terror in delhi 10/29
Friday, March 24, 2006
  Bugger Me Dead!
Following our take on Dutch morality lessons on signing the NPT, now it is the time of the Australian Labour (via The Australian):
AUSTRALIAN uranium should be off-limits to any country refusing to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Kim Beazley will pledge tonight. Hardening his stance against uranium exports, the Opposition Leader will promise a future Labor government would strengthen safeguards with individual countries.
Well here is the thing Mr. Beazley, you are sitting safely down under the big nuclear umbrella of the United States under the ANZUS defense pact signed as early as 1951. Even to date, your own Ministry of Defence says that "Australia relies on the extended deterrence provided by US nuclear forces to deter the remote possibility of any nuclear attack on Australia". Well, when India asked for similar protection after the Chinese exploded their bomb in 1964 we were emphatically told 'no'. You might want to know why. We would like to remind you another thing from the past. Successive Australian governments allowed several nuclear tests by the United Kingdom as late as 1963. Even worse, the British did not divulge all the consequences of nuclear tests such as radioactive contamination when they negotiated. But then all the tests happened not in the Australian mainland but in small islands like Maralinga from where the Aboriginal inhabitants were chased away (yet again!). But many of them didn't want to leave their ancestral lands and stayed during the tests getting exposed to the toxic radioactive materials. Long after enduring the negative effects including cancer, they were compensated only in 1995. But the British carelessly left behind significant quantities of highly radioactive weapons-grade Plutonium, making parts of the islands uninhabitable for tens thousands of years. Mr. Beazley also apparently doesn't have anything to say about selling Uranium yellow cake to China - the #1 proliferator. We urge you to stop pretending to take a pseudo moral high-ground vis-a-vis us 'lesser' souls and engage in some serious diplomatic initiatives with India - whose partnership is essential to ensure maritime security west of the Malacca Straits in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
 
  Reciprocating Peace With Hate
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a speech today made a passionate offer of peace to Pakistan to the extent of praising General Musharraf's "bold" measures in tackling terror, the results of which we are yet to see. The "tactically brilliant" General has his own way of responding to this offer (via Reuters):
A faxed copy of a pamphlet in the local Urdu language dropped by the Pakistani military aircraft in Wana, South Waziristan, and Miranshah, in North Waziristan bordering Pakistan, is shown in Islamabad March 24, 2006. Pakistan's military airdropped pamphlets this week over towns in restive tribal regions near the Afghan border urging tribesmen to shun 'foreign terrorists', saying they were part of a Hindu and Jewish plot. the pamphlets, bearing the sign-off 'Well Wishers, Pakistan's Armed Forces'. Titled 'Warning', the pamphlets said the foreign militants were fighting against Pakistan in connivance with 'Jews and Hindus', a term that would play on traditional prejudices among the region's Muslim conservatives. 'They (foreign militants) not only pose a danger to our sovereignty, but are also creating troubles for our people,'
We would be surprised if this news makes it to the Indian mainstream media. Even worse, the drumbeats will start rolling from the Candle Kissers demanding yet another bus journey to Lahore to 'advance' the peace process which is apparently now 'irreversible'.
 
Thursday, March 23, 2006
  J&K Secession Watch
We don't usually take a serious note when nutcases like Syed Ahmed Bukhari who says "Talking about terrorist attack on the Sankat Mochan Mandir by the terrorists early this month, Bukhari said that this was a well planned conspiracy to defame the Muslims." See Pankaj's take on terrorist's real objectives. But this caught our attention
(via IANS):

Leaders of Muslim minority gathered here on Saturday to forge nationwide unity to fight for the community's rights, voicing support for the Kashmiri cause for the first time.

The 140 million Muslims in India constitute the largest minority in the Hindu-majority country. While the community has many common problems, it has generally kept away from the separatist conflict raging in Jammu and Kashmir since 1989.

Attending the meeting in the premises of the 17th-century Jama Masjid, the country's largest mosque, was Abdul Ghani Bhat of the Hurriyat Conference, the moderate wing of the separatist grouping in Jammu and Kashmir.

"Our main agenda includes Jammu and Kashmir" said Mr Zafaryab Jilani, the Lucknow-based convenor of the Babri Masjid Action Committee.

This is setting a dangerous precedent. By allying themselves with the so-called 'moderate' pro-Pakistan groups like Hurriyat, some Muslim groups are now openly advocating the secession of a Muslim-majority state from the Indian Union. Using their freedom of speech and rights guaranteed under the Indian Constitution, they are attempting to cause a great damage to the Indian democratic set-up itself. Talk of the wooden handle of an axe helping to chop down a tree. While we are on the subject, how come these worthies (and their media cronies) never talk about the displaced Kashmiri Pandits.

 
  Sycophant du jour
Via an unsigned Times of India article titled "Sonia: A bit of a Mahatma":
Two years after she declined to be the prime minister, Sonia Gandhi remains an enigma: a successful politician no doubt but one clearly different from the rest of the tribe in India. For the second time in less than two years, Gandhi, 59, caught everyone off guard as she resigned her Lok Sabha post after coming under political cloud and tried to recapture the moral high ground in an arena where power is seen as the only driving force. In that dramatic announcement she made at her 10 Janpath residence, the mother of two, born in Italy but now completely Indian at heart, proved once again that she is not and will never be another run of the mill politician. many now compare her with Indira Gandhi, her own slain mother-in-law-cum-prime-minister who was often known as one of the shrewdest beings Indian politics has ever produced. But far from leading a Congress-led coalition government, which she was widely expected to do, she renounced the job, saying she was listening to the voice of her conscience, and thereby gained a saintly halo round her that made many compare her to the greatest renunciate, Mahatma Gandhi, whom Indians revere as the Father of the Nation.
TOI has already hit rock bottom several times and yet digs further. While we don't bother much about party politics, TOI is parotting the same words as some of the sycophantic Congress party workers. Hey, whatever happened to freedom and independece of press? Guess, it is applied selectively.
 
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
  A Brief History of Indic Thalassocracy - 3/3

thal·as·soc·ra·cy - n., Naval or commercial supremacy on the seas.

Greek thalassokratiā : thalassa, sea + -kratiā, -cracy.

Indian Thalassocracy Part III - Post 5th century A.D.:

Part I here. Part II here.

A golden age of Indic maritime activity (525-650 A.D.) which witnessed the expansion of India and the spread of Indic thought and culture to the farther East Java, Cambodia, Burma, Siam, China and even Japan), was largely a South Indian enterprise in which the Andhras and the Cholas played a key role.

Bengal: In the time of Kalidasa, the people of Bengal appear to have been widely famous for their nautical resources, for in his Raghuvamsa the poet sings about harbors and dockyards had come into existence as early as the 6th century A.D. A copper-plate grant of Dharmaditya (dated 531 A.D.) refers to a navata-kseni or ship-building harbor. Kamarupa: The ancient kingdom of Kamarupa consisting of the Brahmaputra river valley and surrounding areas. King Bhaskaravarman (7th century A.D.) was in "possession of splendid ships" fought a naval battle with Mahasena Gupta on the waters of the Lohitya (Brahmaputra). The Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsiang (Xuanzang) who visited Kamarupa estimates that Bhaskaravarman’s fleet was large as 30,000 ships.

Chalukyas: Pulakeshi II (611 A.D. to 639 A.D.) was the most powerful ruler of the Chalukyan dynasty who led his forces in all the directions – land and sea. Pulakeshi’s principal naval expedition was directed against Puri, a great and wealthy city which prospered by its overseas trade and was famous as “the mistress of the Western sea”. The city of Puri has not been properly identified - some consider Puri as the Elephanta Island, others think it is the modern town of Gharpuri on the West coast of Gujarat. The most important fact is that it was the support of sea power which made Pulakeshi the master of the land.

The Peak of Chola Power:

According to Chakravarthi, “the impress that the people of the Tamil states have left on the naval history of the ancient Hindus is the deepest and most indelible”.

Under the Cholas, Indian naval power attained its culminating point. The great Chola king Rajaraja 1 (985 to 1014 A.D.) tried to take the Chera country under his control and took the key part of Quilon. He is also said to have attacked Maldives Islands and Sri Lanka. His son Rajendra Chola 1 (1014 to 1042 A.D.) knew the great importance of foreign trade and built a powerful navy meant for trade and war. Rajendra prepared a naval expedition against the Srivijaya empire, first taking Andaman and Nicobar Islands to serve as an advance base. The Chola fleet sailed on and took several coastal ports. This attack was only to break Srivijaya's commercial monopoly and not to occupy it permanently. He contained Arab competition by sending a naval expedition against Maldives to stop the Arabs from building and equipping merchant ships there.

His successor Virarajendra continued and strengthened the maritime tradition and made Tamil naval power invincible. Rajendra Chola's naval adventures covered the Nicobar Islands, the Malay peninsular and Sumatra. Under his rule, the Bay of Bengal and the eastern Indian Ocean became a “Chola lake”.

Conclusion:

While our posts obviously sing paeans to past Indic maritime achievements, sometime down the lane its power waned and almost became non-existent. While analyzing this decline can be left to serious military historians, it is evident that building and maintaining a strong navy was essential for guarding commercial and strategic interests. It is a lesson from the past which is still applicable to this date and even in the future. In a coming post, we intend to present the technological breakthroughs, strategic alignments and regional threats for the Indian Navy to become one of the big-leaguers and reclaim its historical role as the custodian of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) – from the Sea of Oman to the Straits of Malacca and we daresay even beyond.

-End of series-

References: Prithwis Chandra Chakravarti, “Naval Warfare in Ancient India”, The Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 4, 1930, p p. 645-664

O.K. Nambiar, “An Illusrated Maritine History of the Indian Ocean”, Excerpts available from the official Indian Navy website.

Paul Lunde, “The Indian Ocean and Global Trade”, Saudi Aramco World, July/August 2005

 
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
  A Brief History of Indic Thalassocracy - 2/3

thal·as·soc·ra·cy - n., Naval or commercial supremacy on the seas.

Greek thalassokratiā : thalassa, sea + -kratiā, -cracy.

Part I here.

Indian Thalassocracy Part II - From the 4th century B.C. to the 5th century A.D.:

The Mauryas and the Greeks:

The first known Greek book devoted entirely to India is from the late fifth century B.C., written by a Greek doctor named Ctesias, who served the Persian king Artaxerxes. Everything in it is hearsay, filtered through Persian sources. It would not be until the arrival of Alexander on the banks of Indus in 326 B.C. that we start getting a better picture.

According to the Greek ambassador Megasthenes appointed to the Mauryan court shortly after Alexander’s death, Chandragupta’s war-office was divided into six boards, of which the first was associated with the “Chief Naval Superintendent”. Kautilya's Arthasastra agrees with Megasthenes, in describing an official called Navadhyaksa or the “Superintendent of Ships”. Of the duties described in the Arthasastra, the Navadhyaksa had to see through that pirate ships were pursued and destroyed whenever they were found. The same regulation applied to ships and boats of an enemy's country when they violated their territorial limits.

After Chandragupta, his grandson Emperor Asoka maintained diplomatic relations not only with Sri Lanka but also with the Hellenistic monarchies of Syria, Egypt, Cyrene, Macedonia and Epirus which presupposes the existence of a “sea going fleet as well as an army”.

Greek trade with the peoples of the Red Sea coast and eventually with India strengthened under the Ptolemies, the dynasty that derived its name and foundation from one of Alexander's generals, who took power in 320 B.C. At Berenik, archeologists have discovered fragments of documents in 12 different languages, including Tamil and Prakrit, evidence that this Red Sea port was in touch with both southern and northern India.

The Andhras:

The decline of the Mauryas resulted in the ascent of the Andhra Satavahanas in the South. This Buddhist dynasty who ruled large portions of the Deccan between 200 B.C. to 200 A.D. The Satavahanas maintained a large fleet to rule over the Coromandel coast and fend off the pirates. A Ptolemic account mentions several important ports on the Andhra Coast between the mouth of the Ganges and the Godavari from where ships sailed to the East. Podouke (Pulicat, north of Chennai), Masulipatnam (in Andhra) and Melange (Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu) were a few of the important ports which exported spices, sandal, pearls, camphor and silk that was imported from the farther East. Chinese merchants had their warehouses at the mouth of river Krishna. After the Satavahanas, the Pallavas, who were originally from Andhra continued the seafaring tradition. It appears from a study of the Buddhist stupa found at Prome (in Myanmar) that Buddhism probably came to that country from Andhra. The cultural influence moved on further to the Malay peninsula with the creation of the Sri Vijaya dynasty (see Part III).

Early Tamils:

According to early Tamil Sangam literature, Poompuhar (or Kaveripoompattinam on the Kaveri river delta region) developed into a great port city of the early Chola kingdom only to be washed out by a tsunami later around 500 A.D. Writing in the 1st century B.C., Ptolemy noted about Poompuhar and another port town of Nagappattinam as the most important towns of the Cholas. These two towns became seats of trade and commerce with Greece, Egypt and the Far East and acted as a cosmopolitan center of learning.

In the first century B.C. 'King Pandiod' or the Tamil dynasty Pandyas is recorded to have sent two embassies to Augustus Caesar, desiring to become his friend and ally. One of these reached Augustus when he was at Terracona in the 18th year after the death of Julius Caesar, and another reached him six years later. The Tamil poet Madalan sang in praise the Chera king Cenkuttuvan who led an expedition to the Gangetic plain via an expedition to Orissa by sea.

The Romans:

We get a more clearer account during the Roman Age thanks to a Greek work by an unknown author written around 70 A.D. called The Periplus of Erythraean Sea. According to the Periplus, trade with India was booming at Barygaza (or Bharuch in present day Gujarat), Greek traders sold or exchanged Italian and Greek wine, copper, tin, lead, coral, cloth, glass, storax and antimony for ivory, bdellium gum, onyx, myrrh, woven and unwoven silk, “mallow cloth” and pepper.

In the 1st century A.D., Roman author Pliny complained that trade with India was threatening their economy “Affnd by the lowest reckoning India, China and the Arabian Peninsula take from our empire 100 million sesterces (about US $10 million now) every year - that is the sum which our luxuries and our women cost us,”

To be continued in Part III.

References: Prithwis Chandra Chakravarti, “Naval Warfare in Ancient India”, The Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 4, 1930, pp. 645-664

O.K. Nambiar, “An Illustrated Maritime History of the Indian Ocean”, Excerpts available from the official Indian Navy website

Paul Lunde, “The Indian Ocean and Global Trade”, Saudi Aramco World, July/August 2005

 
Monday, March 20, 2006
  Hollandse schijnheiligheid
Pardon our linguistic irreverance since the post title means 'Dutch hypocrisy'. Here is why (via IANS):
A group of influential Dutch MPs currently on a week-long visit to India Monday said they would prefer it if New Delhi signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

'We would still like India to sign the NPT. We do not know the details of the India-US (nuclear) pact and therefore can't comment on whether it contradicts provisions of the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group),' said F.W. Weisglas, president of the House of Representatives.

Readers who have seen this video (higly recommended), may recall that the most infamous A.Q. Khan started his proliferation career while he worked in the Dutch uranium treatment company Urenco. The failure of the Dutch authorities to prevent Khan from stealing Uranium enrichment details is actually a violation of the NPT to which it is a signatory. Meanwhile, the German media has been all over the trial of one, Gotthard Lerch, a German citizen tightly linked with the Khan network throwing even more light on the Dutch and other perfidies.

via Deutsche Welle (article in English):

Gotthard Lerch, who goes on trial on Friday, was investigated extensively by German authorities in the 1980s for the misappropriation of blueprints at a joint British, German and Dutch uranium enrichment facility in the Netherlands. That was apparently also when he came into contact with Abdul Qadeer Khan. Lerch, however, was never convicted.

via Der Spiegel, see map of the Khan proliferation network with involvement of several European firms (The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland) all being signatories of the famed NPT. Quoting from the accompanying Spiegel article (in English):

Khan remained at Urenco until 1975, when he copied the company's most important plans and then fled to Pakistan to build the bomb for his country. However, in addition to being theoretically complex, uranium enrichment poses extremely difficult technical challenges -- especially for a scientist without access to a high-tech laboratory and working in a third-world country like Pakistan.

To solve his dilemma, Pakistan's nuclear spy set out on a search for suppliers. At Leybold Heraeus in the German city of Hanau, a global leader in vacuum technology, Khan found what he was looking for in a young engineer, Gotthard Lerch. Lerch soon attracted the attention of German export inspectors, who wanted to know what he was doing in Pakistan. He admitted that Leybold Heraeus had shipped valves, vacuum pumps and a gas purification system worth 1.3 million German marks to Pakistan. When Lerch left Leybold in 1985 and went to Switzerland, a similar know-how transfer took place. Lerch had hardly begun working for his new employer in Switzerland before a company began producing gas ultracentrifuges remarkably similar to those featured in construction blueprints at Leybold Heraeus. The centrifuges were destined for Khan's laboratory in Kahuta.

Even worse, the Dutch let go of Khan without prosecuting as early as 1975 upon the 'request' of the CIA who too were apparently interested on the case wanting to catch an even bigger fish. That fishing expedition never happened even after 1998 when Pakistan exploded its nuclear weapons. It was only when Khan's best customer, the Libyan dictator Muammar Khadafi having caught red-handed with weapons material spilled out everything he knew to the IAEA in 2003 that the world started taking notice of Khan. India has a strong case against the Netherlands and other European nations with an 'high' moral-standing for being a passive spectators during the entire nuclear saga resulting in Pakistan's 'beg, borrow or steal' nuclearization which drastically affected India's collective security. While India is not publicly raising any of these issues, it would be wise for the honorable Dutch MPs to likewise concentrate on bilateral trade and other issues of mutual interest. Related: The Acorn on NPT: Born with a fatal flaw. Maverick on the shocking silence of many of the the non-proliferation ayatollahs during the entire Khan episode.
 
  Spilling the beans ...
Following Gen. Musharraf's undiplomatic outburst against Afghan President Karzai last week, here is some plain speaking by the Afghan Foreign Minister Dr. Abdulla (via CNN transcripts ):
ABDULLAH: I should say that as far as the Taliban and the people of Afghanistan is concerned, the people have rejected the agenda of Taliban, and they have rejected it long before. When it comes to their activities, the main issue is that most of these activities are linked one way or another to what is happening in the other side of the border. It's there that we are working. We are talking with our neighboring country Pakistan. BLITZER: Do you have any idea where Osama bin Laden is? ABDULLAH: To the best of our intelligence, to the best of my knowledge, he is outside Afghanistan. And he might be in the same place where all those other members of Al Qaida have been arrested. So that's as far as I can say. BLITZER: You think both bin Laden and Zawahiri are in Pakistan? ABDULLAH: They are not in Afghanistan. I hope they will be able to find those people the same way that they have found all the other members of Al Qaida, in the same places. BLITZER: So you think all of them, all three of them are together or near each other in Pakistan? ABDULLAH: That's our intelligence, that they are among their friends. Their supporters are in Pakistan.
Somebody had to say it like it is. Like we noted earlier, every *real* Al-Queda leader arrested so far were from big Pakistani cities Islamabad, Rawalpindi and NOT from some mountain caves. For long Gen. Musharraf popped out mysterious Al-Queda No. 3 leaders without arresting a single Taliban leader. This will undoubtedly put more pressure to deliver the real goods - that is if the "tactically brilliant" General survives that long. Otherwise, the glorious mantle as 'The Savior of the Pure Land' will soon be passed to one of the "Corp Commanders". Update: This is getting interesting. Pakistan bans two Afghan TV channels.
 
Sunday, March 19, 2006
  A Brief History of Indic Thalassocracy - 1/3

thal·as·soc·ra·cy - n., Naval or commercial supremacy on the seas.

Greek thalassokratiā : thalassa, sea + -kratiā, -cracy.

We attempt to present some aspects of the Indic maritime history. This blogger accidentally fell upon some of these extraordinarily interesting information while researching on contemporary naval defense issues. We hope the readers too will find it absorbing. We are not an 'eminent' historian and so we make no guarantees on the veracity of the information nor on its completeness. We have simply compiled the information as per our comprehension in chronological order. Further references and links have been liberally provided for serious history buffs.

Indian Thalassocracy Part I - Ancient Period:

Indic maritime prowess was spread all over the coastal regions: from the Indus valley, the Saurashtras in the Gujarat coast, the Coromandel coast by the Tamil and Andhra kingdoms and in Bengal in the sea and the great rivers of Ganga and Brahmaputra. Long before the birth of Christ, there were several references in Jatakas (ancient Indian folk tales), Greek and Roman accounts, early Tamil poems and Pali texts with some supported by archaeological proof showing the navigation of skills of Indians in the rivers and the high sea. There were ports and harbors all along the Indian coastline such as Tamaralipti, Poompuhar, Bharukaccha and Surparaka.

Obviously there is very little solid archaeological evidence of the ancient period. But there are several references to maritime adventures of kings from sacred texts proving at least that the maritime instincts existed in popular imagination. There seem to be innumerable references in Sanskrit and Pali literature of men lost to the might of the high seas and of wrecked vessels.

The Rig Veda for example talks about King Tugra who commissioned his son Bhujyu on a naval expedition which was ship-wrecked on the ocean, “where there is no support, no rest for the foot or the hand”. He was subsequently rescued by the twin Asvins in their hundred-oared galley. The Baveru Jataka indicates “that the Vanijas of Western India undertook trading voyages to the shores of the Persian Gulf and of its rivers in the 5th, perhaps even in the 6th century B.C.”

Tamaralipti was a large port city in the kingdom of Vanga (Bengal). According to the Buddhist epic Mahavamsa, Prince Vijaya Simha was banished from Vanga and took off from Tamaralipti with a large fleet to land in Sri Lanka in the 5th century B.C. Hence the name Simhala is derived from the Simha dynasty which he created there. An Ajanta painting depicts the scene of the landing of Vijaya in Sri Lanka with his army we see a fleet of large ships with many passengers, elephants and horses.

Indus valley and Initial Greek Contacts:

The port of Bharukaccha is referenced in ancient Pali texts of Jain and Buddhist accounts as part of the historic trade route of Kamboja-Dvaravati between Dwarka and Kamboja Mahajanapada located in north-eastern Afghanistan is supposed to belong to the Indus Valley period.

Even before Alexander's arrival on the banks of Indus, there were accounts about the people of the Indus basin indulging in the practice of piracy on the high seas. Many such accounts were told by the Persians to the Greek envoys to the then Persian Empire. Such accounts tend to freely mix facts with fiction with tales about India consisting of beast-headed human creatures and people living for 200 years. This was skeptically expressed by Strabo, the Greek geographer, who published the earlier accounts in his great compilation in 7 B.C.

The Indus people, per Strabo were the ‘Vikings’ of ancient India, and the great Persian monarchy was the worst sufferer from their depredations. Strabo and Arrian (another Greek historian) add that in order to protect their cities against piratical attacks, the Persians made the Tigris entirely inaccessible to navigation.

Ironically, Strabo also describes India as “the greatest of all nations and the happiest in lot”. One might wonder why would a ‘great’ and ‘happy’ set of people terrorize the Persians. Of course, for the Greeks at that time anything to their East means India, so some of the reference could also have meant also East African or Arabian pirates. We will get a much clearer after the eventual the arrival of Alexander

To be continued in Part II.

References: Prithwis Chandra Chakravarti, “Naval Warfare in Ancient India”, The Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 4, 1930, pp. 645-664

O.K. Nambiar, “An Illusrated Maritine History of the Indian Ocean”, Excerpts available from the official Indian Navy website.

Paul Lunde, “The Indian Ocean and Global Trade”, Saudi Aramco World, July/August 2005

 
Saturday, March 18, 2006
  Anti-China Protests in Taiwan
via BBC:

Tens of thousands of protesters have taken part in a march and rally in Taipei highlighting the threats that Taiwan faces from mainland China.

"The great Taiwanese people oppose annexation and invasion," President Chen Shui-bian told the crowd.

Bravo and more power to these folks. More photos from Yahoo News.


 
Friday, March 17, 2006
  Pakistan: Islamist Takeover Myth Redux
Earlier, we noted that an Islamic seminary suspected of being a Taliban sanctuary in Miran Shah, North Waziristan was bombed by the Pakistani Army on March 15th. This was of course denied by the ISPR. However more photo evidence of the bombings have emerged. Now you might wonder where are the protests from Pakistan's so-called Islamist parties? After all they protested against the alleged desecration of the Koran by the U.S. military personnel in Guantanamo Bay. Just ahead of President Bush's visit, they also virulently protested against the Danish cartoons. Pakistan's Islamist parties apparently don't consider the destruction of a mosque by their own Army as blasphemous. Or rather they have been ordered not to protest. Worse, Jamaat-ud-Dawa Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Hafeez Mohammed Saeed is still protesting about the Danish cartoons while saying nothing about this mosque bombing. The Reuters report is still toeing the official line: "Islamists are using the controversy to whip up anger against the United States and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf". How convenient. For long the military dictators of Pakistan have been hollering the "there is no alternative" theory, i.e., the move towards democracy will only enable the Islamist parties to come to power. But in reality, the military has been consolidating its power and is demanding more and more money for its activities which now includes everything from making breakfast cereals to fertilizer companies. On the political side, there is already talk about extending General Musharraf's term by another five years beyond 2007. It reinforces the fact that the Islamist parties are just a tool used by the Army to retain power and to recruit foot soldiers for its worldwide terrorist campaign. The sooner the world community sees thorough this duplicity the better. Related: Carnegie's Frederic Grare on Pakistan: The Myth of an Islamist Peril, our earlier take An Orchestrated Protest .
 
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
  Shutting Down The Madrassahs, Musharraf Style
via BBC:
Security forces in Pakistan have demolished an Islamic seminary in the country's north-western tribal region, close to the Afghan border. The privately-run Khalifa Islami Madrassa in North Waziristan is alleged to have links with fugitive Taleban leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani. The Associated Press news agency reports that soldiers removed books from the school before placing dynamite inside and blowing it up.
Apparently, this will not incite any protest from these folks. Also see this Associated Press photo.
 
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
  Updating the blogroll
This is our first blog roll update. Presenting,

BangaloreGuy: Takes on faltering cops, dabbles with missiles and exposes the false messiahs. Pretty hard hitting for a gentlemanly Bangalorean!

IndianMaverickRips apart false claims by the non-proliferation ayatollahs, very knowledgeable about our 'friendly' neighbor and supposedly involved in 'business' despite claiming to being a Gandhian!

Pankaj: Writes extremely well-researched posts on many issues with which this blogger shares an avid interest.

Sandeep: A veteran blogger who needs no introduction from this newbie. Famous for his 'Hall of Shame ' series.

Gentlemen, welcome aboard!

 
  Terror Watch: Call Centers
via CNN-IBN:
Security has been tightened in Hyderabad after police received threats directed at US-based multinational companies.

Security has been tightened in the American call centres after reports of threats to MNCs. Apart from city policemen; a Quick Response Team has been deployed. Every checkpoint is manned by four security guards and two armed personnel.

The blokes working there should take this threat very seriously. After Bombay Stock Exchange (economic power), Parliament (seat of democratic power), IISc (premier scientific institution), Varanasi (one of the holiest shrines) the next could very well be a symbol of India's new economic power.

 
  Fatwa du jour via The Times of India:
Other terrorist groups which operate in India, such as Jaish-e-Mohammed (Army of Mohammed), Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Righteous) are named after the Prophet and seek to draw their legitimacy from the divine connect. Names like Qahar and Rashid are among the 99 different ways of addressing the Prophet. Maulana Mastan Ali, director of Jamiat-ul Mominath – one of the largest seminaries in south India – who issued a fatwa on Sunday on using the Prophet's name, said: "If they (jehadis) can't shun the path of violence, they must at least drop the names so that the entire Muslim community is not blamed."
Whoa. So is it alright if some outfit named say Lashkar-e-Kufr (Army of the Infidels) to continue to cause terrorist attacks without using his prophet's name??  
Monday, March 13, 2006
  Facing The New Geo-Political Realities

In our concluding post on the Indo-US nuclear deal, we had warned against domestic Leftist and Islamist opposition to Dr. Manmohan Singh. Now citing the Varanasi attacks by Islamist terrorists, the 'intellectual' class is up arms against India's geo-political ambitions in general and the alignment with the United States in particular with this deal. Sunanda K. Datta-Ray writing in The Telegraph:

By exposing the limits of nuclear muscle-flexing, the Varanasi explosions should have pricked the balloon of euphoria generated by George W. Bush's visit. By demonstrating again how closely internal security is linked with neighbourhood politics which depend, in part, on the role of the United States of America in the subcontinent, the blasts should also give pause to those who are feverishly fantasizing about the US transforming India into a superpower while cutting Pakistan down to size.

Excitement over this unites saffron chauvinists with Congress functionaries basking in a glow of achievement and think-tanks and commentators who are dependent, psychologically if not materially, on official patronage and also infected by the craving for gloire. But their jubilation ignores what the deal portends and what it cannot achieve. It exposes anomalies and inconsistencies in India's position. Nor should gratitude for evidence of a special relationship delude us into imagining that the US is dumping China and Pakistan.

Note that Mr. Datta-Ray does not see this successful negotiation of the nuclear deal as a victory for all Indians but rather as some sort of ego-boosting Prozac treatment for misguided jingoists. Whichever Brit who devised the 'Divide and Rule' policy would be proud. Let's be clear that no one is fantasizing about someone helping out someone else becoming a super power. India will charter out its own course with or without the US. It is just that the US wants to invest in that and reap up some short-term commercial benefits and medium-term tactical understanding of mutual interests, that is if it turns out well as previewed.

None of this is to question Bush's intentions or India's right to sit at the world's high table. But we should be objective enough to understand that a unilateral American exception to the nuclear order, albeit in India's favour, formally hammers the last nail into the coffin of multipolarity and consensual decision-making. Henceforth, the US can claim India's approval in riding roughshod over international institutions, organizations and commitments. The nature of the challenge highlighted by the Varanasi bloodshed should also oblige us to acknowledge that an obsession with the bomb, making nonsense of previous assertions about greatness lying in the moral and cultural values of 5,000 years of unbroken civilization, cannot protect us from the stab in the back of saboteurs and subversives striking suddenly in the dark or in the anonymity of crowds.

Whoa, Mr. Dutta-Ray is dabbling with nuclear bombs, Hindu civilization, mulipolarity, etc. Whoever said nuclear weapons could stop terrorists - 10,000 U.S. warheads did'nt prevent Al-Queda from striking at the heart of American power on 9/11. And, India did not seek approval from any multilateral institutions from liberating Bangladesh in the face of the Pakistani genocide of 1971. Nor did it get any help in fighting terror in all these years - so why should India give a rat's derriere about such toothless institutions.

The author still hasn't answered the question on why should India sacrifice its foreign policy objectives in the face of a changing world-order to a bunch of terrorist low-lives sent by the neighboring Islamic Republic.

Nevertheless, the deal recalls the Conference on Disarmament where Israel's Shimon Peres contemptuously dismissed an NPT signature as not being "worth the peel on a garlic". India's V.C. Trivedi argued that the treaty's only purpose was to "disarm the unarmed", while Mexico's Miguel Marin Bosch was reminded of "the slavery debates of the 19th century". Yet, even in denouncing the NPT, India swore by Article VI calling on weapons states "to make progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally with the ultimate end of eliminating those weapons". India also cited the International Court of Justice's demand for "general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control". Will India now jettison Article VI? Or claim that it only restricts signatories?
Before we start worrying about the moral high horse of Article VI, let's talk about a even more fundamental Article I of the NPT which the No. 1 proliferator China as a 'responsible' Nuclear Weapons State has violated several times. Onto next.

But Pakistan is central to it with Pervez Musharraf hinting that he might seek similar privileges from China which might still regard "a nuclear-armed Pakistan as a crucial regional ally and vital counterweight to India's growing military capabilities", quoting the US Central Intelligence Agency's James Woolsey.

It is no longer India's problem if China trades with Pakistan. Under the 1998 Sino-US nuclear agreement and its commitments to the IAEA, the Chinese have 'promised' a strict export control system which will be under safeguards. If it goes ahead and violates again, it is the world's problem to deal with it.

Three reasons are cited for objecting to any such deal. First, Pakistan did not develop its own technology. Second, it is a proven proliferator. And third, it has never shown any interest in civilian nuclear energy. The third factor only extends America's fig-leaf for the pact with India and Nicholas Burns's charade in New Delhi that the US "has not recognized formally India as a nuclear weapons state". The first two are also subjective judgments, and all three lie solely within American discretion. In fact, the NPT's erosion reinforces US supremacy, crowning it as the only arbiter of global power and bulwark against a free for all.

This guy must be smoking something really strong. Abdul "Xerox" Khan's nuclear Wal-Mart is no longer a secret and is known to one and all. He fails to understand it is India's nuclear tests in 1998 which brought out to open the 'secret' behind Pakistan's nuclear and scientific 'prowess' thanks to Uncle Jiang. In fact after meeting with President Bush, Gen. Musharraf himself didn't want any sort of nuclear deal fearing direct American interrogation of AQ Khan which would directly link the Pakistani military as THE proliferator.

Bush's supposed "double snub" to Musharraf, which is causing such glee in this country, will not, in itself, enable India to tackle Pakistan or the terrorists with whom Pakistan shares the common cause of Kashmir. Even the snub deserves scrutiny. A great power needs room for manoeuvre, as Kissinger also remarked, and the agreement with India gives the US just that without irrevocably alienating the other two regional partners.

First, we did not see any gloating at this 'snub' in any Indian media outlet. Though there was a big whine fest in the Pakistani media which we can't do anything about. Secondly, Pakistan-based terrorists (luckily for India), have gone beyond Kashmir and India and have been wrecking havoc (or trying hard) everywhere from Australia, the UK and the United States. They are very much interlinked with the Al-Queda and International Islamic Front not to mention the daily attacks against Afghan and Coalition troops by Taliban 'sympathizers'.

Providing territory, intelligence and military cooperation for Bush's war on terror, Pakistan also remains indispensable. A passing reference to democracy as Pakistan's future does not imply any reluctance to do full business with a dictator. The refusal to mediate in Kashmir only proves that Bush is more realistic than Bill Clinton was. And the refusal to duplicate the India deal was another piece of realism that acknowledged that Pakistan's craving is not so much for global status (like India's) as for Kashmir, subcontinental parity and the ability to pin India down in the neighbourhood. Nuclear legitimacy is less relevant in this context than the impressive package of arms that goes with Pakistan's major non-Nato ally status. Bush makes no bones about India's booming economy, cheap labour, investment needs, exports and rampant consumerism making it indispensable for America's continued prosperity. The strategic alliance is equally significant.

Well the 'non' part of the non-NATO ally is very evident when the Americans fired a couple of Hellfires down their territory in exchange for a few billion dollars of aid and military hardware. Indeed, there is no parity here.

So, the game is to balance three Asian props of American power to best serve the US. Of course, the arrangement offers them attractive dividends too, as well as scope for bargaining. It might even allow India to take steps on its own to curb terrorist attacks, but never at the expense of the overarching framework of American interests.

No one is believing that the US signed the deal out of pure altruism. It is up to India to make the best out of the new strategic arrangement. The United States Navy desperately needs its Indian counterpart for monitoring the Greater Indian Ocean - from the Straits of Malacca to the Arabian Sea against thugs, terrorists and nuclear proliferation. India is looking for land access to the Central Asian Republics (CAR) and Afghanistan. While such an arrangement will not materialize immediately, in the medium/long term that route has to open up either via Gilgit/ Baltistan or Balochistan.

This article goes on to show how many Indian commentators have a schizophrenic vision about the new geo-political realities. The author tries his best to put himself in the other guy's shoes rather than analyze India's objectives. His other pet peeve - the multilateral institutions, are fast losing their relevance. With the nuclear deal, the non-proliferation regime under the NPT will soon be toast. India has no incentive to support the United Nations since its doors to permanent membership seem to be permanently closed to her.

We are now witnessing a renewed emphasis on power plays between great nation states. Some are more likely to be alliances of conveniences for short-term gains (India and China allied against Western nations and Japan during WTO negotiations ) while some (?) has the potential to develop into a long-term partnership. Understanding this reality is the first step to venture into this brave new world.

Update: Resident Non-Indian and former 'senior' editor of The Times of India, Prafool Bidwai does his part in a Pakistani paper whining about the nuclear deal.

Update 2: Chief Candle Kisser™®© Kuldip Nayar longing for the good ol' days of 3% growth in another Pakistani daily.

 
Sunday, March 12, 2006
  Countering the Nuclear Scaremongers
The coverpage story of the recent edition of The Economist features a caricature of the famous scene from the Kubrick's apocalyptic film Dr. Strangelove. This is another attempt at blatant scaremongering by the Atlanticist lobby just as we predicted. By showing Bush as a reckless cowboy damaging non-proliferation interests, The Economist hides from adressing the real merits of the deal. We can go ahead and point out some loopholes as before:
"Instead of a virtuous anti-nuclear cycle, there is now more likely to be a vicious nuclear one. China can be expected to insist on doing for proliferation-prone Pakistan what America wants to do for India, adding to a regional arms race that has led to a cascade of proliferation in the past"
The NPT regime and the Pressler Amendment did little to prevent these countries from proliferating. It is the problem of the other responsible NPT states and the IAEA to worry about these proliferations which have now ended up in North Korea, Iran and Libya. Instead of taking them head-on, The Economist thinks that capping India's nuclear program will somehow make them realize their past sins and behave like responsible states. But to counter their biased arguements every time will only put India on the defensive. Rather, India should go on the offensive and throw more light on the cover-up operations indulged by the non-proliferation lobby when China was shipping bomb designs, weapons grade Pu and ring magnets in the 80s and 90s. Despite that, the United States went ahead and signed a nuclear co-operation deal with China with no fissile material cut-off and even lesser safeguards offered by India. It is time to go on the offensive and spread this message far and wide.
 
Friday, March 10, 2006
  Secular Vs. Communal Terrorist Attacks

Vir Sanghvi writing (hat tip: Rohit) in the Hindustan Times:

And yet, the political and public response to the Varanasi incident has been completely different from the way in which the Delhi blasts were regarded. Then, nobody played up the Islamic angle. There was a stoic unity within the political establishment. And there was a quiet recognition that though Islamic terrorist groups would attack Indian civilians, Indian society would unite to fight the threat. ... My fear is that the increased communalisation of the response to the Varanasi attacks — as compared to the more secular reaction to the Delhi bombs tells us something about the manner in which many Hindus are beginning to perceive Muslim extremism.
Well we don't want to comment on the political reaction, which in our opinion does not merit further elucidation while discussing serious issues. But how did Mr. Sanghvi arrive at the same conclusion about different public opinions. Does he care to back this up with some opinion poll. As far as we know, we should be equally outraged at every single terror attack against Indian citizens (civilian or military). We believe that all right-thinking Indians will hold similar opinion. And is there something called as a 'secular' and 'communal' terrorist attack? If not, why should there be two diferent reactions. Nevertheless, we invite the reader to go through the whole article which raises many interesting points. In this post, let us ask a counter-question: How did the Big Media treat the two stories? Here is the response: Indian Express editorial after the Delhi terror attacks:
In Delhi — indeed, across India — there is a hardened mood in civil society, a belief that terrorism has simply gone too far. ... Islamabad is seriously misreading the impact of the most destructive terrorist attack on Indian soil, outside Jammu and Kashmir, in 12 years, and the first in the time of 24/7 television. Public pressure on the government has gone up exponentially. ... All this can't be explained away with impotent reasoning like: ''It shows the terrorists' desperation.'' The question is: what is Musharraf doing about it? ... In the end, Musharraf is not going to be judged by what he says on PTV or how he responds to Indian initiatives on the LoC. His test lies in the LeT-run jihadist terror school just outside Lahore. Can the man who invaded Kargil please show the courage to lead his troops into Mudrike? If not, should the world do his job for him?
Note the hawkish position taken back then directly putting the ball in Musharraf's court. Now the same Indian Express editorializes after the Varanasi terror attacks:
fuel communal passions would be tantamount to self-indictment. That's why the entire political establishment needs to be extra cautious. ... to the VHP's description of the Varanasi attack as being a "war against the nation," such rhetoric only plays into the hands of those who have blood on them.
Now the IE is urging "caution" and dubbing realistic assessments like "war against the nation" becomes a mere "rhetoric". In the former, there is a "hardened mood in civil society" vs today's "fuel communal passions". Now onto the Times of India editorial after the Delhi terror attacks:
This is an act of war, doesn't matter that it's not been officially declared as one ... But New Delhi must tenaciously work at building a case that proves that Pakistani soil remains the springboard of terror attacks and go international with it. On the domestic front, there is a crying need to strengthen our soft infrastructure: just as we need world-class roads and ports, we also need world-class law and order, intelligence and anti-terror agencies. ... The US has made itself extremely unpopular with its new homeland security laws, but if that's what it takes to save innocent lives, it's a sacrifice worth making.
Watch out again for the hawkish position. It even calls for tightened internal security laws and agencies. Now the Times of India editorializes after the Varanasi terror attacks:
important is for the political class to ensure that the blasts do not lead to more violence. Political mobilisation using religious frenzy is as much an anti-national act as the blasts are in these times of national crisis. Outfits like BJP and Samaj-wadi Party have found it convenient to exploit issues of identity to mobilise voters. The Congress, it seems, has not drawn any lessons from the past. The party continues to pander to communal sentiments. ... The challenge in UP is to recapture the political space for citizens. No amount of security measures can help if the political system continues to rot.
Just look at who is politicizing the issue. This time around, there is no "act of war" nor "building a case" against Pakistan. Instead, TOI goes on a wild ride against UP political parties. Both these attacks are by Islamist terrorists (Indian or otherwise) but in any case backed by Pakistan. As Indian, we are pained at every single attack against fellow citizens NO MATTER where it took place. We ourselves are strongly against politicizing counter-terror issues. As we out pointed out before, the media does a great disservice by treating different attacks in different manner. By treating each terror attack differently, the Big Media is falling for the strategy of the terrorists themselves. They will only become even more emboldened to continue attacks against revered places of worship like Mathura, Tirupathi, Sabarimala, etc. How can the media continue to advocate restraint if each of these places are attacked in the future at regular intervals? We've got a big problem here. We don't know what kind of enemy we are dealing with. It is clear there there is increasing involvement of Indian citizens in such attacks. Such people are neither 'poor' nor 'misguided' - it is all well-planned to facilitate the 'deniability' argument from Pakistan while designed to demonize the entire Indian Muslim community as potential terrorists. Only by following a coherent counter-terror policy irrespective of the place of attack, can we send a strong message to the SOBs. The key is to decouple this from electoral issues which should be more about economic growth and jobs. Just like we have a nuclear doctrine, we should develop a coherent, long-term counter-terror doctrine which has to be followed by EVERY government in power. Sure, it is easier said than done - but someone's gotta say it in the first place.
 
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