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Heads I win; Tails you loose…..,

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The phrase aptly sums up the current imbroglio of Indian thought process as far as OBOR( One belt one road) and CPEC ( China Pakistan Economic Corridor) is concerned. From Indian point of view few have eulogised the subject and project while many have dissected it threadbare highlighting its shortcomings/ lacuna and lack of transparency, accountability, sustainability , tangible benefits for India and most importantly the violation of sovereignty of the country.
At a recent US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing it was stated that CPEC would offer militants and terrorists additional targets. Some 72 hours earlier two Chinese nationals were abducted from Quetta. Both these incidents though seemingly minor and in isolation , should trigger an alarm bell in security establishment.
Ughyur terrorism, disenchanted PoK locals, deprived Balochis and various other alleged Non State Actors can in isolation / collectively hold the keys to successful sustainability of CPEC. The economic gains prism in isolation leads to have and have nots, locals and outsiders; ideal ingredients of social unrest and in a period time frame armed rebellion. Although Pakistan has probably assessed this issue and raised security outfits to safeguard the corridor it would be interesting to test its ‘ stretch ability’ and ‘ sustainability’ from security point of view. As stated in US Senate hearing CPEC would offer additional targets; if so ; Where, when and how will China respond and in what measures is the key question. Their handling of Ughyur/ Xinjiang conflict/ unrest is ideologically in contrast to sub continental thought process. So, Will the provocation overflow and alter the Indian security dynamics?
This perspective is yet to sink in and hence probably on sidelines. One can only be sanguine that strategic think tank would sooner or later dwell upon it. Wouldn’t it be a piquant situation wherein synergy of contrasting ideologies( India, Pakistan and China) would be one of the options to tackle the menace. For India , leaving it to the stakeholders would be other option; still the residual overflow would have to be dealt with.
For China it is ” China first” , for Pakistan ” Economy booster” ; Where exactly India stands? So ” Heads I win ; tails you loose”
Choice is entirely yours.

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Dissolution of Parliament by President ‘unconstitutional’, rules Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court

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Sirisena

Colombo | Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court Thursday unanimously ruled that the dissolution of Parliament by Maithripala Sirisena was “unconstitutional”, in a major setback to the President whose controversial decisions plunged the island nation into an unprecedented constitutional crisis.

A seven-member apex court bench said that the President cannot dissolve Parliament until it completes a 4 1/2 year term. Authorities beefed up the security around the Supreme Court and deployed the elite special task force in the area.

The decision has laid to rest one of the many controversial moves which had complicated the political and constitutional crisis emanating from President Sirisena’s decision on October 26 to sack the incumbent prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and install former president Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place. Later, he also dissolved the 225-member Parliament and called for a snap election on January 5.

Sirisena sacked the Parliament when it appeared that Rajapaksa would not be able to muster the support of 113 MPs to gain a simple majority. Wickremesinghe, on the other hand, commands a majority in the House.

On Wednesday, Wickremesinghe proved his majority in Parliament, with 117 out of 225 lawmakers in Parliament voting to pass a confidence motion in his leadership. Rajapaksa has so far failed to prove his majority in Parliament. Sirisena has said that he has always taken decisions in the best interest of the country and the people. He had also said that he will honour the court’s decision. As many as 13 petitions were filed against Sirisena’s November 9 order sacking the Parliament, almost 20 months before its term was to end.

The apex court’s decision has come as a serious blow to Sirisena after he had failed in his attempt to see Rajapaksa gaining the majority in the assembly to oust Wickremesinghe. This would mean no snap parliamentary election could be called by Sirisena at least until February 2020.

The Supreme Court on November 13 had issued an interim order ruling Sirisena’s gazette notification as temporarily illegal and halted the preparations for snap polls. The bench – extended to 7 from the original 3 when they issued the interim order – had marathon sessions over four days last week before reserving the order to this week.

The current parliament could still call for a snap poll with a resolution passed with a two-thirds majority. Wickremesinghe had held his ground without leaving his official residence as he claimed his dismissal was illegal. He said the 19th amendment to the Constitution had made Sirisena powerless to remove a sitting prime minister.

Prior to the crisis, Wickramasinghe’s UNP had the backing of 106 parliamentarians while Rajapaksa and Sirisena combine had 95 seats. The President has said that due to sharp personal differences with Wickremesinghe, he would not reappoint him as the Prime Minister.

However, Wickremesinghe’s party claims that Sirisena will be left with no choice as he would be the man who will command the confidence in the House.

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‘Seriously’ considering running for presidency in 2020: Tulsi Gabbard

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Tulsi Gabbard

Washington | Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu lawmaker in the US Congress, has said that she was “seriously” considering running for the White House in 2020. This is for the first time that the four-time Democratic lawmaker in the US House of Representatives from Hawaii has indicated that she may run for the presidency.

“I’m seriously considering it,” Gabbard told MSNBC News on Wednesday in response to a question on her presidential aspirations.

If she announced her candidature, she would be the first Hindu ever to be running for the presidency in the United States. And if elected in 2020, she could be the youngest ever and the first woman to be elected as the US president. “I’m concerned about the direction of our country. I’m thinking through it very carefully,” she said in response to a question on her presidential run.

Before challenging President Donald Trump in the November 2020 elections, she would have to fight it against her own Democratic party colleagues in primary elections beginning early that year. In the last few weeks, Gabbard has been talking to her party leaders and reaching out to Indian-Americans to get their feedback on the issue.

The 2020 presidential primary cycle is scheduled to kick off from the Iowa Caucuses on February 3, 2020, followed by the New Hampshire Primary on February 11, Nevada caucus of February 15 and South Carolina on February 22.

President Donald Trump is all set to seek his re-election in 2020, none of the Democratic candidates have announced their bid yet. The Democratic race is expected to be crowded by the summer of 2019.

Among those Democrats speculated to run for the 2020 primaries include former vice president Joe Biden, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Tim Kaine and Indian-origin Senator Kamala Harris.

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UK PM Theresa May says will quit by 2022 as she fights to remain leader

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London | British Prime Minister Theresa May told her MPs on Wednesday she expects to step down before the next scheduled election in 2022, as she fought an immediate attempt to unseat her over her handling of Brexit by warning it could derail the process.

May offered the concession to members of her Conservative party ahead of a confidence vote triggered by hardliners who hate the divorce deal she agreed with the EU last month. “It is not her intention to lead the party in the 2022 general election,” Solicitor General Robert Buckland told the BBC after the meeting.

“Quite rightly she is focusing on the here and now and the need for Brexit to be delivered.”

MPs and ministers have rallied round May since the confidence vote was announced on Wednesday morning, sending the pound rising amid expectations she would win. In a defiant statement earlier outside her Downing Street office, the prime minister said she was “ready to finish the job” by taking Britain out of the European Union next March.

She warned that ousting her now, sparking a weeks-long leadership contest, would “create uncertainty when we can least afford it”. May also warned that finding a successor — who would automatically become prime minister — “would mean either delaying or stopping Brexit”.

The victory would make the prime minister immune from a further Conservative challenge for a year under parliamentary rules, but would not resolve her central problem — how to get divided MPs to agree to her Brexit deal. She was forced to postpone this week’s vote in the House of Commons on the text after admitting she faced a huge defeat, as her own MPs joined with opposition parties to reject it.

Conservative MPs were voting from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm in a parliamentary committee room, with results of the confidence vote due at 9:00 pm (2100 GMT). Brexit supporters had for months threatened to submit the 48 letters from MPs needed to trigger a confidence vote in May, seeking a leader who would make a cleaner break with the EU.

The last batch came in after May delayed Tuesday’s vote on the Brexit deal, a move that sparked outrage among MPs of all the political parties. But ministers, including those tipped to succeed May, were quick to condemn the rebels.

“The last thing our country needs right now is a Conservative party leadership election,” Home Secretary Sajid Javid said in a tweet. Finance minister Philip Hammond said May’s victory would unite the party and “flush out the extremists”.

May was informed of the challenge after returning late Tuesday from a tour of European capitals in an attempt to salvage her Brexit deal. She had promised MPs she would seek “assurances” about their concerns over a so-called “backstop” plan to keep open the border with Ireland.

Many Conservative MPs and May’s Northern Irish allies in the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) fear a plan for a temporary customs arrangement with the EU will become permanent, with no way out.

But while EU leaders expressed sympathy for May’s difficulties, they firmly rejected any attempt to reopen a Brexit deal that was only secured last month after 17 months of talks.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who met May in Berlin on Tuesday, said she still “has hope for an orderly exit” but “no intention to change the exit agreement”.

May cancelled a trip to Dublin on Wednesday for talks with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar amid the leadership challenge. She is still expected to attend an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

May has said the parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal depends on her talks with the EU but said it will be held by January 21. Both sides have already stepped up preparations for the possibility that Britain leaves the EU with no deal at all.

Some lawmakers fear the vote might be delayed to pressure MPs into backing May’s deal. A furious opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused May of being “contemptuous of parliament”.

If she survives Wednesday’s vote, May could still face a further confidence motion in the House of Commons at a later date. For now, the DUP says it will back her as long as she renegotiates the backstop — even if EU leaders have warned this will not happen.

Her margin of victory Wednesday could also be pivotal in her ability to rally her party behind her in the weeks ahead.

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