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The Express Tribune Editorial 30 January 2021

Mangal Bagh killing

 

Afghan officials have ‘confirmed’ that Mangal Bagh, one of Pakistan’s most wanted men, was killed by a roadside bomb near his home in Afghanistan’s Nangahar province. According to the provincial governor, two of Bagh’s associates were also killed in the bombing. Bagh was the leader of the Lashkar-e-Islam terrorist group, which is responsible for several attacks on Pakistani and American military and civilian targets, apart from being involved in several criminal enterprises such as drug trafficking and kidnapping for ransom. The group is also affiliated with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. Bagh’s personal notoriety had ‘earned’ him a $3 million bounty from the Americans. While Bagh has been reported dead several times in the past, this report appears to be more reliable, coming from the local governor and the Afghan President’s office.
Indeed, Bagh, who was previously accused by Pakistani sources of being an Afghan government asset, had all sides baying for his blood. Most recently, there were reports that he had been injured in an Afghan government airstrike. This represented a massive change from just a few years ago when Pakistani security officials would accuse the Afghan National Directorate of Security of using Pakistani-origin militants as proxies against Pakistan. But like all proxy terrorists, Bagh eventually turned around to bite the hand that once fed him. From simply using Afghan soil, he began taking it, especially after fleeing Pakistan in 2008. Even then, because he was also allegedly fighting against the Afghan Taliban, the government in Kabul gave him considerable leeway. But he eventually took enough land in Afghanistan to be considered a minor warlord.
These advances, and his increasing involvement in the opium trade, apparently marked the point at which the Afghans turned their attention towards him. Unfortunately, they failed at the time, and Bagh launched a deadly campaign against the Afghan government as well. Despite his increasing notoriety in the region, source-based reports seem to suggest that his death was not at the hands of government forces, but rather due to infighting within the group, or possibly with Daesh, which Lashkar-e-Islam had also been fighting. But whatever the cause, the next step must be a coordinated response to destroy the hydra, lest it be given time to grow another head.

 

 

Negotiating Britain’s future

 

Britain’s exit from the union of European countries was the biggest reset for both parties. Initiated in 2016, the UK-EU divorce proceedings dragged for years before the final withdrawal agreement was passed by the lawmakers in London and Brussels. And finally, on January 31, 2020, the exit from Europe became a reality for those who opposed the idea of the UK being part of the union. While Prime Minister Boris Johnson was quick to claim the rebirth of Britain before the House of Commons earlier this month, his country’s post-Brexit struggles are far from over.
In fact, Britain’s hangover of Brexit is just beginning to show its first signs. The UK may have the independence to set its own trade agenda, make changes in the way of governance at home, and find its new role in the world, but all of it comes at the expense of a different and perhaps complex relationship European countries — its immediate neighbors. For starters, the UK will survive, and it should even after its separation from Europe. But its citizens will have to work much harder than they should to succeed. The movement of services and its people will suffer greatly under the new agreement and that should take a toll on the economy in the long run. Some experts equate Brexit to death by a thousand cuts. Well — it probably is. Britain’s mercantile mindset towards the EU will cost the nation more than the gains its leaders might have estimated in the post-Brexit age. The possibility of disputes between the two sides will emerge as a new constant in the post-Brexit era.
Britain’s exit from the union has already given birth to new barriers to trade. While these issues might get resolved as time passes, there is enough reason to believe that the UK will continue to pay the price for exiting Europe for some time to come. The Brexit camp, which includes Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is celebrating sovereignty for now, but there is so much more that needs to be negotiated.

 

 

Fort Fawad

 

A comeback to international cricket after a gap of 10 years or so is rare. Even rarer is a successful one. Fawad Alam has thus had an outstanding return to cricket arenas. The left-handed batsman has hit two centuries in four tests since his re-entry after a gap of more than 10 years. One of them – during the first Test of the ongoing series against South Africa in Karachi concluding yesterday – has been a match-winning knock. This takes his tally of test centuries to three, none of which has come against a weak opposition or in easy conditions.
Fawad hit the first century on his debut against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka back in 2009; he slammed his second one, on his comeback in 2020, against New Zealand in New Zealand when his team had reduced to 37 for 3 under tough batting conditions; and the latest from his bat came during the Karachi test after the Proteas pace attack had ripped through Pakistan’s top order with a paltry 27 for 4 on the board. Fawad’s defences stand as tough and tall as a fort, with even top bowlers finding it difficult to penetrate through.
While Fawad’s performance speaks of his professional class, it also calls in question the acumen of cricket czars in the country who continued to ignore an exceptional talent while he continued to pile up runs in the domestic circuit thumping the doors of the selection committee. There may be a problem with his technique, his unorthodox stance may be the most weirdest too, and he may lack elegance, but no expert can disagree to his superb temperament and excellent concentration at the crease – elements that are a genuine asset for a Test batsman – as well his great determination and a never-say-die spirit.
Fawad is a victim of likes and dislikes, a glaring example of neglect and injustice. At 35 years and 124 days, Fawad may not continue for more than a few years. But he has set an example of hardwork, resilience and patience which is worth following.

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