The DailyBrief

Wednesday October 4, 2017

Pakistan’s spy agencies: The running conflict between the civilian Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the military’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is at boiling point, with the former accused of political maneuvering and overstepping constitutional bounds, FM Shakil writes. The civilian watchdog – under instruction from a ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) administration whose grip on power looks ever-more shaky – has been carrying out around-the-clock surveillance of the judiciary, opposition parties and military intelligence for some time. The bubbling rivalry between the IB and ISI attracted attention in June this year when a Joint Investigation Team probing alleged money laundering made a written complaint to the Supreme Court that the IB was wiretapping JIT members, including ISI and Military Intelligence personnel.

Southeast Asia aviation: Regional carriers are poised to purchase a slew of new planes while airport authorities grapple with an unprecedented surge in passenger demand, Alan Boyd writes. Already buckling under the strain of record flight volumes, the region’s airlines are expected to buy 10% of the world’s new jets over the next two decades. US aircraft manufacturer Boeing forecasts the seven biggest markets – Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Brunei and Vietnam, all members of Asean – will need 4,210 airplanes, from a total global demand of 41,030, over the period. The projected combined acquisition cost at 2017 prices is US$650 billion. Boeing projects passenger and cargo growth of 6.2% a year in that time, the fastest of any region.

India rail safety: Indian Railways pays out millions annually in compensation for accidental deaths and injuries, but has been delaying the implementation of measures to prevent such incidents because of a “lack of funds,” Kanchan Srivastava writes. The stampede at a Mumbai suburban railway station that killed 22 people and left dozens injured on Friday morning highlights serious administrative deficiencies at Indian Railways. On average, 15 people die accidentally every day on Mumbai’s badly congested suburban railway network, according to government figures. However, the state-owned national transporter has kept on hold measures to decongest the system such as platform expansion, the widening of bridges and staircases, and the addition of new coaches.

Myanmar human rights: Appalled by the scale and nature of the violence unleashed by the authorities against the Southeeast Asian country’s Muslim Rohingya minority, a top United Nations official has described the operation as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” Ana Pararajasingham writes. Human Rights Watch has concurred, and Amnesty International has called for an investigation into these criminal acts. The violence, underpinned by the clear intent to eradicate the distinct identity of an ethnic group, meets the criteria under the UN’s Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The issue is no longer internal but international. It demands direct and immediate intervention by the international community. Realpolitik, however, teaches us that no such direct action will ensue. Instead, it is geopolitics that will decide how the Rohingya will live and die.

Las Vegas atrocity: The list of mass shootings in the United States grows, and after this latest murderous rampage by yet another madman with a gun unleashed senseless death and suffering, I thought, “This is when there will be some change in US gun-ownership laws,” Raja Murthy writes. But the optimist in me has given way to the realist. After reading some of the American responses to the Mandalay Bay massacre – at least 59 people dead, 525 wounded – my glum realization is that the list of “deadliest US mass shootings” will likely keep growing. That is until Americans come to understand what freedom really means and how the potential for impulsive behavior in a country awash with guns puts everyone at constant risk. How much is everyone’s freedom — the right to live in safety — compromised by the indiscriminate individual right to own weapons that can snuff out human lives with the twitch of a finger?

Asia Times app: Asia Times has launched an app for both iOS- and Android-based devices that delivers the publication’s regular daily news, commentary, blogs and live coverage while also bringing readers added functionality. As we report here, the app, launched on July 25, includes content notification, share and save functions and is free to download from both the Apple Store and Google Play