Whither India?

By S. Qadri

India’s de facto ruler, Sonia Gandhi, has warned Pakistan against “taking India’s wish for peace as a sign of weakness” (Dec 22).

Every country in South Asia knows that India is upto scores of times bigger in size and military strength. They have also learned from experience how the giant neighbour throws its weight around. Thus, even the landlocked Nepal was subjected to an economic blockade and Sri Lanka was so worried in the 80’s that it had reportedly asked Britain, China and Pakistan tohelp it in case of an Indian invasion.

Pakistan, too, knows this and much more, having lost its eastern wing primarily due to Indian military might/intervention. So, Mrs Gandhi, everybody around here knows India’s superficial strength. But, what is real power, do you ever try to understand?

True power is what China has been exhibiting in its relations with its South Asian neighbours. When, during the 1962 war with India, it had pushed the Indian army out of the disputed territory, it declared a ceasefire and returned the Indian weapons it had captured, after duly polishing and servicing them! That is what is known as strength.

Standing up fearlessly to a 7 times bigger adversary, as the Pakistanis have been doing for 61 years, is also toughness.

It is not the bullying of weaker countries by holding a gun to their heads, as India does, won’t do. Nor is it the occupation of territories, as New Delhi did in case of Kashmir, Hyderabad, Junagadh, Goa, Sikkum and Siachen Glacier. And by no means is it the stoppage of river waters to Pakistan or Bangladesh either.

The Indian Sufi Hazrat Inayat Khan had explained this in his own wisdom:

“A person in the intoxication of outer power that he possesses overloks the cultivation or the developmnt of inner power, and, depending upon the power that does not belong to him, one day becomes the victim of the very power that he holds… So it is that the heroes, the kings, the emperors, the persons with great power of arms… have become the victim of the very power upon which they always depended.”

Thus, slitting pen the bellies of pregnant Muslim women or burning to death Christian missionaries is not power, any more than holding Kashmiris or Nagas or Naxalite farmers captive at gunpoint your strength. That is why violent protestors or their sympathisers now besiege India.

If India had existed in Euope, would Italy, France, Germany or Britain have allowed it to gobble up slices of their territories? This is something that Mrs Gandhi and the European supporters of India should ponder about. How can China, Pakistan or other regional countries let New Delhi usurp their lands or riverine resources?

Former Indian President Radhakrishnan had said many decades ago: “Our opportunities are great but let me warn you that when power outstrips ability, we will fall on evil ways”.

More poignantly, John Milton had observed: “What is strength without a double share of wisdom? Vast, unwieldy, burdensome, proudly secure, yet liable to fail by weakest subtleties, strength’s not mad to rule, but to subserve, where wisdom bears command”.

Both of them could have been speaking of present-day India.

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The US military is exhausted

Sarah Lazare

The call for over 30,000 more troops to be sent to Afghanistan is a travesty for the people of that country who have already suffered eight brutal years of occupation.

It is also a harsh blow to the US soldiers facing imminent deployment.

As Barack Obama, the US president, gears up for a further escalation that will bring the total number of troops in Afghanistan to over 100,000, he faces a military force that has been exhausted and overextended by fighting two wars.

Many from within the ranks are openly declaring that they have had enough, allying with anti-war veterans and activists in calling for an end to the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with some active duty soldiers publicly refusing to deploy.

This growing movement of military refusers is a voice of sanity in a country slipping deeper into unending war.

The architects of this war would be well-advised to listen to the concerns of the soldiers and veterans tasked with carrying out their war policies on the ground.

Many of those being deployed have already faced multiple deployments to combat zones: the 101st Airborne Division, which will be deployed to Afghanistan in early 2010, faces its fifth combat tour since 2002.

“They are just going to start moving the soldiers who already served in Iraq to Afghanistan, just like they shifted me from one war to the next,” said Eddie Falcon, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Soldiers are going to start coming back with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), missing limbs, problems with alcohol, and depression.”

Many of these troops are still suffering the mental and physical fallout from previous deployments.

Rates of PTSD and traumatic brain injury among troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have been disproportionately high, with a third of returning troops reporting mental problems and 18.5 per cent of all returning service members battling either PTSD or depression, according to a study by the Rand Corporation.

Marine suicides doubled between 2006 and 2007, and army suicides are at the highest rate since records were kept in 1980.

Resistance in the ranks

US army soldiers are refusing to serve at the highest rate since 1980, with an 80 per cent increase in desertions since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to the Associated Press.

These troops refuse deployment for a variety of reasons: some because they ethically oppose the wars, some because they have had a negative experience with the military, and some because they cannot psychologically survive another deployment, having fallen victim to what has been termed “Broken Joe” syndrome.

Over 150 GIs have publicly refused service and spoken out against the wars, all risking prison and some serving long sentences, and an estimated 250 US war resisters are currently taking refuge in Canada.

This resistance includes two Fort Hood, Texas, soldiers, Victor Agosto and Travis Bishop, who publicly resisted deployment to Afghanistan this year, facing prison sentences as a result, with Bishop still currently detained.

“There is no way I will deploy to Afghanistan,” wrote Agosto, upon refusing his service last May. “The occupation is immoral and unjust.”

Within the US military, GI resisters and anti-war veterans have organised through broad networks of veteran and civilian alliances, as well as through IVAW, comprised of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

This organisation, which is over 1,700 strong, with members across the world, including active-duty members on military bases, is opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and openly supports GI resistance.

“Iraq Veterans Against the War calls on Obama to end the war in Afghanistan (and Iraq) by withdrawing troops immediately and unconditionally,” wrote Jose Vasquez, the executive director of IVAW, in a December 2 open letter.

“It’s not time for our brothers and sisters in arms to go to Afghanistan. It’s time for them to come home.”

No clear progress

GI coffee houses have sprung up at several military bases around the country. In the tradition of the GI coffee houses of the Vietnam war era, these cafes provide a space where active duty troops can speak freely and access resources about military refusal, PTSD, and veteran and GI movements against the war.

“Here at Fort Lewis, we’ve lost 20 soldiers from the most recent round of deployments,” said Seth Menzel, an Iraq combat veteran and founding organiser of Coffee Strong, a GI coffee house at the sprawling Washington army base.

“We’ve seen resistance to deployment, mainly based on the fact that soldiers have been deployed so many times they don’t have the patience to do it again.”

As the occupation of Afghanistan passes its eighth year, with no clear progress, goals that remain elusive, and a high civilian death count, this war is coming to resemble the Iraq war that has been roundly condemned by world and US public opinion.

The never-ending nature of this conflict belies the real project of establishing US dominance in the Middle East and control of the region’s resources, at the expense of the Afghan civilians and US soldiers being placed in harm’s way.

The voices of refusal coming from within the US military send a powerful message that soldiers will not be fodder for an unjust and unnecessary war. By withdrawing their labour from a war that depends on their consent, these soldiers have the power to help bring this war to an end, as did their predecessors in the GI resistance movement against the Vietnam war.

And the longer the war in Afghanistan drags on – the more lives that are lost and destroyed – the more resistance we will see coming from within the ranks.

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Indian parliament attack — A case study

The attack on the Indian parliament on Dec 13, 2001. by five unidentified gunmen turned out to be a watershed in the tumultuous course of Indo-Pak relations. Closely following the 9/11 trauma it provided India with a much sought opportunity to present itself as victim of terrorism, qualifying her to jump onboard US-led anti-terror bandwagon with full legitimacy. The Indian spin doctors, in wake of the incident, coined the “cross-border-terrorism” sound-byte which was to become the mantra of the Indian government and media; not for weeks or months but for years to come. Without any proof of her involvement, Indian propaganda machinery went into an overdrive, charging Pakistan with official sponsorship of terrorism without a shred of evidence. The attack presented India with an opportunity bearing tremendous potential to tap and it was seized upon with a ruthless resolve. There were reports then that it was a planned charade using Taliban prisoners drawn from the Shibberghan Jail administered by Northern Alliance warlords to provide India with a casus belli. Within days Indian armed forces were fully mobilized for Operation Parakram, taking the two countries closer ever to the brink of a full-fledged war with nuclear overtones.

Parakram petered out in Oct 2002, making way for the initiation of composite dialogue process in Jan 2004 but the Indian obsession with presenting herself as victim of terrorism maintained its groove. The effort has proved rewarding; the carefully crafted ‘victim of terror’ syndrome, assiduously built in the post Parliament attack period has shaped into an effective tool for India to regulate the ebb and flow of the bilateral dialogue with Pakistan with telling effect. But even a well-fabricated farce has a life span; Parliament attack case being no exception. Notwithstanding a desire to exploit its terror thesis to the full there are indicators galore that this brilliantly conceived propaganda ploy has finally run its course. It goes to the effectiveness of Indian propaganda churning mills that they could dupe the world opinion for such a long time. Some points in this context merit consideration. Despite the fact that attack on the Indian parliament was treated by India as an act of war and the case is not fully closed, (the only convicted culprit Afzal Guru is awaiting the confirmation or otherwise of his appeal for mercy against a verdict of death by hanging), in India there is a conspiracy of silence to keep the judicial run of the case far away from the media focus.

Inexplicably the Indian government has refused to make public the evidence concerning an act of terror that prompted her within days of its occurrence to start mobilizing troops to borders. Even more perplexing is the fact that despite Indian parliament being the objective of the attack, no mainstream political party, no group and none of the influential print or visual media has ever raised the question of an inquiry. Lower rungs of Indian Judicial System too joined hands with government in suppressing the truth. It took the third judicial pronouncement on the case, by the Supreme Court of India in Aug 2004 that threw aside the charges involving Pakistan in the attack. It is a shame though that judicial pronouncement has elicited no response from the Indian media as well as political establishment; only the propaganda tirade, in total incongruity with the truth as bared by the pinnacle court, gained in momentum building up a body of opinion hostile to any prospects of dialog with Pakistan.

All the five attackers of the Parliament attack were killed in the ensuing encounter and four persons; Mohammad Afzal, a former JKLF militant who had surrendered in 1994, his cousin Shaukat Husain Guru, Shaukat’s wife Afsan Guru and SAR Gilani, a lecturer of Arabic at Delhi University, were arrested by the Delhi Police on charges of conspiracy within hours of the incident. After a year of trial a POTA court found all four guilty; the three men were given death and life imprisonment sentences while Afsan was given 5 years’ rigorous imprisonment. On appeal, the Delhi High Court, on 29 October 2003, acquitted Professor SAR Gilani and Afsan Guru for lack of any implicating evidence, while upholding the death sentence on the remaining two. Afzal and Shaukat appealed to the Supreme Court, which gave its verdict on 3 August 2004; Shaukat’s death sentence was lifted, leaving him with an imprisonment of ten years while Afzal’s death sentence was confirmed. The tragic figure of Afzal, a renegade, with his longstanding association with India’s Special Task Force, emerges as the ultimate fall guy of parliament attack case, who awaits the hangman’s noose. A fact that has largely gone un-noticed is the verdict by the Indian Supreme Court (SC), which has sounded the death knell of the India’s “cross-border-terrorism” thesis, coined in the wake of the attack. As pointed out by the Supreme Court, charges of a ‘Pakistani connection’, based solely on confessional statement of Afzal obtained by police under POTA, were simply untenable; “All these lapses and violations of procedural safeguards guaranteed in the statute itself impel us to hold that it is not safe to act on the alleged confessional statement of Afzal and place reliance on this item of evidence on which the prosecution places heavy reliance.” With Afzal’s confession set aside on legal ground, the SC verdict essentially establishes that five unidentified armed men, killed in the process, attacked Indian parliament and that Afzal participated in the conspiracy allegedly hatched for the attack. The court verdict effectively annuls the Indian prosecution’s story, repeated ad nauseam by the Indian police, argued for by the prosecution, propagated repeatedly in full colors by the print and the visual media and ratified by two courts of law viz Special Court and the Indian High Court. It is a pity though that the Indian government has taken the repudiation of its stance by its own SC in stride refusing to scale down its propaganda against Pak.

The Indian “cross border terrorism” thesis, fabricated in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and imaginatively exploited ever since has served country’s strategic ends commendably well. Through its exploitation India was able to push Kashmir issue to the back burner, degrading the indigenous Kashmiri struggle for the internationally sanctioned right of self-determination to the level of a terrorist activity. In an era marked by the US “hang them high” attitude India unleashed a reign of terror of its own in IHK, unencumbered by the human rights constraints. It consolidated its hold in Afghanistan and the wave of violence ripping across Pakistan has undeniable links with Indian presence across Pak-Afghan borders and in Fata. The Indian exploitation of the attack on the Indian parliament, remains a classic example of how an incident can be stage managed to the level of a casus belli for holding an opponent to ransom. By all measures that is no mean achievement.

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US faces harsh reality with Islamabad

Anne Gearan

Analysis: Hard reality as U.S. pushes Pakistan. Washington’s diplomatic dance with Islamabad has limits in terror fight.

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan will not go as far as Washington wants, and there’s nothing the U.S. can do about it: That’s the sobering reality as the U.S. tries to persuade a hesitant Pakistan to finish off the fight against terrorists.

Expand the current assault against the Taliban? Pakistan has made clear that will happen only on its own terms. U.S. officials acknowledge that so far they haven’t won the argument that militants who target America are enemies of Pakistan, too.

The U.S. has offered Pakistan $7.5 billion in military aid and broader cooperation with the armed forces. The assistance is intended to help Pakistan speed up its fight not only against internal militants, but also against al-Qaida and Taliban leaders hiding near the border with Afghanistan.

Pakistanis are deeply suspicious of America’s power and motives, making it difficult for their leaders to accede to Washington’s pressure in public, lest they look like U.S. puppets.

U.S. officials say that while Pakistani officials cooperate more in private, there are definite limits. The U.S. wanted Pakistan to move forces deeper into the tribal belt before winter. It didn’t happen, and might not at all.

A senior U.S. diplomat hinted at a separate agreement that would allow the U.S. itself to take on some of the hidden war against Pakistan’s militants.

Threat to U.S. forces:

Speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive talks with Pakistan, the diplomat said last week that more U.S. action is expected against the Haqqani network, led by longtime resistance fighter and former U.S. ally Jalaluddin Haqqani. His network, based in the Waziristan tribal area in northwest Pakistan, reportedly has strong ties with al-Qaida and targets U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan from across the border.

The diplomat said the stepped-up U.S. action would come with Pakistani support, but would not elaborate on the potential cooperation.

Pakistani officials claim they have targeted the Haqqani leadership, albeit unsuccessfully, and will go after the network when the time is right. Some U.S. officials believe that, others don’t.

Military officials say the Haqqani problem illustrates how the United States sometimes needs Pakistan more than the other way around.

The U.S. military now counts the Haqqani network as the single gravest threat to U.S. forces fighting over the border in Afghanistan, and badly wants Pakistan to push the militants from their border refuges. But the Pakistani answer seems to be that unless and until the Haqqanis threaten Pakistan, they won’t be a priority.

Time, patience:

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the latest U.S. official to make the case in a visit to Pakistan’s capital last week.

More than most U.S. officials, Mullen has cordial, long-standing relationships with Pakistan’s generals, the strongest power base inside the country. Despite those ties, Mullen’s quiet effort met with a polite noncommittal from his hosts.

Mullen advises patience and humility in dealing with Pakistan, a view not shared by some leading Republicans in Congress. Mullen said Pakistan doesn’t get enough credit for the push since spring against militants in the Swat valley and South Waziristan.

“Too many people eagerly and easily criticize Pakistan for what they have not done,” Mullen said Sunday, days after Pakistan’s military leaders took Mullen on a tour of a reclaimed Swat.

“When I go to Swat, and look at what they did there on the military I think it’s pretty extraordinary.”

Most of the groups aligned against the U.S. are in North Waziristan, a tribal area not pressed hard by Pakistan’s army. The only firepower directed at militants there comes from American missile-loaded drones.

Mullen told students at Pakistan’s National Defense University that the U.S. is concerned about what it sees as a growing coordination among terrorist networks in and around Pakistan.

“I do not, certainly, claim that they are great friends, but they are collaborating in ways that quite frankly, scare me quite a bit,” Mullen said last week.

He did not come out and say Pakistan needs to expand the fight against militants. But his point was clear.

Sensitive ground:

In an exchange of letters over recent weeks, Obama asked for more cooperation and Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, pledged some additional help, U.S. officials said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private correspondence.

Zardari, reflecting the views of Pakistan’s powerful military, said his government will move against militants that attack U.S. forces when it is able to do so, the officials said.

That leaves ample room for Pakistan’s civilian leaders to pursue their own agenda — and on their own schedule.

Without additional pressure from inside Pakistan, the only other option is for the U.S. to finish the fight against terrorists on its own. But Pakistan doesn’t allow outright U.S. military action on its soil.

Mullen seemed to recognize that when he told the military students that he knows the U.S. is perceived as acting in its own interests almost at any cost, so it can hardly ask others not to put their own needs first.

“Sometimes that gets lost on us,” he said.

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Bureaucracy stalls $800m hydel project

By Khaleeq Kiani

ISLAMABAD: Amid a controversy over expensive rental power projects, a $800 million foreign investment for cheap hydroelectric power generation is unlikely to materialise mainly because of bureaucratic wrangling, despite full support extended by federal and Azad Kashmir governments.

This comes at a time when the federal government is finding it difficult to lure foreign investment to meet growing energy shortfalls and is approaching world capitals to secure supplies of oil, natural gas and liquefied gas for power generation at much higher prices, involving massive outflow of foreign exchange. Background interviews and official documents available with Dawn suggest that after pursuing the 500-MW Mahl power project at home and abroad for almost four years now, the process ‘has been stopped altogether.’

The sources said Korea’s leading public sector investors, after having paid relevant government fees and other expenses, were literally running from federal to AJK governments through direct and diplomatic channels seeking permission to proceed with the construction of 500-MW Mahl Hydropower project for which they had been selected by the government through international competitive bidding. The main hurdle, the sources said, was that a senior official of the federal government, who would be reaching retirement age soon, wanted the $800 million project on the River Jhelum in Azad Kashmir to be developed in the public sector so he could become the project director.

Informed sources said that senior bureaucrats were clearly changing their goal posts and have now informed the Korean investors that the government had failed to finalise relevant procedures under the power policy announced in 2002 and under which they had called international bids and made selections.

The sources said a ceremony for the signing of a memorandum of understanding to allow Kapco, Kompico and Sambu Construction of Korea was cancelled at the eleventh hour, although the chairman of the Board of Investment, the ministry of finance and the prime minister of Azad Kashmir had given their consent. AJK chief secretary Khalid Sultan said: ‘I cannot say anything about the project because there is nothing that could be talked about.’ When asked why was the project being stopped at an advanced stage, he said that some people with vested interest were responsible; misleading (the media) about the project. ‘You better bring them to my office.’

Secretary electricity Azad Kashmir Iqbal Mohiuddin, however, confirmed in writing that the project had been advertised for development under power generation policy of 2002 and six firms, including Korean firms, had been registered.

However, since the approved mechanism for development of hydropower projects under public-private partnership was not available, the project could not be processed further, although the AJK government had instructed to ‘proceed further for the development of the project’ through the assistance of the federal finance ministry. Interestingly, BoI chairman Saleem Mandviwala, briefed the Azad Kashmir prime minister at a meeting that no dam could be constructed in the country despite investment interests shown by many foreign companies, especially by the Koreans.

In the meeting, chairman Wapda told the participants that ‘if companies like Sambu/Kompico are interested to develop and invest in this project on built, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) basis, Wapda has no objection whatsoever and would rather facilitate them in the light of the Energy Policy.’

Documents suggest that before the signing of an MoU, the AJK prime minister and his technical team and chairman of the Board of Investment visited South Korea for on-ground inspection of the facilities of Kapco, Kompico and Sambu which were producing 84,000 megawatts of hydro, nuclear and thermal electricity.
Subsequently, the Pakistan embassy in Seoul arranged an MoU signing ceremony.

In a communication to the government, representatives of the Korean companies claimed that it had been jointly decided that AJK chief secretary would represent the AJK government at the signing ceremony. But he regretted at the eleventh hour to attend the ceremony that ‘was embarrassing for the chairman BoI and Pakistan’s ambassador in Korea to decline to sign the MoU.’

The AJK electricity secretary said the project had been taken up again before the Hydro Electricity Board (HEB) and it was decided that the project would be developed in collaboration with Wapda and hence it could not be allotted to any investor without completion of procedures laid down in the 2002 policy, although the bids had been invited under the same policy.

‘On the other hand, this project could be implemented in private sector through Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB) under the 2002 policy.’

The sources said the Korean companies had written protest letters to the ministry of foreign affairs, the AJK prime minister and other relevant forums and asked for independent investigations into the issue to protect relations between the two countries.

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US fighter jets intrude into Pak airspace

US fighter jets were on Saturday seen flying over Mohmand tribal region bordering Afghanistan for almost two hours, local residents and officials said, reported Indian news agency PTI.
The jets, which were flying at low altitude, intruded almost 50 kilometers into the Pakistani airspace. They were seen flying over Soran Darra, Ghanam Shah, Shaikh Baba, Matai and Khazeena Chinari, which are located west of Ghalanai, the main town of Mohmand Agency.
Officials of the local political administration also confirmed the intrusion by the US jets. Local residents said the US aircraft flew across the Afghan border at around 8:00 am and remained in the Pakistani airspace for almost two hours.
This development has sprung a wave of panic among the local population, who are already terrorized by the continued US drone attacks as such attacks are claiming lives of innocent people.
The tribesmen protested against the intrusion by the US fighters, saying international norms do not allow aircraft of a foreign country to fly over an independent nation without its permission.
Tribal elders asked the government to take up the matter with the UN and vowed to defend Pakistan against ‘any foreign aggression’.

911-War Promises

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Source: NuoVisoPurchase DVD

Millions of people believe that evidence proves that Western intelligence services organized the hideous attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001. Even the mainstream media have stopped defending the official version and now prefer to ignore the issue altogether.

Distrust in Western governments grows as the wars of aggression waged by the USA and NATO continue to be justified with these “false flag” operations. Ever harsher domestic laws are being passed to crush all outrage and resistance in Western populations; at the end of the day they aim to unleash the German military on German civilians, instead of allowing morality and ethics to flow into day-by-day policy-making.

That morality and ethics long ago stopped playing a part in political decision-making is shown by the use of internationally outlawed weapons in all the wars NATO has started. At best, one has heard of “depleted uranium” after seeing the film “Deadly Dust” by award-winning Frieder Wagner. But even that film is systemically blocked out and banished, although, or perhaps because, it shows the horrific consequences of the use of these uranium weapons.

Among those aghast at the actions of NATO and the complicity of Germany in such internationally illegal wars of aggression is Christoph Hörstel, for many years foreign correspondent and editorial head of the German public broadcasting network ARD. Of like mind is Giullietto Chiesa, a Member of the European Parliament, who slams the ignorance and disinterest of most of his fellow Members.

What they don’t know is explained in the film “War promises” by insiders and whistleblowers. Annie Machon was a spy with the British MI5 and reports on false flag operations, as do Andreas von Bülow and Jürgen Elsässer, who possess enormous insider knowledge from their membership of the parliamentary committee supervising the secret services, and want to bring it to the public.

Eight years after 9/11 millions of people have linked up through the Internet to jointly rebel against this criminal system. What was still dismissed as a wild conspiracy theory until just a few month ago is now regarded as proven, raising the question how we, the people, handle this situation, in which those who govern us have on their minds anything but our well-being.