The Statesman – India questions rush to declare climate change as international security issue

India has been wary of the Council’s mission creep as it tries to extend its reach beyond what is allocated in the UN Charter by redefining other issues, even as it struggles to fulfil its primary functions.

United Nations – New York – USA, 26 January 2019. India has questioned the rush at the UN to declare climate change an international security issue, potentially giving the Security Council the right to take action on it, and pointed out the pitfalls in the approach.

A “mere decision of the Council” to takeover enforcement of climate change action would disrupt the Paris Agreement and multilateral efforts to find solutions, India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin told the Security Council on Friday.

India has been wary of the Council’s mission creep as it tries to extend its reach beyond what is allocated in the UN Charter by redefining other issues, even as it struggles to fulfil its primary functions.

Taking aim at the composition of the Council that does not reflect the contemporary world, Akbaruddin asked: “Can the needs of climate justice be served by shifting climate law-making from the inclusive UN Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) to decision-making by a structurally unrepresentative institution with an exclusionary approach decided in secretive deliberations?”

He said the main point of contention “is about what manner, which aspects and which global governance mechanisms are best suited to tackle these phenomena” and India favoured a cautious approach.

The Council was discussing the impact of climate-related disasters on international peace and security after the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peace building Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, said the trends of heat waves, heavier rain events, higher sea levels and severe damage to agriculture “represent a security risk for the entire world”.

“The relationship between climate-related risks and conflict is complex and often intersects with political, social, economic and demographic factors,” she said.

Akbaruddin pointed out that the UNFCC had found that “the evidence on the effect of climate change and variability on violence is contested”.

Making climate change an international security issue, he said “may help heighten public awareness. It may even help in surmounting opposition. But securitisation also carries significant downsides”.

Taking a security approach brings “overly militarised solutions to problems, which inherently require non-military responses”.

“It brings the wrong actors to the table. As the saying goes, ‘If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail’.”

Akbaruddin questioned if climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies could be carried out by enforcement actions of the Council as it was supposed to do with terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Would those who fail to their obligations under the Paris Agreement to cut their emissions or fail to provide obligatory financing for climate change programmes be be held accountable for climate change, he asked.

The US, a permanent member of the Council, has pulled out of the Paris Agreement and has cut back on aid for countering climate change.

Akbaruddin said that India supports cooperation and action that are consistent with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities to prevent and address serious disasters linked to climate.

The Tribune – Pakistan provincial government to turn Hari Singh Nalwa fort into museum

The fort in Haripur district was named after Hari Singh Nalwa, the commander-in-chief of the Sikh Khalsa Army, the army of the Sikh Empire.

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 25 January 2019. The government in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has decided to convert a historic fort built by a Sikh commander into a museum.

The fort in Haripur district was named after Hari Singh Nalwa, the commander-in-chief of the Sikh Khalsa Army, the army of the Sikh Empire.

The fort was built by Nalwa in 1822 over an area of 35,420 square feet.

Nalwa was Commander-in-Chief of the Sikh Khalsa Army, the army of the Sikh Empire. The archaeology department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa sent a note to Chief Minister Mehmood Khan for taking control of the fort and its opening for the tourists.

The Haripur district administration has expressed readiness to hand over the fort to the archaeology department.

The Britishers also carried out some construction work in the fort.

To Rotterdam Kralingse Veer – Guru Nanak Gurdwara

From Capelsebrug to Kralingseveer Gurdwara
30 December 2018

Citroën Deux Chevaux 4

In mint condition !

Grey heron not leaning on the lamppost

I should have turned right at the next junction

Two Nishan Sahibs seen from Neushoornstraat

Guru Nanak Gurdwara
Ottergracht 6
3064 LN Rotterdam
Zuid-Holland , The Netherlands

To see all my pictures:

More Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

India Today – American Sikhs protest pro-Khalistani group’s bid to burn Indian flag in Washington

The Indian Embassy will be hosting the 70th Republic Day on January 26 at the embassy where Ambassador Harsh Shringla will hoist the Indian Tricolour.

Washington DC – USA, 26 January 2019. The Sikh community in the United States has denounced and condemned the decision by a fringe group to burn the Indian national flag in a park, across the road from the Indian embassy in Washington.

The Indian Embassy will be hosting the 70th Republic Day on January 26 at the embassy where Ambassador Harsh Shringla will hoist the Indian Tricolour.

It is at the same time that pro-Khalistan group, Sikhs for Justice, has planned a ‘Burning of Indian Flag’ protest in the US capital and has also acquired requisite permissions to do the same.

Sikhs of America has called the act detrimental to peace and harmony.

“Sikhs of America condemns and denounces in the strongest terms the planned burning of the Indian flag on the occasion of India’s Republic Day outside the Indian embassy in Washington DC. Sikhs reside and have businesses not only all over India but also boast a global presence.

Such theatrical protests like flag burning are detrimental to the peace loving and harmony enhancing Sikh community everywhere,” the joint statement issued by Kamaljit Singh Soni, President along with Jesse Singh, Chairman of Sikhs of America, said.

“We urge Sikhs for Justice to have dialogue with the Indian government regarding any issues and desist from such petty actions,” the statement added.

The American Hindu Coalition also came out in strong condemnation of the plan to burn the Indian flag. The associaiton’s president, Harsh Sethi, who himself has a Sikh inheritance, in a statement, said, “The intent of flag burning is also an immense affront to the largest democracy on the earth and causing huge grief to the American Hindus.”

The statement also said that the entire AHC membership urged Sikhs for Justice to stop this act.

Speaking to India Today from DC, local Republican leader and Sikh American Puneet Ahluwalia expressed concern over the developments.

“I am disturbed and concerned that a chosen few can build a narrative about the Sikh community in USA which will be viewed by the whole world,” he said.

Suresh K Gupta, Chairman, National Council of Asian Indian Association (NCAIA) and President, Asian-American Inter Community Service, said, “I denounce this strongly and am outraged, at such behavior of others, in our community.”

This comes at a time when to counter the propaganda of the pro-Khalistani groups, the Indian mission in DC has received letters from Sikh organisations appreciating the efforts made by the Modi administration for delivering justice to the aggrieved families of the 1984 Sikh riots.

Kanwaljit Singh Soni, President, Sikhs of America, is a letter, said that with the recent court verdicts, the faith of the millions of Sikhs around the world has been restored in India’s judiciary system.

Speaking against these separatist organisations, Puneet Ahluwalia said, “No democracy is perfect but it is the conscious of the liberty loving citizens who should stand to protect and fight for it here and elsewhere. I am committed to support strong secular united India.”

“I understand that our nations constitution provides them with the freedom of speech. But I strongly believe that Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, and other minority communities are an integral part of India,” he added.

Dawn – Pakistan foreign policy 101

Ashraf Jehangir Qazi

Op/Ed, 26 January 2019. Foreign policy is the external aspect of national policy. It covers the whole gamut of global, regional and neighbourhood developments, movements and strategies.

When national policy is substandard it puts a ceiling on the success of foreign policy no matter how good it is.

Similarly, given the external dependency of Pakistan’s national policy, it cannot achieve its goals without a prioritised and resourced foreign policy.

Some aspects of external policy are primarily dealt with by specialised ministries, departments and services.

But the Foreign Office should not be held responsible for the negative consequences of bad decisions it had no part in taking. This often happens and is always at the cost of the national interest.

This is obvious. Yet in practice it is usually ignored. Why? The main reason is the unwillingness of corrupt or weak governments to take any risks for good governance, including good foreign policy.

This is the soft state syndrome. It is often a prelude to a failing state. It precludes serving the national interest. Powerful vested interests define the national interest and make foreign policy. What is to be done?

If the political system is made participatory and inclusive it will eventually find the right answers. If it remains elitist, exclusive and exploitative it will not. Changing the system, however, involves risk-taking.

Pakistan has 10 major external relationships. Primarily: India, China, the US, and Afghanistan; and significantly: Iran, the GCC countries, Russia, the European Union (which still includes the UK,) the Central Asian states, and the UN.

India is Pakistan’s major adversary. China is Pakistan’s only strategic partner. The US is still the world’s mightiest and only comprehensive global power. Afghanistan is a force multiplier for Pakistan’s security or insecurity. Iran confronts Pakistan with critical choices.

The GCC countries are a major source of remittances and ‘brotherly’ assistance which almost always entails an embarrassing price.

Russia in partnership with China is a significant counter-force to the US and its alliance with India. Moreover, it has the potential to bring about a less imbalanced Russian policy towards India and Pakistan.

The EU is a major market and the Pakistani community in the UK (and the US) can be a foreign policy asset.

Central Asia can provide ‘strategic depth’ to Pakistan’s connectivity-based diplomacy. Improving cooperation with Russia can help here also.

The UN may seem irrelevant. It is not. It is where a country’s image, profile and voice are confirmed and contested. It is the forum in which the credibility of a foreign policy is measured. Its agencies, funds and organisations can be important knowledge-intensive and problem-solving assets.

Due to space limitations only Pakistan’s four ‘primary’ relationships will be very briefly commented on.

India: The core issues for Pakistan are progress towards a Kashmir settlement acceptable to opinion in the Valley and radically improving the horrendous human rights situation there. For India it is Pakistan’s use of “terrorist proxies”.

These core issues need to be addressed to the satisfaction of each other if dialogue is to be meaningful. Finding common ground for a negotiating process to be sustainable is a challenge.

Indian interference in Balochistan is a fact. However, the Balochistan ‘problem’ is not of India’s making. It is due to institutionalised bad governance and exploitation over decades.

Pakistan should continue to extend its hand of cooperation irrespective of a lack of response from India. It should keep the LoC quiet as best it can. It should build on the Kartarpur initiative. It should extend normal trading or MFN rights as promised. This is arguably a WTO obligation also.

Pakistan should offer travel, communications, confidence and security-building (including regular nuclear and water-management) discussions and proposals. Let India take its time to respond. Pakistan cannot lose by being consistent and reasonable.

Realistic rather than provocative narratives need to be developed. The people of both countries need to get to know each other more directly instead of through warped images.

Differences need to be contained, addressed and reduced through a realistic working relationship. This will enable South Asia to meet the survival challenges of the 21st century.

The leaders of both countries should make appropriate statements, stay in touch, and unfold a range of innovative initiatives. If India demurs, even after its elections, that is its problem.

China: The BRI and CPEC are golden opportunities for Pakistan. But they are not magic wands. Moreover, no other country is willing to invest on such a scale in Pakistan.

Pakistan needs to look after its own interests without making disconcerting public statements. It needs to assure the Chinese that it is a reliable economic and strategic partner.

The China agenda

Chinese concerns are growing. They need to be addressed. Chinese and Pakistani ‘dreams’ need to be integrated into a shared vision through mutually reinforcing policies. The BRI is the context for CPEC. Similarly, CPEC is the context for the transformation of Pakistan.

Sensitive issues can be dealt with confidentially, judiciously and on the basis of complete mutual trust.

The US: It is a strategic ally of India. India is focused on Pakistan. The US is focused on China. America cannot be a strategic partner for Pakistan. But its friendship is beneficial while its hostility is harmful. Pakistan must work with the US for an Afghan settlement, in consultation with China.

Afghanistan: Pakistan cannot eliminate India from an Afghan settlement process. Nor should it try to. If Pakistan plays its cards right it will always have a stronger hand than India in Afghanistan.

The Afghan Taliban despite their current military successes are not the future of Afghanistan. Unless they cooperate for a settlement they cannot become a 21st-century asset for Pakistan.

India is justly regarded as a large neighbour with a small heart. Many Afghans see Pakistan similarly despite the massive Afghan goodwill accumulated during the Soviet occupation. Why?

Pakistan need not create a two-front situation for itself. Being large-hearted towards a smaller neighbour is actually good strategy. Specific issues are more easily resolved when the fundamentals are okay.

The writer is a former ambassador to the US, India and China and head of UN missions in Iraq and Sudan.

Published in: on January 27, 2019 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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