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US-Russia Efforts for Resolving The Afghan Conflict

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Given the existing geopolitical and geo-economical factors, the old rivals of the East and the West Block i. e US and Russia have expedited the peace efforts to resolve the Afghan conundrum.

In this connection, Russia took the lead by hosting the peace Moot at Moscow in which all the regional player’s i.e Afghan Taliban and Afghan Peace Council members participated ,besides, there were also representatives from India and Pakistan to find the lasting solution for Afghan peace by taking all the stakeholders on board. Though the peace talks could not bear the fruit owing to the Taliban’s conditions demanding immediate US withdrawal from Afghanistan and amendments in the  Afghan Constitution.

Observing this move , US President , took a U-Turn from his  earlier stand in which he had twitter blitz against Pakistan but later on , wrote a Letter to PM Khan seeking help to reach agreement with the insurgent Taliban and bring them to the  negotiating table to settle the conflict  and find  political solution to end the longest war US ever fought .

Even, the Reshaping and Realignment of the Foreign Policy of Pakistan also worked for New PTI Government that has started bearing fruit.  Historically, the then Soviet Union’s disintegration was also the cause of Afghan Invasion and the present isolation of US at International level is also linked with US’ Invasion of Afghanistan that created hatred towards the US globally.

The history shows that both the superpowers tried to occupy Afghanistan but they both sustained heavy losses in their bid to gain hold of the territory.

Present Russia and the then Soviet Union’s Invasion of Afghanistan was also one of the longest war lasting over nine years and was started in  December 1979  and continued till 1989.

The Afghans have sufficient experience of fighting Gorilla war since they lacked the sophisticated weaponry for the war as well as modern-day artillery.Even lacked skills of modern warfare. On the contrary, the Soviet Union was well equipped having well-trained Military with high range weaponry, tanks, canons and other war-related logistics.

The Mujahideen also fought with Soviet Forces and with the Soviet union’s backed and installed Community Afghan Government. The Afghan mujahidin had a stronghold in rural areas since they enjoyed support from the local communities.

The insurgent groups were supported by the US to compel Soviet Union to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan. During the Afghan war, it is estimated that as many as hundreds of civilians were killed and millions fled to Pakistan and Iran as refugees.

 The Reason of war was the forcible expansion of Communism and communist ideologies in Afghanistan by bringing regime change in Afghanistan. The Soviet Union was able to install communist party after a deadly coup in the year 1978 when Soviet-backed communist Noor Mohammad Tamaki became the President of Afghanistan.

Coming into power, the communist Party reformed the system with radical concepts of modernization containing communist ideologies throughout the country which was severely criticized as it was the first time that communism was abortively being propagated with the support of Soviet Union.

Despite Resolutions of the OIC  and UN  against Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the demand for immediate withdrawal,  the Soviet Union continued its offensive. The Big powers became the part of the game and the US started supporting   to Insurgent groups with support from local players in order to compel  Soviet Union to pull out its troops from Afghanistan  and especially US bid for  stopping the rapid spread of  communism to other parts of the region  since Soviet had installed  it’s  so-called communist party set up and radicalized the country with communist ideologies .

There were reports that Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had played a significant role in emphasizing U.S. influence in Afghanistan and supporting the military operations meant to frustrate the Soviet invasion and forcing them to mull over withdrawal from the occupied State Afghanistan.

The International community strongly condemned the Soviet Intervention in Afghanistan and consequently imposed numerous sanctions and restrictions against the then Soviet Union. 

After Bloody war in Afghanistan, The  Soviet Union under reformist leader Mikhail Gorbachev announced to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan.  After the announcement, the withdrawal of Soviet troops commenced in 1988 and subsequently ended in 1989.The fragile Afghan government was left alone to cope with the insurgents and fight with these forces. The Soviet Union’s failure in Afghan war later caused the fall of the Soviet Union.

Historically, it is proven that the Afghanistan Soil has always become the death trap for the foreign invaders especially the Soviet Union that resulted in its disintegration After the sequence of events on December 31, 1991. The former superpower was replaced by 15 independent countries such as  Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia,  Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,  Latvia, lithuania, Moldova, Russia,  Tajikistan,  Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

Similarly, after 9/11 incident of the  World Trade Centre, US President George .W.Bush announced to initiate air and ground strikes against Afghanistan since the insurgent Taliban regime had refused to hand over the Osama Bin Laden  to America  as  he(OBL)  was the most wanted Terrorist  and he was reportedly hiding in Afghanistan with the support of the then Afghan Taliban Government  .

On the excuse of such diplomatic matter, US-initiated strikes with the support of NATO Forces. Pakistan’s the then President General Musharraf played a sensible role to diffuse the tensions and the pressure from the superpower and agreed to provide Ground and aerial support since refusal in such circumstances might have led to war with Pakistan that might have been very devastating and destructive. Since Pakistan was asked by the US that whether Pakistan was with him or Not.

The US intentions for regime change in Afghanistan had succeeded temporarily  but unlike installing Pro US Regime of Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani, Taliban still survived the strikes and inflicted heavy losses to US-led forces in Afghanistan and still control a large area of Afghanistan still there is a bloodbath in Afghanistan and still  suicide blasts are very common  .

Despite waging the longest war of 17 years, US has failed miserably to control the insurgent forces to whom it had supported against Soviet Invasion. it was the plant sown by it decades ago that has been transformed into a fruited tree has become a jungle. The support to insurgency during the soviet-afghan war has become the failure of US   in Afghanistan.

The invasion of Afghanistan led to Disintegration of Soviet Union in 1991; America also feared such disintegration since it has failed miserably to suppress the Taliban (Religious insurgent  Forces) and seeking help from Pakistan to get rid of the Afghan Mess so that it may pull out its troops from Afghanistan after 17 Years of Stay. 

The US has succumbed to the internal and external pressure of being isolated from the world, given the multi-polarization of the world that raised eyebrows of the Trump Administration as it pursued aggressive foreign policy options towards  World Powers especially the Islamic Countries such as Turkey, Iran , Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

The foreign Policy Analysts and Former Diplomats had termed the Trump’s Twitter tirade as frustration and the criticism it has received from all the quarters that led to his humiliating defeat in Mid-term elections 2018 adding to great strength to its opposition party.

Receiving Strong response from New PTI regime under the leadership of Imran Khan, Trump changed its stance suddenly and wrote a letter to Pakistan for Helping US in Afghan Peace Process and bringing Taliban to negotiation Table. The gesture was widely appreciated and welcomed by the both Civil and Military leadership as Pakistan’s stance was accepted atlas since it always pressed for finding the political solution to Afghan conundrum. 

The recent direct talks between US and Taliban have led to the change of attitude in Trump Administration and there came a surprising announcement of pulling out US-Troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Though withdrawal announcement is too hasty and untimely as existing Ghani’s government is very weak to deal with the dismal security situation, yet the Afghan Government is of the view that they would manage it.

So, both invaders i.e US and Russia are taking key efforts to get the credit to maintain peace in Afghanistan. The efforts for peace are appreciable since  Pakistan is a peace loving country and lasting peace in Afghanistan will be beneficial to whole south Asian and central Asian regions including  Pakistan as the prime beneficiary.

Let’s hope for the best and release the caged Peace birds –The pigeons to spread the message of Peace and harmony after misery oppression and genocide of 17 years that destroyed the  infrastructural outlook and caused socio-economic degradation and currency depreciation due to  the prolonged war, making Life miserable for common people in Afghanistan. It will also pave the way for the repatriation of  Afghan Refugees present in India, Iran and Pakistan if the peace returns to their homeland.

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US warns of ‘consequences’ if China abandons trade deal

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US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday he expects China to uphold a trade deal reached with Washington this year, and warned of “consequences” if the country did not.

The comments come amid a sharp drop in global trade caused by the coronavirus pandemic as well as a dispute between the two powers over fault for the spread of the virus, which first broke out in Wuhan, China.

The US and China in January signed an agreement to end a nearly two year-long trade war, that included a commitment by Beijing to buy an additional $200 billion in American goods over the next two years.

“I’m expecting them to meet their obligations,” Mnuchin said on Fox Business Network.

“I have every reason to expect that they honour this agreement and if they don’t, there would be very significant consequences in the relationship and in the global economy as to how people would do business with them.”

Ties strained

However, relations between Washington and Beijing have soured in recent weeks, with US President Donald Trump blaming China for the pandemic, and threatening tariffs.

The US has been hit with tens of millions of layoffs as the virus has spread, significantly weakening the previously solid economy, which Trump was counting on to win re-election in November.

The trade agreement signed in January includes $77.7 billion in additional purchases from the manufacturing sector, $52.4 billion from the energy sector and $32 billion in agricultural products.

The US currently runs a trade deficit with China, and the objective is to realign the trade balance between the two countries.

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Will COVID-19 Remake the World? A Detailed Expert analysis

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Crises come in two variants: those for which we could not have prepared, because no one had anticipated them, and those for which we should have been prepared, because they were in fact expected. COVID-19 is in the latter category, no matter what US President Donald Trump says to avoid responsibility for the unfolding catastrophe. Even though the coronavirus itself is new and the timing of the current outbreak could not have been predicted, it was well recognized by experts that a pandemic of this type was likely.

SARS, MERS, H1N1, Ebola, and other outbreaks had provided ample warning. Fifteen years ago, the World Health Organization revised and upgraded the global framework for responding to outbreaks, trying to fix perceived shortcomings in the global response experienced during the SARS outbreak in 2003.

In 2016, the World Bank launched a Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility to provide assistance to low-income countries in the face of cross-border health crises. Most glaringly, just a few months before COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China, a US government report cautioned the Trump administration about the likelihood of a flu pandemic on the scale of the influenza epidemic a hundred years ago, which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide.

No one should expect the pandemic to alter – much less reverse – tendencies that were evident before the crisis. Neoliberalism will continue its slow death, populist autocrats will become even more authoritarian, and the left will continue to struggle to devise a program that appeals to a majority of voters.

Just like climate change, COVID-19 was a crisis waiting to happen. The response in the United States has been particularly disastrous. Trump downplayed the severity of the crisis for weeks. By the time infections and hospitalizations began to soar, the country found itself severely short of test kits, masks, ventilators, and other medical supplies.

The US did not request test kits made available by the WHO, and failed to produce reliable tests early on. Trump declined to use his authority to requisition medical supplies from private producers, forcing hospitals and state authorities to scramble and compete against one another to secure supplies.

Delays in testing and lockdowns have been costly in Europe as well, with Italy, Spain, France, and the United Kingdom paying a high price. Some countries in East Asia have responded a lot better. South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong appear to have controlled the spread of the disease through a combination of testing, tracing, and strict quarantine policies.

Interesting contrasts have emerged within countries as well. In northern Italy, Veneto has done much better than nearby Lombardy, largely owing to more comprehensive testing and earlier imposition of travel restrictions. In the US, the neighboring states of Kentucky and Tennessee reported their first cases of COVID-19 within a day of each other. By the end of March, Kentucky had only a quarter of the number of cases as Tennessee, because the state acted much more quickly to declare a state of emergency and close down public accommodations.

For the most part, though, the crisis has played out in ways that could have been anticipated from the prevailing nature of governance in different countries. Trump’s incompetent, bumbling, self-aggrandizing approach to managing the crisis could not have been a surprise, as lethal as it has been. Likewise, Brazil’s equally vain and mercurial president, Jair Bolsonaro, has, true to form, continued to downplay the risks.

On the other hand, it should come as no surprise that governments have responded faster and more effectively where they still command significant public trust, such as in South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan.

China’s response was typically Chinese: suppression of information about the prevalence of the virus, a high degree of social control, and a massive mobilization of resources once the threat became clear. Turkmenistan has banned the word “coronavirus,” as well as the use of masks in public. Hungary’s Viktor Orbán has capitalized on the crisis by tightening his grip on power, by disbanding parliament after giving himself emergency powers without time limit.

The crisis seems to have thrown the dominant characteristics of each country’s politics into sharper relief. Countries have in effect become exaggerated versions of themselves. This suggests that the crisis may turn out to be less of a watershed in global politics and economics than many have argued. Rather than putting the world on a significantly different trajectory, it is likely to intensify and entrench already-existing trends.

Momentous events such as the current crisis engender their own “confirmation bias”: we are likely to see in the COVID-19 debacle an affirmation of our own worldview. And we may perceive incipient signs of a future economic and political order we have long wished for.

So, those who want more government and public goods will have plenty of reason to think the crisis justifies their belief. And those who are skeptical of government and decry its incompetence will also find their prior views confirmed. Those who want more global governance will make the case that a stronger international public-regime health could have reduced the costs of the pandemic.

And those who seek stronger nation-states will point to the many ways in which the WHO seem to have mismanaged its response (for example, by taking China’s official claims at face value, opposing travel bans, and arguing against masks).

Via __PS

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Strategic Importance of Kartarpur Corridor

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With Pakistan and India making history with groundbreaking Ceremony of kartarpur corridor on both sides of International Boundary to facilitate the people by giving access to Sikhs of India to Baba Guru Nanak Gurdwara- the founder and spiritual leader of Sikhism. Imran Khan conducted Groundbreaking Ceremony of Kartarpur on 28th November in a  huge gathering attended by a delegation from India including Navjot Sidhu.

As an agreement, Pakistan will build a corridor of 4 Kilometer up to International boundary and India will build the same from Gurdaspur to International Boundary of just 2 Kilometers.

Apart from a Religious point of view, the corridor will serve a vital role for Trade and Economic relations and improve ties between two hostile Nations for seven decades. The Kartarpur corridor has strategic Importance and can go a long way bringing two countries closer to Diplomatic Dialogue since both countries may turn over a new leaf to build the strong ties and bury the hatchet to spread love and bring peace in the region.

Ever Since Indian Former cricketer Navjot Sidhu Visited Pakistan on the Good Will gesture and bringing in the Message of Peace and Love from India in the Official Invitation from Imran Khan to participate in his oath-taking ceremony, he was warmly welcomed by all including Army Chief  General Qamar Jawed Bajwa. Sidhu appeared very optimistic about the Growing friendly ties between the two countries and bringing the message of love and Peace for the people of Pakistan.

The Army chief General Qamar Jawed had a big hug with Sidhu and offered to open the Kartarpur corridor for the Sikh devotees to visit their founder Baba Guru Nanak Gurdwara by giving visa-free access in order to honour the Guest of honour, Navjot Sidhu. Sidhu was very excited to know that an Army chief had offered such thing as it was really unbelievable for him that an army chief could offer such gesture.

 His immediately discussed the matter with the Indian government upon his return to his country. The BJP Government at first turned down the proposal and the so-called Indian Media criticized Navjot Sidhu of  Hugging Army chief as India consider him the murderer of His soldiers. There were debates over the television that whether Sidhu should have Gone to Pakistan or Not.

The Veteran cricketer turned politician Navjot was undeterred and kept pushing Indian Government to accept the Proposal of kartarpur corridor. At last, the Modi Government accepted the offer and the foundation Stone Ceremony took place on Indian side on 26th November 2018 by the Vice President of India m Venkaiah Naidu. The Distance from the Indian side is 4 Kilometers from Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur District to International Boundary to connect the same with the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan.

On the Other hand, The Prime  Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan laid the foundation Stone on 28th November 2018 at District Narowal attended by COAS Qamar jawed Bajwa, Navjot Sidhu and Other delegates from India.  PM offered Visa Free Access to the Holy site of   Durbar Kartarpur Sahib in order to facilitate the Sikh community pilgrims. 

  According to Vice President of India, “The corridor will become a symbol of love and peace between both countries,” Naidu was quoted as saying in Gurdaspur. He went on to say that this was very momentous and historic day and they are fulfilling the wish of Sikh Devotees who are  excited to visit the sacred place for Sikhs to celebrate 550th Birthday anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak next Year .

Indo-Pak Relations have always remained tense due to various Loc based firing, 26/11 Mumbai Attack and the core issue of Kashmir. There were frequent proposals and demands to have a corridor to facilitate Sikh Pilgrims of India to have access to Gurdwara Baba Guru Nanak so as to perform their religious rituals there.

The Immigration and Visa processes were very exhausting and complicated given the tough hostile relations of these neighbours having fought two deadly wars and frequent cold war that impeded the peace efforts and suspended the meaningful dialogue to discuss the grave issues of Terrorism and Kashmir dispute as per the wishes of Kashmiri People through a plebiscite.

The political leadership of both countries have never been engaged in a proper way that might have paved the way to the resolution of issues, Since there has been a great dearth of Confidence-building measures and trust that might have led both countries to ink an agreement.

Unfortunately, the dialogue process was marred and remained suspended given the growing extremist forces such as Shiv Sina and RSS. The Indian leadership failed to withstand the mounting pressure and consequently, succumbed to pressure and took a U-turn from the dialogue by giving any excuse to justify their distancing from the dialogue process.

However, ever since the PTI-led Government came into power, it reshaped and realigned their foreign policy to suit the interests of the country and defined new terms of engagement with the US and the Neighbours especially Iran, Afghanistan, India and close all-weather friend China.

To break the stalemate and diffuse the tensions between the two countries, the cricket diplomacy came into play when soon after winning the election, Imran Khan envisaged his foreign policy vision inviting India to forward one step and he would go by two steps to reach a lasting solution through dialogue. To display the friendly gesture and using his old cricket fellows of India to bridge the gap and reconnect to Pakistan’s intentions to reinitiate the dialogue process, PM Imran Khan invited Navjot Sidhu to attend his oath-taking ceremony.

Sidhu was given warm reception at the ceremony and the big hug from COAS Qamar Jawed Bajwa was the turning point that melted the ice when he(Bajwa) offered to open the Kartarpur Corridor to facilitate the Sikh Pilgrims to visit their Holy place of Guru Nanak Sahib owing to frequent demand. He said to Sidhu to discuss the issue with his Indian Government to make sure whether they were willing or not.

Sidhu was excited and returned home with the proposal but his Indian Government rejected the proposal by giving the traditional excuse of cross-border terrorism and afterwards when Sikh community pushed the Government to accept the proposal. They agreed to build a modern Corridor equipped with all modern facilities on the Indian side and urged Pakistan to build the same from their side.

Pakistan Government welcomed the move and announced groundbreaking ceremony on November 28th and invited Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, Indian Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu besides 17 Indian journalists to Kartarpur corridor.

Sushma Swaraj and Chief Minister Punjab Amarinder Singh apologized to come due to some commitments, whereas few Indian Ministers, Journalists and Navjot Sidhu were the part of Indian Delegation came to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony. They termed the development as historic since it would spread the message of love for both countries.

As per the plan, the Indian government will construct and develop the Kartarpur corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Indian Punjab’s Gurdaspur district to the border, while Pakistan will build the other part of the corridor connecting the border to the Gurdwara in the Kartarpur Sahib area of Narowal district as per  the official statement of both countries.

 Geographically,   the two sites – Dera Baba Nanak and Kartarpur Sahib – are barely separated by six kilometres but parted by an international borderline between India and Pakistan that is also toughened by a poisonous rhetoric and lack of Mutual trust.

It is high time that both countries should make serious efforts to ensure people to people contacts and melt the ice that hampered development in the regions. The Kartarpur Corridor may open vistas of opportunities between two countries and they may take the bilateral trade relations to next level if the same corridor is used for trade besides the purpose of Sikh pilgrims.

 It might be too early to predict , yet  to be optimistic , The corridor will play its role to diffuse tensions between two countries and  may bring the relations to normalization if the priorities and attitudes start changing as people set aside all the odds and need love since they are fed up from the warmongering from Indian Authorities . War would be disastrous for both Nuclear capacious neighbours and will bring misery by plunging country into an economic crisis that will never be fruitful for these countries and for South Asia as Whole. 

Pakistan may offer the CPEC partnership if positive and meaningful dialogue process restarts since we have to forward by burying our past differences as quoted by PM Imran Khan during the Groundbreaking ceremony regarding the two European powers France and Germany by saying that if these two can engage in an alliance then why not Pakistan and India  Since animosity and wars cannot stand longer if people Start pushing their Governments to maintain peace and live like peaceful neighbours.

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