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Attitudes and policies of international and regional organizations need to change

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Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, UN Photo/Cia Pak

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid a state visit to New York from September 19 to 24 to attend the 76th session of the UN General Assembly and to participate in various high-level events. She returned to the country on October 1 after completing his stay in Washington DC from September 25 to 30. She answered various questions of the journalists at a press conference in the presence of senior journalists of the country at Ganobhaban on October 4.

She told a news conference that the actions of many international organizations show that they are not very interested in sending the Rohingya back to their homeland in Myanmar. The Prime Minister further said that there are many organizations which are always responding well to the solution of the Rohingya crisis. Again some agencies do not show that interest in the question of repatriation. The Prime Minister has rightly raised the issue because that is the reality now. If this continues, the resolution of the Rohingya crisis will be protracted, which will not be good for Bangladesh.

The refugee problem poses a threat to the security and development of any country. When refugees stay in Turkey or when Afghan refugees stay in Pakistan, there is a crisis. When the Palestinians are in different countries, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, we see a kind of crisis in those countries that provide asylum. There are refugees in many countries of the world, each of whom has a state.

Nevertheless, the Rohingya in Myanmar are one of the most oppressed, persecuted people in the world, who did not become refugees after a war. Rather than war, they have taken refuge in Bangladesh as victims of genocide and ethnic cleansing. There is enough reason for such an oppressed people, who have no state, to think internationally.

Bangladesh has given shelter to a very vulnerable nation deprived of its civil rights. As a result, Bangladesh is facing various problems. But the view of the international community, various international organizations or various domestic non-governmental organizations on the Rohingya crisis is not very promising for us. As a result, the attitude of many towards these organizations is very negative. That is what our Prime Minister has tried to say. It is a kind of misleading talk about such displaced people without repatriation or permanent solution to the crisis, without considering the risks and problems of the asylum-seeking state.

On the other hand, we are also noticing a permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis. Not only that, there is a tendency of various international organizations to impose on Bangladesh a kind of imaginary, unrealistic thinking about Rohingyas. For example, many international organizations or important countries want Bangladesh to accept Rohingyas permanently. Such talk is very unfortunate for Bangladesh, which can not be desirable in any way.

However, no action has been taken or is being taken against the country that has carried out genocide and extreme human rights violations against the unarmed people. But why? Rohingyas have been forced to come to Bangladesh due to ethnic cleansing by the Myanmar government. So where does the world stand against the Myanmar government after all this? Or what role did the international community or organizations play in that country? In fact they did nothing. What happened was that crimes like genocide, torture, oppression, genocide were indulged.

The kind of pressure that the international community needs to put on Myanmar to solve the Rohingya problem, the kind of action that needs to be taken against Myanmar, has not been taken. This step will be taken not only by the United Nations and some other states, but also in a coordinated manner. Various international organizations, regional organizations and civil society organizations in different countries or various non-governmental organizations are not playing a proper role in this regard. But the problems should not be kept alive at all by their irrational attitude. What I want to emphasize is that because of the world community’s point of view, because of these problems, because of policy, they should come out of that point of view.

There may be some talk about Myanmar from different international levels.  But we do not see the need to keep up the pressure on Myanmar on the Rohingya issue. Those who have endangered the lives of these people, pushed them to the brink of crisis, that is, the Myanmar government or the military junta, are not moving in any way out of this crisis. In fact, Myanmar does not seem to have a problem with the Rohingya. So we should give importance to this place because this crisis is taking shape for Bangladesh.

As we can see, the modern and world-class shelter camp that Bangladesh has built in Bhasanchar with its own funds has also been questioned. It has been said that Bhasanchar is far away or it is not suitable and so on. Later they realized that the modern standard shelter camp at Bhasanchar was very useful. So why didn’t they understand six months ago? In other words, they are already having a negative attitude. Such attitudes should be avoided.

We do not see the role that the world community should play in resolving the Rohingya crisis in a lasting way and in returning their civil rights to Myanmar. On the contrary, the world community is talking and doing things that would only prolong the problem and keep it alive. In view of the situation, it seems that such activities are being carried out to keep the problem on the shoulders of Bangladesh.

We also see a kind of activity regarding the recent assassination of Rohingya leader Muhibullah. The murder took place inside Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s law enforcement is investigating the killings extensively and a solution will surely emerge. But it also shows that a kind of pressure is being put on Bangladesh.

Where Bangladesh is the most affected party in the Rohingya issue, the world community is pressuring for the murder of a Muhibullah! These are matters we should consider. Not just considerations, but should be vocal about it. Only by speaking out can we take a proper approach to tackling or resolving the Rohingya crisis.

The Prime Minister may have openly highlighted the role of international and non-governmental organizations in the Rohingya crisis. The main point of his speech is that domestic, regional and international organizations and various parties are not fulfilling their responsibilities for a lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis. Because their main target should be to ensure that these oppressed people return to Myanmar at any cost.

Forcing Myanmar on the Rohingya, helping to create an environment there and now is the time to do it. This is what the Prime Minister has indicated. Myanmar’s military has staged a military coup overnight, ousting its ally, Aung San Suu Kyi, and ruling the country. So far, more than 1,100 anti-military protesters have been killed by Myanmar’s military junta. Not only that, they are carrying out a horrific torture campaign inside Myanmar, especially against the Rohingya.

It is very important to put pressure on that state and take action against them. We do not see that the regional community is paying enough attention to this work. The same is true of the international community, the United Nations, and various regional organizations. They are playing some role in resolving the Rohingya; But they are not playing the role they should be. In some cases, they are walking in the opposite direction. If they really want to work for the endangered population, to establish the human rights of the Rohingya, then first of all they need to ensure that they return to Myanmar. They should highlight the kind of damage that is being done to Bangladesh by sheltering a large number of Rohingyas.

What kind of security threats and risks have been created for Bangladesh due to the sheltering of Rohingyas, the economic and environmental damage is being done – the issues are not raised in the reports of international and regional organizations. The Prime Minister has given importance to these issues. I think the issue should be realized from the civil society as well. There needs to be a re-orientation or a change of perspective on the whole crisis.

The regional crisis that is being created as a result of this problem, which is having a lot of negative effects internationally, should be reflected in the activities of various international and regional organizations, the issue should be highlighted. Only then I think Bangladesh will see a glimmer of hope in resolving the Rohingya crisis.

Tareq Hasan, is an independent political analyst who writes on politics, public policy, political and human centred figures, diplomacy and current national, and international affairs.

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South Asia

The Taliban Finally Granted Permission to the Former President Karzai to leave Afghanistan

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Former President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai. (Express photo by Nirupama Subramanian)

Based on the information, the former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, was permitted to leave the country. At a time, when online meetings between Sohail Shaheen and American representatives are going on in connection with the start of intra-Afghan talks in Doha, The former president of the country, Hamid Karzai, was allowed to exit the country for the first time after August 15, 2021, when the Taliban took over. Nevertheless, it is not yet known when he will start his overseas trip, but his only purpose is to get preparation for the start of Intra-Afghan talks in Doha and to meet with American officials and foreign Afghan politicians. Since the end of October and the beginning of November, there are reports narrating that telephone calls are being made between President Hamid Karzai, and the US special representative for Afghanistan, Thomas West.

Besides, the persons are preparing for future negotiations, the re-established relationship between the former president Karzai and the CIA took place, when a CIA undercover intelligence officer met Karzai sometimes back, when he represented himself as an International media reporter. Sources suspect that the undercover agent interviewed the president under the auspices of a well-known German based Der Spiegel Magazine.

According to the information, former President Hamid Karzai will fly to Germany, while meeting with the CIA officials at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Meantime, the former President Hamid Karzai will meet with some high-ranking officials of Germany and then have separate meetings with Western politicians and intelligence officers. Furthermore, after that, President Hamid Karzai will meet with the American ambassador to lay out the strategy for the potential negotiations.

 Currently, there is a lot of confusion in the Mandigak palace in Kandahar province, where Taliban Spiritual leader and the decision making hub located and it is said that there have been serious discrepancies  regarding allowing him to go abroad. However, Sheikh Haibatullah’s position is still neutral about his exit, while negotiating with his advisors to make a final decision in the upcoming days.

Nonetheless, there are no other specific differences regarding the permission. It is only the low-ranking Taliban fighters, who demand the precise judgement of the Taliban’s leader in this concern; In addition, some Taliban leaders are also unhappy about the whole process, especially the former members of the Quita Council of Taliban.

Now the ball is in the Taliban’s ground, whether they are ready to comply with the demands of the international community, by transferring the power to a transitional government or not, and to get along with the United States and get onboard the international community support. Definitely, it causes further splintering among Taliban groups and ISKP will use it as an opportunity to recruit Taliban fighters, while paving the way for regrouping in Khorasan Province the IS so-called territory.

The ISKP long before blamed Taliban for being ‘’ Rafeda’’, while simultaneously cooperating with the US, Russia, China and Iran for their political ambitions.  To conclude, the Afghan people will not accomplish a lasting peace and sustainable economic developments, since the country will turn into a new battle filed among countries, which have stake in Afghanistan.

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The Charisma and Chaos of Imran Khan

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PTI Chairman Imran Khan gestures at the march participants as his convoy arrives in Gujranwala on November 1, 2022. — Instagram

The chances of Imran Khan winning the elections of 2018 were quite murky. Despite his unparalleled fan base and populist rhetoric appeals to the young, and labor class of Pakistan, the legitimacy of his government is marred with allegations of fraud, rigging, and exploitation.

Some argue that his candidacy was a marketing tactic used by the ‘Establishment’ in Pakistan to form a government that is rather weak and dependent so that the ‘Establishment’ can continue its control over domestic security issues including the Nuclear escalation and relations with India.

But by and large, Khan won the elections.

Maybe it was the stardom attached to the name ‘Imran Khan’ and Pakistanis not wanting to confide in the same faces ruling them for centuries.

Maybe it was the mismanagement and violence that marred election day with unfathomable delays in result declaration in metropolis cities, coupled with post-poll manipulation.

Maybe it was the judicial-military nexus, that placed all the votes in the right places by not allowing voters to use their will during elections.

Maybe it was the 7 years-old narcotics case hearing moving forward against the stalwart of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Hanif Abbasi, giving him a life sentence in a rare late-night session of court, four days ahead of the elections that effectively knocked PML-N out of the race.

But the deal was done and can’t be undone and Imran Khan became the Prime Minister of Pakistan, for better or worse.

Khan the Celebrity

Pakistani nationals were victims of the financial crisis, unemployed people, those who lost their homes, and who were in debt; these people felt like the two parties ruling Pakistan for centuries had destroyed their country’s economy.

Imran Khan, with his humongous stardom as an athlete and philanthropist, seemed like the only ‘Messiah’ that could save them from all the atrocities they were facing.

Though, a significant number of votes were cast in favor of PML-N but not in the places that would have locked the win. So Imran Khan, persuaded the angry Pakistanis, the youth, and the labor class who were fed up with being handed over in trade deals with other nations.

Khan, a socialite that he was, knew how to connect with these agitated masses. Their grievances were clear as a day and so he gave them pretty promises wrapped up in his vibrant rallies filled with catchy songs. His huge social media presence along with the ‘Naya Pakistan’ slogan further amplified his staunch.

But there lies a challenge as to why Khan became the top highlight of this era. To many who were tired of politicians filling their own pockets, and amid the corruption charges on Nawaz Sharif, Khan’s celebrity status, his colorful personality, his promise of a corruption-free Pakistan, and his unconventional ‘Don’t Panic’ attitude – all of this made Khan seem like the only option who would deliver a better life and nation and, if not that, then at least would be the eradicator of what Pakistan had become.

Khan the Totalitarian

The other side of the coin sees Imran Khan as a narcissist, self-centered, and power-hungry mogul. After achieving his eternal craving of becoming the Prime Minister, he hardly showed any respect for the institutions of the country. More often than not he refused to attend the sessions of Parliament, with his excuse being the presence of members of the opposition party whom he referred to as ‘Crooks’ and ‘Chors’ (thieves).

This resulted in laws, instead of passing through an ordinary law-making process, being passed through presidential ordinances, with very limited power. We can clearly say that these laws were passed without debate, consensus, and thorough examination, negating the very foundation of constitutional requirements.

Additionally, Khan likes to fabricate stories in his speeches, a lot. In this vein, he brings down any democratic provision that proves him wrong, including targeting political parties on concocted charges of corruption; sustained attacks on the media; undermining law authorities, even the Supreme Court is not exempted from his allegations.

Through the abrogation of rule of law, irresponsible remarks about institutions, and disdain toward democracy, Khan himself created a fragile parliamentary system, which then collapsed on him. Not only this, but he has fractured the already dwindling democracy of Pakistan into a whole new level.

Khan the Leader

Khan came onto the political scene when Pakistan was facing a volatile situation both at home and abroad, coupled with the tensions going on with the Americas, and the rampant inflation, he was still able to take some impressive measures. His work related to health, relief programs, house loans, the environment, entrepreneurship, and the COVID response is admirable.

In addition, his billion tree tsunami and the building of several small dams initiated an environment-friendly drive in the climate change-affected country. But was he able to deliver on the ‘Promises’ made to the nation? Absolutely Not.

Perhaps he should have paid more attention to the cabinet as the abrupt changes in the system dwindled the confidence of investors in Pakistan’s economic machinery. His careless handling of some important economic programs including the CPEC decelerated the capital influx that caused the GDP to drop considerably.

To top it all off, Pakistan, in 2021 dropped from 124th place to 140th place according to Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), leaving an ugly mark on Khan’s corruption eradication promises on which he has led the foundation of his political career. Maybe he should have abided by the agenda of progression in order to gear up his performance instead of getting involved in blame and shame politics.

Khan the funambulist

The important reason why Khan has a cult following in Pakistan is his unfiltered and raw opinions about topics like the Americas, and Afghanistan which he keeps casting in his speeches. And, the audience, mostly the social media-induced young generation eats it all up like a sweet concoction, without paying heed to the implications it will bring to the foreign policy of Pakistan.

Khan’s decision to appoint Usman Buzdar, an underqualified and inexperienced newcomer to a vital position in the key city of Punjab pretty much sums up his political foresight. Perhaps, the most interesting yet debatable contrivance of his regime is his relentless attitude toward the United States, no previous Prime Minister of Pakistan was able to say ‘Absolutely No’ to the US as it had many allies in the domestic political platform of Pakistan. This stance of Khan was admired a lot in the country, with the phrase being trending in Pakistan. But the remarks came with ramifications for Pakistan on the international forum. This whole scenario further makes people question his political sanity.

Imran Khan possesses all the characteristics of a populist leader and in Populism: A Very Short Introduction, Cas Mudde says: “Populists are dividers, not uniters” they split society into “two homogenous and antagonistic groups: the pure people on the one end and the corrupt elite on the other.” True to this narration, Khan has divided the nation into two groups of ‘Evil and Good’ people, and the consequences are detrimental to the stability of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Conclusion

To sum it all up, Imran Khan, despite his misgivings, his warts, his narcissism, and his unhinged political views, is still able to reach a class of people that have seen Pakistan erode for centuries and consider him the last hope for the country. But he certainly is not the best choice for democracy as his political understanding is ruined by his self-righteous approach. In this manner, he is no better than former US President Trump who incited his supporters to pass on the U.S. Capitol to forestall the peaceful transition of power after his electoral defeat. It is precise to say that Pakistan has fallen into a deep cauldron and only a Magic Wand can heal it at this point. Though Khan has not singularly created this cauldron, he most definitely is exploiting and feeding on it.

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Chattisgarh Elections 2023: Future of United Progressive Alliance and BJP

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Chattisgarh, the 9th largest state of India by area and 17th most populous state with population of 30 Million will go to votes in upcoming elections in 2023. Chattisgarh saw an electoral shift in 2018 when voters chose INC lead United Progressive Alliance over BJP which was into the power since 2003. The legislative assembly comprises of 90 constituencies and population demography favors the Hindu’s with 93.05%, Muslims are major minority with 2.02% and Christians make up 1.92% of the population of Chattisgarh. The major contenders in the elections are United Progressive Alliance, which came into power in 2018. The major parties in the Alliance are Indian National Congress (INC), Dravida Munnetra Kazghagam, Janta Dal (United), Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party. This alliance faces BJP as major gladiator of the Elections.

INC lead United Progressive Alliance Government

In 2018 elections, United Progressive Alliance defeated BJP in the state to form the government. Previously BJP enjoyed three successive tenures in power. The Alliance proved to be vital in defeating the ex-ruling party and Bhupesh Baghel of INC was sworn in as new CM of Chattisgarh. The newly elected government opted for the developmental model in the state with their activities ranging from sports to health and good governance. The CM gave the vision of ‘Employment Mission’ which aimed at providing 15 lac jobs to people of Chattisgarh. The government provided the masses with the vision of ‘trust, development and security’ in order to remain popular and hence their projects based upon wellness of the general public. The CM started ‘Khelbo-Jeetbo-Gadhbo Nova Chattisgarh’ scheme in order to enhance sports infrastructure and facilities for youth of Chattisgarh. The scheme covered major as well as local games. The government also launched ‘ Makhyamantri Haat Bazar Clinics’ scheme in order to provide and ensure health services in rural and remote areas of the state. This scheme received a lot of praises from the masses during pandemic period. Government also enhanced education sector by setting up more than 600 Hindi and English medium schools. CM launched ‘Swami Atmanand English Medium Education System’ in all districts of the state. The scheme aimed at setting up of the English medium colleges for the students. The government under CM Baghel, also faced severe opposition in form BJP. The BJP criticized government of corruption, farm loans and internal rift among government officials. The CM also survived ‘No Confidence Motion’ tabled by BJP in the legislative assembly in July 2022.

BJP and Caste votes

Caste permutation and combinations have always played a role of dominating factor in the state of Chattisgarh. The state is amalgamation of upper castes, schedule castes (SC), Schedule tribes (ST) and Other Backward Castes (OBCs). The Kurmi’s and Sahu’s dominate upper castes in the state. One third of the population is composed of Scheduled tribes (ST), while Schedule castes (SC) make up 12% of the population and Other Backward Castes (OBCs) are 41% of the population. Upper castes and OBCs have traditionally tilted in the favor of BJP. SC votes have been divided among BJP, INC and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). In 2013 however, BJP swept through 9 out of 10 constituencies of SC reserved seats. Dalit vote bank also has an influential role in elections. There exists around 12% of Dalit vote splitting between BJP and BSP. This vote bank influences 40 constituencies of the state. BJP is also counting upon Sahu’s votes in order to gain power back in upcoming Chattisgarh elections.

Chattisgarh as home ground of Hindutva

Chattisgarh has seen a violent shift when it comes to application of agenda of Hindutva. RSS and its political affiliate BJP have targeted Chattisgarh for Hindutva onslaught. The norms of Hindu identity have gone deep down into the roots of the society. ‘Ghar Wapsi’ scheme is gaining influence in Chandigarh. In March 2022, a ceremony was held and 1250 people returned to Hindu dharma. In states like Odisha, Chattisgarh and Jharkand more than 10,000 people have returned to Hindu dharma. BJP has developed a narrative of targeting Congress for miseries of Hindu’s all around India. Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) an affiliate of RSS has been provided with security umbrella of BJP and it has forced Churches in Chattisgarh to use name of ‘Acharya’ and ‘Up-Acharya’ instead of ‘Father’. VHP has also forced churches to display images and painting of Hindu goddess ‘Saraswati’ in churches. The organization has also forces churches to distribute ‘Prasad’ instead of sweets at the eve of Christmas, thereby attacking the root identities of Christianity in the state. Around the time when BJP formed the government in center in 2014, 5 villages in Bastar district of Chattisgarh were banned for non-Hindu practices. Hindu leaders in Chattisgarh are calling for killing of any individual who tries to convert Hindus into any other religion. The Equation between the minorities and Hindus started changing since 2003, when BJP was installed into power in Chattisgarh. The change has intensified now when BJP is also present in Center. 

Bet on Youth’s vote

The youth vote bank in Chattisgarh can be the turning point in the upcoming elections. The major gladiators BJP and United Progressive Alliance are eyeing the vote share of youth in the state. The initiatives started by the CM Baghel, progressively targets the youth and their development. However, BJP accuses the current INC lead state government of unemployment among the youth. The tussle between the major contenders in the state is pivoted for Youth vote. The saffron party has also targeted youth with the identity confrontation within the framework of Hindutva. However, the INC lead coalition government is centered on the agenda of developmental and governance model for the youth rather than targeting and convincing youth on identity based vote bank. The youth from minority section of the population may opt for INC and United Progressive alliance for the power in state but saffron influenced youth and upper castes are likely to put their weight in BJP’s favor.

Conclusion

Chattisgarh elections 2023 will play a major role in determining the BJPs future in center as well. Chattisgarh has been the power bank for BJP since 2003 but shift in 2018 has taken BJP by shock and surprise. However, upcoming elections can also prove to be referendum of policies applied by BJP at national level. INC will also have to investigate its depth in masses as well. The future of alliance mostly depends upon the INC performance in the state elections. The General Elections can also be strategically targeted by INC in form of alliance and coalition seat shares in order to give tough time BJP which is by far thriving among the masses at national level.

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