Why did President Donald Trump recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital? Why now? Is it designed to shore up Trump's domestic support with Evangelical Christians and Jewish donors and voters? What will be its impact in the Middle East and the world in the short term and the long term? Will it strengthen anti-US forces? Will there be more violence? Does it make the fight against terror more difficult?
Prime Minister Modi a cause or consequence of it? Does it make the chances of peace in South Asia even more remote? Why did Indian Congress leader Mani Shankar Ayar call Indian Prime Minister "neech aadmi" (mean person)?
How did US Def Sec Gen James Mattis' visit to Islamabad go? Why did Stratfor analysts say "Mad Dog (Mattis) Will Bark, But Islamabad Won't Bite"? Did anything change after the visit? Will Pakistan yield to US pressure? What comes next? Will Pakistan really shoot down any US drones violating Pakistan airspace as the Pakistan Air Force Chief claims? Will US-Pakistan relations further deteriorate?
Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)
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Why is PM Narendra Modi obsessed with Muslims?
From besmirching the name of former prime minister Manmohan Singh to accusing the Congress party of a “Mughal mindset” to targeting Pakistan high commissioner to India, the PM seems to be focusing his sights on the Indian Muslim-Pakistan Muslim continuum
#Hindutva Hate Smears #India’s Symbol of Love, the Taj Mahal. #Modi #BJP #Islamophobia
Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel Prize-winning Indian author, called the Taj Mahal “a teardrop on the cheek of time.” It is perhaps India’s greatest cultural treasure and its pre-eminent tourist attraction.
But the Hindu extremists who have become a driving force in India are so obsessed with demonizing Muslims that they are smearing it as an abomination.
Built in the 17th century by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal is considered one of the wonders of the world and a magnificent symbol of enduring love. Millions flock to marvel at its shimmering magnificence, with intricately inlaid and carved white marble inscribed with verses from the Quran, every year. And that is exactly what the Hindu right finds so galling.
In October, it came to light that the state of Uttar Pradesh — where the Taj Mahal is located, in the city of Agra, and which is headed by the firebrand Hindu cleric Yogi Adityanath — had omitted the monument from its tourism brochure and cut its funding from the state’s tourism budget. Sangeet Som, a member of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, railed that the Taj Mahal was “a blot on Indian culture” built by “traitors.” And Mr. Som’s party colleague Vinay Katiyar blustered, completely unglued from historical fact, that the Taj Mahal was actually “Tejo Mahal, Lord Shiva’s temple,” referring to the Hindu god.
Perhaps sensing the damage such attacks could do to his state’s tourism revenue, Mr. Adityanath thought it well to visit the Taj Mahal to quell the fracas, although only grudgingly admitting the tomb was important because it “was built by the blood and sweat of Indian laborers.” The Taj Mahal has since been restored to Uttar Pradesh’s tourism brochure.
Anti-Muslim rhetoric and unprovoked physical attacks on Muslims have risen alarmingly under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party, and Hindu hard-liners speak more and more boldly of an India where Muslim citizens are, if not hated enemies, mere guests who live at the sufferance of Hindus.
Wednesday was the 25th anniversary of the demolition of the 16th century Babri Masjid mosque in Ayodhya by Hindu fanatics who claimed it was built on the site of a Hindu temple. Subsequent rioting between Hindus and Muslims, which killed more than 2,000 people by some estimates, is a reminder of what Hindu zealotry can wreak. Hard-liners vow still to rebuild a Hindu temple on the site of that ruined mosque, and India’s Supreme Court began hearings on the fate of the site last week.
In this disturbing context, preserving the Taj Mahal is important, not only as a testament to the glories of India’s syncretic past, but also as a pledge to an inclusive future.
#America's ties with #Pakistan have "drifted over the years".... “Dealing with Pakistan — I don’t enjoy that”, said Secretary #Tillerson in response to a question at @StateDept today.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday said he does not enjoy dealing with Pakistan as America’s relationship with the South Asian country has “drifted over the years”, noting that the two countries need to restore the ties to “one of common interest.”
“Dealing with Pakistan — I don’t enjoy that,” Mr. Tillerson said in response to a specific query during a town hall with the State Department employees here.
His remark, without any further explanation, was in response to a question posed by a State Department employee who asked: “Is it fair to ask and say do you enjoy your job as Secretary of State?”
“...Pakistan is still an important and valued partner of the United States. Over the last decade, the relationship has drifted, and we’ve got to bring this relationship back to one of common interest,” Mr. Tillerson said.
Today that’s just not the case, he told his State Department colleagues.
“So we’re engaged in very frank discussions with Pakistan over the concerns we have about their own stability and their future, and the threat they’re under by allowing terrorist organisations to operate in their territory,” Mr. Tillerson said.
The top US diplomat said the two countries should find ways as to how they could work together to bring stability and peace to the whole region.
“We’ve got a great team working in that region as well. A lot of work left to do,” Mr. Tillerson said.
Earlier in his remarks, Tillerson referred to the new South Asia Policy as one of the key foreign policy highlights in the first year of the Trump administration.
Mr. Tillerson said that President Donald Trump took a very bold decision by asserting that the US will be in Afghanistan with its military presence and continue to fight terrorism and the Taliban on a conditions-based effort.
He, however, refused to give any time limit for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
#Bengaluru, #India: #Hindu Doctor forces #Muslim woman to chant 'Krishna Krishna'
A woman has alleged that a government doctor forced her to chant “Krishna Krishna” to carry out a tubectomy surgery on her. The doctor, the woman claimed in her police complaint, threatened to cancel her surgery if she did not obey his order.
According to the complainant, Naseema Banu (22), a resident of Nandini Layout in Yeshwanthpur, she and her husband had decided that Naseema would undergo tubectomy surgery after the birth of their second daughter 10 months ago.
Knowing of a tubectomy surgery camp being held at Chintamani Government Hospital on Tuesday, Naseema, her husband and aunt left for Chintamani and enrolled her name in the hospital. After hours of waiting for her turn, when Naseema went to the operation area, she saw doctors asking patients to chant “Krishna Krishna” during the operation.
“I was asked to come for the surgery at 1 pm. The doctors operating on women were asking the patients to chant Krishna Krishna while being operated. As I was a Muslim, I started saying, Allah Allah, to which the doctors objected. I tried to convince them saying I am a Muslim and I cannot chant Krishna’s name, but the doctors refused to accept my explanation,” Naseema said in her complaint.
She further said that the doctors threatened to cancel her surgery if she did not chant “Krishna Krishna” and that she was forced into chanting it.
After the surgery, Naseema approached the Chintamani city police station and lodged a complaint, stating that her religious sentiments were hurt by the act of doctor Ramakrishna, who according to her forced her into chanting “Krishna Krishna”.
#Pakistan Accuses #US of Exporting War, Instability to #SouthAsia. #Afghanistan #India #TTP #terrorism
Pakistan is accusing the United States of "exporting war" and "perpetual instability" in South Asia, and of "speaking Indian language" in bilateral dealings.
The allegations leveled by National Security Adviser Nasir Janjua again underscore the deterioration in Islamabad's relations with Washington. It also strengthened reported suggestions the two countries are on a collision course, particularly since August when President Donald Trump unveiled a new policy for Afghanistan and South Asia.
The U.S. policy accused Pakistan of harboring terrorist groups, including the Haqqani Network, that are fueling the Afghan war and plotting attacks against India. It also focused on using intensified military means to defeat the Afghan Taliban and called on New Delhi to expand its role in Afghanistan, ignoring Islamabad's opposition and objection.
Janjua reiterated Pakistan's objections while addressing a security seminar Monday in Islamabad. He rejected terror allegations against his country, saying the United States was scapegoating Islamabad for failing to stabilize Afghanistan.
"Pakistan made irrelevant in Afghanistan, scapegoating [and] lumping all the blame [on Islamabad], speaking Indian language on every subject, planing to downgrade all ties, U.S. lawmakers are asking to designate Pakistan as a state sponsoring terrorism," Janjua said.
He went on to complain that despite being a non-NATO ally, Pakistan's attempts to procure U.S. defense equipment have been blocked and its nuclear weapons program is being opposed.
"India has become the preferred ally in Afghanistan and the military solution [for ending the war in Afghanistan] is again given the preference," he noted.
Janjua said the way forward for the United States in Afghanistan is to focus on finding a political solution rather than relying on military might. Washington, he added, should appoint a "political authority" to Afghanistan as empowered as its military commander in the country to promote a political resolution.
Alleging the U.S. wants to contain China's rise and the resurgence of Russia in the region, Janjua said Washington is opposed to Islamabad's multi-billion dollar economic corridor project being funded by Beijing under its global Belt and Road Initiative.
"To mitigate the challenges — China and Russia — and to ensure self-survival, [the] U.S. is exporting war and perpetual instability in South Asia," he said. "India is being supported and encouraged to promote U.S. regional interests. "
There was no immediate reaction from U.S. officials to Janjua's statements.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis earlier this month visited Pakistan where he called on civilian and military leaders to redouble their efforts against terrorism. Officials revealed few details of the talks, but described them as positive and productive, dismissing the element of confrontation.
But on Monday, Janjua, who attended the meetings with Mattis, underscored the prevailing mutual disagreements and tensions.
The Trump administration has also warned it may designate certain officials of the Pakistani spy agency, ISI, as global terrorists for their ties to militant groups, including Haqqanis.
Just days before Mattis' visited Islamabad, the CIA director warned if Pakistan failed to act decisively against the Afghan Taliban and Haqqanis, the United States would unilaterally do so.
Maynnn. I'm an avid reader of geo-politics and I like the stuff you write. I wish I could meet you. Keep it up good work Riaz.
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