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By Usman Khan Khalil, The Orient News

Last week, on (November 19, 2020) in the dawn hours of Thursday there a fake encounter held between securities forces and four suspected persons  were carrying in a truck near ban toll plaza in the Nagrota area of Jammu and Kashmir. In which these persons were decimated and killed by Indian army, who according to Indian government were planning for sabotage activates to disrupt the upcoming district council elections there in the union territory. It is an established fact that whenever elections are in offing in India the politicians of India starts to blame Pakistan to get the sympathies of their voters and in order to win the elections by adopting and harping anti Pakistan slogans.    

Later on, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly blamed as part of their sinister campaign that Pakistan-based terror group, Jaish-e-Mohammad for the attack, and there after the Indian external affairs ministry tried to bring a storm in a cup of tea. India’s diplomatic offensive on the fake Nagrota incident exactly took place a week after Pakistani establishment provided a strong dossier to p5 countries regarding Indian involvement in side Kashmir and other parts of Pakistan. The prime minster of India went on to say in a tweet by exaggerating that “Neutralizing of 4 terrorists belonging to Pakistan-based terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammed and the presence of large cache of weapons and explosives with them indicate that their efforts to wreak major havoc and destruction have once again been thwarted.”He further boosted to say that “Our security forces have once again displayed utmost bravery and professionalism. Thanks to their alertness, they have defeated a nefarious plot to target grassroots-level democratic exercises in Jammu and Kashmir.”

The Indian government had  in retaliation escalated its anti-Pakistan campaign — marked by false narratives, concocted evidence and orchestration of false flag operations — after Islamabad dossier to p5 containing "irrefutable proof" of India involvement in side Pakistan. . Now the real face of India has been fully exposed through the dossier given by Pakistan to the heads of mission and the world can see the reality and assess of India easily – one blackened by its decades-long state-terrorism in IIOJK and state-sponsored terrorism and destabilization efforts in Pakistan,” The most familiar and undeniable face of India’s state-sponsorship of terrorism against Pakistan, was Indian spy — caught red-handed in March 2016.

Masterminds of Mecca MASJID, Ajmer Dargah, and Samjhota Express terrorist cases, like Swami Aseeman and, have been granted full state protection and acquitted in complete travesty of justice after having confessed to India’s National Investigation Agency. These subversive activities are open threats to Pakistan by Indian civilian and military leaders. In addition to of all this India’s sinister design  want to target  and subvert and derail CPEC the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor a mega co- project of Pakistan and china and its intelligence agencies had formed a cell to disrupt CPEC projects.

By showing the “ forged information docket” and a list of  recovered AK47 rifles and other items, and ammunitions which can easily be made by Indian government to show it  to the  top envoys of key nations including the US, Russia, France and Japan. The Foreign Secretary of India tried an attempt to implicate Pakistan in this gory drama by one or other way to divert the world attention and hide the stark reality inside IIOJK (Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu Kashmir) that what’s happing inside (IOK) in order to legitimize its illegal and terror acts inside (IOK) Kashmir to fulfill its vested interests and hegemonic designs. The Indian government burnt the truck which was used in the fake encounter to remove all kinds of evidences from world eyes and through its entire responsibly on the shoulders of Pakistan.

It is the part and parcel of India government state policy to not only malign Pakistan and settle its score with it  but to isolate it internationally also.

On Monday, evening (Nov 23, 2020), Foreign Secretary of India briefed to mislead selected group of Heads of Missions (HOMs) on the planned terrorist attack in Nagrota district in Jammu last week. The envoys were told about the foiled attack on Nov 19, and how the incident could have an impact on not only security but also on the fight against terrorism and diplomacy. They were handed over a docket which had detailed information of the incident as it transpired. And it also had evidence on the ammunition of Pak origin.”The Indian secretary foreign misguided the foreign envoys and them briefed wrongly about how the terrorists from Pakistan had entered India through a tunnel in Samba sector.

 Now it is a right time that the international community and other watch dog’s organizations should take a serious notice of it and should not be deceived by this messy and nasty propaganda of Indian state because projecting a bleak, distorted and wrong picture of the facts is no service to humanity. Instead, the Indian government should emphasize towards the plight of its citizens to upgrade their level of living. And live peacefully in co existence with neighboring countries.

 

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By Usman Khan Khalil

It is  a good omen  not only for  Afghanistan and  Afghan people  but also for its bordering countries  to see that that an international  mega event Afghan peace- conference 2020 is being held in collaboration with the government of Afghanistan, Finland and the united nations .The impact of this quadrilateral pledging conference would  be far-reaching results and  significant development for the Afghan Government and the international community to bring together a common objective for promoting sustainable development, peace, harmony and prosperity in Afghanistan.

The prime goal of the conference is to commit the Afghan government in collaboration of the international community to shared development objectives for 2021-24, to coordinate development cooperation, and to ensure financial support for the Afghan administration. In addition to the pledges of financial support, a joint political declaration and new aid architecture are the anticipated outcomes of the conference.

This ministerial level conference is anticipated to bring together over 70 countries as well as international organizations and agencies. It was last held in 2016 in Brussels and in Tokyo in 2012.  After a long pace of time it is initiated, the 2020 Afghanistan Conference is commencing on 23-24 November, 2020 in Geneva is big milestone in the history of Afghanistan’s and will open new avenues of peace, harmony, prosperity and self-reliance in this neglected part of the world.

The quadrennial ministerial level pledging conference is jointly organized by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Government of Finland and the United Nations.

The prime objective and aim of the conference is to revive the international and Afghan goals to streamline the policy of development and stability of Afghanistan, to agree the joint development for 2021-24 and to work on jointly development pledges, commitments regarding the financial support for Afghanistan by international community. Afghanistan is indeed standing on the threshold of its historic moment of pursuing and achieving its national. The commencement of Afghanistan Peace Negotiations is new chapter of opportunities for development in this neglected area of the world. Strengthened partnership and sustained international support are vital for Afghanistan and the Afghan people taking on the uphill task of building and sustaining peace after decades of inflicting war and suffering.

”Afghanistan is passing through at very critical juncture at the moment. Long lasting durable peace and desirability of feasibility and credibility is the need of hour to build Afghanistan on the right footing because the Afghan people already rendered precious lives and other unmatchable sacrifices during the Afghan war. When we look into the future, we must remain united in our vision and ambition to realize a progressive, prosperous, democratic, free and stable Afghanistan in peace with itself, its neighbors and the world. On development, while maintaining emphasis on high-level planning, the focus must shift to delivery and implementation. The Afghan government and its international development partners must work together on getting this visionary goal for demonstrable reduction in poverty that is realistic well-defined and well-targeted. Investment in peace and development must provide sufficient guarantees for gender equity, protection of human rights, women’s rights and the rights of minorities as well as democratic principles. The Republic is a true embodiment of Afghanistan’s diversity and must be strengthened. Corruption, which drains Afghanistan’s valuable resources and interrupts the process of realizing self-reliance, must be fought in all its forms,”

“Finland looks committed along with the united nations” in support of Afghanistan and its people  in respect of sustainable development, prosperity and a lasting peace and wants to ensure the women's meaningful participation at all parts  of the peace process to bring them at par with  quality life,” .

 Since, 2001 it has progressed and improved a lot the political, social and economic outlook in Afghanistan. Yet it has to be decided by the untiring efforts which are required for Afghanistan to reach its potential as a stable, peaceful and self-reliant society during the last years of its Transformation Decade up to 2024.

“By embarking upon Afghanistan Peace Negotiations to end the more than four decades-long conflicting and war ravaged policy between the various warring and political factions of Afghanistan .The urging and hope of the international community is not less on this occasion in Geneva to reaffirm its firm and steadfast support to Afghanistan's development, in parallel with the peace process. The worrisome factor of the whole episode is that the anti Taliban forces don’t to see these talks success full because with the restoration of these peace talks the comeback of Taliban is inevitable that’s why they are attacking in twenty three provinces in one guise or other to shatter the dream of peace and harmony in this country.  Despite this fact, the UN is committed to working with the Afghan Government, Finland, and the donor community to deliver the best possible outcome for the benefit of all Afghans,” said Deborah Lyons, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan is also a commendable step and must be praised. Although the conference is under way but the hopes are being pined for yielding positive results for the participating countries.

“Finland is looking forward to co-hosting the pledging conference together with the Government of Afghanistan and the UN. Solving the multifaceted challenges in Afghanistan require joint efforts and long-term commitment from Afghanistan and the international community. Together with the partners they are committed to reshape and rebuild  the aid architecture while ensuring that it will preserve the progress achieved over the past decades and strengthen the further realization of human rights and democratic principles,”

The event is currently taking place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, in a hybrid format where delegates may also participate virtually. More than 70 countries, international organizations and Afghan Government officials, as well as civil society representatives are expected to participate in the mega conference.

Keeping in view, the above mentioned facts in mind let’s pray and hope for the best.

 

 

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By Halima Akter, Research Associate The Orient News, Bangladesh

On 21 November, on Armed Forces Day 2020, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina  revealed her expectation to the Armed Force to improve upon their professional skills by the spirit of patriotism to contribute more for nation-building. Already, the Bangladeshi Army participating in United Nations Peacee Keeping Missions stood first in the world.

In this virtual based attending occasion, the prime minister tried to give the messages on the Armed Forces' formation, modernization, contribution, and the current government role to equip the armed forces.

In the history of the Bangladesh liberation war, this is a glorious day; on this day, 1971, the courageous Muktibahini with the of help American advisors and a massive involvement with local Bengali launched a joint isolated attacks against the West Pakistani occupation forces. This was the first time when Indian agents in plain clothes started battling on with West Pakistani forces on Eastern part of Pakistan, now Bangladesh. The final success was achieved on 16 – 21 December 1971, recognized as Armed Forces Day for the commemoration of the significance of the day.

The Bangladeshi Prime Minister said the Armed Forces, which were a small scale in the beginning level from the liberation war, now are a vast institution. The nation will remember the sacrifice of the Armed Force during the liberation war in 1971.

The Prime Minister said that vital role of the Armed Force in any crisis of the country is praiseworthy. She highlighted their devotion and sacrifice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During this ongoing juncture, the Armed Forces have accomplished the lock-down process, created awareness among people to maintain hygiene and set up quarantine centers for the infected people and returnees from abroad.

Also, the Bangladeshi Navy has worked for tackling the coronavirus situation to instruct people to maintain social distance, make sure obligatory home quarantine, and given relief to the helpless families. The Bangladesh government-provided medical supplies for the Maldives recently which were sent by the naval ship. Along with the naval ship, 'Vijay' is utilized to send food and relief for Bangladeshi living in Beirut, Lebanon.

The Prime Minister also highlighted the role of the Air Force is to relocate a significant number of patients including doctors' teachers and eminent persons from a remote area to Dhaka for advanced treatment through helicopters.

The primer also said the Armed Forces are contributing to the UN peacekeeping missions and upholding the positive image of the country.

She added after independence, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib, the father of the nation, realized the need for a well-developed and professional armed force to re-build the war-torn country. Then the Bangabandhu started his journey with limited resources to set up the Bangladesh military Academy, Combined Arms School, and a separate training center for each corps of the Army in 1972.

The premier mentioned Bangabandhu initiated the three bases of Bangladesh Navy in Dhaka, Chittagong, and Khulna as well as brought warship for the force from India and Yugoslavia. In 1973, Bangabandhu advanced the air force by adding sophisticated supersonic MiG-21 fighter jets helicopters and transport aircraft and air defense radar, she said. Today's Bangladesh Armed Forces strong foundation with professionalism and efficiency is on the model of the National Defense Police drafted by the Father of the nation which has crossed the territory of the country.

"This government developed all branches of the Armed Forces with modern military weapons and equipment for one decade. No government could not do this," the Prime Minister said.We had taken the initiative to fulfill the goal 'Forces Goal-2030' based on the Defense Policy 1974, in which the force would be restructured, imparted improved training, and equipped with specialized defense hardware, the Prime Minister said. During this government, the women members are appointed in the armed forces and the air forces.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called for the Armed Forces to be always ready to protect the sovereignty of the country and marking the country's faith in coexistence with all according to the foreign policy adopted by the father of the nation.

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By Aroosa Hafeez, TON Research Section

After Partition, north-east part has been India’s unrelenting insurgency threat. The intensity and focus of the Indian separatist movements have changed over the year. But the battle cry of Indiahas remained a popular option with the ethnicities of the north-east. Today Nagaland and Manipur conflicts are one of the world’s longest running conflicts. These separatist movementshave come to greatly challenge India's security and internal stability with the more rebellious groups demanding no less than secession from union of Indian state. The time-frame of the insurgency movements appears to have no limits. Since the early 1950's to the present day, there has been very limited break in the continuous growth of insurgency.

The root causes of the separatist movements of Northeast are to be found in many areas of political, social and economic realm. To a great degree, past also tosses significant light on the overall dissatisfaction and criticisms of the people towards the Indian Government. The deep seated grievances of the people with Indian government over the years, coupled with other factors has given rise to the innumerable problems and separatist movements today.

During British rule the north-east was almost isolated from the events leading to independence. After independence the people of the northeast, mostly in Nagaland saw this as an opportunity to revert back to their old ways of independent living. People from these states never felt to be a part of India even under the British rule, and after independence, they saw no reason to be under the Indian government. Thus, when India attained independence, the tribal leaders raised the demand for autonomy to preserve. The threat perception to their culture and customs under Indian rule added significance with the imminent transfer of power to the new Indian government.

The Naga National Council (NNC) declared their independence before the British left India, but they were forcefully integrated into the republic of India in 1947. On 29 June 1947, Sir Akbar Hyderi, then Governor of Assam signed a 9-point agreement with the Naga moderates. In the said agreement the Nagas’ right to develop themselves freely was recognized. Clause 9 of the agreement stated that after a period of 10 years the NNC will be asked whether the agreement be extended or a new agreement arrived at. This clause was interpreted by Nagas as achievement of sovereignty whereas the Indian government interpreted it as the signing of new agreement with Indian Union. This is the root cause of the Naga conflict. The Indian government deployed military forces in the region in April 1956.

The ethnic conflict in Nagaland, in north-east India, is an ongoing conflict fought between the ethnic Nagas and the governments of India and Myanmar.The state has a strong ethnic mix, all communities are deeply committed to preserving their own cultural autonomy. Its people have also always tended to look towards eastin their search for cultural links.The predominant religion of Nagaland is Christianity. Thosepeople who migrated from Nagaland to different cities of India for better economic opportunities have reported frequent discrimination, while others feel alienated by the current Hindu nationalist government. This also contributed to the separatist movements in India. People of different religion other than Hindu, are fighting against the discrimination by the state which does not recognize the ground reality that Christians along with Muslims are still persecuted in the Indian society.

Delhi views Nagaland as a "disturbed area" and has kept the state under a draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The act extends wide-ranging powers to the army, including the use of force and arrests without warrants.Violence has been part of daily life for decades in Manipur, with a strong presence of the Indian military. Naga Hoho comprising various Naga tribes, has asked for removal of AFSPA from entire Nagaland.Indian government took its first steps toward resolving the dispute in 2015 by signing a peace accord with a Naga nationalist group called the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM).In August 2019, Modi government wanted to conclude talks with NSCN-IM and sign a final agreement to end the conflict within three months but a year has been passed and there is still no end in sight for the conflict. Tensions grew in July when the Indian army and paramilitary forces started cracking down on NSCN-IM soldiers.

Thuingaleng Muivah, the Chief of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NCNS), has said with no clouding of issue that “Ours is ours and there is theirs; we are not asking for anything from India as Nagas were never part of Indian Union, even under the British.”

He added “There will be only one choice, Nagas will have to stand their ground, we will never surrender our history to India, we have fought them before and if forced upon us, we will not surrender, sorry.”

On 29th Oct 2019 political leaders from the Indian state of Manipur said they were unilaterally declaring independence from India and forming a government-in-exile in Britain, a day before India’s 73rd Independence Day. The Naga Students Federation (NSF) declared independence by hoisting the Nagaland flag across the north eastern states as well as the Naga areas in Myanmar. Nagaland has also released its own National Anthem and declared Kohima as its capital.

In India today 135 Separatist Movement are present. So called biggest democracy failed to give basic rights to its own citizens.Despite promises of settlement, armed tension continues.The Indian government has denied self-determination in Kashmir as well, in accordance with United Nations resolutions for ever since partition. Manipur and Nagaland demands for greater autonomy and bringing Nagas of India into a single political entity, a demand which surely needs to be met with an equal amount of regard to both sides.

Delhi can't ignore the facts of the history of the Nagas, the most important one of which is that they had declared they were not a part of the map India inherited from the British. For this reason, the Nagaland and Manipurcontinues their struggle for separation from India. The Nagas are in continuous armed conflict against India to establish a sovereign independent state.

Naga’s distinct identity and culture along with its leadership will not compromise on anything less than a separate constitution and a separate flag. However, it will be interesting to see if Modi doctrine is able to deals with this daunting challenge or not.

India’s geographical lands, foreign policy, security handling, all are in varying crisis today. India seems to be a pale shadow of its former self. It will not be wrong in saying that India has now become the sick man of South Asia. Today it stands isolated in the region, its divisive policies, illegal occupationsand its erroneous thinking has markdownIndia in neighbour countries.

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By Umme Sayeda, The Orient News, Bangladesh

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina congratulated Joe Biden on 8th November 2020 for electing as 46th President of the United States of America. She wished him to perform the American presidency excellently and desired to cooperate in the future. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh expressed hope for a new epoch of international peace and security, especially in prosperity and harmony in encountering the challenges of environmental degradation. In the congratulation letter, the PM mentioned the close and friendly relationship between the USA and Bangladesh since 1971 and highlighted her belief to reach newer passages with a continuous relationship in the coming days. The PM also invited the new President Joe Biden and First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, to visit Bangladesh and evaluate how the country whirled to an Asian Tiger and a developing one.

The PM Sheikh Hasina expressed her dedication to work closely with President Joe Biden to confront terrorism, violent extremism, hatred, forced displacement of the Rohingya population and to build a morally better and secured world. The PM has excellent experience of working approximately with Joe Biden. The United Nations Peace Conference 2014 was co-chaired by then US Vice President Joe Biden, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, the former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and then Rwandan President Paul Kagame. At the conference, both of the leaders of Bangladesh and American pointed out new challenges to world peace. The miserable conditions of the innocent population of various world regions, including the African countries because of violence was considered a major and complex obstacle to global peace and security.

Political analysts and leaders affirmed that the Biden Administration will be proven as remarkably full of new probabilities for Bangladesh. Bangladesh will be more significant for economic and geopolitical reasons for Biden's America. Indian continuous support towards Donald Trump and it's extreme policy undertaking will ultimately bring benefits and fortunes to Bangladesh after the political shift in the USA, according to some experts.

Bangladesh is an extremely climate endangered country. Joe Biden promised the realization of the Paris Climate Agreement which is incredibly beneficial to Bangladesh. His environmental strategies will strengthen Bangladesh's representations in the global environmental policy implementation and recommendations.

Biden safeguarded the eradication of the anti-Muslim immigration policy in the US. This undertaking will increase the immigration facilities for Bangladeshi people. Security and peace can be maintained within the US living Bangladeshi people. Students will be able to get more facilities for higher studies in the US. International relations analysts expected an opportunity for Bangladesh to GSP facility under the liberal and South-friendly leadership of President Joe Biden. Bangladesh garment and other industries will obtain easy export assistance in case of trade in the US.

Rohingya crisis will reach a new international status in the coming days. As a great power, the American government can lead the crisis to its solution. It is hoped that new Democratic President Joe Biden who supports Bangladesh in the Rohingya issue will be remarkably important in getting to a solid solution to this problem. We can conclude that the consequences of the present election of the US are ultimately will renew the probabilities of Bangladesh in world politics and other international aspects.

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By Usman Khan Khalil 

Research Section

Time and again the western countries spew their venom against the Hazart Muhammad (S.A.W) the most Magnificent, scared, pious and most honorable person of human history for all the times and ages to come. The western print and electronic media left no efforts in order to malign the last and final messenger of ALMIGHTY ALLAH in the past and even now too. France, Norway and Denmark are the forefront countries. The recent blasphemy actions in France is also a chain and sequence of it. In this regard the role of Government of France is highly condemnable which shows their bias and malicious intentions towards Islam. For getting their nefarious designs and ulterior motives they run such sinister campaign against the noblest person of mankind. Using the excuse of freedom of expression for such obnoxious things become the tools of western countries. They always played the religious sentiments of Muslim world by publishing blasphemes sketches, caricatures in order to instigate and provoke Muslims intentionally for agitation, attacking government building, properties in these countries to malign and distort the image of Muslims throughout the world and to show that look the Muslims are miscreants, extremists and terrorists.

It is the norm and tradition and the beauty of our beloved religion Islam that bestowed to us by ALMIGHTY ALLAH through his universal messenger that it never allows his followers to look down and disrepute the other religions. Islam is the last divine religion of ALMIGHTY ALLAH on earth. That’s why the Muslims honor and respect the prophets of other past religions and the denial of one of them is like the denial of all according to Islam but contrary to it, these countries always support brewing and hatching conspiracies against not only the most holiest and truest prophet Hazart Muhammad (S.A.W) and but Islam also. By protecting and patronizing these culprits and criminals they proved that they are themselves the real terrorists and by doing so, they want to disturb and perturb the peace and harmony of Muslim world in particular and create chaos and anarchy in the world at large in order to pave the ways and means of terrorism to get their vested interests. Freedom of right of expression does not mean to hit the and mock the religious emotions and sentiments of Muslims by the west. It is highly intolerable; however the Muslims world should adopt a unified stance to foil their evil designs by completely boycotting their commodities, joint ventures of economic and military pacts in Muslim countries and should call back their envoys and ambassadors from these countries to teach them lesson in befitting manner. The OIC is a best forum to discuss this sensitive issue at large scale among the Muslim countries to devise a joint strategy to cope and counter the curse and menace of blasphemy.

Muslims in Europe always faced discrimination on the basis of religion. Here are some international declarations on the freedom of right to expression, although the ground reality is altogether different from these declarations in Europe. The freedom of expression and opinion is a complex right that includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds through any media. The exercise of this right ‘carries with it special duties and responsibilities’. Therefore, in general, certain restrictions or limitations on the freedom of expression are permitted under human rights law. Thus, Article 20(2) of the ICCPR requires states parties to prohibit ‘advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.’ CERD also requires states parties to prohibit certain hostile expressions. Article 19 ICCPR stipulates that these limitations ‘shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary: a) for respect of the rights or reputations of others; b) for the protection of national security or public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals’.  (Article 13(4) ACHR) and for the restriction of any propaganda for war and any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitute incitements to lawless violence or to any other similar illegal action against any person or group of persons on any grounds including those of race, colour, religion, language, or national origin .The OSCE framework also addresses freedom of thought and religion. For instance, Principle VII of the OSCE Helsinki Final Act (1975) stipulates that the participating states ‘will recognize and respect the freedom of the individual to profess and practice, alone or in community with others, religion or belief, acting in accordance with the dictates of his own conscience’.

Another example is Article 16 of the Vienna Document (1989), which stipulates that states will take effective measures to prevent and eliminate discrimination against individuals and communities on the grounds of religion or belief, and that they have to foster a climate of mutual tolerance and respect between believers of different communities, the international supervisory bodies have dealt with a number of communications regarding violations of the freedom of thought and religion. For instance, the Committee has found forbidding prisoners and even common wearing a beard, religious dress and worshipping at religious services and taking away their prayers and holy books is a violation of this human right. Similarly, the European Court of Human Rights held that refusing a Muslim medical student entry into classes and examinations in accordance with a school ban on head scarves upheld the principles of secularism and equality between men and women and was necessary in a democratic society is also direct interference into the religious matters of a Muslim. The OIC can play highly significant role by announcing a unified and join declarations from its forum to defend the rights of Muslims in all corners of the non-Muslims countries. 

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By Aroosa Hafeez, TON Research Section

Drawing a picture of France intervention in Mali in 2013 is fallacious and just a myth. Mali was never a focus for France before colonialism but when Mali’s government declared its independence and also asserted its freedom from colonial power, France offered military cooperation accords with Mali but the new Mali government refused to sign the accord.   France has been intervening in Africa since 1830 when it invaded Algeria. By 1900, France conquered Northwest Africa defeating a number of militarily proficient kingdoms in the Sahel.

From 1960 France maintained its military position in Northwest Africa and started its military interventions in the region, which they claim was for the support of government and was also a sign of neo-colonialism. Algerian military did not permitted Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) from taking power after elections in 1991, which gave rise of civil war and the emergence of Al-Qaeda. France fully supported Algerian military.

In the late 1990s, Neo-colonialism began to fade away as threats to France interests were not as great with the end of the Cold War. After 9/11, France agreed to US Security cooperation programs with U.S. security assistance to its former colonies in the Sahel but U.S. was cautious not to intervene very closely as it was considered by Europeans as realm of France.  French people were willing to accept risk as they were convinced that national interests are at stake and were not concerned about fatalities.

As a result of war in Libya in 2011, the spread of conflict into Sahel, ongoing civil war in Central African Republics and takeover of most Mali by Azawad led France to launch Serval and Barkhane operations. The ongoing Mali war is an armed conflict between northern and southern parts of Mali in Africa, started in January 2012.  Several groups started a campaign against Malian government for independence of northern Mali, which they called Azawad. This organization (Azawad) took control of the region by April 2012. Malian Government took foreign military help to re-take the region.

On January 2013, France launched a military operation against these groups and with the help of international coalition this territory was re-taken on February 8th, 2013. A peace deal was signed on June 2013 but both the parties singled out of the peace agreement. Another formal peace accord was signed on February 19th, 2015. Officially the “Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali resulting from the Algiers Process” has failed to fulfill its promise of legitimate ceasefire. At first, French military intervened in Mali on 2013 as part of “Operation Serval” and after that “Operation Barkhane’ was launched in August 1, 2014. French authorities claim that this operation was to provide stability in the wider Sahel region by helping the regions various governments’ to combat terrorism and to prevent the region from becoming a safe haven for terrorist groups as claimed by France.

France has about 4,500 soldiers in Africa's Sahel region conducting Operation Barkhane. According to United Nations Human Rights watch 589 civilians have been killed so far this year in central Mali, as a deteriorating security situation.  On February 7th, 2020, French soldiers killed more than 30 fighters in Mali in two days of operations.  French armed forces claimed that they were ISIL (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda linked groups. On April 6, 2020, an attack on a military camp in Mali left at least 23 dead, while several others injured. From 24 April - 27 August, a series of attacks took place in Mopti Region. In July 2020, unidentified gunmen opened fire on civilians on multiple villages of Mali and killed at least 31 civilians and 9 soldiers. Mali has long been plagued by instability, armed conflict, violence and widespread unrest.

On September 7th, 2020 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) renewed calls for the quick return of civilian rule. Members of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) met with civilian and political leaders in order to establish a transitional civilian government by September 15. The National Committee for the Salvation of the People proposed a transitional government led by a president appointed by the military for two years. The CNSP agrees to an 18-month political transition period. Over 100 jihadists were released as part of negotiations to secure the release of French aid worker.

However the intervention of France military in Africa in 2013, the latest expression “Françafrique (French African policy)” is hence ambiguous. One might wonder that

Is France really only trying to control a terrorist threat, as they claim? As France and Mali have relations from post –colonial period but the economic interests of France were also at stake, which interested Europeans. It needs to be understood; above all that France continues to attach to Africa because of its interests in the region. What’s happening in Mali can also be viewed as “Islam vs. the West interests.”

Undoubtedly, Africa is of core importance for France in geostrategic terms. France has major economic and political interests in West and Central Africa as Mali is among Africa’s top gold producers as well as rock salt, which was a valuable commodity for African traders. Petroleum (Gabon, Congo, Gulf of Guinea), uranium (Niger), trade in cocoa and coffee (Côte d’Ivoire), as well as banking, transport and other services (water, communications, telephony) throughout the region are of main interest for France. This could not be denied that war in Mali is primarily about natural resources but the socio-political dimension of the repeated crises which has beat Northern Mali requires a solution.

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By Sadia Kousar, TON Research Section

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, former Afghan Prime Minister and a Hizb-e-Islami Mujahideen commander was on a three-day visit to Pakistan. The Afghan leader, who also met the top leadership of Pakistan said that he had held talks with Pakistani officials on the issue of peace in Afghanistan put forward many suggestions and said that Afghans had invested about $20 billion in other countries, including Turkey and the Gulf states, during the war and suggested the Pakistan government to facilitate Afghan investors and businessmen to enable them to bring their investment in Pakistan. The facilities essential in this regard, he said, included permission to open bank accounts, buy property on the basis of Afghan passports and issuance of long-term visas like those provided by certain European countries. In this regard, he said he was hopeful that his suggestion would be implemented.

The decades’ long war in Afghanistan has made the situation in the South Asia region fragile. Peace and stability in the region are linked to long-lasting peace in Afghanistan. In the same regard, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister said peace and stability in the region is linked to long-lasting peace in Afghanistan, adding that the Afghan leadership has an opportunity in the form of intra-Afghan talks to restore peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan attaches high importance to its ties with Afghanistan and has consistently supported an inclusive, broad-based, and comprehensive political settlement through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was the most recent among Afghan legislators welcomed to visit Pakistan as a component of Islamabad's new strategy to connect with significant partners in the Afghan harmony measure - in its offer to improve respective relations.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar expressed his willingness to form an alliance with the Taliban in Afghanistan and said, “Hezb-e-Islami is ready for direct talks with the Taliban, as well as for partnership and cooperation. We believe that if these two groups join hands, the crisis in Afghanistan will end soon and no force will be able to stand against it,”  

Hekmatyar claimed the Afghan government was looking to delay the peace process until November’s US presidential election. On the role of other regional countries, he said India, due to its rivalry with Pakistan, was dissatisfied with the peace push and had started supporting local militias to act as spoilers. Nineteen years since the US-led invasion that toppled the Taliban, Afghanistan's war still kills dozens of people daily and the country's economy has been devastated, pushing millions into poverty.

The current talks during Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s visit was attended by dozens of Afghan political leaders to pave the way for further Afghan-to-Afghan dialogue. The conference is to be followed by meetings and working sessions over the next two days, all of which come in the run-up to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to Pakistan. Ghani, his political opponents, and a broad swath of Afghan civil society have been holding meetings in recent days with the United States’ special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, who continues to press for talks between the Afghan government, the opposition, and the Taliban.

In many ways, Pakistan was uniquely positioned to take advantage of the two-phase structure of the peace process - the Taliban refused to negotiate with Kabul until a US-Taliban deal was signed - because of Pakistan’s relationships with both the US and the Taliban. It seems to have done so masterfully, producing Mullah Baradar, the deputy leader of the Taliban who had been in Pakistani custody, and engaging in behind-the-scenes maneuvering that the U.S. has repeatedly acknowledged (and appreciated). Pakistan helped bring the Taliban to the table, ultimately resulting in a deal.

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By Sadia Kousar, TON Research Section

It was on this day in 1947 when Indian troops invaded Jammu and Kashmir and subjugated it in blatant violation of partition plan of the subcontinent and against the will and aspirations of Kashmiris. This year's day is of special significance as it is being observed in the backdrop of illegal and unilateral step of India to annex Kashmir on 5th of August.

The day highlights the 73 years of struggle of Kashmiris in their quest to right to self-determination. 27th October is remembered as a day in history when Kashmir was vended and India forcibly took over the land. Kashmir is a long standing dispute between Pakistan and India, which originated when the people of Jammu and Kashmir State were denied the right of self-determination in 1947. When India and Pakistan became independent on August 1947, it was generally assumed that Kashmir, as an adjoining state with a predominantly Muslim population, would accede to Pakistan. Its ruler, the Maharaja, however, on 27 October 1947 acceded to India through an improper and illegal Instrument of Accession and on the same day, India winched its forces to Srinagar and occupied the valley. It is for this reason that Kashmiris and supporters of Kashmir celebrate every year 27th of October as Black Day. It is the darkest day in history of Kashmir as Kashmiris were sold to India regardless of Indian Independence Act and Partition Plan.

History reveals that conferring to the Partition Plan, the then princely states were given the choice to accede either to Pakistan or India on the basis of their geography and demography, but New Delhi illegally occupied three States of Hyderabad, Junagarh and Jammu and Kashmir. Hyderabad and Junagarh were Hindu-majority States but their rulers were Muslims. Being a Muslim-majority state, with 87% Muslim population, Kashmir had a natural tendency to accede to Pakistan. But, tactlessly, the then Hindu ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, destroyed the future of Kashmiri people by announcing its accession to India under a controversial document, Instrument of Accession. Even the neutral spectators contradict the existence of such a document. In a bid to punish the Kashmiris for their desire to join Pakistan and with the intent to change the demographic structure and turn the results in favour of India in any plebiscite in future, Indian troops, the Dogra forces and  Hindu fanatics massacred over three hundred thousand Kashmiri Muslims within a period of two months in Jammu division. It is a historical fact that if the partition had been done on the principles of justice then India had no land route to enter into Jammu and Kashmir. But the so-called Boundary Commission headed by Redcliff which demarcated partition line, secretly gave Gurdaspur, a Muslim majority area to India thus providing it land access to the desired area.

The people of Kashmir rejected illegal Indian occupation since day one and they resisted against Indian forces. India, however, took the matter to UN Security Council on 1 January 1948, to stop Kashmiris to take over Jammu and Kashmir State by ingenious armed struggle. Consecutive resolutions passed by the Security Council invalidated Indian invasion in Occupied Kashmir. Through the resolutions passed on 13 August 1948, and 5 January 1949, the UN approved a ceasefire, demarcation of the ceasefire line, demilitarization of the State and a free and impartial plebiscite to be conducted under the supervision of the world body. However demilitarisation of IOK and plebiscite still remain unfulfilled. Today the geopolitical positioning of Kashmir has made it a nuclear flashpoint in South Asia. In 1954, Josef Korbel, father of Madeleine Albright (former US Secretary of State) in his book “Danger in Kashmir” said, “For today, as in past seven years, the two great nations of subcontinent, India and Pakistan, continue to dissipate their wealth, their strength and their energy on a near fratricidal struggle in which the hitherto almost unknown State of Kashmir has become the physical battleground”.

Today after many decades and India’s exhaustion on Kashmir in every aspect, it is unable to break the will of Kashmiris to adjoin Pakistan. Since the death of Burhan Wani, a young Kashmiri leader a new wave of uprising in Kashmir has emerged. Till today India is trying to suppress Kashmir freedom movement by all means. Unfortunately despite driving attention of world community and reminding India time and again of its barbarism in Kashmir, India only vowed to take tougher action against Kashmir’s protestors. The ruthless killings have led to spontaneous protests across the state against the continued brutalities of the Indian armed forces which has impunity under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Instead of reaching out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and opening communication channels India often locks down the Kashmir valley through curfews. Even they are not allowed to offer Eid prayers, schools, shops, markets are forcibly shut down by Indian forces on any of the incident and Indian authorities often cripple all communications; jamming mobile and internet services, and seize offices of local newspapers and detain staff members. Many hospitals and ambulances have reportedly been damaged by security personnel and it still continues today whenever Indian army gets a chance to suppress protestors. The humanitarian crisis unfolding in Kashmir currently is not a one off. It has been an integral part of how India continues to rule over Kashmir. Such events have repeatedly occurred throughout the past three decades, with India continuing to look away from the writing on the wall. The current protests, and those in the three bloody summers of 2008-10, only reflect the resilience of the Kashmiri people and their demand for right to self-determination, which not only is guaranteed by UNSC resolutions, but was also promised by the Indian Parliament in 1948.

The massive suppression by India is clearly designed to silence the people of Jammu and Kashmir through sheer brutality bordering on genocide and ethnic cleansing. Presently every Kashmiri particularly the youth is adamant for their Kashmir to be part of Pakistan despite huge losses. Pakistan has always and will continue to support Kashmir freedom movement and every year 27th of October is marked as Black Day to give entire world a loud and clear message that Kashmiris will continue struggle for their right of self-determination despite Indian draconian laws and ruthlessness. Words of Abraham Lincoln, certainly is a reminder for India that: Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it. 

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By Aroosa Hafeez, TON Research Section

It was 27 October 1947, when India forcibly invaded large portion of Jammu and Kashmir. Indian military’s invasion of Jammu and Kashmir was in a flagrant violation of the aspirations of people of Kashmir. This day bears special importance as it is being observed when India took a further unilateral step on 5th August, 2019 by abrogatingArticle 370 and 35A and permanently incorporating disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir in Indian Union.

Partition of subcontinent is hopscotch of blunders. On this day, the 27th of October1947, people of Kashmir were denied their right of self-determination. After the independence of Pakistan and India it was assumed that Jammu and Kashmir, as an adjoining state with majority Muslim population will accede to Pakistan but inverse happened. The Maharaja Hari Singh, Hindu ruler of Kashmir acceded to India through inappropriate and illegal instrument of accession, which was stage-managed by India. India deployed its armed forces in Srinagar and occupied the valley whereas “Indo-Pak Partition” allowed Kashmir to decide their own fate but to date; the right of self-determination has not been extended to them.

Since day one people of Kashmir resisted against Indian forces and rejected their illegitimate occupation. On 1st January, 1948, India took Kashmir issue to United Nations Security Council, consecutive resolutions passed and UNSC invalidated Indian invasion in Kashmir. UN approved a ceasefire, demilitarization of the State and unbiased plebiscite to be conducted under the supervision of the world body. In the years ahead, India thwarted all the UNSC’s efforts to hold the plebiscite on one pretext or the other, as India knew that if an impartial plebiscite was held, Muslim majority population of Jammu and Kashmir will vote for accession to Pakistan.

India is playing old game with new tactics. The outbreak of COVID-19 has brought the world to a standstill but India is taking advantage of COVID-19 pandemic. India is constantly massacring Kashmiris in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK) and is beating around the bush. Extra Judicial killing, rape, mass arrest, firing of tear gas shells, disappearances, pellet gun shootings, all other methods of torturing people of Kashmir have become obsolete. There was a shift in demography of the region when India forcibly annexed Kashmir as thousands of Hindus gets residency, jobs and land. Now Indian troops kill Kashmiris saying they have COVID and use corona as a weapon to change region’s Muslim majority status to settle Hindus in the region.

India has been indulged in killing the people of IOJK with indemnity ever since their launch of freedom fight. From the start of corona virus pandemic Indian forces are martyring Kasmiris and are refusing to hand over dead bodies to their relatives. Indian Security forces are burying these martyrs secretly in army-managed graveyards saying they are infected by corona virus because they have a fear that if they will hand over dead bodies, mass protests will be started in the region. India is committing grave breach of human rights and international laws but the world is numb. Continued communications restrictions and no access to medical and other necessary supplies are making the Covid-19 situation worse for the Kashmiris in IOJK. Indian authorities turned Kashmir into “Ghost Town”.

Regardless of the massive suppression of the Indian forces to silence and subdue Kashmiris, the Kashmiris have been fighting for self-determination for hundreds of years. The real face of Kashmir Freedom fight is Burhan Wani, who gathered militants to promote freedom struggle against illegal Indian rule in IOJK. Another name Maqbool Bhat, the founder of Kashmir Liberation front, promoted armed struggle for Kashmir freedom. He was hanged to death by Indian state. Up till now, India is suppressing Kashmir freedom fight through every possible way. The Human Rights violations and genocide in the Kashmir valley with full impunity under the protection of “draconian laws” like Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Public Safety Act (PSA) by Indian security forces grows every passing day.

Unfortunately despite driving attention of world community to Kashmir issue, everyone kept a mystifying silence. The gross massacre of Kashmiris continues from ages. United Nations Organization, Eurpeon Union, Human Right organizations even Islamic countries and their organizations have just become spectators and are showing stiffness to the issue. UN seems to be helpless in having myriad of its resolutions implemented. 

Since the day of partition, India and Pakistan fought wars in 1948, 1965 and 1971, two of them were on Kashmir but the issue has only grown more chaotic. The split state of Kashmir has been morphed into a Gordian knot, with its ends tied with both India and Pakistan. This Gordian knot cannot be untied unless and until both nations pull on each end. Today Kashmir has a long dreary past that is filled with missed opportunities. In the present day the geopolitical position of Kashmir has made it a nuclear flashpoint in South Asia. Only time has the answer that will Kashmiris ever get their right to self-determination? 

No matter what, years of struggle and sloganeering have made this sure that Kashmir is the jugular vein of Pakistan. Every year 27th of October is observed as Black Day to give loud and clear message to the whole world that Kashmiris will continue to fight for their right despite Indian’s brutality and Draconian Laws. This day highlights the 72 years of struggle of Kashmiris and their hunt for freedom.

Featuring usual suspects of Kashmir cause, public holidays, occasional talk shows, highlighting the ‘plight of Kashmiri brothers’ kept it alive but these acts work no more… now it is the need of the hour that Pakistan legally fights for its jugular vein Kashmir with logic based on facts from history and expose India’s illegal occupation. 

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By Aroussa Hafeez, Research Section

A group, largely comprising women started peaceful protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) under the Jaffrabad Metro Station on 22nd February. There was no suspicion that it would follow a deadliest violence.

The CAB amends the 64-year-old Indian Citizenship law, which prohibits the illegal immigrants from becoming Indian citizens. Illegal immigrants shall be those foreigners who entered India with no valid travel documents and passport and can be jailed or deported. The new bill amends a provision that a person can apply for Indian citizenship if he/she lived in India or worked for federal government for minimum 11 years. There will be exception for six religious communities: Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian - if they can prove that they are from Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh. They will only have to live or work in India for six years to be eligible for citizenship. The Bill also says that people holding Overseas Citizen of India  (OCI) cards, an immigration status that permits a foreign citizen of Indian origin to live and work in India for ever. They can lose their status if they violate local laws for offences and violations.

All over the country Indians of all faith, ethnic, religious and racial identification have protested against the law, which commits to secular and equality. What is playing out in India is not a simple religious conflict between Hindus and Muslims but a political struggle between two visions who see it as an open, secular nation and those who wish to create Hindu state. The passage of the law last December triggered nationwide protests mostly led by Muslims who say the law discriminates against them.

On 23rd February a rally was organized by BJP leader Kapil Mishra in which he demanded that anti-CAA protesters to be removed within three days and warned that if they weren’t, his people would not even listen to police. Soon after that stone pelting started in the area and heavy police was deployed to the area. Violence erupted right on the next day, 24th February. Two communities were blaming each other for the wave of violence.

The Ministry of Home Affairs refused to bring in the Army to control the riots and stated that the number of central forces and policemen on the ground was adequate. More than 6,000 police and paramilitary personnel were deployed in the area. However New Delhi government did not do much for protestors and was strongly criticized.

From the start till the end the police forces deployed were merely bystanders while the riots were going on. The ability to maintain the law and order and bring the peace back was questioned by many sources. Many said it is the failure of Delhi police which is most well-resourced in India. The rioters operated with impunity in the end. The victims were left to their fate.

Protestors demanded to pass a resolution against the contentious citizenship law and National Register of Citizen(NRC) in Parliament, and revoke the amendments to the Act. But on the other hand the police charge sheet claimed that the anti-CAA protests were planned and the organizers engineered the riots to bring a “bad name to the government”.

In result of the deadliest riots in New Delhi 53 died, including a policeman and an intelligence officer. More than 300 civilians were injured. BhartiyaJanta Party (BJP) supporters vandalized and torched mosques and houses. Later on a tire market with mainly Muslim business was set afire.  Mosques were destroyed and countless vehicles, tire markets, petrol pumps were set on fire during the three day riots. Many journalists who were reporting about the riots were beaten, police snatched their mobile phones and cameras even some of them were questioned by the mobs about their religious identity. Hindustan Times reported that a group tried to set a building on fire where Muslims were living.

Two of the Special Investigation Teams (SIT) was formed to probe the violence, and so far, 630 people have been arrested and 123 FIRs lodged. More than 80 charge sheets have been filed naming those allegedly responsible for inciting violence and riots in country. Among those charged are one of India’s most prominent human rights activists, two members of a feminist student collective, a councillor from the progressive political party, three student activists from the Muslim-majority university Jamia Milia Islamia, and a Sikh man. A number of have been detained under terrorism laws and denied bail. Delhi police have been accused of filing false and politically motivated charges against pro-democracy activists to blame them for the riots but did not arrested any ruling party figures and police officers for their role in the violence.

The Delhi High Court, while hearing petitions about the riots in February, interrogated the Delhi police decision to not file cases against BJP leaders advocating violence, saying it will send wrong message and will spread impunity. Instead of responding to court orders, the government fast-tracked orders transferring the presiding judge to another state and took the riot-related cases away from him.

Hindus make up some 80% of the population in India, and Muslims, the country’s largest minority make up 14 to 16% of population which will decrease to 9% after the implementation of the law. Undoubtedly the amendments in Citizenship law were deliberately done by Indian government just to reduce Muslims in the country. The violence in Delhi was not a ‘riot’, it was a targeted anti-Muslim brutality by Indian government who wish to create India a “Hindu” state.

The attempt to exclude Muslims reveals the ideology of the BJP, which centers on national uprisingof “Hindu first” agenda. In past Muslims of India were struggling for respect and acceptance but now there struggle took a turn after the Citizenship amendment law, reduced to mere survival as a Muslim. Muslims of India are stuck between compromising cultural identity for survival and their citizenship rights.

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By Aroussa Hafeez, Research Section

On 13th September, 2020, under India’s principal counterterrorism law Delhi police arrested Umar Khalid, an activist as one of the “main conspirators,” for his suspected role in Communal violence in February in which 53 people were killed and hundreds were injured. The National Investigation Agency arrested three members of Dalits cultural group on September 7th, for giving speeches in January 2018, allegedly stirring up caste-based violence in Bhima Koregaon, Maharashtra state. Police in Delhi also named other suspects which belong to academics, opposition leaders and activists. Supporters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were involved in violence in both the cases.

So far, a great number of Human Right activists, defenders, and academics are in jail on politically motivated charges. The Delhi police said that they have also identified others whose names came up during the investigation, including: Sitaram Yechury, a well-known opposition politician; Jayati Ghosh, an economist; Yogendra Yadav, an activist and academic; Apoorvanand, a Delhi University professor; and Rahul Roy, a documentary filmmaker who set off a storm on social media by asking "some bright young people" to make a list of all those defending #Urban Naxals. The term “Urban Naxals” has since been used to describe people critical of PM Modi and his government. The arrests have been largely condemned in India as well as other countries. More than 1,000 activists, journalists, academics, and others condemned the Delhi police’s alleged practice of coercing “confessional” statements to falsely associate people with the February violence.

Since June 2018, in a coordinated crackdown across six states in India, Police raided the homes of several activists and arrested five prominent Indian political activists over their alleged Maoist links that sparked a national conversation in 2018. Some have called it an attack on freedom of speech, while others have justified the arrests in the name of national security. According to the investigations all of them are leftists and are sympathizers of Maoists. They have been speaking against successive Indian governments, which include current Indian government of Narendra Modi and his BJP. The Maoists ally themselves with communist rule and greater rules for tribal people and poor people from rural areas. The inquiry further led to the arrest of five more activists in June 2018. 

The United Nations which not only monitors human rights but also ensure freedom of opinion and expressions was much concerned about the serious violations by the Indian government with regard to strict monitoring of International Non-Governmental Organizations and other aid bodies.  In the recent statement on 20 September, 2020 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet expressed her disappointment at restrictions and arrest of human rights NGOs, including the application of vaguely worded laws that limit NGOs' activities and restrict foreign funding. Bachelet appealed to the Government of India to safeguard the rights of human rights defenders and NGOs.

Most recently, Amnesty International was forced to close its offices in India after its bank accounts were frozen over alleged violation of the FCRA. Amnesty International India said it came to know that all its bank accounts were completely frozen by the Enforcement Directorate on September 10. Bachelet cited as worrying the use of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), which a number of UN human rights bodies have also expressed concern is vaguely worded and overbroad in its objective. The Act prohibits the receipt of foreign funds "for any activities prejudicial to the public interest."

This act was adopted in 2010 and is amended last month in Lok Sabha on September 20, 2020. This act regulates the acceptance and utilization of foreign contribution by individuals, associations and companies.  Foreign contribution is the donation or transfer of any currency by a foreign source. Certain people are prohibited to accept foreign contribution under this Act. These include Public servant (as defined under the Indian Penal Code), who are currently in service or are paid by the government for any public duty. New amendments in the Bill will likely create even more administrative and practical hurdles for such advocacy-based NGOs.

Bachelet said, "The FCRA has been invoked over the years to justify an array of highly intrusive measures, ranging from official raids on NGO offices and freezing of bank accounts, to suspension or cancellation of registration, including of civil society organizations that have engaged with UN human rights bodies."

She also said "I am concerned that such actions based on the grounds of vaguely defined 'public interest' leave this law open to abuse, and that it is indeed actually being used to deter or punish NGOs for human rights reporting and advocacy that the authorities perceive as critical in nature. Constructive criticism is the lifeblood of democracy. Even if the authorities find it uncomfortable, it should never be criminalized or outlawed in this way."

Human right activists and defenders are under intense pressure due to their engagement in recent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act that took place in country earlier this year. Reportedly more than 1500 people were arrested in the protests, with many charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Recently Catholic Priest Stan Swamy, an activist engaged in defending the rights of marginalized groups was charged and is in detention despite of his poor health.

Despite these statements of UN, the Indian government seems hardly pushed to review its accountability and monitoring standards, which has limited the move of foreign aid workers. It seems that the Fundraising model is portrayed as money-laundering by Indian government. The UN High Commissioner, although has demanded from Indian authorities to review the FCRA for its compliance with international human rights standards and to release people arrested but we need to appreciate that certain INGOs were involved in malpractices and other violations. Monitoring and accountability is not bad. Where there is requirement for India to revisit FCRA, there is also need for the International Organizations and the UN to allow New Delhi to enforce accountability and transparency process.

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