Pakistan: This Is The History And The Truth Of Their Nation And Their People

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Pakistan

Introduction The Indus Valley civilization, one of the oldest in the world and dating back at least 5,000 years, spread over much of what is presently Pakistan. During the second millennium B.C., remnants of this culture fused with the migrating Indo-Aryan peoples. The area underwent successive invasions in subsequent centuries from the Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Arabs (who brought Islam), Afghans, and Turks. The Mughal Empire flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries; the British came to dominate the region in the 18th century. The separation in 1947 of British India into the Muslim state of Pakistan (with West and East sections) and largely Hindu India was never satisfactorily resolved, and India and Pakistan fought two wars – in 1947-48 and 1965 – over the disputed Kashmir territory. A third war between these countries in 1971 – in which India capitalized on Islamabad’s marginalization of Bengalis in Pakistani politics – resulted in East Pakistan becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh. In response to Indian nuclear weapons testing, Pakistan conducted its own tests in 1998. The dispute over the state of Kashmir is ongoing, but discussions and confidence-building measures have led to decreased tensions since 2002. Mounting public dissatisfaction with President MUSHARRAF, coupled with the assassination of the prominent and popular political leader, Benazir BHUTTO, in late 2007, and MUSHARRAF?s resignation in August 2008, led to the September presidential election of Asif ZARDARI, BHUTTO?s widower. Pakistani government and military leaders are struggling to control Islamist militants, many of whom are located in the tribal areas adjacent to the border with Afghanistan.
History From the earliest period of pre-history and recorded history of the region, modern Pakistan formed the heart-land of a larger territory, extending beyond its present eastern and western borders and receiving momentous and mighty impacts from both the directions.

The Indus region, which covers much of Pakistan, was the site of several ancient cultures including the Neolithic era Mehrgarh and the Bronze era Indus Valley Civilization (2500 BC – 1500 BC) at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.

Waves of conquerors and migrants from the west — including Harappan, Indo-Aryan, Persian, Greek, Saka, Parthian, Kushan, Hephthalite, Afghan, Arab, Turkics, and Mughal — settled in the region through out the centuries, influencing the locals and being absorbed among them. Great ancient empires of the east — such as Nandas, Mauryas, and Guptas — ruled these territories at different times. However, in the medieval period, while the eastern provinces of Punjab and Sindh became aligned with Indo-Islamic civilisation, the western areas became culturally allied with the Iranic civilisation of Afghanistan and Iran. The region served as crossroads of historic trade routes, including the Silk Road, and as a maritime entreport, for the coastal trade between Mesopotamia and beyond up to Rome in the west and Malabar and beyond up to China in the east.

The Indus Valley Civilization collapsed in the middle of the second millennium BC and was followed by the Vedic Civilization, which also extended over much of the Indo-Gangetic plains. Successive ancient empires and kingdoms ruled the region: the Achaemenid Persian empire around 543 BC, Greek empire founded by Alexander the Great in 326 BC and the Mauryan empire there after. The Indo-Greek Kingdom founded by Demetrius of Bactria included Gandhara and Punjab from 184 BC, and reached its greatest extent under Menander, establishing the Greco-Buddhist period with advances in trade and culture. The city of Taxila (Takshashila) became a major center of learning in ancient times — the remains of the city, located to the west of Islamabad, are one of the country’s major archaeological sites. The Rai Dynasty (c.489–632) of Sindh, at its zenith, ruled this region and the surrounding territories.

In 712 AD, the Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh and Multan in southern Punjab. The Pakistan government’s official chronology states that “its foundation was laid” as a result of this conquest. This Arab and Islamic victory would set the stage for several successive Muslim empires in South Asia, including the Ghaznavid Empire, the Ghorid Kingdom, the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire. During this period, Sufi missionaries played a pivotal role in converting a majority of the regional Buddhist and Hindu population to Islam. The gradual decline of the Mughal Empire in the early eighteenth century provided opportunities for the Afghans, Balochis and Sikhs to exercise control over large areas until the British East India Company gained ascendancy over South Asia.

The War of Independence 1857, also known as the Sepoy Mutiny, was the region’s last major armed struggle against the foreign British Raj and it laid the foundations for the generally unarmed freedom struggle, led by the Hindu dominated Indian National Congress, in the twentieth century. The All India Muslim League rose to popularity in the late 1930s amid fears of under-representation and neglect of Muslims in politics. On 29 December 1930, Allama Iqbal’s presidential address called for an autonomous “state in northwestern India for Indian Muslims, within the body politic of India.” Muhammad Ali Jinnah espoused the Two Nation Theory and led the Muslim League to adopt the Lahore Resolution of 1940 (popularly known as the Pakistan Resolution), which ultimately led to the formation of an independent Pakistan. The Indian independence movement, led by Mahatma Gandhi, demanded freedom from British rule. In early 1947, Britain, coming under strong pressure from other Western nations to end its violent suppression of the freedom movement, decided to end its rule of India.

In June 1947, the nationalist leaders of British India — including Nehru and Abul Kalam Azad on behalf of the Congress, Jinnah representing the Muslim League, B. R. Ambedkar representing the Untouchable community, and Master Tara Singh representing the Sikhs — agreed to the proposed terms of transfer of power and independence. The modern state of Pakistan was established on 14 August 1947 (27 Ramadan 1366 in the Islamic Calendar), carved out of the two Muslim-majority wings in the eastern and northwestern regions of British India and comprising the provinces of Balochistan, East Bengal, the North-West Frontier Province, West Punjab and Sindh. The controversial division of the provinces of Punjab and Bengal set the stage for communal riots across India and Pakistan — millions of Muslims moved to Pakistan and millions of Hindus and Sikhs moved to India. Disputes arose over several princely states including Muslim-majority Kashmir and Jammu, whose ruler had acceded to India following an invasion by Pashtun warriors, leading to the First Kashmir War in 1948.

From 1947 to 1956, Pakistan was a Dominion in the Commonwealth of Nations. It became a Republic in 1956, but the civilian rule was stalled by a coup d’état by General Ayub Khan, who was president during 1958–69, a period of internal instability and a second war with India in 1965. His successor, Yahya Khan (1969–71) had to deal with a devastating cyclone — which caused 500,000 deaths in East Pakistan — and also face a civil war in 1971.

Economic greivances and political dissent in East Pakistan led to violent political tension and military repression that escalated into a civil war, which invited covert and later overt Indian intervention that escalated into the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, and ultimately to the secession of East Pakistan as the independent state of Bangladesh. Estimates of the number of people killed during this episode vary greatly, from ~30,000 to over 2 million, depending on the source.

Civilian rule resumed in Pakistan from 1972 to 1977, under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, until he was deposed and later sentenced to death, (in what his followers claimed was a judicial murder), in 1979 by General Zia-ul-Haq, who became the country’s third military president. Pakistan’s secular policies were replaced by Zia’s introduction of the Islamic Shariah legal code, which increased religious influences on the civil service and the military. With the death of President Zia in a plane crash in 1988, Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was elected as the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan. Over the next decade, she alternated power with Nawaz Sharif, as the country’s political and economic situation worsened. Pakistan got invoved in the 1991 Gulf War and sent 5,000 troops as part of a US led coalition, specifically for the defence of Saudi Arabia. Military tensions in the Kargil conflict with India were followed by a Pakistani military coup d’état in 1999 in which General Pervez Musharraf assumed executive powers. In 2001, Musharraf became President after the controversial resignation of Rafiq Tarar. After the 2002 parliamentary elections, Musharraf transferred executive powers to newly elected Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali, who was succeeded in the 2004 Prime-Ministerial election by Shaukat Aziz and was followed, for a temporary period in office, by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. On 15 November 2007 the National Assembly completed its tenure and so, pending elections, a caretaker government was appointed with the former Chairman of the Senate, Muhammad Mian Soomro as caretaker Prime Minister. However, the December 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto during election campaign led to postponement of elections and also underscored the then prevailing instability of Pakistan’s political system. After the parliamentary elections held in march, Yousaf Raza Gillani was sworn in as Prime Minister .

Geography Location: Southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea, between India on the east and Iran and Afghanistan on the west and China in the north
Geographic coordinates: 30 00 N, 70 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 803,940 sq km
land: 778,720 sq km
water: 25,220 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly less than twice the size of California
Land boundaries: total: 6,774 km
border countries: Afghanistan 2,430 km, China 523 km, India 2,912 km, Iran 909 km
Coastline: 1,046 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate: mostly hot, dry desert; temperate in northwest; arctic in north
Terrain: flat Indus plain in east; mountains in north and northwest; Balochistan plateau in west
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: K2 (Mt. Godwin-Austen) 8,611 m
Natural resources: land, extensive natural gas reserves, limited petroleum, poor quality coal, iron ore, copper, salt, limestone
Land use: arable land: 24.44%
permanent crops: 0.84%
other: 74.72% (2005)
Irrigated land: 182,300 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 233.8 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 169.39 cu km/yr (2%/2%/96%)
per capita: 1,072 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: frequent earthquakes, occasionally severe especially in north and west; flooding along the Indus after heavy rains (July and August)
Environment – current issues: water pollution from raw sewage, industrial wastes, and agricultural runoff; limited natural fresh water resources; most of the population does not have access to potable water; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography – note: controls Khyber Pass and Bolan Pass, traditional invasion routes between Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent
Politics The government of Pakistan was based on the Government of India Act (1935) for the first nine years after independence. The first Constitution of Pakistan was adopted in 1956, but was suspended in 1958 by General Ayub Khan. The Constitution of 1973 – suspended in 1977, by Zia-ul-Haq, but re-instated in 1991 – is the country’s most important document, laying the foundations of government. Pakistan is a semi-presidential federal democratic republic with Islam as the state religion. The bicameral legislature comprises a 100-member Senate and a 342-member National Assembly. The President is the Head of State and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and is elected by an electoral college. The prime minister is usually the leader of the largest party in the National Assembly. Each province has a similar system of government with a directly elected Provincial Assembly in which the leader of the largest party or alliance becomes Chief Minister. Provincial Governors are appointed by the President.

The Pakistani military has played an influential role in mainstream politics throughout Pakistan’s history, with military presidents ruling from 1958–71, 1977–88 and from 1999 onwards. The leftist Pakistan Peoples Party, led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, emerged as a major political player during the 1970s. Under the military rule of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan began a marked shift from the British-era secular politics and policies, to the adoption of Shariat and other laws based on Islam. During the 1980s, the anti-feudal, pro-Muhajir Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was started by unorthodox and educated urban dwellers of Sindh and particularly Karachi. The 1990s were characterized by coalition politics dominated by the Pakistan Peoples Party and a rejuvenated Muslim League.

In the October 2002 general elections, the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) (PML-Q) won a plurality of National Assembly seats with the second-largest group being the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), a sub-party of the PPP. Zafarullah Khan Jamali of PML-Q emerged as Prime Minister but resigned on 26 June 2004 and was replaced by PML-Q leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain as interim Prime Minister. On 28 August 2004 the National Assembly voted 191 to 151 to elect the Finance Minister and former Citibank Vice President Shaukat Aziz as Prime Minister. The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, a coalition of Islamic religious parties, won elections in North-West Frontier Province, and increased their representation in the National Assembly – until their defeat in the 2008 elections.

Pakistan is an active member of the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the latter of which Pakistan has used as a forum for Enlightened Moderation, a plan to promote a renaissance and enlightenment in the Muslim world. Pakistan is also a member of the major regional organisations of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO). In the past, Pakistan has had mixed relations with the United States; in the early 1950s, Pakistan was the United States’ “most allied ally in Asia” and a member of both the Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) and the Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO). Also, during the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s Pakistan was a crucial US ally. But relations soured in the 1990s, when sanctions were applied by the US over suspicions of Pakistan’s nuclear activities. However, the 11 September 2001 attacks and the subsequent War on Terrorism have seen an improvement in US–Pakistan ties, especially after Pakistan ended its support of the Taliban regime in Kabul. This was evidenced by a drastic increase in American military aid, which saw Pakistan take in $4 billion more in three years after the 9/11 attacks than in the three years before.

On 18 February 2008, Pakistan held its general elections after being postponed from 8 January 2008. The Pakistan Peoples Party won the majority of the votes and formed an alliance with the Pakistan Muslim League (N). They nominated and elected Yousaf Raza Gilani as Prime Minister of Pakistan

On 18 August 2008, when the ballooning impeachment scandal threatened his power, President Musharraf resigned as President of Pakistan, claiming it was a “difficult decision”.

In the presidential election that followed, Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan People’s Party won by a landslide majority and became President of Pakistan.

People Population: 172,800,048 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 37.8% (male 33,617,953/female 31,741,258)
15-64 years: 58% (male 51,292,535/female 48,921,023)
65 years and over: 4.2% (male 3,408,749/female 3,818,533) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 20.5 years
male: 20.3 years
female: 20.6 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.999% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 28.35 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 7.85 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.51 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 66.94 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 67.04 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 66.84 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 64.13 years
male: 63.07 years
female: 65.25 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.73 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 74,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 4,900 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
animal contact disease: rabies
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2008)
Nationality: noun: Pakistani(s)
adjective: Pakistani
Ethnic groups: Punjabi 44.68%, Pashtun (Pathan) 15.42%, Sindhi 14.1%, Sariaki 8.38%, Muhagirs 7.57%, Balochi 3.57%, other 6.28%
Religions: Muslim 95% (Sunni 75%, Shi’a 20%), other (includes Christian and Hindu) 5%
Languages: Punjabi 48%, Sindhi 12%, Siraiki (a Punjabi variant) 10%, Pashtu 8%, Urdu (official) 8%, Balochi 3%, Hindko 2%, Brahui 1%, English (official; lingua franca of Pakistani elite and most government ministries), Burushaski and other 8%
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 49.9%
male: 63%
female: 36% (2005 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 7 years
male: 7 years
female: 6 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 2.6% of GDP (2006)

India: My ancestors were not apes, says minister Satyapal Singh

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWSPAPER OF INDIA)

(I am not from India, I am not a Hindu, I am a fundamentalist Christian yet I agree with Minister Singh on this issue. To me, in my beliefs, I believe that Charles Darwin is about 50% incorrect in his hypothesis about the beginning of the human race. I put this oped piece in to this article for the purpose of giving some backing too Minister Singh) (oped by: oldpoet56) 

I’m a science student, I believe my ancestors were not apes, says minister Satyapal Singh

The junior minister in the HRD ministry said people will accept what he said in 10-20 years if not immediately.

INDIA Updated: Jul 01, 2018 10:48 IST

Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, New Delhi
Union minister Satyapal Singh in New Delhi.
Union minister Satyapal Singh in New Delhi.(HT File Photo)

Union minister Satyapal Singh on Saturday stood by his claim that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution of man was “scientifically wrong” and said that as a science student, he believes that his “ancestors were not apes”.

The junior minister in the HRD ministry denounced those who attacked him over his comments and said “it’s not scientific temper to condemn the point of view of another person”.

“I am a science student and I have completed my PhD in Chemistry. Who all were the ones speaking against me? And, how many people stood by me? We should be compelled to think. We get scared of the press. If not today, tomorrow. If not tomorrow, then in 10-20 years, people will accept what I said. At least, I believe that my ancestors were not apes,” he said at a book launch.

“It’s not scientific temper to condemn the point of another person. Give it a thought,” the minister added.

Singh had a few months ago said Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was wrong and the changes need to reflect in the school and college curriculum, drawing flak from various quarters.

The former Mumbai police commissioner said he was “proud to be an educated politician” and it was the “good fortune” of the country that a “nationalist government with a nationalist mindset” is at helm.

He said 99 per cent of the universities abroad “misinterpret, mistranslate” Hinduism.

“I am writing a book… And there will be a chapter on this. We will not take help from any westerner. We will give validation and documentary evidence, and we will prove what we are saying is right. Did any of our sages ask any professor from England to validate his point?” the minister asked.

The biggest blunder, he added, was that India continued to follow the education system and the mentality of the British.

U.S. Has Postponed The ‘2 + 2’ (Security And Defense) Talks With India

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWSPAPER OF INDIA)

 

Why US postponed the 2+2 talks with India

The 2+2 dialogue scheduled for July 6 – the first simultaneous meeting of the Indian defence and external affairs ministers and their US counterparts – was postponed by the US on Wednesday citing “unavoidable reasons”.

INDIA Updated: Jun 29, 2018 07:21 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
US president Donald Trump with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Philippines in November 2017.
US president Donald Trump with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Philippines in November 2017.

It was the sudden “classified travel” of US secretary of state Mike Pompeo that resulted in the last-minute deferral of the so-called 2-plus-2 dialogue between India and the US originally scheduled for July 6, senior Indian officials involved in talks with the US said.

Indeed, the US is keen on the talks and could even be open to shifting the venue for the discussion between the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries to India, they added.

The officials, none of whom wished to be identified, said the dialogue had been postponed because Pompeo has to travel either to North Korea or Russia.

They dismissed theories that it was US concern over Iran (and India’s oil purchases from that country), the purchase of S-400 missiles from Moscow, or bilateral trade issues that resulted in the deferment. A report in the Financial Times said Pompeo was likely to travel to North Korea to discuss the country’s denuclearisation plans.

The Indian embassy in Washington was informed about the postponement of the dialogue by the state department on Wednesday morning with an assurance that secretary Pompeo would himself conveys his regrets to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj later over phone. Before the state department communication, both countries were preparing for the meeting, with US ambassador to India Kenneth Juster meeting foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale on Tuesday afternoon.

Indian diplomats in the US echoed these views. They, and the Indian officials, pointed to US ambassador Nikki Haley’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during which she said the US would not tolerate Pakistan becoming a safe haven for terrorists. They also pointed to the fact that a US trade delegation led by assistant US trade representative Mark Linscott is currently in Delhi negotiating the way to address bilateral trade concerns. India,for its part, the officials said, has decided to address the Trump administration’s concerns by buying oil and gas worth $4 billion a year from the US and also facilitating the purchase of 300 civilian jets worth $40 billion.

During his meetings with US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross in Washington this month, commerce minister Suresh Prabhu agreed with his hosts that the only way to address trade concerns was through a comprehensive dialogue.

On US concerns over India buying the S-400 missile systems from Russia, South Block officials agreed that “this was not an ideal situation” but said that both sides were open to having a candid discussion given India’s legacy issues.

Although US sanctions against Iran will kick in on November 4, senior Indian diplomats said the US is not threatening India over purchase of crude oil from Tehran; Washington is aware that New Delhi had already cut down its oil intake from the Islamic Republic to 6% of the total oil it imports before the sanctions were lifted when Iran signed its deal with the US when Barack Obama was in power.

Even now, India imports only 18% of its crude oil from Iran. Before the dialogue was postponed, the talks on Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) had recorded forward momentum towards closure by the end of this year and hardware acquisition through the foreign military sales route had been finalized with the two countries involved in advanced Malabar and RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) naval exercises.

It has also been decided that both India and the US will closely collaborate on a maritime security architecture through the Indo-PAC Command of the US Navy.

“ India-US relations are multi-faceted and on a vast canvass. It is normal to have differences over some issues. But saying US is threatening India (and that the postponement of the talks is one embodiment of this) is an overexaggeration of the facts on ground,” said a top Indian diplomat dealing with US.

Brexit bill becomes law, allowing UK to leave European Union

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Brexit bill becomes law, allowing UK to leave European Union

The EU (Withdrawal) Bill repeals the 1972 European Communities Act through which Britain became a member, and transfers decades of European law onto British statute books in a bid to avoid any legal disruption.

WORLD Updated: Jun 26, 2018 17:33 IST

Reuters
Reuters
London
European Union supporters, calling on the government to give Britons a vote on the final Brexit deal, participate in the People's Vote march in central London, Britain, on June 23.
European Union supporters, calling on the government to give Britons a vote on the final Brexit deal, participate in the People’s Vote march in central London, Britain, on June 23. (Reuters file photo)

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth granted royal assent to Prime Minister Theresa May’s flagship Brexit legislation on Tuesday, ending months of debate over the legislation that will formally end the country’s European Union membership.

The House of Commons speaker John Bercow said the EU withdrawal bill, passed by both houses of parliament last week, had been signed into law by the monarch, to cheers from Conservative lawmakers.

“I have to notify the House in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967 that her Majesty has signified her royal assent to the following acts … European Union Withdrawal Act 2018,” Commons Speaker John Bercow told lawmakers during a session of the house.

Are India’s Men As Sexually Immature As Islamic Men? Their Actions Say Yes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWSPAPER)

 

Maids to managers: Sexual abuse haunts India’s working women

Women across India – from executives in gleaming corporate towers to those toiling behind closed doors of middle-class homes, in factories or farms – face the same dangers of sexual violence and harassment.

INDIA Updated: Jun 26, 2018 14:32 IST

Annie Banerji
Annie Banerji
Thomson Reuters Foundation, New Delhi
Crimes against women in India spiked more than 80 percent between 2007 and 2016, according to government data.
Crimes against women in India spiked more than 80 percent between 2007 and 2016, according to government data.(Shutterstock Photo)

Pepper spray, safety apps and covered clothing – a mental list Kanika Johri checks off before stepping out of her house in New Delhi, dubbed “India’s rape capital”.

These are also must-haves for her friends and family in India, where official data show nearly 40 crimes against women take place every hour.

For Johri, 28, who worked for seven years in the city as a marketing professional, fending off daily threats from men who ogle, cat-call, stalk, flash and grope is a “disturbing reality”.

“It was packed, this bus, and suddenly I felt something hard pressing up against my thigh and I froze and tears streamed down my cheeks, just uncontrollably,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation about one of her experiences from early 2017 as she travelled to work.

“First you deal with creeps on the streets, the buses, the metro … Then at office, there’s another nightmare waiting – flirty messages, winking, lingering hugs. It was too much,” said Johri, who quit her job last year.

Her story is common in India, which was named on Tuesday as the world’s most dangerous country for women in a Thomson Reuters Foundation poll of experts.

Women across India – from executives in gleaming corporate towers to those toiling behind closed doors of middle-class homes, in factories or farms – face the same dangers of sexual violence and harassment.

Those in the private sector opt for company-paid taxis rather than public transport, with many women telling the Thomson Reuters Foundation that they skip office or networking events at night over safety concerns.

“We need safe transportation and zero tolerance of sexual harassment in the office,” Annette Dixon, World Bank South Asia vice president, said at a women’s forum in New Delhi in March.

“We must also raise our sons to respect girls and women, and make it clear that there is zero-tolerance for gender-based violence … We need families to see their girls as capable future professionals.”

“FEAR OF BACKLASH”

Crimes against women in India spiked more than 80 percent between 2007 and 2016, according to government data.

Nearly 40,000 rapes were reported in 2016 despite a greater focus on women’s safety after the fatal gang rape of a student in New Delhi in 2012 that sparked nationwide protests and led to tougher laws against sexual abuse.

Rekha Sharma, head of the National Commission for Women (NCW), said it was a case of more women reporting crimes rather than a greater incidence of sexual violence.

But local media carry daily reports of sex crimes – from girls molested in school, professional women raped by taxi drivers, to teens trafficked and sold to brothels.

An Air India flight attendant made headlines in May when she took to Twitter to accuse a “predator” senior officer of sexually harassing her over six years, describing him as “Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby put together”.

When she approached the airline’s internal complaints committee (ICC) – a legal requirement for Indian firms to investigate sexual harassment at the workplace – the chief brushed it off, saying “you know how he talks”.

“I have almost never seen ICC members go against the person who has been accused,” Sharma of the NCW told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“They have a tendency to say ‘oh, the woman was at fault’.”

India recorded 539 cases of sexual harassment at the workplace in 2016, up 170 percent from 2006, a joint report by EY and Indian industry body FICCI from last year showed.

But campaigners say the figures are just the tip of the iceberg. A 2017 survey by India’s National Bar Association found nearly 70 percent of sexual harassment victims did not report their cases.

Nishtha Satyam, deputy chief of U.N. Women in India, attributed this to a “fear of backlash”.

“There is a culture of silence not because women are okay to put up with it, but because women do not draw enough confidence from the way the issue is going to be dealt with, because those in power continue to be men,” she said.

Shutdown in Kashmir to protest against civilian deaths

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Shutdown in Kashmir to protest against civilian killings, heavy contingents of forces

The Joint Resistance Leadership of separatists said that in the name of crackdown, security forces are “creating a 90s-like situation” and common people are being harassed without any reason.

INDIA Updated: Jun 26, 2018 00:01 IST

Mir Ehsan
Mir Ehsan
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
A paramilitary soldier stands guard in a closed market during a strike at Maisuma in Srinagar on Monday.
A paramilitary soldier stands guard in a closed market during a strike at Maisuma in Srinagar on Monday. (Waseem Andrabi/ Hindustan Times)

A shutdown was observed in Kashmir on the call of separatist leadership to protest civilian killings and excesses by security forces during Cordon and Search Operations (CASO) launched in different parts of the Valley in the last one week since ceasefire was revoked.

The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) of separatists said that in the name of crackdown, security forces are “creating a 90s-like situation” and common people are being harassed without any reason.

Since ceasefire was revoked, the CASOs were being launched on a daily basis, especially in south Kashmir, and security had been beefed up in Srinagar city.

At least four civilians were killed in different parts of south Kashmir during clashes with forces near encounter sites where eight militants have been killed.

“We can’t be spectators to the brutal killings of unarmed protesters,’’ the JRL leadership said in a statement.

They also highlighted the injuries caused allegedly by use of pellets and bullets by security forces to disperse protesters.

Although shops and business establishments remained closed in the Valley, normal transport was plying on the roads.

To prevent untoward incidents, additional forces were deployed at sensitive spots in Srinagar.

Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was put under house arrest and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman (JKLF) Yasin Malik was detained at Kothibagh police station on Monday, on apprehension that they will try to take out protest demonstrations in the city.

Meanwhile, defence minister, Nirmala Sitharaman and army chief Bipin Rawat visited the base camp of Amarnath Yatra at Baltal in Sonmarg Ganderbal district. Sitharaman reviewed security along the yatra route and directed officials to maintain high level security during the yatra which will start later this week.

India, Seychelles agree to work on Assumption Island naval base project

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

India, Seychelles agree to work on Assumption Island naval base project

India also announced a $100-million credit to Seychelles for augmenting its defence capabilities

INDIA Updated: Jun 25, 2018 22:17 IST

Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for a photo with model of Dornier aircraft which will be gifted to Seychelles President Danny Antoine Rollen Faure after their meeting at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi on Monday, June 25, 2018.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for a photo with model of Dornier aircraft which will be gifted to Seychelles President Danny Antoine Rollen Faure after their meeting at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi on Monday, June 25, 2018. (PTI Photo)

India and Seychelles said on Monday they would work together on developing a naval base on Assumption Island while keeping “each other’s interests” in mind, days after reports suggested the Indian Ocean archipelago had scrapped an agreement on the project.

Following talks in Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Seychelles President Danny Faure said both sides will continue working on the Assumption Island project.

Modi announced a $100-million line of credit that Seychelles can use to acquire Indian defence equipment to boost its maritime capacity. He also said India will provide a second Dornier aircraft for the Seychelles military.

The remarks by both leaders assume significance as Faure had said earlier this month his government had scrapped an agreement with India for setting up a naval base on Assumption. He had also said the project “will not move forward” and the issue wouldn’t be discussed with Modi during his visit.

Two days before the president began his visit, secretary of state for foreign affairs Barry Faure, who is Faure’s brother, told Reuters the government wouldn’t present the agreement on Assumption Island to the National Assembly for “approval because opposition members (who are the majority) have already said they will not ratify it”.

During a joint media interaction with Faure, Modi said: “In the context of the Assumption Island project, we are agreed on working together in each other’s interests.” He did not give details.

Faure added, “In the context of maritime security, Assumption Island was discussed. We are equally engaged and will continue to work together, bearing each other’s interests in mind.”

The first agreement on the project was signed during Modi’s visit to Seychelles in March 2015. Following public protests in Seychelles, the two sides signed a revised agreement in January to build military facilities on the remote island. Under the revised pact valid for 20 years, India was to build an airstrip and a jetty for its navy on Assumption.

Faure is expected to face an uphill task in getting the project ratified by Parliament that is dominated by the opposition, which has been opposing any Indian military presence on Assumption.

India has been working overtime to bolster its naval presence in regional waters to counter China, which last year inaugurated its first overseas military base in Djibouti, near one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

Defence and security issues were a key part of the discussions between the two leaders and Modi said both countries have a “geo-strategic vision for peace, security and stability in the Indian Ocean” and have to contend with various traditional and non-traditional threats.

While working together to derive benefits from a “blue economy”, Modi said the two sides will also have to jointly confront challenges such as piracy, drugs, human trafficking and trans-national crimes.

He added that India will help Seychelles to build a new police headquarters, a new office for the attorney general and a new government house, and that Indian experts will be sent on deputation to the archipelago.

Faure described India as “one of our closest and reliable partners” and said Seychelles will benefit from the line of credit to aid the military and defence forces. He said he and Modi had “expressed our strong desire to elevate our bilateral relations to a more comprehensive partnership of a greater strategic importance”.

The two sides signed six agreements on issues such as infrastructure development in Seychelles, cyber-security, sharing of white shipping information that will enable them to exchange data on the identity and movement of non-military commercial vessels.

Elderly Abuse In India, It’s All About Loving Your Parents

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

It’s all about loving your parents, writes Karan Johar

In the first of a five-part series on the elderly, filmmaker Karan Johar writes about how his parents shaped his life

INDIA Updated: Jun 25, 2018 16:15 IST

Filmmaker Karan Johar writes about his relationship with his parents.
Filmmaker Karan Johar writes about his relationship with his parents.(Creative: Malay Karmakar/ HT)

My life has always revolved around my parents. They have always been my world, my universe. I am in my forties now and have never ever thought of living alone. I am the only child and we have been a strong unit of three members. When my father was diagnosed with cancer and I knew he was dying, I was shattered. I felt like the epicentre of that unit was crumbling.

When I hear of families fighting, of children taking their parents to court over property, of parents being dumped, I cannot comprehend it. I don’t want to be judgmental, but I cannot understand or imagine a life without my parents. They are the only ones who give us unconditional love.

My earliest memories are of me coming home and bonding with my parents. We always had dinner together and talked about everything. I was engulfed with all the family problems from a very young age. When I was 10, I had become my mother’s friend and my father’s support. Moving out of home was never an option. The thought never struck me. We always operated as a unit. They were my universe and I was theirs. I’ve always yearned for a sibling and am envious of those who have one.

Living with my parents is a strong part of my fabric, my DNA. I don’t understand movies like Baghban (in which parents are not wanted by their own children) and will never be able to make such a film. It’s an alien concept. I had my father pinch my cheeks even when I was 30 and when I was well into my teens, it struck me that, may be, I should stop sitting in his lap.

I lost my father in 2004 and I’m still struggling with the loss. When my father, Yash Johar, was dying, he kept telling us he didn’t want to leave us and go. My mother and I cried a lot. We still do. I walk into her room and even today, I find her talking to his photograph. I have conversations with him, in my head, on a daily basis. He gives me strength and completes me in every way. I lost my father but gained a god for life.

My world collapsed for a long time after I saw my father’s remains being consumed by the electric crematorium. The thought of feeding him to an oven haunts me till today.

Fourteen years have passed since I lost my dad and I am getting vulnerable. I fear losing the only people I am attached to. My mother has been going through health issues and I start breaking at the thought of losing her, which I know is an eventuality we all have to face. I speak to her every four hours and if she doesn’t answer the phone, I start having the worst thoughts. If she wakes up late in the mornings, I worry, and barge into her room. Each time she complains of chest pain, my first question is: is it the left side?

My mother Hiroo is the Queen of my universe. We have our fights, like all parents and children do, but each time we fight, I find myself crying. I don’t like to stress her out about anything. I cannot function on days that I’ve had a fight with her. My entire day goes, and it affects my work and I’m a workaholic, mind you. I start functioning only after we’ve sorted out the disagreement and we are back to having a normal conversation. No matter which part of the world I am in, I can tell from my mother’s tone whether she is low, upset or sick.

These days I find myself staring at old people. There was a shift within me the day I turned 40 and I have been feeling vulnerable through this decade. I find myself getting hysterical about my mother’s well being and her longevity. I am told about parents being abandoned and I just get gobsmacked. I cannot comprehend how this can even be a thought in any child’s head. As I grow older, I have the fear of emptiness, of loneliness.

Having children of my own has been my big emotional investment. A light went out when my father died and a tiny light came on when my son and daughter were born. My mother and I regained some of our spirit and I think it had a lot to do with me naming my son, Yash, after my father. My mother was delirious with joy when I told her I was naming him Yash. My daughter, Roohi, takes her name, with alphabets rearranged, from my mother’s name, Hiroo.

Before I decided to have children, I use to feel very guilty about not spending time with my mother. She used to get lonely and I didn’t know what to do about it. I found myself running away from the sadness of it all, because I felt I should be there for her a lot more. Yash and Roohi have changed that.

My children are now 15 months old and for all this while my mom and I have been living a perfect dream. They have been glorious months and I sometimes think – when is the first crack going to come? I am so scared, I find myself touching wood all the time.

I may have to contend with the question of whether my children will have the same relationship with me as I have had with my parents. They are my children and I have to trust them with abandon. I hope they never take me to court – as so many are doing today – because that will be a big shock to my system.

I cannot communicate with people who make their parents suffer. I made Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, with ‘It’s all about loving your parents’, as the tagline. That is my reality. My parents are my world. My life is about them.

I do feel that a chemical imbalance might be the reason for violence against parents. I can understand siblings fighting; can even comprehend couples sparring, but I cannot understand the breakdown of relations between you and those who give birth to you. In the end, what I do want to say is that if you’ve given up on loving your parents, consider them your duty. If it is not deep love, it should be deep duty. Make it your duty, your responsibility. For me, it will always be, “It’s all about loving your parents.’

Elderly, abused
HelpAge India conducted a 23-city survey among 5,014 respondents. It’s report called Elder Abuse in India 2018 made these points
  • 25% of elders surveyed experienced abuse. The main abusers were sons (52%) and daughters-in-law (34%).
  • The most common form of abuse they experienced was disrespect (56%), verbal abuse (49%) and neglect (33%). 22% of them were being exploited financially while 12% had suffered physical abuse (beating and slapping).
  • The top 5 cities which had a high percentage of elder abuse were Mangalore (47%), Ahmedabad (46%), Bhopal (39%), Amritsar (35%) and Delhi (33%).
  • 73% of the elders felt that ‘their adult children are too busy on the phone even when at home with them.’
  • 78% of the elders surveyed agreed that social media had decreased their families personal time spent with them.
  • More than 50% of the abusers were skilled workers and working professionals.

(The author is a film producer and director)

This is the first of HT’s five-part series, #LetsTalkAboutOurElderly. Join the conversation on @htTweets and send us your ideas and suggestions.

19 of India’s 25 dirtiest cities are in West Bengal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

19 of India’s 25 dirtiest cities are in West Bengal, Darjeeling on the list

The cities, which include Darjeeling, Siliguri, Serampore, Madhyamgram, North Barrackpore, Bankura, fared abysmally on all sanitation indicators such as waste collection, open defecation, solid waste processing and disposal

INDIA Updated: Jun 24, 2018 17:56 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A man cleans garbage along the banks of the river Ganges in Kolkata, India, April 9, 2017.
A man cleans garbage along the banks of the river Ganges in Kolkata, India, April 9, 2017. (REUTERS File Photo)

Nineteen out of the 25 dirtiest cities in India are from West Bengal, with Bhadreshwar in Gujarat at the bottom of the list of 500 cities with a population of over one lakh, a nationwide cleanliness survey by the union housing and urban affairs ministry has found.

The cities, which include Darjeeling, Siliguri, Serampore, Madhyamgram, North Barrackpore, Bankura, fared abysmally on all sanitation indicators such as waste collection, open defecation, solid waste processing and disposal, the survey found.

Three cities each from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are also among the dirtiest, figuring in the bottom of the list.

In all, 4203 urban local bodies were surveyed between January and March and ranked under different categories, based on their population. Besides, for the first time all the cantonment boards, run by the army, were also included in the survey.

West Bengal also fared among the bottom four dirtiest states in the country, followed by Nagaland, Puducherry and Tripura.

Jharkhand is the cleanest state in India followed by Maharashtra and Chattisgarh, according to the report, which was released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Indore on Saturday. Among the cities, Indore is the cleanest — second year in a row — followed by Bhopal and Chandigarh. The PM also gave away the award to the cleanest states and cities at a function. Varanasi, PM Modi’s parliamentary constituency, was ranked 29 among the list of 500 cities. Last year it was ranked 32.

Read: Indore the cleanest city, followed by Bhopal and Chandigarh: Swachh Bharat survey

Cities were ranked on the basis of their performance in six parameters including collection and transportation of municipal solid waste, their processing and disposal, sanitation related progress, innovation and best practices adapted by cities.

A senior ministry official said that West Bengal had not participated in the earlier two cleanliness survey conducted by the ministry in 2016 and 2017.

Subrata Gupta, West Bengal principal secretary (urban affairs and municipal affairs department) said, “I am not aware of any such survey. I have not seen the survey report and won’t be able to comment on it. The state, however, runs its own cleanliness program called Nirmal Bangla as part of which we rank our cities.”

Yamini Aiyar, president and chief executive, Centre for Policy Research, feels that while such data and ranking are useful and important exercise as they act as a periodic check and puts the spotlight on the issue, but the real devil lies in the detail.

“The biggest limitation of such survey is what we do after, to what extent the result is used as a diagnostic tool to address the problem cities are facing. Unfortunately, we have not been able to take the next step, to see to what degree our municipalities have the capacity and technology to process solid waste, etc.”

The urban affairs ministry had last month announced the winners of the 2018 Swachhata Sarvekshan but had not released the list of dirtiest city. A senior ministry official said that over 2700 assessors from Karvy Data management services Limited visited the 4203 Urban Local Bodies as part of the survey, which was completed in 66 days.

Read: Smaller cities better at waste management than bigger ones like Delhi

The methodology involved giving 35 % weightage to service level progress, which included checking if municipalities documents are physically verified to assess whether systems and processes are in place to implement Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) in the most efficient way, 30% weightage was given to direct observation to ascertain general cleanliness in the cities by making random field visits in different parts of the city and public conveniences covering community/public toilets.

End of the affair in Jammu and Kashmir: Why BJP dumped PDP

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

End of the affair in Jammu and Kashmir: Why BJP dumped PDP

The scale of security operations in the Valley, a deteriorating law and order situation, increased cases of attack on security personnel and feedback from party leaders made the BJP decide to pull out, sources say.

INDIA Updated: Jun 20, 2018 07:34 IST

Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
BJP president Amit Shah in New Delhi on June 13, 2018.
BJP president Amit Shah in New Delhi on June 13, 2018. (PTI)

The decision of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to withdraw from the Jammu and Kashmir government stemmed from its desire to protect its “core support base”, especially in Jammu, avoid future “political costs” at the national level that would have come with staying on in the alliance in the run-up to the 2019 general elections, scale up “internal security operations” both in the state and “across the border”, and exercise direct control through
Governor’s rule, said two party leaders involved in formulating the BJP’s Kashmir strategy.

The BJP had two primary concerns, said one of the leaders quoted above, who is also a Union minister.

First, Mehbooba Mufti’s approach towards issues such as the scale and intensity of security operations was not in sync with the BJP’s, and the divergence was growing.

The ceasefire during Ramzan was announced at her instance and she wanted the gesture to continue even after Eid, he said. The BJP wanted to scale up operations; Mufti wanted to scale them down.

The BJP wanted a muscular approach towards Pakistan; she favoured talks with the western neighbour. A major point of disagreement was the space that security forces should be allowed while operating in the Valley.

The suspicion of foul play in a matter relating to Major Leetul Gogoi and a woman, reports about trouble-makers from the Valley being let off without much action, a deteriorating law and order situation, increased cases of attack on security personnel and feedback from party leaders made the BJP decide to pull out.

“2017 was largely peaceful and many terrorist were eliminated,” the minister said. “2018 turned out to the bad.” The government was, he said, carrying out offensives across the line of control, but the PDP was not forthcoming in dealing with the elements on this side of the border.

All this prompted the second concern in the BJP: the growing unease among its “nationalist” constituency in Jammu and outside that the party was going “soft”. The party, the second leader said, realised the need to reach out to this support base, which gave it an unprecedented 25 assembly seats in the November-December 2014 election.

“J&K is an emotive issue for our supporters – from Kanyakumari to Kashmir,” the second leader said. “Concerns of our support base, and its growing sense of hurt, were factored in before pulling the plug on the alliance,” the minister said.

Governor’s rule, which will bring the state under the Centre’s direct control, helps the BJP address both its concerns.

First, the first BJP leader and Union Minister said, the central political leadership will give security forces more elbow room to operate. The offensive will grow both “across the Line of Control” and “in the Valley”, to flush out troublemakers. “The ceasefire helped us identify who wanted peace, and who wanted to create trouble,” a senior government official said.

Any increase in the offensive against Pakistan, terror groups sponsored by it, the separatist and other terror outfit helps BJP address its second concern.

More direct control also helps the BJP in deciding how money is spent between the three regions of J&K: Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. “In three years, the outgoing government could not spend even Rs 35,000 crore, out of total 1 lakh crore of the Kashmir package,” the first BJP leader said.

“We have ensured that J&K gets sufficient funds for its development projects and there is equitable distribution of resources between the three regions,” Jitendra Singh, a junior minister in Prime Minister’s office, said.

This motivation — of enabling unimpeded security operations to ramp up political advantage or “avoid political costs” — led the BJP to withdraw support and clear the way to bring Jammu and Kashmir under direct control of the Central government.