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Baloch Leader Accuses Pakistan Army Of Ignoring Balochistan Amid Covid-19 Crisis

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EurAsian Times gets you a report from India’s leading media organization – ANI, which has accused the Pakistan Army of spreading coronavirus infections to expand its so-called occupation in Balochistan.

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“We believe that the Pakistan Army is using coronavirus pandemic to extend its occupation over Balochistan while proceeding with its barbarities and genocide of the Baloch people,” Allah Nizar Baloch, the leader of Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), was quoted as saying by Sangar Publication, a mouthpiece of the movement.

Allah Nizar Baloch said that the disaster of quarantine centre in Taftan (Pakistan-Iran border town) which is run by Pakistan Army “is a clear example”.  The Taftan camp has ben lambasted by people quarantined who have stated that the camp lacks proper medical and isolation facilities and has thus become the hotbed of Covid-19.

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At least 57 per cent of all people who have tested positive for coronavirus in Pakistan passed through the camp at some stage, according to government data cited by Al Jazeera, says the ANI report.

Earlier, as Pakistan media reported, hundreds of pilgrims from Iran trapped in coronavirus quarantine camps at Taftan lacked medical care, had poor facilities which could have helped the virus to spread, unchecked.

Speaking to AFP, the occupants of Taftan camp said the facility lacks running water or flushable toilets, with detainees only able to wash every few days. “I have been using the same mask for over seven days now,” one quarantined pilgrim at Taftan, who asked not to be named, said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “If I didn’t have the virus when I first got here, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that I have it now.”

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The total confirmed cases of coronavirus in Pakistan as on Saturday morning, IST, has reached 1363 with 11 deaths and 23 cases of recovery. The total cases in Balochistan so far is 133.

Coming back to accusations of the Baloch leader – “In case if this disease spreads across Balochistan, it would be uncontrollable. Balochistan, which lacks basic amenities of life including healthcare and the people of Balochistan, who in this modern age, are already dying from curable diseases like malaria, would be affected irrecoverably,” Nizar said.

“For the last seventy years, the occupying forces have plundered the resources of rich Balochistan by selling them for a pittance. In return, we have got poverty and humiliation from Pakistan,” he added. Disclosing further upon the condition of health amenities in the region, the BLF leader stated that there are only four ventilators in the entire Balochistan which is the basic requirement to treat patients infected by coronavirus.

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In Balochistan, only Sheik Zayad Hospital has the facility of isolation rooms which are not more than a dozen. Amid such a situation, self-imposed precautions are the only way to avoid contraction for the oppressed people, he stressed.”The majority of our population dwells in villages and hillsides and their lives mostly depend on agriculture and livestock. Amid the growing cases of coronavirus, they should either opt to stay at home or try to limit their movements and do not expect and wait for help from the state of Pakistan,” Nizar noted.

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“I appeal to the Baloch people that they should understand the machinations of Pakistan and prefer to stay in their homes and rely on preventive measures,” the BLF leader further stated. Balochistan has so far reported 131 cases, as per data compiled by Geo News.

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Pakistan Army Ambushed in Balochistan, Upto 20 Soldiers Reportedly Killed

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that security forces were patrolling near Gichak valley in the Panjgur district of Balochistan when they came under attack. 

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Three soldiers of Pakistan Army were killed and eight others, including an officer, were injured in an ambush on their convoy near Gichak valley in Balochistan’s Panjgur district on Tuesday. The Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.

In a statement issued after the ambush, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that security forces were patrolling near Gichak valley in the Panjgur district of Balochistan when they came under attack.

“Three soldiers embraced shahadat [martyrdom] while eight soldiers received injuries, including an officer. Five injured are critical,” the ISPR said. The injured soldiers were shifted to Combined Military Hospital in Quetta where 5 remain in critical condition.

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said that the attack was a “condemnable act of terrorism”.

Senate Deputy Chairperson Saleem Mandviwala condemned the firing on security forces’ patrolling party in Balochistan, saying it was a plot to harm peace in Pakistan. “The entire nation stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the armed forces,” Mandviwala said. “Our soldiers have made many sacrifices to help establish peace in the country.”

Counter Claims

Contrary to Pakistani media claims, other news outlets report that the casualty figures are higher. In its report, Al Jazeera said that 8 Pakistani Army soldiers were killed in the ambush attack in Balochistan.

The BLF claimed responsibility for the attack and said that 20 soldiers had been eliminated. BLF spokesman Major Gwahram Baloch said that this morning Sarmachaars attacked a convoy of five vehicles of Pakistan Army in Gichk area of Panjgoor district.

At Mok-e-Kandag, Sarmachaars ambushed the occupying forces with rockets and automatic heavy weapons. The attack damaged all five vehicles and killed more than 20 personnel, including an officer on board.  The BLF has vowed not to stop the attacks until Balochistan attains independence.

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Middle East

Israeli Air Force Unveils New ‘Special Forces Squadron’, Experts Call It Blue Print For Indian Air Force

Could Israel’s Revolutionary Air Force Unit become the blueprint for future Indian Air Force (IAF) squadrons? Aviation experts suggest it could happen and much like the Israeli Air Force, it would revolutionize the IAF as well.

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Israel’s Air Force has unveiled a revolutionary unit which contains all the special forces of the aerial warfare branch, consolidating them under one command.

The 7th Aerial Special Forces Wing will combine all Israeli Air Force’s special forces under one command. Aviation experts in India believe that the revolutionary squadron from Israel could become a blueprint for future Indian Air Force (IAF) squadrons.

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According to an army press release, the 7th Aerial Special Forces Wing was established to meet operational needs and respond to changing and growing threats in the various arenas. The 7th Aerial Special Forces Wing will include search-and-rescue Unit 669, Shaldag commando unit and outfit that builds airfields behind enemy lines.

The move aims “to increase the operational effectiveness of the units. The wing will function as a complementary and unique component to Israeli Air Force activities through special depth, routine and emergency operations.”

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The Israeli Air Force routinely carries out military operations in the Gaza Strip, typically targeting installations of Hamas, as well as carrying out airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria, as part of the effort by Israel to ensure Tehran does not expand its military presence in the war-torn country.

The new wing will contain the air force’s Unit 669, the elite search-and-rescue group; the Shaldag commando unit; the Frontal Landing Unit, which builds ad hoc landing strips behind enemy lines; a dedicated intelligence unit for the wing; and a special forces school.

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IAF Commanding Officer Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin has hailed the introduction of the 7th Aerial Special Forces Wing and has described it as moving into a new era in the history of Israeli Air Force.  “We are standing on the shoulders of our predecessors, who were courageous and took action, and now we are leading the way.”Today we move forward to a new chapter,” he said.

The introduction of 7th Aerial Special Forces Wing has generated a buzz amongst aviation experts and enthusiast in India who feel that this squadron could be the blueprint for future IAF squadrons.

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Surrounded by adversaries Pakistan and China, IAF is looking to increase its squadrons from 28 to 40. An IAF squadron modelled after the 7th Aerial Special Forces Wing would be ideal for India to counter any aggression by Islamabad or Beijing. It would also prepare India for a two-front battle, should that scenario ever become a reality, experts talking to EurAsian Times argue.

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Asia Pacific

India-China Economic Romance Cannot End With A Mere Border Clash – Chinese Experts

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India and China have been at each other’s throat for more than a month now. Aside from the military confrontation in Ladakh, India has also moved to disengage from China economically.

While the move has got the support from the majority of Indians, Cui Hui’ao of the China Global Television Network (CGTN) writes that disengaging from China might not be a choice for India and that economic de-coupling is driven politically by Narendra Modi.

As reported by Eurasian Times consistently during last month, the feud between India and China has been a rollercoaster ride. From military buildup, deadly clashes to de-escalation and eventual withdrawal, the clash of the two Asiatic giants has seen it all.

Cui writes that apart from the military confrontation, India has retaliated in the economic sphere, referring to the decision by the Indian government to ban 59 Chinese application including TikTok, WeChat and ShareIt and the call to boycott Chinese products.

The journalist at CGTN writes that decoupling from China may be easier said than done for India. He says that India is not a manufacturing powerhouse, so in terms of bilateral trade, it actually buys much more from China than the other way around.

Cui analyses trade data to support the fact that New Delhi will find it difficult to reduce its dependence on Chinese imports. Between April 2019 and March 2020, India imported over 65 billion U.S. dollars’ worth of goods from China.

Cui is of the opinion that the coronavirus pandemic has hit the Indian economy hard and in fact, the disengagement is driven by politics rather than economics. He finds it difficult to accept that India’s disengagement from China would take place at a time when the Indian economy is projected to contract by 4.5% according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Economic Disengagement Driven Politically 

Speaking to Cui, Cheng Xizhong, a visiting professor from Southwest University of Political Science and Law, says that the decision to de-couple from China economically is because of the domestic pressure on Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi.

‘’Since his second term began yet Indian economy is a mess. He has to find a way to shift the public attention elsewhere,” he said.

The author agrees with the point made by Cheng Xizhong and writes that pressure on the Indian PM Modi comes from multiple fronts, including his own supporters, businesses, and farmers union. But this time, the nationalistic voice is even louder.

Other experts interviewed by Chui agree that New Delhi would benefit more if it partnered with Beijing. Professor Cheng, a former Chinese military diplomat in South Asia, said that since India started its opening-up in the 1990s, its economic growth has been crippled by lack of high-quality infrastructure and it would wiser if India and China work together.

Similar views are shared by Indian economist Biswajit Dhar, who says that India’s decision to start producing domestically has to be strategic and it cannot take the decision to produce everything.”

While India and China disengage at the battlefront in Ladakh, the Indian government is looking for solutions to reduce its dependency on Chinese imports. PM Modi has encouraged all Indians to become self-reliant (Aatmanirbhar) by producing and purchasing indigenous goods and boost the Indian economy.

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