World Inside

Putin meets top military brass to discuss Ukraine strategy: Kremlin

Publish: 04:12 PM, 17 Dec, 2022


President Vladimir Putin has held extensive meetings with the military top brass overseeing Russia's campaign in Ukraine, where Moscow has stepped up bombardments, the Kremlin said Saturday.

"On Friday, the president spent the whole day at the army staff involved in the special military operation in Ukraine," a statement said.

He held a meeting with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov and held "separate discussions with commanders" from different defence branches, it said.

"I would like to hear your proposals on our actions in the short- and medium-term," Putin was shown as saying in the meeting by Russia's state television.

Russia launched a barrage of missiles on Friday on multiple cities in Ukraine, plunging them into darkness, cutting water and heat and forcing people to endure sub-zero temperatures.

After a series of embarrassing battlefield defeats, Russia since October has pursued an aerial onslaught against what Moscow says are military-linked facilities.

France and the European Union said the suffering inflicted on freezing civilians constitutes war crimes, with the bloc's foreign policy chief calling the bombings "barbaric".



World Inside

US penchant for Islamist radicals resurface with human rights report

Publish: 10:27 AM, 26 Mar, 2023


The US deep state and policy establishment seems very fond of right-wing Islamist radicals or the 'mullahs'. They used them to bring down Iran's secular nationalist and democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh regime when it threatened to nationalise Iran's oil industry in the 1950s.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) used the radicals backed and sheltered by Pakistan to torpedo Afghanistan's Saur revolution that was doing wonders for women's emancipation and the end of clan-based feudalism.

They backed the Pakistani military using radicals to attack India or suppress the 1971 Bengali uprising.

The US brought down Saddam Hussein with a fake scare that he had developed weapons of mass destruction -- the bluff was called by the BBC at some cost to its finances. The net result -- the rise of ISIS in the vacuum caused by the withering away of the secular though autocratic Baath Party.

The US-sponsored Arab Spring ended Hosni Mubarak's 'police state' but propelled the Islamic brotherhood to power. General Fateh Al Sisi has restored Egypt's secular polity in the great military tradition of backing secularism in the Islamic world, but US efforts to keep the Talibans out with a parachuted liberal like Ashraf Ghani failed miserably because Washington's regional favourite - Pakistan's military - played both sides -- supporting NATO forces with logistics and selective intelligence while backing the Talibans.

The US failures in fighting asymmetric campaigns across the world failed despite its overwhelming military power, because its deep state and military-industrial complex suffered from the: cowboy mindset' with overwhelming emphasis on force and confused approach to politics.

In the Islamic world, the US has always floundered because it has often found value in radicals/ mullahs for immediate tactical gains, but then seen them emerge as huge long-term threats.

Osama Bin Laden's saga comes to mind but is too well known to be recounted in detail.

Fearing that the US was about to repeat its historical mistake in Bangladesh which India could ill afford for an awful long list of reasons, Pranab Mukherjee ( later President) fought a long verbal duel with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton during the unfolding of the 1/11 Minus Two saga, reminding her that Islamic radicals in Bangladesh have to be fought by 'homegrown secular forces ' rather than US Marines or some propped up pot-bellied Bengali general.

Mukherjee prevailed and Bangladesh got a free and fair poll that brought back the Awami League to power. The late president has recounted this graphically in his memoirs "The Coalition Years".

Now the US is back to its old mischief of regime change using a mix of 'civil society' figures, Trojan horses inside the national power structure ranging from bureaucracy to political parties to military, and media assets.

The trouble is the US deep state rarely conjures up new innovative operational plans -- rather they prefer sticking to an accepted template.

In the case of Bangladesh, the US deep state and its cohorts in the policy establishment are following the 2013 Euromaidan model that worked so well in Ukraine. In fact, many from the Euromaidan team are handling the Bangladesh regime change operations. Now what works in Ukraine may not work in Bangladesh. But the Knight charlatans in Washington and Langley often miss out on regional peculiarities.

The latest US human rights report is part of the regime operations in Bangladesh. It seeks to boost the radical outfit Jamaat-e-Islami at a time when it has unleashed a hate campaign against the Ahmediyyas.

“Leaders and members of Jamaat-e-Islami (Jamaat), the largest Muslim political party in the country, could not exercise their constitutional freedoms of speech and assembly because of harassment by law enforcement authorities. Jamaat was deregistered as a political party by the government, prohibiting candidates from seeking office under the Jamaat name,” observes the human rights reports on Bangladesh.

Ironically, the state department is not in keeping with the issues that the Ahmediyya community raised with US Bangladesh Ambassador Peter Haas about the fundamentalist pro-Pakistan party running a boycott Ahmediyya campaign and pressing the government to declare them as “Unislamic”.

According to a press release issued by the Ahmediyya community, Ambassdor Haas, during his courtesy call to some of their leaders was told about "the serious concerns over the Jamaat-sponsored hate campaign and the highly communal statement from BNP’s secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir calling the attempt to hold the Ahmediyya rally controversial .

Days after the attack, Jamaat acting Secretary General Maulana ATM Masum issued a statement on March 5, asking the government to officially declare the Ahmadiyya community “non-Muslim”.

Moreover, an ardent Jamaat-backed Twitter handle named Basherkella posted a series of tweets asking people to boycott Ahmediyya, in clear evidence of a vicious hate campaign by the minority community.

The US human rights report also projects controversial rights body Odhikar as an “independent body”, oblivious to the fact that its founder Adilur Rahman Khan Shuvro was a deputy attorney general during the BNP-JAMAAT coalition government (2001-06).

'Odhikar' has been the moving force behind human rights data faking like blowing up the casualty figures during the 2013 police crackdown on ardent hardliners from Hefazat-e-Islam, then joined by opposition parties including Jamaat who even vowed to siege the capital to bring in Sariah Law, which was exposed by national media.

The UN ended up with eggs on its face when its reports contained names of hail-and-hearty Indian insurgents in the Bangladesh country report on Enforced disappearances -- again based on data fed by Odhikar and its fraternal organisations.

Moreover, the US report seems to quote frequently about Jamaat’s key ally, Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s (BNP), claims centering shrinking freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, but ignores the party’s series of attacks on the country’s press and role in instigating communal violence.

This has provoked sharp reactions from Awami League leaders and their concerns are valid. But what top civil society personality Sultana Kamal has approached will hopefully compel Washington into some kind of introspection.

She said in an interview and I quote:

"This report concerns the Jamat- e-Islami (Jamaat) Bangladesh, a political party which has a proven record of collaborating with the Pakistani Military Junta in 1971 in the acts of Genocide, abduction, loot, arson, rape and other kinds of violence against women.

It is an established fact that its military wings in the name of Al-Badar and Al-Shams were responsible for the intellectual killings between December 10 and 14. With due respect, I would like to submit that scanning through the media, Pakistani government communications and international reports on the Bangladesh genocide of 1971, one can not miss seeing what the role of Jamaat was during the nine months of massacre of Bangladesh from March to December.

It was through a process of law that Jamaat was de- registered. As a freedom fighter, I would like to also ask whether the Nazi party be allowed to function in Germany?

I have no idea on what basis the report states the war crimes trial in Bangladesh was flawed. Since I have not seen any clear explanation as to why some quarters make such remark about the war crimes trial, I prefer not to comment. However, my experience with the tribunal was that the accused's right to self defence was fully respected."

Now if the US wants us to believe Zillur Rahman’s Center for Governance Studies is a more credible institution than those helmed by Sultana Kamal, they are making a vain effort. We know how the ISI funded his so-called glorified interview of war criminals, along with the self-confessed killer of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, with one reportedly recorded in Pakistan, and how they then passed him on to the Chinese who took care of his TV show. Now the US finds value in him because he is agreeable, like a few others, to play a role in facilitating regime change in Bangladesh.

"The US agenda of demeaning the Hasina government is so preponderant that it goes all out to support a dangerous group like Jamaat which not only joined the Pakistani army in 1971 in perpetrating horrible atrocities. They nearly killed me in 2001 because my liberal views were unacceptable to Jamaat," former actress-playwright and minister Tarana Halim told a media outlet recently.

Halim, now Central Executive Member of the Awami League, said the West pitches for women's rights and human rights and then in the same breath upholds a group like Jamaat-e-Islami which is determined to impose Shariat law and curb gender rights in Bangladesh.

"The Western hypocrisy is so palpable and annoying. How can they get away with this," Awami League women leader Shahanaz Parvin Dolly told Bangladesh media.

A joint secretary at the Jubo Mohila League until the recent reorganisation of party committees, Dolly said the West talks of reconciliation in Bangladesh.

"That is impossible. How can we accommodate Jamaat-e-Islami, which opposed our freedom struggle and sided with Pakistan's occupation army to commit horrible brutalities on our people, especially against our women? As a Bengali woman, I will never accept their attempt to curb women's rights. We can't allow our country to be another Afghanistan," said Dolly.

According to the country’s eminent rights activists, the BNP’s top leadership, Tarique Rahman was convicted in cases of money laundering and holding a strong nexus with proscribed terror outfits during their rule in power back in 2001 to 2006. Tarique is now leading a fugitive life in London, who left the country having submitted an undertaking.

Under the rule of Tarique Rahman, Bangladesh became a hot bed for transnational terrorists while militants enjoyed a free reign with the highest state patronage, while a nefarious attempt known as the 21st grenade attack was executed in collusion with radicals that then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina has narrowly escaped.

Moreover, the absence of BNP’s threat of replication of the 1975-style assassination, calling out rights activists as AL sympathisers, and warning of capturing state power through violence — all that made the report ring hollow, according to experts.

So, from overthrowing the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran in the 1950s to using hardcore Islamists to fight the Afghan Jihad to backing the most regressive regimes of Saudi Arabia, the US has always found radical forces as ready-to-use material for regime change operations to defeat progressive forces in the Islamic world.

For Washington during the Cold War, Arab or Persian nationalists like Gamal Nasser, Saddam Hussein or Mossadegh were the principal enemy. On occasions, the script has gone wrong for Washington when volcanic events like the Islamic revolution unfolded in Iran in 1979 or when the Taliban took over Afghanistan in 1996.

Those like us who covered the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War closely and the events that followed find a continuity in US policy – first in backing the bloodthirsty Pakistan army and followed by Washington's covert backing to the brutal 1975 coup. For the Nixon-Kissinger duo, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman – the founding father of the nation – was a "Soviet-Indian proxy". So Washington's dislike for Arab nationalists like Nasser easily translated into distrust of Bangali nationalists like Mujib and Sheikh Hasina.

So this ardent US defence of Jamaat in the State Department report proves a striking continuity in American policy of backing pro-Pakistan forces in Bangladesh. The US always had problems with passionate nationalists like Indira Gandhi, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman or Gamal Nasser. Regressive regimes like Saudi Arabia or Pakistan have always fitted Washington's bill by being too willing to play by Western strategic interests.

Not to mention a slew of earlier reports by the country’s leading outlets that laid bare how Jamaat's former money man Mir Quasem Ali schemed to foil the war crimes trial with a $25 million deal with one of the most influential US lobby firms, Cassidy & Associates, for engaging with the US government and the Bangladesh government "to protect his interest".

Sukharanjan Dasgupta is a veteran columnist and author of "Midnight Massacre" on the 1975 Bangladesh coup. As chief correspondent of Anandabazar Patrika, he reported on the Liberation War by gathering information from freedom fighters in Bangladesh.

Sukharanjan Dasgupta is a veteran columnist and author of "Midnight Massacre" on the 1975 Bangladesh coup. As chief correspondent of Anandabazar Patrika, he reported on the Liberation War by gathering information from freedom fighters in Bangladesh.

Source: IndiaToday


World Inside

Pakistan's Financial Woes: On the Brink of Bankruptcy

Publish: 10:22 AM, 17 Feb, 2023


Pakistan, the South Asian nation with a population of over 220 million people, is facing a severe financial crisis that has put the country on the brink of bankruptcy. The country's economy has been struggling for several years, with a range of factors contributing to the crisis. Here are some of the reasons why Pakistan is on the verge of bankruptcy.

Current Account Deficit

Pakistan's current account deficit has been widening rapidly in recent years, meaning the country is importing more goods and services than it is exporting. According to the State Bank of Pakistan, the current account deficit for the fiscal year 2020-21 was $1.85 billion, up from $614 million in the previous year. This deficit puts pressure on Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves and makes it difficult for the country to repay its external debt obligations.

Foreign Debt

Pakistan's external debt has been increasing at an alarming rate, with the total external debt reaching $116.3 billion in June 2021, up from $73.4 billion in June 2016. The country's external debt has grown by more than 58% in just five years, putting immense pressure on the country's finances. Pakistan's external debt is projected to grow to $134.2 billion by June 2023, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Trade Deficit

Pakistan's trade deficit has also been widening, with the country importing more goods than it exports. The trade deficit for the fiscal year 2020-21 was $27.4 billion, up from $23.1 billion in the previous year. The country's exports have been declining in recent years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the situation.

Corruption and Mismanagement

Corruption and mismanagement have also contributed to Pakistan's financial crisis. According to the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, Pakistan ranks 124 out of 180 countries, indicating widespread corruption in the country. The mismanagement of state-owned enterprises, such as Pakistan International Airlines and Pakistan Steel Mills, has also been a major issue, with these entities running huge losses and requiring government bailouts.

Energy Crisis

Pakistan's energy crisis has also contributed to the country's financial woes. The country has been facing severe power shortages for many years, with frequent blackouts and load shedding. The energy crisis has impacted businesses and industries, leading to a decline in economic growth and investment.

COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated Pakistan's financial crisis. The country has been hit hard by the pandemic, with the healthcare system struggling to cope with the surge in cases. The pandemic has also impacted the country's economy, with many businesses shutting down and unemployment rising.

IMF Bailouts

Pakistan has turned to the IMF for financial assistance multiple times in the past, with the country currently on its 22nd IMF bailout program. The IMF has provided Pakistan with loans to stabilize its economy and reduce its external debt, but the country has struggled to implement the required economic reforms, leading to delays in disbursement of funds.

In conclusion, Pakistan is facing a severe financial crisis that has put the country on the brink of bankruptcy. The country's current account deficit, external debt, trade deficit, corruption, mismanagement, energy crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic have all contributed to the crisis. Pakistan urgently needs to implement economic reforms and address these issues to stabilize its economy and avoid a financial meltdown. The country must also work towards reducing its reliance on external debt and increasing its exports to boost its economy.

Pakistan   Financial crisis   Bankruptcy  


World Inside

Bangladesh a truly important strategic partner: US

Publish: 03:42 PM, 17 Dec, 2022


US Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA) Afreen Akhter has said the United States sees Bangladesh as a “truly important strategic partner" and looks forward to working over the next 50 years for a stronger relationship.

She said in the last 50 years Bangladesh-US relations have seen incredible progress between the peoples, economies and governments.

The people-to-people ties between the two countries are very deep, she said.

Praising Bangladesh's progress in different sectors, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary said Bangladesh's economy has expanded from largely agriculture society to economic powerhouse over the just few decades.

This is a story to really be proud of that Bangladesh has lifted millions of people out of poverty and the country will achieve the middle-income status within generations, which is truly remarkable, she said while speaking at a Victory Day function in Washington.

Beyond the economic cooperation, Afreen mentioned the close partnership between the two countries in providing COVID-19 vaccines and addressing climate change issue. She thanked the Bangladesh government for hosting some 1,1 million Rohingya from Myanmar.
The Bangladesh Embassy in Washington DC celebrated the 52nd Victory Day of Bangladesh, remembering the valiant freedom fighters who fought and made the supreme sacrifice for the cause of long-aspired independence.

To commemorate the day, the Embassy arranged a daylong program.

The day's first part of the programme began with the hoisting of the national flag ceremonially on the chancery premises in the morning by Bangladesh Ambassador to the United States Muhammad Imran.

Officials and employees of the embassy were present at that time.

Later, the Ambassador along with officials and employees of the embassy placed a wreath at the bust of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Bangabandhu Corner of the embassy.

The messages issued on the occasion of the Victory Day by President Md. Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minister Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam were read out by Deputy Chief of Mission Ferdousi Shahriar, Minister (Commerce) Md. Salim Reza, Counsellor (Public Diplomacy) Arifa Rahman Ruma and Counsellor (Political-I) Mohammad Moniruzzman.

A special prayer was held seeking peace, progress and development of the nation as well as eternal peace of the departed soul of martyrs of the Liberation War and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was offered.

A discussion was held later.

Ambassador Imran recalled with profound respect the greatest Bengali of all time and the founding Father of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

He also paid deep homage to three million martyrs for their supreme sacrifices and two 2 lakh women who sacrificed in 1971.

The day’s other program ended with a colourful cultural function.

The artistes of Dhroopodi, a Bangladeshi-American cultural organisation, performed group dances on patriotic songs.

Counsellor Shameema Yasmin Smrite and First Secretary Md Ataur Rahman conducted the day’s programme. The embassy also arranged a photo exhibition on the day.



World Inside

North Korea fires over 100 artillery rounds in military drill - South Korea

Publish: 03:27 PM, 05 Dec, 2022


North Korea fired around 130 artillery shells into the sea off its east and west coasts on Monday, South Korea's military said, in the latest apparent military drill near their shared border.

Some of the shells landed in a buffer zone near the sea border in what Seoul said was a violation of a 2018 inter-Korean agreement designed to reduce tensions.

The South Korean military sent several warning communications to the North over the firing, the ministry of defence said in a statement.

North Korea did not immediately report on the artillery fire, but it has been carrying out an increasing number of military activities, including missile launches and drills by warplanes and artillery units.

South Korea and the United States have also stepped up military drills this year, saying they are necessary to deter the nuclear-armed North.

The 2018 Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA) was the most substantive deal to come from the months of meetings between leader Kim Jong Un and then-South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

With those talks long stalled, however, recent drills and shows of force along the fortified border between the Koreas have cast doubts on the future of the measures. South Korea has accused the North of repeatedly violating the agreement with artillery drills this year.

This year North Korea resumed testing of its long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) for the first time since 2017, and South Korea and the United States say it has made preparations to resume nuclear testing as well.

- Reuters


World Inside

G7 begins to press Russia on Ukraine with oil price cap

Publish: 01:57 PM, 05 Dec, 2022


A Group of Seven (G7) price cap on Russian seaborne oil came into force on Monday as the West tries to limit Moscow's ability to finance its war in Ukraine, though Russia has said it will not abide by the measure even if it has to cut production.

The G7 nations and Australia on Friday agreed a $60 per barrel price cap on Russian seaborne crude oil after European Union members overcame resistance from Poland. Russia is the world's second-largest oil exporter.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the world had shown weakness by setting the cap at that level while Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Sunday it was a gross interference that contradicted the rules of free trade.

"We are working on mechanisms to prohibit the use of a price cap instrument, regardless of what level is set, because such interference could further destabilise the market," said Novak, the Russian government official in charge of its oil, gas, atomic energy and coal.

"We will sell oil and petroleum products only to those countries that will work with us under market conditions, even if we have to reduce production a little," he said.

The G7 agreement allows Russian oil to be shipped to third-party countries using G7 and EU tankers, insurance companies and credit institutions, only if the cargo is bought at or below the $60 per barrel cap.

Industry players and a US official said in October that Russia can access enough tankers to ship most of its oil beyond the reach of the cap, underscoring the limits of the most ambitious plan yet to curb Russia's wartime revenue.

According to Zelenskiy, the $60 cap would do little to deter Russia from waging war in Ukraine. "You wouldn't call it a serious decision to set such a limit for Russian prices, which is quite comfortable for the budget of a terrorist state."

The United States and its allies have imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia since it invaded Ukraine on February 24 and sent billions of dollars in aid to the Ukrainian government.

French President Emmanuel Macron, however, drew criticism from Ukraine and its Baltic allies over the weekend for suggesting the West should consider Russia's need for security guarantees if it agrees to talks to end the war.

Zelenskiy's aide, Mykhailo Podolyak, said the world needed security guarantees from Russia, not the other way around.


In Ukraine, Russia has been pounding power infrastructure since early October, causing blackouts and leaving millions without heating as temperatures plummet.

Russia says the assaults do not target civilians and are meant to reduce Ukraine's ability to fight.

Ukraine says the attacks are a war crime.

Zelenskiy, in a video address on Sunday, urged citizens to be patient and strong in resisting the rigours of winter.

"To get through this winter, we must be even more resilient and even more united than ever," he said.

Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said on Telegram that blackouts would be confined from Monday to planned "stabilisation" cutoffs to get the grid working again, but added the situation remained "difficult".

Ukraine's largest power supplier, DTEK, said blackouts were planned for three other regions - Odesa, Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk in Ukraine's south and east.

In Kherson, largely without power since Russian forces abandoned the southern city last month, the regional governor said 85% of customers had electricity.


On the battlefront, Zelenskiy said Ukrainian forces were holding positions along the front line, including near Bakhmut, viewed as Russia's next target in their advance through Donetsk.

Ukraine's military said Russian forces were pressing for improved tactical positions to advance in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions. About 16 settlements, including Bakhmut and Avdiivka, were shelled by tanks, mortars, barrel and rocket artillery, the General Staff of Ukraine's armed forces added.

Russian forces are on the defensive along the Zaporizhzhia frontline while hitting four settlements in the Donetsk region and six in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine's army added.

Russia's defence ministry said its troops were conducting successful operations in the area of Bakhmut and had pushed back Ukrainian attacks in the Donetsk direction.

Russian-installed officials in the occupied Donetsk said Ukraine fired at least 10 Grad rockets into the city. There was no word on casualties.

In Kryvyi Rih, among the largest cities in southern Ukraine, Russian rockets killed one person and wounded three just after midnight, the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, Valentyn Reznichenko, said.

"They aimed at an industrial enterprise," Reznichenko said on the Telegram messaging app without giving details.

Reuters could not independently verify battlefield reports.

The head of US intelligence said fighting in Ukraine was running at a "reduced tempo" and that militaries on both sides were looking to refit and resupply to prepare for a counter-offensive after the winter.

- Reuters

Oil price cap   Oil price   G7   Russia   Ukraine crisis