Opinion - Page 3

Beyond the China balloon?

1 min read

The flavour of the month is not Ukraine, but China, the pundits in the West, state Chinese State intelligence gathering has grown in ambition and scale, leaving the West to catch up.

The Chinese balloon which was first shot out of the sky off South Carolina on 4 February 2023 has now triggered a diplomatic crisis between Washington and Beijing. But the subsequent “hysteria” has led to at least three more unidentified being also shot down.

President Biden has said that the Yukon Territory, Canada and those taken down over, Deadhorse, in far Northern Alaska and Lake Huron in the US since the Chinese balloon incident, were not thought to be surveillance vehicles. They seem to be called UFO’s or UAP’s, perhaps sent up by balloon hobbyists in the US. Note the pun in “dead horse”.

Speaking in Japan, Liz Truss in her first public speech since her resignation addressing the Inter –Parliamentary Alliance on China has called on the international community to agree on a coordinated package of defence, economic and political issues on China’s back yard, Taiwan.

More hawkish Conservative MP’s have called on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to reclassify China as a threat, instead of a “systemic competitor”. P.M. Sunak has tried a new way to keep lines open with China for his own reasons, although he originally wanted to placate the hawks in his party,

According to Hindustan Times, China has specified American high altitude spy balloons have flown in Xinjiang and Tibetan skies as well, at unspecified times. China has also vowed to take counter measures against US entries, which undermine Chinese sovereignty,

What is all this spat about?

What the balloon crisis exposed, Washington’s heightened sense of alert as the standoff over the balloon delays were efforts to re-set bilateral relations, according to Reuters.

While US is blowing hot and cold with Vice President Kamala Harris warning against Chinese support for Russia in Ukraine, President Biden has said he does not believe relations between the two countries, US and China, were weakened by the incident.

We note that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken who postponed a planned trip to Beijing over the balloon, is considering meeting Chinese top diplomat, Wang Yi in Munich this weekend.

At the same time Japan and China hold security talks on the side lines of Munich Security Conference on 18 February 2023.

In a word, the balloon incident is the over-reacting whether China is provoking a new war in the Indo-Pacific region, some say as evidence in the South China Seas off Philippines, on 5 February 2023.

A new world order is in the making?

A new axis of World Powers – China, Russia and Iran is coming into being. Although some analysts say it is a myth, we may soon see the formation of an informal “alliance of convenience” between these three nations, perhaps, not to join in the Ukrainian war, but for other reasons best known to themselves.

Critics and Section of Indian Media Less Than Fair to Adani Group

4 mins read

In recent days, when Adani group has become the “talk of the country” for whatever reasons, the criticism against Adani group has been mostly levelled by financial researchers, credit rating agencies, economists and a section of politicians. It is conspicuous that the performance and contribution of Adani group to the technological and industrial growth of India has not been highlighted or has been largely ignored by the critics while voicing criticisms.

Spectacular growth:

There is no doubt that the growth of Adani group during the last one or two decades have been spectacular.  Normally, this sort of growth should be admired, particularly when such growth has happened in industrial and infrastructure sectors and not by mere money manipulation or playing in share market.

One would be fairer in discussing about the Adani group if it would be realized that such growth has happened due to bold and heavy investment in the economically vital and much-needed growth-oriented sector such as solar energy, mining, port development, airport management, power transmission, road construction etc. Obviously, Adani growth has happened in tune with the growth in sectors, where Adani has invested. 

Infrastructure projects – A calculated risk:

It is well known that ventures in infrastructure projects have certain elements of risk in view of the high investment involved, possibility of cost escalation, long gestation period, low margin and possible shifting of government priorities and policies from time to time with regard to development plans. In such circumstances, there are not many project promoters who would like to dip their hands in infrastructure projects. Until recent years, with the private sector largely hesitant to invest in infrastructure projects, governments have to invest and manage such projects.

In recent years, with the development of concept that the government is to govern and not to do business, the governments have been looking up to private sector to venture into infrastructure projects and government policies have been redesigned accordingly.

In such a scenario,    Adani group has entered into ventures in infrastructure projects with rare courage of conviction and certain level of responsibility to contribute to the national development programme.

 It is sad that due credit has not been given to Adani group by critics for such proactive and dynamic approach.

Wherever Adani group has been given contracts by the government for such projects, Adani group has participated in the tender in the competitive bidding process and have won the bids.  These are all transparent activities.

Fund management:

Given the nature of the infrastructure projects, large finances are required and Adani group has preferred debt to rise these finances, with free-floating shares of its listed companies that are available for trading and trading being a small proportion of the total.

The critics allege that Adani group floated shell companies, claiming to be independent, to part finance in tax havens abroad that was then used to acquire the shares of Adani firms. The critics call it as share manipulation.

One of the so-called tax havens mentioned was Mauritius. However, Mauritius government has now clearly said that it has reviewed the allegations made by US-based short seller against the Adani group and has not found any breach of regulations in the country by Adani group.

While allegations have been made, nothing has really been proved, even while Adani group has strongly denied all the allegations.

What is happening here is that Adani is facing media trial and the US-based short seller must have been laughing up its sleeve that its’ vague allegations have become such a huge topic for national debate in India.

Government support:

Another allegation is that the Government of India has been supporting Adani group.

Per se, there is nothing wrong or unusual in this, as the task of the government is to support investors in industrial promotional activities.

When Tata group has placed an order for Airbus from France and Boeing from USA, the Presidents of France and US expressed their happiness.  This is as it should be, as leaders of the government must involve themselves in promoting projects and supporting project promoters from their country. This should be so in India also and Government of India supporting an industrial group from India is certainly appropriate. Certainly, every industrial group in India do expect such support, which Government of India is extending.

So long as Adani group has functioned within the framework of laws and whatever methods adopted by it to raise finance are as per the terms of law, Adani group need to be recognized for its positive contribution, instead of mudslinging.

Strong fundamentals:

Those who have been observing the performance of Adani group on the ground would tend to agree with the claims of the Adani group that it’s fundamental strength lies in mega-scale infrastructure projects, execution capabilities, organisational development and O&M management, which are of global standard. The institutions who have invested in Adani group or extended loans do not seem to be worried and this is more than clear from the fact that the Rs.20000 crore FPO was fully subscribed on the due date.

The only people who seem to be “worried” are the critics and section of media and politicians, who are not the stake holders. They are only observers.

The role of Watchdogs and laws in India:

Unfortunately, SEBI, the watchdog in India, has been vague in putting forth it’s comments on Adani episode, which has created media speculation.  Many have developed suspicion as to whether   SEBI has discharged it’s responsibilities as a watchdog adequately well.

Obviously, one gets an impression that India’s framework of laws is not adequate for SEBI to act as a true watchdog.

If India had such well planned and adequate framework, a regulator like SEBI could have given it’s verdict within a few days to debunk the report, India as a country is unable to do so because Indian laws are archaic and enforcement mechanisms too slow.

In any other country, Adani could have taken such short sellers to court and sued them for damages. Adani is unable to do that because of the problems of the Indian legal system.

Supreme Court of India thought it fit to entertain a case about the Adani episode created by US based agency, which is surprising and create confusion about laws and regulations in India and jurisdiction of court in such matters.

However, India has an opportunity to strengthen our governance and enforcement framework so as to ensure such strong players remain strong and more emerge.

Sunak at No 10: Scotland’s Bombshell

2 mins read

Nicola Sturgeon,52,surprise resignation as Scotland’s First Minister on 15 February 2023, was expected after the fortunes of Scottish Independence was dealt a death knell in November 2022 by the UK Supreme Court judgment blocking her bid to hold a second referendum. But, the question is why did she not soldier on until the next election?

She was a charismatic personality who after 8 long years in office as the first woman Scottish National Party Leader and the second leader of her party after Alex Salmon, had acknowledged the job was “rightly hard”.

She described her time in office as a “privilege beyond measure”. She insisted her decision was “not a reaction to short-term pressures, but came from “a deeper and longer-term assessment,” perhaps, a strategic assessment. She also said in her hastily convened televised press conference, that “the time was right for her to step down”.

What has shocked the British public?

It was the same day that former British Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn decided to stand down as a Labour MP at the next General Election. There has been rumour doing the rounds that Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation was possibly a move to curry favour with the Labour Party’s lead in the polls, to get some sort of arrangement with Sir Keir Starmer“to
make an accommodation for Scotland”. We are not to know what was in her mind, but there was indeed something more than meets the eye?

Who will be Scotland’s next Leader?

It is not the public but the British and Scottish Press which has made many assumptions on who would follow her in the days, weeks and months ahead.

The Scottish Herald stated; “Just two weeks ago Sturgeon said there was still plenty in the tank!”

The Independent stated: “What does Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation mean for Scottish independence?”

The Telegraph stated:” By quitting, Nicola Sturgeon is leaving her trans (gender) mess for someone else to clear up”.

Public opinion felt her steady decline of late, most notably over the next UK General Election, which she pledged to turn it into a “de-facto” referendum on Scottish independence. Whilst the independence card played well for Sturgeon, the tide of politics has turned. Recent polls in Scotland gave a signal that the tide has turned in Scotland supporting a second referendum, following the first in 2014, especially after the energy crisis and the cost of living sky rocketing around the UK and most of all her failing initiatives on health care, after her brilliant handling of the COVID-19 pandemic vaccinations.

The debate over the Gender Recognition Bill has been a thorn in the side of those in Scotland not agreeing with Nicola Sturgeon’s incarceration of double rapist Isla Bryson.

What did Nicola Sturgeon contribute to Scotland?

Nicola Sturgeon’s dynamic campaigning led the SNP to a historic landslide victory in the Scottish constituencies as its share of seats in Westminster swelled from a mere 6 to 56, with nearly all of its gains at the expense of the Labour Party, for which Scotland had been its stronghold. Who knows, whether now the tide has turned back for Labour with Sturgeon’s exit? Nicola Sturgeon’s charismatic personality led the SNP to its third straight victory in the Scottish Parliamentary elections in May 2016, but failed to obtain an outright majority at the last election, but chose to form a minority government instead.

Her legacy for the younger generation of Brits will be remembered, as she made University
Education is free for those wanting to enter and study at Scottish Universities.

Sturgeon and PM Rishi Sunak did not agree on the Gender Bill as Sunak said the law would undermine UK-wide legislation, a blow to residents in other parts of the UK do need to undergo a medical examination to change their gender. Sunak used that argument to prevent the bill which narrowly passed in Scotland’s Parliament from becoming law. Sturgeon will be forever remembered for stating that Sunak’s decision undermined Scotland’s democracy,

The shelf life of a politician around the world is limited. This is unlike in Sri Lanka, where Prime Ministers end up as Presidents, and cling on to power?

India: NSA Doval creates synergy in India-Russia ties

5 mins read

The scheduled visit of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval to Moscow on February 7-9 was in connection with the multilateral consultations of the secretaries of security councils and national security advisors regarding Afghanistan hosted by the Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev. 

However, it was Doval’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin that inevitably became the meridian. Indeed, it was an exceptional event. Putin’s meeting with Doval signified two things — it was a recognition both of Doval’s unique standing as a meaningful interlocutor in the Indian government as well as his standing as an accomplished professional with vast experience in the regional security issues, in particular, Afghanistan.

Doval doesn’t have the luxury of being an armchair strategist. He lived and worked in the real world and kept up with Russian counterparts at a working level. As time passed, friendships forged in the fires of adversity — Khalistan, cross-border terrorism, political islam, insurgencies — became strong and weathered the test of time. Unsurprisingly, Doval’s equation with Patrushev is one of its kind. Therefore, the enormous symbolism in Putin’s face-to-face interaction with  Doval must be properly understood.

Putin’s remarks at the regional meeting of security advisors underscored the high importance Moscow attaches to the Afghan situation. He said Afghanistan “has always been important for us [Russia] and now it is important more than ever because we do not want more points of tension on our southern borders.” 

Putin mentioned three reasons for saying so. First, the Afghan security situation remains critical. To quote Putin, “International terrorist organisations are stepping up their activities, including al-Qaeda which is building up its potential.” Moscow is greatly concerned about negative fallouts in the Central Asian region. 

Russia sees India as a like-minded country — alongside China, Iran and the Central Asian states — that is genuinely interested in the stabilisation of the Afghan situation. The MEA readout mentions that Doval in his remarks at the regional meeting “stressed the need to ensure that the territory of Afghanistan does not become a source of radicalisation and terrorism, regionally or globally, as well as to intensify intelligence and security cooperation to deal with terror outfits.” 

Evidently, Moscow is conscious of the convergence of interests with Delhi on this front. The Afghan situation would have figured prominently in Doval’s talks with Patrushev, who is an old and trusted associate of Putin over decades. 

Second, Russia has specific concerns over the problem of drug trafficking, which is on the rise. Putin mentioned that 80% of opiates in the world market originate from Afghanistan. Russia and Iran are two major transit routes for drug trafficking. During the two decades of US occupation, the Americans virtually acquiesced with drug traffickers. Occasional reports showed that some Pentagon commanders even made fortunes out of the smuggling. 

Drug trafficking is inextricably linked to the security situation. Again, the Taliban government lacks resources to provide alternate livelihood to the poor farmers to induce them to give up poppy cultivation. In this connection, Putin made a cryptic remark that “there are plans to implement large economic projects that could stabilise the situation.” Russia has a masterplan to revive the Soviet-aided economic projects in Afghanistan. 

India too has a brilliant track record in undertaking developmental projects in Afghanistan. Doval’s assertion that India “is and will remain an important stakeholder in Afghanistan” is to be understood in this context.

Third, Putin stated: “We are also worried about attempts to use the situation in Afghanistan to allow extra-regional forces to expand or build their infrastructure. These countries will create this under the pretext of countering international terrorism, but they are not doing anything that is really necessary in the real counterterrorism struggle.” 

Putin, of course, was alluding to the continuing attempts by the US to return to Afghanistan and establish a security presence with a view to influence the geopolitics in the surrounding regions of Iran, North Caucasus, Central Asia, Xinjiang, etc. Taliban resisted the American pressure. Russia’s presidential envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov recently alleged on state television that the US is giving covert support to the Islamic State-Khorasan in Afghanistan. 

Russia finds itself between the rock and a hard place. It harboured a  notion in the recent years that Pakistan would be a potential ally to stabilise the Afghan situation under Taliban. But that turned out to be a flawed assumption. On the contrary, the overthrow of Imran Khan led to the installation of a US-backed regime in Islamabad that is completely at the bidding of Americans. The US stranglehold is destined to tighten further as the IMF begins to dictate Pakistan’s economic policies

A sharp deterioration in Pakistan’s equations with the Taliban followed after Imran Khan’s overthrow. An easing of tensions between Islamabad and Kabul is not to be expected, as the military leadership in Rawalpindi has reverted to its historical role as the cats-paw of the Pentagon and the CIA. The Taliban harbours deep suspicions regarding the US-Pakistani intentions. 

According to reports, the US is sourcing military supplies from Pakistan for use in its proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. In sum, the Pakistani civilian and military elite are reverting to their historical role as  hirelings of the US. Russia and Iran are in the US crosshairs. Moscow is vainly hoping to engage Pakistan in a constructive relationship, whereas, in reality, it is dealing with a vassal state of the US.  

Suffice it to say that India is sailing in the same boat as Russia when it comes to the Afghan conundrum and Pakistani shenanigans. Conceivably, at some point soon enough, the Pakistani military will resume its interference in Afghanistan by projecting power into that country to keep it weak and subservient —something that dovetails with the US’ current regional strategy. 

From various accounts, Putin’s conversation with Doval largely focused on the Russian-Indian special and privileged strategic partnership. Afghanistan would have been a key topic of discussion. To be sure, Putin would have spoken to Doval about the Ukraine situation as well. That said, Putin’s focus is on the bilateral cooperation with India. 

The US lobbyists in the Indian media are upset that Doval visited Moscow. A Delhi newspaper wrote an editorial today warning the Modi government about its dealings with Russia, which, according to the paper, stands “isolated” in the international community! (Twenty years back, this very same newspaper had written that then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s refusal to join the US’s “coalition of the willing” to invade Iraq would cost India dearly, as a vengeful George W. Bush was sure to punish Delhi by evicting it from Kashmir Valley!) 

What these lobbyists overlook is that India’s relationship with the US is transactional and the Americans are rank opportunists. It is about time they got accustomed to the idea that India cherished its strategic autonomy. Why do some of our journalists behave like a comprador class? 

Moscow appreciates India’s neutrality and on its part, the Modi government also knows that in this titanic struggle between the US and Russia, there is very little it (or any third party) can do to persuade the Biden Administration to call off the proxy war and begin negotiations. 

Apparently, the Biden Administration still thinks that the proxy war will lead to the dismemberment and destruction of Russia. So long as the US neocons who dominate Biden’s team remain delusional, this conflict will continue and may even escalate. Delhi is doing the right thing to remain non-aligned and astutely pursue its national interests.  

Sri Lanka Guardian and Xinhua Sign Syndication Agreement

1 min read

In a major step forward for Sri Lanka Guardian, we are pleased to inform our readers that we and Xinhua News Agency have signed a syndication agreement recently. This agreement will allow the two media organizations to share content, resources and information to provide more in-depth coverage of regional and international news to their respective audiences. With the rise of digital media and the globalization of information, it is essential for news organizations to collaborate and pool their resources to provide comprehensive coverage of the world’s events.

The syndication agreement between Sri Lanka Guardian and Xinhua will provide benefits for both organizations and their audiences. Sri Lanka Guardian will now have access to a wider range of news from China, the Asia-Pacific region, and beyond. Having the opportunity to exchange the content and resources of Xinhua will also foster greater understanding and cooperation between the two countries. This is especially important in a world where the flow of information is often fragmented and biased. By sharing content and resources, both organizations can help to provide a more balanced and accurate picture of the world’s events.

The signing of the syndication agreement between Sri Lanka Guardian and Xinhua is a significant step forward for cross-border journalism. This agreement will allow us to better serve our audience by providing more comprehensive and accurate coverage of regional and international news. It also highlights the importance of collaboration and cooperation between media organizations in an era of overwhelming information inflows.

Xinhua is one of the largest news organizations in the world, with a global network of correspondents and bureaus. The role of media organizations like Xinhua becomes even more critical in today’s fast-paced and interconnected world. The rise of digital media and the proliferation of information have made it increasingly difficult for audiences to separate fact from fiction. By providing accurate and impartial coverage of events, these media organizations help to inform and educate the public and promote greater understanding and cooperation between countries.

In conclusion, Sri Lanka Guardian and Xinhua are two of the most important media organizations in their respective countries, playing a critical role in providing accurate and impartial information to their audiences. The signing of the syndication agreement between these two media organizations will provide significant benefits for both organizations and their audiences, fostering greater understanding and cooperation between Sri Lanka and China.

– Editorial Team

Why should Sterlite copper project in India be allowed to resume operation?

6 mins read

It is now more than three years , since  Sterlite Copper  in  Tuticorin  was forcibly  shut down in 2018 by Tamil Nadu government, in the wake of the violent agitation by a mob.

 In the light of such agitation , which resulted in death due to police firing , the then Tamil Nadu government    ordered closure to buy peace with the agitators,   who were encouraged by some political outfits , some environmentalists  and other unknown agencies.

After effect of closure  for local people:

As the unit has been remaining closed for long time now, thousands of local people have lost jobs who were directly or indirectly employed due to the operation of Sterlite Copper.  As the Sterlite Copper also involved itself in several   welfare activities  such as running school , hospital etc., local people also have  lost several benefits  after the closure of Sterlite Copper.

Now, the local people have been appealing to the  Government of Tamil Nadu to permit Sterlite Copper to resume operation, which would significantly benefit the economy of the Tuticorin region and help the local people.

When the local people wanted to organize a meeting to explain their stand and the benefits of resuming the operation of Sterlite Copper, it is reported that the permission was denied by the authorities. 

Meanwhile, the case relating to Sterlite Copper reopening is before the Supreme Court and one would not know at this time as to when would the judgement be given and what would be the verdict.

Increasing demand for copper:

In view of  considerable increase  in number of power infrastructure projects, construction and industrial activities  in India,  demand for copper in India has increased by 27.5 per cent in 2021-22,.

The demand was 12.5 lakh tonne in 2021-22, up from 9.78 lakh tonne in 2020-21.

During 2021-22, demand for copper from the power infrastructure sector surged over 75 per cent, while it increased by 25.3 per cent in the building sector and 26.3 per cent in the industrial sector. Consumer durable sector’s demand was 12.8 per cent.

In the coming years, more copper will be  needed to achieve  carbon-neutral scenario. The copper requirement  of  electric vehicles are   four times as much of traditional vehicles . As copper is a key component in electric vehicles (EVs) and the renewable sector, it is necessary to  strengthen domestic availability. Any supply shortfall of copper  would hamper India’s progress towards net-zero emission goals.

With India currently being  net importer  of copper, India  is likely to face a shortage scenario for  copper .

In such scenario, there is urgent and compelling need to increase the production of copper in India.

Tight global supply scenario and  price increase:

Copper supply is under stress globally, particularly due to political development in Peru, where the Las Bambas mine halted production of Copper on 1 February 2023.

China’s industrial growth is expected to be 5 per cent in 2023 and this could result in greater demand for   copper.

The combination of a faster-than-expected recovery in Chinese demand and a fall in Latin American supply amidst low inventories could drive copper prices higher in the global market.

It is expected that copper price  would remain high  in 2023

As the global demand for copper is on the rise in view of net-zero emission targets, copper prices have  increased  to $10,000 in 2022 from its average price of $6,023 in 2018, which points to the  importance  of copper production  in India.

What  India  has lost  due to closure of Sterlite Copper? 

While India’s present installed capacity of copper is 1.02 million tonne per annum,India produced less than half of the capacity (4.42 lakh tonnes during the January-November 2021 period) due to closure of Sterlite Copper in Tamil Nadu in 2018.

When Sterlite Copper was operating,India was net exporter of copper

 India has now become a net importer of copper due to reduced domestic production, consequent to the closure of Sterlite Copper.

India now has to spend several thousand crores of rupees in foreign exchange every year for import of copper.

Performance of Sterlite Copper:

Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper was functioning in Tuticorin  SIPCOT premises since its inception in 1996 and had become one of the leading copper producers in the country.

Sterlite Copper project in Tuticorin originally involved an investment of over Rs.3000 crore and  has been successfully operating for the last several years with consistent track record and made India to be a net exporter of valuable copper metal.  As a matter of fact, Sterlite Copper has successfully challenged several multinational copper producers in the international market and brought laurels to India.

When Serlite Copper was operating, it was   meeting   around 33% of India’s requirement of copper

Unjustifiable closure of Sterlite Copper:

Number of allegations were made against Sterlite Copper by some environmentalists, some political parties and what appears to be vested interests, for whatever reasons.

A careful study of the scenario highlights the fact that such allegations were not true and contrary to facts and prove that the closure of Sterlite Copper is unjustified.

Sulphur dioxide emission

One complaint made was that Sterlite Copper was emitting sulphur dioxide gas, which is not true.

The fact is that there are a number of coal-based thermal power plants and sulphuric acid plants in Tuticorin, not far away from the Sterlite Copper plant. The coal-based thermal power plants in Tuticorin may be emitting sulphur dioxide gas, since coal contains sulphur.

The coal-based power plants in Tuticorin and sulphuric acid plants in Tuticorin do not have flue gas de sulphurisation units, whereas Sterlite  Copper has desulphurisation unit to prevent  sulphur dioxide gas emission.

It is quite possible that if any sulphur dioxide emission level in Tuticorin has been above normal, it might have been due to the operation of the coal based thermal power plants or other sulphuric acid plant or several other possible reasons such as large scale sea port operations in Tuticorin, heavy vehicle movement using diesel fuel for transportation of goods to and from the port etc.

Other false allegations:

There were a few other false allegations such as Sterlite Copper plant operation was causing cancer, which is unsubstantiated.  In Chennai, there is no copper unit but cancer prevails. In Bangalore, there is no copper unit, but cancer prevails and this is so all over India.

The other allegation was that Sterlite copper was letting out impure water. The fact was that Sterlite Copper never let out any water and process water was treated and reused in the plant.  This was a case of zero effluent discharge.

What is the fact?

 The fact is that the atmospheric,  soil and ground water conditions in Tuticorin area even after three years of closure of Sterlite Copper has not changed for any better. There is no evidence that the health conditions of the local people have improved in any way after the closure of Sterlite Copper.

This only proves the fact that   Sterlite Copper has not caused any problem and the unit has been sinned against rather than sinning.          

When cases were filed more than once, the Green Tribunal / Courts have given verdict in favour of Sterlite Coper operating the plant.

Tamil Nadu is a big loser :

All said and done, Tamil Nadu and India have not gained anything by the closure of the Sterlite Copper and only some environmental activists and some political parties have derived vicarious satisfaction by “successfully ” ensuring the closure of Sterlite Copper.

Tamil  Nadu government is losing huge revenue that it was getting earlier, when Sterlite Copper was in operation.

Tamil Nadu government is   now targeting to achieve 1 trillion dollar economy in the coming years in the state. Operation of Sterlite Copper can significantly contribute to achieve this ambitious target.

The prospective project promoters in Tamil Nadu from outside Tamil Nadu or abroad may think several times before investing in Tamil Nadu in chemical or allied projects, after seeing the bitter experience of Sterlite Copper.

It is reported that Vedanta group attempted to sell the Sterlite Copper unit but there were no takers with reasonable offer. Probably, this is due to the apprehension that Tamil Nadu government’s attitude towards Sterlite copper could be counterproductive and negative, for whatever reasons.

 Tamil Nadu government   should relook

The ball is   now clearly in the court of Tamil Nadu government.

Tamil Nadu government should decide the future of Sterlite Copper,  by permitting operation of the unit, which would create confidence in the mind of investors about investing in large scale chemical, metallurgical and allied projects in Tamil Nadu.

Whatever that  has happened in the past,. Tamil Nadu government should urgently look into the feasibility of permitting Sterlite Copper to resume operation, taking a holistic and progressive view, in the larger interest of the state and the country.

If necessary, Tamil Nadu government should take the environmentalists and protestors into confidence by initiating discussions with them, explaining the need to operate Sterlite Copper unit and perhaps, put forth any pre condition to the management of Sterlite Copper in operating the plant, based on the views of cross section of stake holders.

Tamil Nadu government should realise that Tamil Nadu is  losing  income and opportunity due to closure of Sterlite Copper.

It is necessary to erase the impression amongst the investors that a group of agitators can bring down a large capacity plant by violence and intimidation.

Above all, the views of the local people in Tuticorin who have been demanding that Sterlite Copper should be allowed to resume operation must be heard by the Tamil Nadu government, since the agitation in the past have been carried out by the agitators in the name of ” protecting the health and economy of Tuticorin region”.

India: Invest in defence modernisation

3 mins read

The only surprise in the defence budget was no surprise: static, in real terms, a negative budget for modernization- the litmus test of capability enhancement for maintaining deterrence in order to meet the two-and-a-half threat challenge plus government articulated missions of retaking PoK and Aksai Chin. Much of the capital is consumed by committed liabilities – payment for equipment already ordered and in the pipeline. Overconfidence in a strong government and leader, the chimera of G20 grandeur, and ‘it is not an era of war’ but ‘Amrit Kaal has ruled out conflict with China and Pakistan. Northern Army Commander, Lt Gen Dwivedi earlier and former Army Chief, Gen Naravane, only last month, revived illusions of ‘we are in a position of strength’ in Ladakh. In the last nine years, the ruling government has invested more in lip servicing and symbolism than in closing the capability gap with China as defence budgets have hovered between 1.5 and 1.6 percent of GDP. Former Defence Minister Arun Jaitley would admit: “we have no money, we can’t put cess on defence”. So the government has renamed anonymous islands after PVC winners, built giant statues, installed tall flags, and embellished Jai Jawan Jai Kisan Jai Vigyan with Jai Anusandhan.

In the current fiscal defence has dropped to 1.4 percent of GDP and for the first time in decades, dipped below 2 percent of GDP if the pension bill is included. The capital acquisition increased from Rs 12,000 crore to Rs 1.6 lakh crore just an 8 percent increase well below inflation and the falling rupee. As there is no National Defence Strategy and a Policy, Plans, and Budgeting System to evaluate inter se capabilities, allocation is erratic and prioritized by CDS. IAF chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhuri has thrice publicly mentioned the dangers of combat squadron strength dwindling to 28/30 squadrons against the authorized 45 squadrons. PM Modi acquired 38 Rafales against 126 MRCA urgently sought by IAF. Its requirement of 114 MRCA has been languishing for years: Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) is still not fructified i.e. forget it.

Similarly, the Navy, whose missions have multiplied – from the Gulf of Aden to the Indo-Pacific – is woefully deficient in submarines, and the indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant is minus aircraft and other subsystems. At this pace of modernization, the third aircraft carrier is a mirage. Manpower-intensive Army needs a new tank, a light tank, and a new gun. The increased capital segment of the revenue budget is to make up for deficiencies in ammunition and equipment to fight a 30-day war not 10 days of intense conflict. Neither the hand-picked service chiefs bar Chaudhuri, nor the deeply-selected CDS Gen Anil Chouhan, has pointed to shortfalls in the modernization budget. They are unlikely to do so in the prevailing environment when discretion has become a better part of valour. Young officers have proven the backbone as an ADC of President Murmu gently ticked off Modi when he tried to step ahead of her during the Republic Day parade.

Two instances need recall. Former Army Chief, Gen Shankar Roy Choudhury warned the government that Army will not be responsible for any operational mishap due to inadequate funding and former CNS Adm Vijay Shekhawat declared at a press briefing that naval shipyards not receiving ship orders will have a negative effect on naval capabilities. The next day Defence Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav invited Shekhawat to breakfast. It is inconceivable that the highly nationalistic government that has excelled in capex – infrastructure hikes and doubled railway budget – has kept the sword arm insufficiently sharpened.

The government took huge operational risks by keeping the Army alone deficient of 300,000 soldiers: no recruitment was done for the last three years due to Covid. While the annual demobilization of 65,000 soldiers continued, no salaries had to be paid for the void in recruitment. Only now will 46,000 Agniveers be recruited on a low salary and no pension. It’s OROP whose cost equaled modernization allocation but has reduced to Rs 1.3 lakh crore that is hurting. OROP arrears worth Rs 23000 crores are due by 31 March. Modi must rue his 2014 BJP election manifesto in signing up for OROP. This is indeed an era of war. As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its second year, India has to review its relations with Russia which has China, a no-limit strategic partnership. India is still dependent on Russian military hardware, technology, and spares. Serge Chemezov, CEO of Russia military industrial Rostek was in India last month for payment of dues on account of Russian oil and S400 AD systems. The Americans are making determined efforts including the use of sanctions and diplomatic pressure to wean India away from Russian equipment. All European countries are increasing defence budgets to meet twin Russia-China challenges. The UK, France, and even Germany have reached 2 percent of GDP spending levels. Japan has erased the one percent GDP embargo and will spend USD332bn over the next five years. In Asia Pacific, South Korea, and the Philippines are increasing defence capabilities by 8 and 5 percent respectively. Despite active LAC and LoC and a sensitive internal environment, the Modi-Shah government is happy to let China march ahead with a defence budget thrice India’s size. There is an urgent need for recapitalization of defence to deter China.

A wild war between two brothers

3 mins read

Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stated that “Russians and Ukrainians are one people.”

A major power showcasing an angel’s face with a devil’s mind has poisoned one’s ear unabatedly and thus already dashed the whole world into a precarious state. The net upshot is the bestial war between two brothers – Russia and Ukraine. The entire world is now reeling. But “the scapegrace will never listen to a moral lecture.”

This is not the end. It has now been trying to pulling out another two brothers – China and Taiwan into one more violent war.

Ukraine and Russia have developed as a single economic system over decades and centuries. The profound cooperation they had 30 years ago is an example for the European Union to look up to. They are natural complementary economic partners. Such a close relationship can strengthen competitive advantages, increasing the potential of both countries.

When the USSR collapsed, many people in Russia and Ukraine sincerely believed and assumed that their close cultural, spiritual and economic ties would certainly last, as would the commonality of their people, who had always had a sense of unity at their core. However, events – at first gradually, and then more rapidly – started to move in a different direction.

In essence, Ukraine’s ruling circles decided to justify their country’s independence through the denial of its past, however, except for border issues. They began to mythologize and rewrite history, edit out everything that united Ukraine and Russia, and refer to the period when Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union as an occupation. The common tragedy of collectivization and famine of the early 1930s was portrayed as the genocide of the Ukrainian people.

Radicals and neo-Nazis were open and more and more insolent about their ambitions. They were indulged by both the official authorities and local oligarchs, who robbed the people of Ukraine and kept their stolen money in Western banks, ready to sell their motherland for the sake of preserving their capital. To this should be added the persistent weakness of state institutions and the position of a willing hostage to someone else’s geopolitical will.

For those who have today given up full control of Ukraine to external forces, it would be instructive to remember that, back in 1918, such a decision proved fatal for the ruling regime in Kiev. With the direct involvement of the occupying forces, the Central Rada was overthrown and Hetman Pavlo Skoropadskyi was brought to power, proclaiming instead of the UPR the Ukrainian State, which was essentially under German protectorate.

But the fact is that the situation in Ukraine today is completely different because it involves a forced change of identity. And the most despicable thing is that the Russians in Ukraine are being forced not only to deny their roots, and generations of their ancestors but also to believe that Russia is their enemy. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the path of forced assimilation, the formation of an ethnically pure Ukrainian state, aggressive towards Russia, is comparable in its consequences to the use of weapons of mass destruction against us. As a result of such a harsh and artificial division of Russians and Ukrainians, the Russian people in all may decrease by hundreds of thousands or even millions.

The Western authors of the anti-Russia project set up the Ukrainian political system in such a way that presidents, members of parliament and ministers would change but the attitude of separation from and enmity with Russia would remain. Reaching peace was the main election slogan of the incumbent president. He came to power with this. The promises turned out to be lies. Nothing has changed. And in some ways the situation in Ukraine and around Donbas has even degenerated.

True sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia. Their spiritual, human and civilizational ties formed for centuries and have their origins in the same sources, they have been hardened by common trials, achievements and victories. Their kinship has been transmitted from generation to generation. It is in the hearts and the memory of people living in modern Russia and Ukraine, in the blood ties that unite millions of their families. Together, they have always been and will be many times stronger and more successful. For they are one people.

Today, these words may be perceived by some people with hostility. They can be interpreted in many possible ways. Yet, many people will hear this dictum. And I will say one thing – Russia has never been and will never be anti-Ukraine. And what Ukraine will be – it is up to its citizens to decide.

Uncle Sam is the prime mover – wire puller – arch intriguer for provoking Russia to invade Ukraine.

Russia’s Ukraine war has narrowed, but not its goals as yet.

Because of America’s misdoings, Putin remains fixed on erasing Ukraine. Ideas for peace talks can’t ignore that.

The reverberating effects of Putin’s assault on Ukraine are already being felt across the globe — raising concerns about what Russia’s propensity for aggression will be going forward. The invasion of Ukraine might have shifted Moscow’s decision-making in other parts of the world.

Enough is enough. To help Ukraine, Uncle Sam and Europe must now prepare for a peace process with Moscow.

It is worth creatively seeking alternative approaches to ending this conflict. The cause of peace is at least important enough to justify exploring the possibilities.

If Russia opts for negotiations with Ukraine or if Ukraine chooses for negotiations with Russia, Europe and the United States need to be ready to join, because the war’s bungled ramifications are felt like potent rubella throughout the world. Will Beelzebub read the writings on the wall?

The Chinese Spy Balloon Hoax

2 mins read

After the Russiagate Hoax, the Covid hoax, and the Insurrection hoax, We now Have the Chinese Spy Balloon Hoax

According to Washington and the whore media, China sent a balloon that the Pentagon said “could” be loaded with explosives to spy on America.  A top general said that similar balloons have entered US airspace undetected before.  The balloon is huge–200 feet tall weighing in excess of a couple thousand pounds.  So if such a large object can enter our airspace undetected, does this mean far smaller ICBMs can also?   

Do understand that what is going on here is the purposeful creation of an incident for propaganda purposes to stoke up more animosity against China, and to spend more money on defense in Asia.  We don’t have a Malaysian airliner to blame on China, but we do have a weather balloon.

After receiving a brainwashing by a Pentagon briefing, Rep. Jim Himes (D,Conn.) says that US officials will “learn a lot” from the pieces of the “Chinese spy craft” that was shot down. Two other dumbshit House members, one a Republican, one a Democrat declare the blown-off-course weather balloon “a violation of American sovereignty.” The Chinese explanation is the only one that makes any sense: 

“It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes. Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course.  The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into US airspace due to an unforeseen and unintended outcome. The Chinese side will continue communicating with the US side and properly handle this unexpected situation caused by wind and limited steering capability.” (A translation uses the term “force majeure,” an unforeseen event.)

But the spy story continues.  It is needed in order to worsen relations with China, the second nuclear power that Washington is doing everything it possibly can to antagonize.  Keep in mind that in these days spying is done by satellites, not by weather balloons.  If China is using balloons to spy on the US, why did China send a balloon over Columbia.  Why is China spying on South America? 

The Columbian military determined that the balloon posed no threat to national security, defense, or air safety.  Washington lacks the capability of the Columbian military, because Washington is in the business of creating a hoax issue.

Try to think of something the government has told the truth about.  Tonkin Gulf?  Ruby Ridge?  Waco? Oklahoma City Bombing? 9/11? Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction?  Assad’s use of chemical weapons? Gaddafi?  Russiagate?  January 6 insurrection?  Covid?  Covid vaccine?  Ukraine?  Malaysian airliner?   Find one thing that was true.

All the government’s lies, parroted by the presstitutes, are designed to advance secret agendas.  The people are brainwashed with lies so that they go along with the agendas.  That is the way the US government functions.  There is no longer an American media.  Just an indoctrination ministry.  Only official narratives please.  All else is misinformation.

Pakistan: The Curse of Frankenstein

10 mins read

We did not need to make Mujahideen. We created Mujahideen and then they became terrorists- Federal Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah while addressing the Senate on January 31, 2023.

On January 30, 2023, at least 84 persons were killed and another 220 were injured in a suicide blast inside a mosque in the Police Lines area of Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The suicide attacker, who was in Police uniform, was present in the front row during the Zuhr prayer (second prayer offered at noon). The Capital City Police Officer (CCPO), Peshawar, Ejaz Khan, disclosed that around to 300 to 400 Policemen usually offered Zuhr prayers at the venue.

Two Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leaders, Sarbakaf Mohmand and Omar Mukaram Khurasani, claimed that the attack was “revenge” for the death of the chief of TTP’s splinter group, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), Khalid Khorasani, in the Barmal District‎ of ‎Paktika Province of Afghanistan on August 7, 2022. However, TTP central ‘spokesman’ Muhammad Khorasani denied any involvement in the attack. “Regarding the Peshawar incident, we consider it necessary to clarify that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has nothing to do with this incident. According to our laws and general constitution, any action in mosques, madrasas, funerals grounds and other sacred places is an offence,” Muhammad Khorasani declared in a statement.

On January 27, 2023, three Army personnel were killed and several others injured when the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) targeted an Army base from three directions near the Dandaar area of Kolwah town in the Awaran District of Balochistan. BLA ‘spokesman’ Jeehand Baloch claimed responsibility for the attack. “BLA will continue to intensify its attacks against the occupying forces till their full withdrawal from Balochistan”, Jeehand Baloch added.

On January 19, 2023, three Police constables were killed in a suicide attack at the Takhta Beg Police checkpost in Jamrud tehsil (revenue unit) of Khyber District in KP. Police said terrorists armed with hand grenades, entered the premises and opened fire using a sub-machine gun. After the firing, a suicide bomber blew himself up. The TTP claimed responsibility for the attack.

On January 14, 2023, three Policemen, including Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Badaber Sardar Hussain and his two Police guards, Irshad and Jehanzeb, were killed in a terrorist attack on the Sarband Police Station in Peshawar. KP Inspector General of Police (IGP) Moazzam Jah Ansari stated that sniper rifles were used by the terrorists in the incident, for the first time in Peshawar. TTP claimed responsibility for the attack.

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), Pakistan has recorded 182 terrorism-related fatalities, including 132 Security Force (SF) personnel, 44 terrorists and six civilians, so far, in the current year (data till February 5, 2023). During the corresponding period of 2022, the province recorded 96 such fatalities, including 38 Security Force (SF) personnel, 37 terrorists and 21 civilians.

Meanwhile, overall terrorism-linked fatalities in Pakistan in 2022 had surged to 971 [229 civilians, 379 Security Force (SF) personnel and 363 terrorists], from 663 (214 civilians, 226 SF personnel and 223 terrorists) in 2021, an increase of 46.45 per cent. Reversing the declining trend in Pakistan between 2015 and 2019, overall fatalities have been increasing since 2020. With the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, terrorism has increasingly been spilling over into Pakistan. 

There were 365 incidents of killing in 2022, as compared to 267 in 2021. 113 incidents in 2022 were major (each resulting in three or more fatalities), in which 626 persons were killed (127 civilians, 235 SF personnel and 264 terrorists). There were 88 major attacks (417 fatalities: 140 civilians, 113 SF personnel and 164 terrorists) in 2021. Out of 113 major incidents in 2022, there were 13 suicide attacks resulting in 109 fatalities, including 79 civilians, 17 SF personnel and 13 terrorists. There were only four suicide attacks in 2021, resulting in 25 fatalities, including 15 civilians, six SF personnel and four terrorists.

Other parameters of violence also indicate a worsening security situation in the country. There were 151 incidents of explosion in 2022, resulting in 247 fatalities, including 124 civilians, 98 SF personnel and 25 terrorists. The number of explosions reported in 2021 was 110, resulting in 165 fatalities, including 97 civilians, 62 SF personnel and six terrorists.

Among the principal reasons for the spike of violence in Pakistan in 2022 were the re-grouping of the TTP in August, 2020, and the capture of the Afghanistan Government by the Taliban in August 2021. The Taliban’s seizure of power in Kabul strengthened the TTP, giving them the courage and wherewithal to return to tribal areas of Pakistan, which they had fled during Operation Zarb-e-Azb [Sword of the Prophet] in 2014. Despite the fact that the Pakistan-bred and supported Haqqani Network was a dominant power, and was at the helm of the Ministry of Internal Security, in Afghanistan, TTP has made deep inroads into the tribal areas of Pakistan.

Any doubts that TTP and the Afghan Taliban are ideological twins have now been squarely removed. During an interview with on July 26, 2021, TTP ‘chief’ Noor Wali Mehsud asserted that his group had a ‘good relationship’ with the Afghan Taliban and hoped to benefit from the latter’s victories in Afghanistan. He further warned that TTP would continue its “war against Pakistan’s security forces” and declared that the outfit’s goal was to “take control of the border regions and make them independent.” This was the first time that TTP’s leadership called for an independent state to be carved out of Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Instead of taking strong actions against TTP, and despite the fact that the group had stepped up attacks in the Province, the Pakistan Government, sought to negotiate with the outfit with the help of the Taliban. As a result, both sides agreed on a month-long ceasefire between November 9 – December 9, 2021. On December 9, 2021, however, TTP declined to extend the ceasefire with the Government, alleging that the state forces had not only failed to implement the decisions reached between the two sides. The SFs had conducted raids in Dera Ismail Khan, Lakki Marwat, Swat, Bajaur, Swabi and North Waziristan, killing and detaining many TTP fighters. TTP consequently declared, “Under these circumstances, it is not possible to extend the ceasefire.” Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud announced an end to the ceasefire and asked his fighters to resume attacks.

There is, moreover, adequate evidence to indicate that the ceasefire was just a deceitful move by TTP to buy time and to revitalise its cadres. The Pakistani Government fell into the trap and released more than 100 TTP prisoners as a “goodwill gesture,” in response to the TTP’s acceptance of the ceasefire. During the month-long ceasefire, though five SF personnel were killed in three terrorism-related incidents, no TTP terrorist was killed.

After the collapse of the ceasefire, the TTP resumed its attacks against SFs. At a time when the TTP increased its attacks on SFs, the Imran Khan led PTI-Government in Islamabad sought to buy an improbable peace. A 10-day ceasefire agreement, starting May 1,2022, was reached between the Army and the TTP on the account of Eid (May 2, 2022). On May 10, TTP announced that the ceasefire was extended by another five days and stated that new directives would be issued on May 16. Though no announcement was made on May 16, on May 18, TTP announced that the ceasefire had been extended till May 30.

Under the auspices of the Afghan Taliban, talks commenced between committees of the TTP and the Government of Pakistan. However, sporadic violence continued from both sides. Eventually, however, on November 28, 2022, TTP announced an end to the then seven month-long ceasefire, declaring, in a statement released on Umar Media (TTP’s official website), that TTP’s ‘Minister of Defence’ had “ordered” TTP forces throughout Pakistan “to launch attacks anywhere in the country” in response to Pakistani military operations. The outfit claimed that it chose to end the ceasefire after “the Army and intelligence agencies continue to raid and attack” its forces. “And now our revenge attacks will continue in the whole country,” the TTP statement added.

As ‘official’ talks between the TTP and the Government collapsed with the TTPs declaration of an end to the ceasefire, an escalation of violence in KP and other areas of Pakistan was inevitable.

In 2022, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, which was the most affected by the TTP resurgences, recorded the highest fatalities in a year since 2014. KP recorded a total of 527 fatalities (119 civilians, 173 SF personnel and 235 terrorists) in 184 incidents of killing in 2022, as against 300 such fatalities (71 civilians, 108 SF personnel, and 121 terrorists) in 129 such incidents in 2021, registering an increase of 75.66 per cent in overall fatalities. In terms of SF fatalities, the 2022 tally was the highest since 2013, when there were 181 SF fatalities. Terrorist fatalities in 2022 were the highest since 2011, when there were 372 such fatalities. The number of civilians killed in 2022 touched three digits after a gap of five years, with 122 civilians killed in 2016. Other parameters of violence also indicated a worsening security situation in the Province.

The ceasefire and peace-talks between the Government and TTP gave the terrorists space and time to find their feet in KP.  An October 12, 2022, report suggested that the TTP had re-emerged violently in the restive Swat region. Earlier, an August 12, 2022, report noted that TTP militants had established a check-post at Balasoor Top, besides roaming about freely in other areas of the Matta tehsil of Swat. Significantly, the Geo News correspondent in Swat, Mehboob Ali, claimed that at least 200-250 TTP terrorists were present and operating in the area. Other bordering Districts of the Province had also seen increased terrorist activities. After analysing the overall law and order situation in KP, the Police department declared South and North Waziristan, Lakki Marwat and Bannu Districts, terrorist ‘trouble spots’.

On December 27, 2022, Federal Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah disclosed that there were around 7,000 to 10,000 TTP fighters in the region, and they were accompanied by 25,000 members of their families. This statement was later confirmed by former Prime Minister Imran Khan who, on January 10, 2023, revealed that his government had planned to resettle TTP militants in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), with the help of the Afghan Taliban. Imran Khan stated that the fall of Kabul and the rise of the Afghan Taliban to power provided Pakistan with a ‘golden opportunity’ to deal with the TTP threat. “The Afghan Taliban pressurised the TTP, which had over 5,000 fighters among its 40,000-strong group, to go back to Pakistan and we took a number of steps to deal with it,” he added.

On February 1, 2023, immediately after the Peshawar Police Lines Mosque suicide attack of January 30, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif accused, the Imran Khan led PTI Government for bringing about the resurgence of terrorism in the country. Targeting Imran Khan, he questioned, “Who regarded the terrorist as ‘jihadi’ and let them return?” In his remarks at a meeting of the Federal Cabinet, the Prime Minister argued that PTI had been ruling the KP for the past 10 years and was responsible for the safety of the lives of the innocent people of the province, who were suffering under the new spate of terrorist incidents.

After KP, the most affected province in Pakistan was Balochistan, in terms of terrorism related fatalities. Balochistan recorded a total of 406 fatalities (88 civilians, 202 SF personnel and 116 terrorists) in 160 incidents of killing in 2022, as against 308 such fatalities (111 civilians, 107 SF personnel, and 90 terrorists) in 111 such incidents in 2021, registering an increase of 31.82 per cent in overall fatalities. In terms of SF fatalities, the 2022 tally is the highest since the SATP database started documenting fatalities in Pakistan.

The escalating attacks on SFs in Balochistan are substantially a consequence of the continuing frustration among Baloch nationalist groups over the systematic extermination of ethnic Baloch through enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings by Pakistan security agencies, in addition to the persistent neglect of the basic needs of the population. The annual report released on January 12, 2023, by Paank, the human rights organization of the Baloch National Movement (BNM), claimed that Pakistani forces in Balochistan forcibly disappeared 629 persons, extra-judicially killed 195, and tortured 187 people in 2022. 187 forcibly disappeared people were released from the torture cells of the Pakistani Army. Under the Universal Periodic Review process at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on January 30, 2023, member states called on Pakistan to stop enforced disappearances and other human rights abuses and demanded the protection of people.

Though the over-all security situation in Sindh remains relatively calm, echoes of the Baloch insurgency reverberated in Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh and commercial capital of the country, when Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) female Fidayeen (suicide cadre) Shaari Baloch aka Bramsh, from the Majeed Brigade (BLA’s suicide bomber squad), blew herself up near a van transporting Chinese nationals from a Karachi University (KU) hostel to the Confucius Institute, on April 26, 2022. Five persons, including three Chinese nationals, their Pakistani driver and a security guard, were killed.

Apart from this attack, terrorism-related incidents were at an all-time low in Sindh, with just 21 fatalities in 12 incidents recorded in 2022. Fatalities in 2021 totalled 28 in 13 incidents. The highest terrorism-related fatalities in the province were reported in 2013, when there were 1,656 such deaths.

However, street crime remained a major headache for the security establishment in Karachi, with as any as 85,000 incidents of armed street robberies recorded in the city in 2022. This was disclosed by Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, on January 5, 2023, while chairing the meeting of the Apex Committee during a mention of the crime data compiled by the Citizens Police Liaison Committee (CPLC). Over 100 persons lost their lives in these incidents, while more than 400 citizens suffered injuries. In 2021, Karachi recorded over 73,000 armed street robberies, resulting in the killing of 69 citizens and injuries to another 418.

The Punjab Province recorded the lowest number of terrorism-related fatalities in 2022. According to partial data compiled by the SATP database, Punjab recorded just 11 terrorism-linked fatalities in 2022, including 10 civilians and one terrorist, as against 20 fatalities, including nine civilians, six terrorists and five Security Force (SF) personnel in 2021. However, the threat of terrorism in the province is far from over, with the year 2023 starting on a violent note, as one TTP terrorist shot dead two Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officers posted in the Punjab Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) at a roadside restaurant on the National Highway, near Pirowal in Khanewal city (Khanewal District), on January 3. TTP ‘spokesman’ Mohammad Khorasani, in a statement to the media, stated, “Yesterday, a secret squad of TTP killed ISI Deputy Director Multan, Naveed Sadiq, along with his colleague Inspector Nasir Butt, at Bismillah Highway in Khanewal district of Punjab”.

While mainstream Islamist extremist groups took a back seat, blasphemy allegations continued to occur in the Punjab, as radicalisation remained rampant. While two incidents of blasphemy were reported in 2021, resulting in the death of one of the accused, 2022 recorded three blasphemy related incidents, with three of the accused done to death. Religious minorities in Punjab have long been under constant threat of abuse, abduction, rape and harassment by Islamist extremists. The abduction of minority girls for rape and forced conversion continues unabated in the province. According to a report titled “Conversion without Consent” released by Voice for Justice and Jubilee Campaign on December 10, 2022, as many as 100 cases of abduction, forced conversion, forced and child marriage of girls and women belonging to the Christian community, have been recorded between January 2019 and October 2022 in Pakistan.

While terrorism has declined sharply in Punjab and Sindh, insurgent and terrorist violence has escalated in the border provinces of KP and Balochistan. The Pakistan state and security establishment have been busy with the blame game over the deteriorating security situation, even as the likelihood of terrorism once again spilling over into the rest of Pakistan increases dramatically.

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