15.04.2019

The Indian print media has deplored the attack on the minority Hazara community in Quetta, Pakistan that killed more than twenty people. The dailies have opined that the ‘Brexit’ issue could lead to more trouble, in case British politicians do not find an amicable solution to the issue. The arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London has been discussed by the Indian press.

THE STATESMAN in an editorial SYMPTOM OF A CANKER writes, restive Balochistan has been convulsed yet again with outrage perpetrated by a suicide bomber that has killed more than 20 people in Quetta’s wholesale vegetable market. It was a brutal offensive against the minority Hazara community ~ a segment of the Shias. This is the first major incident of intra-faith strife in the nine months since Imran Khan has been the Pakistan Prime Minister. It reinforces the dominant impression in the subcontinent that successive dispensations in Pakistan have consistently failed to protect its minorities. This is the cardinal issue in the wider canvas, aside from the economic implications of the barbarity that has targeted a vibrant centre of wholesale trade. Fears that the bloodletting against the minorities might recur in the province, bordering Afghanistan, are dangerously real. The Hazaras have been victims of sectarian violence, even targeted killings or surgical strikes for many years. Though the frequency of the attacks on Hazaras has declined over the past few months, the latest offensive reaffirms that the Shias are much vulnerable in volatile Quetta.

THE INDIAN EXPRESS in an editorial THE SAGA OF BREXIT says the United Kingdom’s continuing confusion over its plans to implement an exit from the European Union is now tiring the world. It remains unclear if the EU’s extension of the exit deadline from April 12 to October 31 will help clear the fog in the minds of British politicians about what they want — soft Brexit or hard Brexit; “Irish backstop” or hard border between British Northern Ireland

and the Republic of Ireland; another referendum or not. This is the second time the EU has given an extension — the first was from March 29 to April 12. While the new deadline has given some breathing space to the Conservative government of Theresa May, there is the humiliation of having to participate in the May 23 European Union elections, a condition on which the extension was granted. This means that British politicians on all sides of the debate, from the right and the left, will need to contest an election to a parliament in which, going by the Brexit referendum, more than half of British voters have no belief. Moreover, the results could end up complicating the options even more.

THE HINDU in an editorial SECRETS AND AGENTS opines the arrest of Julian Assange, the head of the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, has renewed a global debate on balancing freedom of expression (or the right to information) with considerations towards the national security of a country. After nearly seven years of eluding authorities in the U.S. and the U.K., facing charges related to theft of classified information from government computers, he was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London last week following Ecuador President Lenín Moreno’s withdrawal of his country’s grant of asylum to Mr. Assange, for “repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocols”. Ecuador had earlier limited Assange’s Internet access. As he sits in jail for up to a year on bail-jumping charges from 2012 in a now-closed case relating to sexual assault allegations by a complainant from Sweden, he will find out whether he will ultimately face the prospect of extradition to the U.S. At the heart of the drama is the question whether Mr. Assange is a “journalist” in the traditional sense of the word and whether, following that line of reasoning, freedom of expression is endangered or constrained by the action taken in this case.

     Script: Padam Singh, Air: News Analyst