August 24, 2019

WorldSkills Kazan 2019; Indian Team wins hearts with culture and talent display


Spectacular opening to WorldSkills Kazan 2019; Indian Team wins hearts with culture and talent display

Posted On: 24 AUG 2019 1:18PM by PIB Delhi

Mahendra Nath Pandey, Hon’ble Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship inaugurated the India Pavilion at the competitionTeam India was familiarised with Russian culture during the One School-One Country program; also aims at encouraging children to join skill programs‘Future Skills’ category introduced at the Competition to focus on digital economy

The world’s biggest international vocational skills competition, WorldSkills Kazan 2019got underway with a grand ceremony at Kazan, Russia. The 48-member Indian team, resplendent in colourful attire, wowed spectators as they walked through the parade along with 62 other participating countries.

More than 2.5 lakh people attended the opening ceremony at Kazan Arena, where youth from 63 nations gave a variety display of various cultures. The 48-member Indian team — the sixth largest contingent at the WorldSkills — stole hearts with a performance that brought alive the rich diversity and beauty of the vast country. Mr. Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister, Russian Federation opened the six-day event that will see more than 1,300 competitors from around the globe competing across 56 skills and trades.

Contestants from India who are representing the country at the global stage have made it at WorldSkills Kaza 2019 after a gruelling selection procedure where went through a series of skill competitions conducted at different levels in India. An initiative of the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) under the aegis of Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), WorldSkills India is integral to the vision of building a Skilled India, exposing young talent to the best-in-class technology, techniques and skills amongst different trades.

Dr. Mahendra Nath Pandey, Hon’ble Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurshipwho is leading the Indian contingent, also inaugurated the India Pavilion at the Kazan Expo competition area. The Pavilion adorns myriad hues of India’s culture, traditions, diversity and skills. Dr. Pandey’s is at Kazan to motivate the participants and is aimed at building G2G and B2B relationships. During his visit, Dr. Pandey will address delegates from Industry on the subject ‘Skilling for future with Scale, Speed and Standards: India Experience’. He is also scheduled to meet representatives of key industry players such as DMG MORI, CISCO, Siemens, Lincoln Electric to name a few, to explore ways of knowledge exchange and global mobility of Indian workforce with multinational corporations.

As the competition begins on August 23, the Indian Team will participate in 44 skills namely mobile robotics, prototype modelling, hairdressing, baking, confectionary & patisserie, welding, brick laying, car painting, floristry, etc. Forty-four skill experts and 14 interpreters for various Indian languages have also accompanied the participants in Kazan to support them at the event.

Inaugurating the India Pavilion at WorldSkills,Dr. Mahendra Nath Pandey, Honb’le Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, said, “Watching Team India showcase the unique Indian culture in a foreign country is heart-warming. These youngsters are not merely competitors at an international event of such scale, they are also ambassadors of the Indian culture and it has been a pleasure to have seen this beautiful performance. My best wishes are with the team and I hope they win many awards in the skills they represent. They are the future of India and their vocational skills will open many doors for them.

With the Government taking a number of initiatives to boost technical training and vocational skills, India has climbed the skills ladder, and this year we have a 48-member team up from 28 the last time. I am confident of a good show from the team. In the future, we will also bid for hosting the WorldSkills. The Ministry of Skill Development and other government departments are directing all their efforts at tap the talent of India’s youth by empowering them to become job-givers and not job-seekers alone. We have provided training support 12.6 lakh people and we aim to double this number in the near future with support from other ministries.”

One School One Country

Before the opening ceremony, the competing teams came together to present their national cultures under the One School-One Country initiative. The initiative aims to promote cultural exchange between the participating countries and to raise the profile of skills and different career pathways. Participants visited a Russian School, Gynasium # 96, where they interacted with Russian school students and also participated in cultural programs.

Future Skills Introduced at WorldSkills International Competitions

An international conference, WorldSkills Conference 2019, will also be held alongside the skills competitions, for government representatives, experts and thought-leaders to interact on an array of topics on future of skills to maximize economic and social impact. Two new initiatives — WorldSkills Juniors and ‘Future Skills — are also being introduced in this edition. WorldSkills Junior aims at inspiring schoolchildren aged 14-16 years to join vocational and skill training and participate alongside the national teams. The focus of ‘Future Skills’ is to lay emphasis on relevant fields of activity in the era of high-tech production and digital economy.

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August 23, 2019

How Technology Platforms Should Deal with Hostile State-Owned Propaganda Outlets

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


How Technology Platforms Should Deal with Hostile State-Owned Propaganda Outlets

A statement from Adrian Shahbaz, Research Director for Technology and Democracy

Social media and the internet have opened up new ways for hostile powers to directly abuse and influence individuals in democratic societies.False news, information operations, and online propaganda pose significant but distinct threats to the functioning of a democracy.Responses to these threats have the potential to infringe on fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression, access to information, privacy, and press freedom.Any response must be carefully evaluated to ensure that it is strictly necessary to achieve a legitimate aim (protecting democracy) and carried out in a manner that limits unintended consequences and collateral damage. The cure should not be more harmful than the disease.

Our recommended response:

Remove content that is deliberately and unequivocally false under policies designed to combat spam or unauthorized use of the platform.
 Label or eliminate automated “bot” accounts. Recognizing that bots can be used for both helpful and harmful purposes, and acknowledging their role in spreading disinformation, companies should strive to provide clear labeling for suspected bot accounts. Those that remain harmful even if labeled should be eliminated from the platform.
 Do not remove state-owned media that function as propaganda outlets for hostile powers, unless they violate the platform’s terms of service through actions such as those cited above.Most articles published by the state-owned propaganda outlets of hostile powers would be difficult to classify as deliberately and unequivocally “false.”From our current perspective, banning these outlets would constitute a disproportionate response to the problem and could harm press freedom.We recommend tackling the issue through a more effective, transparent, and uniform application of platforms’ existing policies. Options to consider include down-ranking posts made by these outlets in news feeds, combating the artificial amplification of posts through the use of bots and fake accounts, and restricting the outlets’ ability to buy advertising on the platforms.We also encourage technology companies to prioritize well-established, credible, and local news sites over state-owned outlets from countries that do not receive a “Free” rating in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World report, such as RussiaChinaTurkeyIranSaudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
 Ensure fair and transparent content moderation practices. In order to fairly and transparently moderate public posts on their platforms and services, private companies should do the following:Clearly and concretely define what speech is not permissible in their guidelines and terms of service.If certain speech needs to be curbed, consider less invasive actions before restricting it outright, for example warning users that they are violating terms of service and adjusting algorithms that might unintentionally promote disinformation or incitement to violence.Ensure that content removal requests from governments are in compliance with international human rights standards.Publish detailed transparency reports on content takedowns—both for those initiated by governments and for those undertaken by the companies themselves.Provide an efficient avenue for appeal for users who believe that their speech was unduly restricted.Engage in continuous dialogue with local civil society organizations.Companies should seek out local expertise on the political and cultural context in markets where they have a presence or where their products are widely used. These consultations with civil society groups should inform the companies’ approach to content moderation, government requests, and countering disinformation, among other things.We appreciate companies’ understanding that tackling the issue of disinformation and false news requires working with media companies and subject-matter experts. Efforts like the Facebook Journalism Project and the News Integrity Initiative provide crucial support for improving individuals’ digital media literacy. That endeavor will take time, but we believe that education is ultimately better than censorship as a tactic for dealing with disinformation, false news, and propaganda.

Background:
Twitter recently announced that it would no longer accept advertising from state-owned news sources. The statement above lays out additional steps that technology platforms should take.

August 22, 2019

Is Abrogation of Reservation on the Cards?

TheWire.in

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, speaking to a group of diplomats, said that he had “good contact” with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and had “independent discussions” on a range of issues. Credit: Twitter/India Foundation

RIGHTS

Through the Modi government, the RSS has successfully implemented many of aspects of its long term agenda.

Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd

Though the RSS has been an anti-reservation organisation, it plays a game of hide and seek with those in power at the Centre. While top leaders of the RSS issue statements opposing reservation, a smaller leader in the BJP or the National Democratic Alliance says that the government supports reservations.

Mohan Bhagwat has repeated his opposition to reservations several times. The latest statement, on August 19, said that the question of reservation must be debated. The RSS chief said “that there should be open-hearted debate pertaining to reservation given to SC/ST/OBCs”.

Through the Narendra Modi government, the RSS is implementing its long term agendas. By forcing the state governments to make cow protection laws, it has destabilised the economy of the Shudra farmers who graze the cattle and the food economy of the Dalits/Adivasis and Muslims.

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Also Read: Why Reservations Have to be About Social and Not Just Economic Disadvantage

The law to criminalise Triple Talaq and the reading down of Article 370 are also part of the RSS’s agenda. The other major issues of its long term agenda are building a Ram temple in Ayodhya and the abrogation of reservation. The RSS will take steps toward that in the near future.

The same Modi who galvanised the OBC votes will be forced to legislate a Reservation Abrogation Act. That day is not too far. The anti-reservation intellectuals affiliated with the Congress will fully support such a law. Some like Manish Tiwari and Janardan Dwivedihave already stated their views on reservation. Many so-called secular intellectuals are also anti-reservationist in the name of “merit”.

No light weight to be dismissed

Bhagwat is not a light weight to be dismissed. He has significant influences among the BJP-RSS networks. He is like Kautilya to Chandragupta Maurya. Maurya was the son of Mura, a historical Shudra/OBC woman. Kautilya’s influence ensured that Chandragupta institutionalised the caste system.

The RSS has never asked for debate on the caste system or the anti-science and anti-human character of our institutions. It asked for a debate on Vedas, Ramayan, Mahabharat, where there are no rights for the Shudras, Dalits and Adivasis.

In his public utterances, Bhagwat never speaks about the human equality even within the Hindu religion. He has not spoken out against human untouchability or that it should be abolished within the Hindu religion. He does not raise the issue of priesthood rights to Shudras, OBCs, Dalit andAdivasis within the Hindu religion. He never makes a public statement that women should get equal rights along with men in Hinduism. He does not call for a debate on uniform school education to all children of all classes and castes in rural and urban areas. We know that English being the medium of education in private sector and regional languages in government schools is creating a huge gap in opportunities.

Also Read: In Andhra Village, Ten Generations of Dalit Priests Offer a Lesson on Social Harmony

Bhagwat is an open advocate for abrogation of certain rights people achieved through their historical struggles.

He never makes a statement about abolition of the caste system, about dismantling Brahminical hegemony, both in Hinduism and outside. He does not talk about increasing the wages of agrarian labourers, who mainly are Dalits and OBCs. But he repeatedly wants a “serious discussion” about reservation, obviously not to strengthen it, but to abrogate them.

The RSS is keen on ending reservations. Credit: Shome Basu

A silent prime minister

Whenever he issues a major statement reservations, Prime Minister Modi remains silent. His silence is nothing but the acceptance of the guru’s dictum. The SCs, STs and OBCs within the organisation work as muscle power and are conditioned not to oppose the ultimate guru’s orders. They are told that the RSS does everything in the interest of the nation. Nation’s interest is above the interests of different sections.

Dalit, OBC and Adivasis are only sections. The Brahminical meritwalas are the nation. After all, that has been the historical Hindu order and it should not be disturbed. For the SC, ST and OBCs within the Sangh, the “minority enemy” is more important than the equal rights of all castes, communities and women.

The OBC prime minister is no different; after all he is a karyakarta of the RSS. If a Bill to abrogate reservation comes up, he will have to work to get it passed. And there are enough members in the opposition parties to cross the floor and vote for it.

The Shudra, OBC and Dalit regional political formations have no energy to stop Bhagwat’s juggernaut. During the past five years, under the so-called most powerful prime minister, all Central universities, IITs and IIMs were put in the hands of people who agree with Bhagwat on reservations. The BJP has fuelled the anti-reservation sentiment among the castes that are outside the reservation.

Modi himself came from an organisational background that taught them reservations are anti-merit. There are many communists who also believe in that theory. When it comes to sustain caste inequalities, many political boundaries can be rubbed off. Bhagwat will find his real friends the day a Bill to abrogate reservation is introduced. Ambedkar, his ideals and his followers will be defeated.

Will not be a global issue

The reading down of Article 370 became a global issue because the issue is a bilateral one, and because Muslims are a global community. But international forums will not discuss reservations if they are abrogated.

The Dalits, OBCs andAdivasis, as of now, have no English educated intellectual force, even as much as the Indian Muslims, to educate the world about their status in the religion and the country. Muslims have a long history of English educated classes, from the days of Sir Syed Ahmad and the Aligarh Muslim University. But the Dalits and OBCs do not.

Also Read: It’s Time to Defang ‘Meritocracy’, an Argument That Claims Lives

The RSS is definitely preparing the ground to abrogate reservation. The core idea is, as Golwalkar argued in his book We Our Nationhood Defined, the restoration of the classical Varna dharma order. Mahatma Gandhi was also in support of restoring the Varna dharma order, as he always argued for retaining it.

If the RSS-BJP initiates a move to abrogate reservations, there will be number of so-called secular people who will also support them.

Today, the RSS/BJP has found a lot of new supporters for its decision to read down Article 370. Similarly, they will also find new supporters to abrogate reservation. We are in an age of abrogation of rights of Dalits, OBCs, Adivasi, minorities and migrants. This is a new phase of democracy.

Kancha Ilaih Shepherd is political theorist, social activist and author.

Joint Statement issued by 600 eminent Displaced Kashmiri Hindus(Pandits)

Joint Statement issued by 600 eminent Displaced Kashmiri Hindus(Pandits) and their supporters welcoming the Removal of Art 370 and Geo-Political reorganization of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh.

We, the displaced Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits) of Kashmir living across the world hail epoch making decision of the Modi Government to neuter the article 370 and reorganise J&K into two Union Territories.

We, along with vast majority of nationalistic Indians, always believed the Article 370 was the veritable foundation on which a bigoted Muslim State of Jammu and Kashmir was allowed to flourish on the territory of secular India.
We appreciate; the extra ordinary statesmanship and political will of the present government to dismantle the privileged edifice that sustain jihadist separatism in Kashmir.

We, the patriotic Hindus of Kashmir scattered across the Globe join 1.3 billion Indians in celebrating the release of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh from 70 years of bondage and its full integration with Indian nation.

We, the global community of displaced Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits) condemn a handful of discredits individuals, with questionable motives, seeking to unethically; represent Kashmiri Hindus while casting aspersions on the GOI’s historic decision. These individuals are nothing more than victim collaborators who have time and again sought to be  complicit with perpetrators of our genocide.

We, the resilient dsipalced Hindus of Kashmir along with the rest of the conscientious Indians once again hail the emancipating decisions of Modi Govt. to anal article 370 and create two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir & Ladakh. We eagerly await to see the resolute implementation of the changes on the ground.

We, the proud and patriotic Kashmiri Hindus promise our unflinching support to the Govt. of India for ensuring the full success of emancipating change in Jammu and Kashmir. We also offer our unconditional availability for contributing in the success of the new revolutionary changes brought about in Jammu and Kashmir.   

Jammu
Thursday, 22 August 2019

Pakistan goes all out to internationalise Kashmir; Indian government, media would do well to focus attention on PoK

Pakistan goes all out to internationalise Kashmir; Indian government, media would do well to focus attention on PoK

By Tara Kartha, Aug 22, 2019 09:22:00 IST

   

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s impassioned address to the nation with a plea to Srinagar to walk alongside Delhi is not enough.The doomsayers inside and outside the country are waiting for the first sign of failure, and that could be as early as next month, or even next week.Lesson number one for India is that 'strategic communication' matters.

Even as Islamabad is thinking up new ways of getting the Kashmir issue up and into world bodies including the International Court of Justice, there are many within the country – and outside – who are genuinely puzzled at this paroxysm of outrage and disjointed actions. There are, after all, few foreign ministers in the history of diplomacy who have tried to inflame nationals abroad into protesting and creating trouble on the streets.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s call was certainly heeded in the UK, where a horde of hooligans turned up outside the Indian Embassy intent on causing damage. If it didn’t resonate elsewhere, it’s because Pakistani nationals abroad are not prepared to put their residence and future status at risk for a country that seems to have gone over the edge in more ways than one.

File image of Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. AP

The puzzling part of Pakistan’s reaction is that first, the ‘Kashmir dispute’ remains as it is. The new Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019  retains 26 seats for Pakistan Occupied Kashmir in its state Assembly, thus continuing with the Indian position that the whole of Jammu and Kashmir is one and that PoK is disputed territory. The Line of Control remains as it is, and so does the dispute on Siachen. In short, the territorial holding or the claimed area hasn’t changed by an inch. So then what is Pakistan’s outrage all about? It can continue to opt for dialogue on this and related issues any time it chooses to entirely end its sponsorship of terrorism. This has not happened so far. The jihadi infrastructure is on a tenuous hold, but that’s simply not good enough. Arising from that, India can only continue its own position to refuse to talk.

Second, the main aspect of Pakistan’s position – which it has successfully sold to the US media – is that the dissolution of Article 370  is a  ‘unilateral’ action by India. But here’s the interesting part. Pakistan itself has not scrupled to shift, change and carve out its Occupied areas absolutely at will. Remember that the Occupied Areas were sliced up into three portions. In 1962, an area of 6,000 sq km was ceded to China as part of a boundary agreement. This effectively ensured that China would be a shadow ‘third partner’ to the dispute. So no surprises that Beijing is in arm with Islamabad at the UN in highlighting the “Kashmir issue’.

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The second section of some 5,000 square miles was carved out as early as 1947 as “Azad Kashmir’  to give lip service to a ‘free Kashmir’. It is anything but and remains tightly under the control of Islamabad.

The third section of PoK was hived away much earlier on 28 April 1949 in a secret exercise involving Pakistan and 'Azad Kashmir government’ where the latter ceded 24,000 km to Pakistan. Not a single person from these annexed areas was present. Till 2009, the area was not on even on textbooks as a specific area.  In that year it was rechristened Gilgit-Baltistan, and given some limited powers. However, as of date, the area remains in legal limbo, neither part of Pakistan or part of Azad Kashmir, with no media, no internet, and restricted entry to all, barring Chinese officials and workers engaged in the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. It is of course, entirely under the control of the Pakistan Army. Those protesting the media blackout of Kashmir should know that Gilgit-Baltistan has had no free communications for the last 70 years.

The even more interesting point is that Islamabad has continued to tinker with the status of these areas. Last year, the apparently independent 'Azad Kashmir’ saw even its marginal autonomy further eroded by the Thirteenth Amendment to the Interim Constitution of Azad Kashmir 1974. The Amendment was rushed through in the Assembly in just two days and transferred the entire powers of the Council – an amalgam of elected and nominated officials – directly to the prime minister of Pakistan. In addition, the new amendment rather notably states “No law providing for preventive detention shall be made except to deal with persons acting in a manner prejudicial to the integrity, security or defense of Azad Jammu and Kashmir or Pakistan or any part thereof.”

That puts paid to the apparent independence theory. India protested the change on 11 June, 2018 but and let the matter go without undue public activity. It was ignored entirely by international media. In other words, a so-called ‘independent’ entity was virtually made a province of Pakistan, and nobody cared. To cross the ‘T’s and dot the “I’s’, Pakistan chopped, changed and controlled areas that on paper, are entirely outside its constitution. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan — or perhaps even India — can make an international case out of it, if they so wish. It's downright illegal in any court of law.

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The question then arises as to why the ‘international community’ (there's no such thing, but it's nice to pretend there is) has taken no note at all of the ambiguous status of Gilgit-Baltistan where it is in effect, the only stateless place in the world? First, the complete media and communications blackout of the area, where even Pakistani media doesn’t report on it, much less the international reportage. And here’s the mistake – neither did Indian media care to report on it is a reflection of the indifference of New Delhi. ‘Kashmir’ is all over the pages, and PoK is not, not ever, not even now. Pakistan has made sure that Kashmir remained a ‘live’ issue, even through terrorist attacks where everyone knew of Srinagar, stone-pelting and live coverage of Indian counter actions.

Lesson number one for India is that ‘strategic communication’ matters. It mattered during the time of prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and it matters even more now, in the time of the world wide web. Change this, and do it quickly, by explaining the reasons for a media blackout, the need for peace, and the future plans on elections. At another level,  bring up the very real issues that are ‘live’ in PoK including its vassal status. This is a war being fought not in hushed staterooms, but through a wholly ignorant media. Hand out information and hard data on the web, in newspapers, and on TV.

Lesson number two is even more important. The prime minister’s impassioned address to the nation with a plea to Srinagar to walk alongside Delhi is not enough. The benefits have to pour in and at a very un-government like speed. It means involving NGO’s, the private sector and everyone available to ensure that change is delivered literally on the doorstep in areas relatively unaffected by militancy. There’s not much time. The doomsayers inside and outside the country are waiting for the first sign of failure, and that could be as early as next month, or even next week. So far the enigmatic silence is only deafening.

Third, is a far more difficult task, which is to shut up those loose cannons who are calling for a blitz kreig into PoK.  Pakistan’s sole objective is to cry out that war is imminent and use the narrative of the ‘most dangerous place on earth’. Delhi needs to deny such an eventuality entirely, by stating that we have better things to do, and meanwhile allow the army to simply seal up the Line of Control. Delhi can control the situation in Kashmir through a patient healing process. But it needs to use diktat to control its own party.



https://www.firstpost.com/india/pakistan-goes-all-out-to-internationalise-kashmir-indian-government-media-would-do-well-to-focus-attention-on-pok-7204661.html

August 21, 2019

My experience with Independence Day in UK

“My first hand experience of the attack on Indian High Commission”

Indian Independence Day Celebrations at IHC London

Factual Report by Kiran Pasunuri

At 11 am I received a call from a friend asking where I was. I said that I was boarding a train and will be there before 12. By the time I had reached Holborn it was exactly 12 as the roads were jammed with coaches. People were flocking towards Aldwych IHC.

The Pakistanis had planned their attack like a military operation. They had scouts out as early as 11 AM to scope out the area and had a very clear plan of action. There were 10 to 15 ringleaders who coordinated the entire attack plan. Everyone else was well briefed and well trained. First they tried to encircle from the left flank. There was a sudden surge and deliberate attempts to break the barriers, which then did break. The Indians were trying to defend the barriers as there were hardly any police and those that were there were totally ineffective and unresponsive.

The police moved us back. This was counterproductive because the Pakistanis started to encircle us from behind where there were no police to protect us. So we were boxed in by 2,000 Pakistanis in front and 2,000 behind and the walls of the Indian High Commission on both sides. Indian strength was about 250 with roughly 50% women and children. The Pakistanis were extremely abusive, violent and uses unrepeatable foul language. They were making lewd gestures and hitting the women and children. One of my brothers was punched and another received a blow to the head from a glass bottle which had been lobbed at us. My friend CK Naidu who was covering the photography of the Independence Day celebrations was beaten by Pakistanis until he was black and blue. They vandalised his camera  and expensive lenses.

The Pakistanis were also extremely, extremely abusive about our dear Indian Prime Minister, who has brought uparalleled reform to India. They tried to light fire to our beloved Indian flag 🇮🇳 When it would not light they tore it into four parts. Poonam Joshi of ANI, Gampa Venugopal and I were chased as we tried to recover the Indian flag 🇮🇳

Police were very few. About 10-15 to start with and 50 later. At least 300 were needed and we kept asking them for more force but thet kept their strength well below what was necessary throughout the day. They did not react to the developing situation and could not protect us.

We sought help from different sources in high offices, such as from the Home Sectreary. She replied that she needed official representation from proper channels, e.g. from the Indian High Commissioner. Indian High Commission did their best but the Home Secretary did not respond quickly even to her.

Meanwhile these Jihadis were attacking elders, women and children with  elderly men and women and children with frozen water bottles and other missiles. Almost  every one was hit. Children were crying and we shielded them as best as we could.

IHC was also unable to help to safeguard these 200 people for 3 full hours as all IHC entrances were occupied by the Khalistani and  Pakistani Jihadi groups. If the IHC had opened their doors to help us these murderous jihadis would have rushed into the IHC.

All this while we were facing these rascals with  tension and anxiety but also unbelievable patriotism. We refused to be cowed down, and all men and women were chanting jai Hind and Vandemataram.

Finally the  Indian High commissioner managed to get addittonal Riot Police. Their arrival was greeted by cheers and they managed to push the Jihadis back enough from the IHC's private property  to allow us to enter the High Comission.

Women,children and elders entered first. We we were given a warm welcome, a meal and water. Ruchi Ghanshyam ji the High Comissioner welcomed us and addressed us. She told us that this was our home and she had tried very hard to rescue us. We sung the  national anthem and Vande Matram and made a pledge to come to support India a 1000 times if needed. If our soldiers can take bullets for us, surely we can take  a few bottles and eggs and tamatars. We are very proud that we held our ground against these Jihadis trained by Pakistan.

It is a legal right to protest but it should be peaceful, not hurting anyone or their sentiments. The Pakistanis showed the world what kind of culture they are brought up in. They are brainwashed and trained to have Jihadi mentality - they were carrying large knives and tried to attack even the police. Only the special riots police managed to detain them.

In contrast, HC Mrs Ruchi Ghanashyam has commended the peaceful resilience and bravery of the Indians in the face of adversity and threats and every possibility of stampede.

The prologue to this event is that Pakistanis were planning this entire episode with the support of Pakistan State funds and orchestrated by a close friend of Imran Khan. Sayed Bukhari, ‘Special Assistant to the PM for Overseas Pakistanis & HRD’, was present and inciting the protesters. Amongst the crowd, Lord Nazir Ahmed, who is currently on trial for child sexual assault and has a history of inflammatory divisive speeches, was another leader instigating this aggression and rabid atmosphere. They had  organised more then 200 busses from each and every town across the UK with the help of local mosques and madrassas and funded by Pakistan. Every bus was loaded with food and drinks supplies and refreshments were handed out throughout the protest.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Home Secretary Preeti Patel have not given any statement. Their negligence implies silent support by Mayor Sadiq Khan to the Pakistan 🇵🇰 State-sponsored coup. Each and every bus transporting Pakistanis to London carried valid bus permits. How did they obtain these without the support of the London Mayor?

There has been no BBC media coverage highlighting the victims' voice. The BBC has only boasted about how effectively Pakistanis organised the protest. It is criminal that BBC has exposed itself to taking such a biased position by promoting so many second-generation Pakistanis in key roles.

Why did the Metropolitan police not foresee and put adequate mitigation steps in place? Why did they not learn from what happened when Indian Prime Minister Modi visited the UK?

Who approved the permit for this protest and for what number of protesters?

Who is responsible for the law and order of London?

Why has Sadiq Khan not uttered a word for the victims? Does he feel he belongs to and represents one particular community only? Mr Mayor, do you want to convert London to Londonistan?

In the failure of the London Mayors Office, why did Number 10 Downing Street not intervene? Don’t they think 250 Indian lives matter? 

The Indian dispora of 1.5 million people should all think very carefully next time they vote. We are peaceful, community people. We contribute hugely to the economy, providing 10% of the UK's tax revenue taxes, high employment rates and successful British businesses. Why are our voices not heard by any political party including Labour Party and ruling Conservatives? So far no Indian Origin MP has contacted us in solidarity.   It shows their response towards the Indian community. When they need us we supported them in every manner. When they request our votes, we should give them a strong answer.

This is my personal experience and reflection after standing in something equivalent to a war zone. I came to develop my new hobby of photography and to celebrate the India's 73rd Independence Day with song, dance and happiness. I left with a friend beaten black and blue, an Indian flag ripped to pieces, and memories of a very harrowing ordeal.

Kiran Pasunuri
My experience with Independence Day in UK

Multi-billion dollar fine on Pakistan puts the spotlight on a secret court

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The Reko Diq mine case shows the overreach of a secretive arbitration system.

Last month, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a global quasi-court, slapped more than a $5 billion fine on Pakistan in an arbitration case involving a gold and copper mine.

But the ICSID, which is part of the World Bank Group, didn’t initially announce its decision. There was nothing on its website. Except for perhaps the lawyers involved in the case, hardly anyone had seen the judgement*.

Instead, the news of the award came through Antofagasta and Barrick Gold, the two multinational mining companies seeking compensation, which is one of the largest ever awarded by the ICSID.

ICSID is part of what is known as the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism, which was formed to address the grievances of foreign investors.

The controversial system allows multinational companies to sue countries - but the countries can’t sue the companies.

In recent years, ISDS tribunals, such as the ones at the ICSID, have faced increasing scrutiny. The secret nature of the proceedings, the hefty legal fees, the impartiality of lawyers, and how compensation awards are decided have all come into question.

Pakistan’s case has generated an unusual buzz among people who follow such legal issues as the award is sure to hurt a country reeling from an economic crisis — its currency has lost more than a third of its value, the stock market is one of the worst-performing in the world and GDP growth has tapered off.

There are billions of dollars worth of rare earth minerals buried under the site of Reko Diq. (Reuters)
ICSID’s award is almost as much as the $6 billion bailout loan that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government will receive from the IMF over the next three years.

“It is extremely rare to see awards of this size even though it has happened in a few cases,” says Dr Lauge Poulsen, an associate professor in international political economy at University College London.

Poulsen wrote a book that looks into the impact of ICSID decisions on developing countries, including Pakistan (the book cites a previous case).

The fine has left experts wondering if the three-men tribunal considered Pakistan’s economic woes or if Islamabad’s lawyers, including Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, brought up the possibility that paying such an award could cripple the country.

For Islamabad, which is struggling to pay off its foreign debt, the mine at the centre of the dispute has become a mirage — Pakistan saw riches and a path to prosperity, but when it got closer, it disappeared and became a liability. Many are wondering how it all came to this.

Mountain of Gold

In 1993, Australian mining giant BHP (formerly BHP Billiton) began exploring gold and copper prospects in Balochistan, Pakistan’s insurgency-hit province that borders Iran and Afghanistan.

The Reko Diq mine is located in the Chagai district where Pakistan carried out its nuclear tests two decades ago. The area is a desert overlooked by an imposing peak called Koh e Dalil (which translates to 'the Mountain of Evidence').

When exploration teams landed there for the first time, there were no roads, no water and no electricity. People in nearby villages lived in tents made of goat and sheepskin. The dust storms were blinding.

“There is no doubt the mining company invested in the project. They built an entire airfield and there used to be daily flights bringing in engineers and supplies,” says Sardar Shaukat Popalzai, head of a Balochistan-based think tank.

The mine, which is part of the geological Tethyan belt, is considered one of the richest in the world.

BHP drilled dozens of holes, dug out samples and concluded that the mine could produce substantial quantities of minerals at a profit.

In 2006, the ownership of the project passed on to a consortium of Chile’s Antofagasta and Canada-based Barrick Gold, the world’s largest miner of the precious metal.

They began work on the mine under a subsidiary called Tethyan Copper Company (TCC).

But in 2011, the Balochistan government refused to permit the mining companies to start digging for the minerals, saying it was not getting a good deal.

Aslam Raisani, the then chief minister of the province, says he wanted the companies to smelt the metals in the country instead of exporting the concentrate.

"In the first meeting I had with them they brought a proposal to build a long pipeline to transport the slurry and export it. I couldn’t allow that. The mining rules didn’t allow export of the concentrate,” Raisani told TRT World.

“Then they came again a short time later with the same proposal. I said no, I won’t let this happen.”

Former Balochistan Chief Minister Aslam Raisani insists Barrack and Antofagasta were not giving his province a fair deal in the Reko Diq mining project. (Getty Images)
On their part, the investors feel they have sufficiently compensated Balochistan, which has a share of 25 percent in the expected profit from the mine.

Raisani is not alone in insisting that the mineral ore be processed within the country. Pakistan doesn’t have labs to adequately test samples and confidently estimate the quantity of minerals that can be extracted from the ore.

In recent years, mineral exporting states such as Tanzania and Zambia have taken multinational companies to court in similar situations.

They say mining firms siphon off profit through a web of offshore subsidiaries that bloat up the cost of mining operations - a practice known as transfer pricing.

A bilateral conundrum

Failing to get a mining permit, Antofagasta and Barrick took Pakistan to international arbitration at the ICSID in late 2011.

The ICSID Convention was adopted on October 14 1966, to appease rich countries concerned with their investments in developing nations. Pakistan signed the convention two days later, among a handful of countries to do so that year.

But the convention didn’t guarantee that a country where an investment is being made will necessarily allow an ICSID tribunal to arbitrate in case of a dispute.

This gap was inadvertently filled by what is known as Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) agreements that governments sign to promote private investment from other countries, Andreas F. Lowenfeld, who helped draft the convention, said in a 2007 speech.

“[The] developed world was worried about protecting their corporations. There was a lack of trust about local governments, courts and about being getting treated fairly,” says Dr Kyla Tienhaara, a Canadian academic, who was among the first to express concern about ICSID’s decision in Reko Diq case.

“So the West wanted to protect their firms going abroad, and they came up with bilateral investment treaties.”

And here again, Pakistan took the lead when it signed the world’s first BIT with West Germany in 1959.

Criticism of ISDS has increased in recent years and some EU parliamentarians say the system must be revamped. (Getty Images)
For more than three decades, ICSID was almost dormant with only a handful of investors reaching out to seek arbitration. That began to change in the early 2000s and ever since there has been a steady rise in arbitration requests.

Experts say that’s primarily because creative lawyers saw a loophole in the BITs, which allowed companies to threaten and sue governments. More than 60 percent of the arbitrations heard by ICSID tribunals stem from BITs.

The Reko Diq case in Pakistan has been decided under the BIT that the country signed with Australia in 1998.

“This is a textbook case. We have companies, which are from Chile and Canada but they have a subsidiary office in a third country - because Australia has this investment treaty with Pakistan,” says Nicolas Roux of Bilaterals.org that keeps tracks of trade treaties.

It is only in recent years that governments have realised the negative impact of such deals and a few countries like South Africa and Indonesia have started to cancel them.

Pakistan has more than 60 BITs with different countries - one of the largest portfolios held by a developing country. Many of them were signed by officials who had no idea what they were doing.

“Even government records admit that the Pakistani government did not fully appreciate the nature of the obligations they were undertaking,” says Poulsen of University College London.

“In many cases, Pakistani officials in the past looked at the BITs mainly as a photo opportunity; something for the press, a kind of a diplomatic token of goodwill.”

Pakistan’s former Attorney General Makhdoom Ali Khan has on record saidthat he had to Google what BIT and ICSID were when the country was first hit by an arbitration case in 2001 by Swiss firm SGS.

Voodoo finance

Antofagasta and Barrick had long written off their $220 million investment in the Reko Diq project. The companies no longer mention it in their financial statements.

It remains unclear what parameters the tribunal considered to award multibillion-dollar damages based on that investment.

“I find it so appalling. This is a ridiculous sum of money,” says Tienhaara, the Canadian academic. “I don’t know how can you come up with this kind of award if you had taken into consideration the implications for the country.”

Barrick Gold runs large mines in countries such as Tanzania where activists complain the Canadian miner hasn't done much for the locals. (Getty Images)
In previous cases, the arbitrators have considered what an investor might have earned from a project over its life to decide the compensation.

But Robert Howse of the New York University calls it “junk science”.

“How do we predict how a particular business is going to do in 20 years? Do we take into account climate change? What presumptions do we make about technology and how it will change?” Howse said in a recent interview.

While both sides bring experts including financial consultants, the arbitrators who make the final decision, are mostly lawyers who are not well-versed in such complex financial projections.

Back in 2011, the consortium was planning to invest $3.4 billion over a period of three years to develop the mine. It also said Pakistan would earn a revenue of $25 billion over the 56-year lifespan of the project.

But Antofagasta and Barrick’s history, which involves allegations of corruption and manipulation of tax records, raises a lot of questions about what the companies say publicly in their published statements.

Barrick was in a long dispute with the Tanzanian government, which accused the Canadian miner of hiding the real profits at its mines, says Jamie Keen of the watchdog Mining Watch.

“A big problem is how do you verify what the companies say. In Tanzania, there was a network for customs officials who were conspiring with the company to hide the quantity of gold in the concentrate.”

The ISDS system also faces criticism for not taking up disputes that involve the concerns of local communities and the environmental degradation where these mining companies operate.

“The irony of the whole arbitration system is that the citizens have no access to it,” says Keen.

Not a happy ending

Soon after the award was announced, Antofagasta said it was willing to negotiate a settlement. Pakistan responded positively - the country was left with no other option.

Reaching a settlement is a drawn-out process. And if Pakistan fails to pay, then the companies can try to seize its international assets as is happening in the case of Venezuela.

The consortium has already approached a US court in the District of Columbia to enforce the award. 

Khan wants to investigate the entire matter and pin responsibility on the officials who put Pakistan into a difficult, possibly crippling, situation.

It remains unclear whether Islamabad told the tribunal that it was almost impossible for the country to pay the compensation considering its foreign exchange reserves are barely enough to pay for a few weeks of imports.

“There’s no way but to come to some sort of settlement,” Ahmar Bilal Soofi, who was part of Pakistan’s legal team, said in brief remarks to TRT World.

What that means financially for Pakistan is something only the lawyers can tell us.

*Editor's Note: The judgement was made public in August this year around the same time the companies filed a petition in a US court to enforce the award.

https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/multi-billion-dollar-fine-on-pakistan-puts-the-spotlight-on-a-secret-court-29141

CAAPR: East Africa Update


August 19, 2019

Internecine clashes, maritime disputes and terrorist violence
continued to be the hallmark of recent developments in East Africa.
However, most countries are looking progressive as they are able to
contain and manage negative consequences of these seemingly unending
problems. Added to the list is Africa’s debt crisis precipitated by
China’s lending practices.

Africa’s Debt

Africa’s excessive debt burden has created ripples through the
continent and will be one of the main agenda items of the Tokyo
International Conference on African Development later this month.
China’s lending practices, which is the main cause of the debt burden,
are expected to be debated during the conference to be held between
August 28-30 in Yokohama city.  Leaders from 54 African countries and
international organisations are expected to attend. Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe is proposing to announce a series of measures to help
African countries with fiscal consolidation.

Several countries including Congo, Ethiopia, Zambia, Zimbabwe etc.,
have either got their Chinese debts re-structured or in the process of
doing it.  Meanwhile, China Everbright Bank, one of the largest
investment arms of China, has placed Zimbabwe on a sanctions list.
Ten other African countries are also similarly blacklisted.  These
include Sudan, South Sudan, DRC, Burundi, Liberia, Central Africa
Republic (CAR), Libya, Somalia and Ivory Coast.

Political and Security Scenario - Somalia

From political and security point of view, Somalia, located on the
Horn of Africa, is perhaps the worst affected being torn between
conflicting interests of its neighbours and the Gulf Sheikhdoms.  Its
loosely held federal states are trying to shake free from central
control to conduct their affairs independently. The resulting unstable
conditions have proven to be a rich breeding ground for rapacious
Islamist terror groups.

Somalia’s maritime border dispute with neighbouring Kenya is coming up
for a hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on September
19. Mogadishu accuses Kenya of encroaching on its 100,000 square
kilometre territory which is known to be rich in oil and gas deposits.
Kenya has sought help of other influential countries to pressure
Somalia to withdraw the case, without much success.  With the advent
of oil and gas companies, backed by their Governments, the issue is
getting more complicated.  The Arab League has already warned Kenya to
stop interfering in Somalia’s waters.

Kenya’s stakes are high. If it loses the case, it will be landlocked,
complicating its security and business arrangements, according to
experts. Kenya has thus launched an all-effort campaign for support to
win a non-permanent seat of the UN Security Council and use the status
to influence the boundary outcome. According to diplomatic sources,
battle lines are already drawn with China, Russia, and UK, along with
the Gulf states, backing Somalia, while France and the US are
supportive of the Kenyan stand.

The GCC conflict between Qatar on one side and Saudi Arabia and the
UAE on the other is also playing up for influence in Somalia and other
African countries.  According to some reports, the Emir of Qatar,
Sheikh Tamim, is believed to be supplying their armies with armoured
vehicles and other materials to cut down their dependency on Saudi
Arabia.

The New York Times recently reported alleging Qatar’s role in a
terrorist bomb attack in Bosaso city, the commercial and economic hub
of the Somalia’s federal state of Puntland. The regional government
has called for an investigation into the Qatar’s role in the May 12
attack, which was claimed by an IS-affiliated group.  The Times report
revealed an audio recording of a cell phone conversation of a
businessman close to the Emir of Qatar with its Ambassador to Somalia
saying that the bombing was carried out to advance Qatar’s interests
in the country and drive out the UAE.  P&O Ports, a subsidiary of the
Dubai-based DP World – one of the world’s largest port operators – won
a 30-year concession in 2017 worth $336m (Pounds 260m) to develop and
manage the Bosaso port.

Notwithstanding these conflicting political interests, the national
government and regional administrations have been battling to defeat
Islamist terrorist forces across the country.  Such national resolve,
backed by the UN and neighbouring countries, can be witnessed in the
most terror-affected state of Jubbaland.  The state is seen as Kenya’s
buffer against Somali militant group, al-Shabaab. Kenya and Ethiopia,
therefore, have high stakes for peace and stability in Jubbaland,
which has close ties with them, though clan connections.

So, all eyes are on the region’s presidential election scheduled for
August 19. Sheikh Ahmed Islam Madobe, leader of the Ras Kamboni
Brigade, a local militia group opposed al-Shabaab, is strong contender
for the post.  He ran a previous government, supported by Kenya and
Ethiopia as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom),
that eliminated al-Shabaab from most of the vulnerable Kismayu region.
  His other contenders are Abdinasir Seraar, a former Ras Kamboni
Brigade comrade and former Aviation and Transport minister Mohamed
Omar.  The latter is said to be the favourite of Somalia’s Federal
Government as it seeks to take control of federal states.

Mogadishu agrees with Jubbaland on the main concern of resurgence of
al-Shabaab hence the need for deployment of Kenyan and Ethiopian
forces as part of Amisom for security, but likes the defense duties to
be gradually passed over to the Somali National Army. The two sides
also are alive on the economic prospects of the region and as a
result, they along with the European Union launched last year an
inclusive local economic development program to prepare the area for
foreign investments.

Elections in Ethiopia on schedule

Ethiopian ruling coalition has now announced to hold national
elections next year keeping aside all speculations of it being
postponed over security problems emanating from a failed coup in June
in the north Amhara region and an increase in ethnic violence across
the country, which led to displacement of 2.4 million people.  Dozens
killed in the southern Sidama region as it prepared to declare itself
a federal state on July 19.  The Sidama are Ethiopia’s fifth biggest
ethnic group, making up four per cent of the population, who demanded
their own province like other four bigger communities have under the
country’s ethnically based federal system. A referendum promised for
the purpose could not be conducted due to various technical reasons
and it was agreed to delay it for some time.  Those who did not agree
went on a rampage.

The country has seen a series of political and economic reforms under
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed which gave new freedoms to rival factions
that are now emboldened to use violence seeking redressal of their
grievances.  Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous country.  With
main line political opposition groups too are keen to avoid any delays
in election schedule, the ruling coalition is confident to go ahead
with the elections.

Ethiopia has also faced a set back with much applauded peace process
with Eritrea losing steam.  Many of the border crossings are shut down
again in recent days and much anticipated trade deals and access to
Eritrea’s ports remained unfulfilled.

New hope in Sudan

Sudan finally appears to be returning to normalcy with the main
opposition coalition and ruling military council signing a final
power-sharing agreement on August 17 paving the way for a transitional
government. The agreement appears have to wider acceptance with many
regional and international dignitaries like Ethiopian Prime Minister
Abiy and South Sudan President Salva Kiir attending the signing
ceremony.

Peace returns to Mozambique

The Southeastern nation of Mozambique too witnessed its historical
moment with the Frelimo Government and ex-rebel group Renamo signing a
peace deal on August 6 aimed at ending years of conflict.  The deal
comes just two months before general elections to be held on October
15.  The two sides had a fragile peace pact agreed in 1992 which was
broken off in 2013 following a military raid on a Renamo’s camp.
Experts opine that the latest peace accord has better chances of
success as it satisfies most demands of the Renamo party for political
inclusion and control over the areas they dominate.  It is now
recognized as the country’s main opposition party, allowing it to
compete for provincial governorships and prove their prowess in
governance. The process of disarmament and registration of Renamo
fighters is, however, slow but expected to pick up after elections.
Skeptics have their own doubts, though.

Meanwhile, Islamist insurgency is gaining greater foothold in the
impoverished north where more than 250 people fell victims to terror
since 2017. “Poverty is the fuel of the present violence in northern
Mozambique,” said Eleanor Beevor, a research analyst at the
London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.  However,
the recent efforts to develop its huge coal and natural gas deposits
hold a promise of greater distribution of wealth and growth in the
poorer regions.

No Respite in Rwanda

Political suppression seems to be at its height in recent days in
Rwanda with many of the opposition members “mysteriously”
disappearing.  Critics say that political rivals are being put to
increased intimidation, violence, imprisonment and prospect of
disappearing.  FDU Vice President Bahunga says: "The system has put in
place certain laws and policies that make it impossible, make it
criminal, to question the government." President Paul Kagame has ruled
the country since the genocide in 1994. Rwanda ranked 128th out of 167
countries on the 2018 Democracy Index of the Economist, just above
China.

(CAAPR - Hyderabad-based think tank, the Centre for Asia-Africa Policy Research)

August 20, 2019

Kashmir: How deeply China is entrenched in J&K


Kashmir: How deeply China is entrenched in J&K

China is deeply entrenched in Kashmir. And, this is not limited to the cold desert of Aksai Chin, having a population of less than 10,000 people.

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Prabhash K Dutta New DelhiAugust 20, 2019UPDATED: August 20, 2019 13:49 IST

China-built Karakoram Highway passes through Gilgit-Baltistan, which is part of Jammu and Kashmir and in illegal occupation of Pakistan, which ceded an area of over 5,000 sq km in the region to China. (Photo: WikiCommons)

HIGHLIGHTS

China occupied Aksai Chin in 1962 war and has retained control over the regionIn 1963, Pakistan ceded a part of Gilgit-Baltistan to China giving it more access in J&KChina increased its hold in PoK with $60 billion CPEC project passing through Gilgit-Baltistan

Irked by India's decision to offer shelter to Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama in the late 1950s, China launched a treacherous attack on India in 1962. Some observers have seen an element of envy in Chinese leader Mao Zedong for the diplomatic stature of Jawaharlal Nehru, the then prime minister of India.

Chinese forces humiliated the Indian Army and captured Aksai Chin, which roughly forms 20 per cent of Jammu and Kashmir. This gave China a big foothold in Jammu and Kashmir, which acts as a watch tower for central Asia.

A year later, China coaxed Pakistan to hand over more than 5,000 sq km of land in trans-Karakoram just northwest of the Siachen glacier. Pakistan handed over this land under boundary agreement with China with hope that the latter would stop pushing into Pakistan-occupied areas of Jammu and Kashmir. On earlier instances - since 1959, China had been showing some areas in the region on its maps as Chinese territories.

China did stop military pressure after 1963 agreement but started economic investment to increase its stake in the region. Pakistan thought ceding a part of Shaksgam Valley would act as a guarantee that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir was not a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.

China started constructing the Karakoram Highway from Kashgar in its Xinjiang province to Abbotabad in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (then known as North West Frontier Province) of Pakistan.

India rejected the 1963 border agreement as illegal and objected to construction of the Karakoram Highway. But India lodged a formal complaint to China over construction of the highway only in 2009. By this time, China had increased its investment plan in Pakistan-occupied regions of Jammu and Kashmir.

The 1963 agreement and Pakistan's decision to vote in the United Nations in support of China as the inheritor of veto in the UNSC earlier held by Taipei, served another purpose. China, which had maintained neutrality till 1962 on Kashmir, became a vocal supporter of Pakistan's claim on Kashmir.

China repeatedly raised this issue on international forums including the UN. The 1963 agreement offers China a chance to acquire more land in Jammu and Kashmir once the boundary question between India and Pakistan over this state is resolved.

China hoped during 1960s, 1970s and 1980s that a settlement of Jammu and Kashmir in favour of Pakistan would help it gain more land and greater share in this region of immense strategic value.

However, when geo-strategy shifted through 1980s to economy and financial strength, China moderated its stand on Kashmir and began making reference to 1972 Shimla agreement between India and Pakistan which called for a bilateral settlement of all disputes.

Pakistan ceded a part of Shaksgam Valley to China in 1963. China already had captured Aksai Chin by then. (Photo: Twitter)

India-China economic relation flourished in 1990s and 2000s. Currently, the bilateral trade volume between China and India is likely to cross $100 billion in 2019 with India reporting a deficit of $53 billion for 2018.

In comparison, the volume of annual China-Pakistan trade is around $15 billion. China needs India more for economic well-being and Pakistan to hold strategic advantage. This explained why China changed its stand on Kashmir from aggressively pro-Pakistan to "neutral".

Over time, China has pumped huge investment into Pakistan and came up with a detailed plan to fulfil its long-held ambition to have an opening in the Indian Ocean through the Gwadar port of Pakistan. China showed renewed interest in Gwadar port in late 1990s and began its reconstruction in 2002.

For China to reach Gwadar, in the restive Pakistani province of Balochistan, it had to build a passage through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was devised and announced in 2015 with an investment plan of $46 billion. The cost of the CPEC has now increased to $60 billion.

The CPEC passes through Gilgit-Baltistan, a part of Jammu and Kashmir. China has got its own troops for security of the development projects in the corridor. In 2017, China made the CPEC part of its Belt and Road Initiative, which India protested saying it violated its sovereignty.

People in Gilgit-Baltistan protest against China and CPEC which passes through Gilgit, fearing it will create huge ecological imbalance. pic.twitter.com/beE862jNRi

ANI (@ANI) July 30, 2017


China has been concerned over the security of CPEC forcing Pakistan to deploy 17,000-20,000 troops including around 5,000 from the special forces of the Pakistan Army. But China, still sceptical, is reported to have deployed its own soldiers in Gilgit-Baltistan as well as Balochistan.

Soldiers of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China have been spotted by the Indian Army on several occasions in the proximity of the Line of Control (LoC) in PoK. Reports also suggest that PLA soldiers are present in Balochistan for the safety of projects in the CPEC.

US defence department, Pentagon in May this year said China is planning to set up permanent military base in Pakistan. No official figures have been given, but it is estimated that around 11,000-13,000 PLA troops could be in Pakistan for CPEC.

The construction of CPEC has made China a serious stakeholder in Kashmir even though India has maintained that entire Jammu and Kashmir is its integral part. The merger of Jammu and Kashmir with India was legally upheld in the UN as stated in the first resolution on the issue.

Later the Shimla accord made only India and Pakistan negotiating partners over Kashmir issue. But now China is also deeply entrenched in Kashmir. And, this is not limited to the cold desert of Aksai Chin, having a population of less than 10,000 people.

https://www.indiatoday.in/news-analysis/story/kashmir-how-deeply-china-is-entrenched-in-j-k-1582656-2019-08-20

August 19, 2019

China and the United States: Cooperation, Competition, and/or Conflict



By Anthony H. Cordesman

August 7, 2019

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Introduction

This report is an experimental net assessment that addresses China's emergence as a global superpower, and its competition with the United States. The report is entitled China and the U.S.: Cooperation, Competition and/or Conflict. The entire report, and the report is available on the CSIS web site in several forms:
Key sections are available on the CSIS web site in PDF form by clicking on each section title below. The size of some of these PowerPoints may present problems for some IT systems, but quick comparisons of different Chinese and U.S. policy statements and assessments, and of the graphics and data that summarize the trends and issues involved are only possible if PowerPoint is used. The PDF versions are smaller but make it far more difficult to quickly compare a broad range of different trends.
A PDF version of the full report is available here. This document allows the user to skim through comparisons of all the net assessment’s different sections, but the assessment’s length and the PDF format make it difficult to explore given issues in detail.

Organization and Contents of the Report

The net assessment is divided into eight major sections: 
PART ONE: China's National Strategy provides summaries of China’s evolving strategy using direct quotes from its key white papers, particularly its 2019 Defense White Paper. It then provides similar excerpts from the new U.S. National Security and National Defense Strategies that the United States issued in 2017 and 2018, and from assessments of Chinese strategy by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Defense, DIA, and INDOPACOM.
It should be noted that the Chinese 2019 White Paper came after the changes in U.S. national strategy and the U.S. assessments of China’s military developments, and that much of its contents clearly respond to the shifts in America’s declared strategy and assessments. Accordingly, these quotes provide a clear picture of the very different Chinese and U.S. views of Chinese and U.S. competition and of which power is increasing the level of tension and prospects for potential conflict. They set the stage for the detailed assessments of economic and military trends and issues that follow.
PART TWO: China’s Emerging Economic Power provides official assessments of the importance of economic developments and competition in Chinese strategy and U.S. assessments of the trends in Chinese forces, and the provides a wide range of graphics, maps, and data that show the rate of Chinese growth. It assesses trends in trade and technology as well as total economies, and the potential causes of limits to China’s growth and emergence as an economic superpower.
PART THREE: Shaping Economic Competition To Serve Strategic Interestsnotes reporting by the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense that stresses the leading impact of China’s economic growth on its competition with the U.S. It examines the importance of China’s road and belt initiatives, and its growing share of the global economy and trade.
PART FOUR: The Superpower Balance AND Chinese Grand Strategy addresses Chinese official views of the shift in the global military balance in its 2019 Defense White Paper and the contrasting official views of OSD and DIA, and then provides a range of different quantitative assessments of the global military balance between China, the U.S., and Russia that shows the extent to which each nation can compete as a “superpower.” It compares the very different Chinese, OSD, DIA, IISS, and SIPRI estimates of defense spending by China, the U.S., Russia, and other powers. It provides summaries of Chinese and OSD views of China’s expanding technology base, and analyzes the importance of arms transfer to both improving China’s military technology and its level of influence over other states.  
PART FIVE: Key Areas of U.S. Military Focus describes the developments on U.S. strategy and forces in Asia that are shaping the U.S. side of its military competition with China, and lays the foundation for comparisons with the analyses of China’s strategic positions and forces that follow. It shows the size and deployments of U.S. forces, as well as the U.S.-Chinese balance, and other key military power balances in Asia. It also shows DIA and OSD maps and assessments of total Chinese military deployments by military service, the Chinese claims that are the focus of U.S. concern, and the expansion of Chinese naval, air, and missile power in the Western Pacific that is a key source of U.S. concern.
PART SIX: China, the U.S., and Other Asian Powers — Competing Claims in Asia and the Pacific focuses on the competing Chinese and other country claims in the Western Pacific and the Chinese build-up of forces in the South China Sea that is a key U.S. strategic concernIt analyzes the economic, trade, energy, and strategic impact of these issues as well as their military importance.
PART SEVEN: Chinese strategic developments Affecting Other Asian Powers covers China’s official position on its strategic relations with every major power on its borders, the official U.S. view of China’s strategic relations with each state, and the sources of Chinese tension or cooperation. It should be noted that China does not address Mongolia or North Korea in its White Papers, and minimizes its discussion of Japan and South Korea. It has steadily identified Taiwan as key strategic concern, however, and potential source of conflict. Supporting policy summaries, maps, and charts highlight key areas of potential U.S. and other nation competition with China.
PART EIGHT: Chinese Force Development and Modernizationexamines the key force trend in each major aspect of Chinese force development. Once again, the quotes are provided from both Chinese White Papers and U.S. strategy documents and official assessments of China’s forces. The subsections that follow cover China’s nuclear forces and other weapons of mass destruction, its rocket and missile forces, its shift to advanced forms of military technology and warfare, each of its military services, and the changing role of its paramilitary forces and counterterrorism capabilities.

Methodology

Aside from a brief one-page introductions to each major section and some subsections, the report does not make independent comments about the Chinese and U.S. official statements that it presents, or the analytic material that follows. It lets each country speak for itself, and then provides a range of graphics, charts, and tables to address key trends and issues without making judgments or interpretations of their content. Its purpose is to provide a range of official views, and of expert data on the course of Chinese progress and competition with the U.S. and other states with only a minimum of comments and value judgement by the authors.

The key policy statements do speak for themselves, but they are political, unclassified, and designed to make each nation’s case — rather than be objective. The surveys in each section and subsection that then draw on graphic material and analysis taken from official sources, as well as from research by a variety of thinks and media sources. survey of official and graphic views of the China’s evolving ability to achieve parity with — and compete with — the U.S. and other powers in civil and military terms. Accordingly, virtually all of the graphics, tables, and summary assessments displayed in the various sections of this report are drawn from the sources cited on each page.

These sources include primary sources like Chinese White Papers, the assessments of Chinese military power by Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in the United States; and other official Chinese, U.S., Japanese, South Korea, Taiwanese, IMF, UN, and World Bank documents. These sources have the advantage of exceptional access to the material they cover, but they too can be highly political in character and the Chinese and U.S views of any given Chinese activity are generally very different.
This is why other graphics, maps, and charts are provided that draw on work developed by a wide range of think tanks and research centers — including the IISS, SIPRI, and the CSIS. They provide a more neutral picture of the forces driving U.S. and Chinese competition and the forces shaping the economic and military developments in the region. The major differences they reveal in some aspects of the work by outside sources help illustrate the key uncertainties that often affect a given issue.
 

The Broad Trends Count, Not Specific Numbers

The material provided in each section of this net assessment show that no one source of data or set of figures is authoritative. At the same time, many of the sources that do differ in detail also broadly agree in revealing how quickly China's economy, technological base, and military forces are developing — as well as the growing importance of its regional and global economic and military ties and outreach.

Seen from this perspective, such trends clearly that show that China already is a true economic superpower with growing resources and a steadily improving technology base. Its military structure is evolving to the point where China can compare or compete with the U.S. — at least in Asia.

They show that China already has a far more powerful economy than Russia and is spending far more on military forcesIt is also clear that China’s economic outreach already exceeds that of the United States in some of its aspects. If these current trends continue — China has the future capacity to equal or surpass the U.S. economy and U.S. military forces at some point during the next two decades.
The comparison of the civil and military trends in China’s progress also reinforces a key point made in the 2019 edition of the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s report on Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China. “China's economic progress, and regional economic outreach, will often be more of the central focus of its grand strategy than the modernization and expansion of its military forces.” Such a comparison also makes it clear that no analysis that focuses on only one side of China's development — either civil or military — can begin to explain the real-world changes taking place in its grand strategy, and global and regional capabilities.

Finally, the user should be reminded that summary trends and graphics can only tell part of the story in any given area. Moreover, many graphics, maps, and charts cover subjects that are so complex that the user must refer to the original source to fully understand the definitions, sources, and quality of the data used, the reasoning behind the choices made in presenting the data, and consult other analyses to how to put such data in a full narrative context.

These issues are particularly important when a given graphic or statement attempts to estimate the future. China's full emergence as a superpower is still at least a decade away and is often hard or impossible to reliably predict. In addition, many trends of the more established powers like the U.S. and Russia are also highly volatile and can only provide uncertain insights as to the future.
 

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WRITTEN BY

Anthony H. Cordesman

Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy

https://www.csis.org/analysis/china-and-united-states-cooperation-competition-andor-conflict

Point Counterpoint: Turkey Belongs in NATO




BACKGROUNDERS - August 13, 2019

By Zachary Fillingham

Point counterpoint is a new series where two analysts assess a pertinent geopolitical issue from opposing points of view. Neither view represents an official stance of Geopoliticalmonitor.com or any other institution the authors are associated with. The article in favor of Turkey leaving NATO can be found here.

 

The idea that Turkey’s relations with the West are on life support is boilerplate wonkery at this point. Whether it’s the country’s purchase of a Russian-made S-400 missile system and subsequent banishment from the F-35 program; Nazi name-calling and other venomous exchanges with European capitals ahead of the 2017 constitutional referendum; divergent visions on the future of Syria and its US-backed Kurdish populations; or yet unheeded demands for the extradition of Fethullah Gulen – there’s no shortage of issues prying Turkey away from its erstwhile Cold War allies in the Atlantic Alliance.

But what is to be done about it?

Some argue that Turkey should leave NATO, voluntarily or otherwise, because its geopolitical orientation under Erdogan is fundamentally incompatible with the alliance. I would counter that this is short-term thinking that risks throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. When one looks beyond the immediacy of this taxing historical moment, the age old Cold War symbiosis is still evident:

NATO needs Turkey, and Turkey needs NATO.

 

What is NATO, anyways?

Such a question would never be asked in the earliest days of the alliance, because the answer was abundantly clear: NATO was a collective security organization intended to defend liberal democratic countries from the ideological and military threat represented by the USSR, and, from 1955 onward, the Soviet doppelganger of the Warsaw Pact. The existential nature of the threat, whether real or imagined, was essential to the alliance’s Cold War-era success – it helped to smooth over differences among member states and lubricate the politics of vastly disproportionate contributions from the US military.

The collapse of the USSR changed all that. NATO, which had always defined itself in opposition to the Soviet threat, was suddenly deprived of a raison d’être. In the decade that followed, it tried on new hats: expander, peace-maker, democratizer, and counter-terrorism bloc. But the roles never became entrenched in the hearts and minds of NATO’s core electorates, and the resulting apathy eventually opened the door for politicians like Donald Trump, who gave voice to the hitherto taboo idea that NATO is not so indispensable after all.

But the geopolitical landscape is changing once again and shifting toward something that resembles the liberal-illiberal schism of old. This rebooting of history could be decisive for the Alliance, as NATO can once again live up to its original billing as a defender of democratic values, and in this new project Turkey has an important role to play. The key concept here is defense – NATO can provide collective security against external threats from potential state adversaries like Russia and China, including emerging threats like disinformation, election meddling, and cyber-attacks. It can also promote and encourage democratic governance among NATO member states, even ones flirting with illiberalism like Turkey. But in terms of offense, NATO should not have a role, whatever the emotive pitch at the time, as the Libya adventure and its tragic repercussions have so clearly illustrated.

This idea of Turkey in a reinvigorated NATO, one that’s fit for contemporary purpose, admittedly relies on some wishful thinking. After all, Turkey – already a NATO member – has seen a broad erosion of its democratic standards over the course of President Erdogan’s 16-year rule. And even that ‘city upon a hill’ of the United States has not exactly been putting on a clinic in democratic norms lately. But presumably these are temporary trends that will ultimately pass; in the case of Turkey, the winds of change are already being felt in recent local elections. And if the ultimate foreign policy goal is to promote good governance and peace, isn’t a Turkey that’s within NATO far more likely to undergo a democratic resurgence than one on the outside looking in?

 

Turkey: geopolitical lynchpin between East and West

Questions of governance aside, Turkey remains an invaluable strategic asset for the NATO alliance.

The country is home to 80 million people and boasts a relatively young median age of 30.9 years (by way of comparison, Germany’s median is around 47 years). Thanks to a decade and a half of breakneck expansion (the economy grew 7% on average from 2010-2017), its GDP now ranks 19thin the world and, recent turmoil notwithstanding, Turkey’s demographic profile offers rare breakout potential in an otherwise stagnant (or worse) continental outlook. The country also boasts the largest land army of any NATO country apart from the United States.

Given its demographic, economic, and military heft, Turkey represents an indispensable middle power in the region.

But what region might that be? Given Turkey’s privileged geography at the crossroads of East, West, North, and South, it could refer to most of them: Europe, South and Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. It’s hard to imagine a state with more favorable positioning for great power politics. Turkey is a key transit hub for oil and gas, whether it’s the Blue Stream and Turkish Stream from Russia or the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) network linking the Caspian to Western Europe via the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). It’s also home to the Incirlik Air Base, a crucial hub of US Air Force operations in the Middle East since the earliest days of the Cold War.

Turkey’s post-WWI dimensions belie an outsize voice throughout its neighborhood. As heir to the Ottoman cultural, religious, and historical legacy, Ankara’s sphere of influence projects far beyond its borders, taking Ankara’s diplomacy to places where its Western allies cannot follow. Some of these bonds are cultural, such as the ethnic and linguistic ties between Turkmen populations in the Middle East and Central Asia (for example, allied Turkmen militias in northern Syria that have proven valuable allies in military operations there). Turkmen populations numbering in the tens of millions can be found in Uzbekistan, Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, China, and Azerbaijan. Others bonds are religious and stem from Turkey’s standing in the Islamic world; the country also has the relatively rare distinction of being an Islamic power that is generally positively disposed toward the West. Under Erdogan’s rule, Turkey has doubled down on its support for the Muslim Brotherhood and was an early and eager backer of the Morsi government in Egypt, and Ankara maintains close relations with Qatar, Iran, and Pakistan.

In the unending Great Game of power politics, Turkey has been and will continue to be a central player. The question is: Does NATO want access to its considerable advantages, or does it want them to one day be arrayed in opposition to the alliance?

 

In search of a way forward

If the status quo of Turkey and NATO is so favorable in theory, why does every week bring a new blowout between Ankara and its Western allies?

The answer is simple: The world has changed but NATO has not changed with it.

The intrinsic value of NATO to Turkey has always been the protection it afforded vis-à-vis Russia, its imperial competitor and enduring nemesis of the Ottoman Empire. But now the Russia threat has waned, and the old hinterlands of the Black Sea, South Caucasus, and Central Asia are opening up to competition and cooperation from regional powers. Pair this with the rise of a wildly popular nationalist leader in Erdogan, the collapse of Turkey’s EU membership drive, and the passing of the United States’ hegemonic moment and you have all the ingredients for an assertive foreign policy.

It would be a mistake to assume that these systemic trends have made the present acrimony inevitable. Rather, that was accomplished by successive US leaders who have failed to adapt to these new realities. Whether it was the decision to forbid Turkey’s purchase of US-made Patriot missile systems (which led into the eventual S-400 acquisition), or Washington’s persistent military and political support for Syrian Kurds, US officials proven unwilling to listen to, let alone heed, the core interests of a longstanding ally. Exchanges have continued in the Cold War mold: top-down and unyielding, like a parent scolding a child. It’s no wonder that a 2017 Pew poll found that only 23% of the Turkish population had a favorable view of the alliance, a far cry from the median rating of 61%. Even the most ardent supporters of throwing Turkey out of NATO would have to wonder how things have gotten this bad.

It’s no accident that Turkey’s break-up with the West is playing out in parallel with NATO’s own post-Cold War existential crisis. Both are being driven by structural changes in the international system. But fortunately, this also means both problems can be solved at the same time. If NATO can rediscover its credibility as guarantor of the free world and develop a softer touch in addressing the core interests of member states, one that’s more suited to a multipolar and highly complex global landscape, then there’s no reason why Turkey shouldn’t continue to be a valuable member of the alliance long after presidents Erdogan and Trump have faded into the political ether.

 

Point counterpoint is a new series where two analysts assess a pertinent geopolitical issue from opposing points of view. Neither view represents an official stance of Geopoliticalmonitor.com or any other institution the authors are associated with. The article in favor of Turkey leaving NATO can be found here.