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MORE OFFICERS GIVEN EXTENDED TENURES, CONGRESS CRIES FOUL

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The Central government on Monday issued a Gazette notification with respect to extending the tenure of Defence Secretary, Home Secretary, Director of Intelligence Bureau (IB), Secretary of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for the period of two years.

The notification reads that the Central Government may, “if it considers necessary in the public interest so to do, give extension in service to the Defence Secretary, Home Secretary, Director of Intelligence Bureau, Secretary of Research and Analysis Wing and Director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) appointed under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (25 of 1946) and Director of Enforcement in the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) appointed under the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003 (45 of 2003) in the Central Government for such period or periods as it may deem proper on a case-to-case basis for reasons to be recorded in writing, subject to the condition that the total term of such Secretaries or Directors, as the case may be, who are given such extension in service under this rule, does not exceed two years or the period provided in the respective Act or rules made thereunder, under which their appointments are made”. In 2005, the Union Cabinet had cleared a fixed tenure of two years for Defence Secretary, Home Secretary and Chiefs of Intelligence Bureau and RAW. On Sunday, President Ram Nath Kovind had promulgated two ordinances allowing the Centre to extend the tenures of the directors of the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate from two years to up to five years.

Meanwhile, the Congress, through its national spokesperson and senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, launched a strong attack on the Union government questioning its intent to bring in ordinances to increase the tenure of the Director of Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Singhvi, a three-time Member of Parliament and a member of the Rajya Sabha committee of Privileges, said the BJP-led NDA government was subverting the various institutions of democracy, including the Parliament and raised five questions while addressing the media at the Congress headquarters: “What was the public interest in bringing this ordinance? Does not the ordinance ignore, insult and decimate the recent Supreme Court order which had said that the extension of retiring officers should only be done in rare circumstances and for a short time? Has not the government undermined the parliamentary privileges by bringing an ordinance when the parliament session was just two weeks away? The biased performance of these two institutions in the last seven years and why did the government not bring an ordinance that allowed fixed tenure rather than one year at a time extensions?”

The Winter session of Parliament that starts from 29 November is likely to witness chaotic scenes over these developments. The TMC on Monday moved two statutory resolutions in the Rajya Sabha, objecting to these ordinances brought by the government.

“The BJP is consistently and intentionally engaged in undermining and sabotaging the institutions and creating security for themselves and the establishment instead of security for the nation. The ordinances are another example in that direction. These ordinances take these institutions from discipline and upholding the rule of law to dutifulness to their political masters,” Singhvi claimed while terming the CBI as a “Credibility Bereft Institution.”

Singhvi stated that the ordinances were brought in violation of the Supreme Court’s directions and meant only to misuse the probe agencies. “Why have been these Ordinances brought just 15 days before the Parliament session? Isn’t this an attempt to bypass Parliament and continue the ignominious trend of Ordinance Raj established by this government since 2014,” he asked. Singhvi said the recent move by the government was “an attempt to sabotage, sidestep and skirt the institution of Parliament; attempt to substitute servility and subordination to political masters in place of independence.”

In May this year, the government extended the tenure of R&AW chief Samant Kumar Goel and IB head Arvind Kumar by one year. The tenure of both the officers was due to end on June 30. Goel, a 1984-batch IPS officer, was appointed as R&AW chief on 27 June 2019, while Kumar assumed the position on 26 June 2019. Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla was also given an extension of one year beyond his tenure on 12 August 2021.

In 2005, the Union Cabinet had cleared a fixed tenure of two years for Defence Secretary, Home Secretary and Chiefs of Intelligence Bureau and R&AW. The development affecting ED and CBI comes just two months after the Supreme Court ruled that extensions beyond the date of superannuation of an individual should be rare, in exceptional cases only. The apex court had asked the Centre not to further extend the tenure of current ED director Sanjay Kumar Mishra, whose already extended tenure ends in a week’s time.

The decision of the court in September had come on a petition filed by NGO Common Cause which challenged the government’s decision of 13 November 2020 to retrospectively grant an extension to Mishra by converting his original tenure of two years beginning November 19, 2018 into a three-year one.

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PAK ENVOY MEETS TALIBAN’S ACTING FM, DISCUSSES BILATERAL COOPERATION

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KABUL: Pakistan’s envoy to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan met Taliban acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and discussed bilateral cooperation between both countries.

“Pakistan Ambassador Mansoor Ahmad Khan met with acting FM Amir Khan Muttaqi and discussed bilateral cooperation, Khan said.

Pakistan has decided that wheat and emergency medicine provided by India can be transported from Wagah port in Pakistan on Afghan trucks to Afghanistan,” Tolo News reported.

Earlier, Pakistan’s envoy and the Taliban acting foreign minister met in the month of September where both sides discussed strengthening bilateral cooperation particularly facilitating humanitarian, economic and people-to-people exchange.

Pakistan, along with China were among the first countries that began engaging with Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover in August this year.

The meeting came amid the Taliban’s repeated appeal for wider international recognition. Pakistan is among the very few which seem to have started engaging with the outfit. Other members of the international community are taking a wait and watch approach.

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TLP expanding after release of its leader Saad Hussain Rizvi

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Formerly banned organisation Tehreek-E-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) is on a surge after the release of its leader Saad Hussain Rizvi and revoking of its ban by the Imran Khan government.

According to the International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS), there was a rather secret deal between TLP and the Imran Khan government reached on October 31 to end the latest round of protests. The deal was not made public and on November 7, Khan’s cabinet revoked the declaration of the TLP as a banned group. The TLP benefitted mainly from the divisions between the PML-Nawaz government and the military establishment deep state’, IFFRAS said, adding that Pakistan military establishment’s effort to prop up different religious groups to deteriorate the PML-Nawaz government permitted the TLP to increase greater political space. Earlier, Rizvi was released on the eve of his father, Khadim Hussain Rizvi’s death anniversary on November 19 who was the founder of TLP.

Further, the TLP capable of mobilising thousands of supporters, was born in the year 2015 out of a remonstration movement to the Barelvi movement.

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US ready to support Ukraine, help Kiev with defence

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US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says Washington is concerned about the situation in Ukraine and is ready to support Kiev.

Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum on Saturday, Austin said that the US is “very concerned” about the alleged buildup of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border and will try to ensure that Kiev “has what it needs” to defend its “sovereign territory.” The Pentagon chief said he was not going to speculate on different scenarios pertaining to the alleged Russian aggression on its borders.

Over the past several weeks, Ukraine and some Western countries have expressed concern about the alleged increase in what they characterise as “aggressive actions” by Russia on their border. However, Russia has refuted the accusations by saying it is moving troops within its own territory and at its own discretion.

US President Joe Biden plans to discuss the issue of Ukraine, as well as other topics, during the upcoming video call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, December 7.

Biden told reporters earlier this week, answering a question about the issue of Ukraine, that he expected a “long discussion” with the Russian President.

Russia has repeatedly said that it stands by its right to move armed forces freely within its territory. On November 23, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated that Russia does not have any aggressive plans with regard to Ukraine. The Kremlin has also expressed concerns about Kiev having aggregated almost half of all its armed forces on the contact line with the Donbas region in the east of the country.

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EXPLOSIONS HEARD INSIDE US BASE IN SYRIA

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Explosions were heard on Sunday inside a US military base in Syria, state news agency SANA reported.

The blasts were heard in the al-Tanf area in southeastern Syria, Xinhua news agency reported. Back in late October, the US base of At Tanf came under a drone attack. The White House believes that the recent attack on its military base in Syria was “deliberate and coordinated” and the United States reserves the right to respond.

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CHINA CREATES ATMOSPHERE THAT EMBOLDENS MILITARY TO SEIZE POWER IN AFRICA

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As Western powers continue to retreat from Africa, China is busy creating an atmosphere that emboldens generals and military cliques to seize power in one of the largest continent in the world, said a media report.

In an opinion piece for Al Jazeera, Harvard University lecturer Christopher Rhodes said that “backsliding on the part of Western powers, the rise of autocrat-friendly China, have created an atmosphere in Africa that emboldens generals and military cliques to seize power.” Rhodes further wrote that the coup, which had been widely rumoured in Sudan but still managed to blindside the United States, remains a source of outrage for Sudanese citizens. But Washington is yet to take a clear stance on the issue, Rhodes said.

According to the lecturer, the reaction from the West has diverged widely from that of Sudanese citizens, who continue to reject military hegemony. The report says that American diplomats have signaled acceptance of the new arrangement and willingness to turn a blind eye to the continued military dominance of the transition government.

This brings focus to the breakdown of the anti-coup coalition that had formed for Africa – a breakdown that has led to military interventions reemerging as a leading method by which power is transferred on the continent, Rhodes added.

Noting that the fight for democracy and against military rule in Africa has seen significant setbacks, Rhodes said while African populations remain overwhelmingly committed to democracy and opposed to military governments, the lack of reliable international pro-democracy partners makes the struggle against military rule much more difficult.

But as the sustained anti-military protests in Sudan demonstrate, local populations are willing to continue the fight for democracy, even if they must go it alone, said the lecturer.

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PROTEST IN COLOMBO AGAINST LYNCHING OF SRI LANKAN EXECUTIVE IN PAKISTAN

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A protest was held outside Pakistan High Commission in Colombo on Sunday by a large crowd, including a group of monks, against the killing of a Sri Lankan national in Sialkot city of Pakistan’s Punjab province.

Priyantha Kumara, a Sri Lankan executive of a garment factory was lynched and his body burnt by angry supporters of a hardline Islamist party that attacked the facility in Sialkot over blasphemy allegations on Friday.

A police official alleged that Kumara tore a poster of the hardline Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in which Quranic verses were inscribed and threw it in the dustbin. A mob enraged over the alleged blasphemy incident, started gathering outside the factory from adjoining areas, most of them activists and supporters of the TLP.

They dragged the Sri Lankan executive, who was in his 40s, from the factory and severely tortured him. After he succumbed to his wounds, the mob burnt his body before police reached the crime spot. Late on Friday, Punjab police said they have arrested 100 suspects, after identifying them through video footage that went viral on social media.

Expressing grief over the lynching of his country’s citizen in Pakistan, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksha said that he was “shocked to see the brutal and fatal attack” on Priyantha Diyawadana by “extremist mobs in Pakistan”.

“My heart goes out to his wife and family”, Rajapaksha said in a tweet.

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