Saturday, May 6, 2017

French Elections; Militant Hindu Threats Against Pak Children; Panama JIT

What do we know about French presidential run-off election candidates Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen? What is at stake for France in the elections? What if the Islamophobic, anti-Europe, anti-trade, racist candidate Marine Le Pen wins? Will French elections be impacted by Brexit and Trump victories in recent votes?  How would it affect France's standing in the world? How would it affect Europe if she follows through on her promise to leave the European Union?

Why were 50 Pakistani children invited to India by an Indian NGO returned without completing their visit? Why did Hindu militants affiliated with the ruling BJP threaten the NGO that invited them? Why is Prime Minister Modi silent on rising attacks by Hindutva outfits on minorities, particularly Muslims, in India? Is India heading to a long period of religious violence and instability?

Does the Joint Investigating team (JIT) set up the Pakistan Supreme Court after Panama verdict have the independence or the skills to investigate financial crimes possibly committed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family? Will it be able to reach any conclusions based on evidence? Will the JIT itself and/or its findings become controversial in Pakistan's polarized and low-trust society?

How did the border violence between Afghanistan and Pakistan start near Chaman? Where is Afghanistan headed? What is the Trump administration strategy there? Will US send more troops? Is a negotiated settlement even possible under the current circumstances with Afghan president refusing to visit Pakistan? Would the Afghan government be able to implement any agreements it makes with Pakistan or any other party or entity?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with panelists Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

I am not Charlie (Hebdo); I am Ahmed

GOP's Dog Whistle Politics Produced Donald Trump

Hinduization of India Under Modi

Muslim Victims of Gujarat Riots

Panama Verdict

Are Iran and Russia Supporting the Afghan Taliban?

Talk4Pak Youtube Channel


Riaz Haq said...

#Trump Wants a New #Afghan Surge. That’s a Terrible Idea. #Afghanistan #Pakistan #India #Taliban via @politicomag

The Taliban-led insurgency has grown at double-digit rates annually since 2005. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) just reported to Congress that security incidents throughout 2016 and continuing into the first quarter of 2017 reached their highest level since 2007. The insurgents now control about half of the country. Taliban shadow governments operate in virtually every province, and control several of them, including Helmand. Insurgents are pressuring government centers across the country, including besieged Kabul, where a suicide bomber blew up a U.S. military convoy on the doorstep of the U.S. Embassy this week.

Afghanistan today remains the largest U.S. military foreign engagement. From the peak of about 100,000 boots on the ground during the Obama-era surge, there are still almost 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, plus up to 26,000 highly paid contractors for the Department of Defense and other agencies. Each soldier costs about a million dollars a year. Economists estimate the Afghan war has already cost U.S. taxpayers around a trillion dollars. For the 2017 fiscal year, U.S. military and State Department operations in Afghanistan are costing about $50 billion—almost a billion dollars a week. (As a reference, the initial budget request for operations against ISIS in Syria was only $5 billion.)

Riaz Haq said...

'Straight out of the Nazi playbook': Hindu nationalists try to engineer 'genius' babies in India … by @anniegowen

Members of a Hindu far-right organization called Arogya Bharati say they are working with expectant couples in the country to produce “customized” babies, who, they hope, will be taller, fairer and smarter than other babies, according to a report in the Indian Express newspaper.

The group's health officials claimed that their program — a combination of diet, ayurvedic medicine and other practices — has led to 450 of these babies, and they hope to have “thousands” more by 2020, the report said.

“The parents may have lower IQ, with a poor educational background, but their baby can be extremely bright. If the proper procedure is followed, babies of dark-skinned parents with lesser height can have fair complexion and grow taller,” Hitesh Jani, the group's national convener, told the newspaper.

Jani explained that the program consists of a “purification of energy channels” and body before a pregnancy, and mantra-chanting and “proper food,” such as meals rich in calcium and vitamin A, after the baby is born.

The newspaper identified the group as the “health wing” of the conservative Hindu group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, but Ramesh Gautam, Arogya Bharati's national general secretary, said the group was merely “inspired” by the conservative ideology of the RSS rather than being officially supported by it. Arogya Bharati's website says it is a "voluntary organization of service minded people who have an interest in the health of society.”

On Saturday, the chairwoman for a state child rights commission tried to attend one of the workshops where couples are counseled on how to produce these “genius” babies — as the Economic Times termed it — but was barred by organizers, that newspaper said.

“This is an unscientific thing that’s happening here. It cannot continue,” Ananya Chatterjee, the chair of the West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said. The group countered that her charges were “politically motivated.”

Responding to a petition from the commission, the West Bengal state high court later mandated that organizers present an affidavit and video of the proceedings, which went off as scheduled.

The program launched over a decade ago and has spread to several Indian states. Organizers said it was inspired by a RSS leader who met a woman in Germany more than 40 years ago. An official said the woman led a post World War II re-population effort in Germany for “signature children” based on the same principles, according to the Indian Express report.

This comment — and its evocation of the legacy of Third Reich era eugenics — prompted immediate backlash on social media, with one critic writing on the Daily O opinion website that this “dystopia in the womb” was “straight out of the Nazi playbook.”

The RSS was founded in 1925 as a volunteer organization to advance the rights of Hindus. Over the years, it has given rise to many of the country’s more successful conservative politicians, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A few of its founders praised in essays and books the totalitarian movements of Nazism and fascism sweeping Europe at the time, scholars have noted.

“The original RSS stalwarts found a political validity in racial resurrection championed by Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich,” Angshukanta Chakraborty, an opinion writer on the Daily O website, wrote, adding, “And even now, a racially pure search for homeland or creation of one along racially/communally pure lines appeals to the RSS and is the heart of its ideology.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan #PMLN Govt acting like Sicilian #Mafia, says Supreme Court's Justice Azmat Saeed - Pakistan - Dunya News

Justice Azmat Saeed on Thursday remarked during the hearing of a suo motu case against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Nehal Hashmi that the incumbent government is acting like the notorious Sicilian Mafia of Italy by threatening the judges.

Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan chaired the three-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) that heard this case, issued show-cause notice to Nehal Hashmi, and directed him to submit reply by June 5. Justice Ejaz Afzal said that the judges are neither afraid of anybody, nor worry about the consequences. Everything that is going on is in our knowledge, he said.

On the other hand, Nehal Hashmi said in his defense that I am fasting, and Allah knows that I did not give statement against judiciary, Panama JIT, or any other institution. The apex court then directed the PML-N senator to submit his reply, and said it will compare the written statement with his speech.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan also gave his views on Nehal Hashmi, and said jail is the only place for him after the threatening remarks that he made against judiciary and Panama JIT. He said a mafia either tries to buy others, or threatens them, and Nehal Hashmi threatened the children of those who are probing the Sharif family’s offshore wealth.

It is pertinent here to mention that Nehal Hashmi, warning those who are conducting accountability of Sharif family, said in a public rally on Wednesday, “We will make this land (Pakistan) narrow for you and your children. You are now in service, but will retire one day. We will not leave you then.”