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Security beefed up at Kenya ahead of general elections

Analysts say the 2007 and 2008 experience was a reminder of the significance of building strong institutions of governance…reports Asian Lite News

Kenyan police has said that security has been enhanced across the country to ensure peaceful general elections slated for Tuesday.

Police spokesman Bruno Shioso on Monday said that more than 150,000 security officers from the National Police Service (NPS), Kenya Prisons Service, National Youth Service, Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Service, have been deployed to various parts of the country to secure the polls.

“The security officers are well resourced and in a high state of readiness to handle all forms of threats that may arise before, during, and after the general elections,” he added on the phone.

Nearly 22.1 million Kenyans will vote on Tuesday to elect the country’s fifth President, members of the National Assembly, Senators, and County governors, among others, according to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

The east African nation is seeking to avoid all reasons that would raise doubts about the legitimacy of the Tuesday elections as it is an opportunity to put the country on political track after the post-poll violence of 2007/2008 that was caused by a disputed presidential vote tally.

Analysts say the 2007 and 2008 experience was a reminder of the significance of building strong institutions of governance, Xinhua news agency reported.

The two leading candidates are veteran Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and sitting Deputy President William Ruto.

The elections are hotly contested, with President Uhuru Kenyatta backing Odinga.

The most recent opinion polls have shown a tight race between Odinga of the Azimio la Umoja (Resolution for Unity) One Kenya Coalition, and Ruto of the Kenya Kwanza (Kenya First) Alliance.

Shioso said the security officers are under instructions to guarantee Kenyans their safety as they go out to cast their votes and that all people go about their activities without fear of crime or harm.

The police spokesman noted that the government has resourced the service adequately, especially with additional vehicles and operational equipment, to ensure seamless and continuous operations during and after the polls.

He said the police are conducting threat and risk analysis to identify threats to national security which in turn will inform resource deployment in real-time.

Shioso said the NPS has established a national election security command center to be manned on a 24-hour basis and is fully equipped to handle election-related security challenges.

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India News

Security of former J&K CMs scaled down in Srinagar

Under the new arrangement, the former chief ministers will not be provided with jammers and ambulances in their cavalcade while travelling in Srinagar district…reports Asian Lite News

The Union Territory government of Jammu and Kashmir has scaled down the security of former Chief Ministers of the erstwhile state, sources in the know of things said on Sunday.

Under the new arrangement, the former chief ministers will not be provided with jammers and ambulances in their cavalcade while travelling in Srinagar district, Jammu and Kashmir officials said.

These facilities were provided to former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

However, during inter-district movement of former chief ministers jammers and ambulances would continue to be deployed, the officials in the security set up of the Jammu and Kashmir administration said.

The Union Territory government’s move came in the wake of the recent decision to downsize the specialised security wing Special Security Group (SSG), which had been created under a law enacted by the Assembly of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir for protection of Chief Ministers and former Chief Ministers in the year 2000.

In January this year, the SSG security cover was withdrawn from the security of these former Chief Ministers.

Now, the former chief minister get the security cover of the Jammu and Kashmir Police supported by the central para-military forces.

The elite force SSG has now been given the responsibility of serving Chief Ministers and their immediate family members.

The Union Territory government decision came amid the continuous threats from across the border when a number of terror incidents have taken place in Srinagar where all of the three chief ministers except Azad reside in Srinagar.

The intelligence agencies have also sent a report to the government apprehending attacks on the political workers, the officials in the security grid said on condition of anonymity.

However, Azad and Abdullah will continue to get the ‘Z’ category security provided by the National Security Guard as usual.

Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti will continue to have Z-plus security cover in Jammu and Kashmir but they will likely have a reduced security outside the Union Territory.

The security to the leaders would be provided by the district police as well as the security wing based on threat assessment, the officials said.

The vehicles and other gadgets have been transferred to the police’s security wing, they added.

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Africa News Arab News World

UNSC extends mandate of mission in Sudan

The Security Council has extended the mandate of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), the peacekeeping force in the disputed Abyei area which straddles northern and southern Sudan, until December 15, 2021…reports Asian Lite News

Unanimously adopting Resolution 2606 and acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the US, the council reaffirmed all previous resolutions and presidential statements concerning the situation in Abyei and along the border between Sudan and South Sudan, underlining the importance of full compliance with and implementation of these, reports Xinhua news agency.

UNSC extends mandate of mission in Sudan

The council recognised that the current situation continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security.

It decided to remain actively seized of the matter.

The UNISFA was set up by the Security Council in June 2011 in response to the renewed violence, escalating tensions and population displacement in the Abyei region as South Sudan was preparing to formally declare its independence from the Sudan — the culmination of a comprehensive 2005 peace agreement.

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The eesource rich Abyei had in the weeks prior to the Security Council decision been the scene of deadly clashes that displaced more than 100,000 people from their homes.

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-Top News India News

Panchtantra of Internal Security

The hostile Sino-Pak axis has become particularly active after the Indian Parliament abolished Art 370 relating to J&K and took to concerted moves against India… writes D.C. PATHAK

Developments in the Pak-Afghan belt resulting in the return of the Taliban-led Emirate at Kabul, a further deepening of the strategic alliance between China and Pakistan in the backdrop of an increasing recalcitrance of Prime Minister Imran Khan towards the US on the ‘war on terror’ and the signs of the Sino-Pak axis stepping up a coordinated attempt to fish in India’s troubled waters at home, put our internal security in sharp focus.

The situation calls for full implementation of the basics of what would safeguard the nation against the covert threats actualising within our own borders — in addition to meeting the threat of an external attack. An understanding of the dimensions of internal security has to be acquired by every informed citizen if the nation has to protect itself against all dangers.

Five of the fundamentals of internal security come to mind — the very first is the mandate that THERE IS NO HALFWAY HOUSE IN SECURITY. You cannot be satisfied with your establishment being half secure — it is either secure or not secure. This means you know what all has to be done and are prepared to spend on that.

There is a saying: ‘Security does not come cheap’. The standard package of security includes an impregnable perimeter, identification of the points of entry for ‘access control’, proof of identity of those legitimately coming in, inner perimeter controls if any for any sensitive segments and arrangements for intrusion detection. Technology has transformed the execution of the first and the last of these requirements — the framework of security as a whole, however, remains unaltered.

A protected establishment like an army campus cannot go easy on the ‘secure perimeter’ principle on the ground that it was too sprawling for the purpose of defining its boundaries. ‘Brick and mortar’ wall is not always feasible but there are alternatives — the point is about understanding the concept of a secure fence. When the terrorists attacked the Air Force base at Pathankot in 2016, this weakness did attract notice. The principle of secure perimeter does apply to nations, establishments and sensitive campuses alike.

The security management architecture always takes its orders from the top person of the enterprise — our national Intelligence agencies work on the authority of the Centre where the Prime Minister heading the political executive oversees national security in exercise of sovereignty itself. The principle is that the head of the enterprise must consider himself or herself as the chief of security as well.

The second relates to the material change that has come about in the global security scenario post-Cold War because of the RISE OF ‘PROXY WAR’ AS AN ALTERNATIVE OF THE OPEN WARFARE. India has been at the receiving end of the Pak-sponsored cross-border terrorism in Kashmir and elsewhere which was used as an instrument of ‘low intensity warfare’ against this country.

Internal security strategy of India has had to include special arrangements of border management involving both Army and the Border Security Force (BSF) for preventing infiltration and conducting Intelligence-based counter-terror operations. Advent of terrorism as the new age threat to national security has thrown up the challenge of inducting Army in the terror affected border regions, creating necessary laws in this regard and building an entirely new level of civil-military coordination.

Proxy wars have necessitated the use of army — that was attuned to neutralising an open attack of the enemy right at the border and inflicting maximum casualties in the act — on our own soil as a first responder against terrorists. In India, the army has got suitably trained for keeping collateral damage to the minimum while performing that new function.

The hostile Sino-Pak axis has become particularly active after the Indian Parliament abolished Art 370 relating to J&K and took to concerted moves against India. The country has had to step up our defence build-up on LAC as well and taken further measures to intensify internal vigilance against any covert activities of these hostile neighbours inside our territory.

Security by definition is protection against covert plans of the adversary — distinguishing it somewhat from defence which is the term used for protection of the country from an open attack from outside that would be dealt with by our defence forces.

It is clear that Intelligence is the anchor of security — the responsibility of unearthing the hidden plans of the enemy to operate on our soil is taken squarely by the Intelligence agencies of the country and it is a matter of great satisfaction that our Intelligence has risen to new challenges and kept the nation secure. Intelligence is information that must fulfil the tests of reliability, relevance, confidentiality, timeliness and actionability — that is why ALL INTELLIGENCE IS INFORMATION BUT ALL INFORMATION IS NOT INTELLIGENCE.

Intelligence is too precious a thing to be allowed to go unutilised and that is why a much-needed systemic progress was put in motion after the establishment of the National Security Council in 1999 whereby all pieces of Intelligence about a threat available with different agencies were put together for collation and assessment at the national apex and it was further ensured that an integral response to that threat was put in action cutting across organisations and states.

Internal security in India is often conditioned by the phenomenon of a ’cause and effect’ relationship existing between internal and external happenings such as communal events in India’s neighbourhood or ideological conflicts elsewhere finding their reflection in India. This is an additional reason why external and internal Intelligence agencies have to maintain a very close exchange of information.

In today’s world, NATIONAL SECURITY IS INSEPARABLE FROM ECONOMIC SECURITY. Security and development have a perfect equation. If there is development, it is easier to strengthen security while it is also true that without security there cannot be full development. Internal security is particularly important in a situation where the adversary is using terrorism to disrupt the economy of the target country.

Attacks on symbols of economic growth such as a refinery, popular markets or an airport are known to have been made with this aim. Proxy wars are now being taken to the cyber domain — cyber attacks for disrupting economic lifelines of the target country such as the railways, civilian nuclear plants or the banking system pose a new threat.

Cyber security has, in fact, emerged as the biggest challenge so far as the ‘asymmetric war’ is concerned. Even the US administration puts this threat on top of the national agenda. India has initiated timely measures to strengthen its cyber system in strategic domains and improve emergency responses to any breach.

Finally, in a democratic dispensation citizens have an important role as contributors to national security — the Constitution reminds them of their duties in this regard. SECURITY FOR ALL MEANS ALL FOR SECURITY — this has to be conceptually understood as a mandate for making people aware of the dimensions of national security for India and, in particular, preparing them for being watchful against any signs of ‘anti-national’ activity in their immediate environ.

Internal security in these times of covert offensives of the enemy requires arrangements by which a conscientious citizen would share information with the authorities of the state on matters related to it without the fear of getting entangled with the police or any other official machinery.

This is an area where India has to develop a lot — the quality of democratic governance depends on it. Since law and order is a state subject and policing in the state suffers from multiple flaws, a lot has to be done to bring the Centre and states on the same page in the area of internal security.

In the present scenario, defence services, paramilitary, state police, national Intelligence agencies and civil society — all have to come together to safeguard internal security. In a democratic system the parties in electoral contests must keep national security above party politics and abstain from communal and divisive campaigns. Also, while the states are autonomous in the area of maintenance of law and order they must fully complement the Centre’s efforts to ensure national security.

In this, the most important aspect is the willingness of the state governments — regardless of their political complexion — to get their state and district intelligence organisations to fully support and coordinate with the moves of the agencies of the Centre to safeguard internal security, including operations on the ground.

This tradition, fortunately, has already been developed fully through many practices including the all important three-day annual conference of DGPs and DGs (Int) of states that was convened and chaired by Director Intelligence Bureau (DIB). All states participate in it with full enthusiasm. The format and agenda of this conference is totally non-political and focused on different dimensions of national security.

Prime Minister Modi has taken keen interest in the DGPs Conference and in his address always emphasised the need for a totally professional and dedicated approach to the task of safeguarding security of the country and complete coordination among the agencies of the Centre and between the Centre and the states. Internal security has been greatly strengthened under the Modi regime.

(The writer is a former Director of Intelligence Bureau)

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Arab News Dubai UAE News

H.H. Sheikh Mansoor visits Hatta Border Crossing

H.H. Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Council for Border Crossing Points Security, visited the Hatta Border Crossing and reviewed its operations…reports Asian Lite News

Sheikh Mansoor said Dubai has developed one of the world’s best border security and control systems as part of its efforts to maintain global excellence across sectors. Dubai’s border security systems have developed a high level of readiness to deal with any unforeseen situation, he noted.

Under the directives of Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, several measures have been taken to further streamline the efforts of both local and federal entities to maintain efficient border security mechanisms and develop policies and regulatory frameworks to ensure the highest levels of efficiency and preparedness at border crossing points. Dubai is committed to ensure the highest international standards and best practices in this field, Sheikh Mansoor said.

H.H. Sheikh Mansoor visits Hatta Border Crossing

He was accompanied during the visit by Lieutenant General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Council for Border Crossing Points Security and members of the Council.

Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed said Dubai’s various border-crossing points are well prepared to welcome a large influx of travelers. With Expo 2020 Dubai expected to attract millions of visitors, the number of travelers passing through its border crossing points is set to increase markedly, he noted.

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Sheikh Mansoor further said it is critical to ensure border crossing points have the optimal security mechanisms to deal with any potential risks and challenges and provide efficient services. This requires streamlined coordination between all entities in charge of border security, he stressed.

H.H. Sheikh Mansoor visits Hatta Border Crossing

His Highness reviewed the services provided to travelers passing through the Hatta Border Crossing, which connects the UAE to Oman. The Hatta Border Crossing plays an important role in the movement of goods and trade between Dubai and Oman. The volume of trade between Dubai and Oman conducted through the Hatta Border Crossing in H1 2021 reached AED15.26 billion.

Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed commended the efforts of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai, Dubai Customs and all entities involved in maintaining security in the emirate.

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-Top News India News Sri Lanka

China ties: Lanka soothes India

Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa also explained his country’s relationship with China and assured that India should not have any doubt about it….reports Asian Lite News

The President of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, assured India on Tuesday that he will not allow Sri Lanka to be used to inflict any threat on India’s security.

Issuing a statement following the meeting with Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, the President’s media unit said that Rajapaksa made the assurance on India’s security describing the importance of the geographical positioning of India and Sri Lanka.

Rajapaksa also explained his country’s relationship with China and assured that India should not have any doubt about it.

During the meeting, discussion was also held on enhancing the opportunities for the Sri Lankan military to train in India.

The Sri Lankan President also reiterated the need to reintroduce former Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s 1971 proposal to declare Indian Ocean as a Peace Zone and urged India’s support for this endeavour.

The President stressed the need to reintroduce the strong ties between the two countries, similar to what it was during 1960s and 70s.

Rajapaksa also told the Indian Foreign Secretary that his government is taking measures to create an environment for all the Tamil people who left the country to return to the island nation and said that at the recently-concluded United Nations summit, he extended an open invitation to the Tamil diaspora and all Tamil people living around the world.

Rajapaksa has also stated that 90 per cent of the lands in the North and East acquired for security reasons during the war has been returned and compensation has been paid to the families of the disappeared.

While inviting Indian investors to Sri Lanka, Rajapaksa said that the subject minister has been vested with the responsibility to resolve the issue relating to the Trincomalee Oil Tanks in the East in a way that would benefit both countries.

Rajapaksa assured that the long-dragging issue relating to fishermen in the two countries could be resolved, providing benefits to the fishing communities in both parties.

Rajapaksa also extended an invitation to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Sri Lanka.

During the meeting with the President, the Indian Foreign Secretary underscored the importance India attaches to expeditiously taking forward mutually beneficial projects, including proposals to enhance air and sea connectivity between India and Sri Lanka.

He reiterated India’s position on the complete implementation of the provisions under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, including devolution of power and the holding of provincial council elections at the earliest.

Shringla later left Sri Lanka after completing his three-day visit. During his first-ever visit, the Foreign Secretary met Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris, Lankan Foreign Secretary Admiral (Retd) Jayanath Colombage and some Tamil political leaders.

He also visited the historical Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, the India-run oil tanks in Trincomalee and the former war-torn Northern city of Jaffna.

During his meeting with Prime Minster Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday, Shringla stated that India-Sri Lanka relations are underpinned by vibrant people-to-people ties which would be further strengthened with the signing of the inter-governmental MoU for the $15 million Buddhism grant.

As a mark of goodwill and to bolster cultural links between the two countries, he said India will welcome the inaugural flight from Sri Lanka to Kushinagar, a religiously important place for Buddhists.

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India must steer clear of security alliances: Narendra Taneja

The energy expert stressed that India must not shed the doctrine of “strategic autonomy” as the template for its sustained growth and rise as a great power…reports Atul Aneja.

In navigating its way forward, a democratic India must positively engage with all major global powers, without entering into a security alliance with any one of them, says Narendra Taneja, a top New Delhi based energy and geopolitical expert.

From managing relations with China and the Indo-Pacific to ensuring India’s long-term energy security, Taneja illuminated a clear path that would ensure India’s rise as a benign and inclusive global power.

The energy expert stressed that India must not shed the doctrine of “strategic autonomy” as the template for its sustained growth and rise as a great power.

“We should be working actually only on that strategy (of exercising strategic autonomy). But along the way, they are going to be challenges. For instance, from China today. It is going to be some other country in the Indian Ocean tomorrow or it can be something else. So, we need to basically work our response, you know, depending on the situation of the day.”

Taneja stressed that a rising India riding on its strategic autonomy must be ready for making “tactical adjustments, tactical response on the way”.

Pointing to China’s ambition to “make Asia subservient to it,” Taneja spotlighted that India must bond with the world’s democracies, without striking a permanent strategic alliance with them.

” Let’s not forget one thing, the tremendous strength that we have (as a) democracy, (as) democracies of Asia, democracies of the world. We need to work together eventually and democracies are going to win.”

While India was not there to “preach democracy, but it helps when you are able to build bridges with democracies like Japan, like Australia, like South Korea or Indonesia and others”.

Asked to comment on the Indo-Pacific QUAD, comprising India, Japan, Australia and the United States, Taneja advocated a robust engagement with the quartet, without burning bridges with China.

“In the Pacific, we should be strengthening our ties with the Pacific countries. But at the same time, we must stay engaged with China, with Russia, and we should not perceive them as an enemy and we should not let them perceive us (as one).” India’s ties with the Indo-pacific are driven by India’s interests and not with any other objective.

Simultaneously, India must remain engaged with the Shanghai based New Development Bank of the BRICS as well as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), where China is a major player, Taneja observed.

The energy expert pointed out that India has the gravitas to ride on its own steam with the self-assurance of a rising global power, in engagement with all. “We need to be one of the top leaders of the world. We should not be following any. We are too big, too important and too large an economy. Trust me. Don’t go by the GDP number of three trillion (dollars economy). We are actually eight trillion dollars on PPP terms. The world needs us for its own growth, for its own prosperity.”

In ensuring its rise, India must forge closer ties with Africa, a continent of the future.

“Africa is a very important continent, not only for India, (but) for the whole world. I mean, I have also said that, you know, this century people keep saying that this is (an) Asian century. And I always argue this is Africa’s century because by 2050 India, China, all of these countries will peak and they will need Africa, the market in order to sustain their growth and prosperity.”

Taneja pointed out that India should be looking at Africa from three different angles. First, India should leverage its historic and direct relationship with Africa. Second, India should partner with some Middle East countries to more deeply engage with certain parts of Africa. Third, India should also bond with European countries which had once colonised Africa and retain their influence there.

Finally, India should invest more not only in Africa’s oil and gas sector, but also in the solar power sector. With the Solar Alliance already in place, “we should try to become a leader, (a) global leader in solar power and help African countries in terms of technology, in terms of training, expertise, setting up solar power plants and building these kinds of joint ventures, you know, together with Europeans, together with Arab countries, together with others such as Japan and Korea.”

For the purpose of energy security, India needs to further leverage its strategic ties with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

With Saudi Arabia, we are “much closer than ever before in history,” Taneja observed.

He added: “The same goes for the United Arab Emirates. We are very, very close to them. We are working in different sectors, including energy.”

Homing on to the reliance on the Gulf, Taneja pointed out that the region was a vital source of remittances and entrepreneurship.

” We have close to nine million Indians living there who send roughly sixty to sixty-five billion dollars every year in remittances. And we have got some very enterprising Indians sitting there� We need to take our relationship (with the Gulf) to a new era,” he observed.

Taneja pointed out the India should not worry too much about China’s inroads in the Gulf. “China, to my sense, they don’t understand Islam as well as we, and they don’t understand religion as well as we do…so we should not worry too much about China.”

He stressed that India’s relationship with the Gulf should be kept separated from New Delhi’s ties with Iran. “Iran becomes a very important country for two reasons. One is, of course, that it is in itself… huge. And secondly, it’s a transit route which is linking Chabahar (port)” with Afghanistan and Central Asia. Iran is also a major player in India’s energy security matrix.

“And so, we really want to engage with Iran using energy as a kind of the mainstay of the backbone of our relationship. But I must share with you at the same time that the experience of the last three, four years has not been very, very encouraging.”

In seeking access to oil and gas in Central Asia, a region with which India shares deep cultural relationships, the turbulence in Afghanistan can become a major impediment. Taneja pointed out that the Turkmenistan Afghanistan Pakistan India (TAPI), gas pipeline, already on life-support, can go up in smoke in case the Taliban takes over Afghanistan.

Given the plethora of challenges to India’s energy security Taneja lauded the choice of Hardeep Singh Puri, a veteran diplomat, as India’s new minister of Petroleum and Natural gas.

“And if I may just focus on the energy sector when we import, you know, 86 percent of our total requirement of oil, 54 percent total requirement of natural gas. And we are also importing a bit of coal. We import uranium and we also import 90 percent of the equipment that we use for producing solar power in this country (the) Prime Minister bringing in Puri, veteran diplomat, former Indian UN representative is very, very significant.”

He added: “You know, this is a time that we need we need to build bridges with organisations such as OPEC, such as the International Energy Forum, International Energy Agency, and at the same time that the other big oil and gas and energy consumers such as China and Japan and Korea, Indonesia, and, of course, you know, all the smaller countries, but nevertheless very significant. So, to bring in a veteran diplomat with his vast experience both at the U.N. and outside the UN, I think that is a message to the international community, energy community.”

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

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-Top News Crime

Effective policing is the foundation of internal security

It became clear during the Covid months that cases of hacking of phones, credit-debit cards and other vital data for committing financial frauds were booming and targeting even ordinary people…writes D.C. PATHAK

An important lesson drawn by India from the ongoing pandemic is that strict crime control and maintenance of law and order are needed to protect the nation from many of the newly emerging threats to internal stability and security. At least five such points of concern can be identified and they all can be said to be creating vulnerabilities that facilitated the work of enemy agents and adversarial forces.

Dangers of digital fraud

First, digital frauds that entrapped innocent citizens and could possibly be used for the nefarious plans of the enemy in some cases, have multiplied in this period and deprived a very large number of ordinary people doing digital banking — believing it to be safe and convenient — of their meagre resources. Secondly, anti-social elements among the youth who have become active across the country for the twin reasons of economic downturn and a reduced police presence, are providing fodder to the agencies of our adversaries for ‘talent spotting’ and diversion towards anti-national pursuits. This is a matter of particular concern in the area of internal security.

Foreign hand

Third, foreign based lobbies have tried to merge into the opposition voices on such current issues as breakdown of medical care system, shortages of vaccines and other medical supplies as also the alleged neglect of the poor during the pandemic, to build a narrative against the government of the day. This has since developed into a political war ‘by proxy’. Further, a distinct trend is the rise of agitational politics that aimed at projecting the Modi government as a violator of freedom to protest and human rights and as an ‘intolerant’ regime that could not bear with criticism — it did not matter to the critics that this charge was not well-founded and that the narrative went beyond the normal political critique to create an environ of instability about the country’s governance itself.

Domestic strife

And finally, a highly uneven situation of law and order prevailed in the country primarily because of the subservience of the administrative machinery concerned to the political pressures of the state rulers, leading to a serious erosion of what was the sovereign duty of the police in a democratic state to serve the law abiding and deter the potential offenders. The entire gamut of these dangers needs to be examined quickly for remedial measures. The Centre has to find a way of providing a strong democratic governance to the people of this large nation within the federal structure of the country — but without letting centrifugal tendencies come in the way.

It became clear during the Covid months that cases of hacking of phones, credit-debit cards and other vital data for committing financial frauds were booming and targeting even ordinary people with limited resources who relied on online transactions because of the pandemic restrictions. The situation calls for a national drive to identify and neutralise illicit SIM cards which are being used by criminals as weapons. The menace has become large and draws a parallel with the situation in some freedom loving developed countries where control on sale of automatic firearms was now being actively considered.

The issue of SIM cards freely may be an indicator of socio-economic progress but in the Indian context it is greatly helping criminals and anti-national elements too — because of which there is a spurt in digital crimes against the common man. Telecom companies would better verify the identity of the purchaser beyond Aadhaar card by recording his or her double thumb impression so that in the event of a fraudulent transaction, reported through an unknown number, the owner of that SIM can be reached by the cyber police investigating the matter.

Gangs of criminals have acquired thousands of SIM cards to operate through the length and breadth of the country. This can overwhelm our legal machinery unless a deep biometric identity of SIM customer was made mandatory. The Centre must also respond quickly to evaluate the working of cyber police stations and pool the feedback given by them to make the system more effective. These police stations must be already having seamless communication with their counterparts across the country and the legal action initiated by them to locate a suspect number should not be allowed to be hampered by the issue of state jurisdiction that restrictively defines law and order responsibility in this country.

Demographic divide

India for a variety of reasons is becoming overladen by youth who did not add to ‘demographic dividend’ — being neither educated nor skilled — and who were becoming prone to ‘coming on the road’ specially because of the destruction of jobs that had occurred at the lower lines of the economic pyramid on account of the pandemic. This has happened across urban and rural India and accounts at least partly for the ongoing rise in local crimes like snatching, ATM robbery, sexual assaults on minors of the vicinity, thefts and public brawls. Indian law emphasised on the need for the police station to keep in touch with the ‘localities’ and have a fairly good idea of the ‘idlers and loiterers’ who inflicted themselves on public spaces at odd hours and indulged in lawlessness on the slightest pretext. In suitable cases they could be put on a bond for good behaviour.

It is not easy to exercise this type of control on the crime situation but India has to quickly move towards an effective local presence of the police and a closer monitoring of the villages and urban neighbourhoods to provide confidence and safety to the law-abiding citizens. The strategic approach to the problem of course would be to provide the youth with skill training free of cost and create avenues of employment for them for sustenance. This is a huge challenge for the Centre-state combine — it has been made more daunting because of the pandemic. The Modi government at the Centre has adopted a perceptive policy of economic revival by giving the call — ‘vocal for local’ — that suits India’s genius and helps to build the base of our economic pyramid.

Deep divisions

The return of BJP regime at the Centre with a much larger majority in 2019 and the splintering of other parties led to the trend of opposition taking to campaigning against the government outside of the Parliament and that too not on policies so much as on the persona of the Prime Minister and his allegedly ‘authoritarian’ style of governance. Lobbies at home and abroad including left liberals, human rights activists and advocates of ‘secularism’ focusing on minority-majority divisions, have got into the domestic politics and started promoting street agitations and disruptive narratives as an expression of ‘freedom’. The response of the Modi regime has to be a calibrated one — putting the facts of policy execution before the people and not letting anybody cross the line of violation of public order, incitement to public violence and erosion of the public sentiment on national integrity.

India likely to unveil new cybersecurity strategy this year

There is little doubt that the people of India give credit to Prime Minister Modi for being upfront and bold about taking decisions to deal with the pandemic — a disaster that had come unannounced. He was himself leading the effort to contain the breakdown of health infrastructure and organise vaccine production. It is necessary that the administration at the centre and in the states came on the same page in interpreting what was part of democratic rights and what amounted to taking to the ‘politics of the street’. We are passing through times when the leadership of the civil administration and the police ought to realise the importance of their crucial apolitical role in sustaining democracy and safeguarding internal stability and security without coming in the way of the sovereign right of the elected political executive to frame policies and adopt legislative measures. Hopefully, India’s judiciary can maintain the constitutional balance of power amongst the known ‘pillars of democracy’.

The multiplicity of political parties, all wanting to mop up followers wherever they came from, does complicate the problem of governance but there is no getting away from the fact that states cannot be allowed to weaken the law-and-order situation in the country which can, among other things, spoil the prospects of investment and economic growth. The centre has to find within the federal system a method of monitoring the performance of the state administration and police on the maintenance of law and order — tracking the performance of IAS and IPS officers on this front can be a good initial move. These All India Civil Services were created to take care of the law-abiding people and in particular improve the working of police stations which are the first place of call for a distressed citizen.

Modern India cannot be run with a flawed administrative and police set-up. Corruption at the lower echelons only puts ordinary citizens in difficulty about running their life peacefully. Effective governance cannot be there unless the administrative and police machinery at the local level is freed of corruption — this unfortunately is not happening because of the lack of attention of the state governments towards the all-important issue of law and order. This is all the more a reason why the centre must acquire a firmer grip on the working of the IAS and IPS officers who are a major instrument of the nation for providing clean and firm governance in the country as a whole. Internal security is linked with that at the strategic level.

(The writer is a former Director of Intelligence Bureau)

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National Security Law Casts Shadow on Future of Hong Kongers

Over 60 per cent of people expressed doubts about their future under the draconian law which was imposed in June last year…reports Asian Lite News

Most Hong Kongers are doubtful about their future under the Chinese imposed national security law which has left a “chilling effect” on people of the territory since its passage in June 2020, according to reports.

Quoting Mainland Affairs Council, Taipei Times reported that over 60 per cent of people expressed doubts about their future under the draconian law which was imposed in June last year.

In a report marking the 24th anniversary of the territory’s handover to China, the council said that the US-based Freedom House in March gave Hong Kong the worst rating in the history of its Freedom in the World report at 52 points, ranking “partly free,” due mainly to the security legislation.

Germany’s Global Public Policy Institute and Reporters Without Borders similarly downgraded the territory in their respective reports on academic and press freedom, it added.

Meanwhile, several people including activists, students, journalists have been arrested in the past few months in Hong Kong under the security legislation. The scope of those prosecuted for speech from prior to the law’s passage — from politicians to academics and journalists — has produced a “chilling effect,” the council’s report said.

HOng KONG

The press especially is facing “unprecedented political violence,” including with the redefinition of “media representative” to only recognize workers of media outlets registered with the government, it said.

Next Digital has emerged as a victim of the security legislation, as police have used it to prosecute owner Jimmy Lai and Apple Daily executives, it said.

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The closure of the Apple Daily on June 25, shortly after the government froze its assets, has “sounded a death knell for press freedom in Hong Kong,” Taipei Times reported.

Many news firms have chosen to stay silent, leading to the closure or removal of content from online publications such as Stand News, Winandmac Media and Post 852, it added.

Meanwhile, increasing numbers of academics critical of Beijing have been dismissed or forced out since last year. Some have even seen their teaching qualifications revoked for disseminating content in support of independence, it added.

Changes to the education curriculum in February also outlawed political activities on campuses and banned teachers from discussing their political views, while mandating education about the security law to more than 8,000 students, it said.

Fear over-reporting by students is likely to deepen self-censorship on campuses, the council said, adding that some academics are also considering cutting back on international exchanges.

Censorship has even extended to the Internet and the arts, drawing an ambiguous red line that would stifle creative freedom, it added.

The Web site HKChronicles, which publishes personal information of police officers and pro-Beijing figures, was reportedly shuttered by Hong Kong security forces with cooperation from Internet service providers, the council said.

Pro-China media have also criticized the Hong Kong Arts Development Council for funding “reactionary” works of art and the M+ museum for exhibiting works by Ai Weiwei, it added.

Changes announced last month to the Film Censorship Ordinance would ban films that “endanger national security,” it said.

Public gatherings have also been halted, including the annual Tiananmen Square Massacre candlelight vigil that had been held every year for three decades, it said.

Even freedom of movement could be affected, as the passage in April of changes to immigration regulations would grant authorities the power to bar individuals from entering or leaving the territory when it goes into effect on August 1, the council added.

The law criminalizes any act of secession (breaking away from China), subversion (undermining the power or authority of the central government), terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with punishments of up to life in prison. (ANI)

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Today’s Taliban is Closer to India: Former Pak Security Czar

Former Interior minister of Pakistan Rehman Malik has written an op-ed in a Pakistani daily The Nation on how Pakistani army and the various governments have helped the Taliban, a report by Mrityunjoy Kumar Jha

Amid worsening security situation in war-torn Afghanistan, India has issued a detailed and specific security alert for its nationals in Afghanistan.

The security advisory was released by the Indian mission in Kabul because of the fluid situation in Afghanistan amid the drawdown of US forces that has already commenced since May 1.

Besides, the Taliban has stepped up its military offensive, including targeted assassinations to change facts on the ground before taking negotiations seriously.

In a tweet, the Indian Embassy of Afghanistan @IndianEmbKabul has cautioned the Indian nationals in the country that different terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan have escalated violent activities and carried out a series of complex attacks in Kabul and other parts of the country, mainly targeting Afghan Defence and Security Forces, government institutions but also the international community and innocent civilians.

Rehman Malik

An estimated 3,000 Indian nationals in Afghanistan work for reconstruction companies, international aid agencies or are Indian government employees working at the consulates and embassies. Indian firms operating in Afghanistan were advised to put in place security measures for Indian employees deployed at project sites. They were also asked to contact the security wing of the Indian embassy for guidance and assistance. India is the largest regional donor in Afghanistan, with pledges of around $3 billion.

The advisory warns them that the security situation in Afghanistan is “highly volatile, unpredictable and dangerous”, though the Taliban had issued a statement that all civilian and non-military foreign nationals, diplomats, embassies, consulates and workers of humanitarian organisations would not “face any problems or security risks (and) will not be targeted by the group”. Meanwhile, sources in the Ministry External Affairs have denied social media reports claiming External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has met certain Taliban leaders.

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“Such reports are completely false, baseless and mischievous,” sources said.

But Pakistani leaders have been rattled with the “possibility” of India’s engagement with the Taliban. The former Interior minister of Pakistan Rehman Malik says, “Taliban growth was phenomenal and now they are no more like the old united Taliban. They have forgotten how Pakistan brought them up and trained them. Unfortunately, today’s Taliban leadership is closer to India instead.”

In fact, Malik has written an op-ed in a Pakistani daily The Nation on how Pakistani army and the various governments have helped the Taliban.

Writing about his first meeting with the Taliban Chief Mullah Omar, the former minister says that in 1996, he was called to the then interior minister Gen Naseer Ullah Babar. “Upon my arrival, we moved into the conference hall where I was introduced to Mullah who was present there wearing his Turban with one defective eye. I found that Mullah Omar and to other Taliban accomplices seemed confident enough to take over control of Qandahar. Gen. Babar was pretty close to the Mujahideen including Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who actually was brought up by Gen Babar when he was the governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.”

He further writes: “I worked with Gen Babar closely and witnessed the emergence of the Taliban against Northern Taliban, hence, he decided to consolidate a group against the Northern Alliance led by Ahmed Shah Masood who was operating under the control of India and Iran.”

The Pakistani senator (MP) says even after 9/11, Pakistan and the Taliban had a strong bond. He revealed that before the US attack on Afghanistan Mullah Omar had agreed to “hand over” Osama Bin Laden.

“My friend spoke to Mullah Omar and he agreed to hand over Osama Bin Laden to a third country for trial. When Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto conveyed this to the Americans through a friendly country, this proposal was declined with the observation that it was too late. It was around the same time when Gen. Musharraf was forced to agree to all the demands of the Americans,” says Malik. He also added that he would have arrested young Ayman Al Zawahiri, eventually second in command to Osama, long ago when he was working as a relief worker with the Red Crescent Cairo trust but somehow, he managed to escape.

Rahman Malik’s dramatic revelations came at the time when the Pakistani government is painfully trying to disassociate with the Taliban. Malik blames the Taliban for this. “Now when Pakistan should have been honoured, the Taliban have joined hands with its enemies.”

(This content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

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