Archive for September, 2010

INDIA: Pot calling the kettle black

September 30, 2010

Asian Human Rights Commission, Sept 29, 2010

The argument between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan concerning Kashmir during the UN General Assembly debate exposes the lack of respect both these governments entertain for their people, particularly to those living in Kashmir and for international human rights norms. Pakistan, as a member state of the UN has every right to publically point fingers at its neighbour, India, concerning human rights abuses committed by India in Kashmir. So has India a right to highlight the accuser’s appalling human rights standards in reply.

Accusation and counter accusation will not help to ameliorate the current situation of Kashmiris living on both sides of the border. To say the least, the debate only resulted in the folly of the pot calling the kettle black. Unfortunately it is at the expense of the taxpayers’ money. It is anybody’s guess what these ministers could achieve by holding a bilateral discussion in New York, though it is certain that the meeting will do nothing to end the ongoing violence in Kashmir, irrespective of which side of the international border it is committed.

India on its part is engaged in violence with impunity in Kashmir not a bit less than its neighbour, Pakistan, in the Kashmir Pakistan occupies. Both countries are engaged in sabotage and counter sabotage, infiltrating each other’s borders. For India, these sabotages have largely remained within the limited realm of a military and political requirement for a ‘tit for tat’ reply and to stir up trouble to keep the perceived enemy busy.

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Radha Surya: The Betrayal of Kashmir

September 30, 2010

Seeking Forgiveness

By Radha Surya, ZNet,  September 30, 2010
Radha Surya’s ZSpace Page

Defenseless or armed only with the ammunition of the powerless, the stone-pelting Kashmiri youngsters took on the lethal weapons of India’s paramilitary forces. They surged forward breaking curfew and defying death. Many were mowed down over the summer by the remorseless gunfire of paramilitary forces. One hundred and eight young people—pre-teen as well as teenaged boys–perished between June and September. And as cries of azadi (freedom) rent the air, an initially indifferent New Delhi found itself confronting yet again the demand of self-determination for Kashmir. Summer 2008 had been the last time Kashmir had seen violent suppression on a comparable scale. Later that year, assembly elections that were held in November witnessed higher than expected turnout rates in Jammu and Kashmir. Consequently they were hailed by New Delhi and much of India as a grand success. It was fondly believed that the specter of secession had been laid to rest. The summer’s death toll and the turmoil in which the valley has been plunged since June have put paid to these sanguine expectations. Even as late as mid-September paramilitary bullets continued to claim the lives of Kashmir’s children in full view of the local, the national and international press. And—in the words of an academic expert–Kashmir’s summer of discontent gave way to an autumn of woe.

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By Helping America, Pakistan Kills Itself

September 30, 2010

Now NATO gunships

The Nation, Pakistan, September 29, 2010

AS so many had been predicting, if the Pakistani state did not delink itself from the misguided US ‘war on terror’, the US would eventually shift the centre of gravity of the war from Afghanistan to Pakistan and move militarily into Pakistani territory. This is exactly what is now happening. Already the US has been carrying out drone attacks against Pakistanis, killing thousands of innocent citizens in their wake and perhaps in the process a few militants also. Meanwhile, US covert operatives and Special Forces have spread themselves all over Pakistan and these revelations and warnings in the Pakistani media have been there for some time.

Now the US has begun the next phase of its agenda targeting Pakistan and that is the aerial gunship attacks from across the Afghan border into Pakistan. On Friday NATO admitted that two gunship helicopters had entered Pakistan and killed 30 people – euphemistically termed “suspected militants” – just as Dr Aafia has been penalised for being a “suspected terrorist”! Since the government of Pakistan has to its eternal shame, kept silent on this new military targeting of Pakistani citizens, NATO has undoubtedly become emboldened and on Monday two gunship helicopters again came into Pakistani territory and killed a few more citizens – so far the tally is five killed in Kurram Agency.

Accompanying this new upping of the military ante inside Pakistan, the US drone attacks continue – with their frequency rising rapidly especially after Obama’s coming to power in the US. Almost daily there are reports of 10 people or more killed by these unmanned drones – as if Pakistani lives were worth nothing. Perhaps the US is right about this as far as Pakistani rulers are concerned since President Zardari is said to have told the CIA Chief that collateral damage from the drones was not an issue that bothered him!

The Ineffable Lobby

September 30, 2010
Paul R. Pillar, The National Interest, Sep 29, 2010

Image of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign PolicyThe Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy Lately one hasn’t heard much of the screaming against the observation that supporters of a certain Middle Eastern state exercise influence over U.S. policy that is well out of proportion to what a clear focus on U.S. interests would dictate. That’s because the observation doesn’t get voiced very much.  The screaming reached a crescendo three years ago when John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt published their book on the subject.  Evidently the vituperation, often accompanied by reckless charges of anti-Semitism, that was heaped on those two scholars and anyone else daring to make similar observations about this dimension of the making of U.S. foreign policy has been sufficient to keep the subject out of most discussions among polite company.

But I can’t help noticing that in commentary about construction of Israeli settlements in occupied territory and the role this construction is playing in impeding Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, some of the same quarters that have been quickest to shout down the idea that the powerful lobby in question exists have been providing some of the clearest evidence that it does exist and continues to shape important aspects of U.S. policy.  When President Obama earlier this year attempted to insist on a cessation of settlement construction in the interest of facilitating peace talks, he was berated for taking a stand that supposedly was unreasonable and unwise and then, after he duly backed down in the face of Benjamin Netanyahu’s recalcitrance, was told that his mistake was not in backing down but instead in ever making an issue of settlement construction in the first place.  Now, amid discussions over the expiration of Netanyahu’s moratorium on settlement construction, the U.S. position is again one of pointing out the unhelpful effects of resuming construction activity but stopping short of doing anything that would be effective in ending the Israeli recalcitrance.  And again we hear from supporters of Israeli policies that the United States ought to bow not only to Israeli behavior but to the preferences on this issue of the hardest line elements in Netanyahu’s coalition government.  Those elements are represented most visibly by Foreign Minister (and West Bank settler) Avigdor Lieberman, who on Tuesday treated the United Nations General Assembly to the spectacle of a speech in which he renounced the final status negotiations to which his own government supposedly is committed.

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Robert Gates: ‘We’re Not Ever Leaving’ Afghanistan

September 30, 2010

Marcus Baram, The Huffington Post, Sep 29, 2010

Gates
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In a shocking indication of a split between the White House and the Pentagon over the war in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates believes that the U.S. military will never leave the war-torn country.

During a dinner hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for Afghan President Hamid Karzai in May, Gates reminded the group that he still feels guilty for his role in the first President Bush’s decision to pull out of Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, according to Bob Woodward’s new book, “Obama’s Wars.” And to express his commitment to not letting down the country again, he emphasized:

“We’re not leaving Afghanistan prematurely,” Gates finally said. “In fact, we’re not ever leaving at all.”

Woodward notes that the group was shocked by the blunt comment: “At least one stunned participant put down his fork. Another wrote it down, verbatim, in his notes.”

The definitive statement seems to clash with President Obama’s assertion that he does not want to leave the war to his successor. Though he has emphasized that the U.S. will stay in Afghanistan “until the job is done,” he wants almost all the US troops out before the end of his first term in January 2013, leaving in place a small contingency force.

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Walkout on Ahmadinejad at UN: The Craven Whores Doth Protest Too Much

September 29, 2010
Dr K R Bolton, Foreign Policy Journal,  Sep 28, 2010

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

While it is all very easy for the news media, sundry interest groups, and government functionaries throughout the world to dismiss Dr Ahmadinejad as a Mad Mullah beyond the ken of rational debate, perhaps that is because Iran’s president poses questions that are too near the mark to allow a sensible hearing.

As if it weren’t enough being the leader of a large Islamic nation that does not kowtow to the USA and to Israel, Dr Ahmadinejad put himself beyond redemption for eternity by suggesting that “holocaust revisionism” should be subjected to the same standards of scholarly scrutiny as any other historical matter,[1] and like the Left-wing Jewish academic Prof. Norman G Finkelstein, suggested that the holocaust was being exploited for political and economic motives.[2] Being Jewish, Left-wing and the son of parents who had survived both the Warsaw Ghetto and Nazi concentration camps,[3] didn’t save Finkelstein from the Zionist smear-brigade, so Dr Ahmadinejad is not about to be cut any slack.

When Dr Ahmadinejad reached the UN podium on September 24, it is certain that Israel, the USA and sundry lackeys to both states, waited with baited breath to see what the president would do this time to try and expose their corrupt system before what remains of states that have any sense of national sovereignty and dignity. The reaction of the delegates from the USA, Australia, New Zealand, all 27 delegates from the EU states, Canada, and Costa Rica was to walk out en mass — the response of those who have nothing thoughtful or honest to offer. In New Zealand’s case, our state relies of moral posturing at world forums to compensate for national impotence.

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Pakistan: Gen. Beg demands right for Pak Air Force to shoot down ISAF copters, drones

September 29, 2010

NewKerala.com, Sep 29, 2010

Islamabad, Sept 29 : Former Pakistani army chief, General Mirza Aslam Beg, has criticised the government for involving Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in the conflict between the executive and the judiciary, and also demanded that the Pakistan Air Force should be given the task to shoot down ISAF helicopters and drones involved in attacks in the county’s territories.

The Nation quoted Gen Beg as saying that the army chief was not supposed to be part of the statement issued after the meeting.

“This was a prohibited area for him. The president and the prime minister had involved the army chief in a matter from which he was supposed to keep away,” he added.

Referring to the implementation of the Supreme Court’s verdict on the National Reconciliation Ordinance as a matter between the judiciary and the government, he added: “The government has set a very bad precedent – in fact done a disservice by sucking in the army chief in a field which was not his domain”.

He said it appeared that the government was trying to make the army a party to the dispute.

Gen Beg further said that the meeting that took place on Monday had quite different implications as it took place on a day when the Supreme Court was hearing a case of the government’s failure in an attempt to urge the Swiss authorities to re-open President Asif Ali Zardari’s money laundering case.

The case was earlier closed on the basis of an unauthorised communication sent by the previous government.

Badri Raina: Ayodhya and what it Implies

September 29, 2010

Badri Raina, Sep 29, 2010

The Supreme Court having dismissed a Special Leave Petition seeking deferment of the Allahabad High Court judgement which was slated to be delivered on the 24th of September, the decks have been cleared for the said judgement to be pronounced now at 3.30 afternoon tomorrow, the 30th of September, 2010.

At the heart of the issue in court is a title suit to determine who is in rightful possession of the site where the demolished mosque stood—a Muslim organization or a Hindu one.

Remarkably, after some sixty years of litigation in the matter, all parties to the dispute have welcomed the prospect of a legal determination regardless of who wins or loses, or whether the judgement-to-come confronts the parties with a mixed bag of determinations. But leaving the way open to all to go in appeal to the Supreme Court depending on how the chips fall.

It is to be recalled that one justification preferred for the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992 was that the courts were taking forever, and that the Rambakhts were thus obliged to take matters into their own gruesome hands to level the ground for the construction of a “grand” temple to lord Ram, who they simply believe was born at the very exact spot where the main dome of the mosque stood.

Interestingly, the BJP whose stalwarts were in the forefront of the demolition event on December 6, 1992, and which till now had been holding to the view that the Constitution and the Courts have no locus standi in the matter of “civilizational” convictions, seems suddenly as fervently favourable to the judicial pronouncement as the Muslim litigants who have consistently argued that any final legal determination of the matter will be accepted by them without demur, however it turns out for their side.

The BJP’s new stance of course may not be as straightforward or upright as it seems. As much as we can forsee, having understood that the national mood in India is visibly transformed, it will be their further tactics to “go to the people” come national hustings and ask for a legislative majority in parliament so as they can legislate that “grand temple” to be “lawfully” constructed at Ayodhya—something they have tried before and failed to achieve. Which suggests importantly (something that tends to be brushed under the polemical carpet) that however they have sought to make the temple issue a “Hindu” one, endorsement for such a read has not been forthcoming. Remarkably, to this day, the BJP has failed to obtain the electoral patronage of some 70% among the Hindu electorate.

Cannily, most Hindu Indians who after all are not averse to a Ram temple being built also understand that it is not the temple so much that the BJP and the Sangh Parivar want as an anti-Muslim political and civilizational assertion, and a seal on the fascist view that the concerns and convictions of the sectarian-cultural majority must take precedence over electoral majorities as mandated by the Constitutional regime. A programme that ordinary Indians across the board do not concur with.

We have often defined India’s democracy as indeed still work-in-progress. There has been no better evidence of that than the manner in which two momentous arms of the state have through the years tended to deal with the Ayodhya imbroglio, namely the Executive and the Media.

In 1992, the year of the watershed demolition of the mosque, the central government led by the “secular” Congress party simply went into deep siesta the whole day long, allowing the vandals and the criminals to finish off the job in glee and glamour. And even now when there is overwhelming demand on all sides that the court be allowed to pronounce on the title suit, the characteristic pusillanimity of the Congress remains unaffected: it would much rather avoid having to assert the Constitutionally obligatory mandate of the State to sort out the publicly disorderly consequences, if any, of the judicial pronouncement, but will reluctantly do so if the parties to the suit fail to reconcile—something they have failed to do over six long decades of trying.

All that in stark contrast to its willingness to launch “operation greenhunt” against recalcitrant tribals in some six states of India and to fire real bullets at stone-pelting teenagers in the valley of Kashmir.

At the heart of the pusillanimity, let us repeat, has been the peculiar version of secularism adopted by the State from its inception, namely not a separation of church and state, but an “equal” regard of all religious faiths.

Clearly, where some 85% of all Indians are Hindus of one kind or another, that mandate of “equal” regard finds its own disequilibrium in the politics of “mainstream” India. Just as dependable citizenship remains coloured by denominational proclivities and preferences.

For those reasons, therefore, (and especially when a “new” young India refuses to be much drawn to the dispute), it will remain to be seen how the Congress party and the state led by it now rise to the occasion. No more inspiring words than those of the Supreme Court that just as the judiciary cannot be prevented form doing its job, it is for the State to do its.

As to the Media, especially of the big corporate variety: its class allegiance willy nilly obliges it to oscillate between the Congress and the BJP, its dream of long that such a two-party dispensation comes to gel to the exclusion of the plethora of other political formations whose agendas tend to be either inimical to big business or wholly localized and “socially retrograde.”

And between the Congress and the BJP, it has tended to prefer the latter for its more openly and completely market-friendly predilections. And where the BJP practices a non-lethal variety of religiosity, this is also seen as a boon, to the extent that such a stance taps the energies of the mass of working Hindus whose devotions to the deities are legendary, keeping them away from mobilizing on livelihood issues. No better ploy to keep the pretentious politics of the Left in its sidelined place. It is only when a communal mayhem is let loose that the corporate media begins to fidget, since the image of an India on the march to accumulation and profit maximization is then severely dented and thwarted.

In the current moment, there is evidence that some sections of this media are more boldly out to support the Constitutional assertion of the judiciary and the state than they have been hitherto.

Some others who have been more closely in embrace with the BJP are strangely and distressingly heard to counter the general mood in favour of a judicial determination of the Ayodhya issue with the old “tea party” argument about the non-justiciability of “faith.” A sort of back-up to the clandestine BJP position which the party itself for now seems to have suspended in the hope that any further prolonged career of the dispute in the Supreme Court will open the route to its demand for an electoral majority so that the temple construction be legislated.

But, finally, more than all these, a great deal of what may or may not transpire will depend on new civil society and mass attitudes to the judicial verdict due tomorrow.

A distinct watershed moment then in the post-Independent history of “modernizing” India which will tell us whether the Constitutional clock moves ahead or suffers a circum ambulatory regression in time.

Obama Argues for Continuation of Afghan War

September 29, 2010

Insists War Not Technically a Failure Since It’s Still Going On

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, September 28, 2010

The latest in a growing list of things which President Obama has admitted wound up being harder than he thought is the disastrous war in Afghanistan, which is approaching its tenth year with worsening security and no end in sight.

But the war can’t technically be called a failure, Obama insisted, even though it has all the trappings of one, since it isn’t technically over yet. He also insisted the war would have to continue primarily on the basis that he can’t think of anything better to do.

Obama insisted that the Taliban’s return wouldn’t make the world safe, and therefore he wasn’t going to end the war, he also conceded that it is likely to continue for many years to come, which is in keeping with what a number of military officials have been saying.

Oddly President Obama blamed the lack of military victory in Afghanistan on the war in Iraq, which is strange because only weeks ago the president was championing the claims of military victory in Iraq and thanking President Bush for his “commitment.”

US soldier admits gruesome killing of Afghan civilians

September 29, 2010

M&G News, Sep 27, 2010

Washington – One of five US soldiers charged with premeditated murder described his unit leader as ordering the gruesome death of unarmed Afghan civilians in a military interrogation video obtained by US media on Monday.

Corporal Jeremy Morlock, who faced a pretrial military hearing Monday in Washington state, admitted in the interrogation his role in the slayings of three Afghans. He described how his ‘crazy’ Staff Sargent Calvin Gibbs would seek out civilians and order them killed by the military unit.

‘We identify a guy. Gibbs makes a comment, like, you know, ‘You guys wanna wax this guy or what?” Morlock told the military interrogators.

The soldiers allegedly cut off fingers and other body parts of their victims to keep as trophies, according to charging documents released earlier this month. The murders were allegedly committed in January, February and May by the soldiers from an armoured brigade out of Washington that was deployed to Afghanistan’s Kandahar province.

Morlock, Gibbs, Specialist Adam Winfield, Specialist Michael Wagnon II and Private First Class Andrew Holmes face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted by a military court.

Aside from premeditated murder, they also face charges of using hashish, obstructing justice, possessing human body parts and retaining mortar rounds for personal use.