2012; Gains and Losses (Part 2)
PKKH Exclusive | Joint report by Talha Ibrahim and Mariam Shah
The important international events that were of global importance and left an impact on a large scale worldwide have been covered in the following report.
11th March 2012; US soldier killed 16 civilians in Afghanistan.
For an already war-torn and grief-stricken Afghan nation, the inhumane murder of 16 Afghan civilians by an American terrorist was a tragedy that can never be forgotten. On 11th march 2012, a US Army Staff Sergeant, Robert Bales, mercilessly killed 16 Afghan villagers, mostly women and children, in a pre-dawn killing spree. He killed nine sleeping children and burnt the dead bodies later in a deadly rampage.
The Army staff sergeant was stationed at a US base in Kandahar. He entered Afghan family homes around 3am and began shooting the innocent villagers. The terrorist was from Fort Lewis-McCord in Washington State, which has a history of horrific tales of violence. It has been regarded as the ‘most troubled in the military’ with a history of civilian killings. This international and purposeless killing of the innocent Afghanis created uproar and further tensed the relations between Washington and Kabul.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales can face a death penalty for his atrocious act in a court-martial proceeding. The trial will take place at Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington State. Military prosecutor Maj. Rob Steele told the hearing that Sgt. Bales was conscious of his actions. It is to be noted here that almost six US service members are on a death row and no US service member has been executed in more than 50 years, it was in 1961 when a service man was executed. This is also a test for the US military justice system, as they are going to treat a “terrorist” now. This incident will haunt the already torn-out and troubled Afghan nation for years to come, as the already distressed poor Afghan families suffer a never ending episode of agony afflicted upon them.
6th May 2012; France elections
On 6th May 2012, Socialist candidate Francois Hollande defeated conservative Nicolas Sarkozy in the presidential elections of France. After 20 years, the Socialists finally won with 51.7% votes support.
The vote makes France the first Euro-zone country to elect a left-leaning leader in the wake of the currency’s crisis started in 2009. Various factors led to Sarkozy’s defeat, the major ones being the weakening Euro currency and corruption in the previous government.
Pakistan has been pledged monetary support by France in a Tokyo conference for Friends of Democratic Pakistan. Defense agreements are also expected, between French and Pakistani officials, with the coming up of a new Pakistani government in 2013.
3rd June 2012; Rohingya -Burma killings
The reluctance of the Burmese government in considering the Rohingyas as their citizen is an aberration and an anomaly from the citizenship laws that are abided by internationally. The apartheid policies of the government do not want to confer nationality to the ethnic minority settled in Burma since the last 12 centuries. Successive governments since Burma’s independence in 1948 have considered them as illegal settlers.
The government lists 135 national “races”, classified by ethnicity and dialect, all of them make parts of the 8 major groups; the Burman, Kachin, Kayah, Karen, Chin, Mon, Rakhine and Shan. Some ethnic groups, although making a considerable part of the population, like the Rohingya, are considered stateless, according to the 1982 Burmese Citizenship Law, and are viewed as a source of instability in the country.
In July 2012, the alleged rape of a Rakhine woman by Muslim men led to an extreme violent upsurge that displaced almost 100,000 Rohingyas. After a relative calm, violence re-surged in October, spread into a larger area and displaced an additional 35,000 according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Yangon.
This displacement is on top of the estimated more than 200,000 Rohingya who have fled earlier crackdowns and discrimination, seeking refuge in Bangladesh, where they are again seen as illegal immigrants, or elsewhere in the region. The aid workers are not permitted by both the Bangladeshi and the Burmese governments to access the refugees freely.
Amidst the condemnation by Organization of the Islamic Conference, Pakistan’s Foreign Office also raised the issue. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have shunned the perpetrated violence too and urged Burma to end it. Still, even today, incidents of sporadic violence are being highlighted.
24 June 2012; Egypt’s Elections
After a long dictatorial regime of Mr. Hosni Mubarak, Egypt has its first democratic government after the elections. On 24 June 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammad Morsi has become Egypt’s first freely elected president after beating former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq by more than 900,000 votes. The new president was also victorious in getting a long-awaited Constitution approved on 23rd December, in the middle of accusations of passing it too quickly and not involving the minorities in its preparation.
Over the past six months, the embattled Morsi contested for power in a hard-hitting way, which has surprised many political observers. Seven of Morsi’s 17 top advisers and the only Christian among his top four aides resigned amidst the increasing dissent he faced from the opposition.
The predicament of observers is that Pakistan would enjoy a cordial relationship with Egypt’s new government. Increased economic co-operation in several fields, including agriculture, higher education and technical support, can be witnessed in the coming years. From the political perspective, Egypt would also favour Pakistan for the promotion of common interests in the Security Council.
20th July 2012; Assam Riots in India
Riots broke out in the Indian state of Assam in July between the indigenous Bodo tribe and Bengali-speaking Muslim immigrants. The first incident was reported on 20th July 2012, which instigated the riots. These riots caused the displacement of over 400,000 people as a part of the movement that started in late 70’s against these immigrants. Around a hundred people were killed, more than 400 villagers were displaced and about 250 relief camps were established for the displaced individuals.
The rapidly increasing population of the Muslim immigrants has worried the local people, and that is why time and again these riots recur. Apart from the immigrant Muslims, the resident Muslims also suffered badly and faced incidents of violence; as according to a report, the violence in Assam resulted from a conflict between Bodo groups and “resident Muslims of Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD),” rather than immigrants. Members of the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland have been killing Muslims in Indian Assam. Bodo separatist insurgents have attacked Bengali Muslims as they did in the previous years. The Bodo, with other ethnic minorities, killed Muslims and displaced hundreds of families. The Bodo community wants to create a separate homeland, perhaps that is the reason why they cannot tolerate the immigrant Muslims capturing land and becoming an important part of the economical circle.
In mid-August, Mumbai also came under the wave of the Assam riots when unrest was sparked in a rally of 10,000 people, as a result two people were killed and dozens were wounded. The Muslim community in Mumbai has also protested against the violence taking place, which has displaced many immigrant Muslims in the northeast of the country.
27th July 2012; Summer Olympics held in London, United Kingdom
After a gap of 64 years, Olympics took place in London, United Kingdom, from the 27th July to the 12th August. Hailed as spectacular by critics, it delivered some of the best performances in the history of Olympic Games. The selection of London as the host city was made in 2005 in Singapore after a bid by the Mayor Ken Livingstone.
USA bagged 104 medals, followed by China and United Kingdom. Pakistan sent a total of 21 athletes, 19 men and 2 women, to compete in 4 different sports. Four out of twenty-one participants were selected on the basis of wild card entry. Pakistan failed to win a single medal in the 2012 Olympics.
11th September 2012; Tripoli- Ambassador Death
The US Ambassador Christopher Stevens personified what is referred to as a hands-on-style in diplomatic circles. Setting up heroic precedents, as the main interlocutor between the Obama administration and Ben Ghazi rebels, Christopher Stevens was promoted from a deputy ambassadorial post to the number 1 diplomat in Tripoli in the post Gaddhafi period.
On Sept 11 2012, in an attack on the US Consulate in Ben Ghazi, the lawyer turned diplomat Chris Stevens became the first US ambassador to be killed since 1979. He died along with three Foreign Service employees of the US government.
Ambassador Stevens died at a time when the anti-Islam blasphemous film had shaken up the entire Muslim world. Initially, President Obama and other U.S. officials blamed the anti-Islam video produced by an American, but the White House eventually acknowledged that the attack was carried out by terrorists with suspected links to al-Qaeda affiliates. A recent dismissal of Hillary Clinton as the Secretary of State proved that the non-protection of its diplomat was the US government’s fault. Despite having intelligence reports of the impending attack, the administration chose to ignore them.
13th September 2012, Protests against the blasphemous film on Islam
Thousands of people protested across the world against the blasphemous film about Islam and its Prophet PBUH. The demonstrators in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen attacked the US embassy while chanting slogans and holding placards. The film evoked worldwide protests and the demonstrations at various places took many lives as well. The content of the film hurt the sentiments of the Muslims across the globe.
Clips from the film “Innocence of Muslims” were uploaded on the YouTube and had been circulating on the Internet for weeks before the protests and demonstrations started. The western world kept on bombarding the film as something that comes under “freedom of speech”. Muslims across the globe sent a clear message that anything sacrilegious and offensive can’t and will not be tolerated as “freedom of speech”.
7th November 2012; American elections
On 7th November 2012, Mr Barack Obama got re-elected for a second term as the President of the United States of America. The election was contested between Mr. Obama and Mr. Mitt Romney as a Democrat and a Republican candidate respectively. By a staggering margin of 132 electoral votes, Romney conceded defeat and bowed out of the presidential race.
Born in 1961, Barack Hussain Obama is the first black president in the history of America. Mr. Obama attended Harvard Law School, and became a practicing civil rights lawyer and teacher. Later on he served as a Senator of the USA. In Jan 2009, Obama was sworn in as a President for his first term, at a time when America was involved in Afghanistan and Iraq. Despite promises of ending American interference, the tenure of Obama destabilized the world further. A Middle East in crisis, an Asia alarmed, and old powers like Europe less confident about their place in the international system is what America’s foreign policies have given the world.
With President Obama’s re-election, Pakistan should look forward to a co-operative relationship with America. The continuation of American drone strikes has botched mutual understanding between the two countries, but in the coming days America would be seeking Pakistan’s assistance for the withdrawal of its armed forces; hence Pakistan would be able to secure its interests if these issues are rationally tackled.
9th November 2012; David Petraeus, Director CIA, resigned.
The CIA was severely criticized over the handling of the Benghazi consulate attack in Libya that claimed the lives of four US government officials, including the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. Meanwhile a resignation from the CIA director David Petraeus came on 9th November 2012 over an extramarital affair with Paula Broadwell. This came into limelight during an FBI investigation of the communication and email exchange between Petraeus and Broadwell. Petraeus said that such a behavior is unacceptable both as a husband and as head of an institution. This whole matter disclosed another affair of a four-star Marine Corps general, John Allen, with a Florida based socialite.
The involvement of the senior military officials in these types of affairs raised many questions and criticism from all over the country. The unveiling of these two reports also effected the Obama administration, who was not expecting such behavior from the senior officials. This whole scenario also reveals why the invasion in Afghanistan is taking so long, as the heads of the organizations are involved in undesirable acts.
14th November 2012; Israeli Holocaust in Gaza
Israel launched Operation ‘Pillar of Defense’ on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on 14th November 2012, after killing Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari. Israeli forces started a fresh wave of violence on unarmed Gaza civilians and unleashed another massacre in Gaza, killing more than 150 individuals and injuring more than nine hundred Palestinians. Many children and women were killed in the violence. As usual, Israel blamed Hamas for firing a rocket at the Israeli territory, thus establishing a legitimate reason to attack Gaza with airstrikes and tanks.
Despite the condemnation from the international world, Israel continued its aggression consisting of air strikes and the use of heavy bombardment and shelling on the Gaza territory. The aggression continued for seven days, and on the eighth day, a ceasefire made possible through diplomatic progress, was announced. Egypt played an important part in stabilizing the situation and in announcing the ceasefire on 21st November 2012.
Mariam Shahis a regular contributor at PKKH and a ( Columnist @ The Fortress Magazine), She is a Human Rights, Youth and Peace Activist and doing MPhil in ”Peace and Conflict Studies” From NDU. She Can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and she tweets at @mareium
Talha Ibrahim nuances in the literary circles are well known. As an avid reader, his discourses ranges from metaphysics to political affairs, under different publications. He can be reached at email@example.com