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Defense day of Pakistan: A day of introspection

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Every year, the day comes and goes by. This year the Pakistani nation should celebrate Defence of Pakistan Day (Sept 6) as a day of introspection. Let us do some soul searching. India is arming itself to the hilt. Despite economic setbacks due to Covid 19, Indian economy has stayed put. They do not have to go country to country with a begging bowl.

Environment

On this day, we should take stock of Pakistan’s geo-political environment.  What is the plight of the weak Muslim countries? How remorselessly their territorial integrity was trampled by a super power for not toeing the line. India is arming its land and marine forces to the hilt.  She is refurbishing its old assets and stockpiling new equipment. India’s Defence Acquisition Council convened by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh delegated powers to the forces to procure equipment worth up to ‘300 crore under the emergency clause, which does away with the lengthy procurement process that can drag on for years.

Here is a bird’s eye view of India’s arms build-up.

Vikrant aircraft carrier

With the $3 billion Vikrant, India will join only a small number of nations with more than one aircraft carrier or helicopter carrier in service. It has become the third country, after the UK and China, to have commissioned a domestically built aircraft carrier in the past three years.

John Bradford, senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said India’s commitment to the ship reflected its “long-term vision to maintain a world-class naval force.”

“There are looming questions about the survivability of any carrier in the missile age, but major navies, including those of the US, Japan, China and the UK, have doubled their carrier investments.

The Vikrant is India’s first domestically built aircraft carrier. It joins the carrier INS Vikramaditya, a refurbished Soviet-era carrier bought from Russia in 2004, in India’s fleet.

With a displacement of around 40,000 tons, the Vikrant is slightly smaller than the Vikramaditya and the carriers of the US, China and UK though it is larger than Japan’s.

But analysts praised its potential firepower.

When its air wing becomes fully operational over the next few years, it will carry up to 30 aircraft, including MiG-29K fighter jets to be launched from its ski-ramp style deck, and helicopters as well as defensive systems including surface-to-air missiles.

Powered by four gas turbine engines, its top speed is estimated at 32 mph (52 kph) with a range of 8,600 miles (13,890 kilometers). India’s message to its neighbours is “India has the power, it has the aircraft carriers and therefore the air power to dominate the distant reaches of the Indian Ocean”.

The Vikrant has a range of 8,600 miles (13,890 kilometers).

Besides, India is balding Scorpion submarines (costing Rs 20,000 crore) with 11,000 km range being built in India.  These subs can stay at sea for 50 days and can carry missiles, mines and torpedoes to attack surface vessels.

India has eight P-3C Orion long-range maritime patrol aircraft, costing Rs 13000 crore.  They can fly 4,000 km, stay airborne for 12 hours and attack surface targets with missiles or patrol coastline. Add to it procurement of Rafael jets from France.

India has 14 mobile multiple rocket launchers which can carpet bomb targets 90 km away. One hundred air defence missiles, costing over Rs 4,000 crore, to shoot down enemy aircraft. Four hundred 155 mm self-propelled guns, costing over Rs 3,200 crore.  These are howitzers on tank chassis.  They also include wheeled and towed variants like Bofors howitzers.  They provide mobile fire cover for advancing infantry by hitting targets 90 km away.

Nuclear deterrence

Backed up by nuclear cooperation with the USA, India wants to increase its store of thermo-nuclear bombs manifold.  To achieve this aim, it wants to set up new breeder reactors. India has told the USA point-blank that ‘it would not put its breeder reactors under International Atomic Energy Agency’s safeguards’. Already, a 13 MWe Fast Breeder Test Reactor is operational at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) at Kalpakkam. Another 500 MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor is also under construction here. India’s Department of Atomic Energy built four more breeder reactors of 500 MWe capacities.

India has enhanced its cooperation with France in breeder-technology development. Interestingly, France surreptitiously stepped in to supply enriched uranium for the Tarapur-1 and 2 reactors when the U.S. stalled contractual supplies after Pokhran-1 test explosion. Capacity of Kalpakkam fast breeder reactor has been increased from 13 MWe to the 500 MWe.

Breeder reactors develop nuclear energy first by using thermal reactors to produce plutonium and, then using the plutonium with depleted natural uranium, produce more plutonium in the fast breeder reactors. Besides India and France, Russia, Japan, and China have an active interest in fast breeders. Pakistan’s upcoming facility at Khoshab has been blown out of proportion in international media.  But, India’s nuclear enrichment activities are not in focus.

Rising defence outlays

Each year India increases her defence budget manifold to strengthen her nuclear and conventional warfare capabilities. India believes that Pakistan will continue to be forced to increase her defence expenditure each time India increases her defence expenditure. 

India’s assessment is that if she spends 2.5 per cent of her gross Domestic Product on defence, Pakistan would have to spend 13 per cent of GDP to match the Indian military budget in absolute size, Pakistan’s economy being 19 per cent the size of India’s economy. In India’s strategic estimation, even with stable economic growth, Pakistan could only afford to allocate 6.5 per cent of its GDP to defence.  A higher allocation would sap resource potential for sustained growth in future. India thinks Pakistan has to choose between Scylla and Charybdis that is economic collapse or defence preparations (same quandary as of former USSR).

Debt burden

Will every new baby be born in Pakistan indebted forever? We consume debts as if they were freebies. We made no effort to get our “odious debts” written off.

Pakistan’s debt burden has a political tinge. The USA rewarded Pakistan by showering grants on Pakistan for joining anti-Soviet-Union alliances (South-East Asian Treaty Organisation and Central Treaty Organisation).  With advice from a Harvard group of economists, Ayub Khan tried to steer the economy in a planned and prioritized manner.  A Perspective and five-year plans were drawn up, implemented and evaluated after the due period. The less said about the subsequent period, the better.

The grants evaporated into streams of low-interest loan which ballooned as Pakistan complied with forced devaluations or adopted floating exchange rate. Soon, the donors forgot Pakistan’s contribution to the break-up of the `Soviet Union’. They used coalition support funds and our debt-servicing liability as `do more’ mantra levers.

In economics there are burden-of-debt models that could help decide how productively the debt should be so used that both principal and debt-service could be repaid. Unfortunately we spent the debt as if it were a non-repayable windfall bonanza.

Odious debts

Apparently, all Pakistani debts are odious as they were thrust upon praetorian regimes to bring them within anti-Communist (South East Asian Treaty Organisation, Central Treaty Organisation) or anti-`terrorist’ fold. 

Several IMF and US state department delegations visited Pakistan. But, Pakistan could not tell them point-blank about non-liability to service politically-stringed debts. The government’s dilemma in Pakistan is that defence and anti-terrorism outlays (26 per cent) plus debt-service charges leave little in national kitty for welfare. Solution lies in debt forgiveness by donors (James K. Boyce and Madakene O’Donnell(eds.), Peace and the Public Purse.2008. New Delhi. Viva Books p, 251).

What a pity! Whenever the International Monetary Fund’s delegation’s visit, Pakistan’s representatives keep mum about the politically-motivated odious nature of our debt burden. They lack the nerve to tell them point-blank Pakistan’s non-liability to service politically-stringed debts. They government’s dilemma in Pakistan is that defence and anti-terrorism outlays plus debt-service charges leave little in national kitty for welfare. Solution lies in debt forgiveness by donors (James K. Boyce and Madakene O’Donnell (eds.), Peace and the Public Purse.2008. New Delhi. Viva Books, p. 251).

Benefits of Write-Off: Debt forgiveness (or relief) helps stabilise weak democracies, though corrupt, despotic and incompetent.  Research shows that debt relief promotes economic growth and boosts foreign investment. Sachs (1989) inferred that debt service costs discourage domestic and foreign investment.  Kanbur (2000), also, concluded that debt is a drag on private investment.

Political parties without economic agenda

Parties win elections by pandering to base sentiments of the people. A key element of election slogans is always ‘change’. But, the nitty-gritty of the ‘change’ remains a strictly guarded mumbo jumbo. Sincerity demands that the parties should spell out their policies with regard to various factors of production, i.e. land, natural resources, the socio-economic milieu, labour, capital and organisation. But, they keep mum about their agenda. In their hearts, the leaders knew that the voters have little choice. They would vote either for the charisma of one leader or against the hatred of another. The voters do not force the leaders to give a dispassionate perception of the country’s problems along with an inventory of prioritised solutions.

Intellectual apathy has been the hallmark of elections. There is no tradition of political parties having shadow cabinets with a bagful of alternative policies.

The taxation proposals do little to squeeze the haves. Nothing is done to reduce inequitable distribution of wealth and economic power. No heed is paid to the structure of our society. How did the filthy rich, the feudal lords and the industrial robber barons come into being? If accumulated wealth in a few hands is rooted in wrongdoing, a considerable chunk of it should be mopped up. Vested interests resist the change.

The British created a class of chieftains to suit their need for loyalists, war fundraisers and recruiters in the post-‘mutiny’ period and during the Second World War. A royal gubernatorial gazetteer states: “I have for many years felt convinced that the time had arrived for the Government to try to introduce some distinction for those who can show hereditary services before the Humble Company’s rule in India ceased. I have often said that I should be proud to wear a Copper Order, bearing merely the words ‘Teesri pusht Sirkar Company ka Naukar’ (Third generation Company’s servant).” A feudal aristocracy was created whose generations ruled post-independence governments. Some pirs and mashaikh (religious leaders) even quoted verses from the Holy Quran to justify allegiance to the Englishman (amir), after loyalty to Allah and the Messenger (PBUH). They pointed out that the Quran ordained that ehsan (favour) be returned with favour. The ehsan were British favours like titles (khan bahadur, nabob, etc), honorary medals, khilat with attached money rewards, life pensions, office of honorary magistrate, assistant commissioner, courtier, etc. A Tiwana military officer even testified in favour of O’Dwyer when the latter was under trial. Ayub Khan added the chapter of 22 families to the aristocracy, a legacy of the English Raj.

About 460 scions of the pre-partition chiefs along with industrial barons created in the Ayub era are returned again and again to the Assemblies. They do not allow agricultural incomes, industrial profits or real estate to be adequately taxed.

Economic advisor’s view of the economic malaise

In his book Growth and Inequality in Pakistan: Agenda for Reforms (pages 383 to 403), Hafiz A. Pasha has unwound the tangled skein of Pakistan’s economic malaise. He laments that income-and-wealth-tax rules and regulations are so drafted as to facilitate `state capture by the elite’.

The tax-concession-and-exemption laws” give special privileges to different vested interests. The privileges are in the form of “preferential excess to land, bank credit, etc, which facilitate faster accumulation of assets”. He visualises “elite “as “the conglomeration of rich powerful people in society”.  Among the “elite state captors”, he includes “large land-owners, defence establishment, multinational companies, urban property developers, and owners, and so on” (page 383, ibid.).

Health-care and education

Why have successive Pakistani governments failed to provide universal healthcare and education to their people? There are several points to ponder.

Pakistan’s healthcare system is in shambles. There is only one hospital for federal civil servants that are Federal Government “Services” Hospital. Instead of establishing new hospitals. The successive civil governments allowed non-employee civilian residents of Rawalpindi and Islamabad and those who happen to have CNICs of the said cities to get free treatment at the said hospital. Because of overcrowding, the hospital has become good for nothing for civil servants.

Elderly civil centres have to queue up with unauthorised non employee civilians. There are no separate queues for “civil servants”. Doctors give preferential treatment to non-employees who pay them hefty fees at their private clinics. Civil servants are given long dates for operation theatre procedures. I, for one, am a septuagenarian retiree with cumulative 40 years service. I have been directed to wait for next year to get operated by urologist. The FGSH is the only hospital in the world where beds have been allocated to doctors whose names are printed on walls. The lavatories stink. Essential medicines are unavailable.

Even senior civil servants with a lifetime of service have to stink in general wards. The officers’ wards are allotted to non-civil-servants who have a way with the muckraker doctors. There is a need to transfer non-employee patients to nearby PIMS hospital.  Or non-employees should be treated as private patients. A thorough probe into hospital funds, medical procurements and unethical practices by doctors is warranted.

The politically expedient burden of residents of Rawalpindi/Islamabad on Federal Government Services Hospital should be taken off.

The ‘civilian officers, serving and retired, paid out of defense services’ should be impaneled to the military (CMH/AFIC) to reduce the FGSH patient load. A revolving fund may be created to entitle them and their families for 7/24 treatment subject to payment of contributory share to a revolving fund or actual expenses payable by a patient.

No healthcare system, not even the US ‘system’, in the world is perfect. Yet, each, by and large, delivers the goods. The familiar medical system of wealthy countries is the Bismarck model (multi-payer health-insurance model), the Beveridge model, the National Health Insurance Model, the out-of-pocket model, and the US model. The government should pick up good points of medical systems of wealthy and poor countries alike. The Bismarck model is being followed in Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, and Switzerland.

Generally, healthcare providers in this model are private entities. The government neither owns nor employs most physicians. Health insurance also is provided by private companies, not by the governments. Governments strictly regulate costs and other aspects of healthcare (no arbitrary fees and fleecing). The US outspends its peer nations on health. Yet it has no universal health insurance, nor universal health coverage.

Thailand’s successful healthcare plan reflects three lessons: being prepared, exercising tight control, and being pragmatic and politically broadminded.

Thailand took opposition and other stakeholders aboard. As such, the plan remained intact despite the change of governments. Thailand’s per capita income, health expenditures, and tax base are comparable to India. Yet, it achieved universal healthcare in 2002.

It spends around four percent of its Gross Domestic Product on health. In Thailand, the out-of-pocket medical expense has fallen to 12 percent, as compared to 40pc to 60pc percent in wealthy countries. The proportion of children dying in the first five years of life fell to less than 1.2 percent.

Economic hypocrisy

Pakistan is doubtlessly an Islamic republic, but not a theocracy, as envisioned by the founding father Mohammad Ali Jinnah. AK Brohi has in his The Fundamental Law of Pakistan highlighted the contours of a theocracy very well. The Islamic preamble (Objectives Resolution) was inserted in the draft constitution under Pakistan’s prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan’s influence. Unlike the US and many other secular constitutions, the Objectives Resolution (now Preamble to 1973 Constitution) states sovereignty belongs to Allah Almighty. The golden words of the constitution were warped to continue an interest-based economy. We pay interest on our international loans and international transactions. Do we live in an interactive world or in an ivory tower?

The Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan enforced Shariah Governance Regulations 2018. This regulation is a follow-up to Article 38 (f) of the Constitution of Pakistan, and Senate resolution No. 393 (July 9, 2018) for the abolition of riba (usury).

The regulation is welcome but there are unanswered questions about the Islamisation of finance in Pakistan. We pay interest on our loans and international transactions. Let Pakistan face the truth. It needs to evolve and showcase a politico-economic model of Islam that is compatible with international practices. Or else, dispense with hypocritical patchwork, and go for the secularist IMF model. What is the justification of the top-heavy paraphernalia of a civil government if it can’t even provide healthcare and education to its people?

Future trading

Future trading is a hub of modern commerce. Yet, it is forbidden under Islam. Islamic law of contract does not even allow advance contracts concerning raw fish, fruit, or anything involving an element of uncertainty. Islam does not allow even tallaqi-ur-rukbaan buying camel-loads of goods from the caravan before they reached Madina open-market.

Converting consumerist Pakistan into a productive economy

Let China help expand Pakistan’s manufacturing capacity and thereby reduce unemployment in Pakistan. All policymakers should act in unison. They include policy formulators (prime minister, finance minister, et. al), policy detailers (chief economic adviser, statisticians), and technocrats. The policy-makers should decide upon a balance of priority, agriculture or industry, a “closed” economy with import substitution, “living within means” and a balanced budget or deficit budget. Will increased spending “crowd in” or “crowd out” private investment?

Monetary policy objectives and the role of the central bank stability of employment and inflation, growth rate, balance-of-payments issues, the role of foreign direct investment and non-bank financial institutions? Their impact on capital formation, consumption trends, and other macroeconomic aspects.

Building Kalabagh and other dams

The first priority of most countries, including the USA, Russia, Brazil, and China, was to build hydel projects, a clean source of energy.. China’s big push into industrial progress was due to a chain of hydel projects like the Three Gorges, Gezhouba, Xiluodu, Xiangjiaba, Longtan, Hengshui, Nuozhadu, Jinping-I and II, Yalong, Laxiwa, Xiaowan, Goupitan, Guanyinyan, and Ahai.

The Kalabagh Dam Project was approved by the Technical Committee on Water Resources 2003-2005. It was composed of eight technical experts, two from each province. To store monsoon flows of the upper reaches of the Indus River, they approved the project. The committee looked into all aspects including the effect of dilution of seawater with freshwater, seawater intrusion into the groundwater, riverine irrigation, and forest fisheries, besides the growth of Mangrove forests. Later, the 3500 megawatts KBD was approved by the World Bank Indus Special Study Group in its report titled Development of Water and Power Resources of Pakistan: A Sectoral Analysis (1967).

The estimated cost of constructing the dam was US$6.12 billion, over six years from 1977 to 1982. After the commissioning of the Tarbela Dam in 1976, the dam could have been built in six years by 1982. The cost per unit of 12 billion units the hydel electricity was Rs.1.5 as compared to Rs. 16.5 per unit from thermal sources. We are losing Rs. 180 billion per year due to ten times costlier production (12billion xRs.15 billion). Add to it loss of US$ 6.12 billion per annum due to the superfluous flow of 30 Million Acre Feet of water from Kotri Barrage into the Arabian Sea (one MAF valued at US$1-1.5 billion).

Our water resources reserves have not risen pari passu with growth in population. Three provincial assemblies resolved against building the KBD. A politician alleged the dam would convert Sindh into a desert. Apprehensions against the dam could be allayed by reviewing Water Apportionment Accord (as directed by Lahore High Court also vide its Order dated November 29, 2012, case no. WP 8777). No justification to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Concluding remark

We could learn a lot from the planning and development experience of the Ayub era. Is it fair to devolve dam building to provinces? Pakistan has abolished interest (riba) in accordance with its fundamental law. Yet its banking sector and international transactions are interest-based.

To make Pakistan strong, its citizens should  contribute their moitié.

Mr. Amjed Jaaved has been contributing free-lance for over five decades. His contributions stand published in the leading dailies at home and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, et. al.). He is author of seven e-books including Terrorism, Jihad, Nukes and other Issues in Focus (ISBN: 9781301505944). He holds degrees in economics, business administration, and law.

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Mobilization Won’t Save Russia from the Quagmire

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photo:© Vitaly Nevar/TASS

When Moscow waged war against Ukraine in February, few expected Russia to end up in a quagmire.  The Russian military failed to achieve its goals, while the Ukrainians fought bravely to defend their nation.  The recent pushback in the Kharkiv region further proved that Russia could not achieve its military goals under the current situation. 

The Russian government takes a new procedure.  President Putin has called for partial mobilization, commissioning the reserved forces and those previously served.  Meanwhile, the Russian government has decided to launch referendums for the occupied areas to join Russia.  Any attacks on those territories in the future could be considered total war and potentially trigger nuclear weapon use.  

It is vital to notice this is only a partial mobilization, only recalling reservists.  However, many Russian politicians and nationalists have called for total mobilization.  Yet, a mobilization, whether partial or complete, is not a prescription to improve Moscow’s performance on the battlefield.  The mobilization, in reality, could further drag Russia into a quagmire. 

Russia does not have the political leverage it had before, home and abroad.  Total mobilization will not change Russia’s diplomatic stalemate.  The war united European countries quickly.  While Russia accused Ukraine of attempting to join NATO, Finland and Sweden have applied to become NATO members, bringing NATO close to Saint Petersburg.  A total mobilization is unlikely to threaten Europe and forces it to change its policy.  Instead, it will further push the European countries to unite in facing Russian aggression.

Even the countries with which Russia has a closer relationship have different opinions.  Indian prime minister Modi has told President Putin to take the path of peace and stop the war in a recent meeting.  India has a close relationship with Russia, and Modi’s criticism is a significant blow to Putin.  Even Central Asia countries have also expressed no interest in Putin’s aggression.  Kazakhstan has clearly stated that it will neither send its military to fight in Ukraine nor recognize the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk. A total mobilization and an escalation of the war will further alienate Russia and its allies. 

Domestically, a mobilization could further drag Putin down with his popularity.  Chechnyan president Kadyrov, one of Putin’s close allies, has criticized the war’s progress, reflecting the contrary opinions among Russian elites.  On the everyday citizen level, Putin has also become unpopular.  Immediately after the mobilization was introduced, Russian anti-war groups called for national protests

Militarily, the Russian war machine is not the Soviet Union military that the world trembles.  The Russian army has needed a significant upgrade since the collapse of the Soviet Union.  The chaos after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the economic crisis has dramatically weakened the Russian armed forces.  The failure in the two Chechnyan Wars is the most obvious evidence.  Putin managed to upgrade a portion of the military equipment and provided a better salary to the personnel.  The Russian military still performed decently during its operation in Syria. 

Yet, the scale of upgrade it needs is far from what Kremlin has offered, and the war further dragged the Russian military capacity.  Before the war, Russia chose not to produce and deploy the most advanced tanks because of the lack of money, and the T-14 tank ended up being a showpiece in the military parade.  The corruption within the Russian military is still a problem, leading to the lack of resources directed for military upgrades. 

That’s why Russia still uses the Soviet military legacy in combat.  The Russian armored forces now have to use T-64 tanks from their storage because of the significant loss at the initial stage of the war.  The recruits this summer were only trained for a month before being sent to the frontline.  As for the newly mobilized forces, despite the previously served reservists, it still takes time and equipment to prepare them for operation.  Russia has neither of those, let alone the conscripts are also a part of the reserved forces, making them even more ineffective on the battlefield. 

Moscow’s financial situation to sustain a mobilization remains a big question.  Despite the excellent performance of the Russian Ruble in the currency market, Russia’s economy will still face severe challenges.  Teachers are now required to donate to the war effort, a sign that the war effort is far from successful.  As the announcement of mobilization comes, Moscow’s stock index drops dramatically.  While the sanctions did not work as expected, the Russian economy suffered from the effects.  The banks also reported significant losses in the year’s first half. 

The international price of natural gas and oil has also come down from its peak since European countries finished stacking up their supply earlier.  Meanwhile, UAE and Kuwait are planning to expand their production capacity of natural gas and oil.  Russia’s source of income is far from stable as prices drop and exports and production decline for Russia.

War is a costly activity.  In previous operations in Syria, Russia’s daily cost is around 2.4 to 4 million US dollars.  That was a minor operation with mainly air force participation.  With all forces in action and the war dragging on for more than 200 days, the expenses mounted.  It is believed that the first week of war alone cost Russia 7 billion dollars.  The Kremlin’s decree says that the newly assembled forces will be paid corresponding to the existing personnel.  With that high expense, how will Russia be able to pay for the new troops?  How will Russia be able to replace the equipment and supply its forces?


Moscow believed that by sheer force and lightning warfare, Kyiv would bow down to Moscow.  However, this dream ended with a valiant effort from the Ukrainians to defend the country.  Further mobilization may provide the short-term manpower that Russia needs, but it will not save Russia from the predicament.  The bleak reality in politics, the military, and the economy has made mobilization anything but a save.  

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Rise in mercenary forces trigger ‘rampant’ human rights violations

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Human rights violations committed by mercenaries and private security companies create grave challenges for victims seeking justice and redress, UN-appointed independent human rights experts warned on Tuesday.

Presenting its new report to the Human Rights Council 51st session, the Working Group on the use of mercenaries said that this was due to the particularity of the perpetrators and the way they operate.

They also noted that the proliferation of mercenaries, contractors operating as soldiers for hire and private security companies in conflict, post-conflict and peacetime settings, has increased the number of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

“Deplorable gaps in accountability, access to justice, and remedies for victims of violations perpetrated by such actors are rampant,” said Sorcha MacLeod, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group, who presented the report to the Council.

‘Victim-centred approach’

The experts explained that, in the contexts in which they operate, the impacts of their actions are of grave concern.

Persons in vulnerable situations, women, children, migrants and refugees, people with disabilities, LGBTI+ persons, older persons, minorities, human rights defenders and journalists, are experiencing particularly negative impacts, the experts highlighted.

“Given this bleak situation, a holistic and victim-centred approach is imperative to ensure victims’ effective access to justice and remedy,” Ms. MacLeod said.

Investigate and punish offenders

The report highlights a lack of accountability and the common challenges faced by victims in accessing justice and effective remedies to overcome the damage mercenaries leave in their wake.

It drew specific attention to the secrecy and opacity surrounding the activities of mercenaries, military contractors hired to kill, and private security companies; their complex business and corporate structures, issues related to jurisdiction; and gaps in national and international regulation.

States have obligations under international human rights law to prevent, investigate, and punish violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and to provide effective remedies and reparation to victims of mercenaries, mercenary-related actors, and private military and security companies,” the experts said.

They concluded by urging States to adopt national legislation to “regulate the activities of these actors, punish perpetrators, and provide redress for victims are part of these implementation efforts”.

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A New Strategic Shifts and A New Strategic Concept of NATO

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The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit, in Madrid at the end of last June, was not just an ordinary summit resembling its predecessors. It looked so different that it might be thought that it might constitute an important turning point in the path of the Alliance.

This summit was held four months after the start of the war that Russia launched against Ukraine. And because it is a war that posed an unprecedented challenge to NATO, due to the exposure of one of the European states nominated for its membership to a direct Russian military invasion, for the first time since the end of World War II, and therefore in the history of the alliance, it is natural that any summit held after that will turn into something like a thermometer that does not only measure the degree of the alliance’s cohesion in facing a challenge of this magnitude, but also the extent of its readiness to respond to it, and to all similar and potential challenges in the future.

Its contract coincided with a time when the Alliance had to issue a new document outlining its strategic concept for the next ten years. Because the last document of this type was issued in 2010, it was assumed that 2020 would be the date of the issuance of the document covering the third era of the twenty-first century, which did not happen due to the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic, which disrupted the convening of the summit during 2020 and 2021. Thus, fate decided that the date of a summit with the task of formulating a new strategic vision for the alliance coincided with the outbreak of a major crisis, some of whom do not rule out that it would be the starting point in a third world war, which added to the ‘strategic concept’ document signed by NATO leaders on June 29 the past for the period up to 2030 is doubly important and exceptional.

The 2022 document, which is 11 pages in length, includes 49 items distributed on three axes: objectives and principles, the strategic environment, and the main tasks of the alliance (deterrence and defense, prevention and crisis management, cooperative security) a vision that clearly emphasizes that the strategic concept of NATO has undergone fundamental changes, especially if compared to the concept contained in the document issued in 2010. This is from multiple angles: it reflects, first, a clear change in the alliance’s vision of the sources of threats to its security, because the previous document issued in 2010, which reflected the strategic concept of the alliance for the period up to 2020, Terrorism was placed at the top of the list of sources of threat to peace and security at various levels, while this source took steps backward in the 2022 document, and is no longer seen as the main source of threat to the security and stability of the Alliance.

The Russian Federation advanced to occupy the top position on this list. This document spoke of the Russian Federation as ‘the biggest and most direct threat to the security of the Alliance and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region… because it aims to destabilize the countries of our east and south, in the far north.’

Here, it notes the extent of the direct impact of the war in Ukraine on changing the alliance’s vision to the sources of threats to its security and stability. It is also noted that the alliance no longer views Russia as a potential or indirect threat, but rather as a direct military threat. ‘The Russian Federation’s ability to disrupt Allied reinforcements and freedom of navigation across the North Atlantic is a strategic challenge to it, and Moscow’s military buildup, including in the Baltic, Black Sea, and Mediterranean regions, along with its military integration with Belarus, challenges our security and interests,’ the document says.

On the other hand, it is noted that the 2010 document avoided looking at China as a source of threat to the alliance, only referring to it as an ambitious competitor seeking to enhance its position at the regional and global levels by increasing its economic, scientific, and technological capabilities. As for the 2022 document, it is not only looking at China as an honorable competitor but as a source of threat no less dangerous than Russia. It is true that it does not see China as a direct military threat to the alliance, as is the case with Russia, but it sees, at the same time, that ‘the declared ambitions of the People’s Republic of China, and its adoption of a wide range of political, economic and military tools to increase its global presence and demonstrate strength, and its use of malicious methods it aims to control key technological and industrial sectors, critical infrastructure, strategic materials, and supply chains, and use its economic influence to create strategic dependencies and enhance its influence, etc., which constitute a direct threat to the interests, security, and values ​​of the Alliance.

The most interesting point is that this document considers that ‘the deepening of the strategic partnership between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation and their mutual attempts to undermine the rules-based international order is incompatible with our values ​​and interests,’ and therefore should be confronted with due firmness.

Secondly, it reflects a clear change in the Alliance’s vision of how to confront sources of threats to its security and stability. After the Alliance, in its previous documents, focused on ‘cooperation, building partnerships, and networking with others,’ as effective means of confronting various sources of threat, we find it focusing on the current document focuses on ‘building our own capabilities, mobilizing resources, and increasing military expenditures.’ It is true that the document clearly stressed that the alliance ‘does not seek to confront Russia, and does not want to be a source of threat to it,’ but at the same time, it was keen to highlight ‘the alliance’s determination to strengthen the deterrent and defensive capabilities of all its members and that it will respond to threats in a unified and responsible manner.’ And it will keep it’s channels of communication open with the Russians to prevent escalation.

On the other hand, it is noted that the document did not recognize any role of the NATO states or the ruling regime in Ukraine in provoking Russia, and pushing it to use force in Ukraine, under the pretext of ensuring the protection of citizens of Russian origin, nor did it refer, from near or far, to feelings of concern. President Putin, after Ukraine, signed a strategic partnership agreement with the United States on November 10, nor to the demands contained in his message to NATO member states, in response to this agreement, which included: A pledge that Ukraine would not join the alliance NATO, not placing offensive weapons on Russia’s borders, and withdrawing NATO forces from Eastern Europe to Western Europe, demands that the United States refused to even discuss, which eventually led to the outbreak of war. Instead, the document proceeded to affirm the right of all countries in the region, especially Eastern European countries, to determine their fate and future, including joining NATO and the European Union and rejecting any interference by the Russian Federation in the internal affairs of these countries.

If we link what was stated in this document and the path taken by the ongoing war in the Ukrainian arena, we will reach a set of conclusions: The first, regarding how to slip into the currently raging military confrontation in the Ukrainian arena, it is not at all unlikely that the United States, through Its organs and institutions that express the thought and orientations of the deep state, have deliberately lured Russia into a confrontation on the Ukrainian arena, and it has been seriously preparing for this confrontation since Russia occupied the Crimea in 2014.

The second: Relates to the essence of the current conflict in this arena. All the parties involved in it realize that its main goal revolves around putting an end to the unilateral Western hegemony over the current world order and establishing a multi-polar world order or, at least, a tri-polar system in which Russia and China participate, which is rejected by the West led by the United States, and explains the return of NATO cohesion After he was threatened with collapse, he explains, at the same time, the West’s insistence on inflicting a military defeat on Russia in the Ukrainian arena, because its victory means, immediately, the collapse of the unipolar international system.

The third: Is related to the tools used in this conflict, as Western countries realize that Russia is the first nuclear power in the world, forcing it not to engage directly in the ongoing conflict with it in the Ukrainian arena, and then to limit itself to the weapon of comprehensive sanctions against Russia, on the one hand, and to submit The maximum possible military, political and economic support for Ukraine, to enable it to win the war, on the other hand.

Fourth: Concerning the future of this conflict. The path taken indicates, on the one hand, that the economic sanctions have not yielded the desired results, and that Russia may be on its way to winning this round of conflict, but it indicates, on the other hand, that the support provided to Ukraine It not only enabled it to hold out and prevent Russia from achieving a quick and decisive victory, but also to recover the many lands it had lost, and to begin to liberate what remained of them, including Crimea. Because it is impossible to imagine that a nuclear Russia would accept a military defeat in Ukraine, escalation and the use of tactical nuclear weapons are no longer excluded, especially since the events of recent months have proven that the United States has harnessed all its technological and intelligence capabilities in the service of Ukraine, which Moscow may interpret as direct American involvement in the conflict.

So I think the whole world may be about to go into a dark tunnel in the next few months. Unless all of its leaders realize that all of humanity, not just Russia or NATO, faces many sources of threat, not the least of which are climatic changes and infectious diseases, and therefore is in dire need of a new world order that confronts all sources of threats to its common security, it will not be able to Anyone surviving the specter of nuclear war is slowly getting closer.

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