World’s toughest to-do list at UN General Assembly

While the United Nations General Assembly in session in New York this week, 140 heads of state gather to discuss the agenda for this year, in 71st  annual assembly. In addition, this will be Ban Ki- Moon’s last meeting as the UN Secretary General. Also, Barrack Obama will attend the assembly and make his final address for the last time as the President of the Unites States. Here are the few instances where dialogue translated into peaceful resolution:

Curbing violent extremism:


Terrorism has cast a dark spell in quite a few parts of the world this year and the central forces are failing miserably to check what seems to be the greatest threat to mankind. In fact, while the General Assembly is in session on the East River in Manhattan, the city was bombed injuring 29 people, which is now being by the New York Police. On the same day, a man stabbed nine people at a mall in Minnesota; and a blast disrupted a Marine Corps charity run in New Jersey.

After these possible terror attacks, the security has been tightened around all the UN events. Europe, on the other hand, has seen multiple instances of infiltration by extremists as well as ISIS militants, and very frequently at that.In addition the recent attack on the Uri Army Base in Jammu and Kashmir, followed by Pakistan’s denying any involvement in the assault when India has concrete evidences against them, has been the talk of the town ever since. To top it up, anti democratic speeches, coupled by counter speeches, particularly by Nawaz Sharif and other international political dignitaries outweighed the forum’s agenda to avoid war and negotiate differences.

Foster peace in the ravaged Middle East


In what seems to be an undying remnant of the cold war, Syria has born the maximum brunt of the never-ending tension between the US and Russia. The issue, which started with Moscow’s intervention in Syria after a strenuous meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Obama last year, has escalated out of proportion. This in response to the US strike on Syrian forces that the military had thought was an ISIS target. Moscow argued that the US was not ready to fully cooperate with them to fight militancy in the Middle-East, especially Syria, in an emergency Security Council meeting called by Russia after the US strike. Moscow also warned that the Syrian ceasefire might break down as a result of the assault.  

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the architects of the nascent ceasefire, are expected to meet and offer an update on its progress.

The world faces the worst global refugee crisis in a quarter century:


As per statistics offered by the United Nations, more than 21 million people are displaced today, half of them children, all of them in need of food, shelter, safety and livelihoods.  Waves of people fleeing countries such as Syria, South Sudan and Afghanistan have overwhelmed the international refugee system. This record- breaking number of destabilised refugees has not only overwhelmed European nations leading to redefining its political landscape, but has also increased the risk of terrorist infiltrators. Moreover, it is giving rise to of right-leaning anti-immigrant political parties in Europe and becoming a divisive US presidential campaign issue as well. Emphasizing on the unprecedented strain that the refugees have placed on the host countries, Donald Trump warned a crowd to “lock your doors” to stay safe from Syrian refugees, and in June added that “a lot of those people are ISIS.” However, Obama announced that that it will increase the number of refugees it absorbs from 85,000 this year to 110,000 in 2017. Apart from expanded refugee settlement, the US is also ready to provide them with new opportunities such as improved access to education and legal employment. In addition, the administration said it would give $11 million to a UN fund that helps countries accepting refugees.

Threat of nuclear weapons


This month, North Korea’s largest nuclear test has managed to raise quite a few eyebrows at various international forums, mostly because the area accounts for 40 per cent of the global economy. Barrack Obama is all set to discuss all major Asian issues with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, besides North Korea’s nuclear tests.

Amongst the acoustics echoing in the grand hall that allows for shouts and screams to be heard by all, the ubiquitous issues of ending poverty, disease and hunger seem somewhat meek to be subjugated. However, the Assembly often plants the seeds for resolution of conflicts and hot button issues; even if it does not manage to provide absolute solutions.


Burkini ban: France’s ironic attempt at liberating women

The French government led by Prime Minister Manuel Valls has decided that the liberation of Muslim women from confines of ‘fabric’ is their moral responsibility. Indeed, Valls has stated with much contempt: “For me the burkini is a symbol of the enslavement of women.” A nation currently reeling under the trauma of several terror attacks that wrecked havoc, the burkini ban is only fanning the flames of Islamophobia.

It is ironic indeed that in their quest to liberate women, the government is forcing upon them, their version of secularism. They believe that France’s secular values are under threat, if such a blatant display of religion is seen on the beaches of the country. The rise of extremist violence and homegrown jihadists is apparently being tackled here, by banning burkinis. Undeniably, with this move, the French government is not just defying logic, but is surely pushing an already marginalised group towards further discrimination.

While fear and current helplessness against terrorism is understandable, this blow against women who are as affected by terrorism as the rest of the nation, and to impose on them ‘secular’ values is nothing short of cruelty. For conservative followers of Islam, a ban on wearing a burkini is probably snatching away their freedom of visiting a beach at all.

Former President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, said in a statement that “The Burkini is a political act, a militant act, a provocation. Women who wear it are testing the Republic.” It seems like the debate of whether or not a woman should cover her head, and what the length of her clothes should be, is once again reignited. What women wear can never be good enough, and the question of their choice is never even discussed. This pseudo-liberal approach of the current leaders of France is definitely a blow against democracy.

The stand of the French government seems to imply that the fight against militancy depends heavily upon how the women of the country dress themselves. According to a recent verdict by the France’s highest administrative court, the ban has been suspended, which is surely a positive move towards upholding women’s rights and common sense.

Western countries need to realise that promoting such bans is only going to provoke more verbal racism, and further rise of Islamophobia. Incidents such as the one where a woman was forced by the police on a beach in Nice to take off her burkini will only breed contempt amongst the Muslim population. The focus needs to be on the very real threat posed by the Islamic State, not on the imaginary ones posed by a woman wearing a burkini on a beach.

SOURCE: Indian Express

Twin explosions in Kabul kill 80, wound 231

Two suicide bombers detonated their explosive belts amidst a procession on Saturday in Kabul killing 80 and wounding 231. The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility.

Thousands of demonstrators from a minority Shia group called Hazara had gathered to demand a multimillion power transmission line be rerouted through their impoverished home province. This would ensure power supply in their poverty-stricken area. The matter was taken to the government before, but they said it would involve high cost as well as delay.

It was the single deadliest attack in Kabul by the Islamic State. Deh Mazang Circle was littered with body parts, according to reports. 

The city was sealed off ahead of the procession. Security was tight with helicopters patrolling overhead.

The original plan was to make the line pass through Bamiyan, where Hazaras live, but the route was changed in 2013 by the previous Aghan government.

Hazaras constitute a mere 9 percent of the total population, forming Afghanistan’s third largest minority community; as a result they suffered discriminatory treatment over the years. Even under Taliban rule, thousands were killed.