Friday, September 23, 2011

Madman on the loose

Ahmadinejad repeats his rant!

On Thursday, Iran's Islamofascist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in full flow at the UN General Assembly which is currently in session.

Misusing the platform that is provided to all member-states of the UN, Ahmadinejad delivered, what can only be described as a hate-laden speech, spitting venom at the Christian West, Jewish Israel and 'non-believers' belonging to all other faiths.

He was not speaking on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Iran alone, but the entire ummah when he

. charged Americans with stage-managing 9/11
. accused the US of conniving with Osama bin Laden
. questioned the veracity of the Holocaust
. blamed 'Zionists' for the woes of the world
. virtually called for the extermination of all those he listed as foes.

A madman on the loose is a threat to the world. A madman who could soon have nuclear weapons in his arsenal is a danger to humankind and human civilisation.

Only those given to unmentionable perversions of the mind and body would find merit in Ahmadinejad's bilious speech which epitomises Islamofascism.

Those nations which value democracy, freedom, liberty and peace would shame and shun a rabid pariah like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iran is welcome to have him as its President. The mullahs of Iran are welcome to their favourite boy.

But the world, including India, must deny him -- and those who support him or endorse his rant -- both legitimacy and space.

[Official version of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech in the UN General Assembly.]

Thursday, September 22, 2011

So, what will America do?

The fact remains that the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network operate from Pakistan with impunity...

Pakistan’s military and political establishment, one often indistinguishable from the other, have for long been disingenuous if not outright deceitful while claiming to dismantle the sprawling jihad complex which is the mainstay of that country’s established policy of using terrorism to further its ‘strategic objectives’.

Those ‘strategic objectives’ range from “inflicting a thousand cuts” on India to gaining control over Afghanistan; from blackmailing Western donor countries, especially the USA, to simply terrorising the world.

That in the process thousands of Pakistani citizens have fallen victim to the insatiable appetite for flesh and blood of the monster the Pakistani state has bred is of no consequence to the Generals in Rawalpindi and their handmaidens in Islamabad.

Strangely, or perhaps not so, Pakistanis continue to live in denial of this reality. The Pakistani military and the Government, or what passes for it, deny any links with terrorist organisations. If confronted with evidence, they either brazen it out or slyly ask for more dole to do what is expected of them.

The world is aware of how Pakistan has emerged as the epicentre of global terrorism. The US, which is the principal benefactor of Pakistan, knows that the hand which reaches out for civilian and military aid is also the hand which loving rocks the cradle of jihad’s nursery.

But that has not stopped the US from writing out billion-dollar cheques to Pakistan. Nor has it made Washington, DC demand answers to some tough questions.

On the contrary, the US continues to describe Pakistan as its ‘staunch ally’, its ‘frontline ally’ in the war on terror. Pakistan remains the US’s ‘most-favoured non-Nato ally’. Pakistan has America wrapped around its little finger.

In a sense, if Pakistanis are living in denial, so are the Americans.

That Osama bin Laden was found living in a ‘safe house’ at Abbottabad, obviously protected by the Pakistani military and its terror-sponsoring agency, the ISI, has not shaken America’s faith in Pakistan.

That other Al Qaeda leaders have been traced – and killed through targeted drone attacks – in Pakistan has not deterred Washington from standing by Islamabad.

That Pakistan continues to flout UN Security Council resolutions and sanctions aimed at defanging terrorist organisations like the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba is of no seeming relevance to the US Administration.

Occasionally we are told that the US has read out the riot act to Pakistan, that senior Pakistani politicians and Generals have been admonished, that Islamabad has been sternly told thus far and no further. That’s so much finger-wagging amounting to nothing.

For instance, we are told that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was less than pleasant with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar (of Birkin bag fame) who did look discomfited in the customary photo of the recent meeting in Washington that was released to media. Hillary is supposed to have told Hina that the Pakistani military-political establishment was working hand-in-glove with the Haqqani network to unleash terror in Afghanistan.

In response, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik (who is partial towards flashy ties) has, in his characteristically belligerent style, demanded, “Where is the evidence?” That’s not the first time Pakistan has sought ‘evidence’ of its misdeeds.

Interestingly, in separate testimonies before the US Senate Armed Forces Committee on September 22, 2011, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta have spoken in great detail of the nexus between jihadi terror and the Pakistani state.

Mike Mullen says in his testimony:

“The fact remains that the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network operate from Pakistan with impunity. Extremist organizations serving as proxies of the government of Pakistan are attacking Afghan troops and civilians as well as US soldiers. For example, we believe the Haqqani Network — which has long enjoyed the support and protection of the Pakistani government and is, in many ways, a strategic arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency — is responsible for the September 13th attacks against the US Embassy in Kabul. There is ample evidence confirming that the Haqqanis were behind the June 28th attack against the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul and the September 10th truck bomb attack that killed five Afghans and injured another 96 individuals, 77 of whom were US soldiers. History teaches us that it is difficult to defeat an insurgency when fighters enjoy a sanctuary outside national boundaries, and we are seeing this again today. The Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network are hampering efforts to improve security in Afghanistan, spoiling possibilities for broader reconciliation, and frustrating US-Pakistan relations. The actions by the Pakistani government to support them — actively and passively — represent a growing problem that is undermining US interests and may violate international norms, potentially warranting sanction…”

The full text of Mullen’s testimony can be read here.

Leon Panetta was understandably more tactful:

"We have a difficult campaign ahead of us in the east, where the topography, cultural geography, and continuing presence of safe havens in Pakistan give the insurgents advantages they have lost elsewhere in the country. Additionally, as relations with Pakistan have become strained over the past year, and as we have met Pakistan’s requests to reduce our training and liaison presence in their country, our diminished ability to coordinate respective military operations in the border regions has given insurgents greater freedom of movement along the border. Our forces are working in the east to cut off insurgent lines of communication and deny their ability to threaten Kabul and other population centres. Nonetheless, progress in the east will likely continue to lag what we see elsewhere in the country..."

The full text of Panetta’s testimony can be read here.

So what does the US plan to do? Pretend that its ‘staunch ally’, its ‘frontline ally’, its ‘most-favoured non-Nato ally’ remains committed to waging war on terror?

That’s more than likely. Which prompts the question, after such knowledge, what forgiveness?


On Friday, September 23, Pakistan's Inter-Services Public Relations issued the following statement:

While taking note of the recent statements made by Admiral Mullen, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff United States, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, termed these as very unfortunate and not based on facts. This is especially disturbing in view of a rather constructive meeting with Admiral Mullen in Spain.

On the specific question of contacts with Haqqanis, the COAS said that Admiral Mullen knows fully well which all countries are in contact with the Haqqanis. Singling out Pakistan is neither fair nor productive.

Categorically denying the accusations of proxy war and ISI support to Haqqanis, the COAS wished that, the blame game in public statements should give way to a constructive and meaningful engagement for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, an objective to which Pakistan is fully committed.

It would be interesting to know what "Admiral Mullen knows fully well" as to which all countries are "in contact with the Haqqanis".

Why doesn't Gen Kayani spill the beans? Or, get an ISPR affiliated journalist, of whom there is no dearth, to tell all?

[Time has an interesting story on the massacre of Shias of Balochistan by Pakistan's Sunni militia, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.]

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

False gods of secularism

Just so that amnesia can't be pretended!

"It is the Congress that has engineered most of the riots... Rajiv Gandhi failed to protect Harijans and Muslims… Geographical boundaries of the country were jeopardised by the Congress and Rajiv Gandhi...”

On reading such harsh accusation, such pitiless pillorying of the Congress and its supreme leader, the last direct descendent of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to sit on the masnad of Delhi, the image that comes to mind is that of an irascible foot soldier of the BJP or a malevolent journalist doing what foot soldiers and malevolent journalists do best: Shoot from the hip.

Think again, but it is unlikely that you will be able to guess the identity of the person who tore into the Congress so mercilessly while participating in a debate on the ‘Situation in the Country’ in the Lok Sabha on December 29, 1989. The immediate backdrop to this debate was the series of communal riots in Congress-ruled Bihar -- Hazaribagh, Darbhanga, and the horrendous bloodletting in Bhagalpur during the twilight days of Rajiv Gandhi's Government in the autumn of that year.

The official death count in Bhagalpur was 1,891, with thousands scarred for the rest of their lives. In Logain village, an entire Muslim mohalla was wiped out: The bodies of 120 Muslim men, women and children were dumped in a shallow pond; when the stench became unbearable, the rotting corpses were fished out, buried in a field and planted over with cauliflower saplings. It was a ‘good’ harvest that year.

In Chanderi, another Muslim mohalla, 61 people were massacred. Mallika, a 14-year-old girl, tried to flee the mob that had killed her parents and relatives. She stumbled and fell; the mob chopped off her legs and left her to bleed to death in a hyacinth covered pond. An Army officer found her the next day, drawn by her pitiful sobs, and Mallika survived to live a traumatic life.

But we digress. From December 18 to 29, the newly-elected Lok Sabha, with Prime Minister VP Singh and the Janata Dal occupying the Treasury benches and Rajiv Gandhi and the Congress sitting on the Opposition benches, witnessed a spirited debate over the customary address by the President. Either by design or by default, the President had failed to mention the riots in Bhagalpur.

Congress MPs seized on this omission to berate the Government, alleging that the riots were not mentioned to spare embarrassment to its ally, the BJP, which was accused of fomenting the violence in Bhagalpur and elsewhere. As the debate became increasingly accusatory and the tone and tenor of the attack on the BJP sharpened, the Janata Dal MP from Chapra waded in to battle the Congress.

Responding to the allegation that BJP and VHP activists had ‘provoked’ the violence, he said, “I would like to tell you that there are two groups of Muslims in Bhagalpur, ie, Ansaris and Sallans, who had started riots in the city. A bomb was thrown on the SP (of) Bhagalpur and 11 police personnel were injured. They had thrown that bomb on the occasion of Ram Shila Pujan but these people have not been yet rounded up.”

That MP was Lalu Prasad Yadav, who years later went on to become Minister for Railways in the UPA1 Government and an ardent supporter of 'Madam Soniaji.' He would be the first to jump to her defence in the Lok Sabha and still fondly hopes that she will one day reopen the door that Rahul Gandhi has firmly shut on his face.

But we digress again. On December 29, 1989, Lalu Prasad Yadav was relentless in his assault on the Congress, more so on Rajiv Gandhi, and took vicarious pleasure by slyly mentioning Sonia Gandhi by name now and then, in total disregard of House rules which prohibit the naming of any person who is not present. “It is the Congress party which (has) engineered most of the riots, particularly in Bihar,” he thundered to the thumping of tables. “We shall expose their role in inciting communal riots,” he promised on behalf of the Government.

Listing the failures of the previous regime, he said, “Rajiv Gandhi failed to fulfil the promises which he made in regard to the development, unity and security of the country and protection of the Harijans and Muslims. This resulted in creating a gloomy situation in the country...” And, hence, the people voted (in 1989) for change.

“Change had become necessary because the responsibility of protecting the geographical boundaries of the country (sic)... was jeopardised by the Congress and Rajiv Gandhi,” Lalu Prasad Yadav explained, adding with a rhetorical flourish, “If we fail to safeguard the unity, integrity and the principle of secularism of our country, we cannot save the country from disintegration...”

And then came the full assault.

“Satyendra Narain Sinha became Chief Minister of Bihar, he failed to quell the riots in Hazaribagh... the procession of Ram Navami had passed off peacefully in front of the Jama Masjid of Hazaribagh. No Muslim had opposed the procession,” Lalu Prasad Yadav said, recalling the sequence of event, “Ram shila procession and Ram Navami procession passed off from there, but neither there was any riot nor anybody raised provocative slogans on that day. But later on an incident took place in Hazaribagh which triggered off disturbances in the entire State.”
So who or what was to blame? Read on.

“Rajiv Gandhi, accompanied by his wife Sonia Gandhi, went to participate in the Vaishali festival. They had put on bulletproof vests... Rajiv Gandhi told Sonia Gandhi that he himself would drive the jeep to see the celebrations,” Lalu Prasad Yadav explained with dramatic flourish, before coming to the consequences of that drive from Patna to Vaishali by the former Prime Minister and his wife.

“An announcement was made in regard to their security... Full security force was required all along the 60 km route from Patna to the place of celebrations. Wireless message was sent to the DM of Hazaribagh, wireless message was sent to the Collector also to send all the forces to Vaishali as Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi were coming to attend the celebrations,” he recounted, “Forces were picked up from Hazaribagh and sent to Vaishali. After three days riots took place between Hindus and Muslims. But no security forces were there to control the situation.”

And what about Darbhanga?

“They (the Congress) have spared no effort to put Bhagalpur, BJP, RSS and Janata Dal to disrepute,” Lalu Prasad Yadav said, charging the Congress, whose MPs were by then on their feet, with criminal subterfuge, “One thousand workers belonging to the Congress were called to Bahera (an Assembly constituency in Darbhanga) by Maithili Brahmins (a snide reference to Jagannath Mishra and what was then the Congress's core constituency in Bihar) and were asked to wear caps bearing slogans ‘Garv say kaho hum Hindu hain’ and ‘Radhe Shyam Baba ki Jai’.”

After a pause, he added with a condescending flourish, “You try to understand the actual position in Bhagalpur... Shiv Chander Jha, who was the Speaker, was deadly against Bhagwat Jha Azad (another Congress leader). It was due to them and a few of their men that these riots... (interruptions)... they were behind these riots.”

Researching communal violence in India can be a dreary and depressing experience. But it also has its illuminating moments. Reading the records of the debate in the Lok Sabha on December 29, 1989, was one such moment when the true face of ‘secular’ politics in India leapt out with venomous fangs exposed.

But all this, and much more, will not dissuade those who worship false gods of secularism.

(A related essay, Communal truth, secular lies, deals with Congress and its role in the Nellie massacre, the Meerut riots and the Maliana killings.)

[This is adapted from my article originally published by Rediff in 2005.]

Monday, September 19, 2011

Our intellectual Cossacks!

Non-stop rant against Narendra Modi!

The Left-liberal commentariat has gone to extraordinary length to prove Narendra Modi's three-day fast as part of his 'Sadbhavana Mission' was "meaningless" and "lacked credibility". In a democracy, opinion is free (though facts remain sacred) and we must learn to live with such outpouring of vitriol by those who claim to be 'unbiased' and 'bipartisan' but are exactly what they say they are not.

True, the hate-steeped commentary denouncing Narendra Modi is anything but fair criticism. It is hate speech aimed at vilifying, defaming and maligning a visionary leader who has changed the face of Gujarat and, if given the opportunity, will change the face of India by putting the country on the path of rapid development and equitable growth. But our commentariat thinks crass abuse is criticism. So be it.

Narendra Modi believes in India, he is proud of the nation and enthuses the country's youth. That rankles with the commentariat and activists, and understandably so.

But if Narendra Modi's three-day fast, which ended on Monday evening, was truly "meaningless" and of "no consequence", why did his critics, especially in the 'secular' media, expend so much time and energy in denouncing it? Logically, they should have just ignored the event.

The fact of the matter, as the cliche goes, is that the louder their criticism, the shriller their denunciation, the greater is their alarm and panic. The raucous cacophony of voices we have heard in media these past three days is a measure of the frustration among the self-righteous, sanctimonious critics of Narendra Modi.

Why else would they quote Ramvilas Paswan in their defence?

In my Sunday column, Coffee Break, of January 22, 2011, headlined 'India awaits the NaMo model', I had recalled a Cossack folktale while commenting on Narendra Modi's critics who can see nothing good or right about him:

A young Cossack, who was a gifted horseman, dreamed of owning the best steed in the village where he lived. So he toiled and saved money to buy his dream horse, and eagerly waited for the annual animal fair that was held in a nearby village. At last, the big day came and our young Cossack set off for the fair, dressed in his Sunday best. He inspected all the horses on sale and finally found a stallion with a flowing mane, flaring nostrils, rippling muscles and a glistening white fleece. This was the horse he had dreamt of and toiled for! The owner asked for a huge sum, our young Cossack paid the money without even bothering to haggle over the price. Horse bought, its proud new owner mounted the steed and cantered home. He rode straight to the village square where his fellow Cossacks gathered every Sunday evening for raucous drunken revelry, dismounted and called them over to show off his new horse. A collective gasp was heard as the Cossacks gathered around: None had seen a more handsome stallion than this. One of them patted the horse and praised his strength; another counted his teeth and declared he couldn’t be more than a year old; a third ran his fingers through the mane and sighed. The village elder was so impressed that he declared the stallion the official stud of the village horse collective and ordered a fresh round of vodka for everybody. Then along came the village cynic, who was also the local correspondent of Pravda and the designated Cossack ‘intellectual’. He walked around the horse, went back to where he had been sitting sipping vodka, struck a pose similar to Rodin’s Thinker, got up after a while, walked back to the horse, lifted its tail, sniffed and declared, in a stentorian voice similar to that in which judges give their final verdict, “The horse stinks.”
The non-stop rant in newspapers and on news telly these past three days shows the comparison between the Cossack in the folktale and our intellectual-activist Cossacks was not misplaced.

But as I said, we live in a democracy with plural voices. Freedom of speech is integral to our liberty. And the right of Narendra Modi's critics to make fools of themselves is their inalienable right.

Do let me know what you think.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

PLO pushes for judenrein

Fresh crisis brewing!
Back to the past in West Asia?

West Asia could be rapidly hurtling towards a fresh spell of violent upheaval centred around Israel whose impact would be felt in far corners of the world.

Among the manufactured grievances cited in justification of jihadi terrorism is the ‘Palestinian issue’ – any recrudescence of violence in the Palestinian territories of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank on account of belligerent brinkmanship in the name of statehood would be seized upon by Islamists of all shades in all countries.

The attack on the Embassy of Israel in Cairo which resulted in the Israeli Ambassador and other diplomatic staff of the mission being evacuated and flown to Israel was a precursor to the unfolding drama at the UN whose General Assembly begins its annual session on September 19.

The PLO is pushing for recognition as a full member state by the UN with Turkey furiously lobbying support for the move. This could be Turkey’s Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan’s moment to seize the leadership of West Asia which till now rested with Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Erdogan has lashed out at Israel at the Arab League, choosing to remain silent about the upheaval and its brutal suppression in Syria. If Erdogan succeeds, it would stymie Shia Iran’s efforts to emerge as the leader of Sunni Arabia.

Either way, Arabs seem to be surrendering the right to decide their destiny to the Turks and the Iranians. Meanwhile, the space for American intervention is disappearing rapidly.

Israel is understandably keen to prevent the PLO from going ahead with its move to secure the General Assembly’s recognition as a full state. Such unilateral declaration, if it were to happen, would kill all chances of a negotiated settlement and fan Palestinian adventurism, leading to both sides taking absolutist positions.

That’s undesirable.

A last minute attempt by the Americans to resolve the emerging crisis is unlikely to succeed. The Palestinians are apparently playing for broke.

The PLO’s Ambassador to the UN has gone to the extent of outlining the main feature of the proposed ‘Palestine’: It would not allow any Jew within its territory, making it the first state to officially prohibit Jews since Hitler ordered Germany to be cleansed of Jews and made judenrein.

A flicker of hope of averting a full-blown crisis with global ramifications was offered on Wednesday by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who is said to have reiterated terms for resuming the negotiations that have remained stalled since last year on account of Jewish settlers persisting with building new settlements in the West Bank.

According to the Jerusalem Post:
The Palestinian Authority will agree to return to peace negotiations with Israel if only one of two criteria they had previously set as pre-conditions for talks are reached: An immediate halt to all settlement construction or an Israeli declaration that the borders of the Palestinian state will be based on the pre-1967 lines with mutually agreed upon land swaps, a senior aide to PA President Mahmoud Abbas told Army Radio on Wednesday.
Will Israel, which has demonstrated wisdom in the face of Islamist belligerence in Egypt and declared that it remains committed to the Israel-Egypt Peace Accord, rise to the occasion and reach out to Abu Mazen? He still remains the best bet for achieving long-term peace through a negotiated settlement of a dispute that has festered too long and which needs to be prevented from being hijacked by Turkish and Iranian carpetbaggers.