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Republic and Delhi’s hate-fueled rhetoric on British shores

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Friday prayers in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir. © John Isaac

Freedom of speech is a basic human need. In spite of what goes on the ground, it is universally protected across national borders. But just like everything pure, freedom of speech is being corrupted by hate speech. An immediate response is required from governments to take a stance and curb its after-effects.

This puts Pakistan in a precarious situation. The first country was the first to be formed in the name of religion. The independence from British rule put it in the centre of Afghanistan, Iran, China and India. It is the melting point of different cultures and traditions. 

Since the division of the subcontinent, Pakistan and India have been engaged in three wars. Meanwhile, verbal between the two neighbouring states have continued over Kashmir. Islamabad has given China access to Shaksam valley, part of the Pakistan administered Kashmir. India has not agreed with the access and still stakes its claims to it. Kashmir being the disputed land and is the most militarized area on the whole planet, gives access to Pakistan in east and China gets access to the Arabian sea and Indian ocean, in essence, the world! 

The geography of the region makes it interesting. India, China and Pakistan meet at Siachen glacier, which is the second-largest non-polar glacier in the world. This is probably the most tensed border in the world. With Gwadar port being under massive renovations allows Pakistan access to the Indian ocean directly without India blocking its way and entering into Indian’s jurisdiction of the Arabian Sea. Pakistan with Chinese alliance is strengthening the country’s position for international transport and independence in its course.

Through careful manoeuvring of the law, the status of Kashmir changed over time. Making it more arguable but less tensed. It was agreed upon as disputed land, mentioned as Pakistan occupied, and Indian occupied. To care for the sensitivities of people attached to the land of Kashmir it went through another adjustment hence calling it, Pakistan administered part, and Indian administered region.

During all this time, verbal battles in media have been militarised through certain poignant ethics. At the centreare laws for freedom of speech and the grey area of hate speech. Recent legislative changes in India and the government’s use of media as a propaganda tool has boiled over.

Emotions bear no borders and obey no authorities. Recently, Republic TV’s prime time show “Poochta Hai Bharat” was accused by UK media regulators for Hate Speech and the show is now banned in the country. It was imposed a fine of $27,103 (€22,200) on the license holder of pro-government Indian news channel, Republic TV, for breaching broadcasting code.

According to its schedule, the program was, to begin with a discussion over the topic of India’s attempt to land a spacecraft on the moon and all the same time it also included an extended debate over India-Pakistan relations. Among so many other things, the show somehow managed to include guests’ sentiments or India’s space programme, the Kashmir issue, and “Pakistan’s alleged involvement in terrorist activities against Indian targets”. All in one.

UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom said that the show had violated sections 2.3, 3.2 and 3.3 of the Broadcasters’ Code by airing material that included “hate speech, abusive and derogatory treatment of individuals, groups, religions or communities and offensive content”. Ofcom’s report “found that this program contained uncontextualized hate speech and that this content was potentially highly offensive.”

In its decision, Ofcom based its decision on: “Due to the serious nature of these breaches we are considering imposing a statutory sanction”. The ruling was simple and straightforward as the program, host, and the guest went in the flow of hate and conveniently managed to express their views for Pakistani people as pure and absolute terrorists. 

Arnab Goswami’s hate-fueled rhetoric will be remembered for this: “We make scientists, and you make terrorist.” And “their scientists, doctors, their leaders, politicians all are terrorists, even their sportspeople, every child is a terrorist over there. You are dealing with a terrorist entity.” 

One guest also described Pakistani scientists as “thieves,” while another described Pakistani people as “beggars”. Just going ten minutes in the program and you find General K. K. Sinha comment:  “an expression of hatred and desire to kill by a figure of authority” and would express his wish for violence against the Pakistan as he continues to say, “We will douse you with 1.25kg, .75kg-, with two inches. PoK (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir), PoK, we are coming to the PoK. We are coming to the Gilgit, Baltistan, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa… We are going to come, be ready. People in your country are shivering with fear that the Indian army may come. We will barge inside your home in Baluchistan, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in Karachi, in your area, in Multan, in Rawalpindi and kill you. From Lahore, from Karachi to Gilgit-Baltistan when we will have control.”

Spreading the words of hate and intent for violence against every Pakistani, just on the base of their nationality was openly accepted and raised by participants of the program. Ofcom has to be lauded in its decision as it tries to nip this in the bud.  

“We considered however that these statements, made by a retired Major General from the Indian Army, which clearly threatened that the Indian military would attack Pakistani civilians in their homes, were an expression of hatred and desire to kill by a figure of authority. In our view, the broadcast of these statements also promoted hatred and intolerance towards Pakistani people.”

“We considered these statements to be expressions of hatred based on intolerance of Pakistani people based on their nationality alone, and that the broadcast of these statements spread, incited, promoted and justified such intolerance towards Pakistani people among viewers,” the regulator added.

In addition to the program referring to Pakistanis as “terrorists,” “beggars,” “thieves” and “backward,” as well as comparing them to donkeys, they were also referred to as “Paki.”

Due to the intense debate by the retired general of India and his intentions were clear to incite violence against Pakistani people. For this reason, the channel is directed not to repeat the program.  

However, Worldview Media brushed it aside and claimed certain sentences were mere figure of speech, not to be taken literally. But when words are spoken the get out of the control of their bearer. As many ears it falls on, as many meanings it may generate, and the consequences will be felt equally by the world either it was Asian phrases or any other language.  

Not to forget that this is the third time that Ofcom has found Republic breaching its broadcasting code, and it is the first time that the regulator has issued a fine. Ofcom has taken a stance to a “a racist term that is highly offensive and unacceptable to a UK audience.”

The only positive note that thing came after the fine and sanctions is that the network would ensure content relating to Pakistan and India will be reviewed before broadcast along with other steps. While British audiences will get a reprieve from the hate speech of Republic TV, the channel will probably continue its rhetoric in other areas.  

The channel was launched with the favor of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and had Hindu nationalism at its center in 2017. The host Arnab Goswami has been accused of using very irresponsible language and aggressive debates that are inflammatory and often deemed Islamophobic.

Interestingly, this is not the channel’s only brush with the law. Earlier this month, the chief executive of Republic Media Network was arrested in the Indian city of Mumbai for allegedly manipulating viewership for its channels.

For residents of Pakistan and India, embroiled in local and international politics, another war seems to be on the horizon. The borders of both countries are secure and the new front is on social media, which has a greater impact on the psychology of people and their real lives. Hate begets hate and our words have become our responsibility.

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South Asia

Floods; A Challenge to Comprehensive National Security of Pakistan

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Starting mid-June 2022, flooding and landslides caused by heavy monsoon rainfall have brought widespread destruction across Pakistan. © WFP/Saiyna Bashir

Pakistan is encountering one of the major catastrophic occurrence in the present day history. The colossal floods, along with the glacier melt, have prompted 33% of the nation to submerge underwater with more than a million individuals being displaced along with a loss of above 43 billion.  The rising recurrence of floods, outrageous rainfall, and heatwaves have moved environmental change from a hypothetical conversation to an intense burden on the country and its people. Looking at the human perspective, the losses are too grave to quantify. However, in political terms, they address the missing area of climate security in the state’s national security paradigm, which could present existential difficulties for Pakistan.

Pakistan’s comprehensive national security is under stress by the adverse consequences of outrageous weather events across different areas. It isn’t just about financial security versus traditional security any longer. Comprehensive National Security can never be comprehensively achieved because national power comprises of all components and assets that facilitate the state to pursue interests. Hence, all these components, resources, and areas form the crux of what we call comprehensive security. Subsequently, to address the existence of multiple threats, an extensive perspective on national security is expected with an equivalent focus on all areas, while prioritizing climate security because of its seriousness and immediacy. The grave economic losses may be quantified in the long run but societal and political impacts also cannot be ignored. Pakistan’s representative of UNICEF, Abdullah Fadil reposts that “At least 18000 schools have been damaged in the flood, which have affected an estimated 16 million children. Many children are now at heightened risk, without a home, school or even safe drinking water. There is therefore a risk of many more child deaths.” International experts, humanitarians and Social workers visiting Pakistan have termed it as one of the largest catastrophe of the modern history. South Asian expert Michael Kugelman states “that the only hope within the flood victims is the International aid but it is slow to come”. The international world needs to respond to the aid appeals as a collective responsibility rather than a favor to Pakistan because the climate change crisis is largely driven by the world’s most industrialized countries.

The 2022 floods in the country have uprooted entire communities, finished occupations and revenue generation sources, and have drastically expanded migrations inside the country and levels of urbanization. Assume relief projects are not comprehensive and the impacted population feels that they have not been accommodated Post-catastrophe which they themselves didn’t create.  Considering all this, their confidence in the legitimacy or administering authority of the state could be antagonistically affected, creating threats of mass unrest. Destroyed homes, displacement within the country, and temporary camp-like arrangements have a potential of posing critical identity challenges and meanwhile create financial instabilities among impacted communities. Such aftereffects severely hurt the societal and political segments of security, undermining comprehensive national security. Such extreme climatic disasters account for short term reliefs along with long-term impacts on the resources of state. Increased displacement within the country, increased poverty with unemployment rate on the surge creates huge risks which directly impact the comprehensive national security. Violence against women tend to rise, Children drop out of school as there exists no infrastructure, food security is challenged, health security is badly endangered and quality of human life declines in a worst possible way. Extremists, Proxies and non-state actors may capitalize on resentment felt by the displaced. In short, human security is challenged in all basic forms.  So when human security is challenged, how can a state achieve comprehensive national security which itself places human as a center point.

Another challenge which is indirectly affiliated with the climate change is directed towards military. Pakistan’s military has played a crucial and a comprehensive role in flood through its rescue efforts, humanitarian relief and rehabilitation process. Military has rendered sacrifices in these flood operations especially when a Corps Commander along with senior officers embraced martyrdom in the Lasbela district in Balochistan while overlooking relief activities. The IPCC report itself states that Pakistan’s Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) will only increase over time. Military resources being expended to HADR will obviously take away military’s attention away from hardline security issues and put it under increased management stress in times to come.

It can be asserted that the comprehensive national security is under stress by the negative impacts of horrific weather incidents across the various sectors of the society. It isn’t only about economic security versus the traditional security anymore, because today what constitutes the national power and comprehensive national security isn’t only the traditional and economic security but all societal elements form a collective part of this comprehensive framework. Thus, a comprehensive outlook of national security is required with equivalent focus on all sectors, with a priority on climate and food security due to its immediacy.

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Political Scientist: Taliban Rule will not bring Afghanistan to the Stability and Development

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The evidence suggests that the Taliban movement cannot stabilize Afghanistan and does not want to fight international terrorism that threatens the region and stability globally.

The day before, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a report on Afghanistan, citing increasing security problems. For example, the paper states that foreign terrorist groups remain in the country. “The security situation reveals a worrisome trend in recent months, particularly the series of attacks by ISIL-K, recurring armed opposition clashes with Taliban de facto security forces and the continuing presence of foreign terrorist groups in Afghanistan,” the UN Secretary General’s report says. The report also declared that the US statement on the elimination of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul “highlighted the ongoing ties between the terrorist group and the Taliban, which go against the latter’s obligations to combat terrorism.”

At the same time, the Taliban claims that there are no more terrorist groups in Afghanistan. “We will never allow anyone to pose a threat from Afghanistan to other countries,” Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Thakur said.

It should be pointed out that the leader of Al-Qaeda was destroyed in the guarded central district of Kabul, where international organizations, diplomatic missions and administrative facilities are located. It is pretty tricky to assume that the leadership of the Taliban movement was not aware of the presence of this terrorist. If the Taliban security forces did not know that Zawahiri was hiding in Kabul, they would not control the situation even in the heart of Afghanistan. If we assume the opposite, the Taliban’s policy of supporting or, at least, reluctance to fight international terrorist organizations is apparent. Recall that the Taliban promised the international community to fight international terrorism more actively in exchange for humanitarian aid and possible recognition of their regime in the future.

Moreover, it gives the impression that the main sponsor of the Taliban, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, has lost control of the movement. It is obvious that organizations similar to the Taliban cannot function successfully without foreign economic, military and political assistance. The Pakistani military, particularly the ISI, took part in creating the Taliban movement in the 1990s and patronized them all this time. It is known that there are many Islamabad henchmen in the Taliban leadership, and either radicals or Pakistanis do not hide close ties and contacts. However, neither the Pakistanis nor other players can exert pressure on the Taliban. At least, the political pressure that is being exerted now by the international community is not enough: the Taliban do not show a desire to begin the fight against terrorism.

In the theory of political science and international relations, I am unaware of cases when similar regimes have gained success and contributed to the long-term development of their countries, societies and regions. In this regard, it can be considered that the Taliban and their patrons must significantly and profoundly transform their guidelines, ideology and management strategies. Otherwise, as experience shows, in the future, similar regimes end badly, which affects the stable development and position of their countries and nations.

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World ‘must engage’ or risk Afghanistan’s collapse

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A woman walks through a corridor in a village in Zindajan district, Afghanistan. © UNICEF/Shehzad Noorani

“Patience is running out” for many in the international community when it comes to effectively engaging with Afghanistan’s de facto rulers, the Taliban, senior UN envoy for the country, Markus Potzel, told the Security Council on Tuesday.

Despite some positive developments over the past few months, the Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan said they have been “too few and too slow and they are outweighed by the negatives”.

Women’s rights

He drew attention to the ongoing ban on girls’ secondary education and growing restrictions on women’s rights, as “signals that the Taliban are indifferent to more than 50 per cent of the population” and are willing to risk international isolation.

“The relegation of women and girls to the home not only deprives them of their rights, but Afghanistan as a whole is denied the benefit of the significant contributions that women and girls have to offer,” he detailed.

Terrorism concerns ‘dismissed’

Meanwhile, from armed clashes to deadly terrorist attacks, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has monitored a steady rise in security incidents by terrorist groups and others.

“Our earlier warnings about the capabilities of Islamic State Khorosan Province (ISKP) were dismissed by the Taliban”, he told ambassadors.

“But ISKP has demonstrated in the last few months alone that it can carry out assassinations of figures close to the Taliban, attacks against foreign embassies, as well as fire rockets across Afghanistan’s border to attack its neighbours – all while maintaining its long-standing sectarian campaign against Shia Muslims and ethnic minorities,” said Mr. Potzel.

Provincial rights violations

And armed clashes are continuing between Taliban security forces and armed opposition groups in the Panjshir, Baghlan, Kapisa, Takhar, and Badakhshan provinces, the UN envoy continued.

“There are disturbing reports, as well as videos and photos, indicating possible serious human rights violations committed in Panjshir,” he said, calling for an investigation into allegations of extra-judicial killings there.

The mission will continue to carefully monitor these and other reports of serious human rights violations, he added.

UN bolstering cash economy

As per capita income has collapsed to 2007 levels – erasing 15 years of economic growth – the country’s economic situation “remains tenuous” (with little detail forthcoming from the Taliban) due in part to Afghanistan’s isolation from the international banking system.

Liquidity remains heavily dependent on the cash that the UN continues to bring in for humanitarian operations – cash, I must stress, that supports the needs of the Afghan people and does not directly reach the de facto authorities,” said Mr. Potzel.

But even the funding is uncertain as the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan has only received $1.9 billion out of a $4.4 billion requirement.

No representation

Humanitarian and economic measures will not meet the Afghan people’s longer-term needs, and the emergency aid cannot replace essential service delivery systems, such as health and water, or hold off an economic collapse, he warned.

Moreover, a continued lack of political inclusivity and transparency in decision-making leave most Afghans without any government representation.

“There are no consistent mechanisms for citizens to provide feedback to the authorities and little indication that the Taliban wish to even hear any,” the UN envoy said.

‘We have to engage’

While the Taliban’s self-identified emirate has not been recognized by any State, the international community also does not want to see the country collapse, Mr. Potzel stressed.

“If the Taliban do not respond to the needs of all elements of Afghan society and constructively engage within the very limited window of opportunity with the international community, it is unclear what would come next,” said the Deputy Special Representative.

“Further fragmentation, isolation, poverty, and internal conflict are among the likely scenarios, leading to potential mass migration and a domestic environment conducive to terrorist organizations, as well as greater misery for the Afghan population.

“That’s why we have to engage”, he declared, adding that “continued qualified engagement” was the most realistic way of helping the Afghan people.

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