Friday, November 26, 2004

India: "Ah..,,how dare the Pakis go to Bhutan"

Indian agencies monitoring the visit were surprised to see no less than three Pakistan air force jets land, one after another, at the small Thimpu airport. Considering that Pakistan-Bhutan bilateral trade amounts to less than US$25 million, the large delegation is hard to explain and sparks much suspicion in India.

Admittedly, India is extremely sensitive when it comes to Pakistan's engagement with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Though in Washington such sensitivity is often seen as a lack of confidence and an overt expression of paranoia, New Delhi's concern is very practical. There are clear indications that in both Bangladesh and Nepal, the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has set up groups inclined to sabotage Indian interests in those countries. While the ISI's anti-India activity can be kept under control in Nepal, New Delhi is no longer sure about its ability to do the same in Bangladesh. And to have another front opened in Bhutan would certainly not be helpful.

Pakistan's Bhutan gambit worries Delhi
Ramtanu Maitra

The visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to Bhutan earlier this month with a delegation that filled three Pakistan air force planes has left New Delhi feeling uneasy.

The Kingdom of Bhutan has always been very close to neighboring India. Last January the Royal Bhutanese Army routed a powerful Indian insurgency group, the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), at New Delhi's request. In making the India-Bhutan borders virtually insurgency-free, New Delhi felt decidedly comfortable. But with the arrival in Bhutan of a Pakistani prime minister, who is allegedly on a short leash held by the Pakistani army, some in New Delhi see new problems in the offing.

Indian agencies monitoring the visit were surprised to see no less than three Pakistan air force jets land, one after another, at the small Thimpu airport. Considering that Pakistan-Bhutan bilateral trade amounts to less than US$25 million, the large delegation is hard to explain and sparks much suspicion in India.

Admittedly, India is extremely sensitive when it comes to Pakistan's engagement with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Though in Washington such sensitivity is often seen as a lack of confidence and an overt expression of paranoia, New Delhi's concern is very practical. There are clear indications that in both Bangladesh and Nepal, the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has set up groups inclined to sabotage Indian interests in those countries. While the ISI's anti-India activity can be kept under control in Nepal, New Delhi is no longer sure about its ability to do the same in Bangladesh. And to have another front opened in Bhutan would certainly not be helpful.

Indian insurgents in Bhutan

Bhutan is located north of India and east of Nepal. It is a Himalayan kingdom with King Jigme Singye Wangchuk sitting on the throne. From time to time, the throne in Thimpu has proven vulnerable to domestic instability, and every time it was New Delhi that moved in to restore the king's absolute power. As a quid pro quo, Bhutan's king has kept his country closely aligned to India.

India's interest in Bhutan centers on a number of geopolitical factors, including Bhutan's geographical proximity to China. Knowing the strength of China-Pakistan ties, the entry of Pakistan into Bhutan, bordering China, would understandably trouble India. But perhaps the most important factor is the security situation vis-a-vis the insurgency problems in India's northeast, which lies along Bhutan's southern border. New Delhi long argued that the militant groups operating in its own northeastern states constitute a major security threat to Bhutan. Of the many militant organizations operating in the region, three groups - the ULFA, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland and the Bodoland Liberation Tiger Force - have long indulged in training and sheltering their militants in southern Bhutan, adjoining Assam.

Some intelligence analysts believe the Royal Bhutanese government had, for its own chauvinistic purposes, given tacit approval to the Indian insurgents to move inside southern Bhutan territory in 1991. This is because southern Bhutan was heavily populated by migrant Nepalese, who later tried to make it an independent territory free of the royal writ of Thimpu. The Indian insurgents, according to this view, had the implicit understanding that they were given safe housing by Thimpu in exchange for terrorizing the Nepali-speaking Lhotshampas and driving them out of Bhutan. A large number of militants entered Bhutan in 1992 and used its territory as a safe haven for training and launching attacks on the Indian security forces.

Toward the end of the 1990s, Thimpu realized that the militants posed a security threat to Bhutan itself, where they are reportedly involved in killing, extortion and kidnapping. At the same time, the Indian government had been building up pressure on Thimpu to prevent Bhutan's territory from being used against India by the militants. The Bhutanese government tried to involve the militants in negotiations, but their efforts failed. Well-armed and trained, the Indian militants paid little attention to Thimpu's request and refused to leave Bhutan.

Finally, in December 2003, Bhutan launched a military operation to flush out Indian insurgents from its soil. Bhutan's premier, Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley, was at the time attending the 12th South Asian Association of Regional Countries summit in Islamabad. He told the attendees that "all leaders [of those who had launched insurgency in the Indian states of Assam and West Bengal] had been apprehended, others had surrendered or were finding their way out, hopefully to live peacefully in their own country."

The Bhutan government's action was lauded by both the ruling government coalition under the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress Party, then the leading opposition. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, then an opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha (India's house of elders in parliament), said Bhutan was being used by insurgent groups to carry out nefarious activities in various parts of India. His party colleague Pranab Mukherjee, who is now India's defense minister, wanted New Delhi to provide all logistic and other support to the West Bengal and Assam governments to counter the movement of insurgents from Bhutan.

With Indian intelligence providing adequate information, and the Indian military cutting off the insurgents' southern escape route, a very large number of ULFA militants were killed. Many more were captured by the Royal Bhutanese security officials. These militants were later handed over to the Indian authorities. At that point in time it became evident that the India-Bhutan security relationship was sealed for good.

So, despite pressure brought on him from Islamabad to permit a Pakistan embassy in Thimpu, King Jigme Singye Wangchuk held his own. He stalled the Pakistanis, pointing out that he needed to consult his "good friend" and neighbor, India, beforehand.

Still, India puzzles over the meaning of Pakistan's move. First, New Delhi is fully aware that Washington is wholly agreeable to India's role in Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Not a single adverse statement has been heard in Washington about India's handling of its northeastern insurgents. Neither the Bush administration, nor the many non-governmental organizations that operate independently in Washington, raised a voice against Indian military operations in northeast India, or Thimpu's mopping-up operation in southern Bhutan.

Further, New Delhi knows that Washington is aware that Pakistan is eager to set up an Islamic network in the region, and that some of these Islamic forces do not like India - or the United States, for that matter. But at the same time, New Delhi believes that the visit of Aziz to Thimpu could not have taken place without the full knowledge of Washington. It is widely acknowledged that both Pakistani leaders, President General Pervez Musharraf and Aziz, drink from the same cup, and that cup belongs to the United States. Why, then, New Delhi wonders, has Washington allowed Pakistan to make its first-ever foray into Bhutan?

There is little doubt that India's deepening concern about Pakistan's alleged role in setting up of terrorist outfits in Bangladesh and Nepal will be conveyed to Aziz, a Citigroup banker and political neophyte, when he arrives in India this week for talks with Manmohan and the Kashmiri leaders. Whether Pakistan's Bhutan gambit will also be brought up in these meetings, however, is anyone's guess.

Ramtanu Maitra writes for a number of international journals and is a regular contributor to the Washington-based EIR and the New Delhi-based Indian Defence Review. He also writes for Aakrosh, India's defense-tied quarterly journal.

Asia Times Online 25/11/2004



Global Jihad: Hypocrisy is Democracy

It is the system of Capitalism/Democracy that has been responsible for untold human misery for the last three hundred years culminating in the two World Wars. Remember, such nations driven by profit and ugly Xenophobia eradicated peaceful tribes from the continents of America to Australia, a track record that no ‘fundamentalist’ could ever match!

Nobody questions the leading democracies who constantly bark about women’s right whilst busy profiting from the sale of her flesh; the basis of the huge porno industry. We all got a glimpse of the ‘respect’ given to the females held in the US-run prisons. It was these types of men that created the brothels in Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Japan and Philippines exploiting the cheap flesh? When they go back home, abuse of their wives and daughters is rampant according to their own statistics. Not a day passes when another prominent Westerner caught in the poor countries of the Far East seeking sex with young children, think of the numbers who are not caught.
Hypocrisy is Democracy
Yamin Zakaria

"Corruption and hypocrisy ought not to be inevitable products of democracy, as they undoubtedly are today" (Mahatma Gandhi 1869-1948)

If you criticize the Talmudic inspired policies of the Jewish state, ethnic cleansing the Gentiles to make way for the chosen people of God you are an instant anti-Semite. Ironically, whilst constantly claiming victimhood the Jewish state is imitating their former oppressors as the notion of ‘chosen race’ is similar to the notion of the master Aryan race of the Nazis. Yet, this type of overtly racist policy is supposed to exemplify the only so-called democracy in the Middle-East! And it is the same democracy that fears the overwhelming number of Palestinians swamping the Israeli-Jews as it argues against the right of return for the Palestinians displaced since 1948.

In a true democracy all citizens are equal with the power to vote. The ‘majority rule’, regardless of their racial and religious identity, is the essence of democracy; a manifestation of some sacred ‘truth’. So, why the only ‘democracy’ in the region fears the potential numerical majority arising from the return of the displaced Arab population? Is there no faith in the core democratic principle of ‘majority rule’? Zionist chauvinism coupled with the underlying Talmudic values, particularly its regard for the Gentiles (non-Jews) would shed some light into that fear and a lack of faith in genuine democracy. However, no one is interested in these fine details, as they are too busy praising the ‘democratic’ credentials the Jewish state. Let’s not forget it is fashionable to be anti anti-Semitic and pro anti-Islamic.

This vague notion ‘majority rule’ has no boundaries by its definition. As the majority in the US elected George Bush it must follow that they also endorsed his previous policies. Therefore, also approving the right to incarcerate, tortures, rape, sodomised boys and even execute prisoners in places like Camp-X-Ray, Abu-Ghraib and other US-run horror chambers. Hence, by the dictates of democracy, such practices are now ‘legitimate’ for the US government, representing the face of the leadership of the free world.

Accordingly, the majority of the Americans applauded the recent carnage in Fallujah and elsewhere. The earlier conduct of the soldiers in Abu-Ghraib style coupled with the mass media demonisation has already desensitized the masses. So, they had no problems in seeing their Marines shooting a dying man whilst calling the Muslim martyrs cowards! No problem in watching their Marines desecrating Mosques, after all God is on the side of Bush, according to his evangelical generals and high-priests; the non-Christian world is in the camp of Satan. In the mean time the secular-fanatics around world remain silent in the face of such crude religious fanaticism and wait for an opportunity to release their hypocritical tongues against Islam and Muslims, which is fashionable and easy, since the Muslims do not have a voice to respond with.

The incidence of the Mosque execution was deliberately aired so that it becomes a good diversion from the entire carnage and the victims largely civilians remain faceless and nameless. Whilst the technical breach of the soldier’s action is discussed, the implicit idea implanted in the minds of the masses is: the rest of the soldiers are behaving in a manner that is acceptable.

Now, the NBC News producer Dan Abrams who may also have been inspired by the Talmud says Geneva Convention should be discarded whilst killing Iraqi's, meaning the US can do what it pleases without inhibition as it is already engaged in such practices on the ground. What Dan Abrams does not address is how the US soldiers captured should be treated. Most likely he will scream Geneva Convention as did Donald Rumsfeld before Abu-Ghraib! This only confirms that as the Americans grow obese through their disproportionate consumption of world’s resources they are demanding from everyone else to reduce their intake, otherwise in their eyes the rest of the world is greedy!

When the mothers in Iraq exhibit their natural emotions whilst burying their children, they are described by the media as people of ‘hate’. But what type of emotions could have generated the wanton abuse, torture and unprovoked killing of Iraqi civilians in Abu-Ghraib, Umm Qasr, and other US-run prisons? What sort of outlook could have led to a US pilot firing into markets, schools and demonstrators? What sort of mindset could have led to the execution of injured men in Mosques? These are all manifestation of real hate, fostered and inculcated by the xenophobic media. Despite these examples, the victims of the US led aggression are classified as fascists (the equivalent oxymoron is Islamofascist) and the actions of the US government and its soldiers are proclaimed as a manifestation of democracy!

Criticisms to outright abuse are usually licensed under free speech; a pillar of democracy. However, abuse of any religion apart from Islam is silenced under the umbrella of inciting religious hatred. Highlighting the US massacres in Iraq with pictures, not even comments, is inciting violence. But any form of abuse of Islam and Muslims is instantly applauded as a manifestation of ‘free’ speech! Those individuals using the license are given inordinate level of publicity and the usual accolades that follow. Even international institutions (UNISCO) which are supposed to be neutral are awarding anti-Islamic zealots with money and recognition. The UN is supposed to advocate democracy but it can’t bear the weight of democracy internally as the permanent member nations in the Security Council are privileged with the veto power.

The one-sided embedded media coverage is construed as being part of the ‘free’ media (a pillar of democracy) and any deviation is propaganda! Thus, Saddam’s alleged mass graves of millions has turned out to be 5,000 to date is still touted as unquestionable fact whilst airing of live pictures from Iraq by the few Arab channels is propaganda. According to Corporate-Zionists advisors like Richard Perle such media coverage is the reason for anti-US sentiments; not the actual carnage on the ground.

Now, the US in the name of ‘freedom’ is imposing their version of it on the Iraqis like a fascist dictator. Thus, you only become ‘free’ by subjugating yourself to the dictates of the existing god-fathers of democracies! Is it ‘freedom’ by any means necessary? Perhaps this is why that it was democracies that gave birth to Fascism and Nazism. Democracy is perhaps an illusion of a functioning dictatorship, where farcical elections are held with two or three opposing candidates with an almost identical agenda? According to the US marines on the ground ‘freedom’ is attained once you have McDonalds, strip joints with lap dancers and casinos on every corner in Baghdad.

Nobody questions the leading democracies who constantly bark about women’s right whilst busy profiting from the sale of her flesh; the basis of the huge porno industry. We all got a glimpse of the ‘respect’ given to the females held in the US-run prisons. It was these types of men that created the brothels in Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Japan and Philippines exploiting the cheap flesh? When they go back home, abuse of their wives and daughters is rampant according to their own statistics. Not a day passes when another prominent Westerner caught in the poor countries of the Far East seeking sex with young children, think of the numbers who are not caught.

Indeed, the constant rise in the level of rape illustrate that the politically correct attitude of upholding women’s rights collapses as soon as an opportunity arises to devour the flesh of the vulnerable. Have you ever seen a group of young men be it football players, soldiers or office colleagues when intoxicated with alcohol how they relate to the opposite sex? Genuine respect is the last thing in the minds of those lads as their conversation barley rises above the waist lines. They demonstrate their ‘freedom’ eventually by fornicating in public like wild beasts. Yet these men have been sent to the Islamic world as the flag bearers of women’s rights!

It is for this reason the unrestrained free men are seeking ways to remove the restraint from the honorable and chaste women in veil, so that they can become ‘free’ for their unwashed and uncircumcised genitals as they demonstrated in Abu-Ghraib! Ask the women in Abu-Ghraib, I am sure they would prefer the beasts rather than those US soldiers!

In fact bestiality seems to be another fad in democracies like the US; a cursory web search would reveal the location of the various websites hosted and the participants. There is no problem in democracy for expressing such values as long as she does not wear a veil and preserve her chastity, the ultimate ‘sin’, a sign of not being ‘free’. Countries rushed of to legislate against the Islamic veil, even though Christian Nuns wears something similar, the Jewish women also used to wear such things once upon a time until it got replaced by the shaytl (Yiddish for “wig”). How is it that the mighty democracies are rattled by a piece of cloth worn by an individual who according to their dictates is only exercising her personal freedom?

Similarly, the assessment of economic prosperity and progress of democracies is given by the increase in production and the mere accumulation of wealth in the hands of the few as opposed to its distribution in society. Wealth is accumulated at a greater rate than it trickles down, increasing the gap between the rich and the poor. Likewise, internationally the flow of wealth increases from the South to the North, from the East to the West. The masses continue to be fooled by economic ‘aid’ forgetting the economic destruction of the ‘debt’! The cheap charity shows are held to inflate the egos of their celebrities and also lighten the guilt of self-centered money grabbing society. In realty they have no shame as their soldiers stole from the Iraqi households, their companies from Iraq’s oil resources as billions of oil revenue are still unaccounted for.

Many are blinded by the technological achievement of democracies, forgetting how such things were applied against weaker nations. Genocide committed against weaker nations with high-tech weapons is portrayed as a civilizing process to bring about ‘peace’. Whilst bragging about ‘peace’ democracies make huge profit from war, death and destruction through their lucrative arms industry. Then they have the gall to lecture others about the proliferation of nuclear weapons, forgetting that it was democracy that used the Atomic bombs against the civilian in Japan and were poised to do the same in Korea, China and Egypt. They littered towns and villages with the inhuman cluster bombs, napalm and phosphorus bombs in Korea, Vietnam and now again in Iraq.

It is the system of Capitalism/Democracy that has been responsible for untold human misery for the last three hundred years culminating in the two World Wars. Remember, such nations driven by profit and ugly Xenophobia eradicated peaceful tribes from the continents of America to Australia, a track record that no ‘fundamentalist’ could ever match!

The silence of the world towards the atrocities committed by the strongest nation on earth attacking the most vulnerable people can be taken as: consent to the principle of “might is right” or a manifestation of democratic values. It was a while ago that I wrote an essay titled “democracy is hypocrisy” implying that other forms of hypocrisy exists; however, looking at the events in the world since that time, I have come to the conclusion that the only manifestation of hypocrisy is: democracy, particularly democracy of those who are waging a war in its name.

Email to Dak Bangla from Yamin Zakaria who writes from London, UK

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Bangladesh: 2 Conflicting Reports - Its about Gas Stupid!

"The pressure for gas export is no more there. As the demand for gas grew in domestic market, the IOCs are now feeling encouraged to go for fresh explorations," the state minister told The Daily Star in an exclusive interview at his Banani residence in the capital.

On the brighter side, the pressure for gas export is gone and the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have jointly given assurance of $1.5 billion assistance for preparing a 20-year gas sector strategic plan. "Appointment of a consulting firm for preparing the strategic plan is now at final stage," Mosharraf disclosed. Explaining why gas demand has shot up, Mosharraf said, industrial investment has risen by 23 percent this year compared to last year's. In addition, because of the prevailing power disruptions, many industries are now generating captive power up to 200 mw using gas, he mentioned.

Bangladesh today assured natural gas supply to giant conglomerate Tata for setting up three plants in the country. "We have given an assurance to Tatas on the basis of our present stock as well as on probable gas reserve," State Minister for Energy Mosharraf Hossain said adding "the recent shortage of (natural) gas is accidental and temporary."


Local demand pushes gas export issue back
Mosharraf admits hasty deals with IOCs
Reaz Ahmad And Rejaul Karim Byron

Surging domestic demand for gas has defused the pressure to export gas but is compelling the government to strike hasty deals with international oil companies (IOCs), says State Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources AKM Mosharraf Hossain.

To meet the demand, the government recently started buying 25 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) gas from Feni gas field that was developed by Canadian company Niko Resources along with Bapex under a joint venture agreement. But the price has not been fixed yet.

And on November 8, Petrobangla had to sign an agreement with US company Unocal for gas supply from Bibiyana. Under this deal, Unocal can stop gas supplies if Petrobangla fails to pay for the gas in due time.

Both these cases are unusual but the demand hike has forced the government to go ahead with them, the state minister says.

On the brighter side, the pressure for gas export is gone and the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have jointly given assurance of $1.5 billion assistance for preparing a 20-year gas sector strategic plan. "Appointment of a consulting firm for preparing the strategic plan is now at final stage," Mosharraf disclosed.

In recent times, Indian giant Tata made a Tk 1200 crore investment proposal and the Chinese government has also expressed willingness to invest in Bangladesh in a big way for methanol production and export.

"The pressure for gas export is no more there. As the demand for gas grew in domestic market, the IOCs are now feeling encouraged to go for fresh explorations," the state minister told The Daily Star in an exclusive interview at his Banani residence in the capital.

Explaining why gas demand has shot up, Mosharraf said, industrial investment has risen by 23 percent this year compared to last year's. In addition, because of the prevailing power disruptions, many industries are now generating captive power up to 200 mw using gas, he mentioned.

Mosharraf said the annual increase in domestic gas requirement was projected at seven percent a couple of years back but now it has shot up to 13-14 percent. In such a situation, the government resorted to buying Niko-Bapex's gas without finalising the price.

"They're asking for $2.35 per cubic feet of gas and we're offering them $2.10. As there is gas crisis, we started taking gas from them upon a written understanding that price would be fixed later," the state minister explained.

Unocal, which had been dragging foot over new gas production saying it would go for further exploration and production if export was allowed, has also changed its position. It has dropped the export agenda that drew public criticism and pushed ahead a gas purchase agreement.

Under its November 8 agreement for supplying gas from Bibiyana field where Unocal invested about $230 million, the American company will sell 250 mmcfd to Petrobangla from October, 2006, 375 million cft from December, 2007 and 493 mcf from December, 2008.

Discovered in mid-1998, Bibiyana gas field in Block No 12 situated in Sunamganj has a recoverable reserve of 2.4 TCF (trillion cubic feet) gas.

But Unocal has incorporated a clause that gives the company the right to cease gas supply to the government if Petrobangla fails to pay bills for five months at a stretch.

Asked about providing such a right to an IOC, and losing sovereignty over the country's own natural resource, Mosharraf quips, " If Titas gas company can disconnect gas lines of a domestic consumer upon the latter's failure to pay bills for three months, why can't an IOC do the same? This is a commercial proposition. There is no question of losing sovereignty."

Petrobangla owns Bibiyana field, and has its own share in the gas that Unocal will produce.

"Had we not conceded this facility to Unocal, it would have asked for 'sovereign guarantee.' As the PSC has no mandate for providing 'sovereign guarantee' to any IOC, the finance ministry did not agree to allow this in case of Unocal," explained Mosharraf.

Under 'sovereign guarantee', IOCs can update gas sale prices in accordance with price fluctuations of gas in international market.

The minister hoped from the beginning of 2005, there would be no crises of gas in the country. The government expects 70 mmcf gas per day from Unocal from Moulvibazar gas field from January next. Under a joint initiative of Niko and Bapex, 70 bcf gas reserve has been discovered in Feni, he said

Bapex has completed seismic survey in Block 11 and will go for drilling soon. It has struck gas at Fenchuganj and expects to get gas at Srikail too, Mosharraf said. "Besides, we can get 10 mcf more through Koilashtila."

Cairn would drill five more wells at Sangu and also explore gas at Cox's Bazar offshore Megnama. Cairn has completed seismic survey in Block 10 and would go for the same in Block 5 soon.

In a rebuttal to criticism against exploring gas from close proximity of the world's biggest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans, Mosharraf said Block 5 is 25 kilometres away from the Sundarbans and gas exploration from that block has got nothing to do with causing any damages to it and the environment.

Tallow did not get gas at Rasulpur in Comilla but is now trying to explore at Lalmai and later at Bhangura. It is optimistic about discovering a big gas field in Laxmipur.

The state minister took credit for strengthening Bapex in the last two years. "We had one drilling rig stuck at Shahjibazar while two others were in bad shape. We recovered the stuck one, made one good rig out of the two in bad conditions. Moreover, we also floated tender for procuring a third rig for Bapex. Now Bapex is capable of conducting 4/5 drillings at a time," he said.

Daily Star 24/11/2004


2. Bangladesh assures Tata Group on supply of natural gas

Dhaka, Nov 25 (PTI) Bangladesh today assured natural gas supply to giant conglomerate Tata for setting up three plants in the country.

Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata had visited Bangladesh last month to sign an 'Expression of Interest' for setting up three plants -a power plant, a fertiliser factory and a steel unit- worth USD two billion in the country.

"We have given an assurance to Tatas on the basis of our present stock as well as on probable gas reserve," State Minister for Energy Mosharraf Hossain said adding "the recent shortage of (natural) gas is accidental and temporary." He told the 'Daily Star' newspaper "as one out of four wells in Sangu (field) has been stalled for over four months now, there is a daily shortage of 50 million cubic feet (mmcf) now." Hossain said he looked forward to getting 42 trillion cubic feet of gas as both multinational and national energy companies continued to explore the fuel.

If the plan gets through, it would be the largest single foreign investment ever in Bangladesh.

Tatas have proposed to set up a 700 million dollar in basic steel industry and an equal amount in a 1000 megawatt power generation, while another 600 million dollar for a fertiliser factory. The three plants would initially need 200 mmcft natural gas daily and it was likely to go upto 350 mmcft when in full operation.

The Bangladesh Government has sought funding from the international donors for pipeline project to provide natural gas and electricity in the country's western region for the Tatas plan. PTI

PTI 25/11/2004

Bangladesh: TATA's "investment" and our Steel Industries

The steel sector of Bangladesh is an infant sector that has been growing over the last couple of decades. In spite of the lack of experience, technology, human resources, etc. and despite the failure of state-owned steel making enterprise, a few brave and adventurous entrepreneurs ventured into this technology intensive sector. Some of them have started exporting steel products also. The Steel Mills Owners' Association of Bangladesh has raised its concern over the Tata's investment proposal.

We must consider Tata's proposal in the light of our own national steel sector policy. We have to negotiate from a position of strength and confidence. After all our main strength i.e. gas has the potential to offer cost advantage of several thousand taka per ton of steel produced. While negotiating a deal, we should look into maximising our national interest in areas including the following. Let us not consider it as our dream just to bring in Tata. It might be our economic strategy. But let us make it our dream to create a Bangladeshi Tata in a few decades. Whether we will be able to fulfill this dream depends on how we plan and act today.

Our steel sector and Tata's investment proposal
Dr. A. S. M. A. Haseeb

The recent signing of the expression of interest between the Tata Group of India and the Board of Investment is a major incident in the foreign direct investment (FDI) history of Bangladesh. The government is highly enthusiastic about the proposal, and the main opposition party also seems positive about it. The investment proposal comprises a steel mill of capacity of 2.4 million tons per year (tpy), power plants of total capacity of 1000 MW, and fertiliser production facilities of capacity 1 million tpy. This article mainly focuses on the steel sector.

The importance of steel in a modern economy cannot be overemphasised. It is a strategic material necessary for infrastructure, housing, industry, energy, power, transportation, mechanised agriculture, etc. Recognising this, a separate steel and engineering corporation was created after the independence of Bangladesh and the only steel making plant of the country Chittagong Steel Mills Ltd. was put under the state owned corporation. But for various reasons this state owned sector did not function properly and Chittagong Steel Mills Ltd. had to be closed down in 1999. Increased steel demand in the country and the demise of Chittagong Steel Mills Ltd. created opportunities for private entrepreneurs to gradually take over the steel sector.

A sizable investment has been made already. Reports suggest that at present there are about 60-70 steel making plants in the country producing about 500,000 tpy of liquid steel, which is consumed almost entirely in the production of long products such as reinforcing bars, angles, etc. A few backward linkage industries e.g., a ferroalloy plant and a sponge iron plant have also been set up; and some are in the process of being set up. Forward linkage facilities are even more developed: about 800,000 tpy cold rolling (CR) facilities for CR coils, about 1.5 million tpy re-rolling facilities for rods, more than 700,000 tpy galvanised iron/corrugated iron sheets making facilities are already existing in the country. One hot rolled (HR) plate making facility is already installed and a few cold rolled (CR) coil manufacturers appear to be interested to set up more HR coil/plate production units. The country's steel sector is showing signs of healthy growth. The annual national demand for finished steel has been predicted at about 3.1 million tons in 2007-08. Thus the proposed capacity of Tata constitutes about 77 per cent of local steel demand in 2007-08.

The steel sector of Bangladesh is an infant sector that has been growing over the last couple of decades. In spite of the lack of experience, technology, human resources, etc. and despite the failure of state-owned steel making enterprise, a few brave and adventurous entrepreneurs ventured into this technology intensive sector. Some of them have started exporting steel products also. The Steel Mills Owners' Association of Bangladesh has raised its concern over the Tata's investment proposal.

Some quarters would like to brush aside their concerns and would point out their deficiencies e.g. monopolistic attitude, lack of concern for quality, lack of corporate culture, etc. While some of these complaints are by and large valid, one has to recognise that these private entrepreneurs have gone a long way in taking over the steel sector in spite of numerous difficulties in terms of lack of infrastructure, policy support, trained human resources, etc. It would be too trivial and cruel to sweep away their efforts and concerns. After all, it is quite natural for an infant steel sector like ours to fear the might of none other than Tata, which has about hundred years of enviable experience in the steel sector.

Newspaper reports say that Tata has been quick to respond to the concerns of the local producers by saying that it would produce HR coils. Tata is also known to have a declared strategy to get into the market of long products (in the Singapore and South East Asia region). Indeed the product mix of Tata's proposed steel mill will be crucial to the local producers and will be something for them to be concerned with. It has been learned that a couple of local entrepreneurs have recently submitted proposals to the government to set up steel mills for the production of HR coil. If local companies seriously implement their proposals, then there could be a marketing conflict with Tata. On the other hand, one may argue that if a group like Tata were allowed to produce and market steel in the country, it would be beneficial to the local consumers. Because Tata with its vast experience and large production capacity and with the advantage gained through the use of gas will be able to produce quality products at a low cost. Tata will also bring in corporate culture in the steel sector.

In this scenario, the issue should be considered objectively and professionally in the light of a national strategy for the steel sector. This country, however, does not appear to have any such strategy. In such a case the government should formulate one before considering any FDI or local proposal in this sector. Steel is much too important to be considered with an adhoc approach. Even in a market economy, the government cannot point out to the market forces for everything. In a globalised economy, a government has even a greater role to play in creating opportunities, facilitating and supporting local industries. Let us just look at a few examples of the proactive role the Indian government, having a regularly updated iron and steel policy, is playing in developing its steel sector: A government ministry go out to financial banks/institutions to highlight and convince them of the need to develop steel industry; the ministry regularly interacts with entrepreneurs interested in setting up iron and steel plants to assess implementation problems; it identifies and removes infrastructure bottlenecks for the growth of iron and steel sector; it also meets with Steel Consumer Council to address their grievances etc. And many of these activities are directly coordinated by a minister. Our government has to consider what role it should play in securing the future of this vital sector in our country.

Having said all the above about the interest of local producers, we must not send a wrong signal to Tata. However, we must consider Tata's proposal in the light of our own national steel sector policy. We have to negotiate from a position of strength and confidence. After all our main strength i.e. gas has the potential to offer cost advantage of several thousand taka per ton of steel produced. While negotiating a deal, we should look into maximising our national interest in areas including the following:

i) Tata's proposed steel making facilities must not hamper in any way the natural growth of our infant steel sector in the future;

ii) Tata's product mix and marketing plan should be complementary to those of local producers;

iii) Participation of local investors, general public, consortium, etc. in the investment of the project to as large an extent as possible;

iv) Ensure that this project brings about local human resource (HR) development, both technical and management, and generate local employment to the maximum extent;

v) Future R&D related to the project should be carried out locally; and R&D and HR development linkages should be made with appropriate local academic/research organisations so that technology transfer takes in the real sense; vi) The investment proposal should be de-packaged in order to find areas where local engineering firms can participate in fabrication/erection/construction of the plants as far as possible.

We should also give a fresh look at our national economic planning and do some stocktaking. Successive governments have been trying to boost private sector investment in the country. Sectors like IT, agro-based, food processing industry, etc. are being considered as thrust sectors, and special packages are on offer for these sectors. But we somehow failed to realise that a great opportunity was in the making in the steel sector. Tata is obviously smart enough to seize the opportunity and make the loudest investment proposal. But perhaps the opportunity has not totally unnoticed by a few local entrepreneurs; their voice does not appear to be loud enough for us though. It has been learned that International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group is one of the backers of the Tata proposal and is ready to invest in it. It may be mentioned that IFC has the experience of having a catalytic role in a similar project in Egypt. IFC financed a $625 million integrated steel making facility for HR coil production at the Alexandria National Iron and Steel Company in 1998. In that project, 78 per cent of the shares are owned by Egyptian companies and individuals, 10 per cent by a Japanese consortium, and the rest by IFC. The policy makers should keep this in mind while considering our case.

Finally, with or without Tata in town, it is time that we devise a comprehensive iron and steel policy for the nation. Let us not consider it as our dream just to bring in Tata. It might be our economic strategy. But let us make it our dream to create a Bangladeshi Tata in a few decades. Whether we will be able to fulfill this dream depends on how we plan and act today.

Dr. Haseeb is a Professor in the Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering, BUET.

Daily Star 25/11/2004

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Global Jihad: A Readers Reacts

You illiterate monkeys fingered in the anus of largest sleeping lion and then started crying foul, when that lion woke-up to chase you, the so called lions of Allah down. “Oh, the Lion hates us, the Lion hates us.” What is lion supposed to do? Love you for fingering his anus?


This is in answer to your propaganda that case USA really needs cheap labor and that’s why it accepts new immigrants. Why US Govt., State Governments of USA and local bodies keep hiring Moslims on good paying jobs if the purpose of Immigration is to have cheap labor? Why US Government, State Governments and local bodies haven’t fired Moslims from their jobs after 9/11 incident? Why Foreign-born illiterate Mollaas have kept getting hired at the rank of Captain as Army Chaplains in the cantonments of USA for Moslim Soldiers of USA? Does any Moslim Country have any Church in her Cantonment area for its Christian Soldiers or similar arrangements for its Non Moslim Soldiers?

Some Myths and Misconceptions
S.U.Turkman

Global Jihad = 7th Century trying to conquer, 21st Century but cheating by using 21st Century Weapons.

Islamic Brotherhood = Islamic Hate of Moslims against each other and Non Moslims.

Islamic Unity = The Unity of illiterate Moslims against Non Moslims.

Islamic Pride = The Pride in being the most illiterate people on earth.

Proof 1. There have been documented evidences of Moslim fathers or brothers killing daughters for Family Pride despite knowing that accusations against her were false and she was still a Virgin.

Proof 2. Incidents of fathers killing their daughter for choosing to marry a man that father did not approve of, in Family Pride. ... One may argue that only illiterate Moslims cause these tragedies but then aren’t all of Jihaadees belong to that group of Moslims?


JihaaDees claim, ...

* USA hates Moslims so much that she is killing Moslims everywhere and invading our countries.

Were Mollaas not hating USA for the last few decades on and off? Who you JihaaDees don’t hate?

Is your hating is legal in Islam and not the hate against you? You even hate each other. Is that legal in Islam? Even your parents were raised on Flour that Pakistan and some other Moslim countries received in US-AID (USA‘s Charity Program for Poor Anti Communist Countries). There were no Sugar Mills in any Moslim Country. You were getting Sugar from USA as charity of USA. If USA hates Moslims so much, why she gives Immigration to tens of thousands of Moslims every year instead of opening its southern border for Christian Mexicans?

This is in answer to your propaganda that case USA really needs cheap labor and that’s why it accepts new immigrants. Why US Govt., State Governments of USA and local bodies keep hiring Moslims on good paying jobs if the purpose of Immigration is to have cheap labor? Why US Government, State Governments and local bodies haven’t fired Moslims from their jobs after 9/11 incident? Why Foreign-born illiterate Mollaas have kept getting hired at the rank of Captain as Army Chaplains in the cantonments of USA for Moslim Soldiers of USA? Does any Moslim Country have any Church in her Cantonment area for its Christian Soldiers or similar arrangements for its Non Moslim Soldiers? Does any Moslim Country give a chance to the Preacher of any of religions of its minorities to open the Session of her National Assembly with holy words of those religion, like USA does? Have not been Moslim Mollaas doing ’tilaawuT’ of Qoraan in USA’s Senate and Congress (National Assembly) for years? Is there any place of worship of any religion in the National Assembly building (Capital Hill) of USA for any religion besides the one for US Govt.‘s Moslim Employees? Had USA attacked any city of Moslims like your Sneak Attack Suicidal JihaaDees attacked her New York? Was that in love of USA or hate? Was not Afghanistan receiving a million dollars a year in Food & Humanitarian Aid from USA as donation despite that its govt. used to bad mouth USA all the time?

You illiterate monkeys fingered in the anus of largest sleeping lion and then started crying foul, when that lion woke-up to chase you, the so called lions of Allah down. “Oh, the Lion hates us, the Lion hates us.” What is lion supposed to do? Love you for fingering his anus?


Email to Dak Bangla from S.U. Turkman who writes from Washington DC, USA.

Bangladesh: Analysis - Rising Terrorist incidents and its implications

The attacks mirror a pattern of unchecked violence across Bangladesh, sparking concerns that religious radicals - nurtured by al-Qaida-linked Islamic charities and protected by the government - are undermining long-held traditions of tolerance and moderate Islam.

Few believe Bangladesh is the next Afghanistan. But the U.S. State Department's counter-terrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, told reporters before visiting Dhaka in September that he was concerned about "the potential utilization of Bangladesh as a platform for international terrorism." It was unclear what prompted Black's comment, but local and foreign media describe the lawless southeast as a possible haven for militants. Riduan Isamuddin, known as Hambali, the alleged ringleader of the 2002 Bali bombings in Indonesia, was heading to Bangladesh when he was captured in Thailand last year, regional officials said.


Terror on the rise in Bangladesh
BY DAN MORRISON
SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

Religious-extremist attacks kill 5, hurt over 100, leading to fears the nation is oming a haven



SYLHET, Bangladesh - One recent afternoon Farjana Siddika opened her office mail and found she was marked for death.

"We are going to kill all the atheists, and you are on the list," the typed letter read. "You cannot live with a Hindu on the holy soil of Sylhet. You must make amends or face the consequences."

"At first I thought it was a hoax," said the 34-year-old literature professor, whose marriage to a Hindu is a rarity in this country of 140 million Muslims, and whose liberal views are equally rare at the technical college where she teaches. "But when my family heard about it they went into a panic."

No wonder. Sylhet, a northern Bangladeshi city known better for tea gardens than religious extremism, has been terrorized by seven grenade blasts and dozens of death threats this year, leaving five people dead and more than 100 injured. "This bomb culture is completely new to Sylhet," said Mayor Badaruddin Kamran, the target of an August blast that killed a friend.

Pattern of terror

The terror isn't limited to academics and politicians. Three movie theaters have been bombed and Sylhet's holiest shrine, the tomb of a seventh-century Sufi saint, has been hit twice by grenade attacks. Islamic radicals believe praying at shrines - a common practice in most of the Muslim world - amounts to idolatry. No one has been charged in either attack.

The attacks mirror a pattern of unchecked violence across Bangladesh, sparking concerns that religious radicals - nurtured by al-Qaida-linked Islamic charities and protected by the government - are undermining long-held traditions of tolerance and moderate Islam.

"If there is a country in the world today in danger of completely breaking down, it's Bangladesh," said Gowher Rizvi, a Bangladeshi who heads the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University.

The violence made world news Aug. 21 when Sheikh Hasina, a former prime minister, was nearly slain in a grenade attack that killed 20 people in Dhaka, the capital. In May, the British ambassador was hurt and three Bangladeshis were killed in a blast at the Shah Jalal shrine.

Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, the parliamentary affairs adviser to Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, discounted talk of rising Islamic extremism. "I don't think I'd take it too seriously," said Chowdhury, who is a member of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh's leading Islamist party.

Others say Zia's Bangladesh National Party is allowing militants to tip the balance against Hasina's party, the rival Awami League. "By unleashing fundamentalist forces in the country, they will be able to contain the Awami League," Rizvi said.

Zia's ruling coalition includes two Islamist parties and her government includes men accused of war crimes during the 1971 war for independence from Pakistan. It's estimated that Pakistani soldiers and local allies killed as many as 1 million people during the fight to create an independent Bangladesh from what was then Pakistan's eastern wing.

Rivalry continues

Bangladeshi politics is captive to the rivalry of Hasina and Zia. Hasina's father, Sheik Mujibur Rahman, led Bangladesh from its birth until 1975, when he was killed by army officers. Zia's late husband, Gen. Ziaur Rahman, then ruled until he, too, was slain in 1981.

This blood feud divides every institution, including the army, the civil service and the media, leaving education and public health to thousands of aid groups and charities. Corruption is pervasive.

Despite these handicaps, Bangladesh has made great strides, outpacing regional giant India in areas including infant mortality, sanitation, family planning and health spending. After 15 years of army rule, there have been three successful national elections.

Despite her Islamist partners, Zia is pushing to reserve a third of the seats in parliament for women and wants to reform the country's divorce laws.

Zia crushed Hasina in the 2001 elections by promising law and order. But violence has only grown. On Oct. 29, a mob of 1,000 people razed a mosque of the embattled Ahmadiyya Muslim sect during Ramadan prayers. Islamic radicals consider the Ahmadiyya heretics.

Some analysts fear the conditions that allow a mob to tear down a dissident mosque could draw foreign militants.

Platform for terrorism

Few believe Bangladesh is the next Afghanistan. But the U.S. State Department's counter-terrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, told reporters before visiting Dhaka in September that he was concerned about "the potential utilization of Bangladesh as a platform for international terrorism."

It was unclear what prompted Black's comment, but local and foreign media describe the lawless southeast as a possible haven for militants. Riduan Isamuddin, known as Hambali, the alleged ringleader of the 2002 Bali bombings in Indonesia, was heading to Bangladesh when he was captured in Thailand last year, regional officials said.

In a recent expose of domestic militants, the newspaper Prothom Alo detailed a network of training camps run by the terror group Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami. The camps are connected to local mosques and madrassas - Islamic boarding schools - that are in turn funded by charities with alleged ties to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

Bangladesh has 6,900 government-regulated secondary-level madrassas that teach modern subjects alongside the Quran, a rarity among Muslim countries. But thousands of others are funded by unregulated private donors, often charities pushing a more intolerant strain of Islam than is native to Bangladesh.

Chowdhury downplayed such funding. "Look, Bangladesh is a country where most of the people live on less than 2,000 calories a day. If someone offers money, we'll take it."

Newsday 23/11/2004

India: Maoist Insurgency - While we sleep

In West Bengal - the State shares borders with Naxalite affected areas in Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar, and also has to contend with ethnicity-based insurgencies in its North, bordering Assam, as well as a sensitive, extensive and demographically destabilized border with Bangladesh - as many as 16 of a total of 18 districts are now afflicted by Maoist activities.


Police authorities in the State have blamed the incident on an 'intelligence failure', admitting that they were several portents of escalating Naxalite violence in the area. On November 19, the Naxalites had attacked a Forest Department outpost in the District and had killed two forest guards. Later, the same night, they had set fire to the hut of the sarpanch (village head) of the Laharui village in the district. The Inspector General of Police (Varanasi zone) was to visit the site of these incidents, and the ambuscade was on his projected route. November 21, moreover, was the first death anniversary of a prominent MCC 'commander' in the area, Gauri Harijan, and the Naxalites were expected to execute a major strike to 'commemorate' the occasion.


Naxalites: While We Were Sleeping
Ajai Sahni
Editor, SAIR; Executive Director, Institute for Conflict Management

In the first operation of this magnitude in Uttar Pradesh; their first major strike since the unification of two major Left Wing extremist (Naxalite) groups - the Communist Party of India - Marxist-Leninist Peoples' War (or Peoples War Group, PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) - under the banner of the Communist Party of India - Maoist (CPI-Maoist); and one of their most significant strikes against Security Forces since the commencement of the 'peace process' in Andhra Pradesh, militants of the CPI-Maoist ambushed and killed 17 policemen in cold blood on November 21, 2004, at a culvert in the Chandauli District of India's largest (and among its worst-governed) state(s).

A reported eyewitness account of one of the survivors is chilling: Some 31 personnel of the PAC Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and from police posts in Chandoli and Mughalsarai were traveling in a convoy of two jeeps and a truck. The jeeps managed to pass the culvert, but as the truck crossed over, a landmine went off. However, none of the men died in the explosion. They were injured. The policemen in the jeeps fled in fear on seeing an estimated 50 to 150 Naxalites gunning for the survivors. The Naxalites then rounded up the wounded and killed each one by shooting them in the head.

Police authorities in the State have blamed the incident on an 'intelligence failure', admitting that they were several portents of escalating Naxalite violence in the area. On November 19, the Naxalites had attacked a Forest Department outpost in the District and had killed two forest guards. Later, the same night, they had set fire to the hut of the sarpanch (village head) of the Laharui village in the district. The Inspector General of Police (Varanasi zone) was to visit the site of these incidents, and the ambuscade was on his projected route. November 21, moreover, was the first death anniversary of a prominent MCC 'commander' in the area, Gauri Harijan, and the Naxalites were expected to execute a major strike to 'commemorate' the occasion.

The 'failure of intelligence', however, is more an abject failure of common sense. The Chandauli incident is only a clear declaration of intent that the Maoists remain committed to a radical extension of the areas of their violence and consequent influence, even as the State Government seeks to appease them in Andhra Pradesh, encouraged by the Union Minister of Home Affairs who has articulated the desire to extend his indulgence to those he regards as 'our children' who need to be shown the 'right way'. The Home Minister is apparently undeterred by the fact that many of 'our children' - particularly their top leaders, with whom the Government wishes to 'negotiate' a solution - are well into their sixties, and have spent the better part of the last four decades in the enterprise of murder, intimidation and terror.

The dramatic expansion of Naxalite activities from just 55 Districts across nine States in the country in November 2003, to as many as 156 Districts in 13 States (of a total of 602 districts in the country) by September 2004, has been outlined earlier [SAIR 3.12]. However, there is little sense of urgency in even the highly affected States, and virtually no sense of a crisis in the States that are presently marginally affected or targeted by the Naxalites. Chandauli now demonstrates how abruptly an area can be carried across the threshold, from a moderately, marginally affected or targeted area, to an area of escalated violence.

It is useful to see the sheer spread of the existing Maoist network [MAP] beyond the 'core States' of Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Bihar. Beyond these States of Naxalite dominance, the sweep of Naxalite ambitions is manifested in the sheer dispersal of the areas of their current mobilisation. Among the 'marginal' States, they are concentrated in six districts in Uttar Pradesh (UP), bordering Bihar - Bihar itself is now almost completely covered. Mirzapur, Chandauli and Sonebhadra in UP are moderately affected, while Gorakhpur, Ghazipur and Ballia are targeted. Mirzapur had witnessed the murder of two private security guards at a stone crushing company in the Chahawan village on June 30, and an MCC activist and some weapons had been seized in the Sonebhadra district in September. More significant than incidents and arrests, however, have been the reports of continuous mass mobilization in the region, and the State's police is at least apprehensive in its movement through the affected areas.

The infant State of Uttaranchal (formed in November 2000 after a bifurcation of Uttar Pradesh) has five of its 13 districts, in areas bordering or proximate to Nepal's Far West Region, already 'targeted' by the Maoists. Significantly, an unspecified number of weapons and ammunition were recovered at a Maoist training camp - believed to have been set up for the Nepalese Maoists by the Indian group - in the Champawat District on September 6. Earlier, on August 30, five suspected Nepalese Maoists had been arrested in the Saufutia forests of the Udham Singh Nagar District.

In West Bengal - the State shares borders with Naxalite affected areas in Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar, and also has to contend with ethnicity-based insurgencies in its North, bordering Assam, as well as a sensitive, extensive and demographically destabilized border with Bangladesh - as many as 16 of a total of 18 districts are now afflicted by Maoist activities. On October 16, six personnel of the Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) were killed in a landmine attack in the Ormara forest in West Midnapore district. In another major incident on February 25, eight SF personnel, including five from the EFR, were killed and four injured, when a powerful landmine exploded at Golabari in Midnapore district. Intelligence sources indicate that the Maoists are now poised to unleash a wave of terror in the State. West Bengal was the source and primary focus of the original Naxalite movement (the name derives from the village of Naxalbari in the Darjeeling district of North Bengal), which commenced in 1967, and was comprehensively crushed by the early 1970s. The State had been largely free of Naxalite activities after 1973 till the end-1990s.

Madhya Pradesh has five affected districts, primarily in the tribal belt in the South of the State, bordering some affected areas in Maharashtra and Chattisgarh. Maharashtra itself has six affected districts - at least two 'highly affected', another three marginally, and one that is 'targeted'.

In India's South, Karnataka currently has 12 affected districts all along its North-East and South. Four districts located roughly along its Eastern region, are now affected in Tamil Nadu. Three districts - along its borders with Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, and the coastal district of Ernakulam, are currently under the Naxalite area of operation in Kerala.

To these, of course, are to be added the 99 districts in the 'heartland' States of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Orissa.

Nor, indeed, is this sum of the problem. Beyond these districts already designated by intelligence agencies as variously afflicted by Naxalite activity, is a much wider network of covert mobilization. Indeed, districts are added virtually by the week - as the pace of expansion over the past year demonstrates. Unconfirmed reports indicated Naxalite 'political activity' in a sampling of supposedly 'unaffected' States across the country, including Haryana and Punjab in the North and Gujarat and Rajasthan in the West, far from the current areas of concentration in India's East and South.

Ominously, the students' wing of the CPI-ML (the parent entity of the Naxalite movement) won the president's post in the Students' Union election at Delhi's prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University in October this year. It is useful to recall that some professors at JNU are quite proud to list Baburam Bhattarai, the 'ideologue' of the Nepal Maoist movement, as an alumnus of this University.

In the meanwhile, the Union and State Governments continue to fail to impose the law of the land across expanding regions of violence, choosing, instead, to strike unprincipled deals with continuously proliferating violent groups in the deluded expectation that they can stanch the bleeding from a thousand self-inflicted wounds. They continue, equally, to fail to do what Governments are intended and elected to do - provide the rudiments of governance, security, justice, development and basic welfare services - in ever widening areas. Appeasing violent groups has now become the natural response of a political leadership that has a bad conscience, is in bad faith, and is itself substantially criminalized. In the meanwhile, the uniformed services - the police, the paramilitaries and the Army - continue to pay a limitless price in lives.

SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW Volume 3, No. 19, November 22, 2004

Global Jihad: The Crushing of Fallujah

Why do Washington and the mass media resort to gross, systematic lying and euphemisms? Basically to reinforce mass support at home for mass murder in Iraq.

Like the Nazi media, the major US radio and TV networks only report what they call "military casualties"--failing to report the civilians killed since the war started and the thousands of women and children killed and wounded since the assault of Fallujah began. Like in Nazi Germany, the US mass media feature unconfirmed reports by the US military of the bloody murders, beheadings and kidnapping "by the foreign terrorists". The unconditional support of Nazi/US mass media of the killing fields is best captured in their reports of the massive bombing of densely populated city districts. For the US network NBC, the dropping of 500-pound bombs in the city of Fallujah is described as targeting an "insurgent tunnel network in the city". And the houses, markets, stores--the mothers and children above those tunnels--vaporized into "pink mist". Their existence never acknowledged by the leading reporters and broadcasters.


The Crushing of Fallujah
James Petras

I am reading William Shirer's Berlin Diary, a journalist's account of Nazi political propaganda during the 1930's, as I watch the US 'news' reports of the violent assault on Fallujah. The US mass media 'reports', the style, content and especially the language echo their Nazi predecessor of 70 years ago to an uncanny degree. Coincidence? Of course! In both instances we have imperialist armies conquering countries, leveling cities and slaughtering civilians--and the mass media, private in form, state appendages in practice, disseminate the most outrageous lies, in defense and praise of the conquering 'storm troopers'--call them SS or Marines. Both in Nazi Germany and contemporary US, we are told by the mass media that the invading armies are "freeing the country" of "foreign fighters", "armed terrorists", who are preventing "the people" from going about their everyday lives. Yet we know that of the 1,000 prisoners there are only 4 foreigners (3 Iranians and 1 Arab); Iraqi hospitals report less than 10% of foreign fighters. In other words over 90% of the fighters are Iraqis--most of who were born, educated, and raised families in the cities in which they are fighting.

Like the Nazi media, the major US radio and TV networks only report what they call "military casualties"--failing to report the civilians killed since the war started and the thousands of women and children killed and wounded since the assault of Fallujah began. Like in Nazi Germany, the US mass media feature unconfirmed reports by the US military of the bloody murders, beheadings and kidnapping "by the foreign terrorists". The unconditional support of Nazi/US mass media of the killing fields is best captured in their reports of the massive bombing of densely populated city districts. For the US network NBC, the dropping of 500-pound bombs in the city of Fallujah is described as targeting an "insurgent tunnel network in the city". And the houses, markets, stores--the mothers and children above those tunnels--vaporized into "pink mist". Their existence never acknowledged by the leading reporters and broadcasters.

Almost the entire population of non-Kurdish Iraq is opposed to the US military and its puppet regime--yet the media refer to the patriots defending their country from the imperial invaders as--'insurgents' minimizing the significance of a nation-wide patriotic liberation movement. One of the most surreal euphemisms is the constant reference to the 'coalition forces'--meaning the US colonial conquerors and the mercenaries and satraps that they direct and control.

The terror bombing of homes, hospitals and religious buildings by hundreds of airplanes and helicopter gunships are described by the media as 'securing the city for free elections'.

'Freeing the city of insurgents' includes the systematic murder of friends, neighbors and relatives of every Iraqi living in the city of Fallujah.

'Surrounding the insurgents' means cutting off water, electricity, medical aid for 200,000 civilians in the city and putting tens of thousands who fled under threat of a typhoid epidemic. 'Pacifying the city' involves turning it to absolute desolate poisoned rubble.

Why do Washington and the mass media resort to gross, systematic lying and euphemisms? Basically to reinforce mass support at home for mass murder in Iraq. The mass media fabricates a web of lies to secure a gloss of legitimacy for totalitarian methods in order that the US armed forces continue to destroy cities with impunity. The technique perfected by Goebbels in Germany and practiced in the US is to repeat lies and euphemism until they become accepted 'truths', and embedded in everyday language. The mass media by effectively routinizing a common language implicates the listeners. The tactical concerns of the Generals, the commanders directing the slaughter (pacification), and the soldiers murdering civilians are explained (and consumed by the millions listening and watching) by the unchallenged authorities to the compliant journalists and famous news anchors. The unity of purpose between the agents of mass murder and everyday US public is established via 'news reports': The soldiers 'paint the names' of their wives and sweethearts on the tanks and armored vehicles which destroy Iraqi families and turn Fallujah into ruins. Returning soldiers from Iraq are 'interviewed' who want to return to 'be with their platoon' and 'wipe out the terrorists'. Not all of US combat forces experienced the joys of shooting civilians. Medical studies report that one out of five returning soldiers are suffering from severe psychological trauma, no doubt from witnessing or participation in the mass killing of civilians. The family of one returned soldier, who recently committed suicide, reported that he constantly referred to his killing an unarmed child in the streets of Iraq--calling himself a 'murderer'. Aside from these notable exceptions, the mass propaganda media practice several techniques, which assuage the 'conscience' of US soldiers and civilians. One technique is 'role reversal' to attribute the crimes of the invading force to the victims: It is not the soldiers who cause destruction of cities and murder, but the Iraqi families who 'protect the terrorists' and "bring upon themselves the savage bombardment". The second technique is to only report US casualties from 'terrorist bombs'--to omit any mention of thousands of Iraqi civilian killed by US bombs and artillery. Both Nazi and US propaganda glorify the 'heroism', 'success' of their elite forces (the SS and the Marines)--in killing 'terrorists' or 'insurgents'--every dead civilian is counted as a 'suspected terrorist sympathizer'.

The US and German military have declared every civilian building a 'storehouse' or 'hiding place' for 'terrorists'--hence the absolutely total disregard of all the Geneva laws of warfare. The US and Nazi practice of 'total war' in which whole communities, neighborhoods and entire cities are collectively guilty of shielding 'wanted terrorists'--is of course the standard operating military procedure of the Israeli government.

The US publicizes the cruel and unusual punishment of Iraqi 'suspects' (any male between 14-60 years) taken prisoner: photos appear in Time and Newsweek of barefoot, blindfolded and bound young men led from their homes and pushed into trucks to be taken to 'exploitation centers' for interrogation. For many in the US public these pictures are part of the success story--they are told these are the 'terrorists' who would blow up American homes. For the majority who voted for Bush, the mass propaganda media has taught them to believe that the extermination of scores of thousands of Iraqi citizens is in their best interests: they can sleep sound, as long as 'our boys' kill them 'over there'.

Above all the mass propaganda media has done everything possible to deny Iraqi national consciousness. Everyday in every way the reference is to religious loyalties, ethnic identities, past political labels, 'tribal' and family clans. The purpose is to divide and conquer, and to present the world with a 'chaotic' Iraq in which the only coherent, stable force is the US colonial regime. The purpose of the savage colonial assaults and the political labeling is to destroy the idea of the Iraqi nation--and in its place to substitute a series of mini-entities run by imperial satraps obedient to Washington.

Sunday morning: November 14 .Today Fallujah is being raped and razed,captured
Wounded prisoners are shot in the mosques .In New York the mega malls are crowded with shoppers .

Sunday afternoon: the Marines have blocked food ,water,and medicine from entering Fallujah..Throughout the US millions of men sit in front of the television watching football.

Shirer reported that while the Nazis invaded and ravaged Belgium and bombed Rotterdam.,in Berlin the cafes were full,the symphony played and people walked their dogs in the park on sunny Sunday afternoons

Sunday night November 14, 2004, I turn on the television to 60 Minutes and watch a replay of Mike Wallace's 'interviews' with Yasser Arafat. Like all US mass media 'stars', he ignores the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and Sharon's murder of thousands of Palestinians, the military occupation of Palestine and the wanton destruction of Jenin and Gaza City. Wallace accuses Arafat of being a liar, a terrorist, of being corrupt and devious. Thirty million US households watch this ugly spectacle of a self-righteous Zionist apologist flaunting the 'Western ideals', which are so useful in razing cities, bombing hospitals and exterminating a nation.

Yes, there are differences between Shirer's account of Nazi propaganda in defense of the conquest of Europe and the US media's apology for the invasion of Iraq and Israel's slaughter of the Palestinians: One is committed in the name of the Fuehrer and the Fatherland, the other in the name of God and Democracy. Go tell that to the bloated corpses gnawed by dogs in the ruins of Fallujah.

Counterpunch 19/11/2004

Assam: The "Guerrilla School" in Kaziranga National Park

Recent Indian intelligence reports indicate that the Indian army is in the process of developing a guerrilla training school in the jungles of Kaziranga National Park to provide special jungle warfare training and anti-terrorist operation skills to junior and middle-level officers.

Bangladesh is also high on India's list of concerns. The ruling coalition of Khaleda Zia includes an Islamic party that is accused by the local opposition of encouraging the spread of Islamic extremism. After terrorist attacks last month on civilians in the Indian states of Assam and Nagaland, Indian officials stepped up their criticism of Bangladesh for harboring and supporting militants.




India takes the fight to guerrillas
Ramtanu Maitra

Recent Indian intelligence reports indicate that the Indian army is in the process of developing a guerrilla training school in the jungles of Kaziranga National Park to provide special jungle warfare training and anti-terrorist operation skills to junior and middle-level officers. Kaziranga National Park, noted for the one-horn rhinos that make their home there, is in the state of Assam, a hotbed of secessionist activities.

The Kazirnaga special jungle warfare training school will not be the first of its kind in northeastern India. Hidden away in the thick jungles of the northeastern state of Mizoram, some 100 American infantry soldiers honed their firing skills against unconventional targets for three weeks (March 28-April 16) at Vairengte. The joint Indo-US defense cooperation exercise was yet another example of the kind of close collaboration that has developed between the Indian and US military since September 11, 2001.

A top-quality school established in 1970, the Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS) in Vairengte is considered one of world's leading anti-terrorist institutions. The motto of the institute is "fight a guerrilla like a guerrilla".

It is no surprise that India is developing top-quality counter-insurgency training schools in its northeastern region. That area remains troubled; there are about 40 small insurgent groups in India's northeast with demands that range from independent homelands to greater autonomy. They claim to be protecting their ethnic identities and have accused the Indian government of exploiting the mineral and oil-rich region. The insurgency has claimed more than 15,000 lives in the past decade.

Due to years of neglect by New Delhi, and the lack of adequate integration of the region's population with the rest of the country, the region has remained a seat of violence. A number of other factors, such as the success of Christian missionaries since the British days in alienating many northeasterners from the Hindu-Muslim-Buddhist-dominated mainstream India; the presence of a copious supply of opium in Myanmar and small arms in Southeast Asia; and the presence of a number of inadequately governed nations, such as Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar around India's northeast, have helped fuel the insurgency.

In a recent report, The Economist pointed out that the "instability and political violence in neighboring [Myanmar], Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal gives India reason to fear that its own delicate political balance could shatter". Although a "composite peace dialogue" is under way between India and Pakistan, India continues to suspect Pakistani intelligence of fomenting unrest not just in Indian-administered Kashmir, but also in many other parts of India, The Economist added. Last year, a joint operation by the Royal Bhutan Army and Indian security forces scattered the militant anti-New Delhi insurgents from the Bhutan-India border. The operation was an absolute success and has set a precedent for what Bangladesh and Myanmar must do, New Delhi believes.

Encouraged by the outcome of the military operations against insurgents, India and Bhutan have decided to hold secretary-level and border district coordination dialogues every six months on combating the insurgency along the border of the two countries. The decision came when the present Indian External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh was on a visit to Bhutan to thank the Royal Bhutan government for flushing out the militants from the country, where he met King Jigme Singye Wangchuk. Reports indicate that India and Bhutan are jointly developing security measures necessary for protecting Bhutanese vehicles traveling on Indian highways.

Meanwhile, New Delhi is particularly concerned about developments in Nepal. There, a bloody eight-year-old insurgency has resulted in Maoist guerrillas obtaining control of 68 of Nepal's 75 districts. A greater danger is the announced merger of the two largest groups among the 20-odd Indian Maoist, or "Naxalite", insurgent movement; the People's War Group and the Maoist Communist Center. Of India's 593 districts, 157 are now affected in some measure by Naxalism, with 102 newly affected regions added to the roster during 2004.

Bangladesh is also high on India's list of concerns. The ruling coalition of Khaleda Zia includes an Islamic party that is accused by the local opposition of encouraging the spread of Islamic extremism. After terrorist attacks last month on civilians in the Indian states of Assam and Nagaland, Indian officials stepped up their criticism of Bangladesh for harboring and supporting militants.

New Delhi conveyed a similar message in softer tones to Than Shwe, the top general in Myanmar's ruling junta when he visited India in October. India believes that some 1,500 insurgents are based across the border between the Indian state of Manipur and western Myanmar.

New equation with Myanmar

After General Than Shwe's visit, there are indications that India and Myanmar may launch a joint offensive against rebels who are mostly Nagas fighting in India's northeast and who have bases hidden just over the border in the jungles of Myanmar. C Singson, a senior leader of the oldest separatist group in northeastern India, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, affirmed the plans for an offensive. He said insurgents in the region have been anticipating such an operation for some time, but their fears deepened after Than Shwe's visit.

"The Indo-Burma [Myanmar] pact on flushing out northeast insurgents and to combat terrorism in the border regions is a matter of grave alarm, and Nagas need to understand the broader political implications of the politics of artificial boundaries that has been created to divide the Naga people so as to limit our struggle against occupation and for our inalienable right to self-determination," said a statement from the Naga People's Movement of Human Rights. Various Naga tribes straddling the India-Myanmar borders have picked up arms against India, demanding a Greater Nagaland encompassing the lands where Nagas reside.

Judging by reports, the Kazirnaga special jungle-warfare school, which is expected to be fully operative in 2007, intends to impart capsule courses for senior officers who are already in counter-insurgency operations or expecting tenure in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast. The new security environment in India's northeast no doubt needs new input and new skills to deal with semi-urban and semi-jungle warfare.

Unique training center

The quality of the Kaziranga school will be judged against the Vairengte school. The sprawling campus of the CIJWS is a unique military training center for honing soldiers' skills to fight terrorists in natural surroundings. Established in 1970, the CIJWS was set up after Indian army personnel suffered heavy casualties in their efforts to subdue India's fiercely independent tribes in the northeast. Over the years, the CIJWS, situated in the midst of bamboo forests where it rains eight months a year and humidity never goes below 90%, had become the training ground for not only Indian troops but for others as well. Besides the US troops, the CIJWS has received requests for enrollment from several foreign armed forces including those of France, Russia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and several Central Asian countries, CIJWS commandant B K Panwar told a correspondent of the Indian English daily, The Hindu.

After the joint Indo-US training at Vairengte, Lieutenant-Colonel David Wisecarver, commanding officer of the US infantry unit, said the exercise was a unique opportunity for the Americans because the "US doesn't have a jungle warfare school" and his unit would impart the lessons learned in Mizoram to other soldiers in the United States.

Asia Times Online 20/11/2004

Friday, November 19, 2004

India: Defense Pact with Sri Lanka - Part 2

The possible 'tilt' in the military balance between the SLA and the LTTE acquires particular significance against the backdrop of the stalled peace process, with both contesting parties refusing to dilute their stated positions. The eventual test of the trajectory of Indo-Sri Lankan relations may, indeed, arise if the Island nation is plunged once more into the vortex of civil war.

Although specific contours of the new 'defence cooperation' have not been disclosed, the general drift was manifested in the October 19, 2004, Press Release of the Sri Lankan Defense ministry, published after a meeting between a five-member Indian delegation, led by Ranjith Issar, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, and Cyril Herath, Lankan Secretary of Defence in Colombo. The Press Release mentioned "bilateral defence cooperation in the field of Military Training, Exchange of military Intelligence and information, Maritime surveillance to prevent illegal activities affecting both countries, official visits and bilateral meeting at different levels participation in training programmes, joint military exercises, etc were discussed among other matters." There can be little ambiguity over the potential target of this cooperation.

Tilting the Balance?
Saji Cherian
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

India has often fumbled in achieving the right recipe of adroitness and tact to maintain a 'friendly' neighbourhood. Part of the problem lies in inept handling and inconsistent policies, over the years, towards issues that have plagued its relatively smaller neighbours. This scenario, however, appears to be evolving somewhat, particularly with respect to India's relations with its southern neighbour, Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan President, Chandrika Kumaratunga, was on a state visit in New Delhi from November 3 to 7, to strengthen Indo-Sri Lankan relations. There was satisfaction on the dynamism and energy of bilateral economic ties as a result of the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISLFTA) of March 2000, which had resulted in bilateral trade between the two countries exceeding US$ 1.5 billion in 2003-04. However, though greater economic cooperation was one of the major items on the agenda of discussions, it was the announcement that a bilateral Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) and a Memorandum Of Understanding on the Rehabilitation of the Airfield in Palaly, Jaffna would be signed between the two Governments on mutually convenient dates, that provoked controversy.

Over the decades of civil conflict between the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), India had put the island on its negative list with respect to military supplies. However, as a result of the ceasefire agreement with the LTTE in February 2002, Sri Lanka was taken off this list in January 2003. Since then, the idea of a defence cooperation agreement has been in the air, and was first discussed in October 2003, when Ranil Wickremesinghe was the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and the National Democratic Alliance was in power in New Delhi. Again, on June 19, 2004, the visiting Sri Lankan delegation, led by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse, and Indian officials agreed to expedite the proposed defence cooperation agreement.

Although specific contours of the new 'defence cooperation' have not been disclosed, the general drift was manifested in the October 19, 2004, Press Release of the Sri Lankan Defense ministry, published after a meeting between a five-member Indian delegation, led by Ranjith Issar, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, and Cyril Herath, Lankan Secretary of Defence in Colombo. The Press Release mentioned "bilateral defence cooperation in the field of Military Training, Exchange of military Intelligence and information, Maritime surveillance to prevent illegal activities affecting both countries, official visits and bilateral meeting at different levels participation in training programmes, joint military exercises, etc were discussed among other matters." There can be little ambiguity over the potential target of this cooperation.

Over the years, India's policies towards Sri Lanka has fluctuated from the pro-active 'hands-on' approach of the late 1980s, when the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was dispatched to island nation, to a distant 'hands-off' orientation after the IPKF withdrew with substantial losses in March 1990. Despite the IPKF's withdrawal, however, cooperation with the Lankan security forces was maintained in view of the perception of the threat that the LTTE posed to India, especially after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991, by a LTTE suicide cadre. Since then, India has provided Colombo vital intelligence on the movement of LTTE ships and vessels transporting arms and ammunition, as well as occasionally more forceful interventions, such as the sinking of the M.V. Ahat, a part of the LTTE's shipping fleet, which was intercepted by Indian naval authorities off the Tamil Nadu coast in January 1993. The ship was blown up on the orders of one of the LTTE's leaders, Sathasivam Krishnakumar, alias Kittu, who was on board the vessel, after its interception by Indian Navy vessels.

The fact that the defence equation was moving forward was reiterated by the November 1, 2004, visit of India's Chief of Army Staff, N.C. Vij to Sri Lanka - the first by an Indian Army Chief since the de-induction of the IPKF. After a visit to the forward line at Omanthai in Vavuniya district, Vij had said that, although there was a truce in fighting, the Sri Lankan soldiers needed to be vigilant. Commenting on the proposed Defence Agreement he said it was "of immense importance. It would mutually help procurement of arms, and training. Although the ceasefire is in force, recruitment and boosting the moral of soldiers should continue."

Earlier, in September this year, the Indian Navy Chief, Admiral Arun Prakash had also visited Sri Lanka to discuss, among other things, the threat that the LTTE's naval wing, the Sea Tigers, posed to 'both countries'. The emergence of the Sea Tigers and its growing dominance along Sri Lanka's northern shoreline, with an increasing frequency of skirmishes with Indian fishermen, has been a cause of concern to India. Unconfirmed reports have also indicated that the LTTE may be supplying arms to the Naxalite (Left Wing extremist) groups in the southern parts of the country, off the coastline between the Machilipatnam and Guntur districts in Andhra Pradesh. Restoring security in its Southern waters is consequently of prime importance to the Indian Navy, especially since the success of the Sethusamudram Canal Project in the Palk Bay area hinges on the Indian Navy dealing with the Sri Lankan Navy, rather than a 'third Navy'. [The Sethusamudram project will link the Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar in the South Coast by creating a shipping canal through the Rameswaram Island]

Equally worrisome is the growing LTTE clout near the Trincomalee Harbour, where the Sri Lanka Navy's Northern Headquarters is located. The Sri Lankan Government, on August 9, 2004, officially complained to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) that 13 camps of the LTTE, located along the southern mouth of the harbour, had been newly setup, violating the bilateral ceasefire agreement between Colombo and the Tigers. An oil tank complex run by Indian Oil Corporation is located near the harbour, giving an Indian tinge to these anxieties.

The economic content packaged along with the Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) adds a crucial dimension to the current bilateral engagement. India has offered a US$ 100 million credit line for the development of Rural Infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka. India is the second highest tourism generating country in Sri Lanka and the number of Sri Lankan Airline flights into various cities in India now stands at 77 per week - the highest number of flights to India by any airline. India has also offered a grant of US$ 7.5 million to build a state-of-the-art Cancer Hospital in Sri Lanka. A second hospital project funded by the Indian Government is located at Dickoya near Kandy, with an investment of Rupees 200 million. In addition, Indian public sector undertakings such as RITES (Rail India Technical and Economic Services Ltd), National Thermal Power Corporation and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd., have set up projects in Sri Lanka. Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) recently paid the final amount of $45 million for a $75-million deal with the Sri Lankan Government to retail fuel in the island country. Lanka-IOC Pvt. Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of IOC, has taken over a large number of petrol bunks. India is also extending a $100-million credit line for goods and services over a period of 20 years, with a moratorium of five years. This includes a wheat loan of $31 million. In a minor reverse flow, a few Lankan companies, mainly in the confectionary business, would soon be setting up shop in Chennai.

The proposed DCA has naturally roused some anxieties among the LTTE and its sympathisers, and protests against the Agreement have been articulated on both sides of the border. Reacting to the latest developments, LTTE's chief peace negotiator, Anton Balasingham, declared: "Tamil people view that such an agreement is irrelevant during the time of a peace process, suspended though, but altogether not given up and therefore would tilt the military equilibrium, the underlying principle of the ceasefire agreement." P. Sithamparanathan of Sri Lanka's Tamil National Alliance (TNA) stated further, on November 10, that the proposed military pact between India and Sri Lanka might tempt the latter to restart the war against the Tamil Tiger guerrillas, and that Tamils fear "preparations are underway for another war in the island". On the Indian side, Vaiko, the pro-LTTE leader of the MDMK (Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) in the Southern state of Tamil Nadu, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to express his disapproval.

The possible 'tilt' in the military balance between the SLA and the LTTE acquires particular significance against the backdrop of the stalled peace process, with both contesting parties refusing to dilute their stated positions. The eventual test of the trajectory of Indo-Sri Lankan relations may, indeed, arise if the Island nation is plunged once more into the vortex of civil war.

SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW Volume 3, No. 18, November 15, 2004