[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]To the French, a known devil is better than an unknown angel
By Shailaja Paramathma
Congratulations France for walking on the razor’s edge and crossing over intact, your fabled capriciousness saving the day. At a time when nations across the board seem to be giving in to the fear of the other—of Muslims in India, of immigrants in the United States and the European Union, and of the European Union in Britain—the French questioned the fear and arrived at a decision unique to themselves. Their choice in their own words was between “the plague and the cholera” and they decided to go with the “banker instead of the fascist”. So Emmanuel Macron becomes the youngest person to ever become president of any country, raising the ambitions of Generation-X parents across the globe. And Marine Le Pen goes back to a party that has never won the presidential elections in France but has brought it closer this time to the presidential seat than ever before.
Where there is moolah
The French are intellectually snobbish about money. So when they had to choose between pro-globalisation Macron and anti-immigration Le Pen as their next president, it was a war between their disdain for capitalists and their intellect telling them that fascism was wrong. And the more the rest of the world opted for rightism, the more eager they became to distance themselves from the ideology and decisively prove to the world that they were not a part of it.
Post the results of the election on Sunday, they confirmed that they had not fallen for the “poudre de perlimpinpin” (like Macron called Le Pen’s solutions to the economic problems of France), a remedy pretending to be miraculous but is absolutely bogus and ineffective in reality. But this was even as they signed arrogant-sounding petitions before it, saying: “Macron, I will vote for you not because I choose you but because I choose to make Le Pen fail.” This was their way of informing Macron that he had not won over their hearts but had just happened to be at the right place at the right time. To clarify their stand to the rest of the world so that they themselves did not have to go to bed feeling conquered, the petitions also said, “I will celebrate if you (Macron) win on May 7, but know that the very next day I will be part of the opposition.”
How come Le Pen?
While they defiantly insisted that Macron was not their candidate, the fact remains that the guys they claimed to agree with—the conservative François Fillon and the revolutionary Leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon—did not even make it to the finals. Yes, on the surface it seems like the French did not fall for the development card as we did in India and they did not give in to fear like the Americans did but they did allow Le Pen’s Front National to make it to round two yet again in 2017.
The easy claim that the French can make of intellectual and cultural superiority over the Americans has been testified in literature, movies and art century after century. They unhesitatingly regard Americans as a population without culture or morals who are forever after money, control and power. While these assumptions may ring true to some minds, it is also true that as globalisation created new jobs in big French cities, it also created unemployment in rural France which was double the national average, which is a very American phenomenon. And these are the places where the Front National under Marine Le Pen’s new marketing and self-promotion method of campaigning eked out a pretty strong base for itself.
Yet, notwithstanding her preference to be called Marine, her inheritance of the tainted Le Pen legacy has for the time being diverted her away from the seat of power. However, one must not over-celebrate this victory and one should definitely not negate the presence of fear and hatred in the French society for the other, for unchecked globalisation and loss in job share.
Right-of-centre Macron’s win over Le Pen on Sunday in France has liberals all over the world finding at best a sense of vindication and at least a respite. Post the Brexit referendum and following the election of Donald Trump in the US, this is no mean feat. They may breathe easy now but they will have to give space and support to Macron when very soon the establishment will find ways to stall him. They will have to continue to see with their discerning eye through media lies and leaked emails. They will have to remain fearless and take into fold the disenfranchised and the old and make them feel integrated in their societies.
Macron’s party, En Marche, might have won the battle but they are yet to win the war. The way ahead is still a big question mark. The legislative elections that will take place in June are crucial. Mid-June French citizens will once again head to the polls for two rounds of voting to elect the country’s 577 members of parliament. En Marche has currently no parliamentary seats or backing. The result of the June elections will be a test of the authority of the new president’s office. If Macron does not win a parliamentary majority, making his reform proposals see the light of day can become a distant dream. If he is constantly opposed and harassed, the quick-tempered Macron may find himself in a position à la Kejriwal and then it will only be a matter of five years before Le Pen finds herself contesting the elections again with a much bigger promise of getting her hands on the keys to the Élysée Palace.
But irrespective of what lies ahead, next time a Hollywood movie wants to depict a Frenchman as the poor cousin from the village with a flock of sheep following him on a rural road, they need to hold up a mirror to their faces and see themselves for what they truly represent, believe in and have chosen as their president. They largely misrepresent Muslims, too, in their movies but that we can come to at another date. For the time being the French is back in fashion.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Mahmood Qureshi held guilty in cipher case
The PTI leaders’ trial has been requested by the FIA, and it is expected that they would be sentenced in accordance with the law.
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi were found guilty on Saturday by Pakistan’s top investigating agency in the cypher case, a case involving the alleged exposure of state secrets.
The charge sheet against Khan, the Tehreek-e-Insaf party chairman, and Qureshi, who are both presently being held in custody on judicial remand, was submitted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to a special court set up under the Official Secrets Act, according to the Pakistan Observer website.
Imran Khan, 70, was detained last month following the filing of a complaint against him for allegedly breaking the Official Secrets Act by revealing a covert diplomatic cable (cypher) issued by the nation’s embassy in Washington last year in March.
The PTI leaders’ trial has been requested by the FIA, and it is expected that they would be sentenced in accordance with the law.
The vice chairman of PTI is 75-year-old Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Asad Umar, the former general secretary of the PTI, is not on the FIA’s list of suspects, but former principal secretary Azam Khan has been portrayed as a key witness in the FIA’s case against Imran Khan, according to GeoTV, a well-known news outlet. The challan also contains Azam Khan’s statement recorded under sections 161 and 164.
The speeches by Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Imran Khan from March 27 are also included in the FIA’s attachment.
The Pakistan Observer further noted that the FIA had provided the court with a list of 28 witnesses in addition to the charge sheet. According to the report, the list of witnesses includes names such as current foreign secretary Asad Majid, previous foreign secretary Sohail Mahmood, and additional foreign secretary Faisal Niaz Tirmizi.
Imran Khan had been imprisoned on remand three times earlier on September 26. Along with Qureshi, his judicial remand was initially extended until September 13 and then again until September 26.
The former PM was transferred from Attock prison to the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi on the same day, one day after the Islamabad High Court instructed authorities to do so.
Pakistan: 34 killed, 130 injured after blast near mosque in Balochistan
City Station House Officer (SHO) Mohammad Javed Lehri asserted that the explosion was a suicide blast
In a tragic incident, nearly 34 people were killed and more than 130 people were injured in a suicide blast near a mosque in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province on Friday, according to reports. The incident took place when people were gathering for a rally to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad. Reports state that the explosion occurred near Madina Mosque in the Mastung district.
Mastung’s Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Nawaz Gashkori, who was on duty for the rally, was among the deceased. The explosion took place when hundreds of people were gathering to mark Eid Miladun Nabi, the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad.
Speaking about the matter, City Station House Officer (SHO) Mohammad Javed Lehri asserted that the explosion was a suicide blast and that the bomber exploded when he himself was standing next to DSP’s car. Mohammad Javed Lehri further affirmed that the wounded are being shifted to a medical facility for immediate treatment while an emergency has been imposed in the hospitals.
Local media reports quoted Dr Saeed Mirwani, who is the chief executive officer of Shaheed Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Raisani Memorial Hospital as saying that nearly 34 people were killed and more than 130 people were injured in the blast in Balochistan. Some of the injured are in critical condition, as per reports.
Balochistan interim Information Minister Jan Achakzai stated that rescue teams have been dispatched to Mastung. He further added that the critically injured persons are being transferred to Quetta and that an emergency has been implemented in all the hospitals.
Jan Achakzai underlined that the enemy wants to destroy religious tolerance and peace in Balochistan with foreign blessings. He added that the explosion was unbearable.
He also affirmed that caretaker Chief Minister Ali Mardan Domki has directed concerned authorities to arrest those responsible for the blast. In addition, interim Interior Minister Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti strongly condemned the blast.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar killing: Canada is committed to building closer ties with India despite credible allegations, says Canadian PM Justin Trudeau
Canadian Prime Minister stated that the US has assured that Secretary of State Antony Blinken would be raising the allegations made publicly about India’s role in Nijjar’s murder during the meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday asserted that Canada is still committed to building closer ties with India, despite credible allegations that the Indian government was involved in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Addressing a press conference, the Prime Minister said that India is a growing economic power and important geopolitical player. He added that as they presented their Indo-Pacific strategy last year, they are very serious about building closer ties with India.
Justin Trudeau underlined that at the same time, as a rule of law country, they need to emphasises that India needs to work with Canada to ascertain that they get the full facts of this matter. He further mentioned that he thinks it is extremely important that Canada and its allies continue to engage constructively and seriously with India.
In addition, the Canadian Prime Minister also stated that the US has assured that Secretary of State Antony Blinken would be raising the allegations made publicly about India’s role in Nijjar’s murder during the meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
He noted that the Americans have been with them in speaking to the Indian government about how important it is that they be involved in following up on the credible allegations that agents of the Indian government killed a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil.
Referring to Canada’s charges about the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Justin Trudeau stated that this is something that all democratic countries, all countries that respect the rule of law, need to take seriously. He added that his country is moving forward in a thoughtful, responsible way anchored in the rule of law along with all their partners, including the approach of the Government of India.
In the past few days, there has been an escalating diplomatic standoff between India and Canada after PN Justin Trudeau told the Canadian House of Commons that the Canadian security agencies had been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Indian government and killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.