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Opinion Pieces at the News International Pakistan

Justice for Black Americans – Published April 28, 2021

On April 20, a 12-person jury in Minneapolis gave its verdict in the trial of police officer Derek Chauvin. The jury rendered a guilty verdict on all three counts in the murder of George FloydAlmost a year ago, the entire world had witnessed the harrowing video of the killing of Floyd by officer Chauvin when he pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes.

The reason this killing came to light was because a teenage girl who happened to be passing by, stopped and recorded the entire spectacle.With this guilty verdict the country felt a sigh of relief. There was fear that the killing of yet another unarmed Black man would go unpunished. Such an outcome would have caused a violent uprising across America. Read more…

 

Democracy in Peril – published on April 14, 2021

The last twelve months have seen unprecedented assaults on American democracy, starting with a sitting president claiming the only way he could lose was if there was major rigging of the presidential election.

Throughout the months leading up to the November 2020 elections, Trump continued to sow doubt about the elections, even before a single vote was cast. And when the election was over, he refused to accept the results. Aided by a chorus of rightwing media, he has managed to create an alternate universe for his supporters.

Now almost three months after Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th American president, Donald Trump and his supporters refuse to go away, continuing their assault on key pillars of the democratic system. More than 60 cases filed by the Trump campaign were rejected by courts across the country. This would have been enough for any reasonable people. But these are not reasonable people. More than half of all Republicans continue to believe that Trump won the election, and that it was stolen from him. This is a party that has mastered the art of creating alternate facts. This process of undermining trust in the truth didn’t start with Trump but he has turbocharged it. Read more…

Shifting Geopolitics – Published on March 31, 2021

Last week, Iran and China signed a massive economic pact. Under this agreement, China will invest $400 billion in several sectors in Iran over the next 25 years.

In exchange Iran will provide oil to China on favorable terms. This brings to fruition the approach initiated by Chinese President Xi towards Iran in 2016. At that time, having just completed an agreement with global powers which were supposed to open Iran to Western investment, Iran was reluctant to engage with China.

Now that the previous US administration has blown up the so-called Iran nuclear deal, Iran felt free, even eager, to respond positively to Chinese outreach. The new Biden Administration has shown eagerness to revive the 2015 deal with Iran, but it may be too late to revive it as originally agreed. One can hardly blame Iran for being suspicious of any new agreement it may sign with the US. After all, it only takes one US election cycle for any agreement to be trashed by a new administration. Read more…

Role of Government – Published on March 17, 2021

Last week, the US Congress approved the $1.9 trillion American Relief Plan (ARP) proposed by President Biden to pull the country out of the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic. It includes funds for low-income individuals, and for vaccinations, as well as for public schools and state and local governments that have been struggling to provide services.

ARP was approved by the slimmest of margins in both houses of Congress, passing solely with Democratic votes. Not a single Republican voted for this bill, finding many things to criticize – “it is too costly”, “has too much money for things not affected by the pandemic”, etc. Having ignored $8 trillion added to the national debt by the Trump administration over four years, the Republicans have suddenly discovered fiscal responsibility. It appears fiscal responsibility becomes important to them only when Democrats are in power. Read more…

America and the Middle East – published on March 2, 2021

Americans often fret at the never-ending US entanglements in the Middle East. The region is considered “beyond repair”, with little regard to the US role in the dysfunction. There appear to be several seemingly disconnected episodes in the Middle East that keep drawing the US into its vortex.

On February 25, the Biden Administration launched an air attack on an Iranian-backed militia in eastern Syria, killing 22 and destroying infrastructure. This in response to recent rocket attacks by these militias against American contractors at the Erbil airport in Iraq which killed and injured several contract employees. These attacks and the American response take place against the backdrop of delicate posturing about the Iran nuclear deal. Read more…

 

US in Afghanistan – Published on February 16, 2021

Very soon after taking office in 2009, President Obama appointed Richard Holbrooke as special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This ‘Af-Pak’ setup showed a lack of understanding of how Pakistan-India tensions factor into any resolution of the Afghanistan crisis. US policy in Pakistan’s neighborhood is again starting to take shape as key players in the new administration are settling into their roles. Many of them are carry-overs from the Obama Administration. Read more…

Pakistan and the US – Published on February 2, 2021

Most of the key foreign policy posts in the Biden administration have now been filled. A conversation has started in Pakistan as to how best to manage this important relationship to the advantage of Pakistan. Many are talking about how much ‘leverage’ Pakistan has over the US, particularly given their continued presence in Afghanistan.

This would be the wrong place to start. Incoming US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan recently said that three countries of prime foreign policy significance to the US are Afghanistan, Iran and China. This places Pakistan in a critical geographical position. Read more…

Trump’s Legacy – Published on January 19, 2021

At noon on January 20 the presidency of Donald Trump will have come to an end and this one-term, twice-impeached president will be gone.

From the day he launched his campaign in 2015, it was clear he was going to be an unconventional president, the likes of which the country hadn’t seen. He launched his candidacy with a hateful tirade against Mexican immigrants and promised to ban the entry of all Muslims. He repeatedly attacked the media when he felt they were not sufficiently supportive of him. Yet, it was felt that, should he win, the honor and prestige of the office would moderate him. Read more…

America’s week of shame – Published on January 12, 2021

Throughout its history and certainly in modern times, the US has been through many crises – including some resulting in significant violence and unrest; from the civil rights and anti-war protests of the 60s and 70s to the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974. However, through it all there has never been any doubt about the peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next.

This started to change when following the presidential election of last November, President Trump refused to accept the results and commit to a peaceful transition. Using the vast reach of his Twitter account, he announced the election was totally rigged – without providing any evidence. All lawsuits brought by his campaign were dismissed and election results were certified by all fifty states in mid-December as required by law. Read more…

Good for Pakistan – Published on January 7, 2021

Every time a US presidential election approaches, a discussion begins in the Pakistani-American community. Which of the two candidates will be good for Pakistan? What exactly is meant by ‘good for Pakistan’ isn’t always clear.

Why would any US president be inherently good or bad for Pakistan? A US president after all, is elected to look after the interests of the United States – domestically and in the global sphere. It is often said that Republican presidents have been better for Pakistan than Democrats. This is hardly backed by any reliable facts. Read more…