Editorial

Briefing: 22/8/17

Here is CurrentHow’s Briefing™ for the 22nd of August, 2017 :-

1. Triple talaq declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court :-

The five-judge constitution bench, comprising five judges of five faiths – Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism- was split 3:2 as it struck down triple talaq as unconstitutional.

The five judgements were read out separately. Three of the five judges overruled the senior-most judge, the Chief Justice of India JS Khehar.

The court has passed a six-month injunction against the Muslim instant divorce law, in which time it has asked Parliament to legislate on it and bring in a law.

Justice Nariman, Justice Lalit and Justice Kurien Justices Kurien Joseph, Rohinton Fali Nariman and Udey Umesh Lalit held that triple talaq is not integral to Islam, is banned in law and lacks approval of the Shariat.

“What is sinful under religion cannot be valid under law,” the three judges said. They held triple talaq violated the right to equality because it was instant in nature, was irreversible and broke the marital tie.

Chief Justice Khehar and Justice S Abdul Nazir argued stating that while triple talaq may be “sinful”, courts could not interfere with an Islamic personal law which enjoyed protection under the fundamental rights of the
Indian constitution.

They argued that courts and not parliament should bring a law to end the practice.

Justice Joseph disagreed, stating, “There cannot be any Constitutional protection to such a practice.”

While pronouncing the judgement, CJI Khehar, however, upheld the practice and said, “Talaq-e-biddat (instantaneous talaq) is not violative of articles 14, 15, 21 and 25 of the Constitution.”

The CJI further used his power under Article 142 and directed the Union of India to form a proper legislature regarding talaq-e-iddat (talaq with a waiting period).

Chief Justice JS Khehar asked Parliament to pass a law to deal with the issue.

He, however, injuncted Muslim men from pronouncing triple talaq for the next six months and asked political parties to shed their difference and enact a law.

The top court reportedly referred to the abolition of triple talaq in the Islamic countries and asked “why can’t independent India get rid of it.”

2. NATO Secretary General welcomes new U.S. approach on Afghanistan :-

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday welcomed President Donald Trump’s decision to dispatch more troops to Afghanistan.

“NATO remains fully committed to Afghanistan and I am looking forward to discussing the way ahead with (Defense) Secretary (James) Mattis and our Allies and international partners,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.

NATO has 12,000 troops in Afghanistan, and 15 countries have pledged more, Stoltenberg said.

3. Taliban warns Afghanistan will become ‘graveyard’ for the U.S. :-

The Taliban warned that Afghanistan would become “a graveyard” for the United States Tuesday after President Donald Trump cleared the way for thousands more American troops to be sent to the war-torn country.

“If America doesn’t withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, soon Afghanistan will become another graveyard for this superpower in the 21st century,” Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban in Afghanistan, said in a statement.

He added that America should think of an exit strategy “instead of continuing the war”.

“As long as there is one US soldier in our land, and they continue to impose war on us, we, with a high morale will continue our jihad,” Mujahid said.

Trump backtracked from his promise to rapidly end America’s longest war in his first formal address to the nation as commander-in-chief late Monday, though he did not offer specifics.

He said he had concluded “the consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable”, leaving a vacuum that terrorists “would instantly fill”.

While Trump refused to offer detailed troop numbers, senior White House officials said he had already authorised his defence secretary to deploy up to 3,900 more troops to Afghanistan.

Earlier Mujahid had dismissed the strategy as vague and “nothing new”.

“For now I can tell you there was nothing new in his speech and it was very unclear,” he told AFP.

A senior Taliban commander told AFP that Trump was just perpetuating the “arrogant behaviour” of previous presidents such as George W. Bush.

“He is just wasting American soldiers. We know how to defend our country. It will not change anything.

“For generations we have fought this war, we are not scared, we are fresh and we will continue this war until our last breath,” he told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.

He added that the statement proved the current Afghan government “is a US puppet”.

The insurgents signalled their intentions minutes after Trump spoke by claiming the US embassy in Kabul had been the target of a rocket attack late Monday.

The rocket landed in a field in the city’s diplomatic quarter, with no casualties reported.

Trump also lambasted US ally Pakistan for offering safe haven to “agents of chaos”.

A commander from the Taliban-allied Haqqani network, long believed to have links to Pakistan’s shadowy military establishment, told AFP that Trump “has proved it’s a Crusade”.

“His statement has proved that he wants to eliminate the entire Muslim umma (community),” he said.

Prior to Trump’s announcement the Taliban had written an open letter warning him not to send more troops and calling for the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.

4. Want India to ‘help us more’ in Afghanistan :-

The US today ruled out a hasty withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan as President Donald Trump warned Pakistan of consequences if it continues to provide safe havens to terror groups and sought an enhanced role for India to bring peace in the war-torn country.

Trump, in a prime-time televised address to the nation, laid out his South Asia policy saying a “critical part” of it was to further develop US’ strategic partnership with India.

He said after a “comprehensive review”, it has been decided that the American strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia will change dramatically.

“A core pillar of our new strategy is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions. I’ve said many times how counterproductive it is for the United States to announce in advance, the dates we intend to begin, or end, military operations,” Trump said in his address.

“We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities,” Trump said as he announced his South Asia policy in front of about 2,000 people from all five services and top officials of his administration.

Trump slammed Pakistan for its continued support to terrorist groups and warned Islamabad of consequences if it continues to do so.

“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” Trump said.

“Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbour terrorists,” he said, in a apparent warning to Pakistan.

The US President reached out to India seeking an enhanced role for New Delhi, especially in the economic field, to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan.

India, the world’s largest democracy, is a key security and economic partner of the United States, he said.

“We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development,” Trump said.

5. Barcelona attacker shot dead by Spanish Police :-

Spanish police on Monday shot dead an Islamist militant who killed 13 people with a van in Barcelona last week, ending a five-day manhunt for the perpetrator of Spain’s deadliest attack in over a decade.

Police said they tracked 22-year-old Younes Abouyaaqoub to a rural area near Barcelona and shot him after he held up what looked like an explosives belt and shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest). The bomb squad used a robot to approach his body.

Abouyaaqoub had been on the run since Thursday evening, after he drove at high speed into throngs of strollers along Barcelona’s most famous avenue, Las Ramblas. After fleeing the scene, he hijacked a car and fatally stabbed its driver.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which police believe was planned by a dozen accomplices, including a brother and two first cousins of the Moroccan-born Abouyaaqoub.

Abouyaaqoub had been the only one of 12 accomplices still at large. His mother, Hannou Ghanimi, had appealed for him to surrender, saying she would rather see him in jail than dead.

Of the other 11 in the militant cell, five were shot dead by police hours after the van attack, two were killed and one injured the day before in a blast in a house where they were apparently making explosives, and three were arrested elsewhere.

“Shortly before 5 p.m., the police shot down Younes Abouyaaqoub, the driver of the van in the attack that killed 14 people in Barcelona,” Carles Puigdemont, head of the Catalonia regional government, told a news conference. He said the bomb belt turned out to be a fake one.

An employee at a petrol station, along an empty stretch of road between the towns of Subirats and Sant Sadurni d’Anoi, spotted a man resembling Abouyaaqoub and called the police.

Sant Sadurni Mayor Maria Rosell said all police forces in Catalonia converged on the town. Police found Abouyaaqoub hiding in vineyards and shot him dead a kilometre down the road next to a sewage treatment plant.

Cristiano Pecchi, an Italian tourist, first heard gunfire at around 4 p.m. (1400 GMT) Shortly afterwards, he said, up to 30 police cars arrived along with helicopters and ambulances.

“I was just waiting for my car to be fixed and suddenly we heard gunfire and all hell was let loose,” he said.

The scene unfolded 40 km (25 miles) from the spot, close to the FC Barcelona soccer stadium on the outskirts of the city, where police said Abouyaaqoub had seized the hijacked car.

Police said Abouyaaqoub had first fled Las Ramblas on foot amid the chaos of the attack, then commandeered the car, stabbing the driver, 34-year-old Pau Perez, to death before smashing his way through a police checkpoint and ditching the car in the nearby town of Sant Just Desvern.

The four people arrested so far in connection with the attacks are three Moroccans and a citizen of Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla. They were taken on Monday to the high court in Madrid, which has jurisdiction over terrorism matters.

Abouyaaqoub lived in Ripoll, a town in the Pyrenees mountains north of Barcelona close to the French border.

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