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Indian Atrocities and Repercussion for Mental Health in the Kashmir Valley

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The people of Kashmir have endured a protracted, unreported conflict on a global scale. Following what the Kashmiri people claimed was a rigged local election that denied them a say in the Indian democratic process, the conflict turned toward armed insurgency in 1989. As a result, in the decade that followed the insurgency, more than half of the people in Jammu and Kashmir were the targets of or witnessed violent government crackdowns, public explosions, and cross-firing between military personnel and armed rebels. With the worst effects of conflict and violence affecting physical and mental health, the safety and freedom of the Kashmiri population were seriously threatened by the strong military presence.

Before India’s revocation of regional autonomy, the mental health of Kashmiris was already thought to be in crisis, has worsened. A significant social upheaval resulted from the abrogation of Article 370, which recognized Jammu and Kashmir’s (J&K) special status and granted the region semiautonomous rights, in August 2019. The area, known as the most militarized in the world, received over 900,000 Indian army personnel. All forms of communication and internet access were suspended, a strict curfew was imposed, and roads were blocked. Thousands of Kashmiris were detained; some have since been released, but a large number is still behind bars.

Psychiatric professionals assert that the effects of such actions by Indian forces on Kashmiri’s mental health are undeniable. According to a 2015 study conducted (by MSF) and the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences Srinagar (IMHANS) 1.6 million adults displayed significant symptoms of depression, one million of anxiety, and 19 percent showed signs of PTSD respectively. A startling 93 percent of Kashmiris had suffered trauma because of the conflict.

As a result, COVID-19 is still having a devastating impact on Kashmir, with over 317,000 cases and 4,343 fatalities reported by early July 2021 in an area with about 13 million residents. Travel restrictions and protracted curfews made it difficult for people to get access to healthcare. Elderly patients and women were unable to access telemedicine, emergency helplines, or the electronic-based government-funded insurance program due to a lack of internet and other communication services. The psychiatrists claimed that the revocation of Article 370 in August halted advancements in the treatment of mental illness. Patients with pre-existing depression in remission experienced a recurrence of symptoms following the episode of article 370’s abrogation.

Besides adult, mental health one cannot ignore the impact of violence and war on child psychology. Children’s well-being is severely impacted by conflicts everywhere in the world. They continue to be subjected to severe abuse and violence. Millions of children’s lives are at risk as a result of atrocities being committed by violent criminals while they go unpunished. Such an environment has a significant effect and molds attitudes toward life. Children in Kashmir have also experienced such abuses directly. Their physical and mental health is impacted by the bombing of their schools and homes as well as the torture and murder of their families.

The presence of Indian occupation forces in Kashmir has severely impacted the children there, obstructing their development and having a profound impact on their lives as a whole. Their values have been severely hampered by social structural changes. Their sense of security and tranquility has completely disappeared over time. In the decade that followed the armed insurgency, a generation of young people emerged who decided to protest peacefully against what they perceived to be the military occupation of Kashmir. However, they encountered the same level of brutality from the Indian military as the rebels before them.

The valley has long faced a deep-rooted sociopolitical issue, resulting in current public health issues in Kashmir. Local and international organizations have criticized the Indian government for violating numerous human rights through its repressive administration of Kashmir. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called attention to widespread torture and human rights abuses committed against civilians by Indian armed forces.

In order to effectively address the political, social, economic, and public health issues Kashmir is currently experiencing, a comprehensive response is urgently required. To ensure that Kashmiris do not experience the same nightmare they did because of the communications blackout in 2019 and throughout, the Indian government has a duty under international human rights law to protect the safety and health of the region’s residents.

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South Asia

Pakistan’s Governance and Security Challenges: The Way Ahead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommendations

  • Politicians must think above party level to serve the national cause. Their focus on the current term and securing the next elections hits the country badly. They should govern the survived masses rather those who are always striving to survive.
  • IHK must be our priority along with climate change. The Indian atrocities and human rights violations in the occupied territory seek our attention and best efforts to resolve the matter diplomatically and politically.
  • There is a need of charter of economy on national level where all the political parties converge their manifesto for the betterment of people. Vulnerable economic conditions are not in favour of anyone.
  • Food security is closely linked to the survival of agricultural land and the facilities/ subsidies given by the government to farmers/ agricultural land owners. A strict and immediate ban should be imposed on usage of agricultural land and forests for housing societies and other real estate ventures.
  • Along with the accountability of corrupts, there should be a mechanism which makes those people accountable who are carrying the accountability.
  • Pakistan should play an active role in the field of climate change as it is one of the top sufferers. Taking the issue to world community will not be sufficient. It also needs to take concrete steps. Moreover, accelerating efforts for capacity building to handle the situation efficiently is also its responsibility.
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How does ‘1997 CHT peace accord’ pave the pay of ‘Peace and prosperity’ in Bangladesh’s CHT?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Dragon’s Perception Creation and Passivity: A Never-ending Bottleneck

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Vijay Gokhale, The Long Game: How The Chinese Negotiate With India ( Penguin Vintage , 2021)

Multiple divergences have shaped Sino India Relations for decades, filled with doubts and suspicions in spite of historical interactions as well as trade. Amidst this backdrop, Amb Vijay Gokhale’s book Long Game, provides a window to understand various techniques adopted by China to impose its will cum demands on New Delhi through multidimensional methods to achieve its ambitions in the subcontinent and set boundaries, perceptions as per its convenience when border and security issues have remained unsolved between them in spite of multiple dialogues and mechanisms.

The book begins with historical interactions being a key behind development of relations between the two countries having cultural and maritime links, witnessed through takeaways of Fa Xian and Xuanzhang’s tours and the latter’s perceptions and understandings about Indian culture and society. These historical exchanges,  underscored the need for the two aspiring Asian powers to collaborate on tackling imperialism-making this idea being championed by  leaders such as Nehru-  were insistent on Beijing and New Delhi developing good relations where according to him,  cooperating alongside China and giving her the recognition at the earliest ,could prove fruitful in nudging ties on time and supporting decolonization against imperialist activities in developing countries-which unfortunately  was not the case due to hidden intent of the Chinese vis-à-vis its selfish geopolitical ambitions and its envy about New Delhi’s goodwill approach towards Third World countries ,where eventually this misjudgment about the Dragon’s intention created unclarity in the newly established government having lack of expertise and experience along with diverse political institutions aspiring to be accommodated.

Amb Gokhale goes on to explain how the CCP uses time biding tactics to confuse the Indian side through keeping silence and the former only giving their own points vis-à-vis the boundary demarcation. Therefore, Beijing played a clever game in order to incentivize New Delhi on supporting the former’s role in Tibet, due to which in 1953, the latter slowly lost options immediately, by blindingly  giving into Chinese demands which were -non-interference in the Tibetan administration with Beijing being the direct point of contact for maintaining relations with the former along with removal of direct contacts with the Tibetan Administration. So, to avoid irking Beijing, New Delhi has been neutral when it comes to dealings with the Tibetan refugees as well as the Dalai Lama’s whereabouts in the recent past .

Even, the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence of 1954 was misinterpreted by the Indian side who were viewing it as a goodwill gesture where this principle became an irredentist tool of Beijing’s own security and expansionist strategy with respect to the former blaming New Delhi interfering in affairs of other smaller countries with itself acting as a champion for them, not respecting territorial sovereignty and integrity of the boundaries.

The book claims that it is Beijing’s provocative measures that underscored India’s need  to test its nuclear weapons at Pokharan in 1998. During the Cold War, the Chinese started developing nuclear weapons, in view of emerging threats coming from Washington and India (that time it was suspiciously looked upon as a Western imperialist agent by Beijing, where this doubt is prevalent even now .) New Delhi after its defeat in the 1962 War, suffered a huge economic catastrophe which led to heavy inflation, food crisis alongside the 1965 Pakistan conflict. During that period , New Delhi had just too many opportunity costs at that time due to a weakened economy and international image, made it difficult for the former to undertake immediate arms development at an earlier stage. Amidst periods that followed, multiple denouncement tactics were initiated by Beijing to prevent new aspirants such as India to join the nuclear club which the latter continued to work on post- the 1998 Tests.

When the Bush Administration agreed towards India’s access to critical nuclear technology in the future seen through the 2008 Indo-US Nuclear Deal ,where during the process, Beijing attempted to put barriers  by mobilizing other countries through consensus building against American hegemony and biasness along with blaming Washington in pursuit of being partial while giving relaxation  to certain  aspirants on developing nuclear arsenal where these continuous efforts of deterring New Delhi to harness its military potential ,appeared to be fruitless later on .

India has always been a soft target when it comes to radicalism and separatist activities being used as proxy warfare tools  in  Kashmir promoted by Islamabad, home to some of the world’s most  dangerous terrorist organizations like the Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-E-Taiba, JeM ( Jaish -E- Muhammad ).Beijing , a neutral and silent observer vis-a-vis  the radical activities in Kashmir ,while catering to its own economic cum strategic interests had no other choice but to give in to the UN 1267 Sanction Committee and characterize Maulana Masood Azhar as a global terrorist where the former was completely isolated on this issue  and didn’t receive global support on its stance on the declaration.

An all-weather convergence and engagement with Islamabad made it imperative for New Delhi to increase its engagement in the Indo-Pacific through partnerships such as the Quadrilateral Security Initiative where this convergence is widening even further vis-à-vis Beijing, being evident during unprecedented times like the Covid Pandemic, Doklam as well as the Galwan Standoff.

The author concludes with the Chinese being crafty negotiators, witnessed through their usage of perception creation, leading to it distracting one from timely adopting a plan strategically, making it essential for future risks to be tackled properly vis-a-vis China, having a history of ensuring censorship on its media so that the latter addresses its narrative

 through a positive as well as a victimized tone internationally.

This writing  gives a  detailed insight about the ways persuasion, emotions were frequently being used by Beijing to show itself as a representative of weaker countries while the former is intending to bring them to do what it aspires through creating distraction from core issues and concerns regarding economy, territorial sovereignty later them being compelled to take sides of Beijing in whatever it aspires .As far as its dealing s with India is concerned,  many previous mechanisms and discussions being at a stalemate for continuous periods seen through  increased incursions on Sino-India border  as far as a strategy adopted by a zero sum player is concerned .

Long Game is an important text when it comes to actual purposes of negotiations for a country in order to assert its interests through many means possible, witnessed through assessing the psyche of the weaker country and confusing it then the latter succumbing to the manipulation of the former, which factually could be observed through New Delhi’s misperceptions vis-à-vis China’s intentions in the past. In accordance to the changing global scenario, it is imperative for diplomats, academicians to assess the tactics  of a belligerent before coming to any conclusion and decisions  which also underscore the need for academic  government institutions to be autonomous along with transparent decision-making playing a key role in foreign policy implementation.

This complex relationship between the Elephant and the Dragon makes this book a must read for international relations and foreign policy aspirant where the relationship filled with cooperation has a competition angle as well in multidimensional realms since countries have  selfish interests and unlimited appetite for power where one adopts multiple means to achieve its ends.

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