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Kashmir and UN’s Responsibility to Protect

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Sovereign states are expected to act as guardians of their citizen’s security, but what happens if states behave as criminals towards their own people, treating sovereignty as a license to kill? Should tyrannical states be recognized as legitimate members of international society and accorded the protection afforded by the non-intervention principle? Non-Intervention is commonly understood as the norm in international society since Peace of Westphalia 1648 , but should military intervention be permissible when governments massively violate the human rights of their own citizens, are unable to prevent such violations, or if states have collapsed into civil war and anarchy?[1] The answer is Responsibility to Protect.

The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is a concept that has emerged recently in international law in response to humanitarian crises the world is facing in post-cold war era. First proposed by a commission convened by Canada in 2001, it was then approved in the United Nation’s 2005 World Summit Outcome, and through UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.[2] It is the doctrine of United Nations according to which UN has assured responsibility to ensure peace throughout the world under Int. humanitarian and Human rights law.R2P is invoked when there is a threat of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.  It confers a responsibility on the international community to prevent mass atrocities. R2P is fulfilled by first warning a state that displays unwillingness to prevent such crimes or an apathy in dealing with them, and can result in a military intervention if deemed necessary over.[3]

In the context of R2P, the biggest concern in South Asia since 1947 is the Kashmir issue. The valley of Jammu and Kashmir is prevailing under the shadow of anarchy, where there is chaos, insecurity, disorder and uncertainty. It is an internationally recognized disputed territory between India and Pakistan, distributed into two parts each is controlled by one state.It is also the bone of contention between India and Pakistan since inception.  Yet, both states fought three full fledge wars, numerous low intensity conflicts and continue border skirmishes. In this matter, the UN has adopted UN Security Council Resolution 47 on 21 April 1948, to resolve the issue of Kashmir. According to the resolution, a plebiscite should be conducted in the region and let the people of Kashmir decided rather they want to join Pakistan or India. According to International Law Kashmir is neither part of India nor Pakistan. But both states have firm national interests in this valley. The recent constitutional changes in India on August 5th of 2019 has worsen the situation and triggered the Kashmir dispute on the edge of complex emergencies which itself requires humanitarian assistance. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked Kashmir’s special status and its constitutional article 370, which provides a special status to Kashmir with a certain amount of autonomy. In simple words India seized the Kashmir diplomatically and politically with the power of soft politics.[4]In his address to the 74th UNGA, Malaysian PM Mohamad Mahathir said: “Now, despite the UN resolution on Jammu and Kashmir, the country has been invaded and occupied.”[5]India did this by deploying around 700,000 army personals in Kashmir over the population of 8 million. After 5 months of curfew since August, India recently changed the status of the valley of Jammu and Kashmir into two different federally administrated unions. The decision was made when most of the political leaders of the valley are under house-arrests and valley is under the siege.

The international community in general and UN in specific has to take certain measure as India is culprit of three misconducts in the valley. First, it decided the remove the special status of Kashmir (unilaterally) that is recognized as disputed territory internationally and this act is also against the UN resolution for Kashmir. Second, this act of India is against the will of the people of Kashmir, as it has been done forcefully and decision is being imposed on the people of Kashmir. The third and most important offense is India carrying out crimes against humanity in the valley. Starting from political repression and suppression of freedom of expression to the killings, sexual abuse and force disappearance, all these actions can be categorized as crimes against humanity. These crimes against humanity have been highlighted by many news agencies such as Al-Jazeera, BBC world, Pakistan Today, Etc.In the words of India’s secular humanist Arundhati Roy: ‘India’s moral position on Kashmir has never, ever been a moral position. It is a kind of moral corrosion that has corroded all of us. And now, now the world is looking at it’. The Indian notion of maintaining Kashmir’s territorial status quo –is eliminating the chances of freedom, protection of basic human rights and Kashmiri’s right to self-determination guaranteed under the UN’s Charter.[6]

According to ex-Pakistani permanent ambassador to UN, Dr Maleha Lodhi,‘’How can this body command the respect it deserves if its own laws are broken?”  UN member nations need some self-examination as to why the Security Council is “reluctant” to refer legal disputes to the International Court of Justice. And if we have no credible answers to these questions except the imperatives of realpolitik, “the world at large will view the United Nations as little more than a political tool in the hand of the powerful few”, if it remains silent on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir despite the promises made to the people of Kashmir through numerous resolutions of this body.  This impression would hardly inspire “trust,” Pakistan Representative to the UN Dr Maleha Lodhi rightly argued. Hence, the UN doctrine R2P demands international attention and rapid response in Kashmir.

However, the doctrine of R2P is complex in its own principles, application and it is wrapped in  power politics[7].  R2P comes under the umbrella of soft law. The identification of R2P in international law may minimize its role and value. Soft law non-binding and represent the wish of the international community with a view to further development in the specific law. The UN still faces challenges regarding the uniformity of its laws in terms of dispute settlement, exclusively in the Kashmir case. It is the issue of ‘’Sovereignty v/s Hypocrisy’’. Sovereignty v/s Hypocrisy under the notion of R2P can be associated with two types of sovereignty, the territorial sovereignty of weak states and the decision making sovereignty of powerful state. India will never allow international community to intervene in its matter especially when it claims Kashmir as a bilateral issue between its bordering Pakistan. It is quite noticeable that the world powers feel awkward and unequipped to intervene in Kashmir conflict because the country involved is too powerful and does not listen to morals and ethics when every state has interest attach with it.[8] R2P is embedded in the tools of national interests, it can apply to Libya or Syria but not In Kashmir due to the great power politics and the competition of hegemony.

India v/s Kashmir is a case of a large country bullying a small nation into submission in violation of not only their right to sovereignty but international agreements and two dozen UN resolutions giving them the right to determine their own political fate. The purpose of so many troops stationed in this small country is no other than obvious oppression. The Indian stance of being a secular state has been shattered due to forceful insertion of Jammu and Kashmir as Gandhi also said “Kashmir is real test of secularism in India”.[9] Their presence makes Kashmir the largest army concentration anywhere in the world, which is itself a major threat to international peace and security.  

On the other side of this coin, we have Pakistan, which also controls one third of Kashmir. The two countries have traded spikes and bullets over possession of this land for over six decades. Nawaz Sharif articulated his country’s policy on September 26, 2014 during his speech at the United Nations: “The core issue of Jammu and Kashmir has to be resolved. This is the responsibility of the international community. We cannot draw a veil on the issue of Kashmir until it is addressed in accordance with the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir”. The words of prime Minister were centered towards the responsibility of International society of states which highlighted the urgency of humanitarian assistance. During 74th session of UNGA, PM Imran Khan delivered historic speech to world leaders and showed the real face of India’s atrocities and violence in Indian occupied Kashmir. Pakistan’s stance is morally and primarily directed towards the freedom of Kashmir based on peace rather than war. Military confrontation by Pakistan is always the reaction of Indian drama in Kashmir. Today Both states hold Lethal nuclear weapons and International community believe that Kashmir will be first place on earth to see nuclear war. In future if situation escalate it will no longer be the issue of humanitarian assistance or intervention but global nuclear security issue. India wants to acquire whole territory of Kashmir, but this military acquisition will not be ignored by consciousness of world political society of states.

Moreover, Ban-Ki-Moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, brings the situation in Kashmir to the attention of the Security Council under the provision of Article 99 of the United Nations Charter.Article 99 authorizes the secretary general to ‘bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security’. Kashmir is no longer the bilateral issue, mass violence and insecurity among the Kashmiris is giving birth to the new version of Hobbesian Anarchy in the occupied territory of Kashmir which will ultimately effect global peace, stability and security[10].

Although, R2P is not binding and carries a normative status, the significance of norms and precedence and customary law cannot be ignored in the continuously changing international system, where human rights regime has become central to state affairs. India is the sole perpetrator of mass killing in Kashmir and the world know this, Sooner or latter this political tussle will bow down towards humanity and abusive conditions of Kashmir will come to an end or simply it will be another failure of United Nations Security Council.

Protection from violence and mass suffering is the core principle of United Nations. It is acting as custodians and guardians of states as well as individuals on every corner of this world. But Why it is silent of Kashmir issue? How long will it take for Kashmiris to attain independence? Is there even a final solution for Kashmir? Was Kashmir, like Palestine, a blunder of British colonizers? Has India backed down on its promises on Kashmir? Is Kashmir the integral part of India? Will there ever be a fair democratic election? Will Kashmiris ever practice the right to self-determination?

In short, will Kashmir ever exist?


[1] John Baylis, The Globalization of world Politics. 2009, P.387

[2] Complex emergencies , David Keen,2013.p54

[3] Hoffman Brown, The rule of Sovereignty.2011, p.23

[4] Dan Cruise, The Indian politics in disputed Kashnmir.2019, p.3

[5]  UNGA 2019 Session.

[6] Self Determination in Kashmir,2009.p.113

[7]  Fareed Zakaria, Hard talks, CNN.2015

[8] Patricia Owens,The Hard Politics of Military.2012.p231

[9] Kashmir and nuclear rivalry by Eric Bolwdin. P.22,

[10] Anarchy and crisis In Kashmir Amit Roi.2008,p.267

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South Asia

Promoting Projects and Practices in Community Health in India

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Street scene in India, August 2020. © UNICEF/Vinay Panjwani

One of the most populated countries in the world, India has been facing problems with regard to well-being of its citizens while sustaining their developmental needs. The need for better health facilities, and developing antidotes for new kinds of pathogens and viruses have made the task more challenging. The respective governments, pharma companies, and testing labs are trying to develop safe trial mechanisms and developing safeguards for protecting the lives of vulnerable sections of society. Within India, the community health programme involves the non-governmental sector, healthcare professionals, economics aspects and social interaction through people and voluntary workers. While the health ecosystem exists, the problem has been finance, support and critical knowledge repository. India did well to address issues such as polio vaccination and creating community awareness for regular medication against tuberculosis. There is a mounting impact of chronic diseases in economic and social sectors, need for quality health services in the wake of changing demographics, and increasing life expectancy have made matters more complex.

In terms of understanding the requirements for building better resilient and health-conscious societies, it is important that the vaccines, lifesaving drugs, and medicines should be developed with certain generalised regulations which can improve the health of the society and address problems faced by people living across regions. While India is a subcontinent comprising of all geographical features, it is also a cauldron of different ethnic communities, and physical features which provides exceptional opportunities for testing and developing medicines which can cater to different physical and pathological profiles of people. Within India, one can find people with different levels of immunity. As the eating and food habits have been different, there is higher incidence of diabetes, hyper tension and cardio diseases in a cross-section of people. It has also been seen that people who are above 40-70 years of age have been more vulnerable to pandemics, and other communicable diseases. A sizeable mortality profile of people suggests that.

In this context it becomes very important that medicines which should be developed should have a better shelf life and give results which can be corroborated with testing facility, with a cross-section of people. The results have usually varied with regard to people with different eating habits and also nutrition factor. Pandemics such as COVID-19 have brought to the fore that India has better resistance mechanisms which has helped in relatively less mortality rate when these people have been infected with COVID-19. The duration of sickness because of COVID -19 has varied from five days to more than three weeks. In such certain times, it has been found that because of lack of any effective medicine or any sure shot diagnostic mechanisms the treatment has prolonged and the recovery has been slow. In terms of legal and other regulatory mechanisms, it has been found that most of the clinical trials which are done in India enroll the vulnerable  and poor people and human trials are conducted. There is a grey area of medical compensation and addressing post-tests complications from legal point of view.

For India it has become imperative to develop projects and conduct feasibility studies through government mechanisms rather than through medical companies. While projects have been undertaken to study different kind of diseases that school children and adults will be facing in the next two decades, it has been found that most of the complications will be related to teeth, eyesight, anxiety and mental well-being. However, in the case of pandemics and community health programmes it has been encouraging signs that initiatives such as creating awareness with regard to AIDS, mental well-being, depression and anxiety disorders have been fruitful and rewarding with institutionalising counselling and telephone helplines. Most of the programs have been done and supported by NGOs as well as a few voluntary organisations.

The projects and programmes which can be initiated in India should address core issues. Firstly, the incidence of non-curable diseases, depression, immunity disorders, other issues related to community transmission, and the development of proper safeguards and awareness with regard to pandemics and life-threatening diseases. Secondly, the COVID-19 has opened a Pandora’s box with regard to the incidence of diseases which impact community, and thereby also affect government health budget. Lastly, it is necessary that India will have to create medical soldiers and inform voluntary workers so that the community transmission and community health well-being should be addressed on a priority level.

As the COVID vaccine is in different trial stages, many countries are looking for testing facility in India and also conduct human trials, as legal structure in medicinal trials is still in infancy. India needs to address the issue of IPR on developing vaccines and medical history should be addressed jointly as it has been found that many western countries have been purchasing medical history of the patients living in developing Asia, providing vaccines through great testing mechanisms and subsequently using copyright laws to deny cheap medicines to the larger community.

 In this regard it is important that India should conduct research on immunity vectors of its population and develop generic drugs which can help in protecting communities from most transmissions. It is also pertinent to note that in terms of the temperature variance across India it provides unique testing opportunities in different conditions. However, there is a need for a holistic approach and therefore it is important that training and sensitisation of the personnel working in this field is of paramount importance. Initiatives related to preventive and therapeutic services is critical. Also, looking for quick alternatives would save the lives of personnel.

Just like any emergency, there is a need for rapid action medical force which can provide immediate assistance and better cognitive abilities track critical illnesses and the reasons thereof. It has been seen in the case of midwifery and associated postnatal diseases that it has worked wonders with a better equipped and knowledgeable person existing in each society for better assistance and awareness.

The critical importance of voluntary workers is that with sufficient technical assistance (which might come from government and state units) gives them confidence and also strengthens their application of knowledge for better informed public health practices and policies. Technical assistance and quick action through centralised control centre has to create the first line of defence in case of a pandemic. 

The institutes which have been working in this field are Public Health Foundation of India, Indian Institutes of Public Health and All India Institute of Hygiene & Public Health, which have been disseminating information through online workshops, seminars, and social media. They have created affiliates and sister agencies working in the field all across India. Networking of public health institutions in medical education need to address issues such as environmental health and countering new kind of diseases which are dominating.

This clearly highlights the fact there is a need for understanding pandemics, developing awareness among communities about public health, and stress on hygienic environment, conducting long term  research on emerging diseases and promoting research in tropical medicine.

India need to allocate separate fund for public health initiatives and promote exchange of medical workers with third world countries for better understanding the nuances of medical and health research. In fact, in most of the think tank meetings, public health and awareness is not listed as topics whenever Track II dialogues are held. There is also a need for better practices in public health, education, and developing health demonstration projects, barefoot nurses and doctors, strengthening an eco-system of education, training, and scholarship. Developing traditional medicine and making it easily accessible should be the bulwark against diseases. Restructuring Community Medicine/ Preventive and Social Medicine colleges which impart this kind of education in developing countries is required as the number is relatively less. Across developing world scholarship in community medicine and hospital administration is low and needs structural financial support. The data collection and diagnostics apparatus need micro management to create better response chain. COVID-19 has provided the reason for public health to be taken as a national initiative.

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Sino-India Himalayan Chess Game: Breakthrough or Stalemate?

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The continuous geopolitical blame game between India and China hasn’t witnessed any positive development with respect to either sides pulling back their respective troops, dragging the recent skirmish even further till winter.

In 45 years, India for the first time has witnessed a conflict-like situation vis-a vis China which witnessed the martyrdom of 20 troops on June 15thand rounds of shot firing in the LAC where the Indian Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed about the PLA first initiating the firing ,after which the two sides have constantly held each other responsible for increased tensions whereas India has tremendously shown goodwill, hopefulness and looking at many factors to keep the ties stable. The year 2020 was supposed to be the 70th Anniversary of Sino-India Cultural ties where unfortunately, the celebrations were overshadowed with this recent border mishap.

The Himalayan Chess- Game

The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s scepticism on the territorial claims and debate on Aksai Chin are not new, which has its roots to the abrogation of article 370, the recently changed rule declaring Ladakh as an integral portion of the Indian Union was unfavourable to the Chinese side, reiterating about India getting into a strategic misadventure by violating their own territorial sovereignty and national interest and the former justifying on those and trying to flex its muscles in the Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Gogra, Kongka La, Depsang.

Border infrastructure is becoming a new method for these two aspiring Asian powers to assert their economic cum political interests with respect to further claiming of territories leading to the road towards being victorious, where the Indian side has further increased its focus viewing the strategic ramifications in the neighbourhood .by providing 8 bridge infrastructure projects each  in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh , which India requires to ensure easy connectivity in harsher terrains, promote tourism, distance reduction in order to reduce time for movement of goods to ensure welfare and safety for troops and natives residing in high terrains which again China suspiciously looked at in its counter statement, blatantly opposing any infrastructure in disputed boundary.

Notable defence experts, Victor Gao and Prem Shankhar Jha, opined that China is aiming at a strategic bargain and believe that this move of the Indian side developing infrastructure in Ladakh could be a counter to the Chinese G219 highway , covering a distance of 179 km connecting Xinjiang and Tibet which is in close proximity with Daulat Beg Oldi, where a 450 metre bridge over the Shlyok river was constructed last year which was only accessible by air before the construction of this project .

Amidst this prolonged crisis, 7 rounds of the India China Military Commander Meetings were held on a frequent basis at the Line Of Actual Control, in order to maintain tranquillity, peace, further enhancement of mutual understandings and deterrence to reduce the chances of an armed conflict, nevertheless there has been no proper agreement and the troops aren’t stepping out from their current positions either side.

Also, even the recent Moscow visits of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Foreign Minister, Mr. S Jaishankar in September for meeting their respective counterparts, haven’t been completely fruitful where they have also held discussions on showing respect towards each other on territorial claims and not cause these ties to deteriorate towards an upper trend which means that no country wants to compromise on its territorial claims and any change in status quo, which has led to unprecedented uncertainty in the relations as of now.

CCP Apprehensions of an Alliance

Chinese scholar, Fu Xiaoqiang , in his article, stated about India creating unnecessary tensions in the border leading to further straining of relations which are motivated by selfish political agendas. He also felt that India is being persuaded by the US to join an alliance like structure such as the Quadrilateral Initiative and set preferences with respect to choosing friendships with countries such as Japan and Australia, which have a common perception likewise India, regarding China as a potential competitor in the region.

Currently, China is fearing any conflict or alliance like structure with respect to its role in spreading the pandemic for which it was hiding its strategy, due to which these justifications are being used by Xi Jinping to protect his own image in the masses so that no crisis or dissent arises which could put the Communist Party’s survival and reputation at stake at a time where he is being questioned about the corruption and internal party pressure. There is a reason behind why China is involved in scapegoating on this conflict to show an innocent and a positive image by blaming Indian politicians using nationalism to mobilise the public, narrating their growth story, ideology, rich historical as well as cultural heritage, where the same goes for the dragon’s promotion of their nationalism  as well.

Alliances are important for India but they will take time to come in support if any mishap takes place in the neighbourhood, keeping India under uncertainty with regards to its strategic autonomy, it was following for many decades.  These alliances can be useful only to deter an enemy organising territorial strikes and put the latter on check creating some amount of fear and introspection.

Recently, steps have been undertaken by the Indian government to ban Chinese products and apps due to surveillance plus information threats in security. It is looking towards making itself self-reliant (aatmanirbhar) to reduce any more dependence on countries which have their own interests which could change anytime, if it doesn’t suit them which could be seen through India’s past experiences, where the same mistakes can’t be repeated again like 1962 or 1975, at a time when the multipolar world is moving towards Asian multi-polarity where China is currently at an edge.

Concluding Points

The Chinese feel that the ball is in India’s game to choose between the have’s or have not’s while looking at the opportunity costs involved .The dragon is basically assessing the elephant’s capability and coping strategies in the winter, leading the standoff to be extended even further for which it is crucial for India to enhance its capacity in order to build up on its equipment, give support to the troops and further focus towards economic development in the borders.

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Immediate broad-based Reforms needed in the Political system of Pakistan

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Image source: Pakistan PM’s website

Opposition parties have launched a comprehensive campaign to de-seat the PTI Government by its grand show of power on 16 October 29020 at Gujranwala. All major opposition parties attended the Jalsa, and opposition leaders delivered speeches, criticizing the PTI government and even the military.

In a democratic country, it is common practice for that opposition to criticize the ruling party. Pakistan, with no exception, has a long history of agitations, protests, strikes, criticizing, rallies, blames on the ruling party, from opposition parties. Even PTI also played a very aggressive role as the opposition party in 2014, against the Government of PML-N. It was the longest Dharna in the history of Pakistan, and the first time protesters entered into Parliament house, PTV, Pak. Secretariate and sensitive areas, etc.

But the current behavior of opposition since 16 October is even more severe and blame on Pakistan Military is rather unacceptable. However, PTI ministers are also giving irresponsible statements. The ruling party must maintain political temperature under control. The opposition wanted to create chaos and confrontation, but the ruling party should mild-down the conflicts and manage the situation to complete its tenure. Either the ruling party’s ministers, spokespersons, advisors are unaware of consequences or lacking the understanding of the real issue.

Till this moment, the masses of Pakistan are not convinced with the narrative projected by the opposition parties, but neither happy with the ruling party. The common man is concerned with the issue he faces daily – inflation, price-hike, jobs, health care, education, social justice, and welfare. The ruling party failed to deliver, and the common man kept suffering.

Indeed, the masses do not love opposition, but neither the ruling party. It is their sufferings, which might help the opposition to convince them to stand the Government.

The majority of people are still admiring PM Imran Khan and believe that he is honest and a man of integrity. Yet, he failed to recover the economy or provide any relief to the common man. He was unable to recover to looted money from corrupt politicians of past governments. He also failed to punish the national criminals too. However, the people of Pakistan acknowledges his contribution toward foreign policy, Kashmir issue, and International relations, where Pakistan’s narrative was projected appropriately and improved the county’s image.

The people of Pakistan think that all wrongdoings by the ruling party are due to his wrong cabinet,  nothing to do with PM Imran Khan himself. His economic team, imported and landed by helicopter, are failed to revive the national economy. Although the oil prices in the international market have dropped to record low levels, even minus yet, Pakistan could not improve its economy. Even due to the Pandemic, Global Financial Institutions have extended a helping hand, yet, Pakistan could not improve its economy. The Sugar crisis or Wheat crises are traced back to the ruling elite, and responsible is sitting on the right and left side of PM.

The intellectuals of the nations think that PM Imran Khan might be a pious person. Still, he is responsible for selecting his team – consisting of foreign nationals, dual nationals, elect-ables, corrupts, and incompetents ministers and advisors. It was his choice, and he could have refused to take anyone into his team if he was not satisfied fully. If there were some pressures from certain quarters, he should stand against such pressure. He should have judged the person before admitted into his team. He knows the importance of merit, and he has announced on several occasions the importance of merit. Even though if he misjudged anyone and admitted into his team, but it is never too late; as soon as he understands the person and found unsatisfactory, he can change immediately.

The country is passing through a very critical era, the geopolitics are changing too rapidly, challenges are enormous, and time is too short. Pakistan can not afford the luxury of any mistake anymore. The nation needs unity, the right policies, appropriate reforms, legislations, merit, and consistent hard-work. Attention may not be diverted and struggle with a clear focus and pre-set goals. Divide, intolerance, extremism, corruption, incompetency are the curse for a nation, must be averted.

Although PM Imran Khan is a visionary leader and has all the leadership qualities to lead the nation, but alone may not be able to achieve anything. A strong team, equipped with knowledge, wisdom, patriotism, honesty, and integrity, needs the time. Reforms based on proven successful experience, addressing the futuristic issues are required urgently. The nation has the potential to revive its past glories.

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