Sunday, April 27, 2008

3 day supply: Looming crisis of Flour in Karachi

According to news reports, all wheat shipment to Karachi have been halted, and Karachi has only 3 days of supply left in the mills.

If the situation is not corrected immediately, there will be food riots in the streets. The government has lost its priorities.

While the previous government was raked over the coals for a brief shortage of food and probably led to the downfall of the Chaudhry government.

South Asia hit by food shortages

Women buy flour in Karachi - many have gone without
People across South Asia are struggling to cope with a severe shortage of affordable wheat and rice.
There have been queues outside Pakistani shops in towns around the country, and flour prices have shot up.

Wheat flour is a staple foodstuff in Pakistan, where rotis or unleavened bread are eaten with almost every meal.

Last week Afghanistan appealed for foreign help to combat a wheat shortage while Bangladesh recently warned it faced a crisis over rice supplies.

Global wheat prices are at record highs. Problems have been compounded by crop failures in the northern hemisphere and an increase in demand from developing countries.

Afghan Commerce Minister Mohammad Amin Farhang said wheat shortages could lead to serious problems during the winter.

His call came amid rising discontent inside Afghanistan at the spiralling cost of wheat and other basic foods.

The price of rice in many parts of South Asia is rising fast

Afghanistan does not grow enough wheat to feed all its people and is partially dependent on imports.

On Thursday, the chief of the Bangladesh army, Gen Moeen U Ahmed, said that he was "very concerned" about the problem of rice supplies which he said must be redressed immediately.

Many people in the country have been hit hard by spiralling food prices, which in some cases have doubled over the last year, mostly because of damage caused by heavy monsoon rain.

A delegation from Bangladesh is now in India to discuss importing rice to offset the shortages.

Increase in demand

Pakistan's government says it has no lack of wheat supplies and blames distribution problems and hoarders, as well as smuggling by suppliers.

Officials say the price is fixed in consultation with representatives of flour mill owners.

The BBC 's M Ilyas Khan in Karachi says that the Pakistani government buys wheat in bulk at the time of harvesting, and then releases stocks to flour mills according to a pre-determined quota.

It now says it has increased the quota allocated to the mills, warning them of penalties if they are found selling flour at prices higher than fixed by the government.

Rice in Bangladesh is having to be imported (Photo: Daily Star)

Pakistanis consume an estimated 22m tonnes of wheat annually, and last season's yield was more than 23m tonnes.

Officials accuse suppliers in Punjab, the breadbasket of Pakistan, of smuggling wheat intended for domestic use to Afghanistan and Central Asia to take advantage of price differences.

Flour ran short in Pakistan when many areas saw rioting after the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto in late December.

With the security situation in Pakistan now calmer, correspondents say it is not clear why apparent problems in distributing flour are persisting.

One reason cited is frequent power cuts which have led to flour mills stopping work.

"It's not fair," one retired worker, Younis, told Reuters news agency. "We are very angry."

He said he had waited for hours outside a government store in the southern city of Karachi, hoping to buy flour - but to no avail. Dozens of others went empty-handed, Reuters reported.

Initially, flour shortages pushed up the price on the open market in Pakistan to as much as 60 rupees (about $1) per kilogram in some areas. The average day labourer earns only 100 rupees a day.

The state-run Utility Stores Corporation has been selling flour at 18 rupees per kilogram, but it does not have enough outlets to serve the population of 160 million.

Abuse of Women by Islam


This one was an Austrian man who raped his daughter for 24 years. It is amazing that Reuters did not identify the religion of Austrian animal that bore 6 children with his daughter and kept the offspring in the basement of his house.

The perpetuator of the crime is only identified if it is Muslim.

Austrian woman says imprisoned, abused for 24 years
Sun Apr 27, 2008 11:13am EDT
VIENNA (Reuters) - An Austrian woman says she was kept prisoner and abused by her own father for 24 years in a basement dungeon in eastern Austria, where she bore him seven children, Austrian police said on Sunday.

The 42-year-old woman has been named by police as Elisabeth F. and told authorities she had been abused by her father, now 73, since the age of 11.

She told police her father Joseph lured her into the basement of their house in the town of Amstetten in 1984, and drugged and handcuffed her before locking her up.

"She had been abused continuously during the 24-year-long imprisonment," the statement said. "This led to six children."

The woman had given birth to seven children and one of them died shortly after being born, according to police.

The woman said Joseph provided her and three of her children, who were locked up with her, with clothing and food. His wife Rosemarie had not been aware of what was going on.

The case came to light when the oldest child named as Kerstin F. fell severely ill and had to be taken to Amstetten hospital.

"A 19-year-old girl was dropped off at the Amstetten hospital last weekend," a spokesman for police said.

"The girl is seriously ill and is fighting for her life. A search for the mother, who had disappeared, was launched to get more details about the girl."

DNA samples of all the people involved have been taken and will be evaluated, police added.

The case is reminiscent of that of Austrian Natascha Kampusch, who spent eight year locked up in a windowless cell before dashing to freedom in August 2006.

(Reporting by Karin Strohecker; Editing by Robert Woodward

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Five Rupees: Jahil Zardari

Five Rupees: Jahil Zardari

Khuda Keh Liyeh 2 (KKL2) in the works

Mansoor to make sequel to Khuda Kay Liye (God's for sake)

IndiaFM | Saturday, 19 April , 2008, 12:46

After the hard-hitting, Khuda Kay Liye, Shoaib Mansoor plans a sequel to the film. However, the project stands to lose because of the nightmarish experiences the middle-aged director went through.

"My kismet was with me. If in Pakistan, we didn't have President Musharraf in-charge of the regime my film would've been in serious trouble. Yes, he openly supported the film. He saw Khuda Kay Liya and made his appreciation and approval so apparent that the work of the censors became quite easy. I don't think my film would have made it into the theatres."

Surprisingly the Pakistani fundamentalists also kept their peace. "The majority of the audience reacted so positively that they didn't have the guts to raise their voice. Also, I covered my bases well. If Naseeruddin Shah's anti-fundamentalist rhetorics had any flaws, I'd have been hauled over the coals. I've a fair command over my religion. However if you ask a maulvi about it, he would say I am not Muslim at all specially after seeing my film.

”But I'd like to say I'm a far better Muslim than any maulvi. Just as they say, they're doing a Jihaad, I'd like to think I've done Jihaad through my film. If I've shown so much courage and taken such a personal risk to depict the true meaning of religious faith it's a form of Jihaad born of strong convictions."

It isn't as if Shoaib Mansoor thinks it's all peaches-and-creams. "If you and I travel together you can sail through customs. But I'll be grilled although I dress conventionally. Intolerance is a way of life in every culture. Even today, women are treated as commodities in many countries. Through my leading lady Iman Ali I wanted to show how women are treated."

And now Shoaib Mansoor plans a sequel to Khuda Kay Liye. "But I wonder if I'm equal to the task. I had members of the cast who didn't behave well during the shooting. How can I work with them again? My lead actor Shan gave an interview before the release of Khuda Kay Liye where he said I had made the film only for myself and for my close friends. These commercial actors believe audiences actually want potboilers."

So did Shan apologise after Khuda Kay Liye succeeded? "Apologise? He hasn't called me once since the release. The whole of Pakistan has changed their mind about Shan after my film. I believe I could only realise 50 per cent of my script. I don't want to go through that suffering. Whatever I make, it would've a powerful message. I feel I've to use the cinematic medium to say something meaningful."

Apparently Shan, who's a major star in Pakistan, gave Mansoor hell. He evades the question. "Maybe these stars behave the same way with all directors. Later I found out that these stars were far more disciplined with me than with other Pakistani filmmakers. I wish they'd have looked at Naseeruddin Shah. What convictions and integrity he has! After hearing my script his first condition was, 'I'd do it for free'. My other actors first wanted to know how much money they'd get."

Interestingly all the actors except Naseer and Shan in Khuda Kay Liye were feature-film firsts. Shoaib's next film could be an Indo-Pak production. "I'd like that. I feel the predicament regarding religious bigotry is the same in both countries. I feel Pakistan and India are casualties of wrong policies. I wish to address my films to these issues. It's important to bring about an awakening in people. Not that I feel cinema can change mindsets. I don't think Khuda Kay Liye has revised Muslim bigotry."

Shoaib is gung-ho about Jodhaa-Akbar. "The effort and the funds are evident. I was awed by the film's magnitude. I wish I could make a period film like this. History and fiction are my lifelines. I'm very interested in the life of Akbar. And I'm very impressed by Jodhaa-Akbar. My only grouse is that Hrithik Roshan is miscast. It was important to make sure that the actor who plays a historical character is correct in posture and bearing. In my own film, too, some actors were miscast. But then I wasn't in a negotiable position."

Shoaib admits Khuda Kay Liye got recognition outside Pakistan only at film festivals. "The film went through a nightmare in the US. I had no distribution setup. So I negotiated with some people on the e-mail. On trust, I sent them the prints of the film. They ran the film for a month in the US. And then vanished with the funds and the prints. In fact, I should make a film on my experiences while making the film. For example, the actor whom I initially wanted in the lead Junaid Jamshed was my close friend. I introduced him on television and promoted him to become a top musician in Pakistan. When I offered him the role he said yes eagerly. But then he became a mullah and lost nerve. I lost precious eight months in his dillydallying."

Reacting to the film's box office performance in India, Shoaib says, "I keep myself away from such things. But I wish the film's Indian distributors had treated it with more importance. It's the costliest film ever made in Pakistan. And I raised the funds somehow on my own."

Monday, April 7, 2008

The 3 factors inhibiting Afghan peace

Calling the Afghan insurgency the "Taliban resurgence" is an attempt to shift the blame on Pakistan. Calling all the Afghan insurgents "Taliban" is a brazen attempt to nullify a popular uprising against foreign occupation. As an analogy it is like calling the Cherokee, Lakota, Shawnee, Pawnee, Chickashe, Choctow etc as "Indians".

Pakistan's western front Tuesday, April 08, 2008 Zeenia Satti

Three factors jeopardized Pakistan's security on the western front.

a) Musharraf allowed military action against Afghanistan from Pakistan's soil without first sealing its western border.

b) NATO failed to reconstruct Afghanistan, which rendered its occupation illegitimate and produced an inevitable domestic insurgency for end to occupation.

c) During the war that followed, the Taliban's vengeance, Washington's displeasure with Pakistan's nuclear weapons, Indo-Afghan irredentist claims over Pakistan's territory, each found FATA to be an easy conduit of furtherance of their respective designs. Furthermore, the Musharraf regime's domestic legitimacy gap rendered it vulnerable to a myriad of political and military onslaughts, producing an international uproar, often orchestrated, that Pakistan was a failed state and a dangerous nation.

The three factors cited above will overwhelm Islamabad unless it changes its western-front policy. Musharraf cites Washington's threat of bombing Pakistan into the stone age as the reason for his Afghan policy turnabout in 2001. Pakistan's participation in the post-9/11 Afghan war on Washington's terms has taken it close to the brink of disaster. Paradoxically, this very position has equipped Islamabad with the bargaining chips vis a vis the US that it did not possess soon after 9/11. The rapidly decreasing support in the US for Bush's war in Iraq would end entirely if Iraq's insurgents started launching terrorist attacks inside American cities. By the same token, due to countrywide terror attacks, Pakistan's capacity to win greater US acceptance for a more nationalist policy regarding the "war on terror" is now increased.

The strategic context of the Afghan insurgency has been misrepresented by Washington. It states that the Taliban are regrouping in FATA and launching attacks in Afghanistan, thus frustrating ISAF's reconstruction efforts. The western media's scrutiny of Afghan insurgent battles, on the other hand, reveals that the insurgency is spread all over Afghanistan and appears to be without a centralized head. It stems from local hatred due to high civilian casualty rate and disproportionate use of force by US troops in Afghanistan. The fact that acceptable levels of security, prosperity and political identity have not been provided to the Afghans during their six-year-long occupation has augmented local antagonism. This is the strategic context of the Afghan insurgency. It is not cross border terrorism. For as long as the strategic context remains, insurgency will dominate the Afghan scene regardless of FATA's assistance. Furthermore, it will be sustained by tactical, small unit leadership, even if Pak army decimates the Taliban altogether.

The US has chosen to call Afghan insurgency the "Taliban resurgence" in order to shift the blame to Pakistan. The only centralized feature of the insurgency is its target; i.e. NATO troops and the Karzai regime. The terror on Pakistani soil may be the centralized work of the Taliban. The same cannot be said of suicide attacks in Afghanistan. It can be concluded that warlord politics in Afghanistan has been replaced by widespread insurgency against western occupation. Because a unified Afghanistan exists as the final reference point of political identity, it could inspire networking amongst insurgents. In calling the insurgents "Taliban" the US is turning away from the agonizing truth. For strategic clarity, the Afghan insurgents have to be de linked from one particular entity and named what they were named during the Soviet Afghan war; i.e. Afghan Mujahideen. The argument that ISAF and Karzai are unable to provide prosperity because of the insurgency is mooted by the time line of the insurgency. It rose slowly as a response to occupied mismanagement. Up to 2004, there was no insurgency.

On Pakistan's front, Washington and Karzai have jeered at Musharraf's every offer of securing the border. Land mines were dismissed on grounds that they were immoral. Barbed wiring was opposed on grounds that it will divide the Pushtun nation! The second objection is tantamount to telling Pakistan "heads you lose, tales we win". The only option presented to Pakistan is internecine warfare on its Pushtun lands, which will turn Pakistan's first line of defence on its western border, the Pushtuns, squarely against Islamabad and render the eastern border insecure due to military's preoccupation with the west. Pakistan need not discuss its border security with Afghanistan or Washington. It needs to decide this matter in its own vital interest, which lies in halting border fluidity on the western front and changing FATA's administrative environment in which crime functions with impunity.

The roughly 800-mile extended Afghan-FATA border has become a conduit of destabilization of Pakistan. Washington's global war on terror should be a campaign against all terrorists, not just those actively targeting the US On this point, Pakistan should elicit Washington's cooperation for its nationalist policy on the "war on terror", which it must implement with the same firmness that Turkey has recently shown on its border with Iraq. This policy should rest on FATA's administrative amalgamation in to NWFP and the physical sealing of Pak-Afghan border, in that order.

State's writ must prevail in FATA. We no longer live in the strategic environment that necessitates parity of force. Terror strikes all over Pakistan and 9/11 testify to the fact that a state's conventional power and its nuclear weapons are of no consequence in dealing with manoeuvre warfare. In such a milieu, an accessory of the nature of FATA and an open border with a restive state under occupation are strategic blunders Pakistan can ill afford. Not only is latest weaponry in abundant supply in FATA, the resurgence of Afghan drug trade under U.S occupation means lethal drugs and black money too is in abundant supply. Pakistani society, including FATA's population, should not be left exposed to this sinister combination. Incremental administrative changes in FATA will not solve the problem. Fundamental reorientation in the nation's best interest is required.

The writer is energy consultant and analyst of energy geopolitics based in Washington DC. Email: zeenia.satti@

Friday, April 4, 2008

Exiting Afghanistan?

There are a lot of promises on existing Iraq, but none on Afghanistan. The Dems have promised a transfer of troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. What impact odes it have on Pakistan and South Asia.

An exit strategy in Afghanistan, By Patrick Seale, Special to Gulf News
April 04, 2008, 00:44

Last Monday, two British Marines and one Danish soldier were killed in a firefight with Taliban guerrillas in the southern Afghan province of Helmand. This brought the number of international soldiers killed in Afghanistan this year to over 30.

For what noble cause have these young men died?

At their summit meeting in Bucharest this week, Nato heads of state have discussed how to boost the alliance's war effort in Afghanistan. They should instead have debated how to reach a peace settlement with the insurgents - and how to get out.

Nato has evidently got itself into a colossal muddle in Afghanistan. Everything that could possibly go wrong has gone wrong. It is far from clear why the alliance is fighting there at all, and what it is seeking to achieve. Talk of "victory" is a dangerous illusion.

In 2003, there were 20,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan. By 2007, this number had trebled to 60,000 - and is shortly to increase further with the arrival of another 3,200 US Marines and a further 1,000 French soldiers. Has this vast increase in troop levels brought added security to the country? Is peace breaking out? Are reconstruction and development of the war-torn country progressing? Has opium growing been eradicated, or at least curbed? Alas, quite the contrary.

Violence and deaths have increased steadily over the past five years, with attacks on foreign troops now running at a rate of 500 a month. In 2007, there were no fewer than 140 suicide attacks - the most dreaded and lethal form of attack. As Westerners are often targeted, they live in fear, restrict their movements and therefore cannot help much with reconstruction and development. Far from being eradicated, opium production has increased year by year and narco-traffic is booming.

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of Afghanistan knows that this is an overwhelmingly Muslim country, profoundly attached to its customs and traditions. What most Afghans have in common is pride and a fierce attachment to their country - as well as a visceral hatred of foreign domination. This was a lesson the British learned to their cost in the 19th century and the Soviets in the 1980s. It is a lesson the US and its Nato allies are painfully learning in their turn.

A leading French expert on Afghanistan, Professor Gilles Dorronsoro, believes that Nato's key blunder has been the attempt to impose a Western model of modernisation on Afghanistan, where it is inevitably seen as a foreign import. The goals of democracy, of a market economy and of gender equality may be embraced by a small elite in Kabul, but are rejected in much of the countryside, where they face incomprehension and hostility.

President Hamid Karzai's state is a fiction. It controls only 30 per cent of the territory - the rest is in the hands of warlords or insurgents - and has only a tenuous grip on the economy.

In Afghanistan, fundamentalist Islam is a form of nationalism. The two are indistinguishable. The West may seek to demonise the Taliban as medieval barbarians, alien to Afghan society. The truth, however, would seem to be that they are very much a home-bred product. Although originally almost exclusively Pashtun, the insurgency has now spread beyond the Pashtun areas, pointing to the Taliban's growing support.

In 2006-7, there was a notable change of sentiment in Afghanistan. The idea took hold that Nato and the Americans were losing the war. This alone should have persuaded the heads of state gathered in Bucharest this week that it was time to bring this thankless neo-colonial military adventure to a close.

An astonishing statistic is that American forces in Afghanistan cost the American tax-payer $100m a day - or, currently, $36bn a year. So far, since 2001, the US has spent $127bn on the war in Afghanistan. One can only weep at such a waste of resources.

In contrast, total international aid to Afghanistan - on which the Kabul government depends for 90 per cent of its expenditure - has averaged only $7m a day since 2001. Half the promised aid has failed to arrive - there is a $5bn shortfall - while two-third of the aid was not channelled through government institutions at all.

A lot of it was squandered inefficiently or was diverted into private pockets. The result has been an explosion of corruption, which may be observed in million-dollar houses in Kabul.

These facts and figures are taken from a recent report by Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR), which has the difficult task of coordinating the work of 94 non-governmental organisations working in Afghanistan.

What the ACBAR report makes damningly clear is that some 40 per cent of the aid money finds its way back to the donor countries, one way or another, mainly in the form of salaries to expatriates. An expatriate consultant can cost between $250,000 and $500,000 a year.

Local opposition

If seeking to impose a Western model on Afghanistan has aroused local opposition, another even greater source of hostility is the large-scale use of air strikes, especially by American forces. Millions of tonnes of bombs have been dropped on Afghanistan in pursuit of a policy of "killing the enemy".

These have inevitably caused the death of hundreds of Afghan civilians and much material "collateral damage". Breaking into homes, ignoring local customs and showing disrespect for ordinary Afghans has also created immense anger.

The result has been to bring large segments of the population over to the Taliban side. As in Iraq, far from pacifying the country, US strategy has created an enemy bent on revenge.

There is much talk in Washington these days of taking the war to the Taliban in the tribal areas of West Pakistan. Even Barack Obama, the leading Democratic presidential candidate and a stern critic of the Iraq war, has spoken of "cleaning out" Pakistan's tribal areas.

This is dangerous talk. Pakistan is seething with angry opposition to the Nato campaign in Afghanistan and, more generally, to US President George W. Bush's "war on terror". Some experts believe that a large-scale Western ground incursion into Pakistan's tribal areas could split the Pakistan army, bring down President General (retired) Pervez Musharraf, and put an end to any security cooperation with the West.

On a visit to Islamabad in late March, John Negroponte, the US Deputy Secretary of State, was surprised to hear that the leaders of Pakistan's new coalition government - former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari - want talks with the Taliban rather than military strikes.

"One is dealing with irreconcilable elements who want to destroy our very way of life. I don't see how you can talk with those kinds of people," Negroponte was quoted as saying. It would be in Nato's, and Washington's, interest to find out -and the sooner the better.

US Civil Rights movement unware of Gandhi racism

Undoubtedly, Martin Luther King was one of the greatest heros of our time. He accomplished more than any of his contemporaries. Martin Luther King lived during troubled times. He was in search of turth and find a mentor in Thoreau. He was a Christian minister so he did believe in Jesus Christ.

Martin wanted to keep up the family tradition, so he decided to become a minister. He graduated from Morehouse College in 1948 and then went to Crozer Seminary to become a minister. It was at Crozer that Martin learned about the Disneyland version of Gandhi. He must have learned that Gandhi was an important leader in India. It is very doubtful if Dr. King did any depth study of Gandhi’s action in South Africa.

It is doubtful if The Reverend Martin Luther ever heard about Gandhi’s support for all the British wars, and that Gandhi was the self-proclaimed “Recruiter in Chief” for the Empire sending thousands to be used as connon fodder.

GANDHI ON BLACKS AND RACE RELATIONS (Zulus and Kaffirs were African tribes in South Africa)

“A general belief seems to prevail in the colony that the Indians are little better, if at all, than the savages or natives of Africa. Even the children are taught to believe in that manner, with the result that the Indian is being dragged down to the position of a raw Kaffir.” (Reference: The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Government of India (CWMG), Vol I, p. 150)
Regarding forcible registration with the state of blacks: “One can understand the necessity for registration of Kaffirs who will not work.” (Reference: CWMG, Vol I, p. 105)

“Why, of all places in Johannesburg, the Indian Location should be chosen for dumping down all the Kaffirs of the town passes my comprehension…the Town Council must withdraw the Kaffirs from the Location.” (Reference: CWMG, Vol I, pp. 244-245)
His description of black inmates: “Only a degree removed from the animal.” Also, “Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilized - the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animals.” - Mar. 7, 1908 (Reference: CWMG, Vol VIII, pp. 135-136)

The Durban Post Office: One of Gandhi’s major “achievements” in South Africa was to promote racial segregation by refusing to share a post office door with the black natives.

Sergeant Major Gandhi: Learn how Gandhi became a Sgt. Major in the British Army and eagerly participated in the 1906 British war against the black Zulus.
Gandhi and South African Blacks: Gandhi wrote extensively about his experiences with the blacks of South Africa. He always termed them “Kaffirs” and his writings reveal a deep-seated disdain for these African natives

If Dr. King had known about about the Zulus (African tribe) and the Kaffirs (African tribe), he surely would have voiced his concern.Gandhi condones Zulu massacres and defends the British. Aug 4 1906

Dr. King may not have read Time Magazine and the explosive stories about Mr. Gandhi’s personal life. The sex life of Mr. Gandhi, and his failures as a politician

Dr. King probably knew only about the propoganda clips of Mr. Gandhi and never really new the man. The myth of Mohandas K. Gandhi debunked. He gets an “F” on South Africa, Salt Match, Non-Violence, and independence

Dr. King on moral high ground condemned wars. He would have been shocked to find out that Gandhi supported the British wars extending the British empire.Which war did Mohandas Gandhi support. All of them. There wasn’t a war that the prophet of Non-Violence did not support. He was Sergeant Major in the British Army and won a medal for his war duties

Dr. King was probably unaware about Gandhi’s open racism.Gandhi’s racism. The truth behind the mask. Behold Sergeant Major Gandhi who supported the British during the Boer war, Zulu rebellion. Behold the prophet of peace who worked to stratify the South African society.

Dr. King did not know that Gandhi did not bring the British Empire down.

Dr. King would have been appalled if he knew that Gandhi insisted on calling Hitler his “friend” and that his advice to the Jews was horribe piece of Anti-SemitismGandhi’s letter to his friend Hitler.

Dr. King would have been horrified if he had known about Mr. Gandhi’s personal fetishes.Sex life of Mohandas Gandhi, his failures and sexual perversion

Martin Luther probably would be appaleed if he knew about what Gandhi said about Africans and blacks in South Africa.

The halo is rusted, tilted and falling down-under the sunlight of truth. Mohandas Gandhi’s admirers do not confront embarrassing facts about their favorite saint. His critics, by contrast, gleefully keep on reminding us of a few facts concerning the Mahatma which seem to undermine his aura of wisdom and ethical superiority. One of the decisive proofs of Gandhi’s silly lack of realism, cited by both his Leftist and his Hindutva detractors, is his attempted correspondence with Adolf Hitler, undertaken with a view to persuading Germany’s dictator of the value of not attacking more countries. Gandhi was absolutely content with Nitler keeping the territories that he had already conquered. His advice to the Jews was the most horrible example of anti-Semitism in this century.

The American author Henry David Thoreau pioneered the modern theory behind this practice in his 1849 essay Civil Disobedience, originally titled “Resistance to Civil Government”. The driving idea behind the essay was that of self-reliance, and how one is in morally good standing as long as one can “get off another man’s back”; so one doesn’t have to physically fight the government, but one must not support it or have it support one (if one is against it). This essay has had a wide influence on many later practitioners of civil disobedience. In the essay, Thoreau explained his reasons for having refused to pay taxes as an act of protest against slavery and against the Mexican-American War.
Early uses of the term

Thoreau did not coin the term “civil disobedience,” nor did he ever use it. However, after his landmark 1848 lectures were published in 1849, the term “civil disobedience” began to appear in numerous sermons and lectures relating to slavery in the United States. Early examples of these include:

The Gospel Applied to the Fugitive Slave Law [1850]: A Sermon, by Oliver Stearns (1851);
“The Higher Law,” in Its Application to the Fugitive Slave Bill:… by John Newell and John Chase Lord (1851);
The Limits of Civil Disobedience: A Sermon…, by Nathaniel Hall (1851);
The Duty and Limitations of Civil Disobedience: A Discourse, by Samuel Colcord Bartlett (1853).
Thus, by the time Thoreau’s lectures were first published under the title “Civil Disobedience,” in 1866, four years after his death, the term had achieved fairly widespread usage.

Some articles on Gandhi


Gandhi: Behind the Mask of Divinity
By G. B. Singh Reviewed by Baldev Singh

“Truth comes out breaking the walls of a fortress” is a Punjabi saying. For the lovers of truth G. B. Singh has exploded the Gandhi myth - apostle of peace, emancipator of untouchables and liberator of India by peaceful means from the British yoke - by publishing his labor of love, Gandhi: Behind the Mask of Divinity. G. B. Singh studied Gandhi for over twenty years collecting Gandhi’s speeches, writings and other documents, which the promoters of Gandhi left out intentionally to create a twentieth century messiah by fusing Jesus Christ and Vishnu. The oppressors - the proponents of colonialism, slavery, racism and casteism - have imposed their own version of history on the victims through manipulation, deception and hypocrisy. For example there is holocaust museum in the capital of United States in the memory of six million Jews who fell victim to the atrocities of Nazis in World War II. It is commendable and such museums should be built in every capital in the world to remind people of the heinous crimes of the Nazis. But why not a museum about the genocide of native Americans or a museum about slavery in the capital of United States? It takes moral courage to look into the face of truth! In order to avoid the obligation to intervene in Rwanda, the Western powers led by President Clinton put pressure on the United Nations Security Council not to characterize the mass murder of Tootsies as genocide.

The making of Gandhi myth stared in South Africa by white Christian clergy. Rev. Joseph J. Doke, a Baptist Minster was the first to write the biography of M. K. Gandhi. Soon many other European and American clergymen and writers rushed in to make their input. John H. Holmes, a Unitarian pastor from New York praised Gandhi in his writings and sermons with titles like: Gandhi: The Modern Christ, Mahatma Gandhi: The Greatest Man since Jesus Christ, Mahatma Ji: Reincarnation of Christ and Gandhi before Pilate. Romain Rolland, French Nobel Laureate in literature looked at Gandhi not only as a Hindu saint, but also another Christ. He wrote Gandhi’s new biography in French. The English translation of this book opens with: He is the One Luminous, Creator of All, Mahatma. Impressed with lavish propaganda about Gandhi in the West, the Hindu propaganda machine came into action and it churned out a plethora of literature to elevate Gandhi to the status of twentieth century Hindu god - “The seventh reincarnation of Vishnu, Lord Rama,” proclaimed Krishnalal Shridharni. Portraits of Gandhi depicted him as Hindu avatar and Christian saint. The Indian government under Prime Minister Indra Gandhi financed one-third the cost of the production of the movie “Gandhi” for the portrayal of Gandhi as “an absolute pacifist.”

The Christian clergy had an ulterior motive in building the Gandhi myth. They thought that by elevating Gadhi to a 20th century messiah and then converting him would open the flood gate for evangelizing Hindu masses. Little did they realize that Gandhi hoodwinked them with his insincere statements about Christianity? He was a die-hard Hindu, a true believer and defender of the caste order - the essence of Hinduism?

Gandhi apologists indulged in gross deception by claiming that Gandhi’s Satyagrah in South Africa was in the defense of the rights of native people. Nothing could be further from truth than this bald lie. How could Gandhi, a diehard supporter of the caste system think of the welfare of African blacks he regarded lower than the Untouchables of India - slightly above the animal level? His Satyagrah was for the better treatment of Indians, who, according to Gandhi were treated the same way as savage Kaffirs (native people) were. In his stay of twenty years in South Africa, he had no social contacts with the Kaffirs, as he did not see any common ground with them in the daily affairs of life. He was horrified when he was lodged with “natives” in the same jail ward. He did not like wearing the same clothes with label “N” born by the natives, nor he liked their food and sharing lavatory with them. It was the jail experience, which brought out his racism in the open. ” Kaffir and Chinese prisoners are wild, murderous and given to immoral ways. Kaffirs are as a general rule uncivilized - the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animal.”

He proclaimed that the British Empire was for the welfare of the whole world and he accepted the superiority and predominance of white race. But he reminded the white people that upper caste Indians share with the Europeans a common heritage - the blood of the noble Aryan race. According to him it is Aryan blood, which is responsible for the advancement of human civilization. He suggested to Rev, Doke to civilize the Kaffirs by converting them to Christianity and by infusing Aryan blood into their race. He told the white colonists that the preservation of racial purity (Apartheid) was as important to the Indians as to Europeans.

He urged the colonial authorities to raise a volunteer militia of Indians to fight for the Empire. He told the Natal authorities that it would be a “criminal folly” if they did not enlist Indians for the war. He was rebuffed with sarcastic and derogatory comments about the fighting ability of people like Gandhi. However, his persistence persuaded the authorities to form a volunteer ambulance corps of Indians under the command of Sergeant-Major Gandhi during the Boer War and Zulu Rebellion. He urged the Indian community to show their loyalty to the British Empire by raising funds for the War. He reminded them that they were in South Africa due to the courtesy of the Empire. It is not for us to judge whether the Kaffir revolt is justified or not. We are co-colonists with whites of this land whereas the black savages are as yet unfit to participate in the political affairs of the colony.

He was a mean spirited parochial Hindu. Sergeant- Major Gandhi selected only Gujrati Hindus as his assistants, three Sergeants and one Corporal in spite of the fact the ambulance corps (20-24 men) was made up mostly of non-Gujratis with substantial number of Muslims.

The Russian Revolution of 1914 spurted national movements against colonial rule. The British brought Gandhi back to India to sabotage Indian national movement against British rule. The congress Party dominated by Gandhi was set up under the patronage of the British authorities. The “apostle of peace” urged the Indian people to support the British by enlisting in the army during World War I. In his letter he wrote to the Viceroy in1930, he said, ” One of his reason for launching the Civil Disobedient Movement is to contain the violence of revolutionaries.”

On the advice of white promoters of Gandhi, black clergy and civil rights leaders traveled to India to seek Gandhi’s advice about solving the problem of segregation and civil rights of blacks. How little did they know that Gandhi regarded the black people slightly above the animal level? Moreover, they were ignorant of the fact that caste system was originally imposed, as racial discrimination (Varna Ashrama Dharma) similar to the Apartheid system, on the black natives of India by their Caucasian conquerors. But later on due to emergence of new racial groups due to miscegenation between the two groups, Varna Ashrama Dharma evolved into caste system tied to hereditary occupations. Untouchabilty is as integral a part of Hindu faith as anti- Semitism of the Nazis. It is noteworthy that not a single black leader met Dr. B. R. Ambedkar - M. A. and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University, M.Sc. and D.Sc. degrees from London University and Bar-at-Law from Grey’s Inn, London - who was the undisputed leader of the Untouchables at that time. Gandhi propaganda machine manipulated the visit of black leaders, as it did not want them to find truth about Gandhi’s views on the caste system. “I believe in Varnashrama (caste system) which is the law of life. The law of Varna (color and / or caste) is nothing but the law of conservation of energy. Why should my son not be scavenger if I am one? He, Shudra (lowest caste) may not be called a Brahmin (uppermost caste), though he (Shudra) may have all the qualities of a Brahmin in this birth. And it is a good thing for him (Shudra) not to arrogate a Varna (caste) to which he is not born. It is a sign of true humility.”

In 1921, Gandhi delivered violent speeches inciting racial hatred against the British. During bloody demonstrations and riots against the visit of Prince of Wales, William Francis Doherty, an American citizen working in Bombay was murdered. Gandhi personally got involved in the cover up of this gruesome murder through bribery and intimidation, as he was concerned that the details of this murder would tarnish Gandhi’s image in the West.

It is a cruel joke and one of the biggest fabrications of the twentieth century that Gandhi won Indian freedom without spilling a drop of blood. The truth is that it was the devastating effect of World War II that forced the British government to dismantle its Colonial Empire. Moreover, it was Gandhi and his Hindu dominated Congress party that engineered the partition of the country on communal lines, as the Muslim dominant states stood in the way of high caste Hindus to set up their Ram Raj (mythical Hindu kingdom) based on caste ideology. Additionally, the Partition of India in 1947 is one of the major upheavals of the twentieth century. In the State of Punjab alone, 11-12 million people lost their homes and hearths where their ancestors had lived for centuries. May be as many as one million people perished in the communal frenzy and thousands of young women were kidnapped while Gandhi was reciting the murderous sermons from his favorite scripture - Bhagvad Gita. He kept insisting up to the last moment that the country would be partitioned only over his dead body!

The ascetic in loincloth used to sleep in buff with naked young girls to perform experiments to test his celibacy. Dr. Sushila Nayar told Ved Mehta that she used to sleep with Gandhi as she regarded him as a Hindu god. The man, who had taken vow of poverty, demanded and got even in jail the same comforts enjoyed by British high officials in India.

The “apostle of peace,” who counseled a Jewish delegation” to oppose the evil of Nazism by “soul force” - by committing mass suicide, was all praise for annexing Kashmir by armed aggression.

He told his Sikh followers that rusty sword is useless in the age of Atom Bomb. The development of nuclear weapons by India - a country that ranks among the poorest in the world and is near the bottom of human development index chart of the United Nations - exposes the real face of the “absolute pacifist” and the nation that calls him “father.” After all didn’t lord Krishna tell Arjana during the battle of Mahabharata “Victory is truth.”

Although, the Indian people have started peeking at the man behind the mask of divinity, there is no let up in the perpetuation of Gandhi myth in the West, especially the United States.
G. B. Singh rightfully deserves the accolades for bringing out the truth about Gandhi from Gandhi’s own mouth.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Blunt responses to USA from Nawaz, Zardari and Afundyar

The new government in Pakistan is making the right noises.

Promoting polyarchy in Pakistan (see has been a huge success. US officials insist that the ground realities will not change despite the new nuances out of Islamabad.

The new government has suggested that Pakistan and the United States will hold their third round of strategic dialogue in June in Washington. The third round of talks will held in June in Washington as the on the U.S. US insistence on early dialogue. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher are visiting the country to indoctrinate the new government on the issues that need to be discussed.

The New York Times says

The A.N.P., a Pashtun nationalist party, and Pakistan’s militants speak the same language. Talks between them have already begun quietly, as some militant groups and their supporters send messages and emissaries to the newly elected parties, said Afrasiab Khattak, A.N.P.’s secretary general here. “They saw a government coming with a new paradigm, with a plan that is not just bombarding,” he said.

The A.N.P. says its priority is ending the violence. Like its partners in the national government — the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-N — it backs relying less on the military to cut civilian casualties, which have soured Pakistanis on the war. To do so, it proposes development in the tribal areas and a sustained dialogue that, it hopes, will answer many grievances with the government that have pushed ethnic groups toward the militants.

The military must work with the new political forces in the government and with the United States, NATO and other international players, Mr. Khattak said.

“Only if there is a triangle with us, the army and the international community will it work,” he said. “If it works, then there is some hope.”

Test for Pakistan alliance with US Danny Kemp and Isambard Wilkinson, Islamabad, March 27, 2008
PAKISTAN'S new Government will review the country's role in the US-led war on terror, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has said after talks with American officials.

Deputy US Secretary of State John Negroponte and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher flew into Islamabad on Tuesday for talks focusing on Pakistan's co-operation in efforts against al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

They met President Pervez Musharraf and Mr Sharif, and were due to see new Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, a senior aide of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

Mr Sharif, whose party is in the governing coalition, said he had told Mr Negroponte that Mr Musharraf should quit and that a parliamentary committee would examine his policies since he backed the US campaign in 2001.

"We discussed terrorism. We informed them our point of view is that since 9/11 all decisions were made by one man," Mr Sharif, ousted by Musharraf in a coup in 1999, told reporters in Islamabad.

"Now the situation has changed, a truly representative parliament has come into being … Every decision will be presented before the parliament. They will review Musharraf's policy in the past six years."

Mr Sharif said a lack of public support for Mr Musharraf and his policies, coupled with the deaths of civilians in anti-militant operations, had harmed efforts to curb extremism.

"We want to see peace in every corner of the world and we want to see peace in Pakistan also," he said. "We do not want that in order to give peace to others we turn our own country into a murder house."

Mr Sharif's comments came as a senior former Musharraf ally said the US and Britain's "failure" in Afghanistan had sparked a wave of violence in Pakistan.

Lieutenant-General Ali Muhammad Jan Orakzai resigned earlier this year as governor of the restive North-West Frontier Province on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

General Orakzai said US demands for Pakistan "to do more, more and more" had led to the military bombing its own citizens in the border areas, prompting a "war of resistance".

He said the West had "greatly exaggerated" the threat posed by al-Qaeda in the tribal areas.

General Orakzai, a Pashtun from the tribal areas, was reportedly asked to resign as governor after brokering a controversial peace agreement in North Waziristan. US officials said the deal had led to a threefold increase in cross-border infiltration of militants from Pakistan to Afghanistan and allegedly leant on Mr Musharraf to remove him.


Sino-China chill: Indian ambassador scolded at 2 am

Things came to a head between China and India at 2 am

This is not about a 2 am phone call. This is about a deep and long term chill between China and India. The outburst by Indian newspapers show the deep rooted Sinophobia in the Indian media and goverment circles.

The rhetoric on diffrentiating Kashmir and Tibet is comical and flies int he face of facts on the ground.

There has been much talk of a thawing of relations between India and China as a result of economic activity between the two countries. The exact opposite has happened. The relations between India and China are at an all time low.

The CIA and RAW involvement in destabilizing Pakistan was a prelude to the plan that was being created for Tibet.

While China was focusing on economic growth and trade expansion with the world, the Indian RAW agents were working with the Delai Lama to create problems for China in Tibet. Any goodwill that may have existed between Beijing and New Delhi is now gone the way of the pre-1962 "Chini-Hindi bhai bhai" slogan that has not been heard since the Indo-China war of 1962.

We were all surprised that Indians were celebrating the Jaguar and Rover purchase.

The 2 am call

27 Mar 2008, 1618 hrs IST ,Tarun Vijay Times of India

Last week Nirupama Rao, our envoy in Beijing, was summoned by the Chinese foreign office at 2 am to protest against what they said was a breach into their territory by Tibetan protesters who hoisted a Tibetan flag in their embassy compound in New Delhi. At first it looks unbelievable that a foreign government could choose such an unearthly time just to hand over a protest letter and alert India to Tibetan plans to organize more protests in Delhi. Yet this is true and so is the feeble 'no protest' by the mandarins of Delhi's China policy.

A peeved India cancelled Commerce Minister Kamal Nath's China trip as an invisible mark of discomfort which can't be interpreted as anger. That's what compromising and spineless states do when humiliated. It's not to suggest we must send our armed protesters to Beijing. The response of the strong has to be calm but firm. Simply calling off a minister's visit is not enough. India should have protested appropriately and formally against such unsavoury behaviour towards a woman envoy.
Nirupama Rao is a suave diplomat and a poetess at heart. She was a cool reassuring face of patriotic diplomacy when she worked as the spokesperson for MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) in Delhi before taking up ambassadorial positions in Sri Lanka and China. As our envoy to Beijing she has done well so far to earn respect and appreciation from all quarters. China has been pushing its expansionist designs arrogantly and encircling Indian waters from Gwadar to Coco islands.

It annexed Tibet, forcibly took possession of Aksai Chin and happily took an illegitimate 'gift' of Indian land by Pakistan, it claims the entire Arunachal Pradesh and refuses to issue visas to resident Indians of Arunachal; yet we try to ensure that nothing should be done to displease the mighty dragon.

And this is happening when the Tatas have acquired Jaguar and Land Rover, the two greatest icons of the British Empire turning every Indian joyous and reaffirming the truth that if leaders have failed the nation, its people have led her to glory.

Now speaking for a Tibetan cause is not exactly supporting independence for the Buddha Land. We have committed that Tibet belongs to China and even Dalai Lama has categorically accepted Chinese suzerainty. But we have an uninterrupted ancient relationship with Tibet, her culture and people and we just can't keep mum over their plight. It's dangerous to link Tibet with Kashmir since they are very different issues. We have not annexed Kashmir; the people of Kashmir have always been leaders in scholarship and national identity since ages, defining and interpreting the core of Indian-ness. In fact we are victims of foreign intervention and Islamic terrorism in the valley. We are not 'Indianising' Kashmir, it is India. The vidya that emerged from Kashmir's Shaiva sect and Sharada peeth, the highest seat of learning for Hindus, Indianises the rest of India.

Tibet is different. The Chinese state power killed and maimed and brutalised the local people, the Indian government lost the Tibetan case out of sheer weakness and a lack of farsightedness. Now the inhuman Hanisation of the Tibet land continues with the blood of the devout while Beijing refuses any dialogue with Dalai Lama. This has to be squarely condemned. This doesn't mean China will wage war with us on this. They need a peaceful 20 years to emerge a superpower. But we need to show some spine and stand up for our own dreams and inner strength. If India doesn't want an enemy on the northern front, do we think that China would love to have soured relations with India, enhancing trade and relations with whom are top priority?

Learn from Barack Obama. His speech on race and religion comes straight from his American heart without mincing a word or skirting issues. He spoke for American dreams and the American people. He stood for the unity and strength of the land and faced the most inconvenient factors governing American life in an honest and transparent manner. That won him laurels. Whether he wins is a different matter but the truth is that Americans love someone who speaks for the unity and oneness of their land.

Nor did Obama deride or humiliate his guru, Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr, over his controversial remarks. "As imperfect as he (Wright) may be, he has been like family to me... I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother," Obama told an audience at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

He stood for his family, proudly proclaiming his lineage and stoutly defending American unity. The media has unanimously described his speech as one that urges unity and applies a balm on social wounds. Even to an Indian his words inspire: "I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents. And for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible... It is a story that has seared into my genetic make-up the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts — that out of many, we are truly one," he said.

Power and confidence flowed through his words. He has a mixed racial background, a Muslim history too and is up against a charismatic rival. Yet his candour and faith in America has won hearts. He has lived up to the Latin Christian roots of his land and tried to prove worthier than many natural born whites.
How many Indian leaders have that faith in their nation's great destiny? They are ashamed of their nation's cultural and civilisational heritage and do everything to belittle the country.

One can face the world only on the strong foundations of ancient legacy. China has a great civilisational history and a heritage that has touched pinnacles of glory and achievement. The Communist government doesn't feel shy about it. In every official book on China, the glorious imperial past, its civilisational contours, the cultural and religious glory is presented with pride.

Patriotism is not a dirty word as is the case with Indian Communists. We can face and stand before such a nation equipped with the strength that comes from pride in our civilisational heritage alone. The poverty of pride in Indian roots and a sense of embarrassment about the Hindu heritage which is common to every faithful of Indian origin worshipping any god or religion create a paucity of confidence. India is facing the same black hole of self-denying secularism which makes policymakers distance themselves from faiths having any resemblance or affinity to Hinduism. The lack of Bhakti (devotion) in the nation's life mechanism deprive it of the essential Shakti, the ultimate power to deal with enemies within and without. Often, friends and foes are confused.

That China should be engaged in a friendly manner is a different proposition. But to say we must ensure China remains friendly at any cost is a dangerously self-defeating idea which needs correction. The basic premise should be to keep our interest intact. If we need China as a friend, China needs our friendship too. If we are expected to act cautiously to strengthen friendly ties and increase levels of CBMs (Confidence Building Measures), China too is expected to do the same.
The author is the Director, Dr Syamaprasad Mookerjee Research Foundation.

Tarun Vijay's column on China's attitude towards India(calling our envoy Mrs. Nirupama Rao at 2 am) has become top emailed and 'Most Read' column on Times of India site.

The First slut of France

The image, by photographer Michel Comte, shows a younger Miss Bruni facing the camera wearing no more than a thoughtful expression, her hands crossed at waist height to cover her modesty.

The photo of Carla Bruni is expected to fetch around £2,000 at auction next month

It is expected to fetch around £2,000 when it goes under the hammer on April 10. The couple are to arrive in the UK on Wednesday for the start of their two-day state visit, and will be meeting the Queen and the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.
Mr Sarkozy has faced criticism that his flashy, Rolex-wearing image belies a lack of substance, and he had hoped that the visit would add some much-needed gravitas to his public persona.
Meanwhile Mr Sarkozy is said to be concerned about his English-speaking ability ahead of his visit. While the Italian Miss Bruni, who has also appeared naked in the pages of this month's GQ magazine, is fluent in both French and English as well as her native tongue, Mr Sarkozy is rarely heard to speak English in public.

It has emerged that he has been taking intensive English lessons in order to impress his hosts during his UK visit.

A video clip from his time as finance minister has become popular on the internet showing him speaking in a barely-comprehensible Inspector Clouseau-esque twang.

Carla Bruni 'cashing in' on Queen visit

By Emma Henry and Tom Chivers
Last Updated: 1:45pm GMT 26/03/2008

Carla Bruni, France's first lady, has been accused of cashing in on her status after stickers appeared on her new CD advertising her stay with the Queen at Windsor Castle.

Nicolas Sarkozy calls for closer friendship with Britain
Sarkozys to get a taste of the best of British
The supermodel turned singer has just finished her new album, No Promises.

The photo of Carla Bruni is expected to fetch around £2,000 at auction next month

A diplomatic source in France said: "Stickers [in English] making clear that Carla is now the French first lady who will be staying with the Queen at Windsor Castle have been placed on all the new CDs.
"It has to be said that a lot of people think this is a very unfortunate precedent.
"The aim of the state visit is to further French/British cooperation, not to sell pop songs. It will appear to many that this is an attempt to cash in on what should be a dignified state visit."

News of the stickers comes stickers follows a nude photo of Miss Bruni being put up for auction at Christie's New York, just hours ahead of the state visit to Britain.

The portrait, by photographer Michel Comte, shows a younger Miss Bruni gazing thoughtfully into the camera with nothing but her crossed hands to cover her modesty.

The pose, apparently in reference to the paintings of French neo-impressionist artist Georges Seurat depicting models, is expected to fetch around £2,000 when it goes under the hammer on April 10.

Miss Bruni and her husband, French president Nicolas Sarkozy, arrived in the UK today for the start of their two-day state visit, and will be meeting the Queen and the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.
Mr Sarkozy has faced criticism that his flashy, Rolex-wearing image is not in keeping with his function, and he had hoped that the visit would add some much-needed gravitas to his public persona.

According to aides, Mr Sarkozy is relying on the refinement of his 40-year-old Italian wife to wow the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.

Nationwide Wi-Max & DSL in Pakistan

Pakistan is being connected by Wi-Max and DSL.

PTCL, a unit of Etisalat Telecommunication Corp, has already laid an fibre-optic network in major cities in Pakistan and is upgrading its local loop from copper to optical network. Alcatel-Lucent has won an order from Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL) to supply DSL line equipment for broadband services across Pakistan. Under the 'multi-year' deal Lucent-Alcatel it will deploy 100,000 IP DSLAM lines throughout the country, including rural regions and outlying districts of urban centers.

US Aid: Long on promise. Short on delivery

US support long on promise short on equipment. Frontier corps needs 80,000 M16s and MASH hospitals

The American support for the Pakistani forces has largely been theoretical. America has not supplied the Frontier corps with any weapons and has not helped them establish medical evacuation teams, helicopters, drones, night vision binoculars, all terrain vehicles, helmets. How can they expect the Fronter Corp to fight when the roads leading to the areas are not paved. The US needs to pave the roads, build new airports, and hospitals in the region so that the Frontier Corps is a functional body.

Culture, politics hinder US effort to bolster FC

Daily Times Monitor
LAHORE: Cultural and political fault lines within the Frontier Corps (FC) and Pakistan itself could undo the United States’ plan to train and equip the 80,000-strong force, according to the Washington Post.
The newspaper quoted US officials as saying that 21 American advisers had been tasked with training a cadre of FC officers in counterinsurgency and intelligence-gathering tactics “as early as this summer”.
It said the bulk of the force’s rank-and-file troops were ethnic Pashtuns, with many wary of going into battle against a Pashtun-dominated insurgent force. Commanders, meanwhile, were regular army officers who often had little in common with their subordinates, the Post added.
Major General Muhammad Alam Khattak, the FC’s top commander, expressed frustration with a “slow-moving military bureaucracy that has left his troops to fight an insurgency with World War II-era rifles”. “It’s very difficult, but our force is an old force ... We are on a global geopolitical fault line,” Khattak told the Post.
The newspaper said that FC units, which were poorly equipped and lacked support from the army, had suffered devastating defeats by the Taliban over the past six years. About 300 troops have been killed since 2001, it said.
Low salaries and inconsistent medical evacuation services for wounded troops have also dimmed morale, Khattak said. “Many of our casualties were not warranted. If we had been better equipped, we would not have seen so many casualties,” he added.
“When you have a position that is only manned by five or six [FC] men and it’s confronted by a contingent of dozens of Taliban militants, there’s not a lot of incentive to stay and fight,” a Western military official said, adding, “As far as some of these FC guys go, they think: What’s the point in resisting these guys? If I don’t fight, I live to see another day.”
“These guys are Pashtuns, so they know the local areas. But there are problems. There’s been this kind of historical stepchild relationship with the army,” said a Western diplomat.
“They’ve got different levels of equipment, different levels of medevac services than the army. One of the concerns we’ve heard about is: What happens if we get killed? What happens to our families?”
Sadiq Ali, a former member of the corps, told the Post that he had joined the FC to help his family financially. But the meagre wages were hardly enough to persuade him to stay.
“No parents would risk their children’s lives just for a few thousand rupees a month,” Ali said.
According to the Post, FC soldiers earn an average of $60 to $70 a month – a little more than half what their counterparts in the regular Pakistani army make, and a third less than what Afghan army troops get.
“I didn’t know why we were fighting this war ... It was all about following the orders of my senior officers, and that’s it,” said Zeeshan, a 21-year-old FC deserter, who gave only his first name for fear of reprisals.

Pakistan will continue to support Kashmir

Pakistan will continue to support Kashmir

Real Democracy’: Pakistan’s Post-Musharraf Kashmir Policy
Murtaza Shibli ‘Era of real democracy has begun in the country.’

The recently concluded elections in Pakistan have led to the decline in the fortunes of the General-turned- President Pervez Musharraf. Although he is still hanging onto power thanks to open American support, his influence on the country’s political decision making has weakened significantly. Much before the new government headed by Prime Minister Makhdoom Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani took over; Musharraf’s much publicised Kashmir Policy was on the wane. There seems to be a consensus evolving among the leading politicians and the Army about the unsuitability of the current Kashmir policy that saw Pakistan retreating from its support for the UN Resolutions and right to self determination. Even Musharraf’s former political partners and colleagues from the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) have taken umbrage with the beleaguered President on the issue.

Sensing the mood, the pro-Musharraf Kashmiri groups and activists have gone on defensive; shifting their allegiances in order to stay relevant in the new political milieu. Some of them have apologised for their support to Musharraf or criticized him for his ‘failed’ Kashmir policy. Although pro-Pakistan and anti-Musharraf Kashmiri leaders, including the Hurriyat Conference (G) leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, are jubilant over the developments, Kashmiris are watching with caution.Pakistani politicians like Asif Zardari, Mian Nawaz Sharif and others have issued some statements that smack of traditional rhetoric, while the new Army Chief General Pervez Ashfaq Kayani has also hinted at the policy shift. Despite all this, there isn’t much Pakistan can do with regards to Kashmir; given its current internal crisis and unprecedented American pressure. Pakistan cannot afford to cease the ‘peace process’, but it might gradually retreat to its traditional position; increase its diplomatic efforts and seek international mediation and offer limited but symbolic support for the Kashmiri resistance. The progress on the issue can only be achieved if India is willing to shift from its maximalist position and offer some concrete and sensible options for the solution of the problem. Otherwise, the thaw that was achieved during the last few years in India-Pakistan relations cannot be sustained for long and, as in the past, Kashmir could vitiate the atmosphere with dangerous consequences.


In the aftermath of 9/11, when Pervez Musharraf announced a U-turn on his country’s Kashmir policy, he was met with resistance and open hostility both at home and in Kashmir. However, supported by the US and covert Indian blessing, he propped up ‘yes men’ by buying the loyalty of some Kashmiri leaders through his intelligence agencies. As a result, the Pakistani government recognised the Hurriyat Conference faction led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq while sidelining the most senior Kashmiri resistance leader Syed Ali Geelani, whose rival faction of the Hurriyat Conference was previously declared as the ‘true representative of Kashmiris’ by the Pakistani government. Directed by Pakistan, the Hurriyat Conference (M) started unconditional dialogue with the Indian government ‘within the ambit of the Indian Constitution’ .

Around the same time in 2003, Pakistani intelligence agencies propped up Kashmir Centres in Belgium, London and Washington with the covert aim of promoting Musharraf and his ‘formulas’ on Kashmir. These Centres, in conjunction with the Hurriyat Conference (M) and other splinter groups formed the core group of Musharraf loyalists who promoted his ‘out-of-box’ thinking without any appreciation to its political merits or application. Thus began an unprecedented understanding between India and Pakistan - the bitter rivals who now directed the Kashmiri politicians for a mutual goal of burying the issue for all times to come. The Indian intelligence agencies allowed free flow of the Hurriyat Conference (M) leaders from Srinagar to Islamabad as well as mutual exchange of cultural groups, intellectuals following traditional conflict pacification exercises.

The Kashmir Centres formed the main plank of Musharraf as they promoted him through annual ‘international conferences’ and other such events. Although these centres were never able to inculcate any good faith among Kashmiris and raised nothing but suspicion, they became important tools in the game. Apparently, their utility and function was presented in such an exaggerated form that in September 2006, General Musharraf broke all the protocol and attended the Third Global Discourse on Kashmir 2006 held by the Kashmir Centre, Brussels. Welcoming him to the Discourse held at the European Parliament, Executive Director of the Centre, Barrister Majid Tramboo called Musharraf’s participation as a demonstration of his “love and affection towards Kashmiri people” and commended him “wholeheartedly. .. for … [his] courage and wisdom to offer new and creative thoughts.” In response Musharraf said that it was “indeed a pleasure, unique honour and a privilege to be in this gathering of the Global Discourse on Kashmir.”

In Azad Jammu and Kashmir, the Muslim Conference run by Sardar Abdul Qayoom Khan and his protégé son and the current Prime Minister Sardar Attique Ahmad Khan also allied with General Musharraf to perpetuate the family grip on power. The veteran Sardar Qayoom who credits himself for being Mujah-e-Awwal or first warrior for his claims to have fired the first bullet in rebellion against the autocratic rule of Maharaja Hari Singh in 1947, supported Musharraf’s Kashmir policy and declared the ‘end of Jihad’ in Kashmir claiming its futility. As a representative of the Musharraf government, Khan on Sunday, September 25, 2005 while speaking at a function in New Delhi declared: “Jihad was terrorism and the mujahideen were saboteurs of peace in the region.”

Azad Kashmir’s opposition alleged that it was due to this unfettered loyalty of Khan’s for Musharraf that the Pakistani intelligence rigged the 2006 elections in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and installed Sardar Attique Khan in power. In gratitude and to prove his pro-Musharraf credentials beyond doubt, Sardar Attique Khan on August 23, 2007 stated that “General Musharraf should remain the President of Pakistan as long as he was physically fit” adding “the role of military in the civilian affairs in Pakistan was unavoidable.”

These Kashmiri leaders, from the Hurriyat Conference (M), Muslim Conference led by Sardar Qayoom and the Executive Directors of the Kashmir Centres in the West, continued their train of sycophancy till late last year, not only misleading the President about the utility and acceptance of his policies vis-a-vis Kashmir but also for their own financial gain, as they were allegedly being paid hefty sums of money to run these centres. Even when his re-election as President was widely criticised in Pakistan, the activists of Hurriyat Conference (M) took out a procession in Srinagar and burst crackers to celebrate the victory of General Pervez Musharraf.

This symbiotic relationship went beyond political posturing when the Hurriyat Conference (M) openly supported the imposition of Emergency in Pakistan. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was the first Kashmiri to lend his support to Musharraf, while the senior leader Professor Abdul Ghani Bhat criticised the deposed judges claiming “there has to be harmony among the three pillars of the state - the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.” Similar sentiments were expressed by a Western based Kashmiri leader when I asked him to comment on the crisis in November 2007 adding that the General Musharraf is the people of Pakistan. Commenting on the relationship of the Hurriyat Conference with General Musharraf, noted Indian columnist and former diplomat Kuldip Nayyar in one of his recent opinion pieces observed that the “Hurriyat [Mirwaiz group] ended up putting all its eggs in Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s basket.”

Kashmir Solidarity Day - Back to Basics

Following massive public outpouring and international criticism against his emergency rule, Musharraf was forced to give up the post of his Army Chief in November 2007. This effectively limited his ability to manoeuvre, interfere or exert pressure on political matters. As soon as General Pervez Ashfaq Kayani took over as Chief of Army Staff, voices against Musharraf’s Kashmir policy grew stronger and turned into an outpouring. As Musharraf’s fortunes started dwindling and his options ran out amidst growing public protest, he tried the age-old gambit that every Pakistani leader had tried successfully - Kashmir. On January 25 his government announced that it was preparing to observe ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ on February 5, a yearly celebration that had been virtually thrown into oblivion in the past few years, with ‘renewed commitment’. Musharraf’s Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Muhammad Ali Durrani said “Kashmir Solidarity Day would be observed with zeal and fervour and the entire Pakistani nation would stand shoulder-to- shoulder by their Kashmiri brethren”, adding that it “renews our commitment to the resolution of the long-standing dispute.” He could not hide his government’s intention of using the event as a public relations exercise for the beleaguered President when he claimed “the vision of President Pervez Musharraf on Kashmir dispute is very clear i.e. the resolution of Kashmir issue should be in line with the aspirations and wishes of the Kashmiri people.” Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs, Tahir Iqbal expressed similar thoughts; “Kashmir Solidarity Day would be observed this year with renewed zest as the need for worldwide projection of Kashmir dispute has become imperative.” He too lavished praise on Musharraf claiming he had “adopted an optimistic approach towards the issue and .. succeeded in getting Kashmir issue globally recognized.” “On Solidarity Day”, he said, “Pakistan, through its planned events… would reassure its moral, diplomatic and political support to our Kashmiri brethren.” The immediate reaction to the official plans came from the Jama’at-e-Islami Pakistan when its Secretary General denounced the Interior Ministry saying it was ‘making a mockery of the Kashmir struggle’.

On February 5, Kashmir Solidarity Day was celebrated throughout Pakistan reminiscing the early 1990s - euphoric political rallies and ‘Jihad conferences’. Kashmir Solidarity was a public holiday and all the government, semi government offices, educational institutions, commercial centres and markets remained closed. Newspapers brought special supplements while Radio and TV channels aired special programmes and talks. In his ‘Kashmir Day’ message Pervez Musharraf tried to rattle the emotions of his nation as he thundered, “We (Pakistanis) cannot be kept away from the Kashmiris by the Ceasefire Line for much longer.” The leading Pakistani daily The Nation in its editorial termed this statement as a “hidden announcement of pugnacity” while accusing Musharraf of being “architect of the policy of supine acceptance of equating the Kashmiris’ just freedom struggle with terrorism.”

Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) which shared power with Musharraf also held a seminar in Lahore where the speakers “expressed a common view that Kashmir would be liberated only through force” adding that “their party was upholding and continuing the struggle for Kashmir liberation right according to the idea perceived by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.” They reiterated that after the failure of peaceful dialogue with India “now the solution needs settlement by using force.”

Mushahid Hussain Syed, Secretary General of the PML-Q pledged to make a “national Kashmir strategy with all political parties on board if his party came into power.” Speaking at a seminar on Kashmir Day, Syed called for a review of his own government’s Kashmir policy adding “we honestly believe that the United Nations Resolution[s] on Kashmir is a roadmap for solving the issue.”Similar functions were held in Sindh and at its capital Karachi, the stronghold of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) that was part of the previous pro-Musharraf government. “A number of organizations took out rallies and held seminars to show their solidarity with the people of Kashmir and vowed to extend full support to them to help ensure their right of franchise.”

This exhibit of official sentiment for Kashmir was drowned under the mass of unofficial functions of the opposition that condemned Musharraf’s Kashmir policy amid renewing calls of support for their ‘Kashmiri brethren’. In Lahore, a number of Pakistani and Kashmiri political and social organisations arranged rallies, seminars and symposia. Among these were PML-N, Jama’at-e-Islami, Khaksar Tehrik, Jamiat Mashaikh, Peoples Muslim League J&K, Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front, Kashmir Action Committee and extremist organisation Jamat-ud-Dawah etc.

The strongest message emanated from the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) headed by the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief whose party PML-N emerged as the second biggest party in the recent elections. President of the party, Mian Shahbaz Sharif accused the Musharraf government of making a U-turn on Kashmir calling it treachery and “vowed that after coming into power, PML-N would liberate the Kashmiris from the cruel clutches of India and restore the dignity of Army.” Another leader of the party, Dr. Azim-ud-Din Zahid blamed the government that it had “provided an opportunity to India to affix barbed wire along the Line of Control after taking U-turn on Kashmir issue.” The Islamist party, Jama’at-e-Islami Pakistan that boycotted the recent election also held various public functions. In one of its largest public functions in Lahore, one of its senior leaders and former senator Liaquat Baloch said that Kashmir issue can only be resolved through the UN Resolutions, claiming that “solutions proposed by Musharraf are aimed at allowing India to strengthen its grip over the state.” Secretary-General of the party, Syed Munawwar Hasan said “Musharraf lacked the legitimacy and mandate to rule the country … [and as such he] did not have any moral authority or influence to alter the Pakistan’s principled policy and stance over Kashmir.” Head of the party in Karachi, Muhammad Hussain Mahanti said “the success of the Kashmir Day solidarity rally had once again proved that the people were ready to take to streets to support the cause of Kashmiris in their fight for freedom from oppression and pressurise the rulers not to change the Pakistan’s decades-old and time-tested stance over Kashmir.”

General Musharraf could not even escape criticism from his own ilk. A group of former Generals - Mirza Aslam Baig; former Army Chief, Faiz Ali Chishti, Hameed Gul; former head of ISI, Jamshaid Gulzar Kiyani, Asad Durrani, Sardar Anwar Khan; former President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Abdul Qayyum and Ali Quli Khan; former Army Chief - gathered at a seminar in Rawalpindi, the military nerve centre. They criticised Musharraf for his ‘faulty policies on Kashmir’ claiming he ‘had moved the Kashmir issue to the backburner’. Former General Abdul Qayyum claimed “Kashmir could only be liberated by waging Jihad” while the former ISI chief General Hameed Gul said “Srinagar is just as important as Islamabad for Pakistanis,” adding “we have relationship with Kashmiris on the basis of life and death.”

Winds of Change

As the situation unfolded, the pro-Musharraf Kashmiris slowly started shifting their postures. In December 2007, the Hurriyat Conference (M) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq not only admitted that talks with India had been un-productive but also blamed New Delhi of engaging Kashmiri leadership “in talks not for the solution of Kashmir … but for stop gap arrangements.” Ultimately, the Mirwaiz led Hurriyat Conference pulled out of talks with the Indian government less than three weeks before the 18 February elections in Pakistan. Speaking to reporters in Srinagar, Mirwaiz said that his group was pulling out of the four-year old dialogue process as it did not yield anything. Admitting the unpopularity of dialogue with New Delhi, senior Hurriyat leader Nayeem Ahmad Khan said “the dialogue process had affected their credibility among the Kashmiri people.”

Frustrated and dejected, many pro-Musharraf Kashmiri loyalists were boosting their sagging morale with spurious forecasts they were receiving from their pro-Musharraf contacts in Pakistan. Only a couple of months before the elections, one of the senior Kashmiri ‘leaders’ warned me about the futility of my writings against Musharraf’s imposition of Emergency, prophesying that Musharraf’s supported party PML-Q was definitely winning the elections and that the new Prime Minister would be Mushahid Hussain Syed. Similar information was perhaps passed to a noted Srinagar based columnist, Zahid Ghulam Muhammad, who attended the Kashmir Centre, London sponsored, 3rd International Kashmir Peace Conference on 28th and 29th of November in London. A week prior to the elections, he predicted in his weekly column, Punchline in Srinagar based daily Greater Kashmir: “In the given scenario there seems better chance for the Muslim League (Q) and other allied parties for coming to power in Pakistan.” He went further to complete the puzzle; “If the ability to understand the nuances of the domestic politics and to gauge the pulse of international politics are the criteria for the new Prime Minister then there is every likelihood of Pakistan Muslim League (Q) Mushaid Hussain Syed becoming the next Prime Minister of Pakistan.”

‘Naya Kashmir’

After fiddling with many ‘out-of-box’ ideas and ‘formulas’, Pervez Musharraf’s government was to implement a new and fast action plan for Kashmir - pro-Musharraf Kashmiri leaders will participate in the elections and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq will take over as Chief Minister, a la Showkat Aziz or Hamid Karzai and his faction of the Hurriyat Conference will call for the resistance militants to disarm with similar calls from Azad Kashmir Government and other pro-Musharraf Kashmiri activists, effectively ending the resistance movement repeating Sheikh Abdullah’s disbanding of Mahaz-e-Rai Shumari or Plebiscite Front in 1974 after he was given the position of Chief Minister-ship without even contesting elections.

Although the background preparatory work had been in full swing for more than last two years, some public functions were planned for favourable symbolic value that could soften the public opinion and thus lessen any public outrage or reaction. This also included a comprehensive ‘media plan’ – buying out the journalists and newspapers in order to stop negative media coverage. One such alleged public function was the 3rd International Kashmir Peace Conference held at London on 28-29 November 2007 where the Hurriyat Conference (M) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and pro-India National Conference President Omar Abdullah were invited among other Kashmiri leaders. Allegedly, the two leaders were to address a joint press conference calling for peaceful solution of the Kashmir problem and launch a joint communiqué to work together for the peace and resolution of Kashmir. Had this followed according to the plan, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Omar Abdullah might have joined forces and launched a joint election campaign by now. However, the conference received unprecedented opposition for its organiser Professor Nazir Ahmad Shawl could not handle the operation and raised suspicions. This created public concerns amid condemnations and a rival conference in the British Parliament. There was a general feeling that the Conference was offering a platform to Omar Abdullah and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq for their future electoral alliance. A leader of the UK based All Party Kashmir Coordination Committee while opposing the conference claimed that it “was a joint game plan of both the countries and aims to create harmony between pro-India and pro-Pakistan groups for the sake of coming elections in the Indian side of Kashmir.” Due to massive public outcry, the conference aims could not be achieved and the planned joint communiqué was abandoned. In addition, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had to publicly deny any pre-election equation with Omar Abdullah.

This failure was so upsetting that only a week later when Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Inamul Haq visited New Delhi, he did not meet any Kashmiri leaders, a departure from Pakistan’s practice “perhaps for the first time in the last two decades.” During his three day stay in New Delhi, Haq did not invite any Kashmiri leaders for any formal or informal interaction perhaps to avoid questions from Hurriyat Conference (G) which had planned a strong protest with the visiting dignitary about Pakistan’s ’shameful’ role. The Kashmir Peace Conference created such an embarrassment for the Musharraf regime that any public communiqués or interactions between pro-Musharraf Hurriyat leaders and pro-India Kashmiri politicians were suspended, at least in public.

However, the Musharraf regime continued to work with its Indian counterparts to further the plan. According to a news report by a leading Pakistani journalist, Hamid Mir, only days before 18 February 2008 elections, Musharraf’s advisor Tariq Aziz, Srinagar based Hurriyat leaders and Indian officials met in Dubai to discuss the Naya Kashmir Plan exploring various options on Kashmir after the elections. According to informed sources, the meeting was attended by many Hurriyat leaders including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq along with Indian and Pakistani diplomats and intelligence officials. But the Pakistan election results left these plans in tatters with the pro-Musharraf Kashmiri leaders searching for a new cause and identity.

New Army chief, New Thinking

Pervez Musharraf sealed his fate the day he handed over the reins of powerful Army to his new Chief General Pervez Ashfaq Kayani. Soon after his takeover, Kayani set out his priority to repair the image of his Army. He gradually distanced the Army and the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) from political activities; thus tilting the balance against Musharraf loyalists. This was precisely due to the new Army Chief that the elections could not be rigged as Musharraf had done in 2002.

In order to restore confidence among the public, General Kayani, earlier this year issued directives barring army personnel from holding civilian offices. He showed determination to curtail any public perception of the Army’s involvement in politics and sent a ‘note of displeasure’ to the Corps Commander Lt. General Shafaatullah Shah for holding an unauthorised meeting with the caretaker Prime Minister Muhammadmian Soomro. Lt. General Shah was one of the most favourite Corps Commanders of President General Musharraf.

On 25th March, only a few hours after the New Prime Minister took over, General Kayani announced a major reshuffle in the army appointing new corps commanders at Mangla and Lahore, “triggering off speculation that Musharraf’s authority is being undermined.”He also removed President Musharraf’s favourite Corps Commander Lt. General Shafaatullah Shah. The News in its editorial: A clear message, (26 March 2008), called it a major reshuffle and commented “it is now obvious that the support structure in the administration which President Pervez Musharraf was ordering around has collapsed and the centre of power has shifted.”

Elections and Beyond

On the election date on 18 February 2008, acting chairman of the Hurriyat Conference (G), Ghulam Nabi Sumji predicted that the polls in Pakistan would end the rule of President Musharraf who, according to him, is responsible for the mess in Pakistan as well as in Kashmir. The election defeat of Musharraf loyalists was widely hailed both in Pakistan and Kashmir. The Kashmiri leaders opposed to Musharraf’s policies welcomed the result with Syed Ali Shah Geelani leading the group. In his first reaction, Geelani called it a good sign for the future of Pakistan and for the ‘Kashmiri freedom movement’ accusing Musharraf that “with the support of his handpicked stooges they compromised … on the Kashmir issue.” He also accused that Musharraf “yielded much ground to India on the Kashmir issue despite enormous sacrifices rendered both by Pakistan and people of Kashmir during the past 60 years.” Terming the election results as defeat of Musharraf and rejection of his ‘apologetic Kashmir policy’, he also hoped that the new government will “stick to… traditional stand on Kashmir.” Asiya Andrabi, leader of the woman’s organisation, Dukhtaran-e- Millat, expressed similar sentiments saying “anybody who comes to power will be better than Musharraf”, who according to her “betrayed ideology [of]… Pakistan … and … the Kashmir cause.”

The immediate reaction of the pro-Musharraf Hurrriyat Conference was that of frustration and desperation. Senior leader of the group, Shabir Shah hoped that “whosoever comes to power… will support our cause in future” while apologetically admitting that his group had made mistakes in the past like “celebrating Pervez Musharraf’s re-election as the President when the Hurriyat activists burst crackers in Srinagar.” A splinter group of JKLF led by Barrister Majid Tramboo came out with the strongest statement against General Musharraf, saying that “the people of Pakistan have rejected the negative approach of their President Gen Pervez Musharraf regarding the solution of Kashmir issue”. A senior leader of the party, Farooq Ahmad Dar, termed the election results as “clear answer to the four point formula of Musharraf.” It is worth mentioning that not long ago, in September 2007 (24-25) Barrister Tramboo’s Kashmir Centre sponsored a two day Geneva Convention on Kashmir that supported Musharraf’s Four Point Formula. Not strange, the first theme of the Convention discussed on 24th September was titled: The challenging times – a review of President Musharraf’s four point formula, wherein the speakers commended General Musharraf for his ‘vision and leadership’.

The election results have created a mood of indignation in India about a possible policy change with a growing feeling in New Delhi that it may not now be possible to settle Kashmir on the Indian terms as accepted and agreed by General Musharraf. The pro-India National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, who had met with General Musharraf in Pakistan in 2006, said that India has missed the ‘golden opportunity’ to settle Kashmir while Musharraf was in power.Many Kashmiri analysts have made similar observations. New Delhi based Kashmiri journalist Iftikhar Gilani was of the opinion that the poll results will impact the situation in Kashmir.

Athar Parvaiz, a Kashmir Times writer opined that Pakistan’s Kashmir policy was bound to undergo a lot of transformation adding that Pakistan might not give accordance to pro-India Kashmiri leaders and may go into “old time revulsion towards them thanks to the return of a truly popular government”. The author was of the view that, “whatever the new dispensation in Pakistan, Pakistan’s policy about Kashmir issue is bound to witness a transformation”, observing that “defeats suffered by most of the ministers in the former Musharraf-led government, can be traced, among other reasons, to Pakistan’s renewed policy about Kashmir in recent years.”Sensing change, senior pro-India politician and leader of National Conference Ali Mohammad Sagar said “New Government in Pakistan can have a different Kashmir policy and for [the] time being it seems that the dialogue process between India and Pakistan would get delayed.”

Asif Ali Zardari: Boomerang Effect

While the negotiations for the new government were full on, Asif Ali Zardari was being courted by the American diplomats on daily basis trying to influence him to stay away from Nawaz Sharif and accept a deal with Musharraf on the basis of a working relationship.The Americans also reportedly wanted his assurances on the India-Pakistan ‘peace process’ and that the future government will continue with Musharraf’s Kashmir policy. Under intense US pressure, Asif Asif Ali Zardari, in a television interview made a statement calling for freezing the Kashmir issue for future generations in order to continue trade and dialogue with India. Zardari, while speaking to a leading Indian journalist Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN’s Devil’s Advocate programme, said that “Kashmir issue should be left aside for future generations to solve and right now India and Pakistan should focus on improving the bilateral relations by strengthening trade and economic ties.” He also opined that “normalisation of relations between the two countries should not become hostage to the Kashmir issue.”

The reaction that followed was unprecedented and gave a strong indication of pent up anger that Musharraf’s Kashmir policy had created. Zardari’s statement led to strong condemnation from all the Kashmiri groups – pro-freedom, pro-India and resistance militant groups alike. Even those who were die-hard supporters of Musharraf only days ago lent their support to the growing condemnation indicating that they can’t remain oblivious to the new political realities.

The United Jihad Council (UJC), conglomerate of 13 militant outfits termed Zardari’s statement as “political immaturity’ accusing him of being ‘unaware about the history and ignorant about the Kashmir issue.” Giving an indication about the change in Pakistan’s policy, Muzzaffarabad based spokesman of the UJC, Syed Sadaqat Hussain said that Zardari “does not know anything about his country’s policies.” The chairman of the Hurriyat conference (G) Syed Ali Shah Geelani said that Zaradari’s statement will have no affect on the disputed nature of Kashmir. “He can talk whatever he wants, who cares,” Geelani told Rising Kashmir. Pro-Musharraf Hurriyat leader Shabir Ahmad Shah termed the statement irrelevant while Abbas Ansari said “till Kashmir issue is solved, the distances [between India and Pakistan] would not vanish.” Later the Hurriyat Conference (M) called its Executive Council meeting which expressed deep concerns over Zardari’s statement and said that Zardari’s statement “was not in line with the Pakistan Peoples Party’s Kashmir policy.” Pro-Musharraf JKLF led by Majid Tramboo strongly condemned Zardari’s unrealistic statement. Commenting on Zardari’s statement, the spokesman of the group said that it “gives an indication about his political bankruptcy. We have not given him any mandate on Kashmir issue [so] he should mind his own business.”

Zardari even drew flak from the pro-India politicians. Chairman of the Peoples’ Conference Sajad Gani Lone called it an “idealistic statement”, urging “the people to protest.” Leader of the opposition in the pro-India Kashmiri Assembly and the National Conference senior functionary, Abdul Rahim Rather told Kashmir Times that his party was “pretty upset”. Elaborating, he said, “how else can we react to such a statement when our people are getting killed because of the non-resolution of the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan?” Omar Abdullah, President of National Conference “warned that freezing Kashmir without finding a solution would prove dangerous not only for India but for Pakistan as well.”Another prominent pro-India politician and chairperson of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mehbooba Mufti questioned the need for issuing such statements saying that the resolution of Kashmir needs to be carried forward rather than putting in cold storage.

Sardar Qayoom Khan, the octogenarian Azad Kashmiri politician and former Prime Minister, who is known for making U-turns also lashed out at Zardari. Khan who had joined Musharraf’s Kashmir policy ditching his old avatar of Mujahid-e-Awwal had previously condemned Kashmiri militants and declared ‘end of Jihad’ in Kashmir, calling it a futile exercise. Under the new political order, Sardar Qayoom took strong exception to Zardari’s statement warning that “friendly relations between India and Pakistan would always be short-lived and unpredictable until the root cause of all problems – Kashmir issue was resolved.” Qayoom went further and justified the need for militant resistance saying: “militancy… should remain … a force to reckon with for forcing India to agree on a negotiated settlement of the issue.”

Asif Zardari couldn’t resist the barrage of criticism and had to ‘clarify’ his position. Retracting from his old statement, he described Kashmir “as an integral part of Pakistan and said that he would never betray the sacrifices of those who had given their lives for Kashmir.” He called Kashmir issue as the reason for the founding of the PPP by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto; “I started my political mission from Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s grave at Garhi Khuda Bhuksh. If I have to keep her trust, how can I betray the trust of 90,000 other martyrs who have lost their lives in Kashmir?”

Zardari made subsequent clarifications to assuage the tempers. He revealed that his father Hakim Ali Zardari fought as a volunteer in the 1948 war to liberate Kashmir and was proud of that. The public pressure that forced powerful Zardari to issue ‘clarification’ indicates that Kashmir policy is certainly shifting from Musharraf’s so-called pro-India policy directed by the US. The Executive Director of Kashmir Centre Washington, Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai ‘expressed satisfaction over the statement saying “the clarification by the PPP … has been viewed as reassuring by the general public in Pakistan as well as in Kashmir.” Dr. Fai, who is well known for his caution and conformism, was surprisingly firm and advised Pakistani leaders “in responsible positions … to exercise discretion when issuing statements that may undermine Kashmiri aspiration.” In his press statement he called upon the leaders for “a more nuanced approach to such a sensitive and emotive issue as freedom struggle of the people of Kashmir [which] will help lessen the public’s distrust of politicians” and demanded that the Kashmir conflict must be resolved prognosticating that any “attempts at conflict management will never succeed.”

The American ‘meddling’

The proverbial trio of Pakistan’s politics – Allah, Army and America seems to have been reconfigured in reverse order with the Americans enjoying on the top. The US influence is so powerful that they virtually seem to be running every aspect of Pakistani life as allowed by Musharraf in his last eight years of rule. They are said to have unacknowledged military basis, secret prisons and torture centres with powers to detain Pakistani citizens and thousands of secret agents running around in the country without any legal or bureaucratic fetters. This is the main reason that the Americans are against the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary who was adamant in upholding the law and wanted to know the fate of thousands that have gone missing in Musharraf’s regime with many of them ending up in secret American prisons and torture cells. The majority of the Pakistanis see the US and its War on Terror the main reason for problems in the tribal areas and resultant suicide bombings. Speaking at a Kashmir rally on 5 February in Lahore, Jama’at-e-Islami leader Liaqat Baloch “castigated President Musharraf for acting as a tool in the hands of Washington to make Pakistan a failed state as per US agenda.” Many also blame US pressure for Musharraf’s U-turn on Kashmir. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader, Dr Azim ud Din Zahid while speaking at a meeting to commemorate Kashmir Solidarity Day said “on the direction of the US administration, moral and financial help to Kashmiris was stopped”.

The American support for Musharraf - from sacking of the judges to the imposition of Emergency and tacit approval for his crackdown on the secular civil society has given rise to massive anger against the US. Such sentiments are no more confined to the Islamist fringe groups. As the first election results were out, former Army Chief General Mirza Aslam Beg called it a decision against America in his comment on Pakistani television channel Geo TV, saying that the next Prime Minister will be elected by the people of Pakistan and not by the US. Buoyed by the election results, when the calls for Musharraf’s resignation grew louder, the US Secretary of the State Condoleezza Rice openly came to the rescue of General Musharraf; “The President of Pakistan is Pervez Musharraf … And so, of course, we will deal with him. We will continue to pursue the American interests, which are for a stable and democratic Pakistan.”

Since the elections, the American influence in Pakistan has become more pronounced, open and corrosive. Soon after the results, it was a strange scene to see the American diplomats literally taking charge for the formation of the new government as well as trying to block potential political alliances. The American Ambassador in Islamabad, Anne W Patterson openly held meetings with the Pakistani politicians suggesting future role for Musharraf. On 25 March, the day the new Prime Minister Makhdoom Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani was sworn in, the American presence in Islamabad was felt very strongly and raised a lot of suspicion that they are trying to hijack the democratic government. When the Pakistani politicians were busy in forming the new government, the US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte along with Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher held meetings with Pervez Musharraf, Chief of the Army Staff and top politicians of the new coalition government including Prime Minister Gilani, Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif. Former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar called it ‘crude diplomacy’. In his comments with the leading Pakistani anchor Kamran Khan in Aaj Kamran Khan Ke Sath he accused the Americans of arm twisting. In the same programme, Pakistani analyst Shafqat Mehmood commented that Americans are showing the power and influence they have got in Pakistan. Frustrated by this brazen behaviour, Kamran Khan threw a general question at the Pakistani audience; “Where is our honour and dignity?”

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could not tolerate the US pressure on the Musharraf issue and he told the US delegation that he “considered Musharraf an unconstitutional and illegal head of state.” Sharif later told a press conference that the “new government would review Pakistan’s role in the War on Terror after holding a debate in the parliament and that Pakistan will not play in the US hands.”The timing of this visit by the US envoys caused outrage with the newspapers decrying the visit as ‘American meddling’. “Protestors in at least three cities burned the US flags and waved banners demanding the envoys to go home.” Leading English daily The Dawn titled its editorial about the visit as American Impatience terming the arrival of the US envoys “in indecent haste”, not “in keeping with diplomatic propriety” and calling its objective as “undesirable”. Another leading newspaper, The News urged the US officials to “restrain themselves in further meddling in Pakistan’s affairs.”

Given the US influence, its strong presence in the region and its closest ties with India, the new government would be severely restricted and limited in any approach that tries to deal with the Kashmir issue differently from the previous government, knowing the fact that the US is committed to pursue Pakistan to abandon Kashmir in totality.

‘National Consensus’ - The Balancing Act

As the anti-Musharraf political forces moved to centre stage, the Army Chief, who was considered a Musharraf ally also started to make more pronounced statements indicating a move from his predecessor’s policies. Therefore, when General Pervez Ashfaq Kiyani made open references to ‘National Consensus’ on Kashmir, it was seen as an indication of a possible shift. During his visit to a forward location near the Line of Control (LoC) in Azad Kashmir on 12 February, General Kayani while addressing Army officers highlighted the ‘national consensus’ that exists on Kashmir and “reaffirmed commitment of Pakistan Army to the Kashmir cause, in line with aspirations of Pakistani nation.”

Kayani’s statement was widely hailed in Pakistan as well in Kashmir. Hurriyat Conference (G) Convenor “warmly welcomed the statement” and many Pakistani newspapers praised it in their editorials. The English daily Pakistan Observer in its editorial Kayani’s Solidarity with Kashmir Cause dated 14 February called his statement as reassuring “in the perspective of some statements in the recent past by certain political quarters which were disapproved by the people of Pakistan.” Observing that “the people of Pakistan and the armed forces during the last sixty years [have] had a strong commitment to the Kashmir cause”, it called the assurance by the COAS [Chief of the Army Staff] as “satisfying for the people of Pakistan as well as to the Kashmiris”, and hoped that “the new political leadership would keep the resolution of Kashmir issue as the top priority on its agenda while dealing on different issues with India.” Leading English daily The Nation in its editorial called the statement as heartening and “an index of the affinity all the jawans [soldiers] of our armed forces feel for the Kashmir cause.” The paper affirmed Kayani’s statement that there is a national consensus on the issue adding “all genuine political forces with mass appeal agree on the right of the people of Kashmir to choose their own destinies.”Criticizing Musharraf regime’s initiative of peace process, the newspaper observed; “All the miscalculated and overly conciliatory efforts of the regime have been met by Indian smugness and aggression every step of the way” and “sincerely hoped that these leaders can counter some of the damage done on this front by the previous leadership.” Another English daily The Post sought to link the Army Chief’s statement with the earlier statement of Asif Ali Zardari on Kashmir saying “General Kayani wished to set the record straight by reaffirming the army’s commitment to the Kashmir cause.”

The utility of General Kayani’s statement can be seen at multiple levels. There is a strong argument that because of the War on Terror and U-turn on Kashmir, the Army is unpopular and therefore it wants to get back into the good books of the people by latching on to Kashmir. Asserting the traditional stand on Kashmir, the Army could certainly help amend some of its tarnished image. There have been many public calls to the new Army Chief from various political and social quarters about many issues including Kashmir and the War on Terror. While General Kayani cannot afford to make a statement over the War on Terror, Kashmir remains the only plausible choice. This would certainly soften the image of army among the local people including Islamic fundamentalists who could thus be persuaded not to attack their own army. His statement could also be seen as a subtle rebuff to the US and an attempt to curtail their unwarranted and crude influence in the Pakistani affairs mainly Kashmir. By highlighting ‘consensus’, Kayani sought to place Kashmir in the centre of his nation’s conscience that cannot be bartered away under any outside pressure.

Another function of Kayani’s statement could be to re-assert the Army’s traditional role and authority on the matters of defence as well as Kashmir while the civilian government with a strong mandate has taken over. Previously, the Army has viewed any bonhomie of its politicians with India with suspicion. “Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was pilloried for being “pro-India” when she attempted to reach an understanding with her counterpart [Indian Prime Minister] Rajiv Gandhi in 1989. Her party was accused of being a “security risk” by the state’s intelligence agencies.” Similarly when “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif … tried to reach out to his Indian counterpart Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999 … the [Pakistan Army] …was busy executing its disastrous Kargil Operation in Kashmir.”

General Pervez Kayani sent another subtle but strong message about his priorities and persuasions. On Pakistan Day, 23 March, he hosted a reception in honour of the retired Army officers who attended in a large number. Many of these retired officers have publicly criticised Musharraf’s Kashmir policy and called for his resignation. Speaking at the occasion, the Army Chief reiterated that the “Army will always live up to the expectations of the nation”, clearly giving a message of defiance against Musharraf while at the same time seeking reconciliation with his nation.

Kashmiri Response

Pakistan has always been an important factor in the survival and existence of the Kashmiri political struggle. Whether rightly or wrongly, Pakistan has fired the imagination of Kashmiri people and despite the lack of uniformity in its approach, Pakistan remains a major emotional force for Kashmiris that is deeply embedded in their psyche. Commenting upon the recent elections and its effect on Kashmir, pro-India politician Mehbooba Mufti acknowledged the role and function of the symbol of Pakistan in the Kashmir’s socio-political landscape; “We have a sentimental and geographical affinity with Pakistan.”

However, this ’sentimental’ relationship touched nadir during General Musharraf’s rule. In the aftermath of 9/11, he not only gave up support for the Kashmiris’ freedom and self-determination, but also branded Kashmiri resistance as terrorists.The change meant that the Kashmiri ‘freedom fighters’ in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir were hounded, tortured, arrested and even killed. In March 2006, the ISI arrested and threatened Syed Salahudin, the chief of Hizbul Mujahideen along with many other prominent Kashmiri resistance leaders who were protesting against Musharraf’s Kashmir policy.

[Murtaza Shibli is the Editor of Kashmir Affairs, London [www.kashmiraffairs .org]