August 07, 2020

China’s growing peace and security role in Africa


8 min read

China’s growing peace and security role in Africa

Views from West Africa, implications for Europe

The discussion of Sino-African relations continues to be dominated by China’s economic activities and aspirations. However, the People's Republic has been working for more than a decade to establish itself as a serious actor in security policy on the African continent and has already made significant progress. All the indications are that China, with its security ambitions, is pursuing a systematic and holistic continent-wide approach, including arms supplies and military diplomacy, as well as deployment in peacekeeping missions and participation in military training.

This development is attracting considerable attention among analysts and policymakers but there remains limited primary data shedding light on this aspect of Sino-African relations.

Against this background, the new report “China’s growing peace and security role in Africa: views from West Africa, implications for Europe” realized by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the Mercator Institute for China Studies makes important contributions: Based on extensive fieldwork, the author, Tom Bayes, outlines China’s growing security activities in Africa, their background and objectives, perceptions among West African stakeholders and implications for Europe.

The report was presented in a web seminar on July 16, 2020, by Tom Bayes and discussed with Markus Koob (Member of the Bundestag), Thomas Schiller (Head of the KAS regional program Sahel) and Anna Wasserfall (KAS desk officer for West Afrika/Security).

A recording of the event can also be watched here

You can read the Executive Summary below and download a PDF version of the report here.

Executive Summary

In step with its emergence as a global security actor, China is deepening its peace and security role in Africa, from arms provision and peacekeeping, to conflict mediation and its first overseas military base, located in Djibouti. This study examines China’s growing role through the case of West Africa, based on over 60 interviews with security practitioners and other stakeholders in eight West African states.

In seeking a greater role in African security, Beijing is responding to the growing need to protect its burgeoning economic interests and over one million citizens on the continent. But more political motives are also central. Beijing is hoping to deepen its relations with African nations, rebalancing them away from purely commercial exchanges. It is also looking to demonstrate that China is a ‘Responsible Great Power’, boosting its international credibility and standing. China’s frequently advertised emergence as the second largest financial contributor to UNPKOs and largest troop contributor of the Security Council’s P5 adds to its political capital at the UN, which its diplomats are looking to cash in for reshaped international norms and political outcomes in line with Chinese Communist Party (CCP) preferences. Meanwhile, greater participation in African security aids the military modernisation that is an important element of the CCP’s ‘Centenary Goals’.

China’s leaders and diplomats emphasise that its African security role is focused on limited, multilateral intervention and building African capacity to pursue ‘African solutions to African problems’.

Hardware is one dimension of this capacity building. China has become the second largest arms supplier to Africa. Small arms and light weapons are central but China increasingly exports larger, more sophisticated systems, including tanks, aircraft, and combat drones – all at highly competitive prices. Chinese arms provision is not purely commercial; Beijing has made numerous donations of lethal and non-lethal military equipment to its West African partners. However, according to African military interviewees, recurring quality problems limit the potential for Chinato reliably enhance African militaries’ capabilities.

Beijing is also looking to develop African militaries’ ‘software’ through training exchanges. China’s activities in this area differ notably from Africa’s other international partners, including Europe and the US. Beijing focuses heavily on a large and growing military scholarship programme for African officers to study in China. In contrast, although China has made first steps into these areas, joint-exercises and on-the-ground training for enlisted ranks remain more marginal, suggesting the priority is influence building among Africa’s future military commanders.

While China remains averse to direct military intervention in Africa, it has been stepping up its indirect, multilateral intervention through UNPKOs. In West Africa, China has steadily expanded the number and types of personnel it contributes to UNPKOs, from military observers (Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire), to medics, engineers and police (Liberia), and finally armed infantry in the ongoing MINUSMA mission in Mali. Though it has suffered casualties, China’s contribution to MINUSMA is perceived by interviewees in Mali as principally symbolic, marking a new willingness to deploy combat troops (demonstrated more strongly in South Sudan, where Chinese commercial interests are considerable). Chinese peacekeeping experts and practitioners call for Beijing to leverage its UNPKO influence to promote a ‘Chinese approach’ to peacekeeping that prioritises regime stability and economic development, and eschews interventionism and democratisation activities within missions.

For West African interviewees, China’s security role is clearly expanding – but remains fundamentally limited. Chinese weapons are appreciated as economical, but technical failings have caused considerable frustration. China’s military education programme is large and well received, though West African officers stressed Beijing was just one among many such partners, and not the most prestigious. Enthusiasm for other forms of training (such as joint exercises and in-country combat training) is limited by doubts that the PLA has relevant experience and expertise to share, most importantly in the priority area of counter terrorism. Crucially, Beijing’s resistance to interventionism and reticence to put boots on the ground – unlike other partners – limits China’s relevance as a leading security partner. Interviewees nonetheless expect China’s security role to continue to grow, as a further element of Beijing’s deepening influence in the subregion.

For European stakeholders, China’s growing African security role presages the emergence of an influential new security actor in a region of strategic importance. Positively, this may point to Beijing making substantive contributions to African security commensurate with its resources and influence. However, Beijing’s privileging of unilateral activities that raise its own profile as a security actor suggest that it is in deepened Chinese political influence that the effects will most keenly be felt, both in Africa and at the UN.

Policy Recommendations

  • Strengthen messaging: China’s growing security role in West Africa does not demand restructuring or expansion of European actors’ own security activities in the subregion; at least in aggregate, these still far exceed Beijing’s contributions, and any competitive dynamic with China is likely to be counterproductive. Nonetheless, effective coordination and unified messaging is required to emphasise the value of Europe’s contributions. Public and diplomatic messaging should emphasise European actors’ building of West African capacity, as well as its defence of values shared with much of the subregion.
  • Maintain European influence in UNPKOs: European members of the UN, especially of the UNSC, should be attentive to Beijing’s efforts to leverage its expanding contributions to African security and UNPKOs for political advantage. China’s growing contribution to UNPKOs should be welcomed. However, European members should be vigilant of attempts to weaken UN peacekeeping norms. This is best supported by a sustained, substantive European contribution to UNPKOs, both through financing and provision of high-end capabilities to individual missions.
  • Seek exchange backed by effective internal coordination: Given China’s growing activism on African security and its substantial influence on the continent, European stakeholders must continue to seek exchange of views with China on African political and security affairs. Summitry such as the postponed 2020 EU-China summit in Leipzig is an important opportunity for high-level exchanges – but opportunities for ongoing, working-level exchanges must be sought and exploited, including within individual capitals, at the AU in Addis Ababa, and at the UN in New York. The aim of such exchanges should be to enhance mutual comprehension and trust to enable better global coordination in response to African security crises as they emerge. Crucially, this must be buttressed by effective European coordination and information-sharing on China’s role in Africa by China- and Africa-facing teams within EU and member state services and ministries.
  • Take high-level strategic decisions: Any move to actively deepen Sino-European cooperation on African security on the ground, especially in more military dimensions, should be subject to high-level European strategic decisions, weighing the risks and benefits of such cooperation, in the context of the broader picture of Europe-China relations; China’s role and goals in Africa; and China’s developing global behaviour. Preparations for the postponed Leipzig Summit, if and when it or a similar format takes place, are an opportunity for such reflection.
  • Devise European guidelines for engagement with the PLA: While there are opportunities for more active security exchange and cooperation (including exchanges in the context of co-deployment in UNPKOs, notably MINUSMA; pre-deployment peacekeeping training; and joint exercises relating to HADR, NEOs, and anti-piracy, notably in the Gulf of Guinea), military cooperation should not be pursued for its own sake or without reference to risks and costs. China has already demonstrated its interest in such exchanges with European militaries – and some forms of joint training have already taken place. However, the decision to engage in these exchanges with the PLA must account for the possible risks to European values and interests, and those of Europe’s likeminded partners in Africa and East Asia. European stakeholders, most likely coordinated by the EU Military Staff, should therefore urgently devise a code of European guidelines for engagement with the PL A, delineating acceptable exchanges – and those that are counterproductive. Though optional (given member state sovereignty in such matters), these guidelines would calibrate a coordinated level of engagement with the PLA acceptable to European interests and values.
  • Urge China to uphold transparency and international norms: China can make positive, substantive contributions to African security and these should be welcomed. However, European stakeholders should encourage China to do this in a transparent manner, in multilateral coordination with African stakeholders and the international community. China should be strongly encouraged to participate in multilateral formats such as the G7++ FOGG. China should also be encouraged to deploy its existing strengths by providing financing and support to the G5 Sahel’s infrastructure development activities. Such support would not be incompatible with Beijing’s preference for activities that raise its own visibility but must be conducted in line with international, multilateral norms.
  • Strengthen coordination with African partners: It will remain imperative to work in close coordination with African partners, in ways that emphasise African agency and autonomy of action. The EU’s 2020 Comprehensive Strategy with Africa should be fully leveraged to strengthen Europe’s role as a leading partner in Africa’s peace and security.

You can download a PDF version of the report here.

https://merics.org/en/report/chinas-growing-peace-and-security-role-africa


August 06, 2020

India’s Hindu Nationalists Reverse the Tide of History


None of the world’s populist leaders has turned back the clock as dramatically and as dangerously as Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Hindus celebrate at the Ayodhya temple ceremony. 

Hindus celebrate at the Ayodhya temple ceremony. 

 

Photographer: Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images

This week, an Indian prime minister, dressed like a priest-king in a saffron scarf, a silver crown and a lockdown-lengthened beard, performed a sacred ritual in the ancient capital of Ayodhya. Narendra Modi thus founded a new Hindu temple on a site where, for hundreds of years, a mosque had stood.

After decades of legal warfare and mob violence, Hindu nationalists have now effectively reclaimed the land where they believe the god Rama was born. The state-sponsored pageantry of the moment, however, proclaimed their greater victory: the transformation of India from a secular-nationalist republic into an ethno-nationalist state.

No mere democratic election could match the elation of this moment, as far as the Hindu revivalists were concerned; theirs was a victory not over politicians but over history itself. In their story of India, centuries of “Muslim oppression” persisted as long as mosques still stood on disputed land and as long as India’s flawed secular leadership sought to include Muslims in a broad governing coalition. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party effectively ended both, soundly defeating a government led by a Sikh prime minister and a Christian party president. Modi’s two emphatic election victories, the nationalists believe, have shown India that its Muslims can be safely ignored.

Twenty, even ten years ago, there would have been agonizing in the media and in public over an Indian prime minister presiding over such a religious-political spectacle. Certainly, when the mosque that once stood in Ayodhya was demolished by a mob, general revulsion was great enough for Modi’s predecessors to claim they were ashamed. Now, Hindu nationalism’s capture of the soul of India is so complete that television anchors broke into devotional song and newspaper front pages looked more like religious calendars than broadsheets.

Modi, and India, are not alone. The most ambitious and effective of today’s populist-nationalists match themselves against the broad sweep of history and seek to reverse it. When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan turns the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, he wants to erase not just the legacy of Ataturk but of Ottoman Turkey’s “humiliation” at the hands of the West after the First World War. It’s no coincidence that the first prayers at Hagia Sophia were timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Treaty of Lausanne that the defeated Ottomans were forced to sign.

Viktor Orban’s Hungary mourns its “dismemberment” in the Treaty of Trianon a century ago — most spectacularly through a new monument in the center of Budapest. As for Vladimir Putin, it is not clear which Russia he wants to celebrate — the Soviet Union that he once served, or the vast Orthodox empire it replaced. Regardless, there’s no doubt that he, too, wishes to turn the clock back.

Yet not one of this unprecedented crop of leaders has reversed the tide of history as successfully as Modi has in India — ending, he claimed in his first speech as prime minister, “1,200 years of slavery.” Certainly, none of the others, not even Orban, lead a country that seems as convinced of its leader’s crusade as India does.

Of course, many Hindus do feel estranged from their co-religionists. In a heartfelt column, the prominent public intellectual Pratap Bhanu Mehta wrote: “This temple is the first real colonisation of Hinduism by political power. I feel chained like never before.”

But those Indians who disapprove of their country’s new orientation have been indisputably beaten in two national elections. And many of them are exhausted by the number of defeats they have suffered — on migration policy, on judicial independence, on Kashmir, on state-sanctioned Islamophobia. They remind themselves that the Ayodhya temple is but a symbol of the humiliation of Muslims and liberals and that they had better save whatever energy they have left for the additional persecution that may follow.

Sadly, this colonization of religion, the reduction of what is sacred into what Mehta calls a “banal and nasty … symbol of ethnic nationalism” has been a long time coming. A few weeks before Modi’s first election victory, six years ago, I visited Ayodhya. I walked through barbed-wire corridors reminiscent of a concentration camp, and was hustled past the small area, covered with a makeshift blue tarp, that was the sanctum sanctorum.

That glimpse seemed insufficient for many in the crowd of pilgrims. The real moment to savor came afterwards as they walked through the bizarre revivalist mall that Ayodhya had become, buying DVDs of the mosque’s demolition and mob violence set to hymns about peace and tranquillity. They represented, I had always been told, the hate-filled “fringe,” not India’s tolerant mainstream. Give hate enough oxygen, though, and it will inexorably spread.


https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-08-05/is-it-safe-to-fly-here-are-the-odds-of-catching-covid-on-a-plane

Hidden Hand: How the Chinese Communist Party is reshaping the world


Every Western democracy is affected. As Beijing is emboldened by the feebleness of resistance, its tactics of coercion and intimidation are being used against an increasingly broad spectrum of people

The following is an excerpt from Hidden Hand: Exposing how the Chinese Communist Party is Reshaping the World. By Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg

The comforting belief that democratic freedoms have history on their side and will eventually prevail everywhere has always been tinged with wishful thinking. World events of the past two or three decades have shown that we can no longer take these things for granted. Universal human rights, democratic practice and the rule of law have powerful enemies, and China under the Chinese Communist Party is arguably the most formidable. The party’s program of influence and interference is well planned and bold, and backed by enormous economic resources and technological power. The wide-ranging campaign of subverting institutions in Western countries and winning over their elites has advanced much further than party leaders might have hoped.

STORY CONTINUES BELOW

Democratic institutions and the global order built after the Second World War have proven to be more fragile than imagined, and are vulnerable to the new weapons of political warfare now deployed against them. The Chinese Communist Party is exploiting the weaknesses of democratic systems in order to undermine them, and while many in the West remain reluctant to acknowledge this, democracies urgently need to become more resilient if they are to survive.

The threat posed by the CCP affects the right of all to live without fear. Many Chinese people living in the West, along with Tibetans, Uyghurs, Falun Gong practitioners and Hong Kong democracy activists, are at the forefront of the CCP’s repression and live in a constant state of fear. Governments, academic institutions and business executives are afraid of financial retaliation should they incur Beijing’s wrath. This fear is contagious and toxic. It must not be normalized as the price nations have to pay for prosperity.

The threat posed by the CCP affects the right of all to live without fear

Every Western democracy is affected. As Beijing is emboldened by the feebleness of resistance, its tactics of coercion and intimidation are being used against an increasingly broad spectrum of people. Even for those who do not feel the heavy hand of the CCP directly, the world is changing, as Beijing’s authoritarian norms are exported around the globe. When publishers, filmmakers and theatre managers decide to censor opinions that might “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people,” free speech is denied. A simple tweet that upsets Beijing can cost someone their job.

STORY CONTINUES BELOW

The CCP works hard to convince people in China and abroad that it speaks for all Chinese people. It yearns to be seen as the arbiter of all things Chinese, and insists that for Chinese people, wherever they are, to love the country means to love the party, and only those who love the party truly love the country. It claims that the party is the people, and any criticism of the party is therefore an attack on the Chinese people.

It is disturbing to find so many people in the West falling for this ruse and labelling critics of CCP policies racist or Sinophobic. In so doing they are not defending Chinese people, but silencing or marginalizing the voices of those Chinese opposed to the CCP, and the ethnic minorities who are persecuted by it. At worst, they are agents of influence for the party. In this book, then, we draw a sharp distinction between the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese people. When we use the word “China” we do so as shorthand for the political entity ruled by the CCP, in the same way that one might say, for example, that “Canada” voted in favour of a resolution at the United Nations.

A man is detained by police during a demonstration on July 1, 2020, in Hong Kong, marking the 23rd anniversary of its handover to China. ANTHONY KWAN/GETTY IMAGES

Conflating the party, the nation and the people leads to all kinds of misunderstanding, which is just what the CCP wants. One consequence is that overseas Chinese communities have come to be regarded by some as the enemy, when in fact many are the foremost victims of the CCP, as we shall see. They are among the best informed about the party’s activities abroad and some want to be engaged in dealing with the problem.

STORY CONTINUES BELOW

The distinction between the party and the people is also vital to understanding that the contest between China and the West is not a “clash of civilizations,” as has been claimed. We face not some Confucian “other,” but an authoritarian regime, a Leninist political party replete with a central committee, a politburo and a general secretary backed by enormous economic, technological and military resources. The real clash is between the CCP’s repressive values and practices, and the freedoms enshrined in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights: the freedom of speech, assembly, religion and belief; freedom from persecution; the right to personal privacy; and equal protection under the law. The CCP rejects each of these, in words or in deeds.

People who live in close proximity to China understand this much better than do most in the West. It is this understanding that has fuelled the recent protests in Hong Kong, and led to the re-election in January 2020 of Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen. In a landslide vote, the people of Taiwan used the ballot box to say no to the CCP.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen delivers her inaugural address at the Taipei Guest House in Taipei, Taiwan, on May 20, 2020. WANG YU CHING/TAIWAN PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS

Some on the left, despite their history of defending the oppressed, find reasons to blind themselves to the nature of China’s government under Xi Jinping. They have forgotten how totalitarianism can overpower human rights. Even so, anxiety about the CCP’s activities crosses political boundaries, not least within the U.S. Congress where Democrats and Republicans have formed an alliance to challenge Beijing. The same applies in Europe. Despite their other disagreements, people from the left and the right can agree that China under the CCP is a grave threat not only to human rights, but to national sovereignty.

STORY CONTINUES BELOW
The reasons why so many people in the West downplay or deny the threat posed by the CCP is a theme of Hidden Hand. One reason is of course financial interest. As Upton Sinclair put it, ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.’

Another reason, especially in the case of some on the left, is “whataboutism.” China may be doing some unpleasant things, goes this argument, but what about the United States? The tactic is more effective with Donald Trump in the White House, but whatever criticisms one might have of the U.S. and its foreign policy, both historically and today — and we are strong critics — they do not in any way diminish or excuse the extreme violation of human rights and suppression of liberties by the CCP regime.

Ignorance explains some of the difficulty the West is having in coming to grips with the threat of the CCP, as does the fact that it has not previously had to contend with such an adversary. During the Cold War, no Western country had a deep economic relationship with the Soviet Union. Conscious of the economic and strategic importance of China, many nations are trying to get smarter about the country at the very time Beijing is pouring money into helping us “better understand China.” Receiving information straight from the horse’s mouth might seem a sensible route, but, as we will show, this is a bad mistake.

Clive Hamilton is an Australian academic and author of Silent Invasion, a book on China’s influence on Australia. Mareike Ohlberg is a senior fellow in the Asia Program of the German Marshall Fund. The excerpt reprinted by permission of Optimum Publishing International

https://nationalpost.com/opinion/book-excerpt-hidden-hand-how-the-chinese-communist-party-is-reshaping-the-world/wcm/4dac55bd-15f6-48ba-a9fe-fa2d52283431/amp/#click=https://t.co/Ecuq4ryfe8

Who needs a Google Map? Naya Pakistan is Naya Mapistan


A map, a highway, a song and a minute of silence — that’s the ingredient Pakistanis came up with, and Kashmir ban gya Pakistan.

NAILA INAYAT
Shah Mahmood Qureshi
Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi during a media briefing in Lahore | Praveen Jain | ThePrint

Pakistan is again having its Ka Ka Ka Kashmir moment. A year after India revoked the special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and the ruling establishment in Pakistan said in chorus: ‘Kashmir Banega Pakistan’, a lot seems to be happening on the ‘ground’. For Pakistanis, that one-year-old slogan is now a reality.

You’d ask ‘how’? All it took was a highway, a map, a music video, a minute of silence, a solidarity walk, a stamp, a series of tweets, a trip to LoC and few rhetorical outbursts. That’s how Kashmir ban gaya Pakistan. If anyone, anywhere had doubts on Pakistan’s commitment on Kashmir, now would be a good time for them to shut up or put up with the great musical struggle.

For Pakistanis, in 2019, it was IJOK (Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir). In 2020, it became IIOJK (Indian Illegally-occupied Jammu and Kashmir). Don’t be surprised if in 2021, Pakistan adds another “I” to it.



Also read: How to become an instant hero in Pakistani social media — shoot someone to save Islam


From Naya Pakistan to Naya Mapistan

Countries spend money, arms, manpower and chalk out battle plans to capture enemy territories. But that’s not the case in Naya Pakistan. Here, things are done differently. You’d ask again, ‘how’? It’s fairly simple. Take a Pakistan map, colour it with crayons, label it, and claim Indian territories as your own. That’s how the bloodless revolution came about.

If Pakistan still considers Kashmir as a disputed territory (which means there is no change in its stand), then why did it need a new map? And if maps could solve your territorial disputes, why do you need military?

There are those who say that Prime Minister Imran Khan has copied the ‘map idea’ from the Prime Minister of Nepal, K.P. Oli, whose government, through a constitutional amendment has claimed Indian territory in a new map. Now those who think Khan is a copycat don’t realise that Pakistan is no Nepal. Who needs to go by the Constitution or Parliament when you can make decisions on a whim? Article 1 (3) of the Pakistani Constitution specifies which states or areas can be included in the country.

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According to the new map, Junagadh in Gujarat, which doesn’t even share borders with the country, is now in Pakistan. As if geography could stop Germany and Japan from sharing a border for our PM. Why stop at Junagadh? Claim Delhi too. Hoist the Pakistani flag on Red Fort. It’s much easier to achieve this on a piece of paper. Wonder why Bangladesh wasn’t added back to the Pakistan map. Oh, never mind.


Who needs a Google Map when you have a Naya map that shows any place you desire as part of your territory? The Kashmir issue will be resolved, if only United Nations accepts our new map. However, the fate of such a proposal will be similar to those 99 others Pakistan proposed. We all know Pakistan’s track record at the UN. Although Kashmir affairs minister Ali Amin Gandapur seems serious that he’ll give ultimatum to UNSC this September to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir. And if UNSC doesn’t comply, Gandapur is threatening that he will seek help of the people, military and political parties. Now that should scare UN.


Also read: The cost of speaking truth to power in Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan — you might not return home


Highway to jannat

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi boasts about ‘development’. Let him learn from Pakistan. A highway in Islamabad, which was earlier called the Kashmir Highway, will be renamed as ‘Srinagar Highway’. Pakistanis hope the renamed highway will take them to the heavenly land of Kashmir. The ETA in Kashmir via this highway from Islamabad is still up for discussion, but what those in government haven’t cared to explain is how a ‘Srinagar Highway’ becomes more relevant than a ‘Kashmir Highway’? Don’t hold your breath over it. This is a highway to nowhere. And when the new map says Kashmir is in Pakistan, what was the need to rename the highway? I’m confused.

Foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi thinks a minute of silence was enough to rattle India. I bet it was more than enough, considering how successful the 30-minute Friday standing from last year was after India revoked special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The mandatory VVIP LoC outings are always a treat. There is nothing new to offer and no one expects newness from them. Would Pakistanis expect the foreign minister or the National Security Advisor to cross into the Indian side? It is just a photo op for ‘Kashmir banega Pakistan’ chest thumpers.


Also read: Imran Khan govt bans PUBG citing ‘anti-Islam material’. His youth base won’t have any of it


Don’t threaten us with war, we will release a song

How do you evoke anti-India sentiment on Kashmir without some songs? If last year was India ja, ja Kashmir se niikal ja, meri Jannat mere ghar se nikal ja, 2020 echoed with Ja chod de meri wadi — a proud production from Pakistan military’s PR wing ISPR. Giving voice to the new song was Shafqat Amanat Ali — the playback singer who has sung numerous Bollywood songs, including a tribute to Mahatama Gandhi when he sang his favourite bhajjan. Ali may have successfully spewed hate against India, but his love for Pakistan was on full display when he forgot lines from Pakistan’s national anthem before a cricket match against India in Kolkata in 2016. We forgave him for this forgetfulness.


In another version of the ‘Wadi’ song, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan can be seen narrating: “Kashmiri hoon. Ja chod dey meri wadi”. Wonder what Rahat’s thoughts were when he was singing Teri ore in Singh is King, considering the wadi situation back then.

After listening the new song, the “9 lakh Indian Army soldiers” in Kashmir must have shivered. Or is that 9 lakh Army now part of Pakistan too, if we go by the new map?

But singing is harmless. Next time there is tension on the borders, an antakshiri match should be arranged on the LoC. A lot of time has been wasted waging wars with weapons. Singing and dancing should be the new decider. And if that doesn’t work, India and Pakistan can always decide wars over rock-paper-scissors. Till then, onto the next big thing — Corona Tiger Force Day on 9 August. On second thoughts, even the ‘tiger force’ can help liberate Kashmir.

The author is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Her Twitter handle is @nailainayat. Views are personal



https://theprint.in/opinion/letter-from-pakistan/who-needs-a-google-map-naya-pakistan-is-naya-mapistan/475901