The ‘good effects’ of bombing a village market in Afghanistan

The ‘good effects’ of bombing a village market in Afghanistan

by Marc W. Herold
Departments of Economics
Whittemore School of Business & Economics
University of New Hampshire

POSTED AUGUST 16, 2007 —

The “August 2: Airpower Summary” posted on the official website of the United States Air Force (USAF) announced, “An Air Force B-1B Lancer dropped guided bomb unit-31s on enemies hiding in a tree line near Baghran. The bomb drop was reported to have good effects.”1 But, on the ground, reality was rather different: Gul Wali, 18, was among the wounded. “Bombs were falling everywhere from the sky into the trees, and I saw pieces of flesh and bone. These were villagers. They were innocent people. They had just come to the mela [outdoor traditional weekly market] to buy food for their families. Instead, they ended up looking for their loved ones among piles of bodies.” In the absence of normal shops, most communities mount a weekly trade fair, bringing handicrafts, livestock, farm produce and clothing along to barter or sell. The mela was located close to the holy shrine of Ibrahim Shah Baba. Wali’s reference to a line of trees corresponds perfectly with the account given in the US Air Force’s Airpower Summary. The luckier ones ended up in a hospital, as this young 10-year old boy with abdominal shrapnel wounds and whose leg needed to be amputated:


Photo from Emergency Hospital in Lashkar Gah, found here.

For its part, the U.S. military in Bagram released an official statement proclaiming,

During a sizable meeting of senior Taliban commanders, coalition forces employed precision-guided munitions on their location after ensuring there were no innocent Afghans in the surrounding area.2

This type of statement is intended to “grab the news headlines” before any contrary account gets publicly offered, a deliberate ploy of the US/NATO militaries.3 The corporate mainstream media from the New York Times to Britain’s Telegraph and Xinhuanet dutifully reproduced the pronouncement. Faced with contradicting information from the bombed region, the militaries respond with a sequence of tactics: stonewall and cordon-off the bomb site; admit civilians might have been killed, adding contrived tales (Taliban were hiding amongst civilians or bombed must have really been Taliban because no female casualties), and then simply wait for the story to go away.4

If there were no civilians, then how to explain wounded such as in these photos? Reporters haven’t been permitted to talk to the injured and they are under heavy guard as part of news management in order to prevent them making known the truth of this slaughter. Moreover, the truth is prevented by a geographic isolation: the U.S. bombing often takes place in rugged, isolated regions, largely inaccessible or only at great risk. Hence, the U.S. and NATO feel much freer to bomb indiscriminately and answer questions later.5

Fifty percent of the GBU-31 (Mark 84) bombs dropped upon Bughni are estimated to fall within a 13 meter radius of the target; and the lethal blast or fragmentation range radius out from the point of impact is 400 yards (or 366 meters). Dropping such munitions upon a village area is guaranteed to cause death and injury. Listen to an official description,

Dropped from a plane and hurtling toward its target at 300 mph, the 14-foot steel bomb uses small gears in its fins to pinpoint its path based on satellite data received by a small antenna and fed into a computer. Just before impact, a fusing device triggers a chemical reaction causing the 14-inch-wide weapon to swell to twice its size. The steel casing shatters, shooting forth 1,000 pounds of white-hot fragments traveling at speeds of 6,000 feet per second. The explosion creates a shock wave exerting thousands of pounds of pressure per square inch (psi). By comparison, a shock wave of 12 psi will knock a person down; and the injury threshold is 15 pounds psi. The pressure from the explosion of a device such as the Mark-84 JDAM can rupture lungs, burst sinus cavities and tear off limbs hundreds of feet from the blast site, according to trauma physicians. When it hits, the JDAM generates an 8,500-degree fireball, gouges a 20-foot crater as it displaces 10,000 pounds of dirt and rock and generates enough wind to knock down walls blocks away and hurl metal fragments a mile or more. “There is a very great concussive effect. Damage to any human beings in the vicinity would be pretty nasty,” said Rob Hewson of Jane’s. “A 2,000-pound bomb has an effective damage radius of at least 800 meters (about 2,600 feet).” 6

The 1,000kg Mark 84 Joint Direct Attack Munition (J-DAM) generates a massive fireball and shockwave which also unleashes nearly 500kg of superheated steel fragments, killing anyone within 120 meters and causing injuries out to 1,000 meters. When the US/NATO drops such a bomb upon a populated area, the killing is intentional, that is, it is murder, putting the lie to the oft-repeated assertion that while Taliban kill “intentionally”, the occupiers kill civilians “unintentionally.” Moreover, haven’t the Taliban warned people to stay away from occupation army bases, patrols, and employment?

On that fateful afternoon of August 2nd, hundreds of people had gathered for the traditional weekly market (or ‘mela’) in Bughni (or Bagh-e-Nahi) where local people trade everything from carpets, foods, clothes, to cows. Market day there falls on Thursday, the start of Afghanistan’s weekend. Then, suddenly, the U.S. Boeing-made GBU-31, GPS-guided 2,000 pound bombs fell from the blue sky.

Panic erupted. Many villagers said they lost fathers, brothers, and children in the inferno. Others ferried their wounded to hospitals in the province, providing concrete evidence that simple civilians had been injured and massacred. Some injured were transferred to a clinic in Musa Qala, 100 kms away from Bughni; others were taken to Kandahar, 150 kms away; and yet others were brought to Lashkar Gah, 200 kms away.

Eyewitnesses told gruesome tales of headless bodies piled high in Bughni waiting for identification. A resident, Hafizullah, said, “It was a day of blackness. Almost everyone had lost someone. People did not know where their family members were. I saw people just sitting on the ground, staring at nothing. There was mourning everywhere.” Another resident added, “We grew tired of collecting the dead.”

At least 20 civilians (including an 8-yr-old boy) with shrapnel wounds were brought to the main Bost hospital in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital. Three of the injured men died there. Helmand’s police chief, Mohammad Hussein Andiwal said. “I can confirm there were heavy bombardments,” Andiwal told Reuters by phone. “We have heard of heavy casualties too and have sent a team to investigate this.” A provincial lawmaker in Kabul, Mohammad Anwar, also received reports of high civilian casualties. In the Lashkar Gah hospital, Shokhi Khan, a relative of one of the wounded, said several hundred civilians were killed or wounded in the strikes. He said people had gathered for picnics and to go to a shrine in Baghran district north of Lashkar Gah on Thursday when the raids started. Twelve wounded men were brought to a hospital in the main southern city of Kandahar, said Sharifullah Khan, a doctor there. Nasibullah, one of the wounded men in Kandahar hospital, said the bombs hit a market. He claimed there were no Taliban there at the time of the attack. An Afghan Defense Ministry said some 40 men had also been brought to hospital in the main southern city of Kandahar. Other injured persons were brought to hospitals in Sangin and Musa Qala districts.

Abdul Karim, a resident of Baghran, recounted, “Many died on the way. One of my sons is in Bost Hospital. I don’t think he will survive. Two other sons are in Musa Qala. Two of my cousins were killed and two more were injured.”

When the claim that no civilians had been bombed could no longer be sustained, a back-up lie was floated by the military, playing upon general public ignorance. Charlie Mayo was the carrier. “It is interesting there were no females,” said British Lieutenant-Colonel Charlie Mayo in Helmand Province, suggesting the wounded adult males may have been Taliban fighters. “We are very confident we hit a large meeting of Taliban and they are very sore about it.”

But the village of Bughni has long been a Taliban-controlled area where no doubt Sharia prevails and women simply do not attend public gatherings or go out shopping (hence no female victims). Who are you fooling, Lt-Col. Charlie Mayo?

The local (Afghan) attempt at obfuscation was a little less subtle. General Zahir Azimy of the Afghan Defense Ministry put forth the U.S-pleasing lie – no evidence whatsoever offered – that a large gathering of Taliban attending a public execution had been bombed, killing over 100 Taliban and three senior commanders including Commander Mansoor Dadullah. Azimy added, “According to our sources, there were 150 people killed, maybe less, but not more,” he told a news conference. “If there were civilian casualties, they were very limited and should not exceed 10.”7 Since the attack, Mansoor Dadullah has given several media interviews. The evidence of very high civilian casualties is incontrovertible now. How many more accounts from residents are needed? How many more gruesome photos of injured young boys and old men? The general needs to go back to the drawing boards (or U.S. tutorials).

Are these persons Taliban?

Several family members who accompanied the bombing victims seeking treatment gave accounts describing their personal situation. Haji Hakim Jan, 27, said the U.S. bombs killed four of his brothers. Jan added, “I had another brother of mine and an eight-year-old sister wounded in the bombing.” He said that such deaths alienate civilians from Western troops and make people join the Taliban resistance.8

The attention by the mainstream corporate media to twenty-one captured South Korean evangelists as compared to the Afghan civilians slaughtered in Helmand is revealing. The villagers of Bagh-e-Nahi are indeed very sore in ways more than one about what happened between 3-4 P.M. on August 2nd. But then, of course, Afghan civilians killed by the US/NATO are bad bodies, unlike dead South Korean civilians who are good bodies. The U.S. Pentagon, the U.S. corporate press, and Human Rights Watch only “see” and count good bodies.

— 30 —

Footnotes

1. Here.

2. Emphasis added by the author.

3. Something I have explored in my essay, “”Grab News Headlines, Isolate Bombed Area and Stonewall: U.S. Military’s Virtual Reality about Afghan Civilian Casualties. A Case Study of the U.S. Assault upon Hajiyan” (May 28, 2006), found here.

4. I examined earlier U.S. operations in Baghran in “Et Plus Ca Change…Patterns of Death and Deceit in Afghanistan,” Cursor.org (March 10, 2003), found here.

5. U.S. and NATO bombs rained down before upon civilians in Baghran in February 2003 (see my “A Rain of Bombs,” in Frontline found here) and in June 2006 (see here).

6. Mark Sauer, “Precision JDAMs Can Pack Big Punch: On-Board Systems Guide Air-to-Surface Weapons,” San Diego Tribune (March 21, 2003) found here.

7. Hamid Shalizi, “Few Civilian Deaths from Afghan Bombing – Officials,” Reuters (August 4, 2007) found here.

8. Abdul Qodus, “Afghans Check Reports of Civilian Bombing Deaths,” Reuters (2:23 PM EDT August 3, 2007).

Advertisements

The Monster In The Mirror

The Monster In The Mirror

By Arundhati Roy

15 December, 2008
Outlook India

We’ve forfeited the rights to our own tragedies. As the carnage in Mumbai raged on, day after horrible day, our 24-hour news channels informed us that we were watching “India’s 9/11.” And like actors in a Bollywood rip-off of an old Hollywood film, we’re expected to play our parts and say our lines, even though we know it’s all been said and done before.

As tension in the region builds, U.S. Senator John McCain has warned Pakistan that, if it didn’t act fast to arrest the “bad guys,” he had personal information that India would launch air strikes on “terrorist camps” in Pakistan and that Washington could do nothing because Mumbai was India’s 9/11.

But November isn’t September, 2008 isn’t 2001, Pakistan isn’t Afghanistan, and India isn’t America. So perhaps we should reclaim our tragedy and pick through the debris with our own brains and our own broken hearts so that we can arrive at our own conclusions.

It’s odd how, in the last week of November, thousands of people in Kashmir supervised by thousands of Indian troops lined up to cast their vote, while the richest quarters of India’s richest city ended up looking like war-torn Kupwara — one of Kashmir’s most ravaged districts.

The Mumbai attacks are only the most recent of a spate of terrorist attacks on Indian towns and cities this year. Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Delhi, Guwahati, Jaipur, and Malegaon have all seen serial bomb blasts in which hundreds of ordinary people have been killed and wounded. If the police are right about the people they have arrested as suspects in these previous attacks, both Hindu and Muslim, all Indian nationals, it obviously indicates that something’s going very badly wrong in this country.

If you were watching television you might not have heard that ordinary people, too, died in Mumbai. They were mowed down in a busy railway station and a public hospital. The terrorists did not distinguish between poor and rich. They killed both with equal cold-bloodedness.

The Indian media, however, was transfixed by the rising tide of horror that breached the glittering barricades of “India shining” and spread its stench in the marbled lobbies and crystal ballrooms of two incredibly luxurious hotels and a small Jewish center.

We’re told that one of these hotels is an icon of the city of Mumbai. That’s absolutely true. It’s an icon of the easy, obscene injustice that ordinary Indians endure every day. On a day when the newspapers were full of moving obituaries by beautiful people about the hotel rooms they had stayed in, the gourmet restaurants they loved (ironically one was called Kandahar), and the staff who served them, a small box on the top left-hand corner in the inner pages of a national newspaper (sponsored by a pizza company, I think) said, “Hungry, kya?” (“Hungry eh?”). It, then, with the best of intentions I’m sure, informed its readers that, on the international hunger index, India ranked below Sudan and Somalia.

But of course this isn’t that war. That one’s still being fought in the Dalit bastis (settlements) of our villages; on the banks of the Narmada and the Koel Karo rivers; in the rubber estate in Chengara; in the villages of Nandigram, Singur, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Lalgarh in West Bengal; and the slums and shantytowns of our gigantic cities.

That war isn’t on TV. Yet.

So maybe, like everyone else, we should deal with the one that is.

Terrorism and the Need for Context

There is a fierce, unforgiving fault line that runs through the contemporary discourse on terrorism. On one side (let’s call it Side A) are those who see terrorism, especially “Islamist” terrorism, as a hateful, insane scourge that spins on its own axis, in its own orbit, and has nothing to do with the world around it, nothing to do with history, geography, or economics. Therefore, Side A says, to try to place it in a political context, or even to try to understand it, amounts to justifying it and is a crime in itself.

Side B believes that, though nothing can ever excuse or justify it, terrorism exists in a particular time, place, and political context, and to refuse to see that will only aggravate the problem and put more and more people in harm’s way. Which is a crime in itself.

The sayings of Hafiz Saeed who founded the Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure) in 1990 and who belongs to the hard-line Salafi tradition of Islam, certainly bolsters the case of Side A. Hafiz Saeed approves of suicide bombing, hates Jews, Shias, and Democracy, and believes that jihad should be waged until Islam, his Islam, rules the world.

Among the things he said are:

“There cannot be any peace while India remains intact. Cut them, cut them so much that they kneel before you and ask for mercy.”

And: “India has shown us this path. We would like to give India a tit-for-tat response and reciprocate in the same way by killing the Hindus, just like it is killing the Muslims in Kashmir.”

But where would Side A accommodate the sayings of Babu Bajrangi of Ahmedabad, India, who sees himself as a democrat, not a terrorist? He was one of the major lynchpins of the 2002 Gujarat genocide and has said (on camera):


“We didn’t spare a single Muslim shop, we set everything on fire… we hacked, burned, set on fire… we believe in setting them on fire because these bastards don’t want to be cremated, they’re afraid of it… I have just one last wish… let me be sentenced to death… I don’t care if I’m hanged… just give me two days before my hanging and I will go and have a field day in Juhapura where seven or eight lakhs [seven or eight hundred thousand] of these people stay… I will finish them off… let a few more of them die… at least twenty-five thousand to fifty thousand should die.”

And where in Side A’s scheme of things would we place the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh bible, We, or, Our Nationhood Defined by M. S. Golwalkar , who became head of the RSS in 1944. (The RSS is the ideological heart, the holding company of the Hindu fundamentalist Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP, and its militias. The RSS was founded in 1925. By the 1930s, its founder, Dr. K. B. Hedgewar, a fan of Benito Mussolini’s, had begun to model it overtly along the lines of Italian fascism.)

It says:


“Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The Race Spirit has been awakening.”

Or:


“To keep up the purity of its race and culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races — the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here… a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”

Of course Muslims are not the only people in the gun sights of the Hindu Right. Dalits have been consistently targeted. Recently, in Kandhamal in Orissa, Christians were the target of two and a half months of violence that left more than 40 dead. Forty thousand people have been driven from their homes, half of whom now live in refugee camps.

All these years Hafiz Saeed has lived the life of a respectable man in Lahore as the head of the Jamaat-ud Daawa, which many believe is a front organization for the Lashkar-e-Taiba. He continues to recruit young boys for his own bigoted jihad with his twisted, fiery sermons. On December 11, the United Nations imposed sanctions on the Jamaat-ud-Daawa. The Pakistani government succumbed to international pressure and put Hafiz Saeed under house arrest.

Babu Bajrangi, however, is out on bail and lives the life of a respectable man in Gujarat. A couple of years after the genocide, he left the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP, a militia of the RSS) to join the Shiv Sena (another rightwing nationalist party). Narendra Modi, Bajrangi’s former mentor, is still the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

So the man who presided over the Gujarat genocide was reelected twice, and is deeply respected by India’s biggest corporate houses, Reliance and Tata. Suhel Seth, a TV impresario and corporate spokesperson, recently said, “Modi is God.” The policemen who supervised and sometimes even assisted the rampaging Hindu mobs in Gujarat have been rewarded and promoted.

The RSS has 45,000 branches and seven million volunteers preaching its doctrine of hate across India. They include Narendra Modi, but also former Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee, current leader of the opposition L. K. Advani, and a host of other senior politicians, bureaucrats, and police and intelligence officers.

And if that’s not enough to complicate our picture of secular democracy, we should place on record that there are plenty of Muslim organizations within India preaching their own narrow bigotry.

So, on balance, if I had to choose between Side A and Side B, I’d pick Side B. We need context. Always.

A Close Embrace of Hatred, Terrifying Familiarity, and Love

On this nuclear subcontinent, that context is Partition. The Radcliffe Line, which separated India and Pakistan and tore through states, districts, villages, fields, communities, water systems, homes, and families, was drawn virtually overnight. It was Britain’s final, parting kick to us.

Partition triggered the massacre of more than a million people and the largest migration of a human population in contemporary history. Eight million people, Hindus fleeing the new Pakistan, Muslims fleeing the new kind of India, left their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Each of those people carries, and passes down, a story of unimaginable pain, hate, horror, but yearning too. That wound, those torn but still unsevered muscles, that blood and those splintered bones still lock us together in a close embrace of hatred, terrifying familiarity, but also love. It has left Kashmir trapped in a nightmare from which it can’t seem to emerge, a nightmare that has claimed more than 60,000 lives.

Pakistan, the Land of the Pure, became an Islamic Republic, and then very quickly a corrupt, violent military state, openly intolerant of other faiths.

India on the other hand declared herself an inclusive, secular democracy. It was a magnificent undertaking, but Babu Bajrangi’s predecessors had been hard at work since the 1920s, dripping poison into India’s bloodstream, undermining that idea of India even before it was born.

By 1990, they were ready to make a bid for power. In 1992 Hindu mobs exhorted by L. K. Advani stormed the Babri Masjid and demolished it.

By 1998, the BJP was in power at the center. The U.S. War on Terror put the wind in their sails. It allowed them to do exactly as they pleased, even to commit genocide and then present their fascism as a legitimate form of chaotic democracy.

This happened at a time when India had opened its huge market to international finance and it was in the interests of international corporations and the media houses they owned to project it as a country that could do no wrong. That gave Hindu nationalists all the impetus and the impunity they needed.

This, then, is the larger historical context of terrorism on the subcontinent — and of the Mumbai attacks. It shouldn’t surprise us that Hafiz Saeed of the Lashkar-e-Taiba is from Shimla (India) and L. K. Advani of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is from Sindh (Pakistan).

In much the same way as it did after the 2001 Parliament attack, the 2002 burning of the Sabarmati Express, and the 2007 bombing of the Samjhauta Express, the government of India announced that it has “incontrovertible” evidence that the Lashkar-e-Taiba, backed by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was behind the Mumbai strikes.

The Lashkar has denied involvement, but remains the prime accused. According to the police and intelligence agencies, the Lashkar operates in India through an organization called the “Indian Mujahideen.” Two Indian nationals, Sheikh Mukhtar Ahmed, a Special Police Officer working for the Jammu and Kashmir Police, and Tausif Rehman, a resident of Kolkata in West Bengal, have been arrested in connection with the Mumbai attacks.

So already the neat accusation against Pakistan is getting a little messy.

Almost always, when these stories unspool, they reveal a complicated global network of foot soldiers, trainers, recruiters, middlemen, and undercover intelligence and counter-intelligence operatives working not just on both sides of the India-Pakistan border, but in several countries simultaneously.

In today’s world, trying to pin down the provenance of a terrorist strike and isolate it within the borders of a single nation state, is very much like trying to pin down the provenance of corporate money. It’s almost impossible.

In circumstances like these, air strikes to “take out” terrorist camps may take out the camps, but certainly will not “take out” the terrorists. And neither will war.

Also, in our bid for the moral high ground, let’s try not to forget that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the LTTE of neighboring Sri Lanka, one of the world’s most deadly terrorist groups, were trained by the Indian Army.

Releasing Frankensteins

Thanks largely to the part it was forced to play as America’s ally, first in its war in support of the Afghan Islamists and then in its war against them, Pakistan, whose territory is reeling under these contradictions, is careening toward civil war.

As recruiting agents for America’s jihad against the Soviet Union, it was the job of the Pakistani Army and the ISI to nurture and channel funds to Islamic fundamentalist organizations. Having wired up these Frankensteins and released them into the world, the U.S. expected it could rein them in like pet mastiffs whenever it wanted to. Certainly it did not expect them to come calling in the heart of the homeland on September 11. So once again, Afghanistan had to be violently remade.

Now the debris of a re-ravaged Afghanistan has washed up on Pakistan’s borders.

Nobody, least of all the Pakistani government, denies that it is presiding over a country that is threatening to implode. The terrorist training camps, the fire-breathing mullahs, and the maniacs who believe that Islam will, or should, rule the world are mostly the detritus of two Afghan wars. Their ire rains down on the Pakistani government and Pakistani civilians as much, if not more, than it does on India.

If, at this point, India decides to go to war, perhaps the descent of the whole region into chaos will be complete. The debris of a bankrupt, destroyed Pakistan will wash up on India’s shores, endangering us as never before.

If Pakistan collapses, we can look forward to having millions of “non-state actors” with an arsenal of nuclear weapons at their disposal as neighbors.

It’s hard to understand why those who steer India’s ship are so keen to replicate Pakistan’s mistakes and call damnation upon this country by inviting the United States to further meddle clumsily and dangerously in our extremely complicated affairs. A superpower never has allies. It only has agents.

On the plus side, the advantage of going to war is that it’s the best way for India to avoid facing up to the serious trouble building on our home front.

The Mumbai attacks were broadcast live (and exclusive!) on all or most of our 67 24-hour news channels and god knows how many international ones. TV anchors in their studios and journalists at “ground zero” kept up an endless stream of excited commentary.

Over three days and three nights we watched in disbelief as a small group of very young men, armed with guns and gadgets, exposed the powerlessness of the police, the elite National Security Guard, and the marine commandos of this supposedly mighty, nuclear-powered nation.

While they did this, they indiscriminately massacred unarmed people, in railway stations, hospitals, and luxury hotels, unmindful of their class, caste, religion, or nationality.

(Part of the helplessness of the security forces had to do with having to worry about hostages. In other situations, in Kashmir for example, their tactics are not so sensitive. Whole buildings are blown up. Human shields are used. The U.S. and Israeli armies don’t hesitate to send cruise missiles into buildings and drop daisy cutters on wedding parties in Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan.)

But this was different. And it was on TV.

The boy-terrorists’ nonchalant willingness to kill — and be killed — mesmerized their international audience. They delivered something different from the usual diet of suicide bombings and missile attacks that people have grown inured to on the news.

Here was something new. Die Hard 25. The gruesome performance went on and on. TV ratings soared. Ask any television magnate or corporate advertiser who measures broadcast time in seconds, not minutes, what that’s worth.

Eventually the killers died and died hard, all but one. (Perhaps, in the chaos, some escaped. We may never know.)

Throughout the standoff the terrorists made no demands and expressed no desire to negotiate. Their purpose was to kill people, and inflict as much damage as they could, before they were killed themselves. They left us completely bewildered.

Collateral Damage

When we say, “Nothing can justify terrorism,” what most of us mean is that nothing can justify the taking of human life. We say this because we respect life, because we think it’s precious.

So what are we to make of those who care nothing for life, not even their own? The truth is that we have no idea what to make of them, because we can sense that even before they’ve died, they’ve journeyed to another world where we cannot reach them.

One TV channel (India TV) broadcast a phone conversation with one of the attackers, who called himself “Imran Babar.” I cannot vouch for the veracity of the conversation, but the things he talked about were the things contained in the “terror emails” that were sent out before several other bomb attacks in India. Things we don’t want to talk about any more: the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, the genocidal slaughter of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, the brutal repression in Kashmir.

“You’re surrounded,” the anchor told him. “You are definitely going to die. Why don’t you surrender?”

“We die every day,” he replied in a strange, mechanical way. “It’s better to live one day as a lion and then die this way.” He didn’t seem to want to change the world. He just seemed to want to take it down with him.

If the men were indeed members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, why didn’t it matter to them that a large number of their victims were Muslim, or that their action was likely to result in a severe backlash against the Muslim community in India whose rights they claim to be fighting for?

Terrorism is a heartless ideology, and like most ideologies that have their eye on the Big Picture, individuals don’t figure in their calculations except as collateral damage.

It has always been a part of, and often even the aim of, terrorist strategy to exacerbate a bad situation in order to expose hidden fault lines. The blood of “martyrs” irrigates terrorism. Hindu terrorists need dead Hindus, Communist terrorists need dead proletarians, Islamist terrorists need dead Muslims. The dead become the demonstration, the proof of victimhood, which is central to the project.

A single act of terrorism is not in itself meant to achieve military victory; at best it is meant to be a catalyst that triggers something else, something much larger than itself, a tectonic shift, a realignment. The act itself is theater, spectacle, and symbolism, and today the stage on which it pirouettes and performs its acts of bestiality is Live TV. Even as the Mumbai attacks were being condemned by TV anchors, the effectiveness of the terror strikes was being magnified a thousand-fold by the TV broadcasts.

Through the endless hours of analysis and the endless op-ed essays, in India at least, there has been very little mention of the elephants in the room: Kashmir, Gujarat, and the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

Instead, we had retired diplomats and strategic experts debate the pros and cons of a war against Pakistan. We had the rich threatening not to pay their taxes unless their security was guaranteed. (Is it alright for the poor to remain unprotected?) We had people suggest that the government step down and each state in India be handed over to a separate corporation.

We had the death of former Prime Minster V. P. Singh, the hero of Dalits and lower castes, and the villain of upper caste Hindus pass without a mention.

We had Suketu Mehta, author of Maximum City and co-writer of the Bollywood film Mission Kashmir give us his version of George Bush’s famous “Why They Hate Us” speech. His analysis of why religious bigots, both Hindu and Muslim, hate Mumbai: “Perhaps because Mumbai stands for lucre, profane dreams and an indiscriminate openness.”

His prescription: “The best answer to the terrorists is to dream bigger, make even more money, and visit Mumbai more than ever.”

Didn’t George Bush ask Americans to go out and shop after 9/11? Ah yes. 9/11, the day we can’t seem to get away from.

A Shadowy History of Suspicious Terror Attacks

Though one chapter of horror in Mumbai has ended, another might have just begun. Day after day, a powerful, vociferous section of the Indian elite, goaded by marauding TV anchors who make Fox News look almost radical and left-wing, have taken to mindlessly attacking politicians, all politicians, glorifying the police and the army, and virtually asking for a police state.

It isn’t surprising that those who have grown plump on the pickings of democracy (such as it is) should now be calling for a police state. The era of “pickings” is long gone. We’re now in the era of Grabbing by Force, and democracy has a terrible habit of getting in the way.

Dangerous, stupid oversimplifications like the Police are Good/Politicians are Bad, Chief Executives are Good/Chief Ministers are Bad, Army is Good/Government is Bad, India is Good/Pakistan is Bad are being bandied about by TV channels that have already whipped their viewers into a state of almost uncontrollable hysteria.

Tragically this regression into intellectual infancy comes at a time when people in India were beginning to see that, in the business of terrorism, victims and perpetrators sometimes exchange roles.

It’s an understanding that the people of Kashmir, given their dreadful experiences of the last 20 years, have honed to an exquisite art. On the mainland we’re still learning. (If Kashmir won’t willingly integrate into India, it’s beginning to look as though India will integrate/disintegrate into Kashmir.)

It was after the 2001 Parliament attack that the first serious questions began to be raised. A campaign by a group of lawyers and activists exposed how innocent people had been framed by the police and the press, how evidence was fabricated, how witnesses lied, how due process had been criminally violated at every stage of the investigation.

Eventually, the courts acquitted two out of the four accused, including S. A. R. Geelani, the man whom the police claimed was the mastermind of the operation. A third, Showkat Guru, was acquitted of all the charges brought against him, but was then convicted for a fresh, comparatively minor offense.

The Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of another of the accused, Mohammad Afzal. In its judgment the court acknowledged that there was no proof that Mohammed Afzal belonged to any terrorist group, but went on to say, quite shockingly, “The collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender.”

Even today we don’t really know who the terrorists that attacked the Indian Parliament were and who they worked for.

More recently, on September 19th of this year, we had the controversial “encounter” at Batla House in Jamia Nagar, Delhi, where the Special Cell of the Delhi police gunned down two Muslim students in their rented flat under seriously questionable circumstances, claiming that they were responsible for serial bombings in Delhi, Jaipur, and Ahmedabad in 2008. An assistant commissioner of police, Mohan Chand Sharma, who played a key role in the Parliament attack investigation, lost his life as well. He was one of India’s many “encounter specialists,” known and rewarded for having summarily executed several “terrorists.”

There was an outcry against the Special Cell from a spectrum of people, ranging from eyewitnesses in the local community to senior Congress Party leaders, students, journalists, lawyers, academics, and activists, all of whom demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident.

In response, the BJP and L. K. Advani lauded Mohan Chand Sharma as a “Braveheart” and launched a concerted campaign in which they targeted those who had dared to question the integrity of the police, saying to do so was “suicidal” and calling them “anti-national.” Of course, there has been no enquiry.

Only days after the Batla House event, another story about “terrorists” surfaced in the news. In a report submitted to a Sessions Court, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said that a team from Delhi’s Special Cell (the same team that led the Batla House encounter, including Mohan Chand Sharma) had abducted two innocent men, Irshad Ali and Moarif Qamar, in December 2005, planted two kilograms of RDX (explosives) and two pistols on them, and then arrested them as “terrorists” who belonged to Al Badr (which operates out of Kashmir).

Ali and Qamar, who have spent years in jail, are only two examples out of hundreds of Muslims who have been similarly jailed, tortured, and even killed on false charges.

This pattern changed in October 2008 when Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which was investigating the September 2008 Malegaon blasts, arrested a Hindu preacher Sadhvi Pragya, a self-styled God man, Swami Dayanand Pande, and Lt. Col. Purohit, a serving officer of the Indian Army. All the arrested belong to Hindu nationalist organizations, including a Hindu supremacist group called Abhinav Bharat.

The Shiv Sena, the BJP, and the RSS condemned the Maharashtra ATS, and vilified its chief, Hemant Karkare, claiming he was part of a political conspiracy and declaring that “Hindus could not be terrorists.” L. K. Advani changed his mind about his policy on the police and made rabble rousing speeches to huge gatherings in which he denounced the ATS for daring to cast aspersions on holy men and women.

On November 25th, newspapers reported that the ATS was investigating the high profile VHP chief Pravin Togadia’s possible role in the blasts in Malegaon (a predominantly Muslim town). The next day, in an extraordinary twist of fate, Hemant Karkare was killed in the Mumbai attacks. The chances are that the new chief, whoever he is, will find it hard to withstand the political pressure that is bound to be brought on him over the Malegaon investigation.

While the Sangh Parivar does not seem to have come to a final decision over whether or not it is anti-national and suicidal to question the police, Arnab Goswami, anchorperson of Times Now television, has stepped up to the plate. He has taken to naming, demonizing, and openly heckling people who have dared to question the integrity of the police and armed forces.

My name and the name of the well-known lawyer Prashant Bhushan have come up several times. At one point, while interviewing a former police officer, Arnab Goswami turned to the camera: “Arundhati Roy and Prashant Bhushan,” he said. “I hope you are watching this. We think you are disgusting.”

For a TV anchor to do this in an atmosphere as charged and as frenzied as the one that prevails today amounts to incitement, as well as threat, and would probably in different circumstances have cost a journalist his or her job.

So, according to a man aspiring to be the next prime minister of India, and another who is the public face of a mainstream TV channel, citizens have no right to raise questions about the police.

This in a country with a shadowy history of suspicious terror attacks, murky investigations, and fake “encounters.” This in a country that boasts of the highest number of custodial deaths in the world, and yet refuses to ratify the international covenant on torture. A country where the ones who make it to torture chambers are the lucky ones because at least they’ve escaped being “encountered” by our Encounter Specialists. A country where the line between the underworld and the Encounter Specialists virtually does not exist.

The Monster in the Mirror

How should those of us whose hearts have been sickened by the knowledge of all of this view the Mumbai attacks, and what are we to do about them?

There are those who point out that U.S. strategy has been successful inasmuch as the United States has not suffered a major attack on its home ground since 9/11. However, some would say that what America is suffering now is far worse.

If the idea behind the 9/11 terror attacks was to goad America into showing its true colors, what greater success could the terrorists have asked for? The U.S. military is bogged down in two unwinnable wars, which have made the United States the most hated country in the world. Those wars have contributed greatly to the unraveling of the American economy and who knows, perhaps eventually the American empire.

(Could it be that battered, bombed Afghanistan, the graveyard of the Soviet Union, will be the undoing of this one too?)

Hundreds of thousands of people, including thousands of American soldiers, have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. The frequency of terrorist strikes on U.S. allies/agents (including India) and U.S. interests in the rest of the world has increased dramatically since 9/11.

George W. Bush, the man who led the U.S. response to 9/11, is a despised figure not just internationally, but also by his own people.

Who can possibly claim that the United States is winning the War on Terror?

Homeland Security has cost the U.S. government billions of dollars. Few countries, certainly not India, can afford that sort of price tag. But even if we could, the fact is that this vast homeland of ours cannot be secured or policed in the way the United States has been. It’s not that kind of homeland.

We have a hostile nuclear-weapons state that is slowly spinning out of control as a neighbor; we have a military occupation in Kashmir and a shamefully persecuted, impoverished minority of more than 150 million Muslims who are being targeted as a community and pushed to the wall, whose young see no justice on the horizon, and who, were they to totally lose hope and radicalize, will end up as a threat not just to India, but to the whole world.

If 10 men can hold off the NSG commandos and the police for three days, and if it takes half a million soldiers to hold down the Kashmir valley, do the math. What kind of Homeland Security can secure India?

Nor for that matter will any other quick fix.

Anti-terrorism laws are not meant for terrorists; they’re for people that governments don’t like. That’s why they have a conviction rate of less than 2%. They’re just a means of putting inconvenient people away without bail for a long time and eventually letting them go.

Terrorists like those who attacked Mumbai are hardly likely to be deterred by the prospect of being refused bail or being sentenced to death. It’s what they want.

What we’re experiencing now is blowback, the cumulative result of decades of quick fixes and dirty deeds. The carpet’s squelching under our feet.

The only way to contain — it would be naïve to say end — terrorism is to look at the monster in the mirror. We’re standing at a fork in the road. One sign says “Justice,” the other “Civil War.” There’s no third sign and there’s no going back. Choose.

Arundhati Roy was born in 1959 in Shillong, India. She studied architecture in New Delhi, where she now lives, and has worked as a film designer, actor, and screenplay writer in India. A tenth anniversary edition of her novel, The God of Small Things (Random House), for which she received the 1997 Booker Prize, will be officially published within days. She is also the author of numerous nonfiction titles, including An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire. This piece was published by Outlook India


Copyright 2008 Arundhati Roy

Moscow’s “Big Surprise” to Lebanon under Consideration

The United States, however, refuses to arm the LAF with adequate arms for “it jeopardizes the military supremacy of Israel in the region!”

Moscow’s “Big Surprise” to Lebanon under Consideration

Hussein Assi Readers Number : 110

17/12/2008 The “major surprise” announced by Defense Minister Elias al-Murr on Tuesday from the Russian capital regarding a Russian will to provide the Lebanese Army with 10 MiG-29 fighter jets continued to stimulate welcoming stands within Lebanon, amid a “suspicious” Israeli calm and serious doubts that the government would engage into such a deal.

On Tuesday, Murr declared that Russia intends to provide Lebanon with 10 MiG-29 fighters. Interestingly enough, though, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, did not confirm the Lebanese announcement, merely indicating that “Russia has received a list of the Lebanese Armed Forces’ needs.”

Furthermore, Russian ambassador to Lebanon told Lebanese daily As-Safir that he did not have any official information about the mentioned deal. Yet, he reiterated the Russian commitment to establish developed and sophisticated relations with Lebanon at all possible levels and domains.

Meanwhile, the announcement raised several questions pertaining to its timing on the domestic and foreign levels, the relevant “costs” and the period subsequent to the receipt of the 10 fighters. Sources close to the United States told Lebanese daily Ad-Diyar that the US was taken by surprise by the arms deal with Russia.

Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar quoted well-informed sources in the Lebanese military institution as saying that the Russian side has declared its readiness to provide Lebanon with the modern weapons it needs, adding that the Russian weapons market was open to Lebanon. The sources also said that the army was ready to send its officers for training on the weapons, including the aircrafts. But the sources stressed that the whole issue was dependent on the Lebanese cabinet’s decision, explaining that such level of arming would have political and financial dimensions.

Historically, the United States is main provider of arms to the Lebanese army. The provided equipment, however, consist of light weapons, spare parts and vehicles. The Lebanese army has become in dire need for sophisticated defensive systems to face Israeli threats and violation of Lebanese sovereignty. The United States, however, refuses to arm the LAF with adequate arms for “it jeopardizes the military supremacy of Israel in the region!”

Moreover, a ministerial source told the same daily that the actual political and financial status of the national-unity government would make the engagement into the mentioned deal difficult. The source expressed fears that the Zionist entity, which hasn’t yet commented on the news, would not deal smoothly with the issue. “The Zionist entity would launch a diplomatic campaign against the deal,” the source predicted, warning that it might follow it with a military action “since it considers providing the army with weapons a real danger on its security.”

In the same context, diplomatic sources didn’t rule out the possibility that the Zionist entity would fiercely attack the deal even though it perceives that the number of the would-be provided jets cannot be compared to its air force. Yet, the sources told Lebanese daily An-Nahar that Tel Aviv would express fear that the MiGs would be used to obstruct its daily violation of the Lebanese airspace.

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has previously called on all friendly countries to well equip the army, and urged the Lebanese government to buy arms from the black market to render the Lebanese army strong as it should be in the face of Israel.

The United States: A Country Without Mercy

The United States: A Country Without Mercy

By Paul Craig Roberts

December 16, 2008 “Information Clearinghouse — The Christmas season is a time to remember the unfortunate, among whom are those who have been wrongly convicted.

In the United States, the country with the largest prison population in the world, the number of wrongly convicted is very large. Hardly any felony charges are resolved with trials. The vast majority of defendants, both innocent and guilty, are coerced into plea bargains. Not only are the innocent framed, but the guilty as well. It is quicker and less expensive to frame the guilty than to convict them on the evidence.

Many Americans are wrongfully convicted, because they trust the justice system. They naively believe that police and prosecutors are moved by evidence and have a sense of justice. The trust they have in authorities makes them easy victims of a system that has no moral conscience and is untroubled by the injustice it perpetrates.

Lt. William Strong, son of a military family, tired of his wife’s unfaithfulness and filed for divorce. The unfaithful wife retaliated by accusing Strong of rape. There was no evidence of rape, but Strong was deceived into a plea bargain. Once Strong entered a plea, he was double-crossed and given 60 years.

Christophe Gaynor took an adolescent skate board team to New York City for a competition. One of the kids attempted to buy illicit drugs. Gaynor threatened to tell the boy’s parents, and the boy preempted Gaynor by accusing him of sexual molestation.

Gaynor was openly framed in the Arlington, Virginia, court system.

Americans, or perhaps more accurately some Americans, were horrified by the photographs showing the torture of Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib by the US military. The Senate Armed Services Committee has issued a report which concludes that the torture policy originated at the highest level of the Bush administration. Those Americans with a moral conscience have reeled under further revelations–the torture of Guantanamo detainees, the transport of people seized by US authorities to third world countries to be tortured.

We have to ask ourselves why American service men and women and CIA operatives delight in torturing people about whom they know nothing? It has been well known since the Stalin era that torture never produces accurate information. Yet, US soldiers and CIA personnel jumped at the green light given to torture by President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and the US Department of Justice. Why weren’t our soldiers shocked instead at the immorality of their leaders?

One answer is that the US military no longer operates according to a code of honor. Military discipline in the traditional sense does not exist. The ethos of the US military has degenerated into kick-ass macho. Major General Taguba, who, instead of covering up the Abu Ghraib scandal, attempted in his report to hold the US military to its traditional principles, was forced to resign from the US Army.

Another answer is that the work of torture, like police work and prosecutorial work, attracts brutal people who enjoy inflicting harm on others. The two Republican female US Attorneys in Alabama who framed Democratic Governor Seligman enjoyed ruining Seligman and bringing grief to his family.

Deborah Davies of the BBC’s Channel 4 undertook a four-month investigation of the torture of American prisoners inside American prisons. Videos taken by sadistic prison guards and videos recovered from surveillance cameras reveal horrible acts of torture and even of murder of prisoners by prison guards.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article8451.htm

An American prison reformer told Deborah Davies, “We’ve become immune to the abuse. The brutality has become customary.”

Few Americans seem to be disturbed as these inhumane and illegal practices continue unabated. Americans continue to see themselves as the salt of the earth, the “indispensable people.”

“Law and order conservatives” have a great responsibility for this evil. Just as “law and order conservatives” created hysteria among the people about crime, they created hysteria about terrorists. Hysterical people condone great evils and arm government with power in the mistaken belief that it will protect them.

What kind of people have we become when we exercise no oversight over a criminal justice (sic) system that destroys the lives of innocent people and locks them away in prisons to be tortured by sadistic guards?

Are we suicidal?

Are we suicidal?

December 16, 2008.
I am searching for what one might do, efficaciously, to avert the looming attack by India on Pakistan. The following report in PressTV has greatly depressed me this morning even before I could have my cup of tea (usually I try to wait until my first cup of chai before reading the news): ‘India gearing up for Pakistan attack.’

I am greatly distressed at the jingoistic tone being set by many Pakistanis, on many Pakistani websites – are we collectively suicidal?

A people who can’t feed ourselves want to take on a war with India? Fly Pakistani flag on India? By what chutzpah? What insanity? What right?

Many of our brethren appear to be cheering this guy Zaid Hamid – a self-anointed defense-analyst who jingoistically took on the Indian Intelligence operative Bharat Verma in a conversation on a Pakistani television news talk show, the latter also presenting himself as a defense analyst and spewing disinformation – in the typical “bharhki marna” Punjabi style (see ‘Kal Tak with Javed Choudhry’ which aired on December 12th, 2008 ).

<!– /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:””; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} h1 {mso-margin-top-alt:auto; margin-right:0in; mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; margin-left:0in; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; mso-outline-level:1; font-size:24.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”;} a:link, span.MsoHyperlink {color:blue; text-decoration:underline; text-underline:single;} a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed {color:purple; text-decoration:underline; text-underline:single;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:70.85pt 70.85pt 70.85pt 70.85pt; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –>
/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-ansi-language:#0400;
mso-fareast-language:#0400;
mso-bidi-language:#0400;}
To me, Mr. Verma is a desi replica of Bernard Lewis. His analysis are likely seeded in the same imperial foundations and think-tanks along the Potomac. His position paper in the Indian Defense Review seems right out of a neo-con planning guide “Stable Pakistan not in India’s interest” http://www.indiandefencereview.com/?p=354

To respond to a ‘Bernard Lewis’ in that way is to fall entirely in his trap. These are maestros of human and social psyche, psyops and disinformation, ‘tickling the enemy’ to respond the way they want to is their forte, as disclosed in “Press Release WHAT’S TO BE DONE – Massive Bomb Blast in Islamabad Marriott September 20, 2008.” http://tinyurl.com/6l6g59

Not not only have they understood the Muslim psyche penetratingly well, but also the Hindu psyche. They are orchestrating a fight between India and Pakistan so that the long-planned dismemberment agenda for Pakistan can be continued further. The endgame was disclosed in “Wakeup to the grotesque reality of the ‘Grand Chessboard’” http://tinyurl.com/3mf3ab

Is this Zaid Hamid a patsy or a mercenary, deliberately fanning the flames of already impending war that requires little assistance from any Pakistani, right according to the script outlined in the ‘Bernard Lewis plan’ for the dismemberment of Pakistan?

And it is incredibly distressing to me that such display of jingoism is going down rather well on both sides of the border in a positive feedback loop of self-sustaining jingoism. Are we suicidal as a people?
Furthermore, is the dismemberment of Pakistan already fait accompli? Or is there some way to avert it – assuming mercenaries will always remain in charge (just as they always have been)?

Is the ordinary man entirely out of the loop, everywhere? A simple commonsense perspective shows that ought not to be the case (ala La Boetie, see “Happy Happy in Hope and Voluntary Servitude”
http://tinyurl.com/59ncew ), and yet, that is indeed very much the case, everywhere.

Zahir Ebrahim
Project Humanbeingsfirst.org
http://humanbeingsfirst.org
California, United States of America

FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH

[THE FOLLOWING IS AN ASTONISHING ADMISSION OF INDIA’S REAL INTENT IN ITS MILITARY EXPANSION INTO AFGHANISTAN AND THE INDIAN OCEAN, THE ELIMINATION OF PAKISTAN AS A STATE AND A FLANKING MANEUVER TO CUT CHINA OFF FROM CENTRAL ASIAN PIPELINE ROUTES AND ACCESS TO THE INDIAN OCEAN AT THE PORT OF GWADAR, GOALS THAT ARE IDENTICAL TO AMERICAN IMPERIAL DESIGNS FOR THE REGION.  STARTING WORLD WAR III IS IMPORTANT ENOUGH TO SACRIFICE A FEW HUNDRED MUMBAI CITIZENS TO IGNITE IT.]

Stable Pakistan not in India’s interest

By Bharat Verma
Issue: Vol. 23.3

Indians pose the biggest threat to the union of India. The reason is simple. An average Indian does not constitute a nation but is merely an individual. His personal well-being overrides all other considerations including the national interests.

Therefore, many have begun to propagate parting of Kashmir in their write-ups, since it does not belong individually to them. However, imagine the hue and cry if their personal property and family is held hostage by the terrorists. They will sing a different tune!

The blame lies with New Delhi. For the past sixty years, instead of consolidating the Union, leaders encouraged divisiveness on the basis of religion and caste for sheer vote bank politics. Instead of unifying its citizenry with good governance and increasing their stakes through prosperity, so that they may serve the cause of the nation with honor, it has treated its citizens with unprecedented shabbiness. The result is groups of citizens have risen against the state, mostly for lack of economic progress and denial of justice. Such disgruntled groups are being taken advantage of by the external forces inimical to India.

highlight-1.jpg

There can never be unity in diversity. Unity requires a fair amount of uniformity in laws throughout the Union.

That New Delhi is its own enemy became obvious, when it permitted the creation of a pure Islamic State on its borders. This nation-state contradicts every democratic and multi-cultural values dear to India.

Therefore, if New Delhi has not slept a wink since the creation of Pakistan, it has no one except itself to blame!

Islamabad, besides the wars it imposed on New Delhi, extended its so-called Islamic purity to the Kashmir Valley by instigating the locals to carry out ethnic cleansing of the minority communities.

Hence, first we created a state with inbuilt characteristic of fundamentalism, and extreme philosophy contrary to our professed beliefs; then the monster in it started ethnic cleansing in the Valley; and engineered demographic changes through Bangladesh in West Bengal, Assam and the Northeast. Saudi Arabia and other Islamic oil-rich countries pitched in with the petro-dollars in support. All in the cause of the illusion called Ummah and establishing the Caliphate!

The Indian leadership for its personal vote-bank gains helped these inimical forces by bringing the IMDT in Assam. Later, it was slammed as illegal by the Supreme Court. Too late – the damage was done, as the Union’s overburdened security forces, grapple with 15 million illegal Bangladesh infiltrators creating mayhem in the society.

Islamabad, Dhaka, and now Kathmandu, spurred on by  Beijing, have united with the singular agenda to unhook the Valley and the Northeast from the Union. In addition, they are instigating the Maoists who control almost forty percent of the Union’s territory, to set up a parallel government, and ultimately, like the Maoists in Nepal, win the elections in pockets of their influence, and impose a regressive authoritarian governments in tune with their own regime. Simple. Brilliant. And yet, New Delhi, instead of consolidating and unifying the Union, continues to divide its citizenry in religious or caste denominations.

In the past sixty years, New Delhi’s muddle-headed policies encouraged separatism.

highlight-2.jpg

Instead of ensuring diffusion of secular pan-Indian culture, and integration of the society by encouraging Indians from all over to buy and develop land and industry in the Valley and the Northeast, it imposed restrictions on such settlements. Meanwhile, Pakistan and Bangladesh exported their fundamentalist populations to change the demographic hues in their interest. The ugly separatist face of the agitation in the Valley today is the consequence of the dereliction of the fundamental duty by the Union.

The trend needs to be reversed forcibly by integrating the Valley firmly into the Indian mainstream by creating a secular mix of population through industrialisation.

Many conveniently propose the myth that a stable Pakistan is in India’s interest. This is a false proposition.

The truth is that Pakistan is bad news for the Indian Union since 1947-stable or otherwise.

It is factually correct that Islamabad has enjoyed brief periods of stability in the span of sixty years of its existence. However, during these phases of stability, it continued to export terrorism, fake currency, narcotics, and indulged in attempts to change demographics on our borders, cultivated sleeper cells and armed groups inside our territory to create an uprising at an appropriate time. Also, it aligned with Beijing and other powers, in a mutually beneficial scheme, to tie-down and ultimately cause a territorial split of the Union.

With Pakistan on the brink of collapse due to massive internal as well as international contradictions, it is matter of time before it ceases to exist.

Multiple benefits will accrue to the Union of India on such demise.

If ever the national interests are defined with clarity and prioritised, the foremost threat to the Union (and for centuries before) materialised on the western periphery, continuously. To defend this key threat to the Union, New Delhi should extend its influence through export of both, soft and hard power towards Central Asia from where invasions have been mounted over centuries.  Cessation of Pakistan as a state facilitates furtherance of this pivotal national objective.

The self-destructive path that Islamabad chose will either splinter the state into many parts or it will wither away-a case of natural progression to its logical conclusion. In either case Baluchistan will achieve independence. For New Delhi this opens a window of opportunity to ensure that the Gwadar port does not fall into the hands of the Chinese. In this, there is synergy between the political objectives of the Americans and the Indians. Our existing goodwill in Baluchistan requires intelligent leveraging.

highlight-3.jpg

Sindh and most of the non-Punjabi areas of Pakistan will be our new friends.

Pakistan’s breakup will be a major setback to the Jihad Factory, as the core of this is located in Pakistan, and functions with the help of its army and the ISI. This in turn will ease pressures on India and the international community.

With China’s one arm, i.e. Pakistan disabled, its expansionist plans will receive a severe jolt. Beijing continues to pose primary threat to New Delhi. Even as we continue to engage with it as constructively as possible, we must strive to remove the proxy. At the same time, it is prudent to extend moral support to the people of Tibet to sink Chinese expansionism in the morass of insurgency.

For a change, let us do to them what they do to us!

The chances of Central Asia getting infected with the Jihadi fervour will recede. Afghanistan will gain fair amount of stability. India’s access to Central Asian energy routes will open up. With disintegration of ISI’s inimical activities of infiltration and pushing of fake currency into India, from Nepal and Bangladesh will cease. Within the Union social harmony will improve enormously. Export of Islamic fundamentalism, with its 360-degree sweep from Islamabad, will vanish. Even a country like Thailand will heave a sigh of relief!

Above all, the gathering storm of threat from a united group of authoritarian regimes along our 14,000 km borders, orchestrated and synchronised by Pakistan will dissolve.

At the height of the recent disturbances in the Valley, when a general asked me for a suggestion to resolve the issue, I said: “Remove Pakistan. The threat will disappear permanently.”  Today the collapse of Pakistan as a state is almost certain. All the King’s men cannot save it from itself.

Looking ahead, New Delhi should formulate an appropriate strategy for ‘post-Pakistan scenario’ to secure India’s interests in Central Asia.

It is intriguing, therefore, to hear New Delhi mouthing the falsehood that stable Pakistan is in India’s interest. Perpetuation of such illogic for vote-bank politics is harming consolidation and integration of the Union. Short-sighted politicians as usual are overlooking the national interest for the short-term personal gains of few votes!

Bharat Verma, Editor Indian Defence Review