US Federal prosecutors unsealed a wide-ranging indictment of Donald Trump today accusing the former US president of endangering national security by holding on to top secret nuclear and defense documents after leaving the White House.
The 76-year-old Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, took "hundreds" of classified government documents in cardboard boxes to his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, the 49-page charge sheet said.
Trump kept the files -- which included records from the Pentagon, CIA and National Security Agency -- unsecured at Mar-a-Lago, which regularly hosted large social events involving tens of thousands of guests over time, the indictment said.
In convicted, it will be difficult for Donald Trump to run for the 2024 presidency.
Former US President Donald Trump said that he has been indicted over his handling of classified documents after leaving office, the former US president's most serious legal threat yet as a firestorm of criminal investigations imperils his bid for a second White House term. "The corrupt Biden Administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax," Trump wrote on his platform Truth Social as he broke what would be bombshell news of a historic moment for the United States: the first time a sitting or former commander-in-chief has ever faced federal charges.
There was no immediate confirmation from the Justice Department regarding Trump's assertion, although some US media outlets including The New York Times cited sources saying that Trump has indeed been indicted.
In his post, Trump, who is running for president again, said he has been summoned to a federal courthouse Tuesday in Miami. "I never thought it possible that such a thing could happen to a former President of the United States," he wrote.
After Donald Trump announced that he has been indicted over his handling of classified documents in what could be a bombshell news, billionaire Elon Musk came out in support of the former US president, pointing to a "far higher interest" in pursuing the Republican Party leader compared to other people in politics.
"Very important that the justice system rebut what appears to be differential enforcement or they will lose public trust," Elon Musk, who has predicted Donald Trump would be re-elected in a "landslide victory" if he is indicted in the case, said on Twitter.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, during his visit to India, did not hesitate to describe such behaviour as a form of “bullying and coercion”. With ongoing tensions between China and India at the border in Ladakh, as well as China’s aggressive posturing in the Indo-Pacific and South China Sea He further emphasised that the India-US relationship serves as a “cornerstone” for a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Austin made these remarks at a press conference held in New Delhi following detailed discussions with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. The two leaders thoroughly reviewed the situation in the strategically important Indo-Pacific region, including the ongoing situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) facing China.
Austin pointed out that China’s actions include attempts to forcefully redraw borders, which poses a direct threat to the sovereignty of nations. He also highlighted the Russian aggression against Ukraine, which shares similar aims of changing borders through force and undermining national sovereignty.
Additionally, Austin emphasised the significance of collaborative military exercises between India and the United States. He acknowledged the existence of transnational issues such as terrorism and climate change in our rapidly changing world.
He stated, “So, democracies must now rally together around not only our common interests but also our shared values. Preserving and protecting the freedoms that are essential to peace and prosperity will require vigorous leadership from the United States and India. We still have a lot of work to do, but I am confident that the US-India partnership will help secure an open and prosperous future for the Indo-Pacific and the wider world.”
While speaking at an event in San Francisco during his visit to the US, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said today that the government used "all its strength" to stop the Bharat Jodo Yatra. Rahul Gandhi arrived in San Francisco on Tuesday to begin a three-city tour of the United States. During his visit, he will meet with Indian expatriates and American lawmakers. "The government used all its strength to stop the Bharat Jodo Yatra. The BJP is threatening people and misusing government agencies. But nothing worked and the impact of the Yatra increased. This happened because the idea of 'Join India' is in everyone's heart," Rahul Gandhi said. "The Bharat Jodo Yatra started because all the instruments that we needed to connect with the people were controlled by the BJP-RSS."
The Bharat Jodo Yatra began in Kanyakumari on September 7 in 2022 and covered over 3,000 km before concluding in Srinagar on January 30 where Mr Gandhi raised the national flag. "The Bharat Jodo Yatra carried the spirit of affection, respect and humility. If one studies history, it can be seen that all spiritual leaders-including Guru Nanak Dev ji, Guru Basavanna ji, Narayana Guru ji-united the nation in a similar way," Rahul Gandhi said.
Rahul Gandhi's comments come just weeks before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US. Prime Minister Modi will arrive in the US in June at the invitation of President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden. The US president and the First Lady will also host a state dinner for the PM on June 22.
At the community event in San Francisco, Rahul Gandhi reiterated his party's call for a caste census. He said that it would be like an "x-ray" of society, revealing the extent of caste discrimination. He also said that schemes such as Nyay and MGNREGA would help in providing economic justice to the poor.
Rahul Gandhi accused the BJP and the RSS of attacking the Constitution and said that they were trying to divide the country on caste and religious lines. The 52-year-old is expected to speak to Indian Americans, meet with Wall Street executives, and interact with university students during his six-day-long tour of the US. He is scheduled to conclude his trip with a public gathering in New York on June 4 at the Javits Center.
Meanwhile, BJP attacked Rahul Gandhi for spreading lies and taking national issues to overseas destinations to defame the country.
The arrest and release of former Pakistani PM Imran Khan
Pakistan is stuck in a deep economic crisis. Now the resurgence of terrorist attacks, the dramatic arrest of former PM Imran Khan from a court complex, and the subsequent nationwide riots have plunged the country into complete chaos. Although the Supreme Court has ordered the release of his arrest on illegal grounds, the situation in the country is still critical. The big fear is that if the situation worsens, the army may be ready to seize power. Imran was detained in connection with a land scam in which he and his wife were involved.
Seventy-year-old Khan was a cricketer-turned-politician who is now seen as the country's most popular politician. Imran was arrested by Pakistani Rangers from the Islamabad High Court House, and his lawyers and security personnel were beaten and driven away. The provocative move is seen not by Pak PM Shehbaz Sharif’s government but by the Pakistan Army as Imran is on a collision course with the powerful military establishment. Imran's supporters stormed the army headquarters in Rawalpindi and the corps commander's residence in Lahore in a spontaneous outburst of public anger. Massive protests on major roads, including entry and exit spots, have almost cut Lahore off from the rest of the country.
Imran's supporters are committing heavy violence in different parts of the country. In a pre-recorded video, Imran claimed that fundamental rights and democracy have been buried in Pakistan. This is also true and correct because the power of governance in Pakistan is not in the hands of the Prime Minister, the President, or the Parliament as in a democracy; it is in the hands of the army. The elected prime minister and ministers in Pakistan are just puppets of the army. The army runs the country by electing the prime minister for its own interests, and when the leaders go against their orders, they are killed, hanged, or put behind bars after making a case against them. Despite Imran's release, if the situation becomes uncontrollable, martial law will be imposed. It is also true that every action taken by the present government since coming to power has proved that the so-called Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), which claims to be the champion of democracy in Pakistan, never had any interest in protecting democracy. The PDM members forming the current coalition government have now done all that work. The actions for which they used to criticize the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government and Imran Khan are now being carried out by themselves.
The Pakistani government is now in league with the military establishment, targeting its political opponents with vague 'sedition laws', 'ridiculous charges' or 'corrupt practices'. These are the same actions that he had earlier strongly criticized when such allegations were made to target former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The arrest warrant issued against Imran Khan is proof of this. This is another absurd attempt to stop Imran Khan from returning to power. The plan is to arrest opposition politicians, suppress their voices, ban inappropriate media networks, target critical journalists, and rig elections ahead of elections later this year. The Shahbaz Sharif government wants to weaken its political opponents by using these tactics. Pakistan has politicians and their staunch supporters who sell their souls to the devil for power. PDM supporters who once claimed to be pro-democracy now have no problem imprisoning their political opponents to retain power.
The situation is almost the same on both sides of the spectrum. None of these politicians, political parties, or most of their supporters really care about preserving the democratic system in Pakistan.
However, the treatment by the military establishment will certainly tarnish Imran's image as a fighter for democracy. The latest developments have almost dashed hopes of breaking the current political deadlock through any talks. Imran's arrest has only plunged the government and the military establishment deeper into the conflict, and this has created even greater distrust and resentment among the people. After being ousted as prime minister in a no-confidence vote in April last year, Imran has earned the status of a people's hero and has been openly indicting senior military officials on various charges.
Demanding early general elections, Imran was holding rallies against the army and the Shahbaz Sharif government that replaced Imran's regime. If all goes according to plan, Imran will almost certainly be convicted of one or more of the several charges brought against him and barred from running for the PM's office. If postponing the elections and silencing the public would only increase the rift between the people and the government, which might have disastrous consequences for Pakistan and its people.
Surjit Singh Flora is a veteran journalist and freelance writer based in Brampton Canada
On the eve of 24th February 2022, the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin called upon a Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine, primarily to stop the NATO expansion into Ukraine and against the use of force by Ukraine in the areas primarily Russian, as per the Russian narrative. History became witness to the largest military operation on European soil since the end of World War 2. The military operation opened multiple fronts on the borders of Ukraine, mainly through the Donbas area and the other through Crimea, which Russia had annexed in 2014, following the coup in Ukraine. The proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic were supposedly the two oblasts that sought independence from Ukraine, as the military operation commenced. By the end of August’22, 4 oblasts of Ukraine were under military occupation by the Russian Federation. In the oblasts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhia, referendums were organized, and following the declaration of Kherson and Zaporizhia as independent countries on 29th September, on 30th September 2022, the Russian Federation announced the annexation of the 4 oblasts, citing a successful referendum in each and therefore the fulfilment of the UN charter.
The Role of the United Nations
The United Nations has been critical in deploring the Russian SMO, in the wake of the UN charter. In what it termed as a ‘..violation of territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine..’, the UN passed a resolution deploring the Russian ‘aggression’ with 141 votes in favour, 5 against, and 35 abstentions. The UNHRC and ICJ all sprung into action to respectively take a stand against the SMO which the UN collectively deemed a violation of its charter. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres had been repetitively vocal against the Russian SMO in Ukraine throughout, asking for an immediate cessation of hostilities and to return to the path of peaceful resolution and diplomacy. On the 12th of October 2022, the UN assembly passed a resolution condemning the annexation of the 4 oblasts into the Russian Federation, with 143 in favour, 5 against, and 35 abstentions.
The EU and NATO collectives
NATO and the EU have long been critical of Russian troop build-up along the borders of Ukraine, much before the actual offensives started. When the Russian Federation finally launched the SMO, the EU and NATO’s response was to impose punitive sanctions against Russia to cripple it economically immediately. Furthermore, military aid rapidly increased by many folds by the organizational collectives citing the Russian SMO as an invasion. Initially, the Russian economy suffered heavily, falling to approximately 139 RUB against 1 USD during the first week of March. However, the Russian economy proved to hold its own against the sanctions, even as of the first week of November’22, the Rouble stands at 61 RUB against 1 USD. This shows that the economic setback Russia suffered initially triggered a more self-dependent economy, with its forex rate having the best valuation in over a decade. The crippling effect of the sanctions was swift (ironically, even after Russia was removed from the SWIFT facilities), but failed to have the desired result.
The military aid to Ukraine can be termed a game-changer in a way, with the United States single-handedly contributing more than the EU institutions officially, valued at $ 27.65 Billion, amounting to a humongous 53% of the total aid delivered from the US to Ukraine as of 11th October’22 since the beginning of the SMO. The HIMARS, MANPADS, and the NLAWS and the Bayraktar drones from Turkey have been wreaking havoc on the frontlines of Ukraine and making it problematic for the SMO to achieve its goals effortlessly, especially through Armoured division spearheads. The maritime operations of the Russian Federation have slowed down, since the closing of the Bosporus and Dardanelles by Turkey, following its resolution to deem it as a war, granting it the powers over access to the Black Sea by the Montreux Protocol. The controversial outcome of an attack on the RF Navy Flagship Moskva by Neptune missiles and the recent drone attacks on the Black Sea Fleet by Ukraine has further toned-down Russia’s maritime operations seemingly.
India has been neutral in its approach to the ongoing hostilities. When the SMO began, India prioritized the evacuation of its civilians from Ukraine through Poland. While the MEA tried its best to evacuate with the maximum safety possible, one student got killed as a result of an air strike. Even as the SMO continued, India was able to carry out its mission objectives of evacuating about 25,000 civilians from Ukrainian soil through Operation Ganga. India is essentially in a tough spot when it comes to this Russo-Ukrainian conflict. Traditionally, India has maintained its Non-Alignment approach, while the world went through the pangs of the Cold War, divided between the East and the West Blocs. Through the course of its history, due to events like the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation war and the stance of the US regarding its nuclear capabilities, India had been pulled closer to USSR and then the Russian Federation post the collapse of the USSR. Furthermore, the supply of military equipment to Pakistan embittered the relationship with the ‘west’. Off-late, however, India has been able to balance the scale between the extremums, by maintaining what Dr. Shashi Tharoor rightly coined as ‘Multi-Alignment’, later refined and refurbished by Dr. S. Jaishankar, the present Foreign Secretary of India. Russian Oil, which is way cheaper than the one being procured by India, has been instrumental in trying to balance the inflation and rise in crude oil prices all across India. The US and other NATO and EU nations have been selectively and occasionally vocal about how India is not taking a stand in the crisis, and abstaining from voting against any resolutions against the Russian Federations.
India has somewhat tried to steer clear of the catcalling, by terming the war as not their own, just as major EU and NATO countries, or the collective ‘West’ never bothers about what happens in Asia. Russia has been thus showering praises on India and China and called upon a ‘Multi-Polar’ world order to exist, instead of a Bipolar or Unipolar world order, which it accuses the US of creating for its gains. As Iran has made the news off-late for two very different reasons; one- for its supply of Shahed kamikaze drones to Russia for its SMO, which has halted Ukraine’s stupendous advances in recent times, and secondly-for its large-scale domestic riots involving Hijab and Moral policing under the Ebraham Raisi administration. Meanwhile, the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict has been re-ignited due to the recently reported cross-border hostilities. India had been able to seize the opportunity, as it sold its Pinaka Rocket Launchers for a whopping $250 million to Armenia, while Turkey and Pakistan are supposedly backing the Azerbaijani regime.
Clearly, it is a conflict between the ‘Multi-Polar’ world order and the principles of ‘Multi-Alignment’ for India. On one hand, the multi-polar approach would mean China’s expected emergence along with India’s own in the mainstream so-called world order, while the West collectively might take the other side, as they would expect China and India to be in favour of the Russian Federation. This is in contradiction to India’s Multi-Alignment approach, which it has been able to maintain by keeping close ties with both Russia and the US. As the US undergoes its midterm elections and Russia seemingly steps up its ante against Ukraine, only time will tell what path India might take going forward.
It is almost a case of mild civil war in Pakistan. Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan said Wednesday that senior leaders were being pressured into resigning from his party amid a crackdown, as a former cabinet minister became the latest to quit. Rights monitors said authorities have detained thousands of supporters of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party since days of street violence erupted over his brief arrest earlier this month.
Party spokesman Fawad Chaudhry, who served as information minister in Khan's government, quit the party while general secretary Asad Umar, the former finance minister, said he would step down from his position but remain with PTI. It came after senior vice-president Shireen Mazari parted ways with Khan on Tuesday.
All three made their announcements after being released from custody on allegations of instigating street violence after Khan's arrest. "This is a crackdown that I have never seen in the history of Pakistan before," Khan said in a video address on Wednesday night.
If you say that you are part of PTI, then you will face oppression and violence, you will be locked up," he said. However, he expressed his desire to fight the oppression with full might in order to save Pakistan from the corrupt people.
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape today told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the Pacific Islands nations consider the Indian premier as the leader of the Global South and will rally behind India's leadership at international forums.
Highlighting the problems faced by Pacific Islands nations due to the Russia-Ukraine war, James Marape said this while addressing the third India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) Summit which was co-chaired by PM Modi.
"We are victims of global powerplay... You (PM Modi) are the leader of Global South. We will rally behind your (India) leadership at global forums," said Mr Marape.
The leaders of the Quad group -- Australia, India, Japan and the United States -- delivered a thinly veiled swipe at Beijing's behaviour at a summit in Hiroshima. US President Joe Biden and his three partners in the group did not mention China by name but the communist superpower was clearly the target of language in a joint statement calling for "peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific maritime domain".
"We strongly oppose destabilizing or unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo by force or coercion," the statement said, using diplomatic language that appeared to refer to China's economic tactics to gain leverage over poorer countries and also its military expansion in the Pacific.
Increasingly, the behavior of China is coming under scrutiny by the major powers of the West and India, and the isolation will deepen in the coming days.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Japan's Hiroshima. This is the first in-person meeting between the two leaders since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February last year. They have earlier only spoken virtually.
"The war in Ukraine is a huge issue for the entire world. It affected the world in several ways, but I don't consider it a political or economic issue. It is, for me, an issue of humanity, and human values. You know the suffering of war better than all of us. When our children returned from Ukraine last year and narrated the circumstances there, I could understand the anguish of your citizens very well. I assure you that India, and I personally, would definitely do whatever is in our capacity to resolve this situation," Prime Minister Modi can be heard saying in a video clip of the meeting shared by news agency ANI.
The Prime Minister's Office shared photographs of the meeting, in which India's national security advisor Ajit Doval was also present. India is looked at by the two warring factions to act as peacemakers to end the war.
In a tit-for-tat response, Russia on Friday said it banned entry to 500 Americans, including former president Barack Obama, in response to sanctions imposed by Washington.
"In response to the anti-Russian sanctions regularly imposed by the Biden administration... entry into the Russian Federation is closed for 500 Americans," the foreign ministry said, adding that Obama was among those on the list. n Friday, the United States added hundreds more companies and individuals to its sanctions blacklist as it broadened efforts to choke off Russia's economy over the Ukraine offensive.
"Washington should have learned a long time ago that not a single hostile step against Russia will be left unanswered," the foreign ministry said. This is done because the USA is regularly engaged in banning Russian persons and entities after Ukraine war.