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Diplomacy: Myanmar has outsmarted Bangladesh

Dr. Dilara Choudhury
 
Entry of as many as four hundred thousand Rohingya refugees, following an attack on Myanmar’s security forces by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on August 28, 2017, and consequent genocide of Rohingyas by its security forces, Bangladesh is confronted with serious and numerous non-traditional security threats to its territorial integrity and sovereignty, and has become involved in global politics.
Full Story
Dr. Dilara Choudhury
 
Entry of as many as four hundred thousand Rohingya refugees, following an attack on Myanmar’s security forces by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on August 28, 2017, and consequent genocide of Rohingyas by its security forces, Bangladesh is confronted with serious and numerous non-traditional security threats to its territorial integrity and sovereignty, and has become involved in global politics.
Naturally, questions abound about Government’s non-awareness of a calamity of such magnitude as well as its policies which could have prevented the country’s gargantuan security risks.
 
Dhaka’s obliviousness
Usually a given country’s security risks are tackled by being vigilant about international political development, especially the ones which may threaten its security, and thereby, undertaking a pro-active diplomacy, so that the conflict may be avoided. In case of Rohingya problem with Myanmar, Dhaka adopted none of the above, though the warning signals rang since late 1970s.
Dhaka fumbled twice in the 1970s and in the 1990s as it agreed to Myanmar’s conditional acceptance of their nationals without addressing the core issue, i.e. determining the criteria for Rohingya identity. Country with foresight and sagacity would have taken a note of it, especially in the 1990s, as the Rohingyas’ by then, had lost their Burmese nationality and basic rights through its reformed 1982 citizenship law and became virtually stateless.
It was not realized that if they are driven out of their country of residence as stateless Bengali illegal immigrants, their natural destination would be Bangladesh. However, till then Myanmar’s intransient attitude about Rohingya issue, though visible, had not yet become rigid. As evidenced now, Myanmar was simply buying time and an opportune time to deal with the Rohingya issue in their own way.
What perplexes us is Dhaka’s obliviousness even when UN and Human Rights Organizations were criticizing Myanmar’s Rohingya atrocities and predicting that an ‘ethnic cleansing’ was on the way following the renewed violence against the Rohingyas by Myanmar’s security forces in 2012.
It is really mindboggling that even then Dhaka did not internationalize the issue by raising it in various regional forums like SAARC, ASEAN, BIMSTEC, and keep our friendly and powerful regional countries such as China, India and Russia informed.
 
Lack of pro-active diplomacy
While continuing bilaterally with Myanmar, Dhaka’s foremost strategy should have been to undertake a vibrant, pro-active and preventive diplomacy, and convince the world that Rohingyas and Bangladeshis may have similar ethnic identity and religion but they are not Bengali immigrants as they have been living in Rakhine state (Arakan) since 9th century, and highlight its concerns about its potential destabilization, probably triggering a regional one, due to Myanmar’s actions against the Rohingyas. Instead Dhaka has been all through and till recently was mostly busy with the repatriation procedure (Prothom Alo, Sept. 17, 2017).
Obviously, it is understood that the tremendous outcry in national and international arenas for Rohingya genocide in Myanmar and immediate support by the Islamic countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey and Maldives, which emanated due to emotional bond of a common religion, and those from the U.S. and European countries arising mostly for their humanitarian concerns and, cynical as it may be, lack of strategic and economic interest in Myanmar, especially after the U.S. withdrawal from TPP, and not due to Dhaka’s pro-active diplomacy.
Needless to say that Dhaka’s lack of diplomatic capacity has been responsible for the situation the country faces today. Bangladesh is friendless due to the way its foreign policy has been conducted. After years of diplomacy, how is it possible that Dhaka has no support on Rohingya issue, which is threatening its state security, by none of the powerful regional countries such as China, India and Russia?
Stand taken by these regional powers has glaringly highlighted Dhaka’s diplomatic debacle. It is, thus, crystal clear that none considered Bangladesh worth supporting for its inherent strategic and economic values, which would have served their own national interest –strategic and economic. That was not to be, especially in case of India and China.
 
Dhaka’s ‘India first’ policy
The fact of the matter is that Dhaka has been unsuccessful in maintaining a policy of equidistance from India and China, like that of Myanmar, which was possible due to its geo-strategic location. Bangladesh’s geo-strategic location is crucial for both the regional powers, no less than Myanmar, for their ambition to dominate Indian Ocean and become a world power. In that quest, both India and China need to have a foothold in Dhaka as Dhaka sits centrally along India initiated BCIM corridor and in a strategic position along China’s 21st century Maritime Silk Road.
By maximizing Dhaka’s geostrategic location through diplomatic endeavours, Bangladesh should have wooed both so that one would vie other in order to get Dhaka’s favour. Instead, Dhaka tilted heavily towards Delhi, especially since 2014, with its informal “India first” policy initiated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to take care of India’s core security and economic interests (Xiar, Carnegie, New Delhi), that alienated China as its security interest was ignored.
China’s stand on Rohingya is, thus, understandable. But the people of Bangladesh are exacerbated by India’s role as there seems to be no quid pro quo in India-Bangladesh bilateral relations. As a result, Bangladesh find itself helpless as it has no leverage on its most trusted friend.
 
Myanmar and Rohingya Issue
While Dhaka was grappling with Rohingya problem, Myanmar, on the other hand, has been perusing its objective of Rohingya annihilation by taking systematic steps bilaterally and globally. Bilaterally, while dealing with Rohingyas’ identity issue, Myanmar satisfied Bangladesh by mutually agreeing that the refugees would be called neither Bengalis nor Rohingyas implicitly denying their historical claim, which kept Bangladesh at bay. Subsequently by emphasizing on their Muslim identity by Suu Kyi helped Myanmar to convince the world that Rohingyas are terrorists – a ploy, which would be bought by all – the West, China, India, and Russia as well, all of whom are tackling Islamic insurgencies in their own countries. The reason de tre, thus, was in place so that in the name of curbing terrorism Myanmar could wage genocide of Rohingyas.
However, China, India and Russia did not fall in line with Myanmar only due to their own insurgency problems as the military junta of Myanmar, demonstrating its extraordinary capacity in conducting global politics, embarked on a pro-active diplomacy. Sensing the emergence of a world order, not in place yet, in the form of China-Russia axis vis-a-vis India-Japan axis backed by a retreating pivotal power, the US, Myanmar’s policy of non-alignment, in this regard, prompted it to keep close ties with all major Asian powers.
Its dramatic success in wooing both China and India by accommodating strategic and economic interest of both is discernable as both are trying to please Myanmar in order to curb the influence of the other. Russia, too, became an ally as a potential partner of the possible emerging world order. Myanmar’s confidence in China and Russia has been well founded as both are supporting Myanmar all the way to UN Security Council, a body that has the power to punish Myanmar. Myanmar, thus, by setting the stage both bilaterally and internationally, lashed out with full vigour.
 
A friendless Bangladesh
As a friendless country, Bangladesh now will have to deal with this calamity, most probably, on its own. Suu Kyi’s recent address to her nation does not augur well for Bangladesh. She has been ambivalent all throughout her speech including the implementation Koffe Anan report as she is trying to dilute it by appointing a national Commission to look into the matter.
Bangladesh now needs to come together, evaluate its national politics as well as its foreign policy if it wants to live as a sovereign and independent country.
 
Professor Dilara Chowdhury is former faculty member of Jahangir Nagar University, Department of Government and politics and a political analyst

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Rohingya situation calls for urgent international military intervention
Abdul Hannan
 
Myanmar Army has unleashed a reign of terror, aggression, ethnic cleansing and genocide of Rohingya Muslims with impunity. Village after village of Rohingyas has been pillaged, torched to ashes and wiped out prompting displacement and exodus of about half a million Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh. Barring India, China, Russia and conspicuously, Saudi Arabia, the International community including EU and America has condemned the atrocities and repression on Rohingya Muslims and called for immediate cessation of such atrocities.
Full Story
Abdul Hannan
 
Myanmar Army has unleashed a reign of terror, aggression, ethnic cleansing and genocide of Rohingya Muslims with impunity. Village after village of Rohingyas has been pillaged, torched to ashes and wiped out prompting displacement and exodus of about half a million Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh. Barring India, China, Russia and conspicuously, Saudi Arabia, the International community including EU and America has condemned the atrocities and repression on Rohingya Muslims and called for immediate cessation of such atrocities.
Rattled by international outrage, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guteress has warned Aung San Suu Kyi that it is her ‘last chance’ to stop atrocities of Rohinga Muslims. In course of an interview by BBC hard talk programme he said ‘if she does not reverse the situation now, the tragedy will be absolutely horrible’ adding ‘unfortunately then I don’t see how this can be reversed”. This is a dire warning with serious implications indeed.
 
Kosovo-like action needed
Suu Kyi however has dismissed the reports of atrocities as ‘an iceberg of misinformation’ and ‘fake news’. That a Nobel peace laureate can indulge in such iceberg of lie and falsehood in the face of ground realities of massive human rights violation defies belief. She is an ignoble disgrace and desecration of Nobel laureate values and inspiration.
The Myanmar army chief has called upon his people to unite on the issue of Rohingyas who he said were Bengalis with no roots in Myanmar. It is clear the Myanmar army is bent upon finishing their unfinished campaign of racial hatred and extermination of Rohinga Muslims from the soil of Myanmar. Only a stray incident of killing a few security force in a of police out post by some disgruntled Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar persecution, an apology of a rag tag Arakan Rohingya Resistance Army (ARSA) certainly cannot justify such disproportionate response. It is an undisputed truth that the Rohingyas are sons of the soil living in Rakhaine province for more than 200 years. The persecution of Rohinga Muslims will only intensify increasing radicalisation by them posing a potential security threat to Myanmar.
The UN secretary general has not spelt out what he meant by looming ‘horrible tragedy’ for Myanmar. The critical situation of Rohingya Muslims lends support to the only suggestion of response by international military intervention similar to those by NATO to save Kosovo Muslims and Bosnian Muslims from the aggression and slaughter and ethnic cleansing by a systematic racial hatred and extermination campaign by Serbs. There is a striking resemblance among the Bosnian Muslim, Cosovo Muslim and Rohingya Muslim massacre. The NATO intervention came in the wake of paralysis of will, inaction and disfunction of UN faced with Russian intransigence and outright hostility. Weeks of air strikes by NATO forces brought the Serbs to their knee to surrender and come to a peace agreement. It is quite clear that any attempt to agree on a consensus Security Council resolution will be stymied and stonewalled by veto of China and Russia who support Myanmar on the issue which they consider as an internal affair of Myanmar.
 
UN SC unlikely to act
But when the suffering mass of humanity cries out for help and succor from oppression and tyranny of its own rulers, the question of national sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations becomes irrelevant and international intervention becomes imperative. The only alternative envisaged under the existing circumstances is to involve some sort of international military intervention to be crafted and contrived by sympathetic western countries led by Britain, EU and American support.
Bangladesh with its resources stretched thin and bursting at the seams is overwhelmed by an unforeseen avalanche of continuing fresh influx of Rohihngya refugees posing a potential danger of a humanitarian disaster, security risks and instability. Bangladesh delegation must mobilize international public opinion during the current session of UN General Assembly forthwith in favour of some sort of international military intervention, failing efforts in UN Security Council. The ambivalence and prevarication, if any, by the West on the issue of such intervention will only confirm the suspicion that the international community is selective and guided by opportunism and Real Politic and not by ethics and morality on question of human rights violation.
Any agreement after the intervention must provide for return home of Rohingya refugees in safe and secure environment under auspices of UN international peace keeping force and an interim international civil and military administration. The birth right of Rohingya Muslims to live in freedom and dignity as rightful citizens of Myanmar must be ensured. Myanmar authorities must be forced to pay war reparation for wanton killing and destruction of homes and properties and rehabilitation of Rohingya Muslims. The Rohingyas on return will witness a wasteland burnt down and devastation of homes, mass graves of killed and executed near and dear ones. What needed as a remedy for permanent solution of the Rohinga, it is not only their rights of citizenship but full autonomy. Heterogeneous societies can work given political commitment to religious or linguistic pluralism.
 
Perpetrators be tried by ICC
The Myanmar military has let loose a mindless orgy of racial violence and orgasm of lust for rape and mayhem and murder of innocent civilians and ruthless destruction of properties of Rohinga Muslims. Any peace agreement after the intervention must provide for trial of Myanmar rulers as war criminals in the UN International Criminal Court (ICC) just as Serb leader Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic and Serb General Ratco Mladic faced trial as war criminals by UN International Criminal Tribunal and International Court of Justice. While Milosevic died in prison, Karadzic and Mladic are languishing in jail under 40 years of jail sentence for committing war crimes against humanity.
The international community must act now to see decency, righteousness, justice and good prevail over evil once again. The Myanmar intransigence must force them to be consigned once again as an international pariah before the restoration of so called democracy By Suu Kyi.
 
Abdul Hannan is a columnist and former diplomat. hannanabd@gmail.com

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Suu Kyi fails to save her Nobel image

Abdur Rahman Khan
 
Following weeks of silence in the face of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya population in Rakhine state (Arakan), Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has delivered a controversial speech much to the frustration of the global community.
In her address to the nation last week, Suu Kyi claimed her government did not “fear international scrutiny” over its handling of violence in Rakhine state. But she was criticised for what some saw as her ongoing reluctance to address the crisis and the government’s role in it.
Full Story
Abdur Rahman Khan
 
Following weeks of silence in the face of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya population in Rakhine state (Arakan), Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has delivered a controversial speech much to the frustration of the global community.
In her address to the nation last week, Suu Kyi claimed her government did not “fear international scrutiny” over its handling of violence in Rakhine state. But she was criticised for what some saw as her ongoing reluctance to address the crisis and the government’s role in it.
An attempt to cover up
Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Peace award winner, won a landslide election in late 2015, ending decades of military rule. The army keeps controls of three key ministries – defence, home affairs and border affairs – making for weakened and arguably less effective civilian government in the face of the crisis.
While the current wave of violence began on 25 August with attacks by militant Rohingya groups, there was no “quiet and peace” in northern Rakhine, where the persecuted minority live. Before the attack, hundreds of Rohingya were prevented for weeks from going to work or fetching food.
The army was conducting regular, sometimes deadly, “clearance operations”. Rohingya militants have also been accused of killing suspected government informants.
The government and state media in majority-Buddhist Myanmar have squarely and repeatedly blamed the conflict on “extremist terrorists”, without condemning widely-reported abuses by the security forces or ethnic Buddhist mobs.
The ‘security offensive’, which was launched after a Rohingya militant group staged a series of attacks against police outposts, was branded a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” by the UN.
In this context, Suu Kyi’s  address has  been views  as an attempt to cover  up  the atrocities  and massacre against the Rohingya Muslims in Rakhanie state.
In her  speech,  Aung San Suu Kyi  sought to restore her tarnished reputation and defend her country by saying that most Rohingya Muslim villages have not been affected by spiraling violence which has forced more than 400,000 refugees to flood across the border.
But the Nobel Peace Prize laureate was condemned by Amnesty International for refusing to blame Burma’s army for carrying out abuses against the minority group.
In a closely watched televised speech last Tuesday, Ms Suu Kyi said:  “There are allegations and counter allegations and we have to listen to all of them. And we have to make sure these allegations are based on solid evidence before we take action.”
 
OIC for ‘immediate action’
James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific said, “Aung San Suu Kyi demonstrated that she and her government are still burying their heads in the sand over the horrors unfolding in Rakhine State.”
“At times, her speech amounted to little more than a mix of untruths and victim blaming.”
Suu Kyi has for years been feted in the West as a champion of democracy during years of military rule and house arrest but she has been facing growing criticism over the plight of the Rohingya caused by the army.
A meeting of Muslim countries’ grouping, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), has called upon the UN Security Council to take “immediate action” on Myanmar to stop the Rohingya crisis. The meeting also urged the adoption of a resolution by the ongoing 72nd session of the UN General Assembly on the plight of Rohingya Muslims who are facing atrocities by the security forces.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the meeting presented a six-point proposal that includes their safe return to Myanmar, ending ‘state propaganda’ that labelled the ethnic group as ‘Bengalis’ and implementation of the Kofi Annan report.
The meeting also requested the OIC secretary general to make arrangements for a high-level delegation to visit Myanmar to discuss mutual concerns and the crisis, according to the resolution.
The meeting also requested the OIC secretary general to continue to explore initiatives with the UN secretary general and the ASEAN secretary general to engage with the government of Myanmar in resolving the plight of Rohingyas.
 
It’s a long-term problem: UN
The UN resident coordinator in Dhaka has asked Bangladesh to be prepared “psychologically” that it will have to deal with the Rohingya issue for a long time.
“This is something going to last for a long time. It’s a huge problem. It’s going to be a very big problem,” Robert Watkins told in an exclusive interview with bdnews24.com But he said the UN will be with Bangladesh in this journey and is set to revise its funding request to help those refugees and the local host Bangladeshis.

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RSS complicity in Rohingya Muslim genocide

Abdul Majid Zargar
Countercurrents.org
 
A SILENT genocide of Myanmar Muslims is in progress. Such is the urgency shown by Burmese government to annihilate its Rohingya Muslims that it has even used Gunship helicopters to fire lethal and heavy ammunition on fleeing Muslims. The international community is a mute spectator to the organized holocaust and 57 Muslim Countries, except with the honorable exception of Turkey, is watching the carnage with disbelieving eyes. UN has issued a warning to Mynamar sans any action.  It has also issued an advisory to Myanmar to accord a legal status to Country’s Muslims without any response.
Full Story
Abdul Majid Zargar
Countercurrents.org
 
A SILENT genocide of Myanmar Muslims is in progress. Such is the urgency shown by Burmese government to annihilate its Rohingya Muslims that it has even used Gunship helicopters to fire lethal and heavy ammunition on fleeing Muslims. The international community is a mute spectator to the organized holocaust and 57 Muslim Countries, except with the honorable exception of Turkey, is watching the carnage with disbelieving eyes. UN has issued a warning to Mynamar sans any action.  It has also issued an advisory to Myanmar to accord a legal status to Country’s Muslims without any response.
Indian Prime Minster, Narendra Modi, in his recent visit to Myanmar, has endorsed and supported the Burmese leadership in dealing with the unfolding humanitarian crisis. This amounts to a clear signal to the leadership to go ahead with its ethnic cleansing pogrom. In an earlier tweet, Modi had extended cooperation to ruling dispensation to deal, among other things, with counter-terrorism (read Muslim persecution) operations.
 
RSS wedded to its ideology
People who expected a different response from Modi tend to forget that he is basically and essentially an RSS man wedded to its anti-Muslim ideology and bound by an oath to spread it nationally and internationally.  And the present anti-Muslim pogrom in Myanmar has definite & explicit connections with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) founded in 1925.  Widely regarded as the parent organisation of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the RSS is one of the principal organizations of the Sangh Parivar group.
Traditionally Buddhism has remained a peaceful religion with around 500 million followers around the globe. But in India’s vicinity, RSS has made deep inroads to radicalize the Buddhist society in Myanmar, Sri-Lanka and our own Ladakh. To achieve the objective, RSS and its tributaries use the time tested weapon of spreading falsified version of history to convince them about the injustice meted out to Buddhists during Mughal empire rule. The self-exiled Buddhist community from Tibet and living in Himachal Pradesh is also used as grist to the propaganda mill of RSS. Incidentally the capital of Tibetian Govt. in exile is in Macleod Gunj, a small hill resort in Himachal Pradesh.
 
RSS has a branch in Myanmar
Few people know that RSS has a branch in Myanmar fully beholden and dedicated to promotion of its wicked ideology. It is known as Sanatan Dharma Swayamsevak Sangh (SDSS).  This organization has developed close relations and rapport with military dictators in Myanmar who have propped up  characters like Ashin Wirathu to propagate hatred for Muslims in the country.  This organization  is freely allowed to indulge in political activities. How close RSS is to the military junta can be measured from the following report which appeared in ‘Organiser , the official organ of the Indian RSS, in its February 28 and March 5, 2000 issues:
“The 50th anniversary of the Sanatan Dharma Swayamsevak Sangh (SDSS) was held at the National Theatre on Mayoma Kyaung Street, Yagnon, recently. Secretary of the State Peace and Development Council, Lt.  Gen. Tin Oo attended the meeting. The programme was attended by ministers and senior military officers. Minister for Commerce Brig.  Gen. Pyi Sone; Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, Maj. Gen. Sein Htwa; Minister for Health, Maj. Gen. Ket Sein were among the prominent persons who attended the function…The Secretary delivered speech at the function.
This report appeared with two photographs. In one photograph five military Generals including second in command of the military junta, Lt. Gen. Tin Oo, were seen standing on the stage in the midst of SDSS leadership wearing khaki shorts. In the other photograph leading lights of the Burmese military junta were seen sitting in the front row of the auditorium.
 
‘Bodo Bala Sena’ in Sri Lanka
Besides Myanmar, RSS has also made a deadly alliance with ultra-orthodox Buddhist organization ‘Bodo Bala Sena’(BBS) in Sri Lanka for cleansing minorities in general and Muslims in particular.
The marriage of ideological convenience with this anti-Muslim extremist organization can be gauged from the following Facebook post dated March 28, 2013 of Mr. Ram Madahav, one of the important functionaries of RSS.
“The Muslim population in Sri Lanka is growing fast…There are mosques and madrassas sprouting everywhere in the country. A rough estimate suggests that of the 1.2 million Muslims, every 50 households have a mosque. In Colombo itself a new magnificent mosque is coming up, so are in many other places. Increasing number of ‘burqa’-clad women and skull cap-wearing men can be sighted on the streets of Sri Lankan cities and towns now.”
Ram Madhav also noted that Muslims in Sri Lanka have been insisting on halal products. He noted approvingly that “the BBS essentially talks about protecting the Buddhist culture of the country from foreign religions. By this it also means the Christian missionaries who are trying to convert people”. He was happy to note that “the BBS has maintained that Hindus and Buddhists of the country should work together on these issues.” He ended by commending, “So far, the issues raked up by the BBS are worthy of active and sympathetic consideration”.
On Twitter, Madhav wrote: “Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) is able to capture the attention of the Buddhist population of Sri Lanka.” Bodu Bala Sena: A new Buddhist Movement in SRI LANKA.
The relations between Sri Lankan Buddists & RSS can further be measured from the statement of Sri lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesing when he visited India in September 2015. At his only public address, he said:  “There were only two appointments in Delhi I wanted to confirm: one with Prime Minister Modi, and the other with the India Foundation.” India Foundation is a Delhi based core strategic RSS think tank.
 
RSS spreads hate among Ladakhi Buddists
In our own state, RSS is spreading hate & venom among the Ladakhi Buddists.  As Ajay Shukla writes in rediff.com on April 21, 2016:
“Identity politics have spread to Ladakh, with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh instigating Buddhist groups there against the Muslims who comprise half of Ladakh’s population.
We, should, therefore, be least surprised if we witness more anti-Muslim pogroms in Sri Lanka, Ladakh etc. in near future.
 
The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Feedback: abdulmajidzargar@gmail.com

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China, Nepal focusing on cross-border rail network
Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
in New Delhi
 
Like the US and Russia that have assumed Asia pivot to influence the continent, China also has its own Asia pivot but it also has South Asia pivot too in trying to woo the nations to come under its  new Silk  route program nicknamed the ‘One Belt, One Road (OBOR)’ initiative.
China’s South Asia pivot is yielding fruits as it has been able to rope in much of the region: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal have joined OBOR initiative leaving little scope for India to maneuver. Only one country that stays behind the military prowess of India is Bhutan whose foreign relations are overseen by India under an agreement signed long back and also is overwhelmingly dependent on India as most of the food stuff and other goods come from India.
Full Story
Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
in New Delhi
 
Like the US and Russia that have assumed Asia pivot to influence the continent, China also has its own Asia pivot but it also has South Asia pivot too in trying to woo the nations to come under its  new Silk  route program nicknamed the ‘One Belt, One Road (OBOR)’ initiative.
China’s South Asia pivot is yielding fruits as it has been able to rope in much of the region: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal have joined OBOR initiative leaving little scope for India to maneuver. Only one country that stays behind the military prowess of India is Bhutan whose foreign relations are overseen by India under an agreement signed long back and also is overwhelmingly dependent on India as most of the food stuff and other goods come from India.
China’s South Asia ties
Afghanistan has its compulsions not to annoy economic power India that liberally releases funds for Kabul and also to bowl harmless balls to Indian military batboys for 100s and 50s. It is under US pressure that India is trying to help Afghanistan in redeveloping the Islamic nation of brave Afghans.
Nepal is one of the nations that benefits maximum from the Chinese initiative to recapture the Old Silk Road for making itself the real super power and Kathmandu is willingly risking to annoy New Delhi, though it takes care not to ruffle the feathers too much.
China and Nepal have agreed to start technical works to build a cross-border railway link via Tibet to boost connectivity. This was decided during the recent visit of Nepalese Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara to Beijing. “Both sides have agreed to move forward technical works relating to construction of Nepal-China cross-border railway line”.
China has also developed close relations with Sri Lanka during the regime of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa whose nearly decade-long tenure was ended by Sirisena in 2015.  Also, the $1.5 billion Chinese-funded Colombo Port City project had sparked off security concerns in India.
China already has strong ties with Pakistan and the two countries are working closely on developing the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The bilateral relation between Nepal and China has been friendly and is defined by the ‘Sino-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship’ signed on April 28, 1960 by the two countries. The government of Nepal, though initially unenthusiastic about its ties with China, but of late, it has been making efforts to increase trade and connectivity with China while trying to reduce its reliance on India.
 
China-Nepal rail network
The Araniko Highway that connects Kathmandu to Kodari and onwards to Tibet did not encourage dreams of multi-lane container traffic flowing down even before the 2015 earthquake. After the quake, China closed the route after massive landslides in Tibet, leaving only one road that connects Kathmandu to Tibet – the Rasuwagadhi highway, built upon an old trade route that connected Nepal to Tibet via the Kerung pass.  It was through this highway – still under construction in most sections in Nepal, and perhaps the most affected highway during the quake – that petroleum arrived in Kathmandu in 2015 during the Indian blockade. It is also this highway that will connect Nepal to the Chinese Belt Road Initiative (BRI), with the Chinese interested in building up Kathmandu itself.
Relations between Nepal and China got a boost when both countries solved all border disputes along China–Nepal frontier by signing the Sino-Nepal boundary agreement on March 21, 1960 which both the countries soon ratified on October 5, 1961.
China last year agreed to consider building a railway into Nepal and to start a feasibility study for a free trade agreement with landlocked Nepal, which has been trying to lessen its dependence on its other big neighbour India.
Nepal also signed up to President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative which is opposed by India as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Of late, India takes special interest about parts of Jammu Kashmir controlled by Pakistan. As an ambitious South Asian power, India is also engaged with both USA and Israel to strengthen its own geopolitical undertakings.
During the high-level talks in Beijing, Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Mahara had requested Beijing to forward the work relating to the construction of inter-country railway network giving it high priority, it is said. However, China’s state-run People’s Daily has claimed that during Mahara’s visit to China early this month a deal has been struck to establish the rail link. It said the rail link includes two lines: one connecting three of Nepal’s most important cities and two between China and Nepal.
 
China’s South Asian route
The Sino-Nepali railway, which passes through the Chinese border town of Zhangmu and connects with routes in Nepal, will be the first railway by which China enters South Asia, said Zhao Gancheng, director of the Centre for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies. “Although the railway connection between China and Nepal is intended to boost regional development and not for military purposes, the move will still probably irritate India,” he was quoted as saying by the ruling Communist Party’s mouthpiece.
China proposed the establishment of an economic corridor among China-Nepal-India to promote trilateral economic cooperation and common prosperity. Nepal can become a stage for mutually beneficial cooperation between China and India, rather than an arena for competition.
India poses to be a Big Brother in the region and refuses to make the region tension free by resolving the Kashmir issue by surrendering them their sovereignty that would eventually herald a new peaceful and genuinely friendly region. India needs to work to resolve the issues through diplomacy and mutual cooperation.
Indian blockade of Nepal in 2015 caused unprecedented economic and social tensions as well as irritation in Nepal. Nepal had witnessed a shortage in all essential supplies from India. China at that time had extended its help to Nepal to ease the situation.
India is treating South Asia and the Indian Ocean as its backyard by taking up a hard-line attitude and the way the Indian PM Modi went around the region soon after his coming to power vindicated that impression.
Now it is necessary to analyze the current situation whether with growing proximity to China, Nepal is a threat for India or it’s just the latter’s a paranoid perception and if it’s a new reality in triangular relations how India is going to be affected by it.
 
India’s Nepal blockade
Nationalists in Nepal had lauded the late king Mahendra’s initiative at the time for taking the country away from the Indian dependence.  But one can conclusively argue it was the 2015 blockade that positively turned Kathmandu towards Beijing.
China’s deepening economic ties in South Asia - set to be further strengthened through the “One Belt, One Road” initiative - would likely to be followed by closer security ties as well, despite Delhi’s unease.
China hopes India can understand Beijing’s pursuit of regional countries’ for common development, and be part of it. However, New Delhi doesn’t share this thinking, instead it is seeking not only to balance China but overtake it too. If such tendencies in India continue, China may even fight back, because it is unlikely to digest if its core interests are violated. “This is not what we hope for, but the ball is in India’s court,” so reads a Chinese the commentary.
Beijing warns India of action if its interests are threatened by New Delhi’s Initiatives. China’s Defence Minister and People’s Liberation Army General Chang Wanquan made a rare visit to Sri Lanka and Nepal, and Chinese state media warned that Beijing will “fight back” if Delhi interferes into China’s relations with South Asian countries.
 
Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal is a prolific writer, educationist; analyst; investigative journalist, columnist; expert on Mideast affairs, Chancellor-Founder of Center for International Affairs (CIA); author of eBooks/books; *Editor: International Opinion, Foreign Policy; Palestine Times: website: http://abdulruff.wordpress.com/ email abdulruff_jnu@yahoo.com;Phone: 91-7293435028)

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90 firms responsible for climate crisis: They should pay for it

Sara van Gelder
Countercurrents.org
 
Pacific Northwest forests are on fire. Several blazes are out of control, threatening rural towns, jumping rivers and highways, and covering Portland, Oregon, Seattle, and other cities in smoke and falling ash. Temperatures this summer are an average of 3.6 degrees higher than the last half of the 20th century, according to the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group analysis published in The Seattle Times.
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Sara van Gelder
Countercurrents.org
 
Pacific Northwest forests are on fire. Several blazes are out of control, threatening rural towns, jumping rivers and highways, and covering Portland, Oregon, Seattle, and other cities in smoke and falling ash. Temperatures this summer are an average of 3.6 degrees higher than the last half of the 20th century, according to the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group analysis published in The Seattle Times.
Fire crews have been battling fires for months. In spite of all the effort, though, officials expect the fires to continue burning until major rains come sometime this fall. Meanwhile, firefighting coffers are running dry as costs run into the hundreds of millions.
 
Who’ll bear the costs?
The scale and costs of these disasters pale in comparison to the impacts of hurricanes Harvey and Irma: Accuweather is estimating the combined cost of these unprecedented storms at $290 billion. (Then there is the flooding in India and Bangladesh—less noted in U.S. news media—where 40 million were affected and 1,200 died.)
What these disasters have in common is that they are all exactly the sort predicted by climate models—and they will get terrifyingly worse over coming years.
So who will cover the costs? Who will pay for the first responders, for sheltering and relocating climate refugees, and for rebuilding homes, businesses, and infrastructure?
Our planet is quickly getting hotter, more volatile, and more dangerous. But Republicans are working to cut nearly $1 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and to give large corporations and the wealthy a big tax break. So who should pay for the climate disasters?
A report published in early September by the journal Climatic Change helps pinpoint a possible answer. According to the report, 90 companies are responsible for 42 to 50 percent of the increase in the Earth’s surface temperature and 26 to 32 percent of sea level rise.
Some say we are all to blame for the climate crisis—at least all of us who get around in cars and planes. But there are reasons these 90 companies owe a major debt to the entire planet.
First, many of them knew what damage they were causing. According to the report, more than half of the carbon emissions produced since the industrial revolution were emitted since 1986, when the dangers of global warming were well-known. But these companies buried their own research findings and doubled down on fossil fuel extraction.
 
Culprits have been defined
Second, many of these companies spend vast sums promoting climate denial and undermining support for renewable energy, electric vehicles, and other responses to the climate crisis. Industry lobbyists and think tanks, flush with money from fossil fuel companies and their executives, distort our democracy, making government accountable to their interests rather than to We the People.
Third, by doing these things, these companies prevented action during the brief window of time between climate science becoming clear and it becoming too late to avert disaster.
Now we are very short on time. This year’s fires and floods are just the beginning. But we can still make choices that would curb catastrophic outcomes. To make that difference, we need an all-out effort now on all fronts—in agriculture, transportation, and energy generation, conservation, and efficiency upgrades. That will take a lot of money.
A good place to start would be requiring those who caused the climate catastrophe to pay. The 90 companies could start by helping families and communities recover from the floods, wind damage, and fires, and helping homeowners and cities everywhere build resilience for withstanding the effects of future disasters. But they shouldn’t stop there. The companies that are responsible for the damage should pay their share for the transition to a carbon-free future.
There is a precedent for this. Tobacco companies too had been hiding and dismissing the evidence that their product caused massive damage.  Big Tobacco and Big Oil even hired some of the same scientists and public relations firms to obscure the damage their industries were causing, according to ClimateWire. The 1998 tobacco settlement of lawsuits brought by nearly every U.S. state required the major tobacco companies to pay over $200 billion toward the increased cost of health care resulting from smoking and for prevention education.
There are far more victims of the fossil fuel industries’ deception—billions of people today, future generations, and many other species.
We’ve got a precedent, we’ve got a dire need, and we have clearly defined culprits.
 
Sarah van Gelder is co-founder and editor-at-large of YES! Magazine, and author of The Revolution Where You Live: Stories from a 12,000 Mile Journey Through a New America. Follow her blog and connect with Sarah on Twitter: @sarahvangelder This article was written for YES!  Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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IAPI, SANSAD urge Indian Govt. to ‘open doors for Rohingya refugees’

Holiday Desk
 
Indians Abroad for Plural India (IAPI) and South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD) in a joint statement condemn the Government of India’s endorsement of the Myanmar government’s treatment of the Rohingya minority that has been described by the UN as “ethnic cleansing” and the Hindu nationalist BJP government’s determination to expel the Rohigya refugees already in India as illegal immigrants.
Full Story
Holiday Desk
 
Indians Abroad for Plural India (IAPI) and South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD) in a joint statement condemn the Government of India’s endorsement of the Myanmar government’s treatment of the Rohingya minority that has been described by the UN as “ethnic cleansing” and the Hindu nationalist BJP government’s determination to expel the Rohigya refugees already in India as illegal immigrants.
Rohingyas are a historically persecuted Muslim minority in Myanmar, who had been denied citizenship recognition as an ethnic minority though they have been settled in the Arakan district for hundreds of years, with the majority of them being settled there by the British after they conquered Arakan in early nineteenth century. They have been denied even the right to call themselves “Rohingyas,” being insistently named “Bengalis” instead by the state. They have been subjected to genocidal violence since 2012, which has led to the fleeing of hundreds of thousands and the internment of thousands in camps in abysmal conditions.
In the current spate of state violence, triggered as genocide often is by the attack of a group of Rohingya resistance, the military and Buddhist extremists have unleashed a terror that has driven more than 400, 000 Rohingyas fleeing in desperation  to already over-burdened Bangladesh.
The attack on August 25 by Rohingya militants on a police outpost in northern Rakhine state that triggered this current violence and exodus has given both the Buddhist nationalist Myanmar and the Hindu nationalists of India the justification of framing this genocide/ethnic cleansing as a fight against Muslim terrorism. We deplore this familiar genocidal alibi that falls within the currently popular bogey of Muslim terrorism.
We deplore religious nationalism in Myanmar and India. We demand that the Modi government immediately stop its attempts to expel the Rohingya refugees. We demand that the Government of Canada take up strongest measures to stop the genocidal violence against Rohingyas in Myanmar and strip Aung San Suu Kyi of honorary citizenship in Canada.  We further demand that the Government of Canada use all diplomatic means to persuade India to respect its international commitments by protecting rather than persecuting the Rohingya refugees currently resident in India.

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