Saturday, April 30, 2005

ISLAM: Why The Militant West Fears Islam

Islam provides a comprehensive meaning behind the life in this world. This life is a test and a step towards eternal life in the hereafter. Success and failure depends on how we perform in this life, hence there is meaning and accountability for the actions and behaviour in this life. This in turn provided contentment and stability in society. Despite the disparity in wealth, material comfort and technological know-how with the West, the Muslims are relatively far happier. A research project led by London School of Economics professors showed Bangladesh to be the happiest society in the world, with other poorer countries also exceeding the richer nations of the world. Further evidence of the spiritual discontentment in the West is the increasing dependencies on drugs and anti-depressant to combat depression and suicide that are also constantly on the rise. When there is no ultimate meaning or purpose behind life, the sole focus is on satisfying the carnal instincts. When their carnal instincts are satisfied they get bored and ask what’s next or get depressed until the next fix. The youth in particular release their boredom and depression by other means e.g. drugs, juvenile delinquency etc. The severity of the problem has led to further legislation against anti-social behaviour in societies that has reached the apex of material and technological success.

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BANGLADESH: The harsh face of Indian power - How long will the killing of civilians go on?

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Notwithstanding the harsh face of Indian power they put on over the incident at the Indian High Commission in Dhaka, the glaring discrepancies in the story they were required to issue could not have been amusing to the suave foreign service officers of the Indian mission. Incidentally again, 131 BN BSF was posted in Roumari in April 2001, where members of that battalion crossed into Bangladesh territory to engage in battle and lost heavily due to the resistance of local villagers and BDR men. Presumably it continues to bear a grudge against Bangladeshi villagers on the border.

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INDIA: Savagery Repeated on Indo-Bangladesh Border

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Smuggling has intensified across the Indo-Bangladesh border in south Assam’s Karimganj district. Recently, lot of illegal trade has been taking place in petrol and cattle. While petrol, concealed in plastic containers, has been increasingly finding passage into India from Sylhet, cattle in large numbers are now being furtively ferried into Bangladesh. The smugglers usually force the cattle to wade across the Kushiara river on the border. A conservative estimate by the BSF says that every year, 3,000 animals on an average are smuggled across both the land and riverine border from south Assam into Bangladesh from Karimganj and Cachar districts. The smuggler lobby on Indo-Bangladesh border enjoys strong political support. The Bangladesh politicians including leaders of some of the Islamist parties like Jamaat-e-Islami are known to have helped smugglers whenever, their smuggled goods were seized even by the BDR. A Bangladesh member of parliament (MP) had reportedly visited Hirapur. He had a discussion with the BDR officials after which about 200 soldiers of Bangladesh regular army, besides the BDR men, took position with guns at a forested upland close to the border. The unfortunate incident of April 16 happened after that.

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ANALYSIS: The hundred years war in the heart

Husain Haqqani Deep down, Pakistan’s generals expect an American role in getting them a territorial settlement in Kashmir. Moreover, the ascendancy of the Pakistani military in internal decision-making militates against early normalisation of relations with India. Musharraf wants to keep the spectre of an Islamist Pakistan alive to secure western assistance. Last week, Pakistani authorities cracked down on the secular Pakistan Peoples Party, resulting in the arrest of several hundred party activists, to prevent a PPP rally even though fundamentalists from the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal have been allowed to hold rallies.

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NEPAL: The Daring of Revolution - The Shoots of the Future

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In the villages I visited in 1999, there were mainly women, young children, and old men. Most of the men were working in the cities or had been forced underground. I think about how the 12-year-old girls and boys I met in the villages are now young men and women, old enough to join the People’s Liberation Army. What has it been like for them to grow up in a liberated village, in a base area where there is a new people’s power? A new generation in Nepal is being shaped by the People’s War and, in the base areas, the youth are growing up as part of the struggle to create a whole new way of living —seeds of a whole new economic, political, and cultural life are being planted. And the guns of the People’s Liberation Army are protecting these shoots of the future, allowing them to grow and strengthen.

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ANALYSIS: Spying and the Internet

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More often than not, the analyst today lives in the rarified air of the classified world -- of human spies and satellite imagery and signals. However, the analyst needs and must fit classified information into an open-source context for it to truly make sense. Moreover, his client the policymaker lives in the real world of so-called "open-source" information. Policymakers must and do develop their own "open-source" information systems through friends, colleagues, advocates and opponents, as well as the usual news sources. The limits on analysts receiving open-source information are often bogged in arcane matters of security -- we don't want "them" to know what we are looking at -- and old technology that does not allow the analyst to access state of the art translation capabilities for news sources and databases world wide. What open intelligence he receives is often a result of his own haphazard research limited by security concerns and language capabilities. This simply is unacceptable in this day and age.

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Friday, April 29, 2005

BANGLADESH: Clashes on our borders

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It seems rather incongruous that a group of intruders would be 'requested' to go back into their own territory instead of being arrested for trespass. Even more odd is the fact that this body of troops (could not have been more than four or five) had themselves "well entrenched in a premeditated plan and defence," well inside Indian territory, shot and killed the assistant commandant of the BSF, and carried his body and also that of another injured person (an injured Indian national was also recovered about 400 yards inside Bangladesh territory) from 'well within Indian territory,' into Bangladesh, and all this under the eyes of the BSF in broad daylight. Given the nature of terrain, the Indian High Commission's statement, "From the marks on the ground, the spot enquiry established that assistant commandant Jeevan Kumar and constable K. K. Surendran were dragged inside Bangladesh territory and attacked by the BDR, resulting in the death of the assistant commandant," appears far-fetched.

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BANGLADESH: A victim of hate-campaign

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Being an Ahom and above all a researcher, Saikia should know that secessionist insurgency in Northeast when India got its independence from Britain in 1947, well before the birth of Bangladesh. People of this region do not feel them as Indians. They are fighting to end what they call, "Indian occupation." Previously India blamed China, Burma (Now Myanmar), Pakistan and even America. But they shortened their list over the years and ascribe the allegation on Bangladesh and Pakistan. Some of the Indians now consider Bangladesh more dangerous for northeast than Pakistan. This allegation against Bangladesh was brought to the forefront, because it will be easier to squeeze weaker Bangladesh than any other country that India blames.

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INDIA: Poor Bangladeshi entrants are rather different from extremists

And it is not only a question of emigration, regular or irregular, of non-Muslim minorities from Bangladesh. Much verbiage was expended six decades ago on behalf of the Congress leadership to put across a somewhat pompous claim: because of circumstances, they had to reluctantly agree to divide the country on religious basis, but India would always remain a secular nation. Does that not mean that should some Bangladeshis, who happened to bear Muslim names, want to come over to economically-better-placed India, conceivably in search of a livelihood, no particular barriers need be placed on their entry? Secularism is as secularism does. The policy indiscriminately followed by the police, specially in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi, to pick up Bengali-speaking Muslims on the ground that they must be Bangladeshis, cuts across this nation’s commitment to secularism.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

BANGLADESH: Getting down to fundamentals

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Everywhere it is the same old story. Snake-oil salesmen are peddling their pseudo-religiosity and preying on the powerless and manipulating the impressionable in order to consolidate political power. Nothing appeals to a religious person more than an appeal to a higher authority. Nothing beats an endorsement from the Almighty. I cannot think of anything more cynical, more blasphemous, and more irreligious than the shameless manipulations and machinations of the fundamentalist political parties, here as elsewhere. How anyone can find these charlatans posing as men of God persuasive is beyond me. How anyone can believe that the hate-filled campaigns against the Ahmadiyyas and women and minorities are doing God's work astonishes me. How anyone can think that acquiescing in violence and intimidation is the way to build a more Godly society saddens me beyond belief.

ANALYSIS: In God's Country: The storming of the Bangladeshi Embassy in Kuwait

The actions by the “rioters” was a foolish one at best and can do no good within the tight diplomatic circles of the nations, but it did raise the profile of the on going and ever losing battle the foreign workers face within these boundaries of rich nations. The Bangladeshi government along with the Kuwaiti government needs to create some sort of structure of appeal and action, to sterilize acts of non-payment and misuse of employer’s authority. May be it is time for organizations like ILO and UN to administer certain standards within these countries that fail to protect it’s most vulnerable. The question that were raised in the media were mostly of reactions to the incedent but not not a systematic analysis of the variables that lead to such a drastic action. These workers who have been oppressed, stripped down of their rights and above all have been marginalized by their employing countries so much that any other reaction from the Arab media would have been a pleasant surprise. What was baffling about the whole issue is that the “responsible” Kuwaiti governments complete ineffectiveness to halt these companies who employ, the mostly poor labor from the south Asian continent, to stop abusing their powers.

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ASSESSMENT: Indo - US Military To Military Relations: Who Will Benefit?

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As for R&AW which is ever ready with ‘details’ for the US , and hardly ever for our own Defense Forces we have the following on record from an Intelligence official , after l’affaire Ravinder Singh in May04…. The Hindu reported in a series of articles the failure to issue directions by the National Security Adviser , Brajesh Mishra, while he was in the know and while the file was with him for some days ‘instructions even to prevent the CIA asset to fly out of the country’( He was reportedly under surveillance). Why did Mishra hold back a decision ? Why was Ravinder Singh so important to the Americans is what the Intelligence Adviser in the PMO wants to find out ? The Hindu report dated 20 August 04 under banner headlines “Why was terror intelligence withheld” reports quotes in extenso Indian Intelligence officials as expressing ‘concern over the withholding of terrorism- related information by the United States –information New Delhi believes could be key to saving lives ’Specific instances of non sharing of information gained through interrogations of Al Qaeda operatives like Muhammad Khan , arrested on 13July , with respect to Al Qaeda operatives in India , as this organization shares infrastructure with Pak based terrorist groups operating in India .
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A troubled triangle: Iran, India and Pakistan

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This month Washington justified its growing involvement in the region when it identified Iran, India and Pakistan as a "troubled triangle": "Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran are a troubled triangle and the US strategy is to involve the US government in the region to reduce the troubled nature," said the US Army War College's Larry Goodson. "The US faces ... a real conundrum in that we have to stay in order to achieve [our] strategic interest of stabilizing and transforming these troubled regions but our very presence there is going to continue to attract some of the more militant jihadists who want to challenge their conception of the US project for the world. Anti-American attitudes are at an all-time high in some areas. We really can't stay and yet we dare not go." Washington, meanwhile, is utilizing a carrots-and-sticks policy as it tries to disrupt the rapprochement between Iran and its neighbors that would end Tehran's international isolation. The Bush administration's carrot is an offer to sell India and Pakistan advanced F-16 fighter jets capable of dispatching nuclear payloads. India has yet to accept the offer and is making noises that it might approach Russia and the European Union as alternative arms suppliers. As for Pakistan, given Iran's close cooperation with arch-foe India, it has steered a more ambivalent course, welcoming a permanent US presence in Afghanistan even as it offers to act as an intermediary between Washington and Tehran on the nuclear dispute.

INDIA: Courting New Delhi - Washington and Beijing Compete for Influence

India is also looking to develop the Andaman Sea, without cooperation from China. India is unlikely to move towards cooperation with Beijing on this issue because New Delhi sees building a port at Dawei, Myanmar as a major component to its security strategy for the region. The port will support its Far Eastern Naval Command project at Port Blair, which is aimed at gaining "blue water" status for India's Navy, affording India the ability to launch military operations away from its coast. While there will certainly be sticking points in energy security with China, it is India's relations with its neighboring states that will seriously complicate China's courtship. While China has largely resolved its territorial disputes with its neighbors, India has not. China has already established relationships with the states with which India must now negotiate. The challenge for China will be to remain above the fray in the negotiations, while maintaining a close relationship with both parties. Bangladesh, Nepal, and Myanmar will all have their flashpoints with India in the near future, but it is Pakistan that stands as the greatest threat to China's courtship of New Delhi.

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Monday, April 25, 2005

BANGLADESH: The unfolding scheme of things from now till the next polls

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The stark pursuit of the greed and glitz of the lifestyle and pleasure part of globalisation within and without the country by the so-called Young Turks of dubious distinction, on the one hand, and the unabashed acquiescence of the party seniors including ministers, some of whom have their own wards to mind and promote, to a most unorthodox enactment of a succession scheme, on the other, are taking the country for a ride and the people for what they are not to be deaf, dumb and moronic. The country and the people deserve neither the label of a failing state infested by 'Talibans' and 'bin-Ladens', nor the denigration that the Bangladesh electorate is comprised of only idiots or the resultant condescension. It is in the above context and in view of the BNP-AL never-say-die contention for power, prerogative and material accumulation by means fair or foul in Bangladesh's illiberal democracy, that we may attempt to arrive at several prognoses on the unfolding scheme of things from now till the next polls. Unlike some alarmists or sceptics, we, however, grant the government a full term despite the AL crying wolf and the unlikely imponderables of the on-again, off-again AL ultimatums and threatened blitzkriegs. We also dismiss the question marks on the stability of the government that is often said to buckle under the very weight of an unwieldy and hence an unresponsive, unseeing and unheeding parliamentary majority.

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BANGLADESH: Acts of Enmity

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Apart from the gratuitous brutality of the act, there are reasons to believe it was entirely premeditated and planned. It is significant that the incident took place exactly four years after the infamous Pyrdiwah incident of April 16, 2001, when 16 BSF personnel were tortured and killed by BDR officers and personnel in the Boroibari area of the Mankachar sector bordering the Indian State of Meghalaya, with the active participation of Bangladeshi villagers. The bodies of some of the BSF soldiers were then tied onto bamboo poles and paraded through the villages - with photos of the incident widely circulated through the region, shocking Indian sensibilities

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ASSESSMENT: Changing Dynamics of Sino-Bangladesh Relations

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On regional cooperation, China appreciated Bangladesh's active effort to promote regional cooperation in South Asia while Bangladesh side supported "China's willingness to establish mutually beneficial cooperation" with South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Dhaka appreciated China's support for Bangladesh's membership in the Asean Regional Forum (ARF). Bangladesh tried to satisfy China over the Taiwan issue by saying that it unequivocally supports one-China policy. It wants the settlement of Taiwan question through "peaceful reunification" on the one-country-two-systems basis. A churning is going on in China Bangladesh relationship and it will take a couple of years before its final shape emerges. Meanwhile, Bangladesh is trying to benefit from both China and Taiwan, by astutely playing its cards.

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ANALYSIS: Perceptions and misperceptions on Bangladesh and insidious danger

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No, Bangladesh is not irrelevant, not by any means, and it is, as Bowring says, not doing badly, but the dysfunctions he mentions are real enough and, if allowed to gain the upper hand, will open this country to all the diverse attacks against it and make them stick. And the Islamic parties are proving to be the lightning rod for all the forces that are out to crush the enemies of secularism (the unpleasant treatment recently meted out by Belgium to a group of Pakistani legislators containing fundamentalists is a manifestation of the dim view taken of such elements by many countries). The enemies of secularism and moderation need to be subdued in this modern age, and especially in the post-9/11 international system, but it is really up to the secular political parties to assert themselves. Otherwise, inevitably this country, which has thus far withstood, and is withstanding, a barrage of spurious propaganda against it precisely because of the international recognition of its tradition of secularism and religious moderation, might one day find itself on the wrong end of international perception.

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Friday, April 08, 2005

DIASPORA: Tashnuba Hyder - Girl Called Would-Be Bomber Was Drawn to Islam

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A year ago, she withdrew from her Manhattan high school because, a school official said, she felt uncomfortable with typical teenage banter. She told her family she wanted to go to an Islamic all-girls school, and when they could not afford to send her, she chose to study at home. The father, a Bangladeshi watch salesman who describes himself as far more devoted to American education than to prayer after 13 years as an immigrant illegally in the United States, said he pushed, unsuccessfully, for his daughter to return to public school. Then last fall, the daughter he also describes as loving Bollywood soap operas and shopping with girlfriends, startled him and her mother by seeking their approval to marry a young American Muslim man they had never met and whom she barely knew. The father refused the marriage overtures, which were made by the young man's father in a call from Michigan. A few months later, when the teenager stayed out overnight for the first time, the father, fearing an elopement, went to the police for help. It is a decision he regrets deeply....................More

Please visit SHOBAK for more info on the Tashnuba Hyder case

STUDY: Balance of power in South Asia

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Rice, however, had a different agenda. Her salary comes from the American taxpayers' money. Unlike Indians, Americans are not moved by ideals or principles; they are guided by their own selfish interests. Rice did, as she always does, just what she is paid to do - pursue American interests. But none of this quite registered on those who presented Indian demands. Some were charmed even. They will discover in good time, what American commentators have noted already, that her style is more abrasive and her approach more arrogant than those even of Madeleine Albright; which is saying a lot......More

BANGLADESH: Why does the US look like us?


Cutting through the clutter, now it seems that the US looks a lot like us. Be it corruption, be it religious extremism, the Americans have lost their moral right to blame us. Someone needs to turn around and tell it to them to their face. The government will not do it, because all governments are like-minded. But we the citizens can, because corruption or right to die, at the end of the day, it is our bloody business......More

GLOBAL JIHAD: The Young Killers and Victims of Contemporary Jihad

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The jihad scheme in general, which developed in the Islamic world during the last third of the twentieth century, has caused drastic changes in thought and ideology. Upon the collapse of communism and the resurgence of Islamic ideology, jihad as a fundamental concept became the number one method of salvation to overcome the weakness felt by Muslim nations. The so-called jihad scheme actually has several names, and irrespective of the countries that the jihadis are coming from, the ideological methodology is almost the same. It is obvious that some of the countries have been pushed and were reluctantly involved in the scheme in one way or another. Their mistakes in doing so have generally produced the present dilemma. The Al-Qaeda Battar training camp that was discovered by security forces outside Riyadh was set up more than a year ago around the same time as the beginning of the terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia. The Battar camp focused and fed on the numerous disturbances and tensions related to geography, history, and thought in the Islamic world.......More

BANGLADESH: Jamaat sits pretty while AL and BNP appropriate religious symbols and idioms

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Credit is due to Jamaat that rose from the dungeons of a pariah to the mainstream plank of an anti-BNP movement in 1994-96 hand in hand with its principal detractor, the Awami League, and then used the arithmetic of votes in its alliance with the BNP to enter the sanctum of state power in one Great Leap, so to speak. The ex-Soviet comrades in the post-independence troika, representing the Awami League, the Communist Party of Bangladesh and the now-bygone National Awami Party (Muzaffar), had tried the same tactic under what was then an Indo-Soviet axis in an era of superpower contention. While they had served their external masters well, they had little success apart from ending up in what had been Sheikh Mujib's nemesis of one-man, one-party Baksal (Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League) that had 'lighted its way to dusty death' in August, 1975.......More

BANGLADESH : Tip of the iceberg

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As the marriage of convenience of the BNP and the Jamaat has thus come under some strain, the student fronts of the two parties have recently clashed in various educational institutions. But will Khaleda Zia, a consummate player in power politics, want to ditch her alliance with the Jamaat and the Islamist forces? Alternately, will the BNP's old guard, who are doomed to go into oblivion with the rise of Tarique, dare to challenge Khaleda's leadership in the name of restoring Zia's 19-Point Programme? Will Mannan Bhuiyan's formula help the BNP emerge stronger, politically as well as organisationally, with a new political thrust under a unified leadership, or will it lead to further chaos 'even split' in the party?...............More

INDIA: Desperate hour - Western diplomats are giving up on the country

Russia it is not, after Vladmir Putin, on a state visit, poured cold water over India’s claim for permanent membership of and veto rights in the UN Security Council. Pressed by his horrified hosts, and a most embarrassed foreign minister, Natwar Singh, Putin claimed he was misreported, but Russia’s stand did not change. Subsequently, every backer of India’s claim for a permanent UN Security Council seat backed out, the last China, this week, and embarrassingly again days ahead of premier Wen Jiabao’s visit.Ignominy is coming heaped like a multilayered truffle cake. More

BANGLADESH: Fighting over Fencing

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Though India wants to improve its relationship with Bangladesh, it also does not want to compromise on its security. It thinks that its internal security would improve considerably if it is able to fence its border with Bangladesh. This Indian approach was clearly spelt out in the address of Indian President A P J Abdul Kalam to the joint session of parliament marking the start of budget session on February 25, where he had said that security along the country's border with Bangladesh is one of the priorities of the government. He said, "Government has accorded top priority to erection of fence along the Indo-Bangladesh border to check infiltration, smuggling and all anti-India activities from across the border." Bangladesh, on the other hand does not want to see this fencing work being completed. Hence it is misinterpreting a clause in bilateral agreement which is not applicable in this case. This has resulted into a tricky situation on the border........More

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Pakistani heavyweights take their pitch to India

Yet by and large the country has clearly begun to understand the threat to its own internal cohesion that is posed not only by separatist tendencies in its provinces but by religious extremism that the military establishment had itself promoted. Pakistan's army devised the policy of bleeding India through a thousand cuts in its bid to avenge its spectacular defeat in the 1971 civil war against the East Pakistan province (now Bangladesh) in which India sided with the latter and helped its independence. The Pakistani army surrendered before the Indian army and nearly 100,000 soldiers became prisoners of war. Pakistan first supported India's Sikh militants and separatists in the state of Punjab during the 1980s and has been supporting Kashmiri militants and secessionists since1989. Another reason for a discernible change in the Pakistani mindset is that war between nuclear neighbors doesn't seem to be much of an option for sorting out long-standing problems. Mushahid Hussain said that after 1998 (when both countries tested their nuclear weapons), war was not an option between India and Pakistan. He said there had been a "mindset" change in Pakistan and there was "no political constituency" that spoke of confrontation with India. According to him, the Pakistani military establishment, too, was now speaking of normalizing relations with India.....................More

ANALYSIS: Bush Is Pakistan's Pal

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We have thrown away thousands of Iraqi and American lives and billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars after crying wolf on Iraq's long-defunct nuclear weapons program and now expect the world to believe similar scary stories about neighboring Iran. We have cozied up to Pakistan for more than three years as it freely allowed the operation of the most extravagantly irresponsible nuclear arms bazaar the world has ever seen. We sabotaged negotiations with North Korea by telling allies that Pyongyang had supplied nuclear material to Libya, even though the Bush Administration knew that the country of origin of those shipments was our "ally," Pakistan. Now, Lockheed Martin has been saved from closing its F-16 production line by the White House decision to lift the arms embargo on Pakistan and allow the sale. The decision, which ends a 1990 embargo put in place by the President's father in reprisal for Pakistan's development of a nuclear arsenal, is especially odd at a time when we are berating European nations for considering lifting their arms embargo on China.......More

ASSESSMENT: Burma visit highlights India’s “Look East" strategy

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New Delhi’s attempts to woo the Burmese generals are based on several considerations. Not only is India keen to gain access to Burma’s oil and gas, but a land route through the country to South East Asia is an essential component of its broader “Look East” policy. India’s demand for oil and gas is expanding rapidly and Burma is a potential source. In January, India signed an agreement in principle with Burma and Bangladesh to build a pipeline from Burmese offshore gas fields via Bangladesh to India. The deal is yet to be sealed as Bangladesh is seeking transit rights across Indian territory to Nepal and Bhutan, on top of annual pipeline fees of $125 million. India has also gained Burmese assistance in cracking down on various armed separatist movements based in northeastern India. A number of these groups shelter in Burma, which shares a common 1,640 km border with India. Last November the Indian military launched a major operation involving 6,000 troops to hunt down rebels in the northeastern state of Manipur. The Burmese military sealed the border to block off any escape...........More

FLASH: 'Suicide Bomber' - Bangladesh teenage girl in FBI custody

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The two girls, both 16 and living in New York City, were arrested March 24 and were being held in a family detention center in Leesport, Pennsylvania, The New York Times reported Thursday, citing a government document provided by a federal agent. According to the document, the FBI found the girls posed "an imminent threat to the security of the United States based upon evidence that they plan to be suicide bombers,'' the Times said. The evidence was not described in the document.....More

BANGLADESH: FBI investigation and the issue of sovereignty-

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National sovereignty is at stake here in the FBI's participation in the Kibria murder investigation. For good reasons, Asma Kibria would want a satisfactory closure to the issue, but by expressing satisfaction at the FBI?s involvement, at the same time reportedly complimenting the local intelligence team as extremely professional, and then stating that only a full revelation of the findings by the FBI will satisfy her, together introduce a mass of contradictions into the entire investigation, besides making national sovereignty a real issue. Does the government call in the services of a foreign investigation agency every time a major incident takes place in Bangladesh? Granted, there could be the counter-argument that a spate of grave occurrences leading to fatalities have remained unsolved over the last eight years or so, apparently because of lackadaisical local police effort and governmental inertia. But that indicates more of a political dysfunction rather than police inefficiency......

INDIA: Jihadis score a blast of a hit

Yes, it is true that battling terrorism is an asymmetrical war in which large armies have to be deployed to fight a handful of killers. But in this particular case, it is astonishing that the jihadis were not only able to reach the gates of the allegedly heavily protected complex, but also slip in and launch their attack without being put down. Heads should roll. But that won't happen. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has dismissed this jihadi assault as 'unfortunate.' Home Minister Shivraj Patil is, always, clueless. National Security Adviser M K Narayanan, who now doubles up as super boss of Intelligence Bureau, is busy keeping Madam Sonia Gandhi in good humour. It will be self-defeating to see Wednesday's attack in isolation and pretend that terrorism and separatism are on the wane in Jammu & Kashmir. Statistics show that this far from the truth.....More

ANALYSIS: India-Nepal Relations and Maoists

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It is known that the special security relationship between India and Nepal was re-established during the 1990 New Delhi visit of Nepal's Ex-PM Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and during the 1991 visit to India by Nepalese prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala. Even during the Indian PM's visit to Nepal in June 1997 the two sides reiterated their determination to work closely to fight violence and the Home Secretary level talks were also held and all matters relating to security were discussed in detail. After the Joint Working Group on Border Management and Home Secretary level talks, effective border management measures were taken to counter the misuse of the open border. Indian-Nepali relations appeared to be undergoing still more reassessment when Nepal's Ex-PM Man Mohan Adhikary visited New Delhi in April 1995 and insisted on a major review of the 1950 peace and friendship treaty......More

INDIA: The initiative on foreign policy is the prime minister’s again

For a ringside view of the prime minister’s skills in managing diverse pulls and pressures and yet seeing through policies with clarity and vision, one need not, however, look beyond recent developments in the Research and Analysis Wing, India’s external spy agency. RAW was in danger of being made redundant only a few weeks ago. The appointment of Hormis Tharakan, who has a credible record of service with the agency as RAW’s new chief, helped salvage the agency in more ways than one. Having upset carefully laid plans by those who wanted to see RAW buried or made an adjunct of the Intelligence Bureau, Singh had to agree to compromises. The most significant of these involved the cabinet secretary, B.K. Chaturvedi. Ashok Chaturvedi, who is related to the cabinet secretary, has been made RAW’s deputy chief, although he had earlier been overlooked for promotion. The cabinet secretary declined to recuse himself from the committee which promoted his relative. According to the civil service grapevine in New Delhi, at least two government secretaries expressed themselves against restoring Ashok Chaturvedi’s seniority, but the cabinet secretary dismissed their opinion......More

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

BANGLADESH : Armoured car and law enforcement

What type of miscreants are the targets of the armoured cars? Understandably, mass protests or demonstrations are not to be scared into submission or inaction by fearsome display. So where is the threat of dangerously armed assembly of organised criminals that may destabilise our society? Speaking of the sub-continent it is only in Karachi that the police are using armoured vehicles because there the number of unauthorised 'Kalashnikovs' in criminal possession stands at a staggering one hundred thousand, not to speak of other deadly weapons and there are several no-go areas for the police in that city. Do we have a situation even faintly resembling that? If not then why purchase these heavy duty capital machinery at a high price? Into whose hearts the authorities would like to strike fear when the deadly adversary is not seen on ground? Can the police befriend the community or endear itself to the people by the display of the hardware? These are questions that need to be answered..........More

ANALYSIS: Engaging India’s Truant Neighbours

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The worst fear running in Indian diplomatic circles is that of being encircled in the sub-continent with hostile neighbours, and it feels that is precisely what China is sincerely working towards. There are reasons to believe that Beijing is overtly friendly to Pakistan and Bangladesh for a reason- both these countries have been accused by India of harbouring cross border terrorism within its territory. When India supported Aung San Suu Kyi and the democratic movement in Myanmar and China nipped it in the bud by supporting the military junta (which eventually won the struggle), it was viewed in Delhi, perhaps not mistakenly, as another victory for China’s agenda of cornering India into the dustbin of Asia. Incidentally, Foreign Minister Natwar Singh was in Myanmar last week, trying to notch up a gas pipeline deal. He also described Myanmar as a valued neighbour and a friendly nation. But has India been too late yet again? ..........More

Watch out world: China and India could be friends, rivals or enemies

Yet much as one might hope that Sino-Indian meetings were something like a graduate seminar on development economics, it's plain that the two nations could one day end up as rivals. After all, they have been before: in 1962, China humiliated India in a border war, and that still rankles. Sun Shihai, a specialist on Sino-Indian relations at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, notes that although there has been a general rapprochement between New Delhi and Beijing since the 1980s, questions over the border continue to be an irritant. And in the future, the two nations' rapacious demand for energy will almost certainly involve them in contests for influence in such resource-rich states as Bangladesh and Burma............More

Monday, April 04, 2005

STUDY: The Pope's Resistance to the “Unjust War" on Iraq


Following his death, we now see many world leaders -- starting with George W. Bush -- who maliciously attempted to thwart Pope John Paul's antiwar stance, pouring gallons of crocodile tears over the TV cameras. However, this media propaganda cannot overshadow the fact that John Paul II’s last big battle was against the Bush administration's “preemptive war” doctrine. The Pontiff and his closest collaborators resisted an unprecedented assault by the men of the would be new roman emperor on the Potomac and told directly Bush and his minions that their war was an “unjust war.” Needless to say, Pope John Paul II's rejection of America's military agenda contributed immensely to weakening the Pentagon's propaganda campaign. The issue of his succession in the Vatican is, therefore, a matter of paramount importance for Catholics and non-Catholics. Will John Paul's principled stance prevail or will his successor succumb to the political pressures of the Bush administration?..........................More

ANALYSIS: Pakistan approaches boiling poin

Lahore shattered the opposition's political lull. A series of countrywide strikes has already begun, with the climax being a call for a general strike this Wednesday. The MMA's president, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, has already vowed that after the April 2 strike, the MMA will march on the capital Islamabad and lay siege to it. This has sent shivers down the spines of those in the corridors of power: Qazi Hussain Ahmed has played this card with devastating results twice before. On the first occasion he mobilized thousands of Jamaat-i-Islami workers against the Nawaz Sharif government in 1993. It fell within a few weeks. He repeated this move in 1996, this time bringing down the administration of Benazir Bhutto. The authorities now fear that the MMA's renewed political activism will mobilize religious forces in the country.......More

INDIA: Iffy-16 Goin' On 30

THE F-16
The US fighter is costlier, outdated, one among other options, comes with dubious aftersale support

"From a purely military and economic angle, I would prefer the Mirage-2000-5," says former air chief S.K. Kaul. "Look at what the Americans did to the Pakistanis, their ally for over 50 years. They declared sanctions against them. So how can we trust them? India has always been a good market for the last 50 years, but the Americans always kept us on the blacklist. Now we need to tread very carefully," he cautions. Former vice-chief Air Marshal Vinod Patney feels that the Americans must be "engaged" before the IAF takes any decision. "We need to see how much we can exploit the offer for the F-16 and the F/A-18 from the Americans. If that means that we will benefit in terms of more cooperation in other areas of sensitive technology, then we will have to factor those in." Aviation experts point out that while considering a new aircraft, one also has to look at whether there is any transfer of technology or any licence to manufacture it within the country. Says Air Commodore Jasjit Singh (retd), director, Centre for Air Power Studies, "The issue to my mind is the choice between the French Mirage-2000-5 and the US F-16 or F/A-18, to be manufactured in India jointly. If we go in for the F-16, then we must ensure that we get enough leverage."........More

ISLAM: Stop in the Name of Humanity!

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The height of these injustices is that these penalties apply mainly to women and the poor -- doubly victimized -- never to the rich, the governing or to the oppressors. Hundreds of prisoners have no dignified legal means to defend themselves. Death sentences are carried out on women, men and minors (political prisoners, drug traffickers, delinquents, etc.) without the accused having the least contact with a lawyer. By accepting the grey zones in our relationship to the scriptural sources, we resign ourselves to the treason being done to the message of Islam, which promotes justice.........More

Sunday, April 03, 2005

BANGLADESH: Political Terrorism And Attacks On Socio-Cultural Organisations

Much of the blame for allowing this situation to get out of hand can be laid at the feet of both the government and the opposition. Repeated statements from government quarters, including the minister of state for home affairs, that such elements are a figment of media imagination and do not exist, is not conducive to what we know. Worse still when we know that institutional dysfunction invites military, political and religious zealots to take over, warnings by the media of the existence of fundamentalist organizations should not have been ignored. That the government’s law enforcing agencies have now launched a countrywide police-drive and arrested as many as many as 50 alleged extremists including a professor of Arabic at Rajshahi University serves to lend substance to this view......More

INDIA: F16 deal - Can we trust Uncle Sam?

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The years since India's independence are littered with the debris of broken promises and shamelessly-forsaken assurances by the US, and hurts still smart of innumerable humiliations heaped upon us. Remember, the days of 'food aid' doled out, conditionally, under PL-480 and the dispatch of SS Enterprise up the Bay of Bengal during the Liberation of Bangladesh? And, the 'cold and blunt' reply that Jimmy Carter dispatched to Morarji Desai over the public address system utilising an "accidentally switched on mike" during a state visit? This was to deny the request for fuel for the Tarapore Nuclear reactor......More

BLOGOSPHERE: Women Priests – Much Ado About Nothing?

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The impotence of the objectors can be evidenced by the fact that they reacted by making silly threats, hacking
one of the sponsors of this event, stupid comments about her hair. I would say that this is good. The centres of learning are conservative, no question asked. Nevertheless, to expect reform to come out of these centres is wrong. Take Hinduism for example. The disgusting practises of child marriage, sati, caste and other aspects were not removed by the centres of religion. They were removed by giants such as Raja Ram Mohon Roy, Dayanand Saraswati, Ramakrishna, and Swami Vivekananda. 2-3 centuries on, not all the evils have disappeared completely, but a fair amount has. These visionaries had a direct relationship with their god, they relied on the Hindu scriptures, and they fought against the musty and dusty corridors of traditionalist thinking. So, Professor Amina Wadud, kudos to you and we know this will be a boon to all Muslim women and Islam itself......More

ANALYSIS: China defines its borders -Lesson for India?

At such a juncture when the Sino-Indian border talks appear to have reached a crucial stage, in a seemingly unrelated development, the PRC has come out with its theoretical definition of its borders, which speaks volumes about the Chinese mindset on territorial issues in general. Undoubtedly, the definition, given through an article in an on-line publication of a government-affiliated think-tank, would be an eye opener for all the governments, including that of India, which are involved in holding border talks with China......More

PAKISTAN: Musharraf Stuck in a Hole With Skewed Political Priorities

Thanks to military rule, Pakistan is beginning to look like a minor Soviet-style republic, heavily armed and militarized, with a nuclear capability to boot, but for lack of political reform, inwardly hollow. That's why nothing on the political front clicks, why Pakistanis are the world's heaviest investors in cynicism and gloom-and-doom theories. There is nothing much wrong with the people of Pakistan but everything wrong with their environment which, because of militarism and democratic failure, nourishes negativism on a vast scale. A political government would be more sensitive to popular needs and less sure of itself when making patently absurd claims. Of what use better macro-economic indicators and fat foreign exchange reserves when jobs continue to be scarce and inflation reaches back-breaking proportions?.................More

Friday, April 01, 2005

DIASPORA: My mistake

Saira Ali Ahmed

The joining in matrimony of a young woman from Bangladesh brought up in a strict Muslim family, and a man widely regarded as Britain's most dangerous in-mate, was one that caused a sensation. They tied the knot behind the walls of Woodhill maximum security prison in June 2001. Prison officers outnumbered the wedding guests and Bronson was forced to cut the cake with a plastic knife. When Saira first told friends and family about the unlikely union they were understandably shocked. Bronson has spent most of his life behind bars in 34 different institutions, including Durham and Frankland. He is currently serving life at an isolation unit in Wakefield Jail. Saira fell for him when she saw his photograph in a newspaper in December 1998........More

PAKISTAN: Musharraf is America’s trump card in her plan to confront Iran

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Pakistan’s weakness to confront America has more to do with her insincere leadership then the limitation of her strategic assets. If Musharraf had shown one iota of sincerity for Pakistan he could have done many things to prevent America from consolidating its grip over Pakistan. For instance, he could have negotiated economic self-sufficiency in return for providing military assistance. By Pentagon’s own admission Pakistan suffered a $10billion loss as a result of supporting America’s war on Afghanistan. To date, Musharraf has neither asked for this amount to be reimbursed nor demanded that Pakistan’s foreign debt, which stands at $38 billion to be retired. Instead, Musharraf settled for a meagre sum of $3 billion dollars. This amount is to be paid in instalments and is tied to Pakistan forsaking its Islamic ideology in return for adopting western values.........

INDIA: Natwar Singh is about to commit the mother of all blunders

China, or rather the PLA-Navy, has declared Pakistan out of bounds from the Gwadar areas passing under its control. The intelligence is that China will deploy nuclear submarines from Russia or in the interim diesel-electric submarines from Germany, and while diplomats said the US secretary of state, Condoleeza Rice, warned Pakistan against this during her visit, it is not clear if the Chinese are standing down. In addition to attack submarines, the Chinese are planning a major listening post in Gwadar, both to monitor US activity in the Persian Gulf, and to track the shipping in the Indian Ocean. For a distance of seventy kilometers from Gwadar into the Arabian Sea, China and Pakistan are reserving a right to board ships for searches, and while this will hit Western/ US interests in the Indian Ocean, India’s projected role to protect the sealanes of communication upto the Malacca Straits has also been undermined. Indeed, it is possible that a Chinese listening post is already operational in Gwadar, and it presents an encirclement crisis for India linked together with Chinese surveillance facilities in Myanmar and Bangladesh.........More

BANGLADESH : Islamists and secularists must come to terms

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Contrary to the across-the-board assumptions that Islamist activists prefer to dispatch suicide bombers against their domestic and international foes, the Bangladeshi Islamist protagonists appear to be more preoccupied with their domestic challengers. The most prominent of them participated in national politics for recognition as a legitimate force. The Jamaat and other Islamist groups insist that Muslim identity is of course relevant to the strategic survival of Bangladesh because of the covert but long-standing conflict with a powerful neighbour. Besides that apprehension, the Muslims in South Asia, and possibly elsewhere, generally suffer from a history-driven apprehension that whenever they lost their political power in the past, they were victims of colonialism, hegemony, deprivation, discrimination, injustice and violence. Denigration the Muslim sensibilities and fears is a liberal blind spot in Bangladesh; it has virtually divided the nation over identity and also over what happened in the past. The Jamaat and other Islamist parties seem to be attracted to the BNP's not-yet-fully-delineated blend of Bengali identity with Muslim distinctiveness, but their ideological pillars still stand apart.........

BANGLADESH: We live under the constant darkening of the clouds

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The half truths, churned out by the propaganda juggernaut of the AL, continued to sink into the international media and forums, and went deep with Oxford Analytica's prognosis of a failed state, that, according to the dark horse think-tank, calls for three drastic ways out of its current 'governance crisis'. It seemed that the Oxford Analytica appearing out of the blue, the Indian media campaign consistently in step with the AL's denunciations, the burst of reports in the international media, and some fictive accounts in a Bangla language daily (August, 2004) of 'Islamic militancy' and 'arms training' in Chittagong's uplands, stretching to the Myanmar border, were made to click almost all at a time and produce the same strain and orchestration as on a common keyboard: Bangladesh, the next breeding ground for political Islam. India never had it so good..........More

ANALYSIS: Why is the US indulging Pakistan?

India's quest for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council with that all powerful veto, or membership of the G8, will remain tantalisingly out of reach until there is a durable peace in the subcontinent. The American takeover of Pakistan is also aimed at securing access to a warm water port close to the oil and mineral rich Central Asian republics. With Afghanistan and Iraq under American control, (though the various jihadis and warlords in these two nations might not agree) the only fly in the ointment seems to be Iran. Let's face it, a military regime in Pakistan is what President George W Bush needs in his war against terror. A civilian government might have had difficulties convincing the nation about the need to declare war on its own citizens, as Musharraf has ostensibly done in the provinces bordering Afghanistan.........More