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State of Pakistan's Relations With Iran and India

What does Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan hope to accomplish during his Iran visit? What are the key issues bedeviling Iran-Pakistan relations? Cross-border terrorism alleged by both? Pakistan's relations with the Gulf Arabs? CPEC? Afghanistan? Gwadar? Chabahar? Indian RAW's use of Iran to launch terror attacks in Pakistani Balochistan? Who calls the shots in Iran? President Rouhani or the hardline Iranian Revolutionary Guard leaders?

Why is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi continuing to threaten Pakistan with use of force, including use of nuclear weapons? Is this part of his election campaign to appeal to his base? Or will this intimidation go beyond elections if he wins a second term? Is Pakistan Prime Minister's hope of better ties with India under BJP just a mirage? Are analysts like Moeed Yusuf right about India waiting it out to achieve overwhelming superiority to eventually dictate term to Pakistan?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/seNerO7_KsM

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Comment by Riaz Haq on April 24, 2019 at 5:05pm

#India’s perilous obsession with #Pakistan. Hyper-nationalistic frenzy to ‘defeat’ Pakistan comes with huge human & material costs.
Come Indian elections, the bogey of Pakistan has overwhelmed the #nationalist discourse in the shrillest manner. #Modi #BJP https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/indias-perilous-obsession-wi...

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Here, one should ask the most pertinent question: why does India compete with Pakistan in every sphere, from military to sport, rather than with, say, China, which is comparable in size and population, and which in 1980 had the same GDP as India? (China’s GDP is almost five times that of India’s now.)
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Come Indian elections, the bogey of Pakistan has overwhelmed the nationalist discourse in the shrillest manner, with the Prime Minister and other Ministers’ relentless branding of the Congress/Opposition as ‘anti-national’ and as ‘agents of Pakistan’. Further, the Prime Minister even made an unprecedented threat of using nuclear weapons against Pakistan.

As a country born of the two-nation theory based on religion, and then having to suffer dismemberment and the consequent damage to the very same religious identity, it is obvious why Islamic Pakistan must have a hostile Other in the form of a ‘Hindu India’. But what is not obvious is why India, a (much larger) secular nation, must have a hostile antagonist in the form of Pakistan.

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Wars and military competition produce madness. Nothing exemplifies this more than India-Pakistan attempts to secure the Siachen Glacier, the inhospitable and highest battle terrain in the world. India alone lost nearly 800 soldiers (until 2016) to weather-related causes only. Besides, it spends around ₹6 crore every day in Siachen. Operation Parakram (2001-02), in which India mobilised for war with Pakistan, saw 798 soldier deaths and a cost of $3 billion. This is without fighting a war. Add to this the human and economic costs of fighting four wars.

Granted, the proponents of India’s muscular nationalism who want only a military solution in Kashmir might close their eyes to the killings of some 50,000 Kashmiri civilians and the unending suffering of Kashmiris, but can they, as nationalists, ignore, the deaths of around 6,500 security personnel in Kashmir and the gargantuan and un-estimated costs of stationing nearly 5 lakh military/para-military/police personnel in Kashmir for 30 years?

Ten years ago, Stephen P. Cohen, the prominent American scholar of South Asia, called the India-Pakistan relationship “toxic” and notably termed both, and not just Pakistan, as suffering from a “minority” or “small power” complex in which one is feeling constantly “threatened” and “encircled”. Tellingly, he argues that it is the disastrous conflict with Pakistan that has been one of the main reasons why India has been confined to South Asia, and prevented from becoming a global power.

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Here, a look at the military expenditures is revealing: while India spent $63.9 billion (2017) and Pakistan $9.6 billion (2018-19), Bangladesh spent only $3.45 billion (2018-19). Only a muscular and masculine nationalism can take pride in things such as becoming the fifth largest military spender in the world, or being the world’s second largest arms importer. The bitter truth hidden in these details is that India, ranked 130 in the HDI (and Pakistan, 150), simply cannot afford to spend scarce resources on nuclear arsenals, maintaining huge armies or developing space weapons. Besides, in an increasingly globalised world, military resolution between a nuclear India and Pakistan is almost impossible.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 24, 2019 at 8:21pm

Author Ashutosh in"Hindu Rashtra" talks about call to arms for #Gandhi’s #Hindus . “#Hindutva has an infinite appetite to quarrel with the past” under #Muslim rule. #Modi wants “masculine and martial nationalism” aimed at “#Kashmir, #Pakistan and #Islam” https://www.asianage.com/books/210419/a-call-to-arms-for-gandhis-hi...

As time moves forward, Hindu Rashtra will take its rightful place as a well-researched attempt to explain the unfolding of the Modi years. Review by Mani Shankar Aiyar

Ashutosh takes the reader by the hand, as it were, through the beginnings of Hindutva: the invention of this hitherto unknown word by V.D. Savarkar, its elaboration by M.S. Golwalkar, and its being put into political practice by the current icon of “masculine and martial nationalism”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Hindutva,” the author observes, “has an infinite appetite to quarrel with the past”. The past is seen, in Savarkar’s words, as “millions of Muslim invaders from all over Asia (falling) over India century after century with all the ferocity at their command to destroy the Hindu religion, the lifeblood of the nation”. Savarkar held that in this the Muslim invaders succeeded only because the Hindus had become “weak and cowardly” by upholding the “perverted virtues” of “compassion, tolerance, non-violence and truth”. The answer lay in recasting the Hindu as “masculine and martial”, the very qualities that Mr Modi seeks to embody. Ashutosh continues: “Modi epitomises Hindutva nationalism, which is founded on an adversarial attitude towards Muslims and believes that India’s history is one of Hindus being tortured in their own homeland for thousands of years because of the ruthlessness of Muslim rulers”.

But why continue this quarrel with the past even unto the 21st century, well after India, albeit a partitioned India, gained her Independence? M.K. Gandhi laid down the fundamental parameter of our contemporary nationhood in the following terms: “The assumption that India has now become the land of the Hindus is erroneous. India belongs to all who live here”.

Golwalkar held in direct contrast that the coming into being of Pakistan “is a clear case of continued Muslim aggression”. This led Nathuram Godse to justify assassinating Gandhi as, “Gandhiji was himself the greatest supporter and advocate of Pakistan… In these circumstances, the only effective remedy to relieve the Hindus from the Muslim atrocities was, to my mind, to remove Gandhiji from this world.”

This meshes seamlessly, as cited by Ashutosh, with Vinay Katiyar, several times BJP MP from Faizabad, asserting in an NDTV interview on February 7, 2018: “Muslims should not stay in this country. They have partitioned the country. So why are they here? They should go to Bangladesh or Pakistan. They have no business being here in India”. And that explains the conflation of “Kashmir, Pakistan and Islam” which Hindutva enjoins as “the duty of every Indian to fight”.

It is from such beliefs, argues Ashutosh, that have arisen the horrors of lynching and murder in the name of gau raksha and “love jihad”, assault and assassination of “anti-nationals”, the undermining of the institutions of democracy, and the nurturing of a new breed of “right-wing television channels that have become platforms for the propagation of Hindutva ideology: muscular nationalism; warmongering; militarism; bashing of Islam, Kashmir and Pakistan; and ridiculing and condemning liberal and secular values”. 

The writer goes into each of these, and more, linking them to the ideology that inspires such hate and prejudice. The basic dream of Hindutvavadis, he shows, is “to make Hindus ruthless and masculine as they assume Islam did to its followers” by “effectively us(ing) state power to spread religion”.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 26, 2019 at 5:05pm

#Iran FM Zarif: Development through #BRI (#CPEC) can be a major blow to extremist #terrorism in #Pakistan, #Afghanistan, including from #Chabahar in Iran to the #Pakistani port of #Gwadar https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/development-throu...


Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said projects under China's Belt and Road Initiative can help bring economic development to areas in its region and also deal a major blow to “extremist terror” in Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

The minister said that much of the terrorism in this particular region, including from Chabahar in Iran to the Pakistani port of Gwadar, which also connects to Afghanistan, is due to lack of economic development. 

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 26, 2019 at 9:19pm

#India's ruling party is exploiting a neighbor's pain for electoral gain. #Modi has been swift to bring up #SriLankaAttacks as a reason to vote for #BJP "to destroy terrorism of the sort Sri Lanka had suffered" #Islamophobia @mihirssharma https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-04-26/sri-lanka-bom... via @bopinion


No doubt this will become a factor in elections later this year: Former Defense Minister Gotabhaya Rajapaksa — whose family, led by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, dominated Sri Lankan politics till a few years ago — recently insisted in an interview with Bloomberg that the government was “never serious” about security and was “more concerned” about reconciliation after Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil war.

Fair enough. In the elections already underway in next-door India, though, the attacks are adding more fuel to an already ugly politics of patriotism and national-security. And accountability is the last thing being discussed.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was swift to bring up the Sri Lanka attacks as a reason to vote for his Bharatiya Janata Party: A vote for the BJP, he said, was a vote to destroy terrorism of the sort Sri Lanka had suffered.


This feeds into the Modi campaign’s ongoing efforts to exploit high-octane nationalism. The BJP seized upon a confrontation with Pakistan in February to turn the national conversation away from its spotty economic record.

Since the BJP is actually in power, though, it can’t snipe from the outside as the Rajapaksas are doing. So BJP figures have essentially resorted to calling the opposition terrorist sympathizers.

The Congress Party’s fairly detailed election manifesto could have served to open an argument on the most effective way to balance welfare and economic growth. Instead, the BJP has zeroed in on the Congress’ proposal that some particularly draconian and illiberal laws be diluted. Modi’s finance minister, who you’d think would have had plenty to say regarding the opposition’s lack of fiscal mathematics, instead focused on calling their manifesto a “charter to weaken India” and an “agenda for balkanizing India.”

Other rhetoric has been much harsher than that to which Indians are accustomed. Modi’s right-hand man, BJP President Amit Shah, said this week that after an Indian air strike on Pakistan there was “mourning” in just two places: Pakistan and the Congress. This is a familiar charge: Before elections in Modi’s home state of Gujarat a couple years ago, Modi accused his predecessor as prime minister Manmohan Singh of a “secret meeting” with Pakistani diplomats, implying that the latter were seeking to influence the election results.

It has been absurdly easy for Modi and the BJP to make security into a major, if not the primary issue in the election. Unfortunately, this heated rhetoric seems to be considered an adequate replacement for any more rational response.

India’s February air strikes into Pakistan — in retaliation for an attack on an Indian paramilitary convoy in troubled Kashmir — were seen in many quarters as influenced by electoral considerations. Crucially, there has been no accountability for the security failures that led to the convoy bombing. Kashmir is so heavily militarized that a sophisticated attack of that sort should have been prevented.

Unlike in Sri Lanka, nobody in New Delhi has taken responsibility for the original failure. It’s fine to talk about national security during a campaign. But the most important questions aren’t being asked: Why did the attack happen? Which group organized it and how did they build up their strength? How can other such attacks be prevented?

The coarseness of the current debate in India is not just a betrayal of the large part of the electorate that wants a clear discussion of bread-and-butter issues. It is frankly dangerous for national security itself. One hopes Sri Lanka will, over the next few months, have a more productive political dialogue than India has had.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 27, 2019 at 7:33am

#BRF2019: #Pakistan-#China ties are on a firmer footing. Being in this unique position of maintaining close ties with China versus a security dialogue with the #UnitedStates, albeit a reduced one, Pakistan is able to talk to both the countries. #CPEC http://bit.ly/2ZBehHD

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s keynote speech in China at a global forum last week to discuss Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, highlights Pakistan’s very close ties to the world’s fastest growing country.

For Pakistan, the stakes surrounding its relationship with China are also central to its future as the country pursues the China Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC with Beijing’s backing. At least $60 billion (Dh220 billion) earmarked for CPEC related investments across Pakistan marks a historic milestone. Never before has a foreign power committed such a large investment in Pakistan during the nation’s 72-year history.

The relationship also has a vital dimension related centrally to global security interests which must be considered in gauging this relationship. Pakistan continues to maintain security related ties with Washington, notably over events in Afghanistan, notwithstanding the friction unleashed after US President Donald Trump ended virtually all defence related assistance to Pakistan. Being in this unique position of maintaining close ties with China versus a security dialogue with the US, albeit a reduced one, Pakistan is able to talk to both the countries.

This is a powerful and a telling relationship. In about three years, China will begin supplying up to eight new submarines to Pakistan over the subsequent six years with half of them due to be assembled in Pakistan. The submarines are part of what is widely acknowledged as the largest defence contract in dollar terms, ever signed by Pakistan.

Meanwhile, by next year, the Pakistan Air Force is expected to get nearer to deciding on a new contract for the purchase of its next batch of advanced fighters. Though the cost of that purchase and its source remain a matter of speculation, many seasoned analysts have noted that a Chinese aircraft supplier will likely win that contract.


If true, that would partially be driven by not only the affordability of Chinese military hardware by comparison to western suppliers but also a long history. Unlike a country such as the United States, China has never blocked the supply of military hardware to Pakistan on any pretext. In sharp contrast, the US in 1990 suspended the sale of F16 fighter planes to Pakistan on the grounds that the country was close to producing nuclear weapons.

In subsequent years too, Washington’s relationship has hovered between being the closest ally to a suspected foreign partner. It has only been in recent months that the US appears to have once again warmed up to Pakistan after American officials concluded that the US backed war with the Taliban in Afghanistan is unwinnable. Meanwhile, president Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan following a peace agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban has yet again prompted the US to seek Pakistan’s help for a face saving end to that conflict.

There are also lessons to be learnt from past US pressure on Pakistan. Not only did Pakistan become a nuclear power just eight years after the 1990 blockage of the sales of F16 fighters to Islamabad, the country began working with China to eventually produce its own fighter plane, the JF-17 ‘Thunder’, in a journey that helped reduce dependence on the US in this area.

Taken together, Pakistan’s emerging economic relationship with China under CPEC and its history of defence ties with China have only helped cement Islamabad’s most important foreign relationship. Though Khan chose the right moment to compliment China for its support to Pakistan, his words also reflect a powerful longer term reality. Any Pakistani leader in Khan’s place would have chosen the moment to similarly praise Beijing’s support to the country.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 27, 2019 at 10:08am
For the , with largest number of candidates implicated in , the elections are about and not development.

In a recent interview, the prime minister, Narendra Modi, said that he felt a “sense of responsibility”. But by fielding “Sadhvi” Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case who is out on bail, the Modi-Amit Shah duo has shown the world that the Bharatiya Janata Party has made the elections about Hindutva and not development (“Full on”, April 22). One wonders how the BJP has remained nonchalant about the Supreme Court’s recommendation to Parliament to enact a “strong law” which would direct political parties to revoke the nominations of candidates against whom “heinous and grievous” charges have been framed. In India there are many lawmakers with such criminal charges. Their place is not in state assemblies or Parliament.

The Modi-led government has failed to deliver on almost all of its major election promises of 2014. Now the only option it has for attracting votes is to use Hindutva as a political tool. Further, given that the Congress nominated the two-time former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Digvijaya Singh, as its candidate from Bhopal, the BJP felt the dire need to ratchet up a Hindutva component by announcing the candidature of Thakur in the same constituency. In effect, the BJP has let short-term electoral gains dictate its policies. Unfortunately, this will only serve to divide Indian society irreparably in the long run.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 29, 2019 at 9:59am

#Modi's #Muslim Ban: #India wants to grant citizenship to refugees from nearby countries — unless they're Muslim. Critics say making #religion a criteria for citizenship violates India's #secular character. #Hindutva #Islamophobia https://n.pr/2WdyVeK

FRAYER: In a recent visit to Assam, Modi talked about Mother India being a homeland for Hindus everywhere. He's proposed a Citizenship Amendment Bill, which would grant Indian nationality to anyone who's persecuted in a neighboring country - except if they're Muslim. He went on to explain why.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MODI: (Foreign language spoken).

FRAYER: When India got its independence from Britain in 1947, it was partitioned into Muslim Pakistan, and later Bangladesh, and secular India. Muslims have homelands. Other faiths need India to make room for them.

But here's how it looks to many in India's northeast. Local Muslims are losing their citizenship. And at the same time, the government wants to give passports to lots of non-Muslims who may never have set foot in India. Both of those things cut the number of Indian Muslims, says Milan Vaishnav at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, D.C.

MILAN VAISHNAV: I think this is quite telling about who they see as ultimately finding a place in this kind of new proudly Hindu India.

FRAYER: There is another country that uses religion as a criteria for citizenship - Israel. Human rights lawyer Aman Wadud says Modi and other Hindu nationalists may see the Jewish state as a model.

AMAN WADUD: He thinks that India should be a natural country for Hindus, which is in contrast to the Constitution of India. The Constitution does not give citizenship based on religion.

FRAYER: To become a country like Israel, where citizenship is based on religion, India may have to alter its Constitution or use more subtle techniques, says historian Romila Thapar.

ROMILA THAPAR: Jobs, who is to be employed. Control over the media, for example. It is amazing how much the middle class has bought this whole idea of Hindu nationalism without really thinking about it.

FRAYER: Thapar says if Modi is re-elected, he'll carry on with a fundamental change in India's character. To that end, Modi's Citizenship Amendment Bill has already passed the lower house of Parliament. It awaits final approval from the equivalent of the Senate after this election. Lauren Frayer, NPR News, Guwahati, Assam, India.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 2, 2019 at 8:21pm

"#Modi is campaigning as a strongman with the character to stand up to #Pakistan .. sending warplanes to bomb #India’s nuclear neighbor earlier this year was not so much an act of strength as recklessness that could have ended in disaster"https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/05/04/under-narendra-modi-indias-ruling-party-poses-a-threat-to-democracy via @TheEconomist

When the Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp) won a landslide victory in India’s general election in 2014, its leader, Narendra Modi, was something of a mystery. Would his government initiate an economic lift-off, as businessfolk hoped, or spark a sectarian conflagration, as secularists feared? In his five years as prime minister, Mr Modi has been neither as good for India as his cheerleaders foretold, nor as bad as his critics, including this newspaper, imagined. But today the risks still outweigh the rewards. Indians, who are in the midst of voting in a fresh election (see article), would be better off with a different leader.

Mr Modi is campaigning as a strongman with the character to stand up to Pakistan for having abetted terrorism. In fact, sending warplanes to bomb India’s nuclear neighbour earlier this year was not so much an act of strength as recklessness that could have ended in disaster. Mr Modi’s tough-guy approach has indeed been a disaster in the disputed state of Jammu & Kashmir, where he has inflamed a separatist insurgency rather than quelling it, while at the same time alienating moderate Kashmiris by brutally repressing protests.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 9, 2019 at 10:20am

#India's incredulous data: #IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath has raised the issue of “transparency” with #Indian officials in data collection and, in particular, measurement of the #GDP deflator - the adjusted inflation rate used to estimate real GDP https://reut.rs/2vL2mcf

Economists and investors are increasingly showing that they have little or no confidence in India’s official economic data – presenting whoever is elected as the next prime minister with an immediate problem.

There have been questions for many years about whether Indian government statistics were telling the full story but two recent controversies over revisions and delays of crucial numbers have taken those concerns to new heights.

The government itself has admitted there are deficiencies in its data collection.

A study conducted by a division of the statistics ministry in the 12 months ending June 2017 found that as much as 36 percent of the companies in the database used in India’s GDP calculations could not be traced or were wrongly classified.

But the ministry said there was no impact on GDP estimates as due care was taken to adjust corporate filings at the aggregate level.

Last December, the government held back the release of jobs data but an official report leaked to an Indian newspaper showed the unemployment rate had touched its highest level in 45 years.

Economists and investors are now voting with their feet – by using alternative sources of data and in some cases creating their own benchmarks to measure the Indian economy.

Ten economists and analysts at banks, think-tanks and foreign funds interviewed by Reuters said they were moving to use alternative data sources, or at least official data of a different kind.

Among the numbers they prefer are fast-moving indicators like car sales, air and rail cargo levels, purchasing managers’ index data, and proprietary indices created by the institutions themselves to track the economy.

Many economists said they were stunned when the government upwardly revised GDP growth for 2016/17 to 8.2 percent from 6.7 percent, although the demonetization of high value notes hit businesses and jobs in that financial year.

“Our response has been to spend time developing an Indian Activity Index, which takes a range of time series data that in the past were strongly correlated with real GDP growth and extract the common signal from them,” said Jeremy Lawson, chief economist at Aberdeen Standard Investments, which manages more than $700 billion in assets.

The preliminary evidence from the index, which includes components like car sales, air cargo and purchasing managers’ index data suggests the government has over-estimated GDP growth, he said.

“Our index would suggest that there was stable growth, rather than the rapid acceleration suggested by the GDP figures,” he said, referring to three years of data from 2014.

Even those close to the government have said the lack of accuracy in the official data makes it much more likely that authorities will miss major swings in activity and be unable to react quickly to head off a crisis. It is also a problem for investors who may be misled into thinking the economy is more robust than it really is.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 11, 2019 at 8:10pm

The second half of Narendra #Modi's term has made a mockery of hopes that he would be #India's Shinzo Abe, @andymukherjee70 writes. #BJP #Hindutva https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-05-12/modi-isn-t-in... via @bopinion

Five years ago, I wrote that Narendra Modi could be India’s Shinzo Abe. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The chief minister of Gujarat state had just been chosen by his party to become the next prime minister if it won the popular vote. Writing for Reuters then, I predicted he could lift the country’s drooping economy, just as Abe had been attempting to do in Japan.

To get an idea of how badly Modi has undershot expectations, look at India’s largest maker of consumer staples. Hindustan Unilever Ltd. recently reported March quarter revenue growth of 7%, the weakest in 18 months. But it was what CEO Sanjiv Mehta said that unnerved investors. Consumer essentials are “recession-resistant but not recession-proof,” Mehta said. “At the end of the day, it depends on money in the hands of consumers.”

Recession? In what Team Modi professes to be the world’s fastest-growing major economy?

From carmakers to toothpaste sellers, Indian firms have had a lousy start to 2019. It’s a performance that belies the economy’s official GDP growth rate of 7%, not to mention its advance to 77th place in the World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking, from an abysmal 142nd four years ago.

In Japan, Abe has presided over what’s possibly the longest economic expansion in its post-World War II history despite the burden of an aging population. The signature piece of his reforms has been unprecedented monetary stimulus to end the country’s deflationary mindset.

For a long time it looked like Modi would catch up with his counterpart, who had a head start of about 18 months after taking office in December 2012. India’s leader certainly had successes. They included a $48 billion reduction in the crippling debt of power distribution companies (so they could be healthy again and pay producers on time). In May 2016, Modi’s government gave India its first modern bankruptcy law, and in August that year, parliament voted in favor of a national sales tax, promising freedom from a bewildering array of state levies.

As late as October 2016 there was nothing to distinguish between the 30% gains (in U.S. dollar terms) delivered by benchmark stock indexes in Japan and India since Abe took office.

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