Daily Times Editorial August 17, 2019

Unending war in Yemen


The Yemen conflict, ignited by the Saudi-led coalition, is a perfect example that how a war can go directionless if started with any proper strategy. The initial parties to the conflict were the Iran-backed Houthis and Saudi-backed Yemen’s internationally recognised Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi government. The ill-conceived interference by the Saudi coalition in the internal affairs of Yemen four years ago has now a new player: the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC). The Saudi coalition jumped into the poorly strategised conflict on the pretext of pushing back Houthi rebels with little or no care about human lives. Despite its massive aerial power, and the total military and political support of the US, the coalition has yet to reach Yemen’s capital Sana’a. After failing to meet their own stated goal to restore the ousted government, the coalition has now declared Aden the new capital. This feat was attained at a heavy cost: a horrible humanitarian crisis. The country faces a food crisis while thousands of its citizens and non-combatants have been killed in aerial bombings and tens of thousands have been displaced.
Among the flurry of crises, the entry of the STC, a militia group, earlier a partner of the Saudi-led coalition, is partly ironic and partly tragic. The ironic part is the STC staged a rebellion against their masters and captured the presidential palace in Aden and the main port. The tragic part is that now the conflict has become a three-way war. Now, Saudi jets are raining most of their gunpowder on STC-controlled strategic sites whereas the Shia Houthis continue controlling much of the country’s north. The toothless government of Hadi, which controls much of southern Yemen, is being run from Saudi Arabia. It faces huge challenges from the STC which wants the separation of south Yemen.
The STC is allegedly backed by the UAE, which signals cracks in the Saudi-led coalition. The UAE was a key Saudi partner when it triggered the conflict four year ago. Also, the UAE has been a traditional ally of Saudi Arabia in the region on all fronts like Egypt, Iran, Syria, and Qatar. The UAE has shown its frustration with the endless war on several occasions. The basic point of contention, however, is the Saudis’ support to the Hadi government, which has several Sunni Islamic parties as allies. Of them, Islah is stated to be an offshoot of the Brotherhood. For those reasons, the UAE is banking on the STC to build southern Yemen, leaving the northern part to the Houthis. The best course for the warring factions is to declare a ceasefire and enter into talks to end the war.


Ban on Indian movies and advertisements


Amid the height of tension between Pakistan and India, authorities in Islamabad have sprung into action against the sale of compact discs (CDs) of Indian movies and also imposed a ban on airing of advertisements projecting India-made products on television channels. Raids on CD shops must have reminded most Pakistanis of the Zia era, when the police would often raid video rental shops and seize the cassettes of Indian movies. Instead of promoting the local film production sector, the martial government of the 80s thought that by raiding VCR shops, it would eliminate Indian movies from Pakistan. It never happened and we gradually lost the cultural war. Recently, our TV drama and cinema have made a successful comeback and that is the riveting answer to Indian movies. Also, CDs are losing their importance due to the easy and cheap availability of content online.
Raids on CD shops would have earned worldwide appreciation had they been carried out to uproot the culture of piracy from Pakistan. The easy availability of pirated CDs and books discourages creativity and violates internationally recognised copy rights laws. Pakistan is often regarded as the hub of pirated products, which has rendered losses to manufacturers, artists, writers and intellectuals. Firdous Ashiq Awan, special assistant to the prime minister on information, says the interior ministry-led raids had initially targeted shops of Indian movies in Islamabad and they would be carried out in other parts of the country soon in collaboration with provincial governments. It is hoped that the next round of such raids would aim at eradicating piracy as well.
Side by side, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has banned airing of ads for India-made products on television and radio networks. This measure would help the local infotainment and advertising sectors flourish as most of the manufacturers would find it easy to run their ready-made ads on local TV and radio networks. The recent development underscores the need for compliance to Pemra laws. For years, cable network operators have been airing Indian content without any check. Despite a Supreme Court directive in October last year, such channels have been openly showing Indian movies. Pemra, which has now banned the broadcast of all advertisements featuring Indian products or personalities under Section 27(a) of the Pemra Ordinance 2002, needs to enforce its law in letter and spirit.

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