Afghanistan: US Strategy in Conflict with Indian Interests

Indian interests in Afghanistan and the region as a whole do not find importance in the US strategy in this part of the world. As a matter of fact the strategy not only ignores but also does not conform to those interests. For all its pronouncements to the contrary, the essential objective of the Obama Administration in Washington is to strike a deal with the ISI and its strategic assets, the Taliban and Haqqani network.

The New Silk Route concept disclosed by the US Secretary of State in Chennai last July is the central point of the deal. Islamabad should pacify the Pathans. In the bargain, Central Asian minerals, hydrocarbons, and other resources and goods will flow to Pakistani ports as well as a diverse range of machinery, electronics and garments in the reverse direction. Pakistan is to get huge invest-ments in its communications and infrastructure thereby helping it to flourish enormously.

As for New Delhi, it will be a mute spectator, just a bystander. The US is quite voluble in claiming that it is eager to help India and Pakistan normalise mutual trade and at the same time assist in opening the land routes to Central Asia for the benefit of the Indian business community. In reality Washington will be more than satisfied if the current tragi-comedy of granting or not granting MFN status to India continues interminably in Islamabad.

That is not all. With American backing the ISI is bound to get the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project. In this scenario what is most likely to happen is the following: whenever New Delhi seeks to press Islamabad to call a halt to the unending waves of terror from across the border, the Pakistani Generals would stop the delivery of gas under one technical reason or another. No international consortium would be in a position to take punitive financial measures against them. However, in the process all Indian industries and power stations utilising Turkmen gas would remain almost perm-anently dysfunctional. Such an apprehension is not a mere figment of imagination in the present setting.

The ulterior motive of Washington becomes increasingly transparent if one takes note of the fact that the US meanwhile is effectively blocking India’s only reliable route to Afghanistan and the former Soviet Union—the one through Iran. This is how the US aims to further its nefarious designs to the detriment of the interests of India in particular as well as those of other friendly states in this country’s neighbourhood.

Militants attack NATO oil tankers in Pak, 5 killed

Militants attack NATO oil tankers in Pak, 5 killed

PTI

ISLAMABAD: Militants in Pakistan on Friday carried out two separate attacks on vehicles carrying fuel for NATO and US forces inAfghanistan, killing five persons and injuring several others.

In the first attack, a group of about 20 militants fired rockets at nearly 40 oil tankers parked at two petrol stations in Shikarpur, a city in southern Sindh province, officials said.

Many tankers caught fire during the attack. Police sources said at least three people died due of burn injuries while three others were injured.

The dead and injured were sleeping in the tankers. Drivers and police officials said 28 tankers and two roadside petrol stations were destroyed in the attack early this morning.

A truck driver and his assistant were burned alive in the second attack on an oil tanker in the parking lot of a restaurant at Khuzdar in southeastern Balochistan province, police said.

The tanker caught fire after it was attacked by several armed militants.

No group claimed responsibility for both attacks. In both incidents, the attackers managed to escape. Police briefly exchanged fire with the attackers in Shikarpur, officials said.

Taliban militants regularly attack NATO supply trucks and oil tankers in parts of Pakistan, particularly the troubled Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in the northwest and southwestern Balochistan, both bordering Afghanistan.

This was the first time that such an attack was carried out in the interior of Sindh province.

In June, around 60 NATO supply trucks were destroyed and eight drivers were killed in a major attack near the federal capital Islamabad.

In April, four policemen were killed as 12 NATO trucks were burnt in eastern Punjab province.

Officials say nearly 70 per cent of NATO supplies and 40 per cent of its fuel requirements are shipped via Pakistan for some 160,000 US-led troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistani authorities yesterday blocked oil tankers and trucks carrying NATO supplies at a check point bordering Afghanistan.

The blockade came shortly after NATO helicopters attacked a Pakistani border check post in Kurram tribal region and killed three Pakistani soldiers and injured three others, sources said.

No reason was given for the blockade in Khyber Agency. However, sources said it was a reaction to the NATO air strikes in Pakistani territory.

NATO helicopters have launched four attacks in Pakistan this week, sparking strong condemnation by Islamabad.

NATO has defended the attacks and a spokesman in Kabul said the action was taken in self-defence as militants had attacked a post in Afghanistan.

The Twilight Zone of Afghanistan’s Borders

[If it is true that Afghan forces called in the lethal airstrikes, to get them out of a jam on the ground, then is it also true that they were either in hot pursuit of attacking militants, or their firing positions from near Army outposts, when they came under heavy fire?  The only available evidence comes from military supplied reports, so there is no reliable reporting for us to know what really happened.  One source claimed that the Pakistani outposts are new installations, located there after the recent wave of cross-border raids in Mohmand by the Pakistani Taliban who had moved into Afghanistan to escape Pak Army attacks.  From the apparent safety of Afghanistan, the TTP have launched a series of mass-attacks, and cross-border firing, which has invited Pakistani forces to fire into Afghanistan on occasion.  With the near universal ignorance of the specific location of the Durand Line, a Pakistani move to the edge of the actual border might have provoked the other side to scream, "violation." 

If the militants really did fire on the Afghan forces from close proximity to Pakistani forces, then they were studiously overlooked by the soldiers.  It would not be the first time that this tactic has been used.  One well-known instance of this tactic being used was preceding the "Battle of Wanat," another was in the "Gora Prai" border post assault.  In conflicting news reports at the time, it is reported as an ISAF incursion, but it too, was a report of militants being pursued near border posts.  In the video you can see the individual militants being killed (Video below). 

We have no way of knowing what has happened in these isolated border incidents.  This uncertainty applies to events on all Afghan borders (SEE: Uzbekistan: November 17 railway line near the border with Afghanistan explosion ).  We have no way of knowing anything more than that we have these short reports of a terrorist attack on the Northern Distribution Network.  Did it even happen, or is it all just propaganda intended to reinforce some psyop, or an effort to stop train traffic into Tajikistan?  

Why was this attack upon Pakistani forces ordered?  What has CENTCOM to gain at this time, by exploding the military arrangements with Pakistan?  No matter how much spin the militarists manage to put on this latest tragedy of poor American judgment, we shall still be left with the same question that we are always left pondering in America’s terror war–Why did the geniuses at the Pentagon let it happen?]

Afghan soldiers called in deadly NATO airstrike

Mohammad ZubairA Pakistani border security guard stands alert as authorities close border down the Torkham border for NATO vehicles in Pakistan on Sunday, Nov 27, 2011. Pakistan on Saturday accused NATO helicopters and fighter jets of firing on two army checkpoints in the country’s northwest and killing 24 soldiers. Islamabad retaliated by closing the border crossings used by the international coalition to supply its troops in neighboring Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Mohammad Zubair)

Afghan troops who came under fire while operating near the Pakistan border called in the NATO airstrikes that allegedly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at two posts along the frontier, Afghan officials said Sunday.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said it’s unclear who attacked the Afghan troops before dawn Saturday, but that the soldiers were fired upon from the direction of the Pakistani border posts that were hit in the strikes. The border area where the soldiers were operating contains a mix of Pakistani forces and Islamist militants.

The incident has driven to new lows the United States’ already tattered alliance with Pakistan, a relationship that is vital to winding down the 10-year-old Afghan war. The Pakistan army has said the alleged NATO attack was unprovoked and has insisted there wasn’t militant activity near the border posts in the Mohmand tribal area.

The Arab League’s Hypocrisy

The Arab League’s Hypocrisy – OpEd

by: 

After the Arab League hypocritically suspended the membership of Syria amid the mounting pressures of NATO and the United States, the resurgence of violence in Egypt, the increasing use of excessive force in Bahrain and Yemen, and the unrelenting massacre of innocent civilians by the barbaric regime of Al Khalifa and Ali Abdullah Saleh have once again attracted the attention of conscientious observers in the international community.

According to official figures released by the “Bahrain Center for Human Rights” website, so far 44 Bahraini citizens are killed at the hands of the mercenaries of the Al Khalifa regime. The 6-year-old Mohammed Farhan, 14-year-old Ali Jawad Alshaikh and 15-year-old Sayed Ahmad Saeed Shams are among the martyrs. The Bahraini organization reported that many of these martyrs have been killed while in custody. The Center also published documents indicating that more than 1,500 Bahrainis, 100 of whom were women, have been incarcerated since the eruption of turmoil in the Persian Gulf country on February 14, 2011 and that more than 90 journalists have faced life threat during the same interval.

It’s also said that the Bahraini government has blocked access to more than 1000 opposition websites, which are mainly used to organize and plan protests and mass demonstrations in the country.

The Bahraini regime commits all of these aggressive and brutal actions with the direct involvement of the Saudi Arabia and the implicit support and backing of the NATO and the United States. The author of the “Hidden Harmonies China” blog in his post on March 14, 2011, referring to recent human rights violation in Bahrain with the flagrant, duplicitous support of the White House, wrote that “the entry of Saudi security forces to crack down on the protesters with deadly force is a complication for US policies, to say the least, since the US is reluctant to criticize its oil ally dictators in the region.”

He also called Bahrain the “Las Vegas” of the Middle East, host to the US 5th Fleet and a haunt for the rich Saudis who are forbidden by Islamic laws to indulge in alcohol and other immoral enjoyments at home, “but who often vacation in Bahrain for these reasons.”

Bahraini citizens have uploaded several videos on the internet, showing the cruel and ruthless torturing and persecuting of the protesters by the Al Khalifa lackeys. These videos depict Bahraini forces using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters and killing many of them. Some of these videos also show the Saudi and Bahraini cars nonchalantly running over Bahraini children and women, killing them at once.

The US-Saudi project of crackdown on the Bahraini people was also empowered by many of the European cronies of Washington. In July 2011, Germany sold a set of 200 62-ton Leopard tanks to Saudi Arabia, an act which sparked a huge controversy among the German parliamentarians and anti-war activists. According to Daily Telegraph, Wolfgang Gerhardt, former leader of the Free Democrats and junior collation member to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats also considered the act as “unacceptable.” Despite all this, the USD 1,252 million-agreement was signed and the Saudi government dispatched many of these newly-bought tanks to Bahrain to accelerate and facilitate the bloody clampdown on the protesters.

The situation in Yemen, however, is far more deplorable and appalling. Allvoices.com has reported that as of September 25, 1,870 Yemenis had been killed in the revolution; the majority of the martyrs were reported to be unarmed civilians taking part in anti-government demonstrations.

The Yemeni dictator, who has remained defiant in the face of frequent calls by the tribal leaders, opposition groups and demonstrators to step down and give up power, has turned his country into a bloodbath, making the Yemeni uprising the longest and most devastative revolution in the wave of protests in the Middle East. The protests in Yemen started on February 3, 2011 and have continued so far. The only reaction of the international community to the brutality in this country has been an indecisive and faltering resolution by the UNSC which has called for “an end to violence” and asked President Ali Abdullah Saleh to accept a peace deal brokered by the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council. However, Abdullah Saleh, who is tacitly supported by the US, has kept up with the brutalities and according to Yemen Times, 94 protesters have been killed after the Security Council adopted the resolution 2014.

A report published in Yemen Times on November 17 revealed that “ninety-four Yemenis were killed and over 800 injured since UN Resolution 2014 was issued on October 21.”

“Tentative reports show that over the last three weeks in Yemen, 124 homes, seven mosques, six public institutions including one hospital, two community wells, and 17 vehicles were effectively destroyed,” Yemen Times reported.

In the days leading to the detainment and death of Muammar Gaddafi, the Western mainstream media were only talking about the Libyan civil war, and the reason was clear, NATO had secured a UNSC resolution to enact a no-fly zone over Libya and it was in the interest of the US and its European partners to cover the tumultuous situation in the North African country. However, the reports and news regarding the carnage in Bahrain and Yemen were predominantly shunned and boycotted, simply because these two despotic regimes were the close allies of the US in the Middle East.

In a report published in Independent Australia, Zaid Jiani alluded to the violent crackdown on the protesters in Bahrain and Yemen and posed the question that “is the media downplaying these events because the two dictatorships are firm allies of the West?”

“A Think Progress analysis of press coverage by the three major US cable news networks -CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News – from March 14 to March 18 finds that Bahrain received only slightly more than ten percent as many mentions as Libya and that Yemen received only six percent as many mentions as Libya.”

Now what concerns the independent thinkers, scholars, university professors, journalists and peace activists is that Syria has become the target of international pressure, simply because it has strong ties with Iran and resistant groups in Lebanon and Palestine, while the reactionary regimes of Bahrain and Yemen are getting away with the felonies they had commit by the virtue of their alliance with the United States.

Arab League has hypnotically suspended the participation of Syria while it has taken no practical step to normalize the situation in the turbulent and chaotic Yemen and Bahrain in which innocent people are being killed on a daily basis by their tyrannical rulers and their loyalists

All that can be said is that the performance of the Arab League in neglecting the situation in Yemen and Bahrain and exaggerating the unrest in Syria which is mainly caused by the foreign intervention and the West’s indifference toward the plight of the suppressed nations in Yemen and Bahrain is an all-out hypocrisy and a clear, undeniable exercise of double standards. Who can really devise a clear-cut solution for this unsolvable dilemma?

About the author:

Kourosh Ziabari is an Iranian media correspondent, freelance journalist and interviewer. He is a contributing writer of Finland’s Award-winning Ovi Magazine and the the Foreign Policy Journal. He is a member of Tlaxcala Translators Network for Linguistic Diversity (Spain). He is also a member of World Student Community for Sustainable Development (WSC-SD). Kourosh Ziabari’s articles have appeared in a number of Canadian, Belgian, Italian, French and German websites. He can be reached at kziabari@gmail.co

The Failure of Liberal Democracy

The Failure of Liberal Democracy

Gaspar Miklos Tamas

Gáspár Miklós Tamás interviewed by Matthew Brett

Freedom, equality and participation in the democratic process are cornerstones of liberal democracy. Yet these principles are unravelling across the world as states become increasingly authoritarian and unequal. On a speaking tour of North America, Hungarian dissident intellectual Gáspár Miklós Tamás speaks with political science graduate student Matthew Brett about the failure of liberal democracy. Tamás is a significant voice of the Hungarian democratic opposition. He co-founded in 1988 the Network of Free Initiatives, a dissident movement under the communist regime of Janos Kadar, and subsequently served as Member of Parliament between 1989 and 1994 under the banner of the Free Democratic Alliance.

He is currently Research Professor at the Institute of Philosophy of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and lectures regularly in political philosophy and social theory in universities around the world. Professor Tamás is the author of ten books in Hungarian and several of his essays have appeared in English translation in publications such as The Times Literary SupplementThe SpectatorBoston ReviewPublic Affairs Quarterly and Socialist Register. Professor Tamás spoke with Matthew at Concordia University in Montreal on Sept. 22, 2011 following his lecture, “The Failure of Liberal Democracy in Eastern Europe…and Everywhere Else.”

How would you define yourself politically?

Well I think I’m a man on the left and I would call myself a Marxist.

Your lecture is titled, “The Failure of Liberal Democracy in Eastern Europe…and Everywhere Else.” For this interview, I’d really like to focus on the nature and content of that lecture, perhaps just beginning with your understanding of what liberal democracy is and what that means.

Well of course I’m trying to keep close to the generally accepted definition in order to be able to talk reasonably. Liberal democracy is a combination of elements, mostly of liberal elements of individual rights and legal guarantees for autonomous self-activity, personal sovereignty, and guarantees against state power. And democracy which means, well, not simply peoples’ rule, but most certainly peoples’ participation in decision making – one man one vote, or one person one vote nowadays. And of course political participation is still far from being complete. We cannot say that every citizen is a lawmaker and a lawgiver. We are mostly passive recipients of law, and obedient or disobedient subjects to the legal system.

Professor Tamas argues that liberal democracy was unravelling as early as the 1980s but that things have become very evident after the recession, and it’s become particularly severe today. One of the central arguments he makes is that an increasing percentage of the global population falls completely outside of our dominant social order. Technology has made labour redundant for many in the world, and so they exist outside of the typical capital-labour relationship.

It seems to me that nowadays we are not only failing to fulfill the moral and theoretical conditions of what would constitute a liberal democracy, but even our faith in the fundamental principles is dwindling as a result of some changes. These changes consist mostly of technological and economic developments that partly through globalization (i.e. the flight of capital to lower wage regions of the world; therefore, the demolition of traditional North American and European manufacturing industries and other economic assets have been stripped and just exported to where there is technology on the one hand, and on the other hand, cheap labour). But most importantly, these technological developments make it so that every human activity is so mechanized – to use the old expression – digitalized, and miniaturized, and robotized, and automated and so on, that the old dispensation according to which most people worked in manufacturing or in services and commerce, it’s not true of today. There won’t be again full employment. Most people will be outside of productive work – productive meaning producing commodities that can be sold on the market. And that means that the previous modals of social organization, which were mostly work, will be lacking. They will be characteristic of only a minority of the populations, and the rest of us will be dependent upon the community itself to survive.

So partly there will be people who work in the public interest, but not productive, like schoolteachers and doctors and so on. And the rest, if society remains as it is, will be in dire need of social assistance, social assistance that must be available based on resources that governments insist they are lacking. Of course this is a system that I do not recognize or let alone like, but if you accept the basic facts about it – which I don’t – then it’s quite obvious that the resources are not there, and governments will have to choose between various groups – whom to assist, whom to help, and who will be left behind, neglected, excluded, condemned to very precarious life or to death by starvation. And therefore the political community is split along the lines of legitimacy of income – what I mean by this is that, still in all our societies there are two main legitimate sources of income: capital and labour. As for the rest, that comes to us through state redistribution – tax monies that are redistributed by government – that are subject to political decisions. And an increasing number of people are dependent on resources that are available to them through redistribution and government channels. And the government has the immense power nowadays, although it has been depleted institutionally, to decide who will get what, and since not everybody can receive these goodies, there’s a great fight about legitimizing or delegitimizing social groups.

So nowadays you will say that people with some illnesses, people above a certain age, immigrants, racial groups, lifestyle groups designated as being of a criminal behaviour and the undeserving poor – to use the 19th century expression – those people are not only ill-served by their government, but also excluded from the core of society, and real active citizenship is re-becoming a privileged instead of a general condition of human beings. And that is something new. After all, liberal democracies aspired to universalize civic rights, to extend the privileges and securities and pride of citizenship to virtually all human beings. Well this trend has been reversed, and this is what I call the failure of liberal democracy.

One of the examples that you’ve given along those lines is the Hungarian Constitution. Can you describe briefly what happened there?

Well the whole Hungarian political development over the last-year-and-a-half has been very much worrying. The new government has installed a new regime. This is not just a change of government; it’s a very deep transformation of the whole country with hundreds of new laws changing the whole legal makeup of the country – changing back from a very flawed but still existent liberal democratic order into a very modern, very contemporary authoritarianism, which is very carefully thought out and very coherent. It consists of a number of measures that I can’t list in a short interview, which is curtailing people’s freedoms from press, freedom of assembly, right to strike and all that stuff, while slashing most institutions that enjoyed some kind of autonomy, from media outlets, to universities, to schools, to art institutions, to unions, to whatever.

But all this is based on a very intellectually interesting development in constitutional law that also has some symbolic changes – for example, Hungary is no longer designated a republic as of the January 1. It’s just Hungary. And where there are articles from the old constitution disappearing, such as equal pay for equal work – that’s not any longer in the constitution. Old welfare statist prescriptions are not there any longer. But what is most important is that rights are not defined as they are normally – like in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the beginning of your Constitution – but they are made dependent on the satisfactory delivery of duties – delivery of public functions and observance of duties. And there are other articles of the Constitution wherein its partially hidden, partially declared openly, that only citizens with a community spirit, and honest work, and appropriate makeup of a citizen can really count on the plenitude of all rights. The state is not obliging itself any longer to the performance of obligations on the side of the state toward citizens. So, for example, whenever the old constitution said that the government must guarantee housing or health or whatever, it said now that the government must do its best to insure fairness, health, housing, welfare, et cetera. So both the welfare state remnants in the old constitution are wiped out completely, and also the absoluteness of rights on which liberal democracies are based in most places have disappeared, which of course enables the authorities to deny various things to citizens in need.

That seems to be a trend that we’re witnessing, as you say, not only in Eastern Europe, but everywhere else – these increasing trends of authoritarianism, particularly on the legislative side, very particular invasive laws. It raises, to me, interesting questions about the role of the state. Particularly in Canada, there’s a strong base of anarchist organizing. That is a strong impulse here on the left. I was wondering if you could speak to your thoughts on anarchism, particularly as somebody who has often worked with political parties.

Well, I was myself an anarchist as a young man, and most of that I haven’t reneged on. I published in some illegal publication called the Eye and the Hand, and it actually has been translated into French, and appeared in a small anarchist publishing house in Switzerland in 1985. “Louis la main” it’s called. It’s a short tract of anarchist political libertarian philosophy. The problem of the state is very perverse nowadays, because the state is the only hope of many needy abandoned people – the same oppressive people that causes most of the problems. And people cling to the state, still hoping that the state, according to the old principles, is still representing fairness, and help, and redistribution, and a soothing hand. Well needless to say that this is a vain hope.

But we always have to take into account that we are speaking within the frameworks of the existing capitalist system, which I’ve done up until now in this interview, accepting experimentally that this is the framework in which we live. And of course I’m not at all opposed to reformistically trying to improve our lot if possible, although in the past time we haven’t witnessed the most progressive performance. And when I’m taking a step back to look more carefully at things, of course I know that there is no substantial hope of the state improving.

You can see that in such countries like Canada, which, compared to others, has been a pretty mild proposition. It’s becoming ever more brutal, although nothing on the scale of the French or the Italian state. Nevertheless, I can see, even though I have no large knowledge of Canada, that privacy, treatment of prison populations, police powers, there’s a progress backwards. It’s called regress.

So of course I don’t think that, if indeed the possibility of oppression is enshrined in the basic tenets of any given society, then you can expect the oppressors to convince them that in the goodness of their heart that they should dispense with all this. Of course they wouldn’t. What has been the only thing, and what will always be, is to mount pressure and to build up counter-powers.

And if you’re talking to anarchists, the question is how to build up counter-powers, when counter-powers by their very nature are also hierarchical? You use coercion, which may be much more dispersed and less toxic than other kinds of coercion. Nevertheless, if you have leadership, if you have organizational blueprints, then coercion of one kind or another will always materialize. These are almost eternal problems. Nevertheless, I think we should turn – as well as doing everything else – to considering again the old problem of how to pre-empt a future – peaceful, and equal, and non-oppressive and non-alienating society – within our own circles. How to live in exploitative, and oppressive, and repressive and in all senses fucked up society, sorry, in a way in which we can at least try to realize in our own lives the principles according to which we would like to live. This is extremely, extremely difficult, given that we have to earn our living, and fit in, and avoid jail, and all those kinds of things, while compromising, and ducking, and hiding ourselves, and lying about who we are. I know very well how tactical life rots your teeth. There’s no one solution to this. This means that you have to build up milieus in which there’s some kind of confidence in which you can get moral help on all these difficulties, and this has all the usual problems of sect building, and cult building. There are many pathologies that beset freedom loving people who want to get outside these really intolerable societies.

Speaking very much to that – the attempt within existing social orders to create alternatives – there’s definitely a strong impulse, particularly after the latest crisis of capitalism, or in the midst of the latest crisis of capitalism, a strong socialist impulse. And I’d like to speak about a piece that you wrote, “Communism on the Ruins of Socialism.” At a time when vast segments of the left are calling for a revived socialism, that article very much says that if anything, socialism has helped sustain capitalism. So can you speak to that, perhaps?

Right, so this was initially a speech that I gave last year [2010] in Berlin together with Alain Badiou, Slavoj Žižek and Antonio Negri. I’m proud of it, yes – great men. So the main thing about it is that socialism, which is my common name for the social democratic and the Bolshevik branches of the former international workers movement, that in their own separate ways, what they have realized, which in terms of civilization is enormous – state based egalitarianism – real egalitarianism. I mean transformation of life in which, to use the language of the epoch, the common man for the first time could enjoy a roof over his and his families head, indoor plumbing, hot water, some sanitation, guaranteed pensions, paid holidays, all that stuff, which of course is an enormous advance compared to what the situation had been in the 19th century, and of course for millennia.

So for the first time, working people had a modicum of counter-power in the workers movement, in whatever forms – democratic or dictatorial forms – and gave a kind of counter-hegemony in working class culture. And what I’m always saying to make it comprehensible, is that all subordinate classes in history before, what was their culture? It was folklore, complaint, rage – but mostly complaint. And then the working class was the first subordinate class in history that had its own science, its own theory, its own philosophy, its own political organization, its own separate corporate pride, and its own attempt to gain power, and build up its own state, and to kick its adversaries in the teeth. And this is a tremendous historical development, a huge achievement…which failed.

Because of course it could not, and did not, create a society in which the fundamental characteristics of exploitation and hierarchy disappeared. These were, even in the social democratic variant, pretty hierarchical and oppressive societies, in spite of the undeniable great merits of the 20th century – I mean real heroism, so this is a respectable thing that will be remembered as Ancient Greece is remembered. Nevertheless, it is the past, and in many ways a very unsavoury past. I have no illusions about its tragic greatness, if you wish. Now, the characteristics of socialism in this sense – I mean real socialism in a social democratic and Bolshevik way – of course these were productivists and tried to accumulate and produce a lot and construct newer enterprises and plants and factories based on a very limited and naive faith in technology and the natural sciences, and in growth, which of course they shared with capitalism.

These were societies in which it was not the suppression of wage labour that was aimed at but wage raises; not the abolition of commodity production was aimed at, but more commodities (i.e. more consumption); wealth, abundance if possible. So therefore I feel that, as people have felt before, that there’s no time to try the detour through étatiste, welfarist, egalitarian systems to get humankind out of their contemporary shit. I don’t think that we can, or we should, try the social democratic solution, which is of course superior to the present order, but reconstructing it will be very onerous, people don’t really like it, and it could not address the bio-political problem that I alluded to earlier [the bio-political problem of climate change, which Tamas argues, is immensely difficult to tackle in a liberal democratic manner].

Now stimulating production wouldn’t solve the problems of the majority. Work has to be changed, production has to be changed, consumption has to be changed, social hierarchy has to be changed, the whole rationality of public administration and law has to be change – in short, the system must be changed, because it cannot survive in this way.

I very much would like humankind to survive. And I very much would like this to happen without supreme sacrifice – in destroying our livelihood, our culture, our nature, our towns and so on. A lot of valuable and fun things are going on, and it would be a pity if we had to hunker down in some igloos to survive the global storm provoked by capitalism. So it’s an urgent task, and I know it sounds absurd, but given what we see around us, it’s extremely urgent to turn toward the original ideas of communism, which of course, I must emphasize, has nothing to do with 20th century dictatorships.

The idea of a society in which the artificial separations between producers and the means of production, between classes, between races, between persons in authority and persons who obey et cetera, should be dispensed with, and in which indeed human activity based on personal aspirations and non-hierarchical relations should decide about directions to be taken, and which sacrifices in the favour of an imagined supreme common good are not any longer expected.

I’ll give you a shamefully simple example. What are we spending on the military, which is of course especially in North America is something really obscene, and which contributes to death by being shot, and death by the terrible environmental damage that military activities [inflict]. I just read a very good article in Canadian Dimension about the environmental damage that the military is inflicting on all our societies. And we are supposed to pay for this in taxes, and to suffer the terrible consequences in the name of a supposed superior common good un-debated by the citizens. These things have to stop. People should really take over, and triumph over the automatisms, and the mechanisms and the impersonal building blocks of capital in which what looks as spontaneity is just anonymity and impersonality of capitalist power. And it is urgent I say because we are of course in great trouble.

This has happened before, and in that respect we are very much like people in the 1920s – there’s a great bitterness, and unhappiness, and callousness everywhere – and this is nothing that cannot be stopped. We are no worse than we’ve been before, nor better, but there’s no really intrinsic reasons why things should be like this. And I think the radical solutions will do, because the moderate solutions have been tried, are being tried, without any result.

I mean quite seriously who would really believe that, for example in your country, Mr. Harper’s Conservative government gets voted down in one moment and then comes who? You know, Mr. Topp [NDP leadership candidate] or somebody, more humane – a slower version. And everybody knows, of course even small advances aren’t to be spurned, but they won’t really help. But what is the obstacle between us and this noble goal is a great deficiency of which I share, unfortunately. We don’t have the innovative and imaginative way of people in the 19th century to invent new political forms. I think we all should furiously think about what kind of guaranteed free forms of political struggle to invent, because we seem to be clueless, myself included.

Matthew Brett is a political science graduate student at Concordia University and is on the organizing committee for the Montreal-based Forum to Resist the Conservatives. This interview was conducted for CKUT 90.3 FM, Montreal.

BRICS warns against Syria intervention

BRICS warns against Syria intervention

Russia and China along with their three partners in the BRICS group of emerging economies have warned against foreign intervention in Syria without UN approval.

In a statement issued after consultations on Thursday in Moscow, the five nations called for immediate talks between the government and opposition in Syria, Reuters reported.

The Russian representative at the meeting said Moscow rejects pressure from the Syrian opposition groups and accuses Western nations of trying to set the stage for armed intervention.

“Any external intervention that does not correspond with the United Nations Charter must be ruled out,” the Russian Foreign Ministry statement said.

The Russian statement added that, “The only acceptable scenario for resolving the internal crisis in Syria is the immediate start of peaceful talks with the participation of all sides,”

The BRICS final communiqué said nations “placed a special accent on the role of (the UN Security Council), which holds primary responsibility for the support of international peace and security.”

Referring to the recent events in the Middle East and North Africa, BRICS nations noted “the need for the complete adherence to human rights by all sides, in particular the authorities, in regard to protecting unarmed civilians.”

The consultations of the BRICS countries brought together deputy foreign ministers of Russia and China as well as Brazil, India and South Africa.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March, with demonstrations held both in favor and against President Bashar al-Assad.

France became the first country to call for international intervention in Syria this week citing humanitarian grounds.

Syria insists that the unrest in the country has been largely promoted by foreign-linked armed elements that have been trying to incite violence by targeting security forces as well as ordinary protesters and blaming the government for their armed efforts.

Countless Syrian civilians and military personnel have lost their lives in the unrest.

TNP/JR/HGH

Pakistanis protest at U.S. consulate after NATO attack

Pakistanis protest at U.S. consulate after NATO attack

Protestors, who are demonstrating against a NATO cross-border attack, burn an effigy representing the U.S. in Karachi November 27, 2011.   REUTERS-Athar Hussain
An army soldier stands guard near caskets of soldiers killed in a cross-border attack along Pakistan and Afghan during their funeral prayers in Peshawar November 27, 2011. Pakistan on Sunday buried 24 troops killed in a NATO cross-border air raid that has pushed a crisis in relations with the United States towards rupture.  REUTERS-Stringer
Cargo trucks, including those carrying supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan, are seen halted along the Pakistan-Torkham border, after it was shut down to traffic November 26, 2011.   REUTERS-Shahid Shinwari

By Imtiaz Shah

KARACHI, Pakistan

(Reuters) – Thousands gathered outside the American consulate in the city of Karachi on Sunday to protest against a NATO cross-border air attack that killed 24 Pakistani troops and is threatening a strategic alliance between the countries.

A Reuters reporter at the scene said the angry crowd shouted “Down with America.” One young man climbed on the wall surrounding the heavily fortified compound and attached a Pakistani flag to barbed wire.

The NATO attack was the latest perceived provocation by the United States, which infuriated Pakistan’s powerful military with a unilateral U.S. special forces raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May.

NATO helicopters and fighter jets based in Afghanistan attacked two Pakistan military outposts on Saturday, killing the soldiers in what Pakistan said was an unprovoked assault.

“America is attacking our borders. The government should immediately break ties with it,” said Naseema Baluch, a housewife attending the Karachi demonstration.

“America wants to occupy our country but we will not let it do that.”

U.S. and NATO officials are trying to defuse tensions but the soldiers’ deaths are testing a bad marriage of convenience between Washington and Islamabad.

“This was a tragic unintended incident,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement, adding that he fully supported a NATO investigation that was under way.

“We will determine what happened, and draw the right lessons.”

That is unlikely to cool tempers. Many Pakistanis believe their army is fighting a war against militants that only serves Western interests and hurts their country.

“U.S. stabs Pakistan in the back, again,” said a headline in the Daily Times, reflecting fury over the attack in Pakistan, a regional power seen as critical to U.S. efforts to stabilize neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistan on Sunday buried the troops killed in the attack.

Television stations showed the coffins draped in green and white Pakistani flags in a prayer ceremony at the headquarters of the regional command in Peshawar attended by army chief General Ashfaq Kayani.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by telephone early on Sunday to convey “the deep sense of rage felt across Pakistan.”

“This negates the progress made by the two countries on improving relations and forces Pakistan to revisit the terms of engagement,” a Foreign Ministry statement quoted Khar as telling her U.S. counterpart.

Khar also informed Clinton that Pakistan wants the United States to vacate a drone aircraft base in the country.

Pakistan shut down NATO supply routes into Afghanistan — used for sending in nearly half of the alliance’s land shipments — in retaliation for the worst such attack since Islamabad uneasily allied itself with Washington following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

About 500 members of Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan’s most influential religious party, staged a protest in Mohmand tribal area, where the NATO attack took place.

“Jihad is The Only Answer to America,” they yelled.

Pakistan is reviewing whether it will go ahead with plans to attend a major international conference in Bonn next month on the future of Afghanistan in light of the NATO attack.

Around 40 troops were stationed at the outposts at the time of the attack, military sources said.

“They without any reasons attacked on our post and killed soldiers asleep,” said a senior Pakistani officer.

BLUNT STATEMENTS

Pakistan responded with unusually strong condemnations and said it reserved the right to retaliate.

Pakistan is a vital land route for nearly half of NATO supplies shipped overland to its troops in Afghanistan. Land shipments account for about two thirds of the alliance’s cargo into Afghanistan.

A similar incident on Sept 30, 2010, which killed two Pakistani service personnel, led to the closure of one of NATO’s supply routes through Pakistan for 10 days.

U.S. ties with Pakistan have suffered several big setbacks starting with the unilateral U.S. special forces raid in May that killed bin Laden in a Pakistani town where he had apparently been living for years.

Pakistan condemned the secret operation as a flagrant violation of its sovereignty, while suspicions arose in Washington that members of Pakistan’s military intelligence had harboured the al Qaeda leader.

The military came under unprecedented criticism from both Pakistanis who said it failed to protect the country and American officials who said bin Laden’s presence was proof the country was an unreliable ally in the war on militancy.

Pakistan’s army, one of the world’s largest, may see the NATO incursion from Afghanistan as a chance to reassert itself, especially since the deaths of the soldiers are likely to unite generals and politicians, whose ties are normally uneasy.

Pakistan’s jailing of a CIA contractor, Raymond Davis, and U.S. accusations that Pakistan backed a militant attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul have added to the tensions.

“From Raymond Davis and his gun slinging in the streets of Lahore to the Osama bin Laden incident, and now to the firing on Pakistani soldiers on the volatile Pakistan-Afghan border, things hardly seem able to get any worse,” said the Daily Times.

Islamabad depends on billions in U.S. aid and Washington believes Pakistan can help it bring about peace in Afghanistan ahead of a combat troop withdrawal at the end of 2014.

But it is constantly battling Anti-American sentiment over everything from U.S. drone aircraft strikes to Washington’s calls for economic reforms.

“We should end our friendship with America. It’s better to have animosity with America than friendship. It’s nobody’s friend,” said laborer Sameer Baluch.

In Karachi, dozens of truck drivers who should have been transporting supplies to Afghanistan were idle.

Taj Malli braves the threat of Taliban attacks to deliver supplies to Afghanistan so that he can support his children. But he thinks it is time to block the route permanently in protest.

“Pakistan is more important than money. The government must stop all supplies to NATO so that they realize the importance of Pakistan,” he said.

But some Pakistanis doubt their leaders have the resolve to challenge the United States.

“This government is cowardly. It will do nothing,” said Peshawar shopkeeper Sabir Khan. “Similar attacks happened in the past, but what have they done?”

(Additional reporting by Zeeshan Haider in Islamabad, Izaz Mohmand and Aftab Ahmed in Peshawar and David Brunnstrom in Brussels; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Nick Macfie)

India and China–So Many People In Need of Transportation

India and China responsible for increase in global fuel prices and pollution levels?

Rising number of car sales in Asian countries, especially China and India, has become a cause of worry for world leaders. But is it fair to blame people in India and China for buying new cars, considering the fact that the total number of vehicles in these countries is nowhere close to the total number of vehicles in US alone?

Back in July this year, President Obama stated that the continuous rise in fuel prices was because of the phenomenal rise in demand for vehicles in developing countries like India and China. Very easily developing countries are being blamed, but the fact is that for every 1000 Americans, there are 809 vehicles in the US and the same figure for India and China stands at 14 and 46 respectively.

There are approximately 1 billion vehicles (including trucks, buses, cars, coaches, etc) plying on planet Earth today, of which 248 million run on the US soil. This means that every fourth car in the world today is has an American registration. America also has the largest road network with 6.5 million kms followed by China and India at 3.8 million kms and 3.3 million kms respectively.

Blaming each other is not a solution to this problem, and it is not that every country in the world is out there competing to claim the top spot for having highest number of vehicles. In fact countries and their citizens are now trying hard to decrease the number of vehicles on roads. If every country in the world had the same human to vehicle ratio, then there would be more than 4.5 billion vehicles on Earth today.

Pakistan retaliation puts NATO in lurch

Pakistan retaliation puts NATO in lurch

CBS News
Afghanistan-bound trucks carrying supplies for NATO forces are parked as authorities closed the border at Torkham, in Pakistan, Sunday, Nov 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Qazi Rauf)

(AP)  PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Hundreds of trucks carrying supplies to U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan backed up at Pakistani border crossings Sunday, leaving them vulnerable to militant attack a day after Islamabad closed the frontier in retaliation for coalition airstrikes that allegedly killed 24 Pakistani troops.

As Pakistan army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani attended the funerals of the victims, including a major, the U.S. sought to minimize the fallout from the crisis, which plunged Washington’s already-troubled relationship with Islamabad to an all-time low.

Pakistan also ordered the U.S. to vacate an air base that is used by American drones to target al Qaeda and Taliban militants in the country’s tribal region along the Afghan border. The U.S. has relied heavily on drone strikes in the past few years, partly out of frustration with Pakistan’s refusal to target militants using its territory to stage attacks against American and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

There are forces working against a total rupture in the relationship. Pakistan still relies on billions of dollars in American military and civilian aid, and the U.S. needs Islamabad’s help to push Afghan insurgents to engage in peace talks.

But tensions could rise further if militants unleash attacks against the stranded trucks ferrying NATO supplies to Afghanistan.

Suspected militants destroyed around 150 trucks and injured drivers and police a year ago after Pakistan closed one of its Afghan border crossings to NATO supplies for about 10 days in retaliation for a U.S. helicopter attack that accidentally killed two Pakistani soldiers.

People offer funeral prayers for victims of Saturday’s NATO attack, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Sunday, Nov 27, 2011. 

(Credit: AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

The situation could be more dire this time because Pakistan, outraged at the alleged NATO attack before dawn Saturday, has closed both its crossings. Nearly 300 trucks carrying coalition supplies are now backed up at Torkham in the northwest Khyber tribal area and Chaman in southwestern Baluchistan province. Last year, Pakistan only closed Torkham.

“We are worried,” said driver Saeed Khan, speaking by telephone from the border terminal in Torkham. “This area is always vulnerable to attacks. Sometimes rockets are lobbed at us. Sometimes we are targeted by bombs.”

Khan and hundreds of other drivers and their assistants barely slept Saturday night because they were worried about potential attacks, he said.

Some drivers said Pakistan had sent paramilitary troops to protect their convoys since the closures, but others were left without any additional protection. Even those who did receive troops did not feel safe.

“If there is an attack, what can five or six troops do? Nothing,” said Niamatullah Khan, a fuel truck driver who was parked with 35 other vehicles at a restaurant about 125 miles (200 kilometers) from Chaman.

NATO ships nearly 50 percent of its non-lethal supplies to its troops in Afghanistan through Pakistan. The trucks are periodically targeted by suspected militants as they travel through the country, and their drivers are sometimes killed. NATO has said these attacks do not significantly impact its ability to keep its troops supplied.

An official closely involved with the Afghan war said there will likely be no immediate negative effect from Pakistan’s decision to close its border crossings. NATO has built up a large stockpile of military and other supplies that could enable operations to continue at their current level for several months, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

NATO has reduced the amount of non-lethal supplies it ships through Pakistan from a high of around 80 percent by using routes through Central Asia. The northern logistics link could be expanded to make up for the Pakistani closure, but it would leave NATO heavily dependent on Russia at a time when ties with Moscow are increasingly strained.

Some critical supplies, including ammunition, are airlifted directly to Afghan air bases.

Pakistan eventually relented and reopened Torkham last year after the U.S. apologized. But the number of alleged casualties is much higher this time. The relationship between the two countries has also severely deteriorated over the past year, especially following the covert U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani garrison town in May. Islamabad was outraged because it wasn’t told about the operation beforehand.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday that the alleged NATO attack negated all progress in improving the tattered alliance between the two countries.

She told Clinton in a phone call that the alleged NATO attack was unacceptable, showed complete disregard for human life and sparked rage within Pakistan, according to a press release issued by the Pakistani prime minister’s office.

In addition to closing its border crossings, Pakistan gave the U.S. 15 days to vacate Shamsi Air Base in Baluchistan. The U.S. uses the base to service drones when they cannot return to their bases inside Afghanistan because of weather conditions or mechanical difficulty, U.S. and Pakistani officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

The Pakistani army said Saturday that NATO helicopters and fighter jets carried out an “unprovoked” attack on two of its border posts in the Mohmand tribal area before dawn, killing 24 soldiers and wounding 13 others.

Pakistan held funerals for the soldiers Sunday at the army’s headquarters in Peshawar, the most important city in the country’s northwest. Mourners said prayers in front of caskets wrapped in green and white Pakistani flags.

A spokesman for NATO forces, Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobson, said Saturday that Afghan and coalition troops were operating in the border area of eastern Afghanistan when “a tactical situation” prompted them to call in close air support.

Afghan officials said Sunday that the call was made after Afghan soldiers came under fire. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the incident.

Jacobson told BBC television that it was “highly likely” that the airstrikes caused Pakistani casualties, but an investigation is being conducted to determine the details.

U.S. officials have expressed their sympathies over the incident and have promised to work closely with Pakistan as NATO carries out its investigation.

NATO’s top official, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, offered his “deepest condolences” and said the coalition was committed to working with Pakistan to “avoid such tragedies in the future.”

“We have a joint interest in the fight against cross-border terrorism and in ensuring that Afghanistan does not once again become a safe haven for terrorists,” Rasmussen said in Brussels.

Pakistan may boycott Afghan summit

Pakistan may boycott Afghan summit

Funerals held for soldiers killed in Nato attack at border post as Pakistan considers staying away from Bonn conference

Pakistan funeral

Prayers are said for the Pakistani troops killed in the border post attack. Photograph: Mohammad Sajjad/AP

Pakistan is considering boycotting an international conference on the future of Afghanistan in retaliation for the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers who came under attack from Nato helicopters at a border checkpost.

The Pakistani military alleged that the attack 1.5 miles inside Pakistani territory in the early hours of Saturday was deliberate, as it was a well-known position manned by regular troops. US officials have suggested the Nato force was acting in self-defence.

Funerals were held for the dead soldiers in Peshawar on Sunday. Prayers conducted in front of 24 coffins, each wrapped in a Pakistani flag, were televised live. The army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, attended the service at a military base, as did leading officials from the north-west provincial administration.

Television channels repeatedly replayed images of the funeral, set to patriotic music usually reserved for wartime. Kayani, considered the most powerful man in the country, visited a hospital in Peshawar to meet soldiers injured in the incident.

The conference in Bonn, scheduled for 5 December, will mark a decade since the German city hosted the first international meeting to chalk out Afghanistan’s future. It had once been hoped that the meeting might kick off the peace process in Afghanistan, but expectations had already been lowered even before this weekend.

If a key regional player such as Pakistan stays away, the event will appear even more hollow. Pakistan’s co-operation is considered vital for stabilising Afghanistan and bringing the Taliban into negotiations.

Tehmina Janjua, of Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs, said the Bonn issue was “being examined and no decision has yet been taken in this regard”.

Pakistan announced late on Saturday that it had blocked supplies to Nato forces passing through the country. Half of Nato supplies pass by land through Pakistan. Islamabad also said it would expel the US from use of the Shamsi airbase, in the west of the country. Shamsi had been used in the past to fly drone aircraft, which target suspected militants in Pakistan’s tribal area; it is unclear whether the base was still used for armed drones.

Nato pledged a full investigation into the attack. “I have written to the prime minister of Pakistan to make it clear that the deaths of Pakistani personnel are as unacceptable and deplorable as the deaths of Afghan and international personnel,” said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Nato’s secretary general. “This was a tragic unintended incident.”

Events leading up to the incident remain unclear. In the past, much confusion has been caused by Taliban insurgents firing into Afghanistan from positions close to Pakistani checkposts, making it appear to Nato and Afghan troops that they are coming under attack from the Pakistani posts. Pakistani soldiers have previously shot into the air to warn Nato helicopters that they have crossed the border, but that has been mistaken by the aircraft crew for incoming fire.

Green Gills In A Reddened Sea

[India is not the superpower that Indian and American leaders would like to pretend her to be (SEE: Investing Your Future In A Poison Peace Process    ).  Every dollar wasted on setting itself up as America's policeman is a dollar that could be invested in the people of India.  No other nation, except perhaps the US, shows such a glaring disparity between the super-capitalists at the top and the untapped sea of potential workers and consumers at the very bottom.  How can its leaders justify buying and building, eventually, aircraft carriers, to enforce US sea lane controls?]

Green Gills In A Reddened Sea

Does India have a role in Southeast Asia or will it be all at sea?

It seems a veritable habit of outsiders to affix the tag of ‘Great Power’ to India in an effort to advance their own agendas. In the 1950s, during the Cold War years, Moscow described India thus in the hope that it would relinquish its avowed non-aligned stance. It is now the turn of the United States and its allies in East and Southeast Asia to dub India as a great power. The reason: they believe adding to the hype surrounding India could inspire it to undertake a bigger role in stabilising the Asia-Pacific region, which seems perturbed at China’s growing assertion.

Realpolitik underlies the coining of the fancy labels that Indians seem to love. Since China’s rise is seen to mark the relative decline of America—manifest in its economic woes—Washington wants to create space for India to play a role beyond the confines of the Indian Ocean. Evolving international politics introduces new nomenclatures—Asia-Pacific is consequently now the Indo-Pacific, a term underlining the centrality of India in the new balance of power game. “The Indo-Pacific is the western Pacific plus India and mainland Southeast Asia,” Robert Kaplan, an American author-commentator of the Centre for New American Security, told Outlook. “It’s a term that allows American experts and policymakers to include India into western Pacific diplomatic, economic and military power calculations.”

“China’s proclivity to seek to change the status quo (in the South China Sea) unilaterally is indeed worrisome for India.”Pradeep Kaushiva, Vice-Admiral (Retired)

As other countries fete India, the establishment in Delhi has been mulling and debating two vital issues. One, what role does America and its allies want India to play? Two, does India have the requisite naval strength to meet these expectations? Says an Indian diplomat in South Block, “Whether we like it or not, for most countries in the region, China is the elephant in the room.” This was indeed the sentiment at the recent East Asia Summit (EAS) in Bali, where the US, Russia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and the 10 ASEAN member-countries met. The participants discussed the need to turn the EAS, which focuses on trade and economic issues, into a forum for thrashing out political and security issues and evolving a collective mechanism to resolve disputes arising among the countries in the region. This does not mean a NATO-like security alliance, but rather an “open, balanced and inclusive regional architecture, which will be in the region’s long-term interest”.In this scheme, Kaplan says “India will have a central role in protecting sea-lines of communications between the energy-rich Middle East and the hundreds of millions of middle-class customers in East Asia”. He makes no bones about the fact that much of India’s role has been scripted vis-a-vis China. “It has much to do with China’s rise. India in the future should have the capability to play a significant role as a counter-weight to China,” he explains.

For months now, this has been the hot topic of discussion in the US establishment, which has been subtly changing its hierarchy of priorities. In a speech to NATO a few months ago, former US defence secretary Robert Gates spoke of America increasingly turning its focus onto Asia—the growth engine of the world economy. US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has been describing the region as the ‘Indo-Pacific’ to ensure the Indians get the message about Washington’s expectations. Ditto President Barack Obama, who harped on this theme on his recent visit to Australia and again in Bali. These comments the Indian establishment has greatly appreciated.

“India should, in the future, have the capability to play a significant role as a counterweight to China in the region.”Robert Kaplan, Centre For New American Security

But, really, does India know what is desired of it? “Indo-Pacific,” says former Indian foreign secretary Shyam Saran, “springs from the perception that the Indian and Pacific Oceans are a seamless continuum and a single strategic space. For example, a very large amount of oil moves from the Gulf to East Asia and the Pacific Rim now more than the traffic westwards. The sea-lanes traversing the Indian Ocean into the Pacific have, therefore, become a single maritime space. Hillary has used the term to reflect this new reality.”As is always the case with diplomacy, there are potential pluses and looming minuses. Many in the Indian establishment, no doubt, are enthused at the new opportunities for safeguarding, and promoting, the country’s vital national interests in the region. An equal number is circumspect about New Delhi’s over-dependence on the US, as also about over-stretching India’s naval capabilities. Nevertheless, India’s location in the Indian Ocean has provided it with a “maritime destiny”. Take a look at some figures—more than 90 per cent of India’s trade by volume and 77 per cent by value is seaborne. To quench its thirst for energy required for development, India has to ensure that the straits of Malacca, Hormuz, Bab-el-Mandeb and the South China Sea are not imperilled in any way. The cluster of countries around these sea lanes are India’s major source of investment and trade, and home to millions of Indians.

These maritime aspects explain why India would not want a single power dominating any of the sea lanes. Vice admiral (retired) Pradeep Kaushiva of the National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi, says India fully understands China’s attempt to bolster its navy to ensure the safety and security of the sea lanes for its own growth. Yet, simultaneously, India cannot just accept China invoking history to lay exclusive claims on waters shared by others, says Kaushiva, adding, “China’s proclivity to seek to change the status quo unilaterally is indeed worrisome.” He is referring to Chinese claims to the South China Sea, which seeks to nullify the rights of Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Yet there exists doubt about the Indian navy’s ability to ensure China does not become the single dominant naval power in the region. Says Saran, “India’s naval capabilities are significant, but its power projection capabilities are still limited.” He points out that India has a strong naval presence, both in the western and eastern reaches of the Indian Ocean, which enabled it to provide relief fairly quickly to countries like Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Thailand and Indonesia during the 2004-05 tsunami. Saran, however, adds, “Beyond this, we currently do not have the capability, but we are building up our naval assets.” He points out that the Indian navy is soon to be in possession of at least two aircraft carriers and an augmented submarine fleet.

“India’s naval capabilities are significant, but its power projection capabilities are limited. We are building them up.”Shyam Saran, Former Foreign Secretary

Others contend that India should emulate the model adopted by the US in the 19th century—it consolidated its strength even while “free-riding” the era’s pre-eminent naval power, Britain. “Transposed to today, this would mean that New Delhi will be largely amenable to cooperation with the US (although opposed to any formal alliance) while it works on economic development and constructs a military adequate to fulfil its political aims,” James Holmes of the US Naval War College told Outlook. He added, “To me, an India that can police its own home region is a good thing, not only for itself, but for the region. Not least, this would relieve the US military some of the security burden at a time when we could use some relief.”India has a “blue water” navy, which means that it has the capacity to operate at least 200 miles away from its shores on the high seas. It also boasts the fourth largest navy in the world. Says Holmes, “The Indian navy is a more than respectable fleet. The measure of a navy is whether it can concentrate combat power at a decisive point, not whether it matches up with potential adversaries in the pages of Jane’s Fighting Ships.” Agrees Commodore (retd) C. Uday Bhaskar, “Currently, India is still a medium naval power, (but one) which is also handicapped since much of the critical hardware is still imported.”

“Currently, India is still a medium naval power that’s also handicapped since much of the critical hardware is still imported.”C. Uday Bhaskar, Commodore (Retired)

India’s naval weaknesses prompt sceptics to warn that India should not rush in to act as a counter-weight to China. Their caution stems from the belief that the US is not a reliable partner. As proof, they offer that India did not even receive mention in Obama’s first speech on Asian security delivered in 2009; while in the next 24 months, Washington has U-turned and begun to talk of the region as the Indo-Pacific. So, what changed in two years could well come in for a further review in, say, 2013.Even the Indian naval establishment does not see “balancing China” as a top priority. With progressive improvement in India’s nautical capacity, Bhaskar feels the much-needed “equipoise” in the Indo-Chinese relations would naturally follow. In other words, he means India should consciously improve its navy—but not in order to match China’s. As he explains, “I believe India should not seek to either balance or equal China in military terms. Equipoise that will ensure that India is neither deferential nor belligerent is the preferred posture and this has to be complemented by political perspicacity and will.”

This, perhaps, is the course India should set out for itself in the coming years, at least till such time it manages to grow into a real “oceanic power”. For a reality check to all the hype, know this to be fact: emerging as an oceanic power has not yet become part of the Indian navy’s perspective planning.

Juan Manuel Santos: ‘It is time to think again about the war on drugs’

Juan Manuel Santos: ‘It is time to think again about the war on drugs’

Colombia’s president speaks frankly of the price his country has paid and his success in dismantling the cartels

Juan Manuel Santos

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos. Photograph: Felipe Caicedo/AP

The security detail at the presidential offices in Bogotá was understandably heavy. Armed police and the military were much in evidence as President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia hosted the leaders of Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru for a regional economic summit. The security forces outside the Palacio de Nariño in the city centre had extra reason to be on high alert – the summit last Tuesday came only days after Colombian special forces shot and killed Alfonso Cano, leader of the Farc (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrilla group.

It was a major success for Santos, an increasingly influential figure in Latin American politics. The former Brazilian president, Lula da Silva, said recently that Santos, who comes to Britain in two weeks, was assuming the mantle of a continental leader.

Da Silva’s compliment is true in at least one respect, since Santos has emerged as the leading voice on the international political stage calling for a major rethink on the war on drugs. Santos’s call for a new debate about drug regulation is heavily symbolic, since Colombia has suffered more than any other country at the hands of narcotics traffickers.

Santos has drawn attention to the damage suffered by the producing nations in Latin America as they continue to serve the growing demand for drugs in the consuming nations of the west. His voice is becoming the key one in trying to set the terms for a new international discussion about the war.

Santos, an urbane, affable 60-year-old, who was elected last year, is well placed to lead the global debate. He is a keen internationalist and was educated at Harvard and the London School of Economics. One colleague described London as his “dream city”. His visit to Britain will be part of his attempt to rebrand his country – from the failed state of 10 years ago to an emerging economic powerhouse in Latin America. The killing of Cano is the latest stage in that journey.

Santos’s response in the days since Cano’s death – widely described in the local media as the most significant blow to the Farc – has avoided triumphalism. And with good reason. In the month leading up to Cano’s assassination, more than 20 soldiers were killed by the Farc. With those deaths came the first signs of public disquiet that the security gains made in the previous 10 years were starting to slip away. As the leading political magazine, Semana, said: “The killing of Cano couldn’t have come at a better time for the government.”

The Farc emerged in the mid-60s as a Marxist-Leninist group determined to overthrow a state which it saw as riven by inequalities, one where power and high office, both economically and politically, was dominated by an elite group of families. Farc’s leftwing ideology was driven by a clutch of university-educated young men and women and was part of a wider movement in Latin America where revolutionary groups were taking up arms in search of social justice and in response to the grinding poverty and gross inequalities across the continent.

At the height of its power in the 1990s the Farc controlled a third of Colombian territory. Now that it is much reduced and scattered to the remotest parts of the country in the wake of the decade-long military offensive, many Colombians believe the Farc’s ideological fervour has mostly disappeared. But in its place has come an increasing appetite for drug trafficking.

Colombia is now emerging from its darkest days of guerrilla and narcotics warfare. It is attracting ever more foreign investment to its born-again cities of Bogotá and Medellín. Where strife and terrorism were once routine, there are now real signs of a civic and economic revival – cities being regenerated, booming tourism and impressive growth rates. It is this economic story which Santos will relay on his visit to Britain.

But Colombia’s recent history still bears the deep scars of its battle with drugs. As Santos says: “We dismantled the drug cartels. Those big cartels that had our democracy on its knees – they no longer exist. The only big cartel still is the Farc but we have weakened them more and more.”

It is in this context – as the president of a country that was very nearly broken by a combination of drug cartels and guerrilla narcotics traffickers – that Santos’s recent pronouncements on the war on drugs are all the more remarkable. Last month he said: “The world needs to discuss new approaches… we are basically still thinking within the same framework as we have done for the last 40 years.”

Santos has gone further than any other leading politician in opening up the debate. In an interview with the Observer he spelled out the radical ideas which he hopes will create a fresh approach. He said: “A new approach should try and take away the violent profit that comes with drug trafficking… If that means legalising, and the world thinks that’s the solution, I will welcome it. I’m not against it.”

But he is clear that any initiatives need to be part of a co-ordinated international plan of action and he rules out any unilateral action by Colombia. “What I won’t do is to become the vanguard of that movement because then I will be crucified. But I would gladly participate in those discussions because we are the country that’s still suffering most and have suffered most historically with the high consumption of the UK, the US, and Europe in general.”

Santos is prepared to go much further than others – he is opening up a debate about legalising marijuana and perhaps cocaine.

“I would talk about legalising marijuana and more than just marijuana. If the world thinks that this is the correct approach, because for example in our case we used to be exporters, but we were replaced by the producers of California. And there even was a referendum in California to legalise it and they lost it but they could have won. I ask myself how would you explain marijuana being legalised in California and cocaine consumption being penalised in Idaho? It’s a contradiction. So it’s a difficult problem where you set the limits. It’s a difficult decision. For example, I would never legalise very hard drugs like morphine or heroin because in fact they are suicidal drugs. I might consider legalising cocaine if there is a world consensus because this drug has affected us most here in Colombia. I don’t know what is more harmful, cocaine or marijuana. That’s a health discussion. But again, only if there is a consensus.”

Santos is not alone. There is a growing impatience in the producing countries of Latin America that suffer acutely as their drug cartels feed the demand in the consuming countries.

For Santos and his country, the issue of drugs looms much larger than for the consuming nations. For Colombia, drugs are “a matter of national security” whereas, for others, “it is mainly a health and crime issue”. He speaks eloquently of the price his country has paid – and continues to pay – for feeding the west’s appetite for illicit drugs. “We have gone through a tremendous experience – dramatic and costly for a society to live through. We have lost our best judges, our best politicians, our best journalists, our best policemen in this fight against drugs and the problem’s still there.”

It is difficult to overestimate the symbolic importance of a Colombian president entering the debate with such force, given the central role drugs have played in his country’s recent bloody history. Santos is all too aware of the symbolism and of the role he is playing. “Yes, I know, and I’m conscious of what this means. I’ve told President Calderón [of Mexico], ‘You and I have a lot more authority to talk about this because our countries have spilled a lot of blood fighting drug traffickers and we should promote this discussion.”

If the war on drugs has failed, it has failed most abjectly in Latin America. That is where the bodies are buried. Or not so much buried, since the Mexican drug gangs prefer to litter the bodies of their victims along the byways and highways of the border towns with America, or leave them hanging from bridges to serve as a public warning to anyone who gets in their way.

Last week drugs gangs beheaded a blogger in Nuevo Laredo for reporting on the activities of the Zetas, the narcotics gang that all but controls the Mexican city that sits on its border with America. A month earlier, they beheaded a 39-year-old woman who blogged for the same site. In September, they hanged a couple from a highway overpass and left a note saying they had been killed for “their social media activity”. These are four killings out of about 42,000 in the past five years. The price of drugs in Latin America can be costed in dollars, but in wasted lives too.

The fallout from the interminable war goes deeper – since the vast funds of narcotics trafficking have been used to corrupt their bodies politic. One former Colombian president, Ernesto Samper, has been publicly accused of having been swept to power on the back of the Cali drug cartels. Drugs have posed a threat to the very existence of civic institutions in many of the countries on the frontline of the war on drugs.

But Latin America is starting to take the fight to the consuming nations in Europe and the US. President Felipe Calderón of Mexico joined the debate in September when he used a speech in New York to hit out at consumer nations that were not doing enough to reduce demand. He took direct aim at the US, saying: “We are living in the same building. And our neighbour is the largest consumer of drugs in the world and everybody wants to sell him drugs through our doors and windows.”

Calderón went further and suggested that if the consumption of drugs could not be limited, “then decision-makers must seek more solutions – including market alternatives – in order to reduce the astronomical earnings of criminal organisations”. The phrase “market alternatives” was widely assumed to be a call for a new debate in the US about whether legalised or regulated drug markets might be an alternative to the war on drugs.

The more vociferous these Latin American voices become, the more difficult it will be for the leaders of the consuming nations to remain silent in the debate over the effectiveness of the war.

It was these western leaders that the Global Commission on Drug Policywas addressing when it released its landmark report earlier this year. The 19-person commission includes former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, former US secretary of state George Shultz, former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker and former presidents Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico, Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil and César Gaviria of Colombia.

The report’s first line was: “The war on drugs has failed.” After detailing the costs, ineffectiveness and harmful effects of the drugs war, it made this plea: “Political leaders and public figures should have the courage to articulate publicly what many of them acknowledge privately… that the war on drugs has not, and cannot, be won.”

This week a House of Lords event on drugs policy reform, organised by Baroness Meacher, will include an impressive list of attendees from around the world. It is an attempt to engage the debate, but no frontline British politicians will be there to hear people such as the Colombian interior minister speak. Privately, many senior British politicians support the initiative to try to help generate a new debate on drugs – but publicly they are invisible.

So it is left to Santos and others to stir the debate and try to promote a wider discussion. “I hope there is a shift in the debate. I am open to, and I welcome these discussions and this debate,” he says. “We are the country who has suffered most of any country. Hopefully the world will enter into a fruitful and dynamic debate on this issue and if they find a new solution I’ll be even more than happy to support it.”

But political leaders in the consuming countries have not yet shown any appetite for joining the debate. In fact, quite the opposite. “This is a very sensitive political subject and there’s a lot of hypocrisy there,” says Santos. “Many leaders, in private, they will say something and they tell me something and in public they say, ‘But I can’t do this probably because my people will really crucify me’.”

One of the most glaring contradictions is in the United States. While on the one hand a growing number of states in the US have semi-legalised marijuana (it is freely available from cannabis dispensaries with an easy-to-obtain doctor’s prescription) on the other hand the country pours billions of dollars into helping the Mexican military fight the drug cartels which are busy trying to get marijuana into the US.

Barack Obama declared the war on drugs to be “an utter failure”. He went on to say: “We need to rethink how we are operating in the drug wars because currently we are not doing a good job.” But that was in January 2004.

There are, of course, isolated victories in the war and the manner in which Colombia disrupted much of the drug trade is a case in point. This was principally because of Plan Colombia, which involved a massive programme of financial and military aid. While Plan Colombia is credited with having saved the Colombian state, the “victory”, as even Santos admits, is a Pyrrhic one.

“We are now helping other countries, the Caribbean countries, Central American countries, Mexico, because our success means more problems for them,” he says. “There’s the balloon effect.” Meaning, that the problem is simply displaced, to another country – or even another continent, as in the case of Guinea Bissau in west Africa.

The other indices of the war on drugs do not make for encouraging reading. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that nearly 23 million Americans are illicit drug users. That is 8.9% of its adult population, up from 2008-09 when the rate was 8%. The number of marijuana users has gone up from 14.4 million in 2007 to 17.4 million in 2010.

As for the amount of land given over to the planting of coca – the raw material of cocaine – estimates vary. The UN suggests that coca production has fallen in Colombia – but neighbouring countries have seen a rise. The balloon effect plays out here too – if planting and transporting are disrupted in one part of Latin America the problem goes away – to a neighbouring country.

Santos is sketching a new future for Colombia and trying to imagine one that will not involve his country being held back by either narcotics or guerrilla warfare. His military attacks on the Farc go hand in hand with a determined attempt to try to wipe out the country’s extreme poverty – the social and economic malaise which first brought the guerrilla group into life.

By Colombia’s own reckoning, there are up to seven million people living in extreme poverty (favela-like housing with no electricity or clean water). Santos says: “We want to be a country with a competitive edge in the world. And a country with a solid democracy. To do that we need to attack the social problems, and extreme poverty is probably the worst of those. People in the UK don’t imagine what it is to live in extreme poverty here in Colombia or anywhere in the so-called third world.”

“I think that we are trying to move towards the first world slowly but surely. But we must do a good job for the people left way behind. That’s why extreme poverty for us is a priority. There was a phrase that President Kennedy used to use a lot, ‘You cannot be rich if you’re surrounded by poor’. And Colombia is a very unequal country, one of the most unequal countries in the world. If we don’t correct that we will never be really competitive and we will never really have a solid democracy.”

His impressive poverty tsar, Samuel Azout, a former businessman and philanthropist, is leading the drive to eradicate extreme poverty. In his office there is a framed portrait of Kennedy and a series of large framed signs. One reads: “A business that only makes money is a poor business.” Another says: “The causes of poverty are interconnected, so the solutions should be joined up too: health, education, housing, justice.”

“Less poverty aids economic growth,” says Azout. “Economic growth is necessary but not sufficient in lifting people out of poverty. You also need direct action. Extreme poverty is an obsession for me, and for President Santos too.” A hugely ambitious programme launched last week involves housing, child development centres, social workers and the establishment of “extreme poverty-free zones”.

Perhaps even more significant for his country is the law Santos passed in July, the victims and land restitution law – an attempt finally to restore millions of acres of land to Colombians driven from their homes by the decades of violence. Many Colombian observers feel that this will be Santos’s legacy. In the past 20 years, nearly 4 million people across an area of 6.5m hectares (16m acres) have been displaced by armed conflict.

Santos says: “In 10 years’ time I hope that people will say finally we are a country that is living in peace and that we have a very strong democracy, a dynamic democracy that has been able to progress socially and that we no longer have this shameful title of being one of the most unequal countries in Latin America.”

When Santos arrives in London, it will be to sell the new Colombia and help to drive British investment, which he sees as potentially a key player in his country’s development. He is not likely to spend much time talking about drugs, but he has this message for young Britons: “I will say to them that, besides the blood that every sniff of cocaine produces, it’s also producing something to which the UK youth and the European youth and the youth around the world are more and more sensitive. It’s creating havoc to the environment. Cocaine is probably the worst enemy of tropical forest. Much of the deforestation that you see in Colombia, in Peru, in Brazil is because of cocaine production. So it is not only the blood that it creates, the violence it creates – it’s destroying the world.”

DRUGS BY NUMBERS

100% Three Andean countries – Colombia, Peru and Bolivia – are responsible for virtually all global coca leaf production, the raw material for cocaine.

149,100 In 2010, coca was cultivated on 149,100 hectares in the Andean countries – an area roughly one and a half times the size of Hong Kong – down from 221,300 hectares in 2000.

6% In 2010, the global area under coca cultivation decreased by 6%, mainly due to a significant reduction in Colombia that was not entirely offset by a small increase in Peru.

732,000 The amount of cocaine seized worldwide in 2009 was 732,000kg – which refers to seizures unadjusted for purity. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that between 46% and 60% of cocaine produced was seized – an indication of the amount manufactured the previous year.

444,000 The best reading of data and estimates suggests that about 440,000kg of pure cocaine was consumed worldwide in 2009. This would be in line with a production estimate of about 1.1m kg and purity adjusted seizures of 615,000kg, plus agricultural and other losses of about 55,000kg (which represents 5% of production).

$85bn The value of the global cocaine market is lower than in the mid-1990s, when prices were much higher and the US market was strong. In 1995, the global market was worth about $165bn, while, in 2009, this had been reduced to just over half of that.

99% Of that $85bn income from global cocaine retail sales in 2009, traffickers are estimated to have reaped about $84bn (almost 99%). The rest went to Andean farmers.

5m The US has the highest prevalence of cocaine use (2.4% of the population, or five million people, aged 15-64), but there are indications of cocaine use declining in the last few years.

$33bn The amount of cocaine consumed in Europe has doubled in the last decade. The volume and value of the western and central European cocaine market, currently valued at $33bn, is now approaching parity with that of the US ($37bn).

80% Two thirds of European cocaine users live in three countries: the UK, Spain and Italy. With Germany and France, these countries represent 80% of European cocaine consumption.

272m Globally, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that between 149 and 272 million people – 3.3%-6.1% of the population aged 15-64 – used illicit drugs at least once in the previous year.

Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Plan Colombia not over

Colombian right-wing paramilitary AUC.

United States Undersecretary of State James Steinberg, speaking in Bogota on October 26, claimed the future relationship between Washington and its most favoured client in Latin America, Colombia, would be based on “reciprocity and mutual respect”.

The stated purpose of Steinberg’s visit was to “re-launch the agenda” of US-Colombian relations” by initiating a “High-Level Partnership Dialogue”.

Steinberg’s remarks tied in with similar recent statements by other senior US diplomatic officials. The new rhetoric has been interpreted as nothing less than “the unofficial end of the ‘Plan Colombia’ era” by Just the Facts, a think tank specialising in US-Latin American relations.

It is true that the Obama administration has sought to distance itself from the multi-billion dollar “aid” package to the brutal Colombian regime initiated during the Clinton administration and expanded by Bush.

But it is clear that underlying foreign policy objectives have not changed.

Plan Colombia was sold to the taxpaying public as a necessary component of the “war on drugs”. In fact, it was a vehicle for furthering the traditional designs of US imperialism, of which there is a long and bitter history in Colombia.

Under Plan Colombia, which first received US congressional funding in 2000, billions of dollars have flowed to the Colombian military supposedly to combat the menace of drug trafficking.

This approach flew in the face of research that consistently showed the best and most cost-effective way to deal with the drug problem was by investing in measures to reduce domestic demand.

Planners were well aware that militarising the problem would not lead to a net reduction of cocaine production in the Andean region, but that scarcely mattered.

The drug war provided a justification for the projection of US power into regions controlled by the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerillas in southern Colombia. This projection used conventional military units and affiliated paramilitaries who engaged in narcotics trafficking on a far greater scale than any of Colombia’s rebel groups.

Having spent US$7.6 billion, Plan Colombia has yielded some noteworthy results. This includes the violent reduction of the FARC’s estimated strength from 20,000 to 8000 (a point dramatically underscored by the November 4 assassination by Colombian special forces of FARC leader Alfonso Cano).

In reality, however, the targets of Washington’s Plan Colombia offensive are not only armed FARC or National Liberation Army (ELN) guerillas but also any peasant and indigenous groups standing in the way of capitalist globalisation.

Human Rights Everywhere estimates that today, of the 32 indigenous Colombian peoples faced with the imminent threat of annihilation, 20 are directly threatened by the huge expansion of mining operations.

It would therefore be wrong to describe Plan Colombia as a complete failure. Of course, it has failed miserably to make an impact on drug flows into the US, but in other areas it has proven well worth the investment of public monies on behalf of private economic power.

The corporate legal news outlet Mondaq said on October 17: “The mining industry has progressively gained an important role in the Colombian economy …

“In the past decade, Colombian mining and petroleum industries have doubled their exports; in the first trimester alone of 2010 this sector grew 13.2 percent.”

Colombia possesses the largest coal reserves in the hemisphere. Growth in this sector is predicted to increase exponentially in the next few decades.

It is no accident that this capitalist success story the conquest of Colombia痴 natural resources has coincided with the violent implementation of Plan Colombia.

Military and paramilitary aggression, and chemical warfare via aerial spraying by US contractors, has led to tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more 2.5 million internal refugees the largest refugee crisis in the Americas.

Every refugee has a horrifying story to tell, such as the following testimony provided by a member of the Kwet Wala reservation to Colombian human rights monitoring agency Verdad Abierta: “A family that went out of the reservation disappeared in 2001: father, mother and a nine-year-old child. They were found a few days later in a shallow grave near the [right-wing paramilitary] AUC encampment.

“Their severed sexual organs had been stuffed in their mouth. The child had been scalped with a machete.”

NATO Reveals Airstrike In Support of Troops On the Ground In Pakistan

NATO reveals troops were on the ground in Pakistan

An ISAF spokesman made the startling revelation on Saturday that the Mohmand attack by NATO-ISAF helicopters was in response to a call by ISAF ground forces in the area who called for help when they were attacked.

It was an operation of the Afghan national security forces and coalition forces close to the border in eastern Kunar very early in the day in the darkness. In the situation that developed on the ground, close air support was called by the ground force and it is highly likely that this air support that was then brought forward caused the incident, spokesman Carlston Jacob told a private TV channel. Spokesman Jacob made the disclosure while refusing to give details of the incident.
If his statement is correct it means that US/NATO ground forces were already in the area and when they were trapped or confronted they called for air support which came and killed Pakistan Army troops and officers.
He repeatedly said that he was waiting for the result of investigations and once the full picture was available he would comment.
He also declined to give a time line for concluding the investigation and said it will take its time. We have to go through the process and have to talk with Pakistani side and find out what led to the incident, he said.
He said he regretted the loss of life but did not offer any apologies until the probe was completed. 

The Universal Declaration of Human rights and Its Violation in Balochistan

The Universal Declaration of Human rights and Its Violation in Balochistan

There are 30 articles of Universal Declaration of Human rights, which are violated in Balochistan by Pakistan state and its forces and guilty of all human rights violations but the silence of human rights organizations is a question mark?, A blind man who can’t see but he knows that atrocity is on its peak in Balochistan because he hears the cry of innocent Balochs everyday, as well as dumb who can not speak but he also know about atrocity on Balochs everyday, he can see mutilated dead bodies of Baloch missing persons, but the dumbness of UN and many human rights organizations and NGOs which they are serving in Balochistan can hear well and feel better every thing but are still silent WHY ??? The state has violating all the articles of Universal Declaration of Human rights in Balochistan, Here I have exposed some articles of Universal Declaration of Human rights which are violated in Balochistan by Pakistan on daily basis, every one can hear, see and feel easily.

1.* All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

2. * The behaviour of Pakistani rulers with Balochs are visible, the whole world is watching that Pakistani state enslaved Baloch nation and acting what kind of inhumane treatment with them.

3.* Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. * In 27 march 1948 Pakistan altered liberty of Baloch nation from British colonials into slavery. Since that day until now, not a single day passes a mutilated dead body of a Baloch son has found to their relatives. Everything is unsafe for Balochs.

4.* No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms. * On 27 March 1948 Pakistan state forcefully occupied sovereign state of Balochistan and oppressing the Baloch nation and Pakistan itself bargaining Balochistan’s coast and resources with other countries and firming its economy by genocide of Baloch Nation, which is not noticed by any Human rights bodies yet.

5.* No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. * As far as the tyrant inhuman treatment, degrading punishment and cruel torturing is concerned, the state and its secret agencies has tortured to death thousands and thousands of innocent Balochs in their torture cells and still doing it. The cruelty, degrading treatment and inhuman acts including such as giving high electric shots, wipe out the nails of hands and foot and its tops, cut the corpus and then pouring peppers on fresh wounds, taking off all the clothes and then hang up inverted, emitting and taking off the teeth, throw deadly acid and urinate on faces, tighten up and hang up inverted without clothes in extremely cold nights under the open sky, keeping in caves with warm fabrics in extremely hot season, cutting off the hands, arms and foot from entire body and then shot in head and then throw away the dead bodies like a plastic bags. Such inhuman torturing to death, cruelty and tyranny is on daily basis in Balochistan.

6.* Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law. Violation. * The state law has never considered Balochs as humans or at least the citizens. 8.* Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law. * The state’s court and justice system has never accepted the Freedom of Balochs, and never release those Baloch Freedom lovers who abducted by agencies, the International court of justice is also being silent spectator, they cant hear the voice and feel the pain of Balochs, when 400 people died in Libya the UN reached the sky for Libyan people, but here the thousands and thousands people are been killed since the day of illegal occupation of Balochistan, thousands and thousands are been killed in just last couple of years, the UN is being silent spectator here. 9.* No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile. * The Pakistan state since the day of occupation from 1948 till now has arrested thousands of innocent Balochs (including under aged), kidnapped and abducted, among many of them are tortured to death and killed brutally they never came back till today now, themothers and sisters of abducted missing Baloch people protest in front of press clubs on daily basis thinking that their loved ones will return one day home, but not knowing they will never come back and are tortured to death and killed brutally in torture cells of Pakistan, because of this fear thousands of Balochs are living their life in exile outside of their motherland.

10.* Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him. * The rulers and its state agencies arrest and abduct Balochs and put them in torture cells without any tribunal and court charges, later the agency’s death squads shot them to death without any court charges what so ever, no one take them to state court of justice, from last more then 60 years only a very few number has been expounded to courts but they spent their most of their lifetime and even entire lifetime as prisoners, the examples of victims are Wahid Qambar Baloch, Fazul Haider etc and many more.

12.* No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks. * Balochs have no value in Pakistan; the state doesn’t ever value Baloch people what so ever, for them we are just criminals. The Pakistani air force has destroyed the homes, personal properties, burned down the vehicles and agricultural properties of Baloch people in heavy military offences since the day of occupation till now still going on, their number is countless, even no any media coverage is allowed, Those Baloch journalists who expose the tyranny and these atrocities are been killed to death by forces without any court charges. Fact is that Pakistan and Pakistanis want ‘Balochistan’ not “Baloch people”, they want to make us slave and colonize us like this forever so they loot Balochs’ resources and give zero in return and we only accept their slavery. As fair as the Honor and reputation is concerned the Pakistan state and its rulers have done and still doing every cheap propaganda, to degrade the Baloch code of Honor and Baloch reputation with the help of their puppet paid sardars, for them we are only criminals, they are been taught in their books Baloch people as criminals and thieves, not only they destroyed and destroying Baloch Honour and reputation, occupied Balochs’ sovereign country and looting Baloch resources but also destroyed and destroying Baloch ancient History, culture and language, everything! by which Nation is known as, they want to wipe Baloch (people) Nation from the face of earth forever (like native Red Indians of America), in order to steal and loot Baloch national treasure, resources from Baloch homeland.

14.* (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. * (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. * Many Baloch leaders are living in exile in abroad leaving their homeland, leaving personal properties, leaving their parents because of state’s continuously tyranny, cruelty and atrocities, even in abroad the state tyrants don’t allow them freely to live peacefully and talk about Baloch and Balochistan’s Freedom, the big examples are arresting of Haribiyar Marri and Faiz Baloch in UK only cause of the millions lies and creating propaganda of Pakistani officials, now they seeking and making propaganda against Brahamdagh Bugti in Switzerland as well by blaming him as terrorist and denying the actual fact that the actual terrorists are state officials, its forces and intelligence agencies death squads, infact, who abduct, kill and then dump dead bodies of innocent Balochs on daily basis in their own homeland, by making Baloch people refugee in Baloch homeland, make us slave, name us as criminals invade Baloch land and occupy Baloch resources and kill Baloch in their own homeland. This leave doubt, don’t know how many Baloch leaders and activists who struggle for the Freedom of Balochistan in abroad are been assassinated and killed secretly by death squad, so that Baloch voice of Freedom don’t spread to world.

15.* (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality. * (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality. * In Pakistan no any Baloch is allowed to be Baloch Nationality, rather they changing Baloch original identity and nationality from Baloch to fundamentalists lunatic Pakistani forcefully, many Pakistanis have non liberal and non secular mindset, unlike the secular Balochs, for becoming Pakistani we have to be Pakistani (which means non liberal and non secular and possess Talibani-Mulla mindset) which Baloch people don’t accept it at all and the state is changing their original identity and nationality by force, by brainwashing them and taught them the wrong history, since the day when Pakistan occupied Balochistan Baloch people have never accepted Pakistan neither Pakistan state has accepted them as their citizen other then just criminals the state changing Baloch real identity and nationality by force. From the day of occupation on March 1948 till now those thousands and thousands of Baloch been abducted and been killed is because they have always talked about their original nationality, they have been tortured to death.

19.* Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. * In Pakistan no one has right of freedom of speech, opinion and expression, only those have rights who express and give opinion in favour of Pakistan, no matter if their opinion and expression is full of lies, misguidance, aberrancy and misleader or not, but no one has right to talk veritable actual truth or talk in favour of downtrodden for those who victims of tyranny, they have no any right, what so ever, if anyone do then according to Pakistani law they will be called as criminal and will drag to biased court and judges, after the release they will be either abducted and killed to death and their bodies will be found in jungle, or will be blamed in false fraud cases.

26.* (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. * (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace. * (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children. * All Baloch parents want that their children learn their mother tongue Balochi in schools, as well as scientific studies, but Pakistani state has never tolerated that Baloch people learn their national mother tongue or develop; there is no Balochi language in schools in Pakistan, not even a single school. The only thing Baloch kids are been taught the history of non Baloch (Indian/Pak) history, Indian people, history of Punjap. The wrong history, which is not even related to Baloch and Balochistan and ignore Baloch ancient history. There is only one single University in whole Balochistan (the largest and richest in resource country), in which the quota seats are given to all non Baloch people in majority from Punjap, there is no education for Balochs under the Pakistani regime.

27.* (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. * (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author. *During historical Cultural day of Baloch people on 2nd March 2010, the state facist terrorist forces ambushed on cultural day festival ruined the cultural show and killed several members of Baloch students organization among them Shaheed Junaid Baloch, Shaheed Sikandar Baloch and others, mocking the cultural traditional dress of Baloch people and harassing them by cutting their lower part of Shalwars is not new thing, its in daily basis. Pakistanis and Pakistan state has not only occupied Balochistan and looting Baloch resources but also destroyed and destroying history, culture, traditions and language. Everything! Pakistan is violating all 30 articles out of 30 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights in Balochistan against Baloch people everywhere, above are those articles which are slap on UN and Human rights organizations, I think there is no any other country is doing that Human rights violation then Pakistan who is violating the Human rights and doing crime against Humanity since 1948, But the UN and Human rights organization are silent. In last I appeal to the UN and Human rights organizations that they should send their officials themselves to Balochistan to see the Human right violation against the Baloch people in their own occupied homeland, and witness the tyranny and atrocities with their own eyes.

(This Article was published in Daily Tawar, written by Johar Baloch Awarani, translated into English by Beebark Kalmati)

On Islamic Sacred days also Baloch received mutilated bodies

On Islamic Sacred days also Baloch received mutilated bodies

Bolan Voice Report

In Islamic state prior to holidays like Eid people return to homes and join families for rejoice and celebration but ill-fated Balochs received mutilated bodies on the eve of this ritual. Instead of joy victim families mourned on this day of happiness and many of them spent entire day protesting for making visible to their missing beloved, because they are in great worry due to ongoing series of tortured bodies throwing. They are jeopardized whether theirs endear may not be next subject to death by torture. In previous month several reports of this story appeared in media, which are as like.

From Lasbela bullet riddled bodies of Faraz Naseem S/o Ulfat Naseem and Omid Ali were found from Windar area of district Lasbela. Eye-witnesses said that bodies of both victims bore clear signs of torture and bullet wounds on their heads. “The bodies bore multiple marks of torture. The bullets passed through their skulls,” family sources confirmed. Faraz Naseem and Omid Ali were abducted by forces in broad day-light in front of scores of people on 9 October 2011 from industrial town of Hub in Balochistan.

Two bullet-ridden bodies were found from different parts of pasni; the first body was founded abandoned in kappar area of the coastal town which was later identified as that of Mulha Bux son of Ibrahim. He was a resident of Nalyt area of Gwadar. The second body was found in Cahlunk region of Pasni town. The corps was identified as that of Zubair Zahid Baloch son of Bashir Baloch. He was a resident of Pasni and had been abducted on October 8, 2011 when he was on his way to Pasni from Gawadar.

Meanwhile two mutilated body have been discovered from Quetta and Mastung town of Balochistan. Sources reported one was found from Sabzal Road Quetta while the other was discovered from Zargat area of Dasht.

Police recovered three bodies from Turbat and Khuzdar. The victims were killed under-custody and abandoned in desolated areas. The bodies have been identified to be of Abdul Samad from Khuzdar and Ex-president of Baloch Republican Party (BRP) Mand zone, Gwahram S/o Khalid, a resident of Mand town. The third body was identified as of Ayyam S/o Mohammad Umer, he too was a resident of Mand town of Balochistan. Both Ayyam and Gwahram Baloch were abducted by security forces few months ago.

Another Baloch Journalist killed. According to reports a brutally tortured bullet-ridden body was found from Gazgi Chowk (Roundabout) area of Khuzdar town in Balochistan. The local authorities shifted the body to a nearby hospital where he has been identified as Jawed Naseer Rind Baloch. Naseer Rind was a Baloch Journalist, Columnist and member of political party Baloch National Movement (BNM). He was abducted on September 10, 2011 about 9 Pm by security agencies from his computer shop in Hub, the lone industrial town of Balochistan. Eye-witnesses had reported that over a dozen armed men came in two cars and ransacked the Baloch Journalist’s shop; a while later they saw the men dragging Naseer Rind to their car and drove off. Jawed Rind’s whereabouts remained unknown until 5-11-2011 when the unknown killed him under torture and dumped his body away.

A mutilated body of Baloch youth found from Dasht area of district Mastung. Afterward he had been identified as Mir Ahmed Marri, who was abducted from Hyderabad few days back. The relative of victim buried corpse in New Kahan in the suburb of Quetta an allocated ground for Baloch Martyred graveyard. The witness told media men that Mir Ahmed Marri was killed by torture and was signs of bullets on his upper torso.

If India is Most Favorite Nation, then who is responsible in Balochistan turbulence? Lashkari Raisani

If India is Most Favorite Nation, then who is responsible in Balochistan turbulence? Lashkari Raisani

By Asghar Khan Baloch

In previous days state foreign policy got somersaulted when Pakistani Foreign Minister Ms. Hina Rubbani Khar during press briefing to media representatives announced that Pakistan is going to declare India “Most Favorite Nation (MFN)” for trade. She claimed that present People Party government has taken all institutes in confidence about this resolve. Contrary to Ms. Khar claiming several personalities, politicians, parties including institutes have expressed dissuasion about this initiative. Because this decision doesn’t match with Pakistan’s ideology of structure, which has been teaching to country citizens from its day of creation that Hindus and Muslims are two separate nations. In this regard state institutes and authorities policies and claims become baseless or slacken that India is involved in Balochistan insurgency. Because by now state is going to knot trade ties with those who are heathen and pagan as well natural enemy of fortress of Islam Pakistan, called by state authorities. From this it seems that powerful or state does always right and powerless Baloch and Sindhi nationalists’ deeds are sinful. Former president of Pakistan People Party Balochistan and presently holding seat in senate Haji Lashkari Raisani expressed amazement on declaring India Most Favorite Nation. In past rulers who had made ties with India had declared traitor and they were banished, as well they were severely tortured, and that’s why now state has to apologize to those leaders. He said. Talking to media men Mr. Raisani said that from first day the small provinces adopted stance that India isn’t our foe but she is our neighbor. The state wasn’t agree to concede this logic. I am amazed on declaring India as Most Favorite Nation by state. He expressed. We have been taught for six decades that India is not our neighbor but only enemy and she is involved in Balochistan turbulence through her agency “Raw”. But now suddenly enemy state is being declared Most Favorite, so being a Balochistani this question raises in my mind that if India is Favorite Nation then who is responsible for unrest in Balochistan? He inquired. Mr. Raisani queried that they need explanations of this blame, if favorite country is not involved in Balochistan disorder, then might be state’s agencies or international powers responsible for this? The divulging of this mystery is also responsibility of state. Mr. Raisani remarked. In past political leaders had been declared traitor by state for making efforts to establish ties with India. Such leaders had suffered in agonies of prison by state, but today Pakistan is declaring India as Most Favorite Nation, thus present rulers also have to apologize for doing this misdeed. He emphasized. Mr. Raisani expressed concern about non-commence of negotiation process in Balochistan due to lacking seriousness in matter, hence this process is not advancing. Albeit President and Prime Minister have made authorized to Chief Minister and Governor Balochistan for negotiations with estrange Balochs, now it depends on them how to deal the matter in large interest of province and country. He is unaware whether CM and Governor have contacted to someone or not. Mr. Raisani Maintained. I found both sides groups faulty because of contradiction in allegations. But I consider responsible state for being more powerful. Some people had contacted me and were intended to be part of negotiation honorably, but I have not received positive response from state authorities, because of that I got disappointed. We are living in an interconnected society; hence interactions with each other are natural facts. Mr. Lashkari Raisani informed.

In the words of a zealot…

In the words of a zealot…

Swami Aseemanand’s chilling confession is the first legal evidence of RSS pracharaks’ involvement in the Samjhauta Express and 2006 Malegaon blasts. ASHISH KHETAN scoops the 42-page document that reveals a frightening story of hate and deliberate mayhem

IN THEWORDSOF AZEALOT

ON 18 DECEMBER 2010, a team of CBI sleuths escorted an elderly Bengali man Naba Kumar Sarkar, 59 — popularly known as Swami Aseemanand — from Tihar jail to the Tis Hazari court in Delhi, where he was produced before metropolitan magistrate Deepak Dabas. Aseemanand is the key accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast that killed nine people. This was his second court appearance in a span of little over 48 hours. On 16 December, Aseemanand had requested the magistrate to record his confession about his involvement in a string of terror attacks. He stated that he was making the confession without any fear, force, coercion or inducement.

In accordance with the law, the magistrate asked Aseemanand to reflect over his decision and sent him to judicial custody for two days — away from any police interference or influence.

On 18 December, Aseemanand returned, resolute. The magistrate asked everybody except his stenographer to leave his chamber. “I know I can be sentenced to the death penalty but I still want to make the confession,” Aseemanand said.

Over the next five hours, in an unprecedented move, Aseemanand laid bare an explosive story about the involvement of a few Hindutva leaders, including himself, in planning and executing a series of gruesome terror attacks. Over the past few years, several pieces of the Hindutva terror puzzle have slowly been falling into place — each piece corroborating and validating what has gone before. First, the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, Dayanand Pandey, Lt Col Shrikant Purohit and others in 2008. The seizure of 37 audio tapes from Pandey’s laptop that featured all these people discussing their terror activities. And most recently, the Rajasthan ATS’ chargesheet on the 2007 Ajmer Sharif blast. Aseemanand’s confession, however, is likely to prove one of the most crucial pieces for investigative agencies.

Unlike police interrogation reports or confessions, under clause 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), confessions before a magistrate are considered legally admissible evidence. Aseemanand’s statement, therefore, is extremely crucial and will have serious ramifications.

According to him, it was not Muslim boys but a team of RSS pracharaks who exploded bombs in Malegaon in 2006 and 2008, on the Samjhauta Express in 2007, in Ajmer Sharif in 2007 and Mecca Masjid in 2007. Apart from the tragic loss of innocent lives in these blasts, what makes this admission doubly disturbing is that, in keeping with their habitual practice, scores of Muslim boys were wrongly picked up by the Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra Police, in collusion with sections of the Intelligence Bureau, and tortured and jailed for these blasts — accentuating the shrill paranoia about a vast and homegrown Islamist terror network. Many of these boys were acquitted after years in jail; some are still languishing inside, their youth and future destroyed, their families reduced to penury.

In a curious twist, however, in one of those inexplicable human experiences that no one can account for, according to Aseemanand, it was an encounter with one of these jailed Muslim boys that triggered a momentous emotional transformation in him, forcing him to confront his conscience and make amends. This is what Aseemanand told the judge: “Sir, when I was lodged in Chanchalguda district jail in Hyderabad, one of my co-inmates was Kaleem. During my interaction with Kaleem I learnt that he was previously arrested in the Mecca Masjid bomb blast case and he had to spend about oneand- a-half years in prison. During my stay in jail, Kaleem helped me a lot and used to serve me by bringing water, food, etc for me. I was very moved by Kaleem’s good conduct and my conscience asked me to do prayschit (penance) by making a confessional statement so that real culprits can be punished and no innocent has to suffer.”

At this point, the magistrate asked his stenographer to leave so the confession could continue without restraint.

Tell-all evidence? A photocopy of Swami Aseemanand’s 42-page confession before the magistrate
Tell-all evidence? A photocopy of Swami Aseemanand’s 42-page confession before the magistrate

In a signed statement written in Hindi that runs into 42 pages — and which is in TEHELKA’s possession — Aseemanand then proceeded to unravel the inner workings of the Hindutva terror network. According to him, it was not just a rump group like the ultra-right wing organisation Abhinav Bharat that engineered blasts but, shockingly, RSS national executive member Indresh Kumar who allegedly handpicked and financed some RSS pracharaks to carry out terror attacks.

“Indreshji met me at Shabri Dham (Aseemanand’s ashram in the Dangs district of Gujarat) sometime in 2005,” Aseemanand told the magistrate. “He was accompanied by many top RSS functionaries. He told me that exploding bombs was not my job and instead told me to focus on the tribal welfare work assigned to me by the RSS. He said he had deputed Sunil Joshi for this job (terror attacks) and he would extend Joshi whatever help was required.” Aseemanand further narrated how Indresh financed Joshi for his terror activities and provided him men to plant bombs. Aseemanand also confessed to his own role in the terror plots and how he had motivated a bunch of RSS pracharaks and other Hindu radicals to carry out terror strikes at Malegaon, Hyderabad and Ajmer. (TEHELKA tried contacting Indresh several times for his side of the story. He said he would call back but didn’t.)

While evidence of the involvement of RSS pracharaks in the Mecca Masjid and Ajmer blasts has been growing with every new arrest, Aseemanand’s confession is the first direct evidence of the involvement of Hindutva extremists in the 2006 Malegaon blasts and the Samjhauta Express blast. The evidence — both, direct and indirect — pieced together by the CBI shows that the broad terror conspiracy to target Muslims and their places of religious worship was hatched around 2001.

Three RSS pracharaks from Madhya Pradesh — Sunil Joshi, Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange — were apparently at the core of this conspiracy. As the three became more audacious in their terror ambitions they started inducting like-minded Hindutva radicals from other states, mainly Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. While the new entrants were mostly from the RSS, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, some members of fringe saffron groups like Abhinav Bharat, Jai Vande Matram and Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram also joined the fray.

However, Joshi, Kalsangra and Dange took the precaution of not sharing too many details with members outside the core group. Joshi strictly followed the doctrine of division of work on a ‘need-tok-now’ basis, with each member knowing only his part of the job.

Aseemanand, who ran a Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in Dang, first came in contact with Sunil Joshi in 2003 but it was only in March 2006 that he became actively involved in the terror plot.

It was the spirited investigation into the 2008 Malegaon blast by Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare that first blew the lid off this broad Hindutva terror conspiracy. Karkare arrested 11 Hindutva radicals, including Lt Col Purohit, who was attached with the military intelligence unit at Nashik; Dayanand Pandey, a self-styled religious guru who ran an ashram named Sharda Peeth in Jammu and Sadhvi Pragya, an ABVP leader turned into an ascetic, for their role in the 2008 Malegaon blast.

But Karkare’s sudden and ironic killing at the hands of Islamist jihadis in the Mumbai 26/11 attack derailed the saffron terror investigation. The Maharashtra ATS under its new chief KP Raghuvanshi failed to arrest Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange and instead passed them off as minor players in the chargesheet.

The investigation picked up pace again in May 2010 with the arrest of two RSS pracharaks — Devendra Gupta and Lokesh Sharma — by the Rajasthan ATS which was probing the Ajmer blast case. Gupta was the RSS Vibagh Pracharak of Muzaffarnagar, Bihar. He provided logistical support to Joshi, Kalsangra and Dange and harboured the latter two in RSS offices while they were on the run from agencies.

Lokesh Sharma was a RSS worker close to Joshi. He purchased the two Nokia phones that were used to trigger bombs at Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Sharif. It is Sharma’s interrogation that revealed for the first time that RSS national executive member Indresh Kumar was a key figure in the terror conspiracy. The joint investigation of the Rajasthan ATS and CBI, in fact, went on to reveal that, except Pragya Singh Thakur, all those who were arrested by the Maharashtra ATS in 2008 were actually fringe players while the core group comprising Indresh Kumar, Kalsangra and Dange allegedly held the key to the full terror plot.

In June 2010, the CBI examined a witness named Bharat Riteshwar, a resident of district Valsad in Gujarat and a close associate of Swami Aseemanand. Riteshwar told the CBI that Sunil Joshi was a protégé of Indresh and had his approval and logistical support for carrying out terror attacks.

On 19 November 2010 the CBI cracked down on a hideout in Haridwar and arrested Swami Aseemanand, who had been a fugitive for over two years since Sadhvi Pragya’s arrest in October 2008. His arrest unlocked many more pieces.

NABA KUMAR — alias Swami Aseemanand — was originally from Kamaarpukar village in Hooghly district in West Bengal — the birthplace of Ramakrishna Paramhansa. In 1971, after completing his BSc (honours) from Hooghly, Naba Kumar went to Bardman district to pursue a master’s degree in science. Though he was involved with RSS activities from school, it was during his post-graduation years that Naba Kumar became an active RSS member. In 1977, he started working full-time with the RSS-run Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in Purulia and Bankura districts. In 1981, his guru Swami Parmanand rechristened him as Swami Aseemanand.

From 1988 to 1993, he served with the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram at Andaman and Nicobar islands. Between 1993 and 1997, he toured across India to deliver sermons on Hindu religion among the tribals. In 1997, he settled down in the Dangs district in Gujarat and started a tribal welfare organisation called Shabri Dham. Aseemanand was known in the area for his rabid anti-minority speeches and his relentless campaign against Christian missionaries.

Aseemanand is seen as being close to the RSS leadership. In the past, leaders like Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, former RSS chief KS Sudarshan and current chief Mohan Bhagwat have attended religious functions organised by him at Shabri Dham.

While Aseemanand was known for his vitriolic anti-minority positions, according to his confession, it was the heinous massacre of Hindu devotees at Akshardham temple by Islamist suicide bombers in 2002 that was the first real kindle for their retaliatory terror attacks.

“The Muslim terrorists started attacking Hindu temples in 2002,” Aseemanand said. “This caused great concern and anger in me. I used to share my concerns about the growing menace of Islamic terrorism with Bharat Riteshwar of Valsad.”

In 2003, Aseemanand came in contact with Sunil Joshi and Pragya Singh Thakur. He would often discuss Islamist terrorism with them as well. Finally, according to him, it was the terror attack on Sankatmochan temple in Varanasi in March 2006 which was the real flashpoint for them.

“In March 2006, Pragya Thakur, Sunil Joshi, Bharat Riteshwar and I decided to give a befitting reply to the Sankatmochan blasts,” Aseemanand told the magistrate.

Aseemanand gave Rs. 25,000 to Joshi to arrange the necessary logistics for the blasts. He also sent Joshi and Riteshwar to Gorakhpur to seek assistance from firebrand BJP MP Yogi Adityanath. In April 2006, Joshi apparently held a hush-hush meeting with the Adityanath, infamous for his rabid anti-Muslim speeches. But Aseemanand says, “Joshi came back and told me that Adityanath was not of much help.”

However, this did not deter Aseemanand. He went ahead with his plans.

In June 2006, Aseemanand, Riteshwar, Sadhvi Pragya and Joshi again met at Riteshwar’s house in Valsad. It proved to be a chilling one, with far-reaching consequences. Joshi, for the first time, brought four associates with him — Dange, Kalsangra, Lokesh Sharma and Ashok alias Amit.

“I told everybody that bomb ka jawab bomb se dena chahiye, (I told everyone we should answer bombs with bombs),” says Aseemanand. “At that meeting I realised Joshi and his group were already doing something on the subject,” he adds.

“After the combined meeting,” Aseemanand says, “Joshi, Pragya, Riteshwar and I huddled together for a separate meeting. I suggested that 80 percent of the people of Malegaon were Muslims and we should explode the first bomb in Malegaon itself. I also said that during the Partition, the Nizam of Hyderabad had wanted to go with Pakistan so Hyderabad was also a fair target. Then I said that since Hindus also throng the Ajmer Sharif Dargah in large numbers we should also explode a bomb in Ajmer which would deter the Hindus from going there. I also suggested the Aligarh Muslim University as a terror target.”

According to Aseemanand everybody agreed to target these places.

“In the meeting,” Aseemanand continues, “Joshi suggested that it was basically Pakistanis who travel on the Samjhauta Express train that runs between India and Pakistan and therefore we should attack the train as well. Joshi took the responsibility of targeting Samjhauta himself and said that the chemicals required for the blasts would be arranged by Dange.”

Aseemanand’s confession goes on in grave detail. “Joshi said three teams would be constituted to execute the blasts. One team would arrange finance and logistics. The second team would arrange for the explosives. And the third team would plant the bombs. He also said that the members of one team should not know members from the other two teams. So even if one gets arrested the others would remain safe,” Aseemanand told the magistrate.

Hate and anger had slipped off the edge into mayhem.

‘Since Hindus throng the Ajmer Sharif Dargah we thought a bomb blast in Ajmer would deter Hindus from going there,’ the Swami said

ON 8 SEPTEMBER 2006, at 1.30 pm, four bombs exploded in the communally tense town of Malegaon in Maharashtra. Besides being a Friday, the Muslim festival Shab-e-barat was being observed. Three bombs went off in the compound of the Hamidiya Masjid and Bada Kabrastan. A fourth bomb exploded at Mushawart Chowk.

Out of three bombs, one was placed at the entrance gate of Hamidiya Masjid and Bada Kabrastan, the second on a bicycle parked in the parking lot situated inside the compound and the third was hung on the wall of the power supply room situated in front of Vaju Khana, inside the compound. The fourth bomb went off in the crowded junction of Mushawart Chowk, which was placed on a bicycle, near an electric pole. The attack was meticulously planned; the bombs exploded in quick succession. Thirty one Muslims were killed; over 312 were injured.

In a suspiciously swift investigation, the Maharashtra ATS arraigned nine Malegaon Muslims within 90 days. Eight of these were members of the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), the outlawed radical Muslim outfit. Another three Malegaon Muslims were shown absconding. Stringent provisions of the draconian Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) were invoked.

On 21 December 2006, the same day that the ATS filed the chargesheet against the nine Malegaon Muslims, the Maharashtra government asked the CBI to take over the probe. In effect, the CBI was presented with a fait accompli: the case had already been so-called solved and the accused had been chargesheeted.

A year ago, the CBI filed a supplementary chargesheet but failed to produce any material evidence. For over four years, these nine Malegaon Muslims have been languishing in prison. Aseemanand’s confession now seems proof that the boys were innocent and had been arrested merely to deflect criticism and create a false sense of security among Indian citizens that the blast cases were being “solved”. The real mastermind, according to Aseemanand, was Sunil Joshi. And it was Aseemanand himself who had persuaded Joshi to explode bombs in Malegaon.

This is what he told the magistrate. “Joshi came to see me at Shabri Dham on Diwali in 2006. The Malegaon blasts had already happened. Sunil told me the blasts were carried out by our men. I said the newspaper reports had mentioned that Muslims were behind the blasts and a few Muslims had also been arrested. Sunil assured me the blasts were carried out by him but he refused to reveal the identity of our men who had executed the blasts.”

ON 18 February 2007, on the eve of the then Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri’s visit to India to carry forward the peace dialogue, two powerful bombs went off around midnight in two coaches of the cross-border Samjhauta Express, running between Delhi and Lahore. The train had reached Diwana near Panipat, 80 km north of Delhi. The coaches turned into an inferno. The third bomb placed in another coach failed to detonate. Sixty eight people were killed. Dozens were injured. The peace dialogue received a big setback.

Investigation revealed that three suitcases filled with detonators, timers, iron pipes containing explosives and bottles filled with petrol and kerosene had been smuggled into the three coaches.

The needle of suspicion veered immediately to Pakistani extremists. Depending upon which investigating agency you were speaking to, Pakistan-based terror outfits mainly Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami (HUJI) and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT)were blamed for the blasts. Even the US State Department called the terror attack a joint operation of the LeT and HUJI. The Haryana Police tracked down some of the material used in the blasts as being procured from a market in Indore but the trail soon went cold.

In November 2008, the Maharashtra ATS told a court in Nashik that Lt Col Purohit had procured 60 kg of RDX from Jammu & Kashmir in 2006 and a part of it was suspected to have been used in the Samjhauta Express blasts. But the ATS subsequently failed to back its claims with any evidence and was forced to retract. The Haryana cops travelled to Mumbai and interrogated Purohit and other Malegaon accused but could not find any evidence that could link them to the Samjhauta blasts.

In July 2010, the Samjhauta blast probe was handed over to the National Investigating Agency (NIA). Though it still leaves some questions and loose ends, Aseemanand’s confession now joins many other dots in relation to the Samjhauta Express.

The massacre of Hindu devotees at the Akshardham temple by Islamist bombers in 2002 was the first real kindle for the retaliatory attacks

“In February 2007,” Aseemanand told the magistrate, “Riteshwar and Joshi came on a motorbike to a Lord Shiva temple in a place called Balpur. As we had fixed this place for our meeting, I was already there, waiting for the two. Joshi told me in the next two days there would be a piece of good news and I should keep a tab on the newspapers. After the meeting I came back to Shabri Dham and Joshi and Riteshwar went their way. After a couple of days I went to meet Riteshwar at his Valsad residence. Joshi and Pragya were already present there. The Samjhauta Express blasts had happened. I asked Joshi how he was present there while Samjhauta had already happened in Haryana. Joshi replied that the blasts were done by his men.”

“In the same meeting,” Aseemanand continues, “Joshi took Rs. 40,000 from me to carry out the blasts in Hyderabad. A few months later, Joshi telephoned me and told me to keep a tab on the newspapers as some good news was in the offing. In a few days the news of the Mecca Masjid blast appeared in the papers. After 7-8 days, Joshi came to Shabri Dham and brought a Telegu newspaper with him. It had a picture of the blast. I told Joshi that in the papers it had appeared that some Muslim boys had been rounded up for the blast. But Joshi replied it was done by our people.”

LIKE IN the case of the 2006 Malegaon blast, 17 May 2007 was a Friday. At 1.30 pm, as over 4,000 Muslims assembled to offer their Friday prayers at the iconic Mecca Masjid, situated near the Charminar in the old city of Hyderabad, a bomb went off near the Wazu Khana (fountain) meant for doing wazu (ablution before prayers) inside the mosque.

Another IED contained in a blue rexine bag was found hanging near the door-way at the northern end of the mosque. Miraculously, this bomb had not exploded. With no substantive clue emerging from the blast investigation, in a cynical move, the Hyderabad police launched a mop-up operation against local Muslim boys, who were associated with Ahle Hadess, the doggedly fundamentalist sect among Sunni Muslims. Friends and family members of some known local Muslim extremists like Shahid Bilal, who had fled to Pakistan, were also rounded up. In a span of two weeks, over three dozen boys from Malakpet and Saidabaad were picked up and tortured. However, when the police failed to link them to the Mecca Masjid case, they registered three separate bogus cases and implicated the detainees in these cases.

On 9 June 2007, the CBI took over the investigation into the Mecca Masjid case.

A few months later, on 11 October 2007, during the month of Ramzan, at 6.15 pm, as Muslim devotees had begun their iftaar at Ajmer Sharif dargah, a powerful bomb went off near a tree in the compound, killing three people and injuring over a dozen. Investigators found one more unexploded IED at the site.

Swami says, ‘Joshi told me to keep a tab on the papers as some good news was in the offing. Soon after, news of the Mecca Masjid blast appeared’

According to Aseemanand, this blast had been executed by Muslim boys provided by Indresh Kumar. “A couple of days after the Ajmer blast Joshi came to see me. He was accompanied by two men named Raj and Mehul who had also visited Shabri Dham on previous occasions. Joshi claimed his men had perpetrated the blast and he was also present at Ajmer Dargah at the time of the blast. He said that Indresh had provided him two Muslim boys to plant the bomb. I told Joshi that if the Muslim boys get caught, Indresh would get exposed. I also told Joshi that Indresh might get him killed and told him to stay at Shabri Dham. Joshi then told me that Raj and Mehul were wanted in the Baroda Best Bakery case (12 Muslims were killed by rioters in Best Bakery in Gujarat 2002). I told Joshi not to keep Raj and Mehul at the ashram as it would not be safe for them to stay in Gujarat. Joshi, along with the two men, left for Dewas the next day,” said Aseemanand.

Barely two months later, on 29 December 2007, in a sudden twist, Aseemanand’s fears came true. Sunil Joshi was mysteriously murdered outside his house in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. His family claimed he had been murdered by his own organisation. After her arrest, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur also suggested this. But the Madhya Pradesh Police failed to solve the case and filed a closure report in the court.

At the end of December 2010 though, acting on fresh leads, the Madhya Pradesh police finally accepted that Joshi had been murdered by his own friends in the RSS. They charged Mayank, Harshad Solanki, Mehul and Mohan from Gujarat, Anand Raj Katare from Indore and Vasudev Parmar from Dewas with Joshi’s murder. While Mehul and Mohan are still on the run, Solanki was brought before the Dewas court where he confessed to the murder. However, even these arrests don’t join all the dots. The police claim internal rivalry as the motive for the murder. The CBI, though, believes the real motive behind Joshi’s murder was to silence him. Joshi knew too much about the terror conspiracy and his masters were perhaps wary that they might get exposed.

ABDUL KALEEM ABDUL KALEEM, 21
The Muslim boy who triggered an unlikely conversion in jail
Kaleem, a cell phone seller, was arrested and tortured in 2007 for a blast at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad. He spent a year-and-half in jail before being acquitted. Soon after, he was back in jail on another charge, when he met Swami Aseemanand. The Swami was struck by the boy’s kindness. When he heard that Kaleem was blamed for a blast that he and his comrades had done, he was profoundly affected and decided to confess as an act of penance.

Sunil Joshi’s murder leaves many unanswered questions. If he was one of the key figures in the terror conspiracy, as many of those arrested testify that he was, why would his comrades want to bump him off? If he was a protégé of Indresh Kumar, acting on his orders and with his sanction, why would his mentor want him dead? What could have created a rift or fallout between all of them? The murder suggests a murky and inexplicable factionalism within the sinister grouping.

With Joshi dead and much of Aseemanand’s confession based on things Joshi had told him about the blasts, it might seem that Aseemanand’s confession runs thin in certain portions and is, therefore, of uneven consequence. But Joshi was not the only piece in the puzzle. Aseemanand’s confession is powerful because it implicates himself at every juncture and points to a network of Hindutva pracharaks, who not only participated in the terror plots but were moved around and sheltered by sections of the organisation while they were on the run. Investigators believe that the arrests of Kalsangra and Dange would provide the missing pieces of the puzzle.

Joshi’s death didn’t mean the end of the horrific blasts — at least from the ultra-Hindutva side. The terror infrastructure he had created along with a few other RSS men continued to function.

ASEEMANAND CONFESSED coming into contact with the shadowy saffron terror outfit Abhinav Bharat in January 2007. Col Purohit was one of the founder members of the outfit. Aseemanand has confessed to proposing more terror strikes in a meeting of Abhinav Bharat held at Bhopal in April 2008. Sadhvi Pragya, Bharat Riteshwar, Col Purohit and Dayanand Pandey were also present in the meeting. “I participated in many Abhinav Bharat meetings and proposed to carry out more terror strikes,” Aseemanand told the magistrate.

On 29 September 2008, horror struck again. During Islam’s holy month of Ramzan, an IED went off at Bhikku Chowk, a Muslim neighbourhood in Malegaon. The bomb was concealed in a motorcycle parked in front of a locked office of SIMI. Given the paranoia that had grown around Islamist terror, it had become an accepted maxim that members of SIMI were behind every blast. No proof was ever required. Placing a bomb in front of their office, therefore, was an act of deadly symbolism for the Hindutva outfits.

A similar bomb blast was triggered almost simultaneously hundreds of miles away in a small town called Modasa in Gujarat. Like in Malegaon, the blast took place in a Muslim colony named Sukka Bazaar, outside a mosque when special Ramzan prayers were being offered. Like in Malegaon, the bomb was again concealed in a motorcycle. The two blasts were separated by a gap of five minutes.

The Malgeaon blast killed seven Muslims, including a three-year-old boy. The Modasa blast resulted in the death of a 15-year-old boy. Several others were injured.

‘I told my comrades that since the Nizam had wanted to opt for Pakistan during Partition, Hyderabad was also a fair target for us,’ the Swami said

It is a measure of the deep-seated bias that had crept into the Indian justice system that even when deadly blasts went off in the midst of Muslim neighbourhoods and mosques, Muslim boys were still automatically blamed for them. It was beyond anyone’s imagination that Hindutva groups could be behind the inhuman acts.

But as Aseemanand says, “Sometime in October 2008, Dange phoned me and said he wanted to come to Shabri Dham and stay there for a few days. I told him that since I was setting out for Nadiad (Gujarat), it would not be a good idea for him to stay there in my absence. Then Dange requested me to pick him up from a place called Vyara and drop him to Baroda which was on the way to Nadiad. I picked up Dange from Vyara bus stop in my Santro car. He was accompanied by Ramji Kalsangra. Both were carrying two or three bags stuffed with some heavy objects. They told me they were coming from Maharashtra. I dropped them at Rajpipla junction at Baroda. I later realised that it was just a day after the Malegaon blast,” said Aseemanand, before concluding his statement. His confession further corroborates the evidence put together by Karkare.

After the Maharashtra ATS arrested Sadhvi Pragya in connection with the 2008 Malegaon blast, Aseemanand went absconding. He was finally arrested by the CBI from Haridwar on 19 November 2010.

THE EMERGENCE of Hindutva terror does not leach away the horror of Islamist terror attacks on places like the Akshardham temple, Sankatmochan mandir and German Bakery in Pune, amongst others. But Aseemanand’s confession will raise many uncomfortable questions for the RSS. It is no one’s case that the actions of a few tars an entire organisation. But there are urgent questions the RSS needs to confront within itself. And answer to the nation.

Given the growing evidence about the involvement of RSS pracharaks in a series of terror blasts, how will the RSS leadership respond?

Many of these terror blasts display a high degree of sophistication in the planning and devices used, with RDX and complex bomb designs being deployed in several of them. Given that most of the foot-soldiers accused for these blasts are of very humble backgrounds, is it possible that they could execute these blasts without support and sanction from the top? Given the strictly hierarchical and disciplined nature of the organisation, is it possible that they were acting without the knowledge of their superiors? Most crucially, given the gathering evidence about the involvement of several RSS pracharaks and other affiliates in this series of terror blasts, how will the RSS leadership respond? If it is true that some members of their organisation have turned rogue, will they seek the most stringent punishment for them? The Hindutva worldview may be politically opposed to minority rights, but will it go far enough to watch some of its members drag the country further down the suicidal course of competitive terrorism between Islamist and Hindutva extremists? Or will it opt for the saner option of a cleansing within.

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ashish.journo@gmail.com

India must face up to Hindu terrorism

India must face up to Hindu terrorism

India’s anti-minorities bias is so strong that it has failed to acknowledge the threat posed by Hindu radicalism

Indian Hindu priests

The Indian state’s pro-Hindu stance has left it unwilling to tackle Hindu extremism. Photograph: Str/AFP/Getty Images

For far too long, the enduring response of the Indian establishment to Hindu nationalists has rarely surpassed mild scorn. Their organised violent eruptions across the country – slaughtering Muslims and Christians, destroying their places of worship, cutting open pregnant wombs – never seemed sufficient enough to the state to cast them as a meaningful threat to India’s national security.

But the recently leaked confession of a repentant Hindu priest, Swami Aseemanand, confirms what India’s security establishment should have uncovered: a series of blasts between 2006 and 2008 were carried out by Hindu outfits. The attacks targeted a predominantly Muslim town and places of Muslim worship elsewhere. Their victims were primarily Muslim. Yet the reflexive reaction of the police was to round up young Muslim men, torture them, extract confessions and declare the cases solved.

Pundits now conduct cautious enquiries on television. Does this revelation mean India is now under attack by “Hindu terrorism”? But to treat this as a new phenomenon is to overlook the bulky corpus of terrorist violence in India that has its roots in explicitly Hindu-political grievances. Why is the attack on a Jewish centre in Mumbai by Pakistani gunmen an example of “Islamic terrorism”, but the slaughter of a thousand Muslims by sword-wielding Hindus in Gujarat in 2002 not proof of “Hindu terrorism”, particularly when the purpose of the violence was to establish an Hindu state in India? How do we describe attacks on churches, the kidnappings of pastors, the burning to death of a missionary? What do we make of the war-cry pehle kasai, phir isai: first the butchers (Muslims), then the Christians? What has prompted this debate over “Hindu terrorism” is not Aseemanand’s confession: it is the fact that, in carrying out their violence, his accomplices appropriated methods which, in popular imagination, have become associated exclusively with Islamic terrorism. Detonating bombs in crowded areas: isn’t that what Muslims do?

It is when you look at the reactions to non-Hindu extremism that you absorb how strongly majoritarian assumptions inform the state and society’s conduct in India. In 2002, the Indian government banned the radical Muslim group Simi (Students’ Islamic Movement of India) citing the group’s charter, which seeks to establish sharia rule in India, and the terror charges some of its members were facing. But the Hindu radical outfit RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or the National Volunteer Corps) remains open for business – even though it campaigns, very openly, for a Hindu state in India, and its members incite and perpetrate violence against Muslim and Christian minorities. Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin was a member of the RSS, as are Aseemanand and his confreres. To get an idea of which of the two groups poses a more immediate threat to India, consider this: the government that banned Simi was headed by the BJP, the political wing of the RSS.

The principal cause of Hindu radicalism, much like its Muslim counterpart in Pakistan, is the partition of India in 1947. The departing British hacked India apart to accommodate the Muslim League’s demand for an exclusive homeland for the subcontinent’s Muslims – and so, the Hindu nationalist logic runs, the territory that remained should logically be identified as the land of Hindus. If Pakistan’s Muslim majoritarianism crystallised around the bogey of “Hindu raj”, the Hindu nationalist project thrives by casting the burden of partition on India’s Muslim minorities – fifth columnists whose coreligionists tore India apart by claiming, in spite of a millennium-long sojourn in India, to be foreigners by virtue of their faith.

For all the saffron calumny, it is impossible to find a community more emphatically committed to India than its Muslims. India’s Hindus never had to make a choice. The Muslims did. Consider what an ordinary Muslim family in 1947 would have had to deal with: terrified by the violence that the partition had unleashed, their coreligionists were fleeing in the millions to Pakistan; Hindu and Sikh fanatics were actively seeking out Muslims for slaughter and rape; the possibility of being betrayed by neighbours and friends was far from remote. Sardar Patel, the second most powerful functionary in the Indian government, was openly hostile to Muslims – hostility which no doubt would have been seen by many Hindus as tacit endorsement of their actions. Amidst all this, the sole authoritative source of reassurance would have been the distant pledges of a better tomorrow by Jawaharlal Nehru. The Muslims who remained, who refused to vacate the hell that was India despite the blandishments of paradise next door in Pakistan, affirmed their faith in India with their lives.

After all this, it is staggering that the Hindu right gets away so easily by routinely humiliating Indian Muslims. From demographics to diet, personal laws to places of worship, Muslims are suspect in everything they do. Adding a dash of foreign authority, glamour and fuel to this unbridled bigotry is the lavatorial “scholarship” of frustrated European converts to Hinduism such as François Gautier and Koenraad Elst. Misfits in their own societies, they have flourished by exploiting communal tensions in a miserably poor country. What the Muslims did to Hindus was worse than the Jewish Holocaust explains one, while the other warns Hindus that they are being outbred by Muslims. The JNU historian Tanika Sarkar was perhaps right in identifying “penis envy and anxiety about emasculation” among the principal reasons for anti-Muslim bigotry.

The Indian state has failed appallingly in its obligations to Muslim citizens. There are 150 million Muslims in India, but as the government’s own figures show, only 4% are graduates, 5% have public employment, an overwhelming majority remain locked out of public institutions, and their access to government loans and education is severely restricted. If this institutional exclusion should breed resentment, and the resentment produce violence, no one will hesitate to call it another instance of Islamic terrorism. But when self-pitying Hindus massacre minorities and detonate bombs in the midst of Muslim crowds, we are expected to be polite. No, let us call it what it actually is: Hindu terrorism.