Monday, October 2, 2017

Recent Editorials

Here are some recent editorials I wrote for The Gulf Today. (Posted for my records):

Nightmare in Las Vegas

It’s not just Las Vegas but the entire world is in shock and grief following the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

Why and how a 64-year-old cold-blooded beast could develop such hatred as to shower bullets on hundreds on innocent people merrily taking part in an outdoor music festival is beyond one’s comprehension.

So many innocent and precious lives have been lost and several others have landed in hospitals with life-threatening injuries for no mistake of theirs.

All that the victims wanted was to spend a peaceful night at the concert, but the killer turned it into a nightmare.

America has witnessed such incidents before, but this is the worst.

Previously, the deadliest mass shooting had been an attack at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub that killed 49.

Before that, the deadliest shooting in the country was the 2007 attack at Virginia Tech, in which a student killed 32 people before killing himself.

In February last year, Cedric Ford, 38, killed three people and wounded 14 others at a lawnmower factory where he worked in the central Kansas community of Hesston. The local police chief killed him during a shootout with 200 to 300 workers still in the building.

The ghastly killings have raised one crucial question: Should gun control be tightened?

The issue of gun control is highly sensitive in the United States and President Donald Trump's views on the issue have, fortunately, changed noticeably over his years in public life.

After the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, where a disturbed 20-year-old mowed down 20 children and six adults, Trump appeared to favour stricter rules.

Back then, president Barack Obama, who often called Sandy Hook the worst moment of his presidency and recalls even his Secret Service detail in tears, called for the deadlock to be broken and for Congress to act.

Trump had tweeted at that time: "President Obama spoke for me and every American in his remarks in #Newtown Connecticut."

When it comes to guns, Nevada has one of the weakest controls in the US.

According to the National Rifle Association's website, Nevada state law does not require residents to obtain a purchasing permit, register or licence for a rifle, shotgun or handgun.

The Las Vegas mass murder has triggered the need for a no-holds barred debate on the vexed question of gun control. Washington needs to take a more sensible stand on the subject.

A victory with a

bruise for Merkel

The fourth election win by Angela Merkel, Europe's most powerful woman and torchbearer of liberal values, may be a cause for celebration, but her victory has come along with bruises, reshaping the political landscape in Germany.

Tricky coalition talks ahead and entry into parliament of the hardline Alternative for Germany party (AfD) may well prove to be a double-whammy for the outspoken chancellor.

With the Social Democrats insisting they will go into opposition and all parties shunning the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD), parliamentary arithmetic favours a "Jamaica" coalition of her conservatives (black), the pro-business Free Democrats (yellow), and the Greens — so named because their party colours reflect the Jamaican flag.

Merkel's party remains the biggest parliamentary bloc, but patching together a coalition deal with three wildly differing parties of the right, left and centre, is unlikely to be an easy task.

Merkel scored around 33 per cent of the vote with her conservative Christian Union bloc. It was their worst score since 1949. Its nearest rivals, the Social Democrats, came in a distant second, with a post-war record low of 21 per cent.

But in a bombshell for the German establishment, the extreme right AfD captured around 13 per cent, catapulting it to become the country's third biggest political force.

The entry of around 90 hard-right MPs to the glass-domed Bundestag chamber breaks a taboo in post-World War II Germany.

How the AfD managed to poach one million votes is a question that will remain to haunt Merkel's conservatives for quite some time.

Merkel has acknowledged that the AfD's strongholds in depressed corners of the ex-communist east may have felt "left behind.” But displaying a spirit of astute leadership, she says that not all were diehard supporters of the AfD and that at least some could be won back "with good policies that solve problems."

True to Merkel’s inference, tensions between radicals and moderates within AfD surfaced soon after the poll verdict.

Frauke Petry, the most recognisable face in the AfD, declared she could not stand with an "anarchistic party" that lacked a credible plan to govern and would prefer to sit in parliament as an independent.

The prospect of a "Jamaica coalition" is unprecedented at the national level and it could take months of coalition wrangling before a government emerges.

A potentially unstable coalition can be justifiable reason for jitters among investors.

In such a scenario, if there is one certainty, it is that Germany is heading into months of uncertainty.

Saudi decision on women

drivers a historic move

Saudi Arabia deserves all praise for the historic decision to allow women to drive cars, thereby ending the kingdom’s status as the only country where that is prohibited.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s issuing of a royal order to grant driving licences to men and women alike under the provisions of the Traffic Law and its Executive Regulations is the latest in a string of social and economic reforms underway in the country.

The King has aptly referred to the negative consequences of not allowing women to drive vehicles and the positive aspects of allowing it, taking into consideration the application of the necessary legal controls and adherence to them.

He has also rightly pointed to the view of the majority of members of senior scholars on women's driving, who see no impediment to allowing it, provided the necessary "guarantees of legitimacy and order" are in place.

The decision is sure to bring in major benefits for the country. It will save families huge amounts of money as many Saudi families presently employ at least one driver to transport female members.

Retailers, insurers and car hire companies will be among the potential winners, as the decision will boost industries from car sales to insurance.

Importantly, the step will also encourage more women to enter the workforce and raise productivity in the economy.

Not surprisingly, there was jubilation on the social media. News of the decision, in fact, became the top trending topic on Twitter, with many posts tagged #SaudiWomenCanDrive.

“Today was a historic day for women in Saudi Arabia as a decree was announced to lift the ban on women drivers. #SaudiArabia,” daughter of US President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, who has 4.62 million followers, posted on Twitter.

UN-Secretary General Antonio Guterres too took to Twitter to describe the decision an “important step in the right direction.”

On Saturday, women were allowed for the first time into a sports stadium to mark national day, another momentous move that came as part of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s Saudi Vision 2030. The vision aims at a strong, thriving and stable Saudi Arabia that provides opportunity for all.

Women in Saudi Arabia now thus have a major reason to smile, while a high-level ministerial committee will study the necessary arrangements for enforcing King Salman’s order, which is to be implemented as of June 2018.

Way to go, Saudi Arabia.

Dialogue best way to

solve Catalonia issue

The clash between police and protesters over a banned independence referendum in Catalonia that left several people injured is a distressing development that could have been avoided if political heads in Madrid and Barcelona had used the mighty strengths of a true democracy — diplomacy and dialogue.

Pro-separatist lawmakers in Catalonia have been pushing for an independence referendum since September 2015 when they won a narrow majority of 72 seats in the region's parliament.

The referendum, declared illegal by Spain’s central government, has thrown the country into its worst constitutional crisis in decades and deepened a centuries-old rift.

The violence makes no sense especially because the ballot will have no legal status since Spain’s Constitutional Court and Madrid have blocked it for being at odds with the 1978 constitution.

Also, it is not that all Catalans are backing the secession call. As per polls, only a minority of around 40 per cent of Catalans support independence, although a majority want to hold a referendum on the issue.

Catalonia, incidentally, is one of the powerhouses of the Spanish economy, buoyed by industry, research and tourism but burdened with a heavy debt.

Contributing 19 per cent of Spain’s GDP in 2016, Catalonia rivals Madrid for the distinction of being the richest region in the country. It is fourth in terms of GDP per capita with 28,600 euros after Madrid.

Like in Madrid, unemployment is also lower than in the rest of the country: 13.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2017 compared to 17.2 per cent nationally.

Catalonia is a top exporting region and has invested in research, particularly in bioscience — genetics, neurosciences, cell biology — and the sector now represents seven per cent of its GDP.

However, what weighs it down is debt. Catalonia's debt represents 35.4 per cent of its GDP, which made it the third most indebted region in Spain in the second quarter of 2017, after Valencia and Castilla La Mancha.

At the end of June, its debt stood at 76.7 billion euros.

The Spanish government could have done better to highlight the benefits of remaining united instead of just tamely repeating that the referendum was unconstitutional.

The crisis has snowballed into a threat to Spain’s democracy. Violence can never be the way forward. What is called for is earnest and effective political dialogue. Madrid can go for strategic conciliation with Catalonia offering a deal with better powers.

Another smart

initiative by Dubai

For a city to be happy, it has to be smart. And Dubai knows this best.

Vice President, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s approval of “A Day without Service Centres” initiative is yet another first-of-a-kind and brilliant initiative that would encourage customers to turn to smart channels to obtain government services and complete transactions.

The Dubai Department of Finance (DoF) deserves kudos for launching the initiative and co-ordinating with all government entities in Dubai to close service centres across the emirate for a day, on October 26, 2017.

Abdulrahman Saleh Al Saleh, Director-General of DoF, has well outlined that customer service centres will dedicate their efforts on Oct.26 to spread awareness among customers of the importance of transformation to smart channels to complete transactions, whether via smart apps or the web.

Basically, on Oct.26, service counters at government centres in Dubai will stop receiving customers for the transactions that can be completed via alternative smart channels. However, transactions that require presence in person at the service centres will continue as usual.

One should not forget that Dubai was the first city to launch a “happiness indicator” initiative to measure people’s happiness and satisfaction over the services provided by government departments on a daily basis.

A smart city, as experts highlight, offers a multi-layered eco-system, which provides residents with a smart living experience encompassing aspects such as economy, transport, power, and municipal services.

Dubai’s move will be a trend-setter as completing government transactions via smart channels helps save time, effort and money by eliminating the need to use private or public means of transport and visit crowded roads and service centres.

This, in turn, helps in preserving environmental resources, rationalising fuel consumption, and reducing carbon emissions.

With climate change posing a huge challenge, such initiatives are the need of the hour. Dubai is actually presenting a bold, new path for the rest of the world to embrace.

Dubai residents and visitors should actively take part and promote such programmes by using smart channels more often to complete government transactions, so it becomes part of the day-to-day cultural evolution.

The digital transformation of all aspects of life in Dubai sends an amazing and positive feeling.

Sheikh Mohammed once mentioned: “It’s our job to provide the required facilities and eliminate routine and bureaucracy.”

Dubai’s stupendous world-class facilities vividly prove that such words are followed by deeds.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Recent Editorials

Here are some recent editorials I wrote for The Gulf Today. (Posted for my records):
London attack
a heinous act
Terrorism is a language of the cowards. Violent attacks on innocent and vulnerable people do not demand bravery, but are an obvious sign of spinelessness.
Time and again terrorists engage in monstrous acts with the wrong notion that they can throttle social harmony and break the unity of peace-loving people. They are doomed to fail. The world remains more united now than ever before against the bane of terrorism.
The blast in a crowded train at Parsons Green station in west London that left several passengers injured is another heinous act by cowardly terrorists.
The fifth terrorism incident this year implies that Britain's counter-terrorism strategy needs to be swiftly strengthened and countries around the world should unify efforts more effectively to tackle the scourge of extremism.
A total of 35 people have been killed in four previous attacks in London and Manchester this year.
Three of those involved a vehicle ploughing into pedestrians. The other attack was a bombing in May at a pop concert by US star Ariana Grande in Manchester, which killed 22 people, including several children.
US President Donald Trump is correct in calling those behind the attack "loser terrorists," but he could have shown patience in tweeting his reaction wherein he mentioned that the attackers were already "in the sights" of British police.
Trump’s reaction prompted the London's Metropolitan Police to dismiss the tweet as "unhelpful speculation," while Prime Minister Theresa May felt that “it's not helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation."
The fact that in the three years until March this year, British police foiled 13 potential attacks is an encouraging signal. Nonetheless, extreme caution and continuous vigil need to continue.
The UAE, on its part, has always maintained an unequivocal position of denouncing terrorism in all its forms and manifestations regardless of their motivations, justifications and sources.
The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has rightly stated that the targeting of civilised societies by terrorists cannot be accepted or underestimated, and will require further serious work and a comprehensive approach, to counter extremist ideologies that promote and justify terrorism.
All those behind the ghastly attack should be brought to book and made to face justice. The latest incident once again reinforces the need for concerted efforts to effectively address extremism and terrorism, which threaten the security of all citizens in their daily lives.
North Korea
playing with fire
In another reckless act, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date and this is a matter of grave concern that necessitates stern international action.
The test-firing by Pyongyang of what it claims is a hydrogen bomb able to fit atop a missile is yet another flagrant violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
North Korea has been launching missiles at a record pace this year and fired a potentially nuclear-capable missile over northern Japan last week.
With such repeated provocative acts, the DPRK is increasingly choosing the path of isolation. Sanctions and other measures have proved not potent enough to make it see reason. Its blatant disregard for international law cannot be tolerated anymore.
The tensions related to the crisis in the region have reached unprecedented levels.
Just last month, the UN Security Council strengthened sanctions against DPRK’s exports. Unanimously adopting resolution 2371 (2017), the Council imposed a full ban on the export of coal, iron and iron ore from the north-east Asian country. Previously those items could be exported for livelihood purposes, for a limited amount.
What is worrisome is that, starting with the launches of two inter-continental ballistic missiles in July that are believed to have the range to strike the US mainland, North Korea has been far more aggressive in its military activities over the past few months than usual.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is expected to propose new sanctions to prevent any country that trades with North Korea from doing business with the US. How effective this measure would be has to be seen, considering that similar actions so far have not had the desired impact.
Incidentally, about 90 per cent of North Korean exports go to China. When last month the UN Security Council adopted a seventh set of sanctions aimed at depriving the North of a billion dollars in income from exports, China approved the measures.
The ability of International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor North Korea's dangerous programme is also limited. Its inspectors have been shut out of the country since 2002, and Pyongyang unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty a year later.
Nuclear weapons are a threat to entire humanity. The world community has given DPRK too long a rope. It should return to the path of dialogue and abandon all nuclear weapons and nuclear programmes in a verifiable manner without more ado.
Sharjah’s new projects
will boost tourism
Every city has a definitive pulse that reflects its history, ethos and spirit. Sharjah has become synonymous with heritage and culture.
With Wednesday’s launch of two major projects, the Aljada residential project costing Dhs24 billion and the Al Mamsha project costing Dhs3 billion, the emirate is now well poised to become an international centre of culture, business and tourism that is recognised at various international events.
As Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority Khalid Jassim Al Midfa points out, the projects reflect the wise vision of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and the unique lifestyle made possible by these projects would become an important addition to the tourism services offered by the emirate.
Incidentally, the Aljada, owned by Arada, will be the largest privately-owned mixed-use real estate project with easy access to the main highways, accommodating neatly designed educational and developmental entities that reflect the unique splendour of the Emirate.
There are also other fascinating things on offer. The Central Hub, Aljada’s entertainment and leisure precinct, will feature an urban piazza replete with coffee shops and restaurants, and a musical fountain display as its centrepiece. The attractions will include skate parks, sports centre, and the largest children’s adventure and discovery complex in the Northern Emirates.
Sharjah is the third largest emirate in the UAE, and also has the highest development rate.
All development activities in Sharjah are mandated to follow sustainable development practices.
The launching of the Bee’ah initiative in 2007 by the emirate is considered a huge step in the quest for a healthier environment.
Sharjah has always followed a tradition of respect for nature. The government has pushed for increase in greenery areas in the emirate that will not only provide recreational areas for families, but will also help reduce the environmental footprint.
Thanks to its various attractions, the emirate draws a huge number of visitors from around the world, especially those from Europe and neighbouring Gulf countries.
The Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021 aims to increase the number of visiting tourists to 10 million by 2021.
There can be no doubt that the latest projects will promote the vital sectors, most notably tourism, by including residential, commercial, entertainment and sporting facilities, which will enable the emirate to keep pace with the demands of modern living and will make it a much-favoured destination for local and international visitors.
Myanmar has to answer
for ethnic cleansing
It is hugely distressing that Myanmar has failed to mend its ways despite a global outrage over its inhuman treatment of Rohingya Muslims.
The continued persecution of the Rohingya has led to more than 370,000 people fleeing to Bangladesh in the past three weeks, even as the Myanmar security forces and local militia continue to burn villages and shoot defenceless civilians.
Most victims are in dire need of food, medical care and shelter after trekking for days through hills and jungles or braving dangerous boat journeys.
Women, children and the elderly, many of whom are vulnerable and lack the ability to take care of themselves have also been forcefully displaced. Some civilians are even dying en route to safety.
Among the people who UN agencies and partners are helping in Bangladesh is Rohingya Dilara, who reached Bangladesh barefoot, clutching her 18-month son.
“My husband was shot in the village. I escaped with my son and in-laws,” she informed UN officials. “We walked for three days, hiding when we had to. The mountain was wet and slippery and I kept falling.”
Many of the victims tell similar stories — of Myanmar soldiers firing indiscriminately on their villages, burning their homes and warning them to leave or to die.
The United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra‘ad Al Hussein rightly informed the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that the situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.
Last year itself, the UN official had issued a report warning that the pattern of gross violations of the human rights of the Rohingya suggested a widespread or systematic attack against the community, possibly amounting to crimes against humanity.
The problem is compounded by the fact that the situation on the ground cannot yet be fully assessed since Myanmar has refused access to human rights investigators.
Adding insult to injury, Myanmar authorities are asking returnees to provide proof of nationality, which is impossible since successive Myanmar governments have from 1962 progressively stripped the Rohingya population of their political and civil rights, including citizenship rights.
Washington has rightly called on Myanmar security authorities to respect the rule of law, stop the violence, and end the displacement of civilians from all communities. Similar calls from around the world have been falling on deaf ears, and for too long.
Myanmar should end its merciless military operation. Those responsible for the violations against innocent civilians should be made accountable for their crimes. The widespread discrimination against the Rohingya should end now, and forever.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Recent Editorials

Here are some recent editorials I wrote for The Gulf Today. (Posted for my records):
London killings a
barbaric act
Brutal terrorists, basically cowards who target innocent civilians, have struck again in London and mere condolences and condemnations will not do any longer. Time has come for stronger action against enemies of humanity.
The third attack in three months implies that Britain's counter-terrorism strategy needs to be swiftly strengthened and countries around the world should unify efforts more effectively to tackle the scourge of extremism.
There is also a dire need for international action to combat extremist content online, a message Prime Minister Theresa May took to the G7 leaders summit last week.
May’s announcement that the general election will go ahead as planned on Thursday makes sense because such monstrous violence should never be allowed to disrupt the democratic process, as it would send a wrong message.
London’s distress is palpable.
Eyewitnesses have described harrowing scenes as the attackers' van veered on and off the bridge sidewalk, hitting people along the way. The three evil attackers later ran into an area packed with restaurants, stabbing many indiscriminately.
Saturday's attack has come less than two weeks after a suicide bomber Salman Abedi blew himself up at a concert in Manchester on May 22, killing at least 22.
Britain raised its terror threat to the highest level of "critical" and deployed troops on the streets on May 23, a day after the Manchester suicide attack. The critical level means another attack could be imminent. It was reduced to "severe," which means an attack is highly likely.
On March 22, terrorist Khalid Masood ploughed a rented car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London and stabbed a policeman to death before being shot dead. His attack killed five people.
US President Donald Trump’s accusation against London's mayor Sadiq Khan, blaming him of downplaying the threat of terrorism, is in poor taste. This is not the hour for politics. Terrorism is universal and so are its victims.
Peace-loving UAE has always maintained that terrorism has no place in a sane world, and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has rightly stressed that London’s terrorist attacks reaffirm the urgent need for concerted international efforts to combat terrorism in all forms and manifestations.
As the ministry noted, innocent civilians pay the price of these terrorist crimes. There is a need for joint cooperation to address this serious scourge that threatens the security and stability of countries all over the world.
Terrorism should never ever be allowed to scuttle the solidarity of peace-loving people and nations.
Spiralling insecurity
in Afghanistan
The truck bombing in Kabul’s diplomatic quarter that left a large number of innocent people dead or severely injured is an abhorrent act of barbarism that exposes the terrorists’ horrific mindset and highlights the need for the international community to do more to help Afghanistan.
The impact of the bomb was so strong that a huge hole was ripped into the ground at the site of the explosion, which also tore off the front portion of the German embassy building, shattered windows and blew doors off in houses hundreds of metres away.
Not a month passes without such incidents in the country and the distressing fact is that vulnerable civilians are bearing the brunt of the horrible attacks.
The victims of the latest explosion were mainly Afghan civilians on their way to work or school, as well as office workers whose nearby buildings did not have the protection of the blast walls.
The fact that the powerful blast from a truck stuffed with more than 1,500 kilogrammes of explosives came just days into the Holy Fasting Month of Ramadan signifies the terrorists’ total disregard for human lives and values.
The endless suffering of Afghan children raises questions about the future of an entire generation.
The first four months of 2017 alone witnessed the highest recorded number of child civilian casualties resulting from conflict-related incidents in Afghanistan, including the highest number of children killed, for the same comparable period since the he UN Assistance Mission (UNAMA) began documenting cases.
Between Jan.1 and April 30, 2017, Unama preliminarily recorded 283 child deaths, a 21 per cent increase compared with the same period in 2016. Children are killed by explosive remnants of war in civilian-populated areas and in ground fighting.
US President Donald Trump is due to decide on a recommendation to send nearly 5,000 more troops to bolster the small NATO training force and US counter-terrorism mission now totalling over 10,000.
The commander of US forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, told a Congressional hearing that he needed several thousand more troops to help Afghan forces break a "stalemate" with the Taliban.
While Trump brags about his use of an 11-tonne bomb on a Daesh tunnel network in Afghanistan, there has been no evidence on the ground that the terrorists have been contained.
The conflict in Afghanistan is dangerously widening and the international community needs to act. The perpetrators of the horrendous crime should be forced to face justice at the earliest.
Ensure safety of
civilians in Raqa
Even as the US-backed campaign to capture Raqa in Syria is all set to accelerate, the safety and protection of thousands of civilians there remains a prime concern.
Civilians trapped in Raqa face a dire situation — they risk being killed by Daesh snipers or mines if they try to flee but could also be used by the terrorists as human shields if they decide to remain.
According to the International Rescue Committee (IRC), there has been a drop in the number of people escaping Raqa over the past week, which is an indication that Daesh may use the 200,000 people still trapped in the city as human shields.
Raqa has been the scene of some of the Daesh’s worst atrocities, including gruesome executions, public display of bodies and the trafficking of women.
Compounding the problems, civilians have been increasingly facing food, water, health care and electricity shortages in recent months, even as humanitarian programmes supporting Syrian refugees and their host communities are quickly running out of resources.
Top UN officials have rightly called for unconditional, unimpeded and sustained access to those affected by the fighting in Raqa, and more broadly to the 4.5 million who are still in hard-to-reach areas across the war-torn country.
More than 160,000 people have been displaced since May 1 with the situation on the ground remaining fluid.
As per UN officials, there are some 87,200 in the Ar-Raqa governorate, nearly 37,000 in Aleppo, over 33,400 in Idlib and smaller numbers in Hama, Deir-ez-Zor and Homs.
More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.
The war has also extracted the worst toll on the country’s children. Tens of thousands have been killed and many have been forcibly detained, tortured, subjected to sexual violence, forcibly recruited and in some cases executed.
Reports reveal a grim scenario where nearly seven million children are living in poverty and some 1.75 million are out of schools with another 1.35 million at the risk of dropping out.
Almost one in three schools have been damaged, destroyed, or otherwise made inaccessible.
It should not be forgotten that the Raqa campaign has already resulted in massive civilian casualties, displacement and serious infrastructure destruction.
The fears of the UN human rights office about increasing reports of civilian deaths as air strikes escalate are legitimate and need to be addressed.
Challenges lined up
for bruised May
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s political gamble has backfired stunningly.
She was cruising along well with a solid majority in Parliament and several years to run on her party's mandate.
Temptation played a villain.
With opinion polls predicting she would romp home with as high as a triple-digit majority, May called the election.
Now, she has not only lost her Conservative majority, but her authority has also been weakened substantially.
The election outcome has pushed Britain again into a period of uncertainty less than a year after the country's decision to leave the European Union, which had already led the pound to collapse about 15 per cent against the dollar between June and October 2016.
The pound hit an eight-week low against the dollar and its lowest levels in seven months versus the euro before recovering slightly on news May would form a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)-backed government.
The centre-right, pro-Brexit DUP’s 10 seats are enough to give May's Conservatives a fragile but workable partnership.
The biggest winner seems to be Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Labour's increase in seats from 229 to almost 261 has confounded expectations that his intense left-wing views would cost him dear.
Initially written off by many pollsters, Labour surged in the final weeks of the campaign, drawing huge support from young people, who appeared to have turned out to vote in bigger-than-expected numbers, lured by the promise of the elimination of tuition fees, the hope of better jobs and a chance to own property.
The poll bruising is not for May alone.
In a blow to its hopes for another referendum on whether Scotland should leave the United Kingdom, the pro-independence Scottish National Party lost about 21 of its 54 seats.
Its casualties included Alex Salmond, one of the party's highest-profile lawmakers.
May had initially earned a reputation as a no-nonsense minister when leading the interior ministry, one of the toughest jobs in politics, and was viewed as a shrewd political operator.
A lackluster campaigning style and a plan to force elderly people to pay more for their care, a proposal her opponents dubbed the "dementia tax," have all been factors that cost May some valuable seats.
The election has proved that Britain remains a nation divided.
The present situation will make the already complex EU negotiations even more complicated. The challenge before May is to tactfully negotiate Brexit, even while addressing several domestic challenges like economy and terrorism.
An arduous task, indeed.
Turn up the heat
on Pyongyang
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has once again ignited fresh tension in the region by test-firing a Scud-type missile that fell close to its neighbour, Japan, and the world community cannot afford to remain silent in the face of such irresponsible and continuing provocation.
It was the North’s third ballistic missile test in as many weeks and the 12th this year, carried out in absolute defiance of United Nations sanctions warnings.
After almost every such test, the UN Security Council vows to “fully and comprehensively implement all measures” imposed on the country, but it is abundantly clear that Pyongyang is just not bothered.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s anger is justified especially because North Korea has developed a Scud variant, called Scud-ER (extended range), capable of travelling as far as 1,000km, which means that Japan is within its range.
Monday’s test also marked the second time this year that a North Korean missile fell provocatively close to Japan.
Washington too has its share of worries, as indications are that the North has been stepping up efforts towards its ultimate goal of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that can deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental US.
President Donald Trump Trump has portrayed the missile test as an affront to China in a morning post on Twitter. "North Korea has shown great disrespect for their neighbor, China, by shooting off yet another ballistic missile...but China is trying hard!" he wrote.
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis’ argument that war is not an answer makes sense as the consequences could be disastrous for the world. The North Korean regime has hundreds of artillery cannons and rocket launchers within range of one of the most densely populated cities on earth, which is the capital of South Korea.
While Washington has opted for sanctions and diplomatic pressure, China, the North's closest ally, can do much more by stepping up economic pressure.
South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-In, is a moderate leader who advocates dialogue with the North in a break from his conservative predecessors. Shockingly, even his reasonable approach does not seem to have had any positive effect on Pyongyang.
The DPRK should cooperate with UN officials in implementing the Non-Proliferation Treaty safeguards and resolve any outstanding issues through dialogue.
It should desist from conducting any further nuclear/ballistic missile test and return to the path of denuclearisation. A peaceful, diplomatic and political solution is the only way forward.