Time running out for Imran Khan

International Desk, Barta24.com
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Imran Khan's anti-army narrative has become his albatross. And his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party is disintegrating with the establishment, a euphemism for the powerful Army leadership, in overdrive to destroy the former prime minister's support base ahead of polls.

The resignations--forced or otherwise-- of his hawkish confidantes like Shireen Mazari and Fawad Chaudhry have kindled the debate on the Minus Imran formula, Delhi-based senior journalist and commentator, Malladi Rama Rao writes.

The Shehbaz Sharif government and the Army have mounted an orchestrated campaign to tarnish the image of Imran Khan.

The result of this came out in the form of a flood of allegations of serious financial improprieties by him and also morally unacceptable habits in the Islamic nation. The Federal Health Minister has gone to the town accusing Imran Khan of consuming alcohol and drugs and said as a result of this habit he seems to have lost his 'mental balance'.

The targeted tirade has clearly shaken the erstwhile playboy. He, however, continues to put on a brave face. He has slapped a defamation case against the Health Minister. And intensified his battle against the Army and the Nawaz- Zardari clique. But luck appears to be deserting him, Rao writes.

In a way, Imran Khan has to blame himself for the turn of events. The Army had propelled him to political eminence but he tried to become their nemesis. He has alleged that some top Generals want him assassinated, but has tweaked his strategy of squarely blaming the Army for his ouster through a no-confidence vote in parliament in April 2022. His 'illegal' arrest was set aside by the higher judiciary but that does not preclude another chance of sending him to prison--this time for a period long enough to exclude his participation in the election process whenever it begins.

As the sedate Karachi daily, Dawn, observed editorially, Imran finds himself 'losing a ruthless, one-sided war of attrition'. This is a familiar story for politicians of all hues in Pakistan ever since the country was carved out of British India in 1947 as a home for the Muslims. No political party or leader can afford to cross the red line and take on the country's all-powerful establishment.

Ironically, Imran Khan is desperate to receive US support in his struggle against the powers that be at home. For weeks he went around accusing the US of hatching a conspiracy to throw him out of power because of his 'independent' policies and clubbed the US with India as countries wanting destruction of the Islamic nation.

According to Malladi Rama Rao, the U-turn makes him look weak and vulnerable too. He has hired an expensive lobbyist in the US to get a 'good word' from influential American lawmakers.

The Biden administration is in a fix. It can openly support Imran only if it wants a sudden setback to its efforts to renew ties with Islamabad- Rawalpindi. But Washington cannot come to the rescue of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government either as it handles the maelstrom created by Imran Khan's populist politics backed by a majority of the population.

The rich 'brotherly' friends in the Muslim world also face a dilemma. They cannot put all their eggs in one basket. Because all the combatants in Pakistan--the government, the Army, the judiciary-- are fellow Muslims.

'All-weather friend' China is also in a fix. It stands the risk of alienating a large section of Pakistanis if it sides with the ruling coalition, which has become quite unpopular.

As it is, Pakistan has already created some problems by failing to curb anger towards China in the restive Balochistan province where many feel that the projects being executed under the multi-billion CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) are not going to help them.

On his part, Imran Khan is aware that he may be unable to participate in the elections. Mass desertions and incarceration of PTI leaders and workers will continue along with the trial of his party workers in military courts. Yet, he believes that his anti-American rhetoric coupled with a not-so-oblique praise of Islamic extremism will bail him out in any election. His calculations may be misplaced.

First of all, the possibility of national polls taking place in October does not look certain, given the utterly chaotic conditions in a deeply divided and nearly bankrupt Pakistan.
A lot can change if the polls are delayed as is likely.

To believe that Pakistan has institutions that can override the 'establishment', and combinations of the civilian rulers and the Army, to order elections when they are due, is no more than wishful thinking.

Even if polls are held before the end of the year there is no guarantee that Imran Khan will win a massive mandate that he hopes for.
The 'third umpire', supposedly 'neutral', is clearly poised to thwart Khan's dreams of returning to power.

Because, the Army has suffered major blows to its popularity and even its credibility because of Khan's anti-army narratives, according to Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center, Journalist Rao opines.

A wounded tiger is determined to settle scores with Imran.

Realpolitik has already made Imran Khan climb down from his earlier position of no talks with the government to urgent calls for starting a dialogue. He received a snub from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

His tenure as prime minister exposed him as a poor administrator who pushed the country towards financial bankruptcy. He was selective in weeding out corruption as well. He could barely hide his contempt for democratic practices as he gunned for his political opponents with as much zeal as the present ruling dispensation shows towards him. The message is clear, writes Rao.

Despite his popularity among the masses, Imran Khan is running out of friends, who can help him save his PTI from disintegration, and also win his battle against the Army.

The writer, Malladi Rama Rao is a Delhi-based senior journalist and commentator. (ANI)


Where the sun does not set at night!

Feature Desk, Barta24.com, Dhaka
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We all know that 24 hours day and night. After the tiredness of the whole day, we sleep at night, waiting for a new dawn. But think once, where the sun does not set, how will the new dawn come? Or where there is no night, when the people will sleep to remove the tiredness of the day? Do you think there is a place? Not unreal, there are places on earth where the sun never sets. After a long sleep where people do not see the dawn.

In today's discussion, we will know some places in the world, where the sun does not set even at night!

Norway: Norway is called the land of the shining sun. The country's geographical location makes it different from other countries in the world. From May until the end of July, the sun does not set in the Norwegian sky. As a result, Norwegian people do not see the night for two and a half months! Another specialty of the country is that the sun can be seen on the horizon even at night from the port of Hammerfest, Norway, as it is located in the Arctic region.

Nunavut, Canada: The Canadian territory of Nunavut is located 2 degrees above the Arctic Circle. The sun does not set here for about two months of the year. Not only that, the sun cannot be seen for 30 consecutive days in this place during winter. That is, the people here live under the shadow of the sun for two months on the one hand, in the same way they have to live in a long night for a month.

Iceland: Iceland is famous for its absence of snakes and mosquitoes. After Great Britain, Iceland is the largest island in Europe. The sun can be seen in this island even at night in June.

Barrow, Alaska: The sun is visible in the night sky from late May to late July (summer) in this area of Alaska. There is the reverse side of the coin! Not only does the sun never set, there are continuous nights here from early November to early December. That's why this place is also known as 'Polar Nights'.

Finland: Finland is called the land of thousand lakes and islands. The sun does not set for 73 consecutive days during summer in this European country. Similarly, the sun does not appear here for 32 consecutive days in winter. Because of this strange natural disparity, most people in that country believe that people sleep more in winter and less in summer.

Sweden: We all know that 365 days make up a year. But Sweden's year ends in one day! Because half of the year is day here, the other half is night. Even pulled again! So taking the day and night as the sun, it can be said that the year in Sweden is spent in one day! And people here spend half of the year in the dark and the other half in the light.


The United States informed Canada about Nijjar's murder

International Desk, Barta24.com, Dhaka
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Diplomatic relations between India and Canada are on the verge of ending over the death of Indian pro-Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Both countries have expelled each other's diplomats.

In this situation, the New York Times report claimed that the United States had provided information to Canada about the killing of Nijjar. Through that information, Canada found India's link in Nijjar's murder.

The New York Times report, quoting an official from the 'Five Eyes Partners', an alliance of intelligence agencies from the US, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, claimed that US intelligence provided information to Canada immediately after the assassination. However, at that time the US was not aware of the possibility of India's involvement in the killings.

Meanwhile, Trudeau claimed on Saturday that Canada had sent information to New Delhi about the killing of Nijjar a few weeks ago. However, India said that Canada could not provide India with any evidence against the information.

On the other hand, Canadian intelligence claimed that Nijjar was a cleric. In response, New Delhi said Nijjar was not a religious guru, but a murderer.

According to India, Nijjar became the head of the Gurdwara by scaring his brother Raghbir.

Hindustan Times reported that pro-Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead inside the Gurdwara on June 18. Hardeep was shot more than 20 times.

According to reports, Nijjar lived in the Punjabi-dominated Sari region of British Columbia, Canada. Hardeep was behind the Khalistani protests in front of the Indian High Commission in Vancouver, Canada in the past few years.


Russia has allowed Bangladesh to trade in Russian currency

News Desk, Barta24.com, Dhaka
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The Russian government has allowed the country's banks and financial institutions to transact in Russian currency.

This information was reported on the official Facebook page of the Russian Embassy in Bangladesh on Saturday (September 23).

According to the information given on the Facebook page, Russia has allowed 30 other countries to trade in ruble currency except Bangladesh. The countries are - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Algeria and Bahrain.

Also included are Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Qatar, Malaysia, Mongolia, Morocco, Oman and Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Korea, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Vietnam are also allowed to trade in ruble. However, Argentina, Hong Kong, Israel, Mexico and Moldova have been excluded from the list.

Recently, before Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's visit to Dhaka, Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said that the discussions on commercial transactions in the country's single currency have been going on for quite some time.


The Trudeau-Nijjar Saga: Canada’s Compromise or Oversight?

International Desk, Barta24.com
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The Sinister Shadow of Nijjar

At 46, Nijjar wasn’t just a member of the local Sikh community; he was a terror mastermind with deep roots in Khalistani extremism. A fugitive from India, Nijjar had been prominently linked to multiple terrorist organizations. As the chief of the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), his hands were stained with the plotting of the Hindu priest’s assassination. He also associated himself with the Sikhs For Justice, another notorious extremist group, orchestrating anti-India activities. His social media pages? A veritable library of sedition, hatred, and attempts to ignite communal discord.

Nijjar’s terror lineage is not just a smattering of isolated events; it’s a chronology of grave acts of violence that have left an indelible mark. The 2007 bomb blast at Shingar cinema in Ludhiana? Orchestrated by him. The cold-blooded assassination of Rashtriya Singh Sangat’s President, Rulda Singh, in 2009? His doing. A conspiracy to eliminate Hindu priest Kamaldeep Sharma in Jalandhar, the explosion at the Satya Narayan temple in Patiala in 2010, and the plotting of the assassination of spiritual leader Piara Singh Bhaniara – all bore the unmistakable touch of Nijjar’s terror designs. Even as recently as 2015-16, he directed Mandeep Singh Dhaliwal to target Shiv Sena leaders.

And the global community took note: on 01 July 2020, a red corner notice was issued against him, designating him as an ‘Individual terrorist’ under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). This was not merely a rogue individual but a calculated menace with a track record to match.

Canada’s Troublesome Liaison

For years, Nijjar had spun a web of lies to evade Canadian immigration authorities. Portraying himself as a victim of police torture, he used fabricated letters and even staged a sham marriage to stake his claim to residency in Canada. Although his stories were often rejected, he still managed to operate under the Canadian radar, even identifying himself as a citizen.

Prime Minister Trudeau’s acknowledgment of Nijjar as a Canadian citizen in his recent statements, therefore, stands as an unsettling testament to Canada’s potential complicity in sheltering extremists. While Canada has a proud tradition of supporting human rights and providing refuge to those in need, harbouring individuals with clear extremist ideologies is a different ball game.

Embracing such individuals doesn’t just imperil Canada’s national security. It sends out a stark message to the global community: that Canada might be becoming a safe haven for those with extremist views. In trying to appease a select few, Trudeau risks compromising Canada’s standing on the global stage. The lack of support from G7 allies, evident by their refusal to issue joint statements against India, underscores this sentiment.

Safeguarding Canada’s National Integrity

It is an age-old principle that harbouring a snake can endanger the one providing shelter. With Nijjar’s extensive violent background and the current geopolitical scenario, Trudeau’s allegations against India without substantial evidence run the risk of painting Canada in a precarious light.

Canada, known for its majestic landscapes, multicultural ethos, and global diplomacy, should remain a beacon of hope, not a refuge for extremism. It’s high time the Canadian leadership differentiates between genuine asylum seekers and those with sinister motives. After all, the safety and reputation of a nation should never be traded for political appeasement.