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Abandoned by the world: Why was more not done to help Bosnia?

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General Mladić: “General Mladić here.”

Serbian Soldier:     “Yes, sir.”

General Mladić: “Target Muslim neighbourhoods – Not many Serbs live 

there…Shell them until they are on the edge of madness.

(An intercepted military conversation ordering the siege of Sarajevo,

 Bosnia – April 1992)

This horrific conversation ordering the massacre of thousands of innocent civilians did not take place in an era long gone, rather it occurred within the borders of Europe itself, during the span of most of our lifetimes. 

Yet when we asked our friends and colleagues about how much they knew about the conflict in Bosnia, in nine out of 10 cases, they said they had only basic or no knowledge whatsoever about it. The question that begs to be asked then, is how are we still oblivious to the atrocities and horrors committed in the Balkan War? 

We should all hope to better understand this shameful chapter in our collective history, and understand that whilst learning lessons from our past, we can be better equipped to make decisions based on justice and peace in the future.

Disintegration of Yugoslavia

Although the words Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia no longer appear on the world map, in the 1990s this nation was at the centre of the international community’s attention. A country bigger than the United Kingdom in the heart of Europe was suddenly disintegrating, creating such seismic geo-political rifts that it led to the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War II. 

Such grave violations of human rights occurred as each ethnicity pursued its own path, leaving anyone with a sympathetic heart, shaken and disturbed. For Muslims, it is an even bleaker chapter of history to come to terms with as the brunt of the ethnic cleansing that ensued was faced by the Muslim population of Bosnia and Herzegovina with no one coming to their aid till all was too late.

In order to properly comprehend this episode, it becomes incumbent on us to first delve a little deeper to understand the historical context of the conflict.    

The history

Since its inception in the aftermath of WWII, Yugoslavia was a country made up of six smaller nations: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequently increasing nationalism in the 1980’s, cracks began to appear in Yugoslavia. Slovenia, the first to step away in June 1991, gained independence relatively peacefully. The same fate, however, did not await the other republic states.  

(Map showing the boundaries of the former Yugoslavia and the ethnic states within it)

Realising the impending threat to their power, the Serbs – the largest ethnic group in Yugoslavia – mobilised their military and paramilitary to ensure any further calls for independence would be met with force. So when the Croatians and Bosnian Muslims followed in the footsteps of Slovenia, war and bloodshed ensued.

Though the war in Croatia left in its wake an estimated death toll of 20,000, this staggering figure pales in comparison to the destruction that the Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina were made to endure after their announcement of independence in May 1992.

The call for sovereignty by Bosnia and Herzegovina set in motion a merciless massacre of Bosnian Muslims carried out by the Serbs. The campaign was so intense that within six weeks, a coordinated offensive brought roughly two-thirds of Bosnian territory under Serb control. The presence of ethnic Serbs in Bosnia was sustained by the full military support of the Serbian government whilst on the other hand the Bosnian Muslims had neither an army nor sufficient arms to defend themselves.  

This paved the way to the murder of almost 80,000 defenceless Muslims in a matter of three and a half years from 1992-1995. The ethnic cleansing by Serbs was so intense that up to 90% of non-Serbs who lived in Bosnia, majority of them Muslim, were forced to flee, face imprisonment, or be killed. 

The Bosnians seem to have borne the brunt of the Serbian cruelty as a result of their Islamic faith, for why else would the disparity between the destruction of the Croats and the Bosnian Muslims by the Serbs be so stark? Croatia utilized its strong cultural and historic ties with Germany to receive support in their fight for independence and subsequent development, while the Muslims failed to find any such support.   

What of the Muslim countries? None came forth with any effective response to Bosnia’s calls for help for over two years.   

Failure of the UN – what held them back?  

Despite the Bosnians making repeated pleas for action, the United Nations at the time refused to intervene, all the while maintaining its ‘impartiality’ in what it deemed a domestic ‘civil war.’ 

As history has now proven, this inaction of the UN and the world at large under the excuse of ‘impartiality’ allowed for an entire generation of Bosnians to be wiped out with impunity in a continent as developed as Europe. 

(A Norwegian UN Peacekeeper in Sarajevo)

The little support that was sent to Bosnia by the UN was so meagre that several of the UN Peacekeeper units themselves became Serbian hostages

In fact, it was with the fear of UN peacekeeping forces being taken hostage that initial NATO airstrikes were halted in May 1995.   

Starving the Muslims, arming the Serbs – The UN arms ‘embargo’   

The indifference on the part of the international community was indeed not the only tragedy, in fact many of the decisions made by the UN from the very onset of the conflict ensured that those who wanted to help the Bosnians were unable to do so. 

This sorry state of affairs was epitomised by a UN-enforced arms embargo of 1991. The idea was to starve both sides of weaponry, thereby bringing about an end to the conflict. Hypothetically, the idea sounded credible, but in reality, the arms embargo was only truly implemented against the Muslims of Bosnia. This was because the countries bordering the Bosnian Muslims were willing to strictly implement the UN embargo, ensuring that no weapons could enter from their borders. On the other side, the channel through which the Bosnian Serbs were receiving their weapons, i.e. from Serbia, had never intended to implement the embargo against its own Serb allies in Bosnia. 

The Bosnian Serbs continued to receive an endless supply of weapons from Serbia, who had assumed control of the army and supplies of former Yugoslavia. After all, Serbia was trying to take control of Bosnia, so why would they implement an arms embargo against their other half in Bosnia? Thus, instead of an embargo, free access to heavy artillery including tanks, anti-air craft missiles and units of armed personnel were being heavily capitalised upon by the Serbs of Bosnia.

Left utterly defenceless, the Bosnians came under the boots of the Serbian military prowess and fell victim to utter massacre and unfettered assault. 

The injustice and imbalance was blatant to see, yet attempts to lift the embargo were repeatedly blocked in the UN.  

Making a heart-wrenching case for the lifting of the embargo at the UN in September 1994 – after three long years since being implemented – the Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic pleaded at the UN General Assembly, “Justice has turned into injustice…because the aggressor had weapons – which had been stockpiled over 40 years (since the foundation of Yugoslavia after WWII) – while the victim was unarmed and its hands were kept tied.”

Some politicians spoke openly of the grave absurdity of the embargo. Even President Joe Biden, then a much younger Senator of Delaware in January 1994, spoke in the US senate and called out the injustice: 

 
“How in God’s name can we argue against lifting the embargo? For God’s sake. We put the embargo in the name of ‘diminishing bloodshed.’ Do I need to make the point any more than to submit for the record the total number of casualties that have occurred in Bosnia Herzegovina since we put the embargo on? What in the devil could have happened more? The perverse British and French argument, that if we lift the embargo, we’re going to perpetuate the bloodshed! They’re idiots. And we’re acting collectively as the free world like cowards.”

The situation on the ground became such that on 23rd April 1994, the New York Times reported that the UN had even advised against the air-dropping of basic food supplies for the Bosnians. This statement had come with the fear that “such an air-drop would only draw civilians out into the open where they will be annihilated by every type of fire imaginable.” 

https://s1.nyt.com/timesmachine/pages/1/1994/04/23/869830_360W.png?quality=75&auto=webp&disable=upscale
(Cutting of the New York Times Report of 23rd April 1994)

Every step, or lack thereof, that the international community was taking was so half-hearted that it seemed as though no option could be adopted to help the Bosnians. 

Initially, when limited NATO airstrikes began in May 1995, the Serbs took 400 UN peacekeepers as hostages. The strikes were subsequently halted at haste.       

Ivo Daalder, a former US Ambassador to NATO, described the decision to halt the airstrikes as sending “the not-so-subtle message to the Bosnian Serbs that they were now free to pursue their preferred strategy. That strategy called ‘ethnic cleansing’”.

With hindsight, after having witnessed what the same superpowers who felt ‘helpless’ against Serbia did in such well-established countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, it makes one question: Was it really the case that the great militaries of France, Britain, Germany or the United States were left ‘helpless’ or was it simply indifference? Were they truly cornered by the Serbs and unable to take substantial actions for months on end or were these lax efforts simply the result of doing the bare minimum and merely trying to save face.

The fall of Srebrenica

This cruel amalgamation of events and misplaced priorities led to the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995, where over 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men were slaughtered in 10 short days. 

The Human Rights Watch, an NGO, made a special report on the human rights violations titled “The Fall of Srebrenica and the Failure of U.N. Peacekeeping”. They summarised the atrocities and the state of the international response in their report published in October 1995 in the following bleak terms:

“The fall of the town of Srebrenica and its environs to Bosnian Serb forces in early July 1995 made a mockery of the international community’s professed commitment to safeguard regions it declared to be “safe areas” and placed under United Nations protection in 1993. United Nations peacekeeping officials were unwilling to heed requests for support from their own forces stationed within the enclave, thus allowing Bosnian Serb forces to easily overrun it and — without interference from UN soldiers — to carry out systematic, mass executions of hundreds, possibly thousands, of civilian men and boys and to terrorize, rape, beat, execute, rob and otherwise abuse civilians being deported from the area.” 

The fact that the killings continued not for days or months, but for years, begs the question as to what held the international community back? As Europe enjoyed what is often said to be the best decade in living memory, thousands of families in Bosnia were lined up to be slaughtered. 

In such an era of advancement, in which the world witnessed the advent of the internet, the end of Apartheid in South Africa, and the booming golden years of the American economy, the people of Bosnia were victims of a modern-day Holocaust but were met with nothing but a blind eye. 

‘Why?’ is a question that still demands an answer from those who could have made a difference. Whilst the fires of the Bosnian war were still ablaze, perhaps Joe Biden at the time explained the reason well: “If these were not Muslims, the world would be reacting. Just like if it were not the Jews in the 1930’s. Shame on the West.” 

Too little, too late

What truly puts the picture in context is that just a year prior to the war against Bosnia, major Muslim countries claiming to be ‘upholders of Islam’ passed Fatwas, an Islamic ruling, declaring the Gulf War against Saddam Hussein to be a ‘Jihad’. That call for Jihad supporting a non-religious geo-political endeavour was totally unjustified, yet the Muslim countries mobilised their wealth and militaries and every possible support for the US-led war. However, when it came to Bosnia, the same Muslim-majority countries were nowhere to be seen.

After more than 100,000 people needlessly lost their lives, the conflict finally came to an end as a result of long-overdue pressure from Muslim countries, the arrival of NATO military intervention, and a US-brokered peace-treaty, dividing Bosnia into two self-governing entities. 

The suffering continues

The conflict may have officially come to an end in December 1995, but the suffering and pain continues to this day. 

As the widows of Bosnia still live and breathe and as the horrors still burn fresh in the minds of its victims, some of those same mass murderers continue to walk free and even masquerade as politicians and leaders of the people in Serbia. 

Not only do such criminals continue to escape the grasp of justice and deny the very existence of this monstrous extermination, they are commemorated and celebrated as heroes, with institutions of learning and roads wearing their name as a twisted mark of honour.  

In the words of Serger Brammertz, the former chief prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunal which was tasked with bringing the war criminals of the Bosnian conflict to justice:

“A number of alleged genocidaires have fled to Serbia and found safe haven there, including political leaders and military commanders…I have witnessed the pain of the survivors who must face the reality that some of those alleged to have murdered their loved ones can still walk the streets freely….War criminals convicted by the ICTY [UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia] are often hailed as heroes by prominent figures, while victims’ suffering is ignored, denied and disparaged.”

The blood of Bosnia has stained the pages of our history, but until and unless we remember, and learn lessons from the horrors of our past, we will forever run the risk of witnessing them again in our future. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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1 Comment

  1. Fahim Anwer

    6 July 2021 at 5:51 pm

    A very thought provoking article for those not familiar with this conflict that occurred well within most of our lifetime. Such were the atrocities committed under the eyes of a watching Europe that the European politicians of the time must bow their heads in shame for allowing this dark period in modern history to occur.
    Just 50 years after the last genocide in Europe, were there no lessons learnt? Had the Western Nations become so arrogant that such horrors and violations could not possibly happen within their midst again that they were caught totally off guard resulting in calamitous decision after calamitous decision?
    For sure not enough of this catastrophic period is widely known, if anything it seems to have been brushed under the carpet, almost forgotten, further adding to the shame of Europe.
    While similar tragedies are still taking place in other parts of the world we can only hope and pray that the spirit of humanity rises above rhetoric and political debate enabling true justice to prevail.

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World

Melbourne to come out of lockdown after 262 days

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The city of Melbourne, Australia will come out of lockdown this Friday after reaching a vaccination rate of  70%. This Australian city has spent time under the Covid-19 lockdown more than any city in the world, totaling 262 days.  

The lockdown will end five days earlier than was anticipated due to the high vaccination rate. The state’s premier, Daniel Andrews made the announcement on Sunday, stating “as of 11.59 pm Thursday there will be no lockdown, no restrictions on leaving home and no curfew.” This is the city’s sixth lockdown which is ending after 73 days, due to the goal of 70% of people over 16 being double-dosed being reached.

According to Victoria’s reports, there were 1,838 new Covid-19 cases and seven deaths in the city on Sunday so people will not be able to visit regional Victoria even after the lockdown restrictions are lifted. This lifting of lockdown means “ten visitors, including dependents, will be able to visit a home each day. Outdoor gatherings will increase to 15 people. Up to 20 fully vaccinated people will be allowed inside at hospitality venues with 50 outside, subject to density limits.” Moreover, schools will open physically, at least on a part time basis as well as some traveling restrictions being lifted.

Melbourne will also ease even more restrictions when 80% of the population is vaccinated. As Andrew said “today is a day where every Victorian should be proud,” adding “it is absolutely amazing to be this closely aligned to New South Wales. To be only just a couple of weeks behind NSW, when we know and understand just how much extra vaccine went there, is a credit to every single Victorian.” In fact, he also said that “I don’t think it will stop at 90 percent. There is not a ceiling, I think it will creep beyond that and maybe get to 92 percent, 93 percent, 94 percent even. But every jab, every person, every percentage point that is fully vaccinated, that is literally tens of thousands of people less getting sick and finishing up needing hospitalization.”

It is great to see a country coping with Covid-19 in a proper way. It was a combined effort of public and health officials that helped Melbourne finally come out of lockdown. Hopefully, other countries will also see such success in vaccination rates so Covid-19 can successfully be controlled.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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World

Peak Australian Islamic body cancels online discussion with Taliban guest speakers

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A now-cancelled online event organised by the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) was advertising a ‘stellar panel of speakers’ of which two of the speakers are members of the Taliban. The event planned to discuss the future of Afghanistan following the Taliban’s swift takeover “whether we are in favour or against recent developments.” Less than 24 hours after the news broke, AFIC cancelled the event with President Dr Rateb Jneid claiming they were not seeking to “legitimise any group or to offend any group.” Its Chief Executive Keysar Trad also claimed they do not wish to “create any angst for anybody” but said the event was to “obtain assurances about the rights of minorities and women and to also dissuade and discourage any young people from going to that region.” 

Nonetheless, the scheduling of the event garnered condemnation from all levels and political stripes of the Australian government, with the New South Wales (NSW) premier Dominic Perrottet and Multiculturalism Minister Natalie Ward jointly stating that “we join Muslim community leaders in NSW, and especially Afghan community leaders, in condemning events of this kind” with the opposing Labor party’s police and counter-terrorism MP Walt Secord branding the event “a road map to radicalisation.” The conservative federal MP Phillip Thompson described the Taliban as “vile and barbaric” for the inhumane rule and their opposition to equal education for women and girls. Before parliament, Mr Thompson served in the military and was severely injured by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan and said the event would upset war veterans

Beyond the politicians, the event angered activists like refugee advocate Sitarah Mohammadi, who fled Taliban rule in the 1990s with her family due to them being a part of the Hazara minority, who are heavily persecuted by the Sunni Taliban. When the Taliban took over and regained control over Afghanistan this year, no other group felt in danger as much as the Hazaras did. To people like Sitara, giving the Taliban a platform is “completely inappropriate” especially with the memories of the Taliban’s torture from the 1990s still fresh in Hazara communities.

The two Taliban speakers for the event were Suhail Shaheen and Sayed Abdul Basir Sabiri. Doha-based Shaheen has not ruled out returning to harsh punishments such as stonings and public executions and was named as the Taliban’s representative to the United Nations while Sabiri is a senior Taliban member.

The Taliban’s struggle for global recognition and diplomatic relations with Western countries is still unsuccessful. Yet the fact that some Western Muslim leaders are open to hosting them on a panel discussion and using the Taliban’s official name the ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ in their advertising shows that withdrawing military forces is not the end of the war. The new frontier in tackling such extremism is now in the disinformation space and cyberspace. Two places which, if left unregulated and unmonitored, could drag Western governments back into another ‘endless war’.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Economics

Economic catastrophe places Afghanistan in crisis

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Αντώνης Σαμαράς Πρωθυπουργός της Ελλάδας from Greece, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Due to severe poverty and disorganisation, Afghanistan has faced an economic collapse especially after the Taliban takeover on 15th August 2021. Moreover, the growing humanitarian crisis affects half the population as well.

The UN secretary, General Antonio Guterres spoke to reporters in the UN headquarters where he said “the international community must find ways to inject cash directly into Afghanistan’s economy to avert its total collapse as a growing humanitarian crisis impacts half the population.” In addition to that, he also discussed how the Taliban had broken promises by saying “broken promises lead to broken dreams for the women and girls of Afghanistan,” on Monday.

The EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borell said in an interview on Monday with a Spanish newspaper, El Pais “we thought we would have an acute (migration) crisis because of Afghanistan, but it has not yet happened. And it will not happen if we prevent the economic collapse of the country. 75 percent of the Afghan budget comes from foreign transfers. And now they are all frozen”. He also added that “economic collapse can occur. We have to prevent it, without recognizing or supporting the government as such.” This discussion took place across countries when the UN urged the world leaders to put money into the Afghan economy to save the country. After this discussion, the German Chancellor, Angela Markel stated that the country should not “descend into chaos.” Whereas, US President Joe Biden stressed that the aid given to Afghanistan should be via independent international organizations.

So far the money provided to Afghanistan has been in millions which can only cover the emergency needs. However, Guterres told reporters that a massive UN humanitarian aid operation is underway in a race against time so aid can reach before the winter months. According to him any measure that includes channeling the cash through the Taliban should be avoided at all costs. This is because after the Taliban takeover, the banks were closed for several days and even when they opened accessing cash was still difficult. In addition to that, due to many business owners leaving the country to escape the Taliban, the employees are without salary whilst the prices of necessities continue to increase. Furthemore, women can no longer work to support their families. This is all mostly due to the Taliban takeover.

The UN and the global community are trying to reach and help the people of Afghanistan without recognising a Taliban government, which is quite difficult. Many people are stuck in tents while winter is approaching so if something is not done immediately the people will suffer. This is of course, very difficult because the money needs to reach the people and not the Taliban. It is hoped that the UN can help provide a solution which will help the people of Afghanistan soon. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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World

Workers in the United States quit jobs in record numbers

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AgnosticPreachersKid, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The number of Americans leaving their jobs voluntarily reached a record high. According to the data, there were 10.4 million job opportunities in the country at the end of August 2021, a tiny decrease from July’s record high of 11.1 million, but still a staggering number. The amount of people quitting their jobs has reached an all-time high, owing to a confluence of variables such as Americans seeing sufficient opportunity and greater income elsewhere. Workers who are less willing to put up with inconvenient hours and low pay are driving the phenomena, with many resigning at this point of the pandemic in search of better opportunities elsewhere. The number of people quitting their jobs, and the increase in job openings, has become a growing source of concern for the country’s economic recovery.

According to the recent figures released on Tuesday by the Department of Labor, 4.3 million people left their employment in August, accounting for about 2.9% of the workforce. That equates to approximately 3% of the labour force. According to the study, hiring also slowed in August, with the number of open jobs falling to 10.4 million from a record high of 11.1 million the previous month. There is a degree of confidence from workers who believe they would be able to find a job elsewhere, yet labour dynamics have changed since the Covid-19 crisis. Workers have left their employment because of virus fears, a lack of child care options, health concerns and other challenges that have arisen as a result of the pandemic’s circumstances. Moreover, Teachers across the country are resigning or retiring early as schools reopen for the new academic year, and Covid-19 cases among children have risen over the last week, despite some states prohibiting mask mandates. A high rate of individuals leaving jobs indicates how optimistic American workers are about their career prospects. However, a closer look at the data reveals that workers may be avoiding work because they are afraid of getting the Delta version of Covid-19.

This is an interesting movement. Workers demonstrate their confidence in the future by leaving their jobs. It also indicates that there are enough jobs available that if the transfer does not work out, they will be able to locate to another job reasonably easily. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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World

Tesla’s Berlin Gigafactory to begin production by year’s end

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Following a record third quarter for Tesla, CEO Elon Musk announced the start of production at the new Berlin Gigafactory on Saturday 9th October. “We’re aiming to start production in a few months, basically, November or December, and hopefully deliver our first cars in December” said Musk at the Oktoberfest-style County Fair held on site in Gruenheide. 

The factory will begin making Model Y cars in addition to millions of battery cells. Tesla has submitted plans to invest 5 billion euros in a battery plant with 50GWh capacity. Musk added that he’s hoping the plant will be producing between 5,000 and 10,000 vehicles per week by the end of 2022. 

Berlin Gigafactory still needs a final approval to start production and faces opposition from the locals due to environmental concerns regarding the factory’s water use and disruption to wildlife. Construction was started two years ago after getting the go-ahead from the authorities under an exception. The company does however enjoy good support among the German political parties as Tesla will be adding significant jobs to the European economy and Brandenburg’s Economy Minister has put the chances of the factory gaining operational approval at 95%. The latest consultation on public concerns towards the site closes today (14th October), after which the Environment Ministry will make a decision. If the approval is granted, it will allow Tesla to grow significantly in Europe and increase production of its cars.

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Figure 1: Tesla’s new Structural 4680 battery. Credit: Tesla & Battery Associateshttps://energycentral.com/c/cp/tesla-battery-day-one-slide

Tesla also unveiled its new structural battery pack with 4680 cells during the tour of the Gigafactory. 4680 refers to the dimension of the cell with each cell being 46mm in diameter and 80mm tall and was first announced during the company’s Battery Day event last year. Tesla has previously used 21650 cells in its battery packs which are mass produced and are also found in laptop battery packs. These cells are combined to form modules which are then put together in a battery case to form a battery pack. By moving to a bigger 4680 cell, no module assembly is required and the entire battery pack can provide the structural platform for the car. This battery pack design is simple and results in a more efficient and cheaper battery pack that is easy to assemble, has less parts, less mass and improves the manufacturing process. 

During the Battery Day event last year, Elon Musk compared the structural battery to fuel tanks in an aircraft. “All modern airplanes, the fuel tank, your wing is just a fuel tank and wing shaped,” he said. “This is absolutely the way to do it. And then the fuel tank serves as dual structure, and it’s no longer cargo. It’s fundamental to the structure of the aircraft — this was a major breakthrough. We’re doing the same for cars.” Seats can be directly mounted to the structural battery pack which reduces mass and simplifies the assembly process of Tesla’s cars. 

Getting a first glimpse of these packs was definitely the highlight of the event and shows how close Tesla is to pushing the limits of batteries in electric vehicles even further. Elon Musk also defended the factory against the critics of its environmental impact, saying that it used “relatively little” water and that battery cell production is “sustainable”.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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World

Abdul Qadeer Khan: ‘Pakistan’s nuclear hero’ dies at the age of 85

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Abdul Qadeer Khan was known as the father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb and nuclear weapons program. He died at the age of 85 due to complications related to Covid-19. 

Dr. Khan was known as a national hero as he turned Pakistan into the first Islamic country with nuclear power. He was known for setting up the first nuclear enrichment plant at Kahuta, a place near Islamabad. Due to his contributions by the year 1998, Pakistan had conducted its first nuclear tests. The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan tweeted that “he was loved by our nation (because) of his critical contribution in making us a nuclear weapon state.” Moreover, Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Choudhry stated that Dr. Khan’s “services for the nation and his contributions for strengthening Pakistan’s defense will always be remembered.” Due to his contributions, Pakistan was the world’s seventh nuclear power country which made it up to par with India, a rival country. However, his fame only lasted in his country. 

In the west, Dr. Khan was thought to be a dangerous renegade for sharing his found technology with other rogue countries including Iran, North Korea, and Libya. After this accusation, he was pardoned by then-president Pervez Musharaf. However, due to the pressure from the US, the Pakistani authorities placed him under house arrest in 2004, which lasted till 2009. Although he was supposedly free, his movements in and out of the country were still heavily monitored closely by the security agencies. According to the US state department “(Dr. Khan has) irrevocably changed the proliferation landscape and have had lasting implications for international security” because he ran an “extensive international network for the proliferation of nuclear equipment and know-how that provided ‘one-stop shopping’ for countries seeking to develop nuclear weapons.” 

He was buried as he requested at Islamabad’s Faisal Mosque on Sunday 10th October 2021 with “full honors” according to the interior minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed. The funeral was attended by thousands of mourners in the pouring rain including General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff. 

The death of an individual who dedicated his life to shape Pakistan is devastating but his memory continues to live on through his key achievements and will always be remembered as a national hero. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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