Monday, May 30, 2005

Indian's Designs to Harm Bangladesh Using Islamic Militancy as Pretext

The recent bomb attacks on some NGO installations and cultural soirees and the subsequent arrest of some terrorists under the guise of so-called Islamic militants and their gangleaders unveiled India's involvement. A number of Bangladeshi dailies on February 25, 2005, quoting the interrogation of the arrested informed, that the recently banned so-called Muslim outfits - JMJB (Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh) and Jamaatul Mujahiden-were the brainchildren of Indian intelligence agency-RAW. The outward and instant aim of floating these outfits was to justify Indian allegation that Bangladesh is a haven of the Islamic terrors and provoke the government to take stern action against the madrashas, their teachers and students. Such step will make the government unpopular among the people that will deter the possibility of returning to power of the alliance government and pave the way to install a puppet government in Dhaka. The long-term design is to invite American-led anti-terror invasion or get American permission to invade Bangladesh so that either the invaders or their puppets in Dhaka gradually can close down the madrashas and crush the Islamic scholars, intellectuals, and even the pro-nationalist forces and ultimately make Bangladesh a vassal state of India.

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NEPAL: Foreign policy alien to India

Consider the facts. Bhattarai, the number two man in the insurgent hierarchy in Nepal, is an internationally wanted terrorist, blessed with an Interpol red corner notice. A fortnight ago, the Nepalese authorities released tapes of an intercepted wireless conversation involving the Maoist chief Prachanda. During the exchange, Prachanda revealed that the Indian authorities were anxiously seeking a meeting with Bhattarai. Predictably, the Indian embassy in Kathmandu denied that any such plans were afoot. A week later, it emerged that not only had Bhattarai met Indian Intelligence officials but had even exchanged Marxist dialectics with Karat. The implications are both hideous and ominous. Apart from constituting a blatantly unfriendly act, the incident shows India has a reckless disregard for all international norms of anti-terrorism. There is a marked inconsistency between demanding that Pakistan scrupulously adhere to the red corner alert for Dawood Ibrahim and rolling out the red carpet for Bhattarai. If the indulgence shown by Bangladesh to ULFA chief Paresh Barua constitutes an affront to India and warrants diplomatic opprobrium, New Delhi is guilty of the same as far as Kathmandu is concerned.

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INDIA: Assam- Truce before the Storm?

Having accomplished step one in its peace efforts, both the Assam Government and New Delhi appear happy. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is particularly elated in an election year, because the NDFB had responded favourably to his September 30, 2004, offer of truce to all rebel groups in this State of 26 million people. The other frontline insurgent group in Assam, the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) had rejected the call, but later indicated its desire for entering into peace negotiations with the Government of India. New Delhi, on May 26, 2005, addressed a letter to ULFA 'Chairman' Arabinda Rajkhowa, inviting his group for unconditional peace talks - the immediate response was the assassination of a Congress party leader, Amrit Dutta, president of the North-west Jorhat Anchalik Panchayat and the executive president of the Dergaon Block Congress, who was shot dead in Jorhat, the Chief Minister's home constituency, by two ULFA gunmen, on the same day.

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ANALYSIS: Democracy in Bangladesh Can Overcome Challenges

Democracy in Bangladesh is facing problems but these problems are not insurmountable. Here, one cannot ignore the strength of the democratic forces in this country. Its multiparty political environment includes nationalists, leftists, communists, islamists, rightists, centralists etc. etc. The elected ruling parties normally come from centre-leftists and nationalist groups. These political parties developed over a period of last three to four decades are functioning with their public support base. Further, elections during recent years show that female voters are participating in more and more numbers and the voters in general are becoming more and more conscious about their rights. Local and economic topics impacting their cost of living are the main issues for the voters now.

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Saturday, May 28, 2005

INDIA: RSS on US terror list

After 9/11 the Sangh Parivar found global respectability as an "anti-terrorist" association. In return for India’s strong support of the Afghan War, and its reticence concerning Iraq, the Bush administration looked the other way as up to 300,000 anti-Muslim and anti-Christian shakhas were established under RSS auspices to "educate" the public in the virtues of Hindutva. These training camps mirror the militant function of Islamic madrassas in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and increasingly in Bangladesh, with the two movements fueling each other’s xenophobic violence. Ironically, Hindutva spells the death of Hinduism’s core principles of tolerance and nonviolence, as personified in Gandhi.

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DIASPORA: Illegal Bangladeshi Immigration: People Take the Mantle When the Government Gives Up

Illegal immigrants have been one of Assam 's biggest issues for the last two decades. Assam shares a 272-km-long border with Bangladesh . A vast stretch of that is still unfenced. India says that the large-scale infiltration from across the border was threatening the region's demographic profile. Though the exact number of illegal immigrants is not known, generally it is estimated that about 20 million Bangladeshis are illegally staying in India . Of this number, about 6 million are present in Assam alone. There are no official estimates for the number of migrants in Assam , but state governor Ajai Singh has said that up to 6,000 illegally enter the region every day. The outgoing judge of the IMDT Tribunal, which is supposed to detect and deport infiltrators has also admitted that infiltration is continuing on a large scale. Due to this unabated illegal immigration at least five districts of lower Assam is now dominated by the Bangladeshis.

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ANALYSIS: Return of the Red Card: Israel-China-U.S. Triangle

The end of the Cold War, however, altered erstwhile American indifference toward Sino-Israeli ties. It no longer needed Beijing as a counterweight to Moscow, and Washington began to perceive Sino-Israeli relations, especially the military deals, as a threat to its interests in the Pacific region. The looming prospect of China emerging as a global player that could one day threaten American influence in Asia resulted in the U.S. becoming concerned over the entire development. One could argue over the rationale or logic behind the new American obsession with the Chinese threat. Given its strong economic interests and involvement in China, one could even question its wisdom in provoking an emerging power. It is, however, undeniable that Beijing occupies a prime position in American global interests, especially its policy toward the Asia-Pacific region.

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ISLAM: Put the Islamists in power

To understand this evolution, one must look at how the Islamists rose to such prominence. Autocratic regimes in the Middle East have for decades allowed little public space to those who would build civil societies; no freedom of speech, assembly or association. The only space for people to congregate without harassment by the secret police was the mosque. Thus, unwittingly, the autocrats contributed to the growth of the theocrats and this gradually produced the violent extremist elements. Taking advantage of the rulers' economic and political failures, the theocrats made compelling cases for their own visions. And through their great efforts in providing services to the poor, they evolved first into de facto social workers and then into local politicians - of whom some have grown into rabid extremists espousing hatred and mass killings like the Taliban and the al-Qaeda.

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PAKISTAN: Can the General be trusted

Those who tend to favour President Musharraf forget, quite conveniently and fatally, that he is the Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army which has been targeting India for the past more than half a century, has engaged in four bloody conflicts with India and continues to anchor its strategic doctrine and martial tradition and training to counter and neutralize India’s strategic superiority in the region. Despite the uncharacteristically long phase of truce between the two nuclear-power warring neighbours, there are no visible changes in the mindset or attitude of the Generals who run the General Headquarters at Rawalpindi. No one, even the staunchest supporter of the cricket and bus diplomacy, can vouch that the Pakistan Army is today friendlier towards India than ever before. Hence, perhaps, this new theory being floated that rulers on either side of the borders will have no choice but respect the bourgeoning popular opinion for friendship and peace. The argument sounds almost too good for comfort. The flaw is that in Pakistan, unlike in India, there is no popular opinion.

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

PURNIMA SPECIAL: A glimpse of Buddhism in ancient Bangladesh

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The final disappearance of Buddhism in ancient Bangladesh is mainly attributed to the degeneration of Buddhism into obscure Tantric cults and also emergence of religious and social conservatism in the subsequent Sena Rule. At that declining stage of Buddhism, the Senas supporting the Brahminical doctrines came from south India and destroyed the social structure founded on equality of all people in the Pala Age. A sizeable number of Buddhist monks fled to Nepal and Tibet with their manuscripts and religious books while some others continued their existence here under various camouflages.Subsequently a group of orthodox Buddhists from Magadha, Vajji and Vaishali of North India migrated to the Eastern regions to escape the rising tide of militant Brahminism there in the 13th-14th Century. They first came to Assam and then continued long journey to reach Chittagong where they found safe shelter merging with surviving Buddhists of ancient Bengal amidst geographical landscape of sea on one side and ranges of hills on the other. The newly-settled immigrants from Magadha lived for about two centuries under Arakanese rule (1459 to 1666) when they adopted Theravada Buddhism.

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Saturday, May 21, 2005

INDIA: Assam forced deportation of Bangladeshi's - UPDATE - 7 Filings

FLASHPOINT ASSAM: Strains of Xenophobia - DakBangla monitoring of events in Assam continues and we note several startling developments:

  • The VHP has confirmed the State Ministers hunch that it is behind the forced deportation of Bangladesh origin settlers with the Times of India reporting Stoking an already raging fire, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has now decided to "use the Bajrang Dal to launch a peaceful door-to-door campaign in the state to mount an economic boycott of Bangladeshi migrants." State VHP president J C Pathak said the strategy would be presented to its cadres on May 24. "We will throw in our lot behind the Bajrang Dal to make the campaign successful," he stated”.
  • The forced exodus appears to be escalating inside Assam and the Indian Express reports “The situation became worse with two more organisations, Bajrang Dal and Viswa Hindu Parishad issuing similar quit notices in Nalbari district which has a sizeable population of minorities.”
  • Meanwhile Assam Tribune says “A district police chief in upper Assam, speaking to The Assam Tribune last week, spoke of two departmental circulars issued in quick succession during the first fortnight of this February. One said that the Bangladeshi detection process should relax a little, as there have been allegations of harassment of many people. Even as this was being implemented, came the other circular, which instructed the police in the districts not to relax the process, and that the detection work should continue with renewed vigour.”
  • Although this has not been reported in the Dhaka press, it appears that the Bangladesh government would move the UNHCR in event that this exodus does become a reality, making it one of the severest refugee issue in South Asia. The Assam Tribune says “Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, Morshed Khan has summoned Indian High Commission officials in Dhaka and warned that India stop the exodus of people from Assam to Bangladesh! Sources in the Ministry of External Affairs said that the Foreign Minister further told Indian officials that Bangladesh would be under obligation to provide humanitarian assistance to the people but would ask the UNHCR to intervene. He asked India to stop the exodus of people, sources said.”
  • On the borders with Bangladesh things as of now appears peaceful and PTI quotes the BSF as saying “Amid reports of exodus by suspected Bangladeshi nationals from different parts of Assam, the BSF today said the international border was peaceful and nobody was crossing over to the neighboring country. "No so-called Bangladeshis are going out to the other side of the border and there are no interventions from the Bangladeshi Rifles also," a senior official told PTI on condition of anonymity. "The Bangladesh border is silent and peaceful," he added.”
1. VHP cries: Boycott Bangladesh migrants
2. Bangla threatens to move UNHCR
3. VHP, Bajrang Dal, others target B’deshis
4. Detecting Bangladeshis not easy task
5. Despite exodus, Bangladesh border peaceful and silent: BSF
6. BDR agrees to joint patrolling with BSF
7. Assam CM's remarks irresponsible: BJP

Click here to read all the 7 Filings listed above


Read Update 20th May

Read Update 17th May

INDIA: Reforms in Intelligence, intelligence in reforms

The key challenge to national security is the possibility of internal de-stabilisation as a result of unrest spreading across India’s unsettled borders. India has soft borders with Nepal and Myanmar. Indian intelligence agencies are worried about the spill over of the Maoist revolution to India. The consolidation of the Maoist groups in India and their linking up through a corridor that stretches from Andhra Pradesh to Nepal is a big internal security challenge. India is engaging Myanmar to militarily attack bases of insurgent outfits operating in the Northeast. Some evidence of that collaboration is already visible with the Myanmarese military launching attacks on bases identified by India. But so far India has failed to cultivate Myanmar as a dependable ally and many north-eastern insurgent groups continue to function from Myanmar. India is also dealing with a volatile border with Bangladesh. All this apart from the fact that unsettled borders with Pakistan is India’s key security concern. The intelligence agencies dealing with issues such as terrorism, infiltration, illegal migration, smuggling of narcotics and weapons have a tremendous task of coordinating their activities. One of the important areas is to ensure that turf wars within agencies do not hamper accurate, reliable and fast flow information to the decision makers.

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GLOBAL JIHAD: Newsweek and White House Hypocrisy

The really outrageous thing though, is how the White House and Pentagon are acting as if the Newsweek story has been the cause of the anti-American rioting in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other Muslim countries. This is just silly. The article may have been a trigger, or a rallying cry, but the cause of that rioting is the long-simmering and mounting rage across the Middle East and South Asia at a callous disregard for the people of those countries by U.S. forces, as witness the massive destruction and indiscriminate killing of locals along with enemy fighters during the latest U.S. assault in eastern Iraq and the repeated "accidental" bombings of civilians in Afghanistan by U.S. forces. The cause of the rioting is also the documented record of religious abuse of Muslim prisoners, which has included the smearing of fake menstrual blood on inmate victims, the wrapping of inmates in Israeli flags, etc., and the attacks on and destruction of mosques, etc.

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Friday, May 20, 2005

BANGLADESH: Indo-Bangla security dialogue need of the hour

Hegemonic stance is also being maintained by Indian authorities on the matter of environmental security that is vital to the survival of Bangladesh. At a South Asian parliamentary conference in Murree, Pakistan, parliamentarians and experts from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India itself noted how the Indian river-linking project, devised by the former BJP-led government and now revamped by the Congress-led government, would destroy the essential ecological balance of Bangladesh by choking the common rivers. Bangladesh feels threatened by the project which it regards as a tool of environmental aggression. Indian Water Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi has declared that the UPA government is 'fully committed' to the project, but it is only at a conceptual stage and it will take into account the concerns expressed by the lower riparian, Bangladesh. In other words, the UPA government in Delhi has reserved the option of unilateral action on the water front as well.

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INDIA: Assam forced deportation of Bangladeshi's - UPDATE - 6 Filings

FLASHPOINT ASSAM : DakBangla continues its monitoring of events in Assam. Of date the state government is blaming the BJP/RSS for inciting communal violence, which if it meets with success would have devastating consequence for Bangladesh with millions being forcibly deported.

1. ‘People fleeing upper Assam not Bangladeshis’
2. Rickshaw pullers, labourers go missing in Assam
3. Gogoi sees red over new migrant report
4. 'BJP wants another Godhra in Assam'
5. Thousands of Bangladeshi migrants flee India's Assam
6. Governor’s report on influx baseless: Gogoi

Click here to read all the 6 Filings listed above

ANALYSIS: Crescent over Bangladesh

There was small but significant information in almost all newspapers recently. This could be considered the charge of the "light brigade". The Chirang Chapori Yuva Mancha, named after a Dibrugarh locality, launched its campaign by distributing leaflets calling for a socio-economic boycott of Bangladeshi migrants. An exodus of Bangladeshis under threat from the Assamese took place from Digbrugarh recently. Taking a cue from Dibrugarh, some young Assamese of Jorhat began a campaign to save future generations of Assam from the clutches of Bangladeshi rule. The UPA Government has asked intelligence agencies to probe and find out whether it was motivated by the BJP's and AGP's electrol concerns. But what makes the Congress believe that there is threat to it from the BJP or AGP in the Assembly elections next year? Tarun Gogoi's Government has to live up to a deadline nearer at hand. On April 3, 2005, in a Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind rally, its president Maulana Asad Madani openly threatened to topple Mr Tarun Gogoi's Government unless its 18-point demand was fulfilled. The Chief Minister ended up with all sorts of conciliatory voices. Is this "secularism" or a sham? We have shamed the concept of secularism more than Bangladesh.

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GLOBAL JIHAD: The US's gift to al-Qaeda

As much as al-Qaeda is a Western concoction - once again, the concept of revolutionary vanguard simply does not exist in Islam - its internationalism is now merging with the only other global protest movement: the anti-globalization, anti-American imperialism brigade. Al-Qaeda and the Islamist front nevertheless still face a daunting task: if they want more Western allies, they have to abdicate from their Islamic platform. And if they want more allies in the Muslim world, they have to be much less radical. Even though al-Qaeda is configured as an heir to the extreme left and pro-Third World radical movements of the 1970s, al-Qaeda's latest success is undoubtedly in the Muslim world.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

BANGLADESH: SAARC - Third time lucky?

Unless someone creates conditions of anarchy aimed chiefly at sabotaging the planned summit, probably for the purpose of denying the government from claiming any 'laurel' for successfully organizing the event, there can be no misgivings about security on India's, or any other country's, part. And any such construed acts of lawlessness for a probable spiteful objective misses the point that there are no additional laurels for the host country in a routine rotation of countries for organizing SAARC summits, and that such an act of cutting ones nose to spite ones face only disfigures ones face and brings out the pathetic meanness of ones mindset. New Delhi should not become the focal point of cooked up chaos and anarchy. While the government, ideally, has to preempt any such conspiracies and deal firmly with them if they are set in motion, a determined no-nonsense declaration by India about participating in the summit on the scheduled dates might deter would-be spoilers from engaging in damaging activities.

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GLOBAL JIHAD: Financial Arteries of Islamic Extremism - Part 1 & 2

On its part, India has never missed an opportunity to harm Pakistan. During the crisis in East Pakistan in 1971, it trained and armed the Mukti Bahini (liberation army) that perpetrated worst terror on non-Bengali Pakistanis, particularly Biharis and Punjabis, residing there; and after the creation of Bangladesh, massacred several thousand of these hapless civilians. Throughout, India has also remained involved with regional, ethnic and linguistic parties and groups in Pakistan in Sindh, N.W.F.P. and Balochistan. Behind many terrorist acts, including bomb explosions at busy spots in Pakistani cities, one can detect the hands of India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). During 1980s and 1990s, India was unmistakably involved in ethnic violence in the cities and towns of Sindh, particularly Karachi. India had set up camps in its provinces of Gujarat and Rajhestan to impart military training to disgruntled Pakistani youth who were then sent back to Pakistan on terrorist missions.

Read Full Commentary - [PART 1] & [PART 2]

ISLAM: Anger over reported desecration persists despite retraction

The Koran has such exalted status among Muslims that is it never allowed to touch the ground. It is placed on a high shelf and kissed each time it is opened. Desecrating the Koran is punishable by death in Pakistan, Afghanistan and many other Islamic countries. "The Koran is supposed to be more important than a life," said one Pakistani official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "If there is any disrespect for the Koran, whether true or not, people will believe it and feel it very badly." Because of such feelings, many analysts said that although the initial protests had died down, they doubted the anger over the Guantanamo report would dissipate entirely, even if the allegation was proved untrue.

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ANALYSIS: Curious timing on the arrests by Pakistan

And now it's Abu Faraj Farj, also known as Abu Faraj Libbi, another high Al-Qaida commander. He was captured under mysterious circumstances, but at a time charged with meaning. It is the moment, according to the Pakistani media, when the Americans have decided to make delivery of the F-16s contingent on American agents getting the right to interrogate Abdul Qadeer Khan, father of the Islamist bomb and godfather of a whole network of nuclear weapons trafficking that involves Iran, North Korea and, perhaps, Al-Qaida's laboratories near Kandahar, Afghanistan. But Musharraf stubbornly continues to deny the United States the right to take over the investigation into what is becoming the most enormous nuclear terrorism affair of this era. Pakistan instead hands over another Al-Qaida operative

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INDIA: Shocking stupidity

Khalida Zia in Bangladesh is equally loathsome, but nobody talks of a regime change. India could not even support its one true friend in Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina Wajed. And how do we justify dealing with General Parvez Musharraf in Pakistan, the architect of the Kargil War, the wrecker of the Agra Summit, and a full partner with China in encircling India in the Indian Ocean and the northwest frontier? Realpolitik dictates that you deal with whoever is in power, so why do we get antsy in respect of Nepal, because it is tiny, and because we believe it is a pushover? Nepal is not a pushover, and it has never been. Hopefully, this plan to abolish the Nepal monarchy is the handiwork of a lunatic fringe in the government, which hopes to rope in the Left and reckless stupid Left ideologues in its enterprise.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

GLOBAL JIHAD: Just who is the 'son of a bitch'?

After all, that report, which was printed in a small item in last week's "Periscope" section of the magazine, spurred violent protests across the Muslim world, particularly in Afghanistan, where at least 15 people were killed and the government of President Hamid Karzai was badly shaken just a week before he was due to travel to Washington. Or is the "son of a bitch" US President George W Bush, whose administration began fixing intelligence at least eight months before invading Iraq in order to make the public believe that Baghdad posed a serious threat to the United States and its allies? After all, the war and its bloody aftermath have taken a toll of at least 30,000 lives, according to the most conservative estimates, and ongoing conflict continues to kill scores more every week with no end in sight.

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STUDY: A Look at Modern Communist Theory and Strategy in Russia

Project Sovietia: This is the occupation of Kazakhstan by Communist forces through revolution or invasion from Russia. It also includes the occupation of the former Soviet republics. There are arrows indicating three armies invading Kazakhstan from the north from Russia, and an army invading from the west also from Russian territory. From Kazakhstan, the three Russian (and now Kazakh) armies invade Turkmenistan and the surrounding republics, Two armies that invade Afghanistan from the north occupy that nation, and then split with one going west to Iran, and the other going east into Pakistan, whom is being invaded from the east by India. Chinese armies invade Taiwan, the Philippines, Nepal, Bangladesh, while a Communist army based in Vietnam goes across Indochina including Thailand and crosses into Myanmar.

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BANGLADESH: Acculturation and our Gutter Garbage complex

The only problem however, we have till this day not been able to shed off our alarmist doomsday mindset that gets unduly activated, as we are not in the habit of doing our homework’s right. What we view as an ‘invasion’ at the outset, earlier than we had thought, we tend to accept them, make them part of or lives, and work our way about improving our lot. By nature we are not a negotiating race, but ‘hard bargainers’ but then we are also consumed by a defeatist psychosis of being perpetually cheated – that leaves us all too often cheated in our ‘historical bargains’, specially when the chips strongly favor, and don’t oppose our moves!

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INDIA: Assam forced deportation of Bangladeshi's - 3 Filings

The Mancha's activists are receiving applaud from all over the State and from elsewhere for their path breaking endeavour. Unfortunately, no political party, not even the AGP or the BJP have openly supported their activity, while in private they are all praise for the youths. As for the exodus by suspected illegal Bangladeshis from the city, this is continuing till today, though the volume of traffic has eased. According to reliable sources, about 6,000 doubtful nationals have left the city till this evening. The hunch here is that these people would return, once they have acquired some document or the other to "establish" their "Indian identity" from controversial leaders in the lower Assam districts. This is because anyone suspected to be an illegal Bangladeshi promptly names some lower Assam district as his or her permanent address.

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Anti-Indian Feelings among Bangladeshis

Equality, sincere sprit of co-operation and friendship, compassion, reciprocity are the requirements to evolve a genuine and durable relation. On the other hand domination or impositions do not serve any purpose. Rather such deceitful over bearing attitude or policies only widen the gap. As a result, lack of confidence and miss trust grows and that leads to confrontation and instability.

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BANGLADESH: Opposition Struggles for Political Reform

Constitution has been amended in Bangladesh to even alter its basic nature. Ershad went as far as to remove the word secularism from the constitution. But the ruling coalition is rigid this time seeing its obvious advantage. However, here it should be also useful to keep in mind that elections are a costly affair especially for the poor south Asian countries. They should be able to throw a stable government that is generally accepted as true representative of the people. Bangladesh is a country that is known for hartals (strikes). If the elections are not fair, then the losing party will go for endless strikes. It will cause great losses to the country and its economy. The two main parties have been continuously locked in internecine battle to achieve supremacy over each other. This has provided space for the Islamists to grow, who were once hated in Bangladesh politics. In fact, in last few years, the following of Islamists has grown to such as extent where they have been able to swing the electoral balance. In these circumstances, a fair election might help the country to some extent by providing a stable government which would be generally considered representative.

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ANALYSIS: India and China - Neither friends nor foes

China is worried about India's growing blue-water naval capabilities and is expanding its own naval presence in the Arabian Sea/Persian Gulf region by financing a major port at Gwadar in Pakistan. China is also increasing its naval presence in the Indian Ocean by cultivating ties with Myanmar and Bangladesh. Although these Chinese moves are significantly motivated by its increasing dependency on sea-borne trade and energy supplies, they raised alarm bells in New Delhi. India views China's moves in these states as Beijing's strategy to contain India in South Asia. Signaling that closer relations with India will not dilute China's close ties with India's neighbors, Wen visited India at the end of his four-nation South Asia tour that included visits to Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. The two countries are also likely to engage in a competition for influence in Central Asia and Southeast Asia.

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ANALYSIS: Rocca’s visit, bilateralism and Bangladesh’s security

The onus, needless to say, falls on the US to dispel any doubts over its commitment to maintain and develop relations with Bangladesh purely from its own perspective and its interests. It still is the sole global superpower and can instill much needed confidence in Bangladesh over its security needs. The very fact that a “situation” was made the defining point for the purported joint Indo-American policy on Bangladesh is a security concern for Dhaka because that situation, the rise of Islamic extremism leading to further dysfunction in the country’s law and order condition, was given an exaggerated colour by Indian propaganda and enthusiastically endorsed by its apologists in Bangladesh. The recent arrest in Barisal of video makers engaged in making a fake film on “minority repression” in Bangladesh for exhibiting initially in France, and possibly later in other countries, is only the latest in a series of similar attempts by the local misinformation spinners at portraying this government as being minority-unfriendly. The combined efforts of the foreign and resident propagandists have potentially placed this country in great peril, a situation that is as unwarranted as it is unfair to its citizens.

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Monday, May 02, 2005

ANALYSIS: Arms Supplies for Asia's Forgotten Wars

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From Hong Kong the consignment was shipped to Singapore where more weapons - mainly from Israel and the US - were added. The shipment was then transported up north through the Malakka Street to be transshipped in the Bay of Bengal to two trawlers which ferried the arms to Chittagong. From there the weaponry was supposed to be smuggled overland, through the impassable borderland between Bangladesh and India, to reach its destination in the conflict area. The Indian security forces seem to be powerless against the international arms dealers whose supplies have been reaching Northeast. However, as the fragile North East is of tremendous strategic importance, the Central Government is doing everything to defend India's territorial integrity. But the price is high. New Delhi has deployed over 40,000 soldiers and para-military forces in the region. And more then 10,000 people have died in the past five decades in the ongoing armed conflict. Not to forget that the operations of the state as well as the non-state are partly shadowed by a massive violation of human rights.

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BANGLADESH: Politics - Some ponderables and imponderables

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This very rise (and it has been an unhealthy evolution over the last decade and a half or so) of extreme partisanship has led to the constitutional formation of the caretaker government, an institution that is an anomaly in a liberal pluralist democracy. And here is a practical problem associated with the caretaker system: an institution not democratically elected conducts elections for choosing by ballot parliament members, and then is accused of conducting unfair elections by the losers. Actually, this very accusation is also an outcome of rabid partisanship as it is a manifestation of political intolerance that essentially translates into a disrespect for the norms of liberal pluralist democracy. And, not unsurprisingly, the caretaker system, so eagerly accepted when the proposal for its creation was made, by all the major political parties, has itself now come under attack by some of those very same parties. Such a pitiable cat-chasing-its-tail situation has made the caretaker system inevitable and reflective of the very mindset of the general citizenry towards the essence of democracy: its spirit. No wonder, then, the Director for South Asia of the US-based National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) recently said that the caretaker system is 'unique and time-fitting'. It is at once an acknowledgement of the system's oddity in the context of liberal democracy and an indictment of the country's political culture.

Full Commentary

BANGLADESH: Politics - Some ponderables and imponderables

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This very rise (and it has been an unhealthy evolution over the last decade and a half or so) of extreme partisanship has led to the constitutional formation of the caretaker government, an institution that is an anomaly in a liberal pluralist democracy. And here is a practical problem associated with the caretaker system: an institution not democratically elected conducts elections for choosing by ballot parliament members, and then is accused of conducting unfair elections by the losers. Actually, this very accusation is also an outcome of rabid partisanship as it is a manifestation of political intolerance that essentially translates into a disrespect for the norms of liberal pluralist democracy. And, not unsurprisingly, the caretaker system, so eagerly accepted when the proposal for its creation was made, by all the major political parties, has itself now come under attack by some of those very same parties. Such a pitiable cat-chasing-its-tail situation has made the caretaker system inevitable and reflective of the very mindset of the general citizenry towards the essence of democracy: its spirit. No wonder, then, the Director for South Asia of the US-based National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) recently said that the caretaker system is 'unique and time-fitting'. It is at once an acknowledgement of the system's oddity in the context of liberal democracy and an indictment of the country's political culture.

Full Commentary

BANGLADESH: Politics - Some ponderables and imponderables

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ENERGY SECURITY: Indian turf war over Bangladesh pipeline

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According to a report in Indian Express, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran has said that the preamble in the MoU would be reworded to remove the condition of resolving the bilateral issues for the trilateral agreement on the pipeline. Besides, the Petroleum Ministry would henceforth be "de-linked" from such bilateral negotiations. Bangladesh has many misgivings over the pipeline project, with anti-Indian sentiment and irrational fears of the project depriving Bangladesh of its resources among them. Now India's proposed rewording of the preamble could become an excuse for Dhaka to slip out of the project.

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NEPAL: Inexplicable Volte Face

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It is a measure of the closeness and goodwill that has traditionally existed between the Indian Army and the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) that their Chiefs are Honorary Chiefs of the other Army on a reciprocal basis. However, given reports of the aerial bombings which could be killing innocent civilians, as well as other indiscriminate measures in Nepal, one must wonder if the Chief of the Indian Army would currently wish to be so 'honoured'. A recent chief of the RNA was prone to describing Nepal's relations with India and China as being in the ratio of 60:40. One must also wonder how the royal coup of February 1, carried out obviously with the collaboration of the RNA, came as a complete surprise to India. Further, the argument that the absence of material assistance from India would bring other players into critical prominence is one assiduously fostered by Nepal over the years. In the past, Nepal has cultivated China, and even Pakistan, to promote this illusion in India. But the facts of life and geography point in quite a different direction. As the Minister of External Affairs said in Parliament, India has all the leverages in her unique relationship with Nepal; only, these have not been used so far.

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STUDY: The Way of the Commandos

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In Samarra, the commandos established a detention center at the public library, a hundred yards down the road from the City Hall. The library is a one-story rose-hued building surrounded by a five-foot wall. There is a Koranic inscription over its entrance: ''In the name of Allah the most gracious and merciful, Oh, Lord, please fill me with knowledge.'' These days, the knowledge sought under its roof comes not from hardback books but from blindfolded detainees. In guerrilla wars of recent decades, detention centers have played a notorious role. From Latin America to the Balkans and the Middle East, the worst abuse has taken place away from the eyes of bystanders or journalists. During my first few days in the city, I was told I could not visit the center; I was able only to observe, discreetly, as detainees were led into it at all hours. But one day Jim Steele asked whether I wanted to interview a Saudi youth who had been captured the previous day. I agreed, and he took me to the detention center. We walkedthrough the entrance gates of the center and stood, briefly, outside the main hall. Looking through the doors, I saw about 100 detainees squatting on the floor, hands bound behind their backs; most were blindfolded. To my right, outside the doors, a leather-jacketed security official was slapping and kicking a detainee who was sitting on the ground. We went to a room adjacent to the main hall, and as we walked in, a detainee was led out with fresh blood around his nose. The room had enough space for a couple of desks and chairs; one desk had bloodstains running down its side. The 20-year-old Saudi was led into the room and sat a few feet from me. He said he had been treated well and that a bandage on his head was a result of an injury he suffered in a car accident as he was being chased by Iraqi soldiers.

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Sunday, May 01, 2005

ANALYSIS: The Pakistani question

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During recent weeks, speculation about the activities or the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network have been missing from the media. And if it isn't on television or in the newspapers, it doesn't exist. However, Pakistan exists, and a lot of attention was given by the media to our providing its air force with nuclear-capable F-16 fighter jets. These F-16s could be flying over India's huge population centers armed with nuclear weapons within 30 minutes. Probable? Not while Pakistani Gen. Pervez Musharraf remains as president. But in the past 12 months there have been at least two assassination attempts on his life. And in testimony before Congress, the director of the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency said that if Musharraf were replaced, the new leader would be less pro-U.S.: "We are concerned that extremist Islamic politicians would gain greater influence."

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BANGLADESH: Secularism - A misnomer or a misplaced conception?

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Modern dictionaries however define secularism as something which relates to the worldly or the temporal. On the other hand, the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary defines Secularism as : "indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion or religious consideration [from the worldly affair]. It is however immaterial whether one likes a particular definition or not and to what extent; since everyone has the right to agree, differ or disagree with a certain concept; a specific definition or even an idea that he or she may come across or which is commonly in use or has been accepted even by the majority. And certainly I am no exception. However, what surprises me most is the remarkable similarity in the thoughts of our 'secularists' [I certainly would not call them 'so-called'], and the above definition of Webster-in fact their avowed stand of religious abhorrence-speople who consider themselves as the only puritans and progressive elements on the earth, with rest of us being nothing better than the trash! In fact, the point that I wish to bring home today is : 'Secularists' in our country are perhaps no better than the religious bigots whom we find hovering around for a suitable berth. If the religious bigots are one point of radicalism, then the secularists are the other point no doubt.

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INDIA: Burying national security in well of House

Tavleen Singh Meanwhile, if for no other reason than respect for those who defend our borders the Bangladesh government needs to be given a severe, ‘‘secular’’ reprimand for what happened on April 16. As someone who does not believe secularism is more important than the country’s security I would also like to hear our Prime Minister tell the Bangladesh government that it needs to do something about those madrasas. The last thing India can afford is more Islamic fundamentalists.

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