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Archive for February, 2020

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Dina M. Siddiqi, a professor of anthropology at New York University, says the monopoly of religious men and cherry-picked politicians speaking for India’s Muslims has been broken.

 

 

 

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Conviction of Hafiz Saeed by Asif Haroon Raja

Conviction of Hafiz Saeed

Asif Haroon Raja

 

 

The Anti-Terrorist Court (ATC) in Lahore under Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta convicted Hafiz Saeed on February 12 and jailed him for 11 years. His colleague Zafar Iqbal was also given 11 years jail term. 23 prosecution witnesses testified but none could provide any concrete evidence. The prosecutor maintained that Lashkar-e-Taeba (LeT) and Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) were two sides of the same coin and since LeT had been declared a proscribed organization vide UN resolution 1267 and put under sanctions, Pakistan being a member of the UN must take action. Despite the fact that the prosecution couldn’t prove the charge of terrorism, the two accused were declared guilty on account of being a member of a banned outfit, supporting and arranging meetings of a proscribed organization, illegal fundraising and buying properties from the raised funds. Besides Indian media, a segment of Pak media together with a handful of well-heeled liberals in Pakistan have been demonizing Hafiz Saeed and his JuD and presenting him an asset of the military establishment.   

Hafiz Saeed was the founder of LeT in the early 1990s, which was actively involved in armed Kashmiri freedom movement. Once LeT and some other Kashmir focused Jihadi groups like Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) were banned by Gen Musharraf under pressure from India and USA in 2002/03, Hafiz Saeed detached himself from LeT and created an educational & charitable outfit at Muredke near Lahore, which he named JuD. His set-up is open to all and all activities are transparent. He, however remained on the radar of India as well as the USA.

Between 2001 and 2008, all terror attacks in India were put in the basket of Azhar Masood led JeM or LeT.  The latter was blamed for the Mumbai attacks in November 2008. India also accused ISI that it trained and backed LeT. Since then, India has been constantly pressing Pakistan to punish Hafiz Saeed and other LeT leaders. At the behest of India, the UN and the US declared him a global terrorist and put $10 million bounty as his head money.  

Hafiz Saeed was arrested by Pak authorities 8 times since 2011 and put on trial but the courts couldn’t find any trace of his involvement in Mumbai attacks and had to be released. Neither India could furnish any proofs. Whatever evidence it sent was too flimsy and insufficient to convict him, but India duly backed by USA clung to its stance. 

India couldn’t supply any proofs because Mumbai attacks were masterminded by RAW-Mossad combine in collusion with CIA with a view to undermine the sudden flare-up of unarmed movement in IOK in the summer of 2008, get ISI declared a rogue outfit and Pakistan a terror abetting state. To make it look real, India made hue and cry, suspended composite dialogue and conditioned recommencement of talks to the conviction of the so-called accused. The USA also kept pressing and advising Pakistan to punish the accused to ease tension, renew the process of composite dialogue to resolve of Kashmir dispute and to return to normalcy.   

Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving accused was tried and hanged within the premises of jail without allowing Pakistani legal team or the Interpol to meet him. India’s claim that Kasab was a Pakistani hailing from village Faridkot was false. He had been kidnapped from Nepal by RAW sometime back and was put in a secret detention center for subsequent use.

The Mumbai drama was initially exposed by the officials of Indian Home Ministry led by Satish Sharma in 2011, who submitted affidavits in Indian Supreme Court asserting that the attacks were an in-house affair to achieve objectives against Pakistan. Fake Hindu saint Aseemanand undergoing the trial of Samjhota Express train blast in 2007 confessed that all the terror attacks in India were the handiwork of Indian terrorist group Abhinav led by Lt Col Purohit of which he was one of the members. Murdered Inspector Hemant Karkare had rounded up the gang and the case was under trial. He was murdered by unknown assassins on the night of 26 November 2008 in Mumbai and thereafter the case was closed and all the accused were set free. As if these revelations were not enough to expose India’s lies and its penchant for false flag operations, two books authored by Indian writers and one by German author spilt the beans.  

With so much incriminating material available, Pakistan was in a good position to put India on the mat and expose its ugly face. Unfortunately, PPP and PML-N governments opted to retain Pakistan’s traditional policy of appeasement. Instead of rebuking Indian bogus version, Indian narrative was agreed to. Several LeT leaders including Hafiz Saeed were arrested and put on trial. Apologetic and defensive stance emboldened India to continue whipping Pakistan under the charge of terrorism.

India under fascist Narendra Modi hardened its stance and stated that till such time Pakistan didn’t control terrorism, it will not talk on Kashmir. Modi forced Nawaz Sharif at Ufa in 2015 to exclude Kashmir from the agenda of future talks and to accord priority to the issue of terrorism. Pakistan’s meekness encouraged India, Afghanistan and USA to dub Pakistan a breeding ground and an epicentre of terrorism and most dangerous country in the world. These labels were given in spite of Pakistan security forces achieving remarkable results in fighting foreign-sponsored terrorist groups in FATA, Swat and Baluchistan and suffering the most.

Failing to suppress the liberation movement in IOK, India not only kept the Line of Control in Kashmir heated up but also broke all records of state terrorism and human rights against Kashmiris in IOK. Finding that Kashmir was slipping out of its hands, RAW conducted a false flag operation in Pulwama on February 14, 2019, which had three-fold objectives. To distract the attention of the world from its human rights abuses against Kashmiris and discredit freedom movement; secondly, to create the justification for a surgical strike inside Pakistan, and thirdly, to whip up anti-Pakistan emotions in India and enlarge the vote bank of BJP for elections in June.

Indian Mirage 2000s intruded in Balakot on February 24 last year under the pretext of taking revenge for Pulwama terror attack. The jets hurriedly released their bombs in a deserted place causing no damage or human casualty due to timely intervention of PAF jets. However, India claimed that it had destroyed a JeM camp. In reaction, PAF made a counter move on the night of 26 February by dropping missiles next to three sensitive targets inside IOK. Indian army chief Gen Bipin survived by the skin of his teeth. In the air duel, PAF pilots shot down one Su-30 and one MiG-21 and captured one pilot. India also lost one helicopter along with the crew due to its own firing. When India tried to strike 8 targets with Brahmo missiles on the night of 27th, Pakistan announced that it had marked 16 targets which took the air out of Modi’s jingoism. Smarting under series of humiliations, Modi ventured to make disputed IOK integral part of India on August 5, 2019, and is now threatening to annex AJK.         

Anguished over their failure to cow down Pakistan or to disable its nuclear program, the three strategic partners India, USA and Israel assisted by puppet regime in Kabul got further upset over the rapid progress made by CPEC. They see it as a dangerous monster capable of overturning their global ambitions. The trio is continuing with proxy war to bleed Pakistan and scuttle CPEC through random attacks. The 5th Generation Hybrid War was launched to create political destabilization, accentuate divisions in society, turn the youth against the army and spoil Pak-China relations.

Additionally, IMF and FATF were used as tools to meltdown Pakistan’s economy and to make it a compliant state. The IMF doled out $ 6 billion loans on stringent conditions forbidding it to use even a penny of the loan money on CPEC or to repay loans of China. The FATF after putting Pakistan in the grey list issued a long list of demands saying if these are not complied with, the country will be blacklisted. The list included the arrest and conviction of JeM head Azhar Masood, and Hafiz Saeed and other LeT leaders.

While India is leaving no stone unturned to put Pakistan in a blacklist, the US is quietly pulling the strings of FATF to keep Pakistan in the grey list for some more time. Alice Wells during her recent visit to Islamabad had admitted that the US would like to keep Pakistan under pressure through FATF till such time Pakistan agree to abide by its dictates.  She declared CPEC and friendship with China harmful for Pakistan.

The International Bully

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new economic and financial managers appointed on the choice of IMF carried out the heavy devaluation of the currency under the hope of boosting exports. They imposed heavy taxes, raised the prices of fuel, gas, and of daily commodities in order to generate revenues. These measures didn’t improve the health of the economy and made the lives of the people difficult. Desperate to uplift the sinking economy and to fulfil the promises made to the people, and to save from getting blacklisted, the cornered government hastened to arrest Hafiz Saeed.

After keeping him under detention for about six months, he was put on trial. The decision of the court was hailed by Alice Wells as well as Trump. India is also happy and sees it a triumph of its consistent efforts. India will now push for his trial on charges of attacks in Mumbai with a view to net ISI and Pakistan in the trap of terrorism.   

Making Hafiz Saeed a sacrificial goat just before the crucial meeting of FATF at Paris from 12-21 February in which Pakistan is hoping to get out of the grey list and become white go against principles and ethics.

For India, Hafiz Saeed has been a pain in the neck since he always raised his voice against Indian barbarities. As head of Difah Pakistan Council, he has been organizing big public meetings and rallies and has been a moving force behind the Kashmiri freedom struggle. His charity outfit Khidmat-e-Khalq provided immense assistance to the victims of natural calamities and was among the first to reach the stranded people caught in the devastating earthquake in AJK in 2005.  JuD has also been imparting free education to the poor and funds to the needy. He is held in high esteem among the Kashmiris living both sides of the divide and has a huge following in Pakistan.

His conviction has not been well received in J&K and by the majority of people in Pakistan particularly the Far Right. They view him as a philanthropist serving humanity, highly patriotic Pakistani and not a terrorist. They feel he has been jailed to please the USA and to mollify India. Already an impression is gaining currency that the government has betrayed the Kashmiris and that neither it is taking any action to provide relief to the marooned 8 million Kashmiris locked up in biggest open prison since August 5, nor it is allowing others to start a Jihad. Since Hafiz Saeed has never been convicted by courts on account of terrorism or funding terrorists, in all likelihood the decision of ATC if challenged might be overturned by Lahore High Court.

The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, defence and security analyst, columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Center, Member CWC and The Think Tank PESS. asifharoonraja@gmail.com            

       

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Declassified UK: Explainer: Is the UK a rogue state? 17 British policies violating domestic or international law by Mark Curtis

 

 

 

Declassified UK: Explainer: Is the UK a rogue state? 17 British policies violating domestic or international law

Mark Curtis


British foreign secretary Dominic Raab recently described the “rule of international law” as one of the “guiding lights” of UK foreign policy. By contrast, the government regularly chides states it opposes, such as Russia or Iran, as violators of international law. These governments are often consequently termed “rogue states” in the mainstream media, the supposed antithesis of how “we” operate.

The following list of 17 policies may not be exhaustive, but it suggests that the term “rogue state” is not sensationalist or misplaced when it comes to describing Britain’s own foreign and “security” policies.

These serial violations suggest that parliamentary and public oversight over executive policy-making in the UK is not fit for purpose and that new mechanisms are needed to restrain the excesses of the British state. 

The MQ-9 Reaper drone carries four laser-guided, air-to-ground 114 Hellfire missiles, a payload of up to 360kg. The UK has been operating a fleet since 2007 and has struck targets in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. (Photo: Chris Hunkeler / Flickr)

The Royal Air Force’s drone war

Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) operates a drone programme in support of the US involving a fleet of British “Reaper” drones operating since 2007. They have been used by the UK to strike targets in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. 

Four RAF bases in the UK support the US drone war. The joint UK and US spy base at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire, northern England, facilitates US drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia. US drone strikes, involving an assassination programme begun by president Barack Obama, are widely regarded as illegal under international law, breaching fundamental human rights. Up to 1,700 civilian adults and children have been killed in so-called “targeted killings”. 

Amnesty International notes that British backing is “absolutely crucial to the US lethal drones programme, providing support for various US surveillance programmes, vital intelligence exchanges and in some cases direct involvement from UK personnel in identifying and tracking targets for US lethal operations, including drone strikes that may have been unlawful”. 

Chagos Islands

Britain has violated international law in the case of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean since it expelled the inhabitants in the 1960s to make way for a US military base on Diego Garcia, the largest island. 

Harold Wilson’s Labour government separated the islands from then British colony Mauritius in 1965 in breach of a UN resolution banning the breakup of colonies before independence. London then formed a new colonial entity, the British Indian Ocean Territory, which is now an Overseas Territory.

In 2015, a UN Tribunal ruled that the UK’s proposed “marine protected area” around the islands — shown by Wikileaks publications to be a ruse to keep the islanders from returning — was unlawful since it undermined the rights of Mauritius. 

A group of Chagossians chant slogans as they attend a mass hosted by Pope Francis at the Monument of Mary Queen of Peace in Port Louis, Mauritius, 9 September 2019. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Dai Kurokawa)

Then in February 2019, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in an advisory opinion that Britain must end its administration of the Chagos islands “as rapidly as possible”. The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in May 2019 welcoming the ICJ ruling and “demanding that the United Kingdom unconditionally withdraw its colonial administration from the area within six months”. The UK government has rejected the calls.

Defying the UN over the Falklands (Malvinas Owned By Argentina, Stolen By the UK Through Naval Attack)

The UN’s 24-country Special Committee on Decolonisation — its principal body addressing issues concerning decolonisation — has repeatedly called on the UK government to negotiate a resolution to the dispute over the status of the Falklands. In its latest call, in June 2019, the committee approved a draft resolution “reiterating that the only way to end the special and particular colonial situation of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) is through a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom”. 

The British government consistently rejects these demands. Last year, it stated:

“The Decolonisation Committee no longer has a relevant role to play with respect to British Overseas Territories. They all have a large measure of self-government, have chosen to retain their links with the UK, and therefore should have been delisted a long time ago.”

In 2016, the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf issued a report finding that the Falkland Islands are located in Argentina’s territorial waters.

Israel and settlement goods

Although Britain regularly condemns Israeli settlements in the occupied territories as illegal, in line with international law, it permits trade in goods produced on those settlements. It also does not keep a record of imports that come from the settlements — which include wine, olive oil and dates — into the UK. 

UN Security Council resolutions require all states to “distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967”. The UK is failing to do this.

Palestinian activists sail on fishing boats during a protest against the Israeli siege imposed on Gaza Strip, west of Gaza City, 10 July 2018. (Photo: EPA)

Israel’s blockade of Gaza

Israel’s blockade of Gaza, imposed in 2007 following the territory’s takeover by Hamas, is widely regarded as illegal. Senior UN officials, a UN independent panel of experts, and Amnesty International all agree that the infliction of “collective punishment” on the population of Gaza contravenes international human rights and humanitarian law. 

Gaza has about 1.8 million inhabitants who remain “locked in” and denied free access to the remainder of putative Palestine (the West Bank) and the outside world. It has poverty and unemployment rates that reached nearly 75% in 2019.

Through its naval blockade, the Israeli navy restricts Palestinians’ fishing rights, fires on local fishermen and has intercepted ships delivering humanitarian aid. Britain, and all states, have an obligation “to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law” in Gaza. 

However, instead of doing so, the UK regularly collaborates with the navy enforcing the blockade. In August 2019, Britain’s Royal Navy took part in the largest international naval exercise ever held by Israel, off the country’s Mediterranean shore. In November 2016 and December 2017, British warships conducted military exercises with their Israeli allies.

Exports of surveillance equipment

Declassified revealed that the UK recently exported telecommunications interception equipment or software to 13 countries, including authoritarian regimes in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Oman. Such technology can enable security forces to monitor the private activities of groups or individuals and crack down on political opponents. 

The UAE has been involved in programmes monitoring domestic activists using spyware. In 2017 and 2018, British exporters were given four licences to export telecommunications interception equipment, components or software to the UAE.

UK arms export guidelines state that the government will “not grant a licence if there is a clear risk that the items might be used for internal repression”. Reports by Amnesty International document human rights abuses in the cases of UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman, suggesting that British approval of such exports to these countries is prima facie unlawful.

Arms exports to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has been accused by the UN and others of violating international humanitarian law and committing war crimes in its war in Yemen, which began in March 2015. The UK has licensed nearly £5-billion worth of arms to the Saudi regime during this time. In addition, the RAF is helping to maintain Saudi warplanes at key operating bases and stores and issues bombs for use in Yemen. 

Following legal action brought by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, the UK Court of Appeal ruled in June 2019 that ministers had illegally signed off on arms exports without properly assessing the risk to civilians. The court ruled that the government must reconsider the export licences in accordance with the correct legal approach.

The ruling followed a report by a cross-party House of Lords committee, published earlier in 2019, which concluded that Britain is breaking international law by selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and should suspend some export licences immediately.

Gallery

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leaves Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London, UK, 13 January 2020. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Facundo Arrizabalaga)

Julian Assange’s arbitrary detention and torture

In the case of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange — currently held in Belmarsh maximum-security prison in London — the UK is defying repeated opinions of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention  (WGAD) and the UN special rapporteur on torture.

The latter, Nils Melzer, has called on the UK government to release Assange on the grounds that officials are contributing to his psychological torture and ill treatment. Melzer has also called for UK officials to be investigated for possible “criminal conduct” as government policy “severely undermines the credibility of [its] commitment to the prohibition of torture… as well as to the rule of law more generally”.

The WGAD — the supreme international body scrutinising this issue — has repeatedly demanded that the UK government end Assange’s “arbitrary detention”. Although the UN states that WGAD determinations are legally binding, its calls have been consistently rejected by the UK government.

Covert wars

Covert military operations to subvert foreign governments, such as Britain’s years-long operation in Syria to overthrow the Assad regime, are unlawful. As a House of Commons briefing notes, “forcible assistance to opposition forces is illegal”.

A precedent was set in the Nicaragua case in the 1980s, when US-backed covert forces (the “Contras”) sought to overthrow the Sandinista government. The International Court of Justice held that a third state may not forcibly help the opposition to overthrow a government since it breached the principles of non-intervention and prohibition on the use of force.

As Declassified has shown, the UK is currently engaged in seven covert wars, including in Syria, with minimal parliamentary oversight. Government policy is “not to comment” on the activities of its special forces “because of the security implications”. The public’s ability to scrutinise policy is also restricted since the UK’s Freedom of Information Act applies an “absolute exemption” to special forces. This is not the case for allied powers such as the US and Canada.

Torture and the refusal to hold an inquiry

In 2018 a report by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee found that the UK had been complicit in cases of torture and other ill treatment of detainees in the so-called “war on terror”. The inquiry examined the participation of MI6 (the secret intelligence service), MI5 (the domestic security service) and Ministry of Defence (MOD) personnel in interrogating detainees held primarily by the US in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay during 2001-10. 

The report found that there were 232 cases where UK personnel supplied questions or intelligence to foreign intelligence agents after they knew or suspected that a detainee was being mistreated. It also found 198 cases where UK personnel received intelligence from foreign agents obtained from detainees whom they knew or suspected to have been mistreated. 

In one case, MI6 “sought and obtained authorisation from the foreign secretary” (then Jack Straw, in Tony Blair’s government) for the costs of funding a plane which was involved in rendering a suspect.

After the report was published, the government announced it was refusing to hold a judge-led, independent inquiry into the UK’s role in rendition and torture as it had previously promised to do. In 2019, human rights group Reprieve, together with Conservative and Labour MPs, instigated a legal challenge to the government over this refusal–which the High Court has agreed to hear.

The UN special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, has formally warned the UK that its refusal to launch a judicial inquiry into torture and rendition breaches international law, specifically the UN Convention Against Torture. He has written a private “intervention” letter to the UK foreign secretary stating that the government has “a legal obligation to investigate and to prosecute”. 

Melzer accuses the government of engaging in a “conscious policy” of co-operating with torture since 9/11, saying it is “impossible” the practice was not approved or at least tolerated by top officials.

Gallery

A demonstrator dressed in a Guantanamo Bay-like jumpsuit protests outside Downing Street in London, UK, 6 February 2010. Protesters marked the 8th anniversary of Briton Shaker Aamer’s detention in Guantanamo Bay. Aamer had been held in Guantanamo without a charge or trial since his arrest. (Photo: EPA / Andy Rain)

UK’s secret torture policy

The MOD was revealed in 2019 to be operating a secret policy allowing ministers to approve actions which could lead to the torture of detainees. The policy, contained in an internal MOD document dated November 2018, allows ministers to approve passing information to allies even if there is a risk of torture, if “the potential benefits justify accepting the risk and legal consequences”.

This policy also provides for ministers to approve lists of individuals about whom information may be shared despite a serious risk they could face mistreatment. One leading lawyer has said that domestic and international legislation on the prohibition of torture is clear and that the MOD policy supports breaking of the law by ministers.

Amnesty for crimes committed by soldiers

There is a long history of British soldiers committing crimes during wars. In 2019 the government outlined plans to grant immunity for offences by soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland that were committed more than 10 years before. 

These plans have been condemned by the UN Committee Against Torture, which has called on the government to “refrain from enacting legislation that would grant amnesty or pardon where torture is concerned. It should also ensure that all victims of such torture and ill-treatment obtain redress”. 

The committee has specifically urged the UK to “establish responsibility and ensure accountability for any torture and ill-treatment committed by UK personnel in Iraq from 2003 to 2009, specifically by establishing a single, independent, public inquiry to investigate allegations of such conduct.” 

The government’s proposals are also likely to breach UK obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, which obliges states to investigate breaches of the right to life or the prohibition on torture.

Gallery

A mural by Banksy around a phone box in Cheltenham, the home of GCHQ, Britain’s signals intelligence agency. (Photo: Flickr)

GCHQ’s mass surveillance

Files revealed by US whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 show that the UK intelligence agency GCHQ had been secretly intercepting, processing and storing data concerning millions of people’s private communications, including people of no intelligence interest — in a programme named Tempora. Snowden also revealed that the British government was accessing personal communications and data collected by the US National Security Agency and other countries’ intelligence agencies.

All of this was taking place without public consent or awareness, with no basis in law and with no proper safeguards. Since these revelations, there has been a long-running legal battle over the UK’s unlawful use of these previously secret surveillance powers.

In September 2018, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that UK laws enabling mass surveillance were unlawful, violating rights to privacy and freedom of expression. The court observed that the UK’s regime for authorising bulk interception was incapable of keeping “interference” to what is “necessary in a democratic society”.

The UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the body which considers complaints against the security services, also found that UK intelligence agencies had unlawfully spied on the communications of Amnesty International and the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa.

In 2014, revelations also confirmed that GCHQ had been granted authority to secretly eavesdrop on legally privileged lawyer-client communications and that MI5 and MI6 adopted similar policies. The guidelines appeared to permit surveillance of journalists and others deemed to work in “sensitive professions” handling confidential information.

MI5 personal data

In 2019, MI5 was found to have for years unlawfully retained innocent British people’s online location data, calls, messages and web browsing history without proper protections, according to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office which upholds British privacy protections. MI5 had also failed to give senior judges accurate information about repeated breaches of its duty to delete bulk surveillance data, and was criticised for mishandling sensitive legally privileged material. 

The commissioner concluded that the way MI5 was holding and handling people’s data was “undoubtedly unlawful”. Warrants for MI5’s bulk surveillance were issued by senior judges on the understanding that the agency’s legal data handling obligations were being met — when they were not.

“MI5 have been holding on to people’s data—ordinary people’s data, your data, my data — illegally for many years,” said Megan Goulding, a lawyer for rights organisation Liberty, which brought the case. “Not only that, they’ve been trying to keep their really serious errors secret — secret from the security services watchdog, who’s supposed to know about them, secret from the Home Office, secret from the prime minister and secret from the public.”

Gallery

Director-General of the British security service MI5, Andrew Parker, speaks during a conference in Berlin, Germany, 14 May 2018. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Omer Messinger)

Intelligence agencies committing criminal offences

MI5 has been operating under a secret policy that allows its agents to commit serious crimes during counter-terrorism operations in the UK, according to lawyers for human rights organisations bringing a case to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

The policy, referred to as the “third direction”, allows MI5 officers to permit the people they have recruited as agents to commit crimes in order to secure access to information that could be used to prevent other offences being committed. The crimes potentially include murder, kidnap and torture and have operated for decades. MI5 officers are, meanwhile, immune from prosecution.

A lawyer for the human rights organisations argues that the issues raised by the case are “not hypothetical”, submitting that “in the past, authorisation of agent participation in criminality appears to have led to grave breaches of fundamental rights”. He points to the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, an attack carried out by loyalist paramilitaries, including some agents working for the British state.

The ‘James Bond clause’

British intelligence officers can be authorised to commit crimes outside the UK. Section 7 of the 1994 Intelligence Services Act vacates UK criminal and civil law as long as a senior government minister has signed a written authorisation that committing a criminal act overseas is permissible. This is sometimes known as the “James Bond clause”. 

British spies were reportedly given authority to break the law overseas on 13 occasions in 2014 under this clause. GCHQ was given five authorisations “removing liability for activities including those associated with certain types of intelligence gathering and interference with computers, mobile phones and other types of electronic equipment”. MI6, meanwhile, was given eight such authorisations in 2014.

Gallery

Two cadets from the UK military raise funds for the Royal British Legion on New Market Street, Chorley, UK, 2015. (Photo: Flickr)

Underage soldiers

Britain is the only country in Europe and Nato to allow direct enlistment into the army at the age of 16. One in four UK army recruits is now under the age of 18. According to the editors of the British Medical Journal, “there is no justification for this state policy, which is harmful to teen health and should be stopped”. Child recruits are more likely than adult recruits to end up in frontline combat, they add.

It was revealed in 2019 that the UK continued to send child soldiers to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan despite pledging to end the practice. The UK says it does not send under-18s to warzones, as required by the UN Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, known as the “child soldiers treaty”. 

The UK, however, deployed five 17-year-olds to Iraq or Afghanistan between 2007 and 2010: it claims to have done so mistakenly. Previous to this, a minister admitted that teenagers had also erroneously been sent into battle between 2003 and 2005, insisting it would not happen again.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern at the UK’s recruitment policy in 2008 and 2016, and recommended that the government “raise the minimum age for recruitment into the armed forces to 18 years in order to promote the protection of children through an overall higher legal standard”. Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, the children’s commissioners for the four jurisdictions of the UK, along with children’s rights organisations, all support this call. DM

Mark Curtis is editor of Declassified UK and tweets at @markcurtis30

 

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Pakistan sailing in choppy waters by Brig.Gen(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

Pakistan sailing in choppy waters

Asif Haroon Raja

 

After 9/11, the US in league with NATO, Israel and India initiated the global war on terror under the pretext of making the world safe, secure and peaceful. The hidden objectives of the adventurers were to destroy militarily and economically strong Muslim nations, rob their resources and to neo-colonize the Muslim world. Pakistan was not included in the declared axis of evil since, without its intimate cooperation, Afghanistan could not be occupied. However, the main objective of Indo-US-Israel nexus was to destabilize and denuclearize Pakistan and to make it a compliant state.  

In the last 18 years, several Muslim countries have been destroyed. Pakistan has been badly mauled on account of its decision to fight the US imposed war on its soil against own people, hoping to make Pakistan strong and prosperous. Nothing of the sort has happened.

Pakistan continues to sail in choppy waters and is faced with multiple challenges both on internal and external fronts. Internally, the political situation is murky, the economy is in a crunch, the debt burden is too heavy, 18th Amendment is becoming a threat to the federation on account of fissiparous tendencies in smaller provinces where RAW has made deep inroads, CPEC has lost its vigour and PTM has emerged as a new threat. People are getting disillusioned due to unfulfilled promises made by the incumbent govt. Life of the people living below the poverty line is becoming unbearable due to high inflation and price hike. The lower/ middle classes are feeling the pinch of soaring prices of daily commodities, heavy utility bills and increasing unemployment. After the passage of 17 months, the people see no change in the so-called Naya Pakistan as the overall socio-economic conditions have worsened. Hopes of better days in 2020 are fading in the wake of Coronavirus which will impact Pakistan’s economy and CPEC. 

Externally, India is continuing to maintain a highly belligerent posture. The LoC in Kashmir remains hot as ever. In each exchange of fire, civilians living close to LoC and soldiers lose lives or get injured. Dreaming of converting Bharat into a Hindu State, the fascist regime of Modi has introduced a discriminatory Citizenship law which is entirely Muslim specific.

The northwestern front remains unstable due to cross border terrorism patronized by RAW-NDS, backed by the CIA. The Afghan Taliban are smelling victory which is within their grasping reach. They have forced the US to sign a peace deal and arrive at a political settlement. While insisting upon the occupying forces to exit, they have refused to hold direct talks with the Afghan unity regime which in their view is illegitimate. They are also refusing to ceasefire permanently till the signing of peace agreement duly guaranteed by regional powers and complete withdrawal of occupation forces.

Pakistan is going out of the way to help the US to extract maximum concessions from the Taliban who have for all practical purposes won the war and are in a position to dictate terms. For unknown reasons, Pakistan in its bid to win the affections of untrustworthy USA is pressing the Taliban to agree to the terms of the USA and is also requesting the USA not to exit without making Afghanistan stable. This is incomprehensible since the US is among the spoilers wanting to keep Afghanistan unstable and to prolong its stay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our southern backyard has also become turbulent because of Trump’s belligerence and deployment of US forces in the Persian Gulf. The killing of Iranian and Iraqi commanders by the US drone and Iran’s retaliatory strikes on the US military bases in Iraq together with ongoing protests in Iraq have made the situation grave.  

Both Israel and India are the worst abusers of human rights and use state terrorism, torture and rapes as tools to subdue the Palestinians and Kashmiris. The US patronise both and brazenly defends their crimes against humanity. Trump has now come with a highly discriminatory Middle East peace plan which wholly favours Israel. Tomorrow, he will float another peace plan to resolve Kashmir dispute which will be entirely in favour of India.

We have gladly accepted the mediation offer of untrustworthy Trump. He must not be trusted to mediate in Kashmir. He is in a position to pressurize India but has done nothing to lessen the pains of Kashmiris and in a way has tacitly accepted the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A as well as Indian policy of subjugation of Kashmiris.

Trump is trying to convince our leadership that in order to save AJK and GB, it will be advisable for Pakistan to accept the LoC as the permanent border and that he will extend full support in this regard. This option was given to ZA Bhutto by Indira Gandhi in 1972, but he shrewdly pushed it aside by converting Ceasefire Line into LoC and accepted policy of bilateral-ism, which of course helped India to keep delaying the resolution of the dispute and finally claim that the UN resolutions had become outdated.

Nawaz Sharif (NS) was close to agreeing on Chenab Formula after the visit of Vajpayee to Lahore in Feb 1999. Likewise, Gen Musharraf in his exuberance to settle the dispute, threw away Pakistan’s stance based on UN Resolutions out of the window and offered out of box solution which in many ways accepted the conversion of LoC into a border.

Each time, Pakistani leaders ignored the Kashmiris who are the main stakeholders and without their consent no lasting solution or peace is possible. I pray our present leaders do not tread the wrong path of NS and Musharraf and insist on giving the right of self-determination to the Kashmiris and let them decide their future course of action.

Gen Ziaul Haq fought the Afghan Jihad in the 1980s in Afghanistan and kept the control levers in the hands of ISI only. Contrarily, Gen Musharraf agreed to fight war on terror on Pak soil, whereas the battleground was Afghanistan. He also let six foreign intelligence agencies based in Kabul to manage the war in which ISI was kept out. Indo-US-Israel-Afghan nexus have a dangerous agenda against Pakistan, but Musharraf mistook them as friends of Pakistan and kept doing more to please the USA. As a result, Pakistan suffered grievously and is still suffering since it has still not come out of the magic spell of USA.

Modi has been threatening to deprive Pakistan of a single drop of water from Rivers Chenab and Jhelum. India can accomplish its objective if it occupies a major chunk of AJK. The Indian Army Chief and Modi have given open threats of annexing AJK in 7-10 days. This threat has been given in the backdrop of concentration of 9 lacs forces in Kashmir.

So far Pakistan seems to have not worked out any strategy to deal with Indian bellicosity and its dangerous designs. We are working on the policy of wait and see and seem to be hoping for divine help. Myopia and inaction amount to criminal negligence.

Indian Occupied Kashmir has been in a locked-down for six months, but so far no steps in Indian Occupied Kashmir have been taken to provide relief to the marooned 8 million Kashmiris, to keep them motivated and the freedom movement alive.

We have so far done little to prepare the people of AJK and GB for the impending war. Instead of carrying out war preparations and imparting military training to students of schools and colleges, activating civil defence forces and motivating volunteers, a policy of restraint has been adopted and people are advised to stay calm.

Likewise, our policy of taking no covert or overt action after the absorption of IOK by India on August 5, 2019, and now waiting for the Indian military to attack AJK and GB and then give a befitting response is a defensive policy.

There are no plans to exploit the Godsend opportunity that has come our way in the form of nationwide protests in India coupled with numerous separatist movements and insurgencies. India has become a tinderbox and needs a matchstick to put it on fire.

Are we hoping that India will change its goals against Pakistan, or are waiting for the US help which after bleeding us in the war on terror has now tightened the noose of IMF-FATF around Pakistan’s neck or China’s help which is unfortunately caught up in Coronavirus crisis? Will it be better to fight the war on home ground or in IOK?

So far the Kashmiris on both sides of the divide hate India and love Pakistan. These sentiments may not last long if we adopt a passive attitude. Nationwide protests in India against highly discriminatory CAA Bill and calls for independence in the northeastern states of India together with downslide in the Indian economy have flustered Indian leadership. It is an opportunity of the century which may not come again. In our quest for peace with India without any reciprocity and to present ourselves as good boys before the world, we have no intention of exploiting the ongoing vulnerabilities of India. On the other hand, India creates or blows up our vulnerabilities and never let’s go any opportunity that comes it is a way to harm Pakistan.

Besides making all-out efforts to stabilize our home-front which at the moment is divided, and providing relief to the people, we need to adopt offensive defence military policy coupled with proactive and aggressive diplomatic policy and independent foreign policy. While maintaining friendly relations with the US, our emphasis should shift from the west to the east. We can rely on China, Turkey, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and can easily bring Iran and Russia in our loop, both having given ample hints to forge deeper relations.

The writer is a retired Brig Gen of Pakistan Army. He is veteran, defence, security & political analyst, columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Center, and Member CWC & Think Tank PESS.

asifharoonraja@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kashmir Solidarity: Day: Rogue Indian Army Lockdown Internationalized the Issue By Sajjad Shaukat

Kashmir Solidarity: Day: Rogue Indian Army Lockdown Internationalized the Issue

By Sajjad Shaukat

 

Since 1990, the 5th of February is being observed by the Kashmiris on both side of the Line of Control (LoC) and all over the world, including their Pakistani brethren as the Kashmir Solidarity Day to pay homage to Kashmiri martyrs and to show solidarity with the freedom fighters who are demanding their legitimate right of self-determination, as recognized by the UN resolutions.

 

This time, this very day is coming at a time when almost six months have been passed. But, Indian forces have continued lockdown and curfew in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). More restrictions have been imposed in the wake of shortage of foods and even medicines for the patients. In order to hide human rights violations, communication services (Especially Internet) have been cut off from the world and foreign journalists are not allowed to enter that region. 

 

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Indian forces have broken all previous records of gross human rights abuses since August 5, 2019, when Indian extremist Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government ended the special status of the Jammu and Kashmir by abolishing articles 35A and 370 of the Constitution to turn Muslim majority into a minority in the Indian Controlled Kashmir. While, Indian fanatic rulers are also escalating tensions with Pakistan to divert attention from the drastic situation of the Indian Held Kashmir, and have continued shelling inside Pakistani side of Kashmir by violating the ceasefire agreement in relation to the LoC. Besides, implementing the August 5 announcement, the Indian central government issued a notorious map on October 31, 2019. In accordance with it, Jammu and Kashmir were bifurcated into two union territories—Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

 

However, during the partition of the Sub-continent, the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) which comprised Muslim majority decided to join Pakistan according to the British-led formula. But, Dogra Raja, Sir Hari Singh, a Hindu who was ruling over the J&K in connivance with the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Governor General Lord Mountbatten joined India.

 

The design to forcibly wrest Kashmir began to unfold on August 16, 1947, with the announcement of the Radcliffe Boundary Award. It gave the Gurdaspur District—a majority Muslim area to India to provide a land route to the Indian armed forces to move into Kashmir. There was a rebellion in the state forces, which revolted against the Maharaja and were joined by Pathan tribesmen. Lord Mountbatten ordered armed forces to land in Srinagar. Indian forces invaded Srinagar on October 27, 1947, and forcibly occupied Jammu and Kashmir in utter violation of the partition plan and against the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

 

When Pakistan responded militarily against the Indian aggression, on December 31, 1947, India made an appeal to the UN Security Council to intervene and a ceasefire which ultimately came into effect on January 01, 1949, following UN resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir. The Security Council adopted resolution 47 (1948) of April 21, 1948, which promised a plebiscite under UN auspices to enable the people of Jammu and Kashmir to determine whether they wish to join Pakistan or India. On February 5, 1964, India backed out of its promise of holding a plebiscite. Instead, in March 1965, the Indian Parliament passed a bill, declaring Kashmir a province of India-an integral part of the Indian union.

 

The very tragedy of Kashmiris had started after 1947 when they were denied their genuine right of self-determination. They organised themselves against the injustices of India and launched a war of liberation which New Delhi tried to suppress through various forms of state terrorism.

 

Passing through various phases, the struggle of Kashmiris which has become an interaction between the Indian state terrorism led by the Indian security forces and war of liberation by the freedom fighters keeps on going unabated.

 

It is notable that since 1947, in order to maintain its illegal control, India has continued its repressive regime in the Occupied Kashmir through various machinations. In this regard, as already mentioned that India forcibly occupied Kashmir in gross violation of the “Partition Plan of the Indian Subcontinent, but, through the so-called-Instrument of Accession of October 27, 1947 which is illegal, and remains controversial, New Delhi justifies its hold on the Kashmir.

 

Nevertheless, various forms of state terrorism have been part of a deliberate campaign by the Indian army and paramilitary forces against Muslim Kashmiris, especially since 1989. It has been manifested in brutal tactics like crackdowns, curfews, illegal detentions, massacre, targeted killings, sieges, burning the houses, torture, disappearances, rape, breaking the legs, molestation of Muslim women and killing of persons through fake encounter.

 

In fact, Indian forces have employed various draconian laws like the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, and the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act in killing the Kashmiri people, and for the arbitrarily arrest of any individual for an indefinite period. Besides Human Rights Watch, in its various reports, Amnesty International has also pointed out grave human rights violations in the Indian controlled Kashmir, indicating, “The Muslim majority population in the Kashmir Valley suffers from the repressive tactics of the security forces”.

 

In its report on July 2, 2015, the Amnesty International has highlighted extrajudicial killings of the innocent persons at the hands of Indian security forces in the Indian Held Kashmir. The report points out, “Tens of thousands of security forces are deployed in Indian-administered Kashmir…the Armed Forces Special Powers Act allows troops to shoot to kill suspected militants or arrest them without a warrant…not a single member of the armed forces has been tried in a civilian court for violating human rights in Kashmir…this lack of accountability has, in turn, facilitated other serious abuses…India has martyred one 100,000 people. More than 8,000 disappeared (while) in the custody of army and state police.”

 

In this respect, the European Union has passed a resolution about human rights abuses committed by Indian forces in the Indian held Kashmir.

 

It is of particular attention that in 2008, a rights group reported unmarked graves in 55 villages across the northern regions of the Indian-held Kashmir. Then researchers and other groups reported finding thousands of mass graves without markers. In this context, in August 2011, Indian Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission officially acknowledged in its report that innocent civilians killed in the two-decade conflict have been buried in unmarked graves.

 

Foreign sources and human rights organisations have revealed that unnamed graves include those innocent persons, killed by the Indian military and paramilitary troops in the fake encounters, including those who were tortured to death by the Indian secret agency RAW. In the recent past, more unmarked graves have been discovered.

 

It is worth-mentioning that report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released on June 14, 2018-“Situation in Kashmir” pointed out Indian atrocities in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). It said: “From July 2016, the High Commissioner for Human Rights has on numerous occasions requested the Governments of India and Pakistan that his Office be given unconditional access to Kashmir to assess the human rights situation. India rejected this request; while Pakistan offered access…The refusal to allow unhindered access to United Nations team into Indian-Administered-Kashmir gave rise to an idea of “Remote Monitoring”. The report was then compiled by doing “remote monitoring” on the situation of Human Rights in Kashmir. The report by the independent authority is an eye-opener for many. The focus of the report is on the situation of human rights in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir from July 2016 to April 2018. During this period ‘OHCHR’ received reports of allegations of widespread and serious human rights violations by Indian security forces that led to numerous civilian casualties.

 

Notably, in the World Report 2020, Human Rights Watch said on January 14, this year, “The Bharatiya Janata Party-led Indian government’s actions over the past year [2019] have caused enormous suffering and rights violations…its unilateral revocation of Kashmir’s special constitutional status and the use of draconian laws to silence criticism…The Indian government has tried to shut down Kashmir, hiding the full extent of the harm caused there,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch.”

 

Especially, in his address at the UN General Assembly, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said on September 27, 2019: “Modi’s entire election campaign revolved around an anti-Pakistan narrative…Illegally, they [India] revoked Article 370 which gave Kashmir the special status…they put eight million people under curfew…what RSS is. Modi is a life member [of RSS]…It is an organisation inspired by Hitler and Mussolini. They believe in racial purity and superiority. They believe they are an Aryan race…They believe in the ethnic cleansing of Muslims…[Nearly] 100,000 Kashmiris have died in the past 30 years because they were denied their right of self-determination. Eleven thousand women were raped….The world hasn’t done anything…After the curfew is lifted…What is going to happen will be a blood bath. The people will come out in the streets…The soldiers will then shoot them. They have already used pellet guns…What about the 1.3bn Muslims watching this who know this is only happening because they are Muslims?…. What would the Jews of Europe think if 8,000 Jews were stuck…Among the 1.3bn (Muslims) someone will pick up arms…Muslims will become radicals because of this, not because of Islam…. You are forcing people into radicalization…Two nuclear countries will come face to face. If a conventional war starts between the two countries…When a nuclear country fights till the end it has consequences far beyond the borders”.

In his third meeting with the US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of World Economic Forum in Davos on January 21, 2020, Prime Minister Khan has once again expressed his desire for mediation by the US on the Kashmir issue between Pakistan and India by remarking: “Pakistan-India conflict is a very big issue for us in Pakistan and we expect the US to play its part in de-escalating the tensions because no other country can.” In response, President Trump once again stated: “We’re talking about Kashmir…if we can help, we certainly will be helping. We’ve been watching that and following it very, very closely.”

 

Meanwhile, Indian extremist Prime Minister Modi’s government led by the extremist party BJP is propagating that there is a strong likelihood of a major terrorist attack from Pakistan in India.  In fact, such a fake drama India, itself, will arrange to implicate Pakistan in order to divert the attention from the perennial military clampdown in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. India’s preplanned drama to involve Islamabad has been exposed even by Indian media on January 12, this year. But, despite it, Indian fundamental rulers can implement their scheme of false flag operation, as Pakistan’s civil and military leaders have repeatedly warned the international community about it. In this connection, Kashmir remains a nuclear flashpoint.

 

Nonetheless, it is owing to the efforts of Islamabad that rights groups, leaders of the foreign countries, the UN and external media have been continually pointing out the plight of the Kashmiris, particularly in the aftermath of the military clampdown in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. The parliaments of some Western countries have also passed resolutions in this regard. EU parliament has also prepared a draft of the resolution which is likely to be passed in March, this year. 

 

We can conclude that the 5th of February is being celebrated as the Kashmir Solidarity Day to pay homage to Kashmiri martyrs and to display solidarity with the freedom fighters who are demanding their legitimate right of self-determination, as recognized by the UN resolutions. Unlike the past, this time, Pakistan is, especially, observing this day through various programmes, a seminar in Islamabad etc., while country’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has requested the people to demonstrate their support through protest-marches and public processions for the cause of Kashmir, as now, Indian lockdown has internationalized the Kashmir issue.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: The US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

 

 

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

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