sustain the revolution. Such extremist based organisations include Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelum (LTTE) from Sri Lanka, Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Lakshar-e-Taiba (LeT), The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and many more. Maoists mainly function through jungle hideouts where they expand their area of control by using the jungle as an advantage. The pattern of luring security personnels and targeting them with explosives is quite similar to these radical organisations and other radicalists in the neighbouring countries. A senior Naxal leader who surrendered in Maharashtra claimed that a warfare expert from the Philippines had visited once in 2001 and stayed in a Bastar Naxal camp in Abujmad for about a month to train cadres[6]. This was in collaboration to the Maoist insurgent groups in Philippines which had challenged the security agencies of the Indian subcontinent on such claims made by former-Naxal Leader. It was surely as arduous gamble to get a Philippines warfare expert on ground, with no probability of getting exposed to intelligence networks and security agencies. The Filipino taught them how to carry out mass attacks and mobilize sympathizers in times of need.

 Since then naxalites have not only improved their attack strategy but have also involved technology and concrete intelligence as one of the most important element of showing aggression. In the years 2005-06, Maoists spiked up their number of attacks to retain their number of insurgents to gather a strong working army. These attacks were extremely well timed with a series of guerilla attacks in different regions to shock central security personnels. This was mainly to lag their reaction time, thus there are instances where militants have hours of time to gather ammunitions and loot them over. Attacks were usually carried out in the night time, when the comrades could easily outnumber and strategically utilise the element of surprise to strike deeper. One of the biggest loots carried out by the Naxalites was the February 6, 2004 Koratpur ambush where 300 extremists loaded in two trucks, two jeeps and five motor cycles first reached the Koratpur Bus stand and clarified their intentions to the commoners of no harm to civilians while conducting the attack. The ultras spend around an hour collecting ammunitions from the armoury and then decamped with 1000 sophisticated guns and 1000 other weapons worth INR 50 crore. Further investigations by police personnels revealed that the extremists disbanded lower technologically advanced weapons in the forest but recent developed technology still remain in their possession. It was interesting to observe that these attacks displayed clear intentions of an upcoming radically aggravated event. These swarming attacks were shortly followed by jail breaks or attacks of a higher magnitude. Since the Koraput raid in 2004, Orissa witnessed only another three ‘swarming attacks’ involving the Maoist ‘people’s militia’ till the Nayagarh attack, out of 50 such attacks recorded in various states[7].

List of Ambushes for retaining ammunitions and captured comrades

DateArea of attackComrades attackingComrades freedDeaths and captives takenAmmunitions
6.2.2004Koratpur, Orissa3002002 CRPF Jawans500 weapons 30,000 rounds of ammunition
11.11.2005Home Guard Training centre Giridih, Jharkhand200  186 rifles 2,000 bullets
13.11.2005Jehanabad Jail, Bihar10003401 prison guard, 20 Ranvir Sena activists taken captive16 rifles
24. 03.2006Udayagiri town, Orissa80 ultras402 security officials; 3 bodies taken by naxalites 
16.12.2007Dantewada jailbreakEscaped on their own299 prisoners including 110 naxalites3 prison guards injured 
15.2.2008Nayagarh, BiharMultiple points 14 police personnel, 2 civilians2,150 arms 200,000 rounds of ammunition
15. 2.2010Silda, West Bengal  24 JawansAK-47, SLR and mortars 

Source: Institute of Peace and Conflict studies and other news reporting sources.

For instance, naxalite swarming attacks in Home Guard Training centre Giridih, Jharkhand was to refill their armoury for the attack carried out two days later in the Jehanabad Jail break. This created their essence to retain militants in command which are usually captured by state police. Ajay Kanu, state secretary of the CPI-Maoist was one of the targeted escapees of the Operation Jailbreak. The CPI-Maoist would project the Jehanabad attack as a resounding victory of the underprivileged, Dalits over the “feudal, oppressive and exploitative landlords”. Together all the militant cadres performed in a synchronised manner and strike at multiple points to successfully carry out an entire attack.

Suspected International Collaborations

Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelum (LTTE)

 Attacks carried out by Maoists summarised self initiated efforts by utilising every advantage at their disposal to threaten and curb government led developments in their region of activity. But there are facilitators which have orchestrated the larger significant outgrowth of the organisation and helped them challenge and compete with India`s strategy to growing naxalism. Maoist leaders have been known to collaborate with their counterparts across the border in Nepal and also occasionally with sympathisers elsewhere in South Asia. The collaborations date back in the 1980`s when experts were send in from different regions of South Asia. In a sensational disclosure made by Azad, a spokesman of the naxal outfit’s central committee, while addressing media persons at a remote village in Bihar’s Supaul district bordering Nepal, 2005. “The Maoists learnt new warfare tactics from the on-the-run and purged LTTE military commanders in 1986-87,” he said, adding, “LTTE’s commanders gave them training of mine production and its laying techniques[8].

Their interests have expressed their needs of integration of two factions of the movement- the Bal Militia Wing and the procurement of advanced arms. These convergence of interest have resulted in a fillip to Naxal presence in southern Tamil Nadu districts like Theni, Tirunelveli, Thuthookudi and Ramanathapuram. Traditionally, Naxalites are confined to Dharmapuri, Vellore, and the northern districts of Tamil Nadu bordering Andhra Pradesh. The Periyakulum forests of Theni district has become the new home for Naxal training camps, officials on the Naxal trial said[9]. The LTTE had suffered serious backlashes in 2009, when they started infiltrating into Indian territories and started fueling their aspirations through resources in the country. Hence, the likelihood of the LTTE infiltrating into India to escape from the crackdown of the Sri Lankan security forces was high. In addition, they would also be looking to set up new training camps for their cadre.

Recent measures by the government to tackle the naxalites have sprouted even more urges for the naxalites to seek LTTE support. The Government has proposed to use aerial surveillance in forest regions of Chattisgarh which could have prompted them to seek training as the Tigers were the only recognized outfit to man such capabilities. The Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is prospecting new techniques which involve the deployment of highly sensitive radar provided by Swedish defense and aerospace outfit Saab. This is to be carried on board with the Indian made Dhruv Advanced light helicopter (ALH). This can help in detecting Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) used widely and extensively by Naxalites. The helicopter mounted CARABAS radar weighs about 150 kg. The smaller version of the radar, which has been developed for UAVs, weighs just 50 kg. Connections of the Naxals with the LTTE is suspected to be the most strategic as confirmed the allegation of the Sri Lankan Government that the LTTE had constructed an airstrip near Iranamadu in the Wanni area under its control in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka[10]. The Sri-Lankan government had identified at least two aircraft which looked like the Czech-built Zlin Z-143 and an active airstrip through Sri-lankan military helicopters[11].

Intelligence later suggested the Maoists are also prepared for aerial attacks as in one of the biggest CRPF ambush in April 2010, they were suspected to preserving Anti-aircraft missiles which they had probably smuggled in through the Indo-Bangladesh Border.

Bangladesh and ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) facilitators

The United Liberation Front of Asom was a political and military organisation functioning for a sovereign socialist Assam. During its initial years, Paresh Baruah was one of the leading members of the military wings as the outfit`s ‘commander in chief’. The ULFA is another such organisation which has been extremely successful in fostering its international connections. The ULFA has previously established contacts with the then unified National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), Kachin Independence Army (KIA) of Myanmar for training arms. It also enjoys its support from Pakistan`s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Afghan Mujahideen. Interrogation with various arrested activists revealed that the Defense Forces Intelligence (DFI) of Bangladesh had also trained ULFA cadres in the Sylhet District.

The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) was responsible is carrying out one of the biggest arms haul in the history of cross-border terrorism. This terrorist outfit, operating in northeast India, had teamed with an embassy, to pay Taka 7 billion (99. 4 million dollars) for transhipment of 10 truckloads of arms, ammunition and explosives, said detained former state minister for home Lutfozzaman Babar[12]  There are suspicions of ULFA`s top leaders hiding in Bangladesh who carry out operations through local authorities. Ten truckloads of submachine guns, AK-47 assault rifles, other firearms and bullets were seized at the Karnaphuli coast in Chittagong April 2, 2004. The cache, detected by guards at a warehouse where it was hidden, was meant for the ULFA that was then staging violent attacks from Bangladeshi soil. The arms, purchased from China, were brought in a ship owned by a company belonging to Salahuddin Qader Chowdhury, a lawmaker and senior leader of Zia-led Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)[13].

Another such incident captured two former Bangladesh army generals, who headed the National Security Intelligence (NSI), facilitating the landing of Chinese arms meant for insurgents in India’s northeast and for trying to smuggle these arms into India. 27,020 grenades, 840 rocket launchers, 300 accessories of rocket launchers, 2,000 grenade launching tubes, 6,392 magazines and 1,140,520 bullets were recovered in 2004 from from the jetty of the Chittagong Urea Fertilizer Limited April 2, 2004[14]. Now the illegal infiltration from Bangladesh is also a source of enormous strength to the Maoists. Bangladesh serves as a sanctuary to the Maoists as well. They are also fully exploiting the strategically situated Chicken Neck for moving freely into Nepal and Bangladesh. It is suspected that ISI supplies arms to north-east insurgents and asks them to pass on them to naxals. Taking the cue from LTTE regarding the advantage of overseas support, the CPI (Maoist) have identified cells for logistical support in establishing linkages other extremist outfits[15].

Lashkar-e-Taiba

Maoists have also taken a step ahead in recognising other organisations where international journalists have mentioned about their developments. In an analysis for an American geopolitical Intelligence platform, Ben West on November 18, 2010 reported an alleged meeting between the Maoists and members of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Two LeT operatives had attended a Naxalite meeting in April or May 2010. Though direct evidence of ISI-Maoist collaboration has been hard to discern, the unholy influence of ISI as a third-party entrant through the north-eastern gateway of India is quite plausible. Two LeT operatives attended a CPI-Maoist central committee meeting as observers, held sometime in April-May this year. They met in a jungle inside Orissa, close to Bastar,” said Vishwa Ranjan, Director General of Police of the state worst affected by Leftist insurgency in India[16].

In the preceding year, 2009, a LeT operative Mohammed Umer Madani (chief recruiter in Nepal and India) was arrested in Delhi. Madani was carrying foreign currency including USD 8,000 which he had received from Italy to carry out terror activities in the country at the time of his arrest. Meanwhile, the police also received the details of his two accounts at Himalayan Bank and Everest Bank in Nepal and learnt that there had been several transactions over past few months, amounting to more than Rs 25 lakh. He had already distributed US $ 22,000 and Rs 9.5 lakh to sleeper cells in Bihar and UP. He also revealed his plans of training recruitments from other parts of India in Maoist strongholds before sending them to Pakistan for further training[17].

Expenses

Funds form an important section of sustaining the revolution. Operations carried out by central security agencies reveal that the Left-wing extremists who earn several lakhs of rupees annually through levy, extortion and threats have their own “corporate style” accounting system, central security agency officials said. A small portion of the finances is being spent on propaganda and development work in their base areas where they are running a parallel government, which they term Janatana Sarkar. Further, in villages where the Janatana Sarkar is functioning they are collecting what they call as ‘revolutionary taxes’ from the people. Besides, they term their extortion as ‘collection of levy’ and ‘imposition of fine’ on defaulters[18]. The ‘dalams’ or groups (which usually consist of about 20-40 cadre) give their tabled income and expenditure details on a half-yearly basis to the zonal command which is then forwarded to the next level[19].

Further expenditure details seized from one of the Naxals’ zonal commands show that Rs50,668 were spent on uniforms, Rs60,100 on medicines, Rs2,79,000 on jail and court expenses, Rs21,200 for helping comrades and Rs 44,500 for people’s organizations and public programmes among others.The total expenditure for the six months as shown in the record was Rs 9,20,624 and the income under different heads was Rs 24,05,000. As per an entry made in a separate register dated February 13, 2007, Rs 11, 05,000 were spent on buying 13 pieces of .315 rifle and Rs 13,65,000 on seven pieces of  30.06 rifles. The entries are also made for various ammunitions and pistols and the total expenditure shown by the zonal command was Rs 31,71,250 . Maoist groups in Bihar, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh use foreign small arms, including from China, as compared to states like West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh where the ultras use local arms[20].

The Maoists have been collecting not less than Rs 140 crore annually from a variety of sources: businesses –– big and small –– industry, contractors engaged in various trades, corrupt government officials and political leaders. The largest and principal sources of income for the Maoists are mining industry, PWD works and collection of tendu leaves. The Maoists have been able to put in place a well organized mechanism to extort money on a regular basis. Besides, they have conceived ingenious ways to store money and ensure its safety. Even as they have issued guidelines for the collection of money, the Maoists have, similarly, also circulated guidelines on expenditure and maintaining fiscal discipline.

The Movement is still reviving

John. F. Kennedy once said: “Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.” However, the truth is that the war on terror is unlikely to end. Man is in relentless pursuit of bringing an end to the existence of homo-sapiens, either in the name of righteousness or religion. The Maoist movement in India began three decades ago and many Indian states still reverberate with sounds of gunfire and explosives, resulting in the death of hundreds every few months[21]. As the Lok Sabha polls came to an end in 2019, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Bhima Mandavi and four security personnel were killed in an IED explosion attack suspected by the Maoist in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada. This movement has certainly not died down in actuality and there seems to be a spike in the number of attacks carried out recently around the region by its proponents, most of the recent ones centered on the Red Corridor. Security personnels still lack the training and the technological requirements in tackling the insurgency. It is still alarming to notice that, these movements are getting fuelled by international support. The number of people getting affected due to this is escalating till date where South Asia Terrorism portal recorded the 53rd attacks and around 107 killed in the left wing violence[22]. One of the most tragic events was the IED blast in Gadchiroli. More than 30 kilograms of explosives were used in the IED blast which killed 16 security personnels.

A movement still climbs it way to hamper the internal security of the country. The amounts of explosives used by them denote the continuous support by unknown groups and individuals for a very long period of time. Though there have been no proofs for international support but there surely is one that exists.


[1]  (Pashchimbanga, 2010)

[2]  ((MHA), 2017)

[3]  (Joseph, 2001)

[4]  (V.K.Ahluwalia, 2013)

[5] (V.K.Ahluwalia, 2013)

[6] (Despande, 2009)

[7] (Routray, 2008)

[8] (Sahay, 2005)

[9] (Rao, 2007)

[10] (Raman, 2005)

[11] (Raman, 2005)

[12] (IANS, 2010)

[13] (IANS, 2010)

[14] (IANS, Dhaka to prosecute 2 former spy chiefs smuggling arms for Indian rebels, 2009)

[15] (Pashchimbanga, The Great Saga of ABVP Braving Naxal Terror, 2010)

[16] (Sharma, 2010)

[17] (PTI, 2009)

[18] (P.V.Ramana, 2014)

[19] (PTI, Naxal groups spend huge money to buy weapons, reveal seized records, 2009)

[20] (PTI, Naxal groups spend huge money to buy weapons, reveal seized records, 2009)

[21] (Ipood, 2016)

[22] (SATP, 2019)

Shrrijiet Roychowdhary is a student of International Affairs at O.P.Jindal Global University. He has done past internships at the Centre of Land Warfare Studies, Delhi and also publication houses like The Times of India. He has also worked in post-conflict regions in the Indian district of Assam, near the Indo-Bhutan Border.

South Asia

Pakistan’s Efforts for Protection of Minorities’ Rights, Facts on Forced Conversions and Blasphemy Convictions

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It can be argued that the binary construction, inherently divisive and discriminatory, of ‘self’ and ‘other’ is an outcome of the conditioned and egoic state of humanity. It reminds of the French philosopher Jacques Derrida who said that ‘self’ and ‘other’ are different, but mutually constitute each other. Indeed, majority-minority group identities are constituted in a way where ‘majority self’, excludes ‘minority other’.

Therefore, the protection of the national cultural, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities is a prerequisite for the establishment of a just, democratic and harmonious state and society. This was recognized by the founding father of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah when he said “You are free! You are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the state,”. This set the framework for future national outlook and legislation with respect to the rights of minorities in Pakistan. Indeed, the establishment of such a framework for minority rights was based on the recognition that minorities are in a vulnerable situation in comparison to majority groups in society, and aims to protect members of a minority group from discrimination, assimilation, prosecution, hostility or violence, as a consequence of their status.

Notwithstanding its commitments to ensure minority rights in accordance with national and international laws and need for the preservation of the pluralistic social composition, Pakistan like any other country has faced challenges in the past. The deleterious effects of instrumentalizing religion and Islam during the Afghan Jihad against Soviet occupation in 1979 and later the US-led war against terrorism is well recognized and efforts are made to undone the damage. It is reassuring and commendable to see Pakistan achieving great strides in promoting and protecting minority rights. However, in this age of information warfare, Pakistan’s laudable efforts have not been duly appreciated as Indian propaganda machinery is in full swing to discredit and malign Pakistan’s global image. By presenting factually wrong statements and statics on the issue of minority rights in Pakistan, India has been trying hard, albeit unsuccessfully, to portray itself as the ‘safe heave’ for minorities and deflect international attention from its own worst record of suppressing minorities.

So, let’s consider if ‘forced’ conversions are indeed forced conversions or its more a hyperbole to malign Pakistan. The facts on the issue will help make an unbiased opinion. Consider this, since 2019 a total of 1169 cases of conversions occurred.  The percentage of these conversions with respect to different groups are follows: Hindus (88%), Christians (9%), Sikh (less than 1%) and Qadianis (2%). Interestingly, of the 1169 conversions, individual conversions are only 17%, while 83% are family/ collective conversions. Less than only 1% are forced conversion cases in which girls are sent back to parent’s custody. Pakistan has enacted the Hindu Marriage Act 2017 to address the issue which extends to the whole of Pakistan except Sindh as Sindh government has passed the Sindh Hindu marriage Act 2016 (amended in 2018), to facilitate the Hindu community to solemnize their marriages in accordance with the Sindh Hindu marriage Rules, 2019.

To dispel the negative projection of conversion issue, Pakistan Hindu Council and Ulema reached an agreement according to which any Hindu approaching Ulema for conversion will be reported to local Hindu Community leader and his/ her meeting with parents will be arranged (in absence of Ulema). When it comes to the protection of minority rights, the response of the state has been swift and uncompromising. For instance, 117 suspected including 7 main instigators who set ablaze the Hindu Temple were arrested within 2/3 days of event. 12 police officials were dismissed and 92 police officials suspended for negligence in duties to protect mob on Hindu temple in Teri. In such cases the government also releases funds for the reconstruction purposes. Another case at hand is the state’s swift response for Protection of Minorities on Old Qilla Rawalpindi. On 27 Mar 2021, 15 religious motived individuals attacked and tried to damage under renovated temple at Purana Qilla Rawalpindi. FIR was registered against individuals and they were arrested. Unsurprisingly, over 6000 Pakistani Hindus launched a protest campaign against India for its smear campaign against Pakistan on the issue of minorities and 133 Hindus returned in last one year from India amidst improving conditions for minorities.

The response on Blasphemy Laws/ Cases is indiscriminate and since 2005, 56 individuals were convicted on blasphemy offense. 45 Muslims, 7 Christians, 2 Hindus, and 2 Qadianis (Muslims 80%, minorities 20%).  Minorities convicted on blasphemy are given fair trial and rights of appeal in higher Judiciary. Acquittal of 5 Christians including Asia Bibi and Shagufta Kausar, Shafqat Emaneul etc by higher Judiciary are cases in point.

In fact, minorities in Pakistan are free to practice religion. There are 2652 Churches (1 church per 664 Christians), 732 Temples (1 Temple per 2734 Hindus) and 167 Gurdwaras (1 Gurdwara per 55 Sikhs) exist. If we draw a comparison in UK there is only one mosque for 2249 Muslims. Pakistan is committed to mainstream and empower the minorities. They are provided with equal rights to education, jobs and business opportunities (Reserve seats in Parliament, minorities on senior positions in bureaucracy, army etc). There are four reserved seats in the Senate and ten in National Assembly of Pakistan for minorities besides the proportional reserved seats in all Provincial Assemblies. The proportional reserved seats for minorities across the four provinces include Balochistan (3), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (3), Punjab (8) and Sind (9).

In pursuit of preserving the pluralistic composition and ensuring equal rights to minorities, Pakistan re-constituted The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) and increased membership of minority communities, who are new in the majority. Moreover, Mr. Chela Ram Kewlani, a member of the minority community, has been appointed as Chairman of the Commission. In terms of quota for Minorities in Services, Pakistan has allocated 5% Job Quota for minorities in all Federal Govt Services, in addition to open merit. On the directions of National Commission for Minorities, implementation of the job quota is being strictly observed by Provincial Governments, Federal Ministries/ Divisions, FPSC, Islamabad, however, Pakistan needs to address any shortcomings in realizing this by addressing the lack of education and awareness.

The Single National Curriculum introduced in consultation with faith scholars at primary level in educational institutions of Pakistan for seven non-Muslim communities (Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Kalash, Bahai, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism) is praiseworthy. Besides that, different welfare measures are being taken, including the creation of Endowment Fund in line with the bill passed by KP on December 8, 2022, increase in scholarships for minority students with effect from March 2014, and provision of free vocational education for Hindus and Sikhs approved by Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) on 15 January 2021.

Apart from the Interfaith Harmony Policy at the Federal level, the Ministry of Religious Affairs has taken a number of initiatives to promote interfaith harmony. These include Declaration/ Celebration of Minorities Day, Public holidays for minorities on their festivals of (Christmas and Easter for Christians, Holi and Diwali for Hindus, Biasakhi and Birthday of Guru Nanak for Sikhs, Nauroze of Zoroastrian, Eid-e-Ridvan for Bahai’s, Festival of Lights for Buddhist community and Chelum Jhust for Kalash people) at official level. The government has also established “District interfaith Harmony Committees” throughout the country and is holding “Interfaith Harmony Conferences” to promote interfaith culture, throughout the county. To mainstream Minorities, Minorities Welfare Fund was established, under which “Small Development Schemes” are carried out for the repair/ maintenance of the religious/ worship places of minorities. Also, Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) established on 16.04.2019 facilitates the Sikh Yatrees from India and across the word on their religious festivals in Pakistan.

Also, the Ministry of Human Rights introduced Hindu Marriage Act, 2017 which extends all over Pakistan except Sindh. This Act is the personal law and contains various provisions specially to protect Hindu women against abused in marriages. Ministry of Human Rights in consultation with Christian Minorities has also prepared a Christian Marriage and Divorce Act. However, certain factions of Christian communities want further deliberation over this draft bill. Once the bill is finalized it will be introduced in Parliament without any delay.

Pakistan has also taken incredible steps to promote Religious Tourism by opening historical Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib Corridor and its operationalization for Sikh community, holding of 550th birthday celebration of Baba Guru Nanak, initiation of Baba Guru Nanak Scholarship for deserving talented student form Hindu & Sikh community, hosting of more than 60,000/- yatrees form across the word, opening of Shewala Teja Mandir and Gurdawara Choa Sahib, Jehlum, filling up of Amer Kund (Holy Water) at Katas Raj, printing and distribution of Books and other promotional material on Sikh & Hindu Heritage. The security of minorities, especially during religious festivals is being strictly ensured. A grievance cell has been set up to resolve complaints of non-Muslims to ensure their democratic and fundamental right to practice their religion without any fear.

In the nutshell, if history is any guide, the protection of national minorities is essential to stability, democratic security and peace. Pluralist and genuinely democratic society should not only respect the ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity of each person belonging to a national minority, but also create appropriate conditions enabling them to express, preserve and develop this identity. The various measures adopted by Pakistan reflects its unwavering resolve to realize the dream of its founding father and to preserve the pluralistic composition of society.

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South Asia

Pakistan’s Governance and Security Challenges: The Way Ahead

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Governance and security are the two key areas where states work and progress and lead towards the excellence. Pakistan as a state, has been failing on the governance side specifically rather its physical security is intact but many other forms of security are also compromised and creating hurdles for its governance. The idea of security is complicated and diversifying rapidly. We have travelled long to reach to the era of cyber security from conventional border security. Pakistan’s armed forces have been tackling the border issues excellently on all the spheres ranging from border security to cyber-attacks and nuclear arsenals. The issue of Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) is a perpetrating matter for us which may not be forgotten at any cost. Our civil and military leadership is pursuing the matter diligently. This is a bit of relief that Pakistanis may not be worried about our physical security and may concentrate on other dimensions. Climate change, the mother of all other security issues being faced by Pakistan. Devastated floods of this year are the prime example of it. The effects of the recent floods are immense.

There has always been a storm in Pakistan’s political matters; rather it be international, regional, national, provincial or local level. Political instability in the country is an issue it has always been bothering about. Politicians are focusing on their power struggle. When they are on opposition, they try to dismantle the governing party(ies) and when they are governing, they are not delivering and blaming the previous government. This blame-game continues and the masses keep suffering. Political stability is the key to progress. All the developed states progressed after dealing with the political stability at home and with the bordering nations permanently.

Corruption is the root-cause of most of Pakistan’s problems. We may remember that the corruption is not the illegally acquired money only; anyone who is not doing his work honestly is corrupt. A national level agreement on the eradication of it needed to resolve the problem. Corruption is a major cause for delaying or sabotaging the important matters and changing the priorities of the authorities. There is two prong accountabilities in Pakistan. One is to make the corrupts accountable and other is why they are actively pursuing the particular cases and not all the cases. Political victimization is a grave concern undermining the accountability efforts.

Pakistan has also been facing physical security challenges and Kashmir issue is on the top of the list. It is a persisting issue since the independence of Pakistan. India has occupied Jammu and Kashmir and even involved in changing its special status which is against the international law. Moreover, it is not obliging the resolutions of United Nations Security Council due to its fear of losing the occupied territory. Pakistan has been successfully staging protests on all the international forums for IHK as its people belong to the identity of their motherland, Pakistan. It should keep the momentum high and its impact may not be diminished from the minds of international community.

Climate change is the mother of many security challenges ranging from food security to human well-being. Pakistan is the 0.5% contributor to the climate change and one of the top five sufferers. Pakistan is bearing the cost it is not responsible for. Floods of this year are enough to open eyes of the whole world. The world community should pay attention to the severity of climate change and take the concrete steps to stop it before it is too late. The developed countries, which are mostly responsible for the disastrous climatic changes, will not be an exception to its effects. They might be the next victim of it.

On the other hand, Pakistan is responsible for its lack of capacity to deal with the natural disaster. It is also due to corruption that it is unable to deal with. Once Pakistan is aware of its vulnerability, it must prepare itself. Blaming the states which caused the issue is not enough as it will not bring any solution to our problems. It can proactively engage the world to help us bearing the cost of the climatic disasters and equip our state to deal with it efficiently. Pakistan lost over 1700 lives this year and over $40 billion of economic loss which cannot be recovered anytime soon or only with the help of other nations or entities.

Food is the basic need of human kind and Pakistan is one the countries who are facing issue of food shortage. In the coming times, the rich people will be those who own the agricultural land. As it is evident that Pakistan is seeing real estate boom for the last two decades; we have been building concrete jungles. There are housing societies in every city of Pakistan. The closer the area is to the metropolitans or motorway/ highway, the more attractive for the real estate business. This sector is encroaching the agricultural land or forests which do not seem precious in comparison to the real estate in the short run, but these are the most important part of our eco system. Boom of the real estate is also dangerous for the economy in the long run. Masses have started witnessing its effects. As an agricultural state, Pakistan must be self-sufficient in our food requirements rather than importing them from other countries.

Pakistan is also one of the top five countries whom economic conditions are most vulnerable in the world. Default of Sri Lanka has blown the whistle. Although Pakistan has no such circumstances where the country may default, but situation is not favourable. Current account deficit is enlarging with every passing month and foreign exchange reserves are depleting rapidly. A county of around 230 million people and having monthly exports of around $ 2.5 billion on average has only $7 to 8 billion as foreign exchange reserves. This is a critical situation it has been facing for long. Economy is the most important aspect of security which is directly or indirectly linked to all the security dimensions. Our state should be moving towards manufacturing rather than facilitating the real estate only.

Recommendations

  • Politicians must think above party level to serve the national cause. Their focus on the current term and securing the next elections hits the country badly. They should govern the survived masses rather those who are always striving to survive.
  • IHK must be our priority along with climate change. The Indian atrocities and human rights violations in the occupied territory seek our attention and best efforts to resolve the matter diplomatically and politically.
  • There is a need of charter of economy on national level where all the political parties converge their manifesto for the betterment of people. Vulnerable economic conditions are not in favour of anyone.
  • Food security is closely linked to the survival of agricultural land and the facilities/ subsidies given by the government to farmers/ agricultural land owners. A strict and immediate ban should be imposed on usage of agricultural land and forests for housing societies and other real estate ventures.
  • Along with the accountability of corrupts, there should be a mechanism which makes those people accountable who are carrying the accountability.
  • Pakistan should play an active role in the field of climate change as it is one of the top sufferers. Taking the issue to world community will not be sufficient. It also needs to take concrete steps. Moreover, accelerating efforts for capacity building to handle the situation efficiently is also its responsibility.
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South Asia

How does ‘1997 CHT peace accord’ pave the pay of ‘Peace and prosperity’ in Bangladesh’s CHT?

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To put an end to the brutal confrontations between the government troops and the tribes and hillsmen of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord was signed 25 years ago. Following the agreement, it was thought that if it were put into practice, the economy would pick up. This hope has come true over the past 25 years. The locals’ way of life has changed. The government’s numerous development initiatives have improved the economic situation for millions of people in the region.

Before the deal, visitors were hesitant to visit the hilly areas. As the security situation has improved, tourists are now hesitantly visiting the mountains. Trade and commerce used to move slowly because of the inadequate communication infrastructure, but now it moves much more quickly. The wheel of everyday existence had been closed for two decades prior to then. In the modern regional and international arena, the successful political resolution of the CHT conflict is considered a remarkable achievement for our country. With the signing of the peace treaty, the hill country resumed its regular rhythm. Because of this, Sheikh Hasina’s UNESCO Prize recognized Bangladesh’s distinctive commitment to peace.

The 1997 Bangladesh government made an effort to create enduring peace in the hill areas. After that, in 1997, there was an armistice that ultimately came to be known as the Chittagong Hill Tracts Agreement or the Peace Accord. The majority of the agreement’s provisions, according to the administration, have allegedly been carried out. Additionally, the unrealized clauses will be promptly implemented, therefore a favorable climate is required.

On the other side, a number of schools and colleges, including Rangamati University of Science and Technology and Rangamati Medical College, have been established in the 20 years after the peace deal. The field of communication has seen advancement. With two-star hotels and a three-star tourism complex, Sajeke in Baghaichari was created with tourists in mind.

The majority of the jhum crops would have been lost along the route in the past, but since there isn’t as much traffic now, hill farmers can simply sell their jhum crops at the market.

The lumber industry has seen the largest improvement since the accord. Since the deal, the region’s timber trade has expanded. Despite not previously purchasing hillside tree gardens, traders are now doing so. The gardeners reap financial rewards.

All of the Chittagong Hill Tracts districts, including Rangamati, have experienced general economic development as a result of improvements in every area, including education, communication, and security. A native of Rangamati named Laxmidhan Chakma remarked, “Government jobs used to seem like golden deer to us.” The educated and deserving children of the Hill Tracts are now, however, easily obtaining government jobs as a result of the Hill Tracts Peace Accord. Without the agreement, it was never feasible.

The wheel of the mountain economy continued to turn after the peace deal notwithstanding a few episodes focusing on rivalry and hegemony among the regional parties.

Due to many actions the government took after the peace deal, economic prosperity has been attained in a similar manner to how people’s living standards have increased. Analyzing the periods prior to and following the peace accord can help us comprehend this.

The Hill People were allowed to trade easily following the Hill Tracts Peace Accord. The blockage of some regional groups frightened the general population. However, the residents of the hills are now exhaling in relief as a result of the ceasefire deal. With the administration’s unparalleled collaboration, the locals operate independently.

Before the Hill Accords, trade and business in the hill country were at a standstill. The typical person was unable to move freely. But that time is passed. People can conduct business freely today. Trade and commerce have benefited from the expansion in communication. The police administration is set up so that everyone in this place can carry out their responsibilities on their own.

Ten additional development projects have been started in the meantime to further develop the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The Planning Commission has received a proposal from the Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts for inclusion in the Green Leaf in the upcoming 2021–22 Fiscal Year’s Annual Development Program (ADP). The allocation has been requested concurrently for 19 active projects.

The Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board’s Rural Road Development Project in Rangamati Hill District will last till 2021–2024. In the Rangamati Hill District, the construction period for rural infrastructure has been set at 2024.

The improvement of the water system in Bandarban Municipality and Lama Municipality of Bandarban Hill District is planned to include the construction of a master drain by 2023. Additionally, a deadline of 2023 has been set for the development of the different rural roads built by the Board in the Bandarban Hill District.

It has been determined that construction of a bridge and connecting road from Upazila Sadar to isolated regions of the Khagrachhari district will begin in 2025 with the goal of assisting the socioeconomic development of the Chittagong Hill Tracts’ underprivileged residents. The completion date for the road project connecting Khagrachhari district’s Laxichhari Upazila Sadar and Barmachhari Bazar is 2025. Building rural road infrastructure in the Khagrachhari Hill District is being done in an effort to connect isolated villages in various Upazilas to the Upazila Sadar communication network.

Construction is underway on a rural road that would connect Ruma Upazila in the Bandarban Hill District to Roangchhari Upazila Sadar. In the isolated Chittagong Hill Tracts, a high-value spice farming initiative is being conducted.

A master drain for the development of the drainage system of the Khagrachhari district headquarters and the elimination of water blockage are also being built, along with two bridges over the Sangu river and one over the Sonakhali canal in Bandarban Hill District.

Additionally, there is an increase in cotton farming in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region and a reduction in farmer poverty, as well as development in all Upazilas, including Rangamati municipality, and power supply via the installation of solar panels in remote Chittagong Hill Tracts areas (Phase II). Construction of irrigation drains in various Upazilas of the Bandarban Hill District, irrigation drains in various Upazilas of the Khagrachhari district of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, and the provision of potable drinking water via GFS and deep Tube Well in all areas in rocky areas in various Upazilas of the Bandarban district are all included in this project.

Other programs to reduce poverty include growing cashew and coffee in the CHT region, as well as managing water supply and sanitation in the Khagrachari district’s marketplaces and surrounding neighborhoods. establishing and executing the network, which at the moment serves as the main access point for the residents of the three hill districts of Rangamati, Bandarban, and Khagrachari to get essential social services.

The Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord recognized the hill people’s unique status and dignity. A regional council made up of the local government councils of the three hill districts has been established in accordance with the peace deal.

The Regional Council is organized as follows: Chairman 1, Native American Member 12, Native American Woman 2, Native (Non-Indigenous) Male 6, Non-Indigenous Member, Female 1. The accord asks for the creation of a Ministry of Tribal Affairs, headed by one tribe, to regulate operations concerning the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Their land will be returned if the tribes’ land ownership rights are established. In order to ascertain who owns the property, a land survey system will be implemented in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Every home of the tribal people is now filled with educated young people. The literacy rate of Chakmas is 96 percent on average, with at least one employee per household.

The development of tribal people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts is significantly better than that of any outlying area of Bangladesh due to the implementation of quota systems in all jobs, including BCS, priority systems, and quotas for tribal students in all medical schools and universities as well as scholarships in Europe, America, and Australia.

The current prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, is always working to meet the expectations of the residents of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. In the highland areas, the current administration has not implemented any anti-people, anti-democracy measures. The Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board’s chairperson was chosen when the Awami League administration took office.

The Minority Cultural Institutions Bill 2010 and the creation of the Land Commission have been approved by the National Assembly. In the interim, everyone has come to terms with the idea that tribes, minorities, ethnic groups, and communities can safeguard the nation’s integrity. We believe that in order for there to be development, Sheikh Hasina’s efforts to bring about peace must be supported.

The successful execution of numerous ongoing socio-economic development initiatives provides compelling evidence of the need for the Hill Tracts Peace Agreement to be put into effect. The conviction to uphold the rights of all citizens as stated in the peace agreement must be put into action, but the hill-Bengalis must work together to do so.

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