Netanyahu’s pledge “dangerous trend,” Pakistan warns at OIC meeting

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation consists of 57 member states. (AFP file photo)
Updated 16 September 2019

Netanyahu’s pledge “dangerous trend,” Pakistan warns at OIC meeting

  • Federal Minister Shafqat Mehmood drew strong parallels between situations in Kashmir and Palestine
  • Said contiguous Palestinian state with Jerusalem as capital only hope for peace

ISLAMABAD: The Israeli Prime Minister’s unilateral announcement of his intention to annex territories in the occupied West Bank as a re-election promise, “is a dangerous trend and threatens world peace and security,” said Pakistan’s Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training, Shafqat Mehmood, who led the country’s delegation during Sunday’s extraordinary meeting of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in Jeddah. 
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was not present at the meeting.
The 16th extraordinary meeting of its kind was called by the OIC Secretariat at the request of Saudi Arabia as Chair of the 14th Islamic Summit, following Netanyahu’s annexation pledge days ahead of a hotly contested election to be held on Tuesday. The meeting was chaired by the Saudi Foreign Minister, Dr. Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, a press release stated.
Mehmood “appealed to OIC members, United Nations and the international community to revive their obligation toward the people of Palestine,” and added that “the UN and the OIC members should condemn such irresponsible announcements, being used as party slogans in the election campaign, which can jeopardize peace in the region.”
Furthermore, Mehmood drew strong comparisons between the “unspeakable suffering” of the Kashmiri and Palestinian people who shared a history of “over seven decades of occupation” and drew attention to the communications blackout and arrests taking place in Indian-administered Kashmir since August 5th, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi moved to abrogate the region’s special legal status.
Mehmood reaffirmed Pakistan’s stance that the establishment of a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian state on the basis of internationally agreed parameters and with Jerusalem as its capital, was the “only way to bring peace and stability in Middle East.”

India’s Magsaysay award winner says ‘democracy is in danger’

Updated 07 October 2019

India’s Magsaysay award winner says ‘democracy is in danger’

  • Kumar is pained by the decline of independent institutions that have upheld the flags of democracy for more than seven decades

NEW DELHI: Ravish Kumar is nervous about the “danger that Indian democracy is facing today” and how “a systematic attempt is being made by the ruling establishment in Delhi to suppress all the dissenting voices in the country.

“Journalism prepares you to face the unknown everyday, so I was not really surprised when I got the call from the (Magsaysay) award committee,” Kumar said.

“The problem was that I was asked to keep it a secret until they had made a public announcement. It was painful to keep quiet for almost a month,” he told Arab News with a smile.

“When the news became public, I realized what I had been bestowed with. I feel the award is a vindication of trust in good journalism. People felt as if the award had been bestowed on them,” he added.

It is this concern for democracy and its institutions that earned Kumar the prestigious Magsaysay award for 2019.

Instituted in 1957, it is awarded every year by the Philippine government in memory of its former president Ramon Magsaysay for “integrity in governance, courageous service to the people and pragmatic idealism within a democratic society.”

Kumar, who works as a managing editor of India’s leading bilingual TV channel, NDTV, has created a niche for himself in the world of journalism with his daily primetime show, which draws huge audiences from across India. 

At a time when most mainstream TV channels and newspapers have stopped questioning the government and challenging its narrative, Kumar’s reporting takes a critical approach to the lawmakers.

For this constant critique of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the government does not send any of its spokespersons on his show or the channel.

He laments that a large section of the Indian media has become “an extended arm of the government and the mouthpiece of the establishment.”

For his outspoken attitude, Kumar and his family have received threats from “people who are subsidized by the ruling party.”

“I don’t have any hope for the media. It is dead in the country. Just a few are holding the placard of fearless journalism,” he said, adding that “the death of independent media has affected true reporting from Jammu and Kashmir.

“The situation in the region is so bad that after the abrogation of its special status, even the significant moderate voices in India have been pushed to the militant camps,” he said.

Describing the government’s policy on Kashmir as “brazen,” he questioned the “audacity of the government to hold local body elections in the valley when there is a complete lockdown.

Kumar is pained by the decline of independent institutions that have upheld the flags of democracy for more than seven decades, adding that he was aghast at the Supreme Court’s silence on the abrogation.

“Why is it taking so long for the apex court to intervene on the issue of the internet lockdown in the Kashmir valley? Can you imagine the American Supreme Court behaving the way the Indian judiciary is acting on such a crucial issue?” He asked.

He said that the decline of independent institutions such as the media, judiciary and election commission is gradually creating a democratic imbalance.

Kumar understands the award has given an extra responsibility on him and that he felt “burdened with expectations.” So great are those expectations, he has not ruled out entering politics.

“Politics is a good thing. I tell everyone to join politics,” he said, adding that his current responsibility is to “warn people about the danger that is lurking in Indian society.”