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SACW | 2 July, 2003

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Wire | 2 July, 2003 #1. Minorities of Bangladesh: Victims of a Nation s Failure (Mohsin Siddique) #2. What Will They Do to Kashmir Now?
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2003
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      South Asia Citizens Wire | 2 July, 2003

      #1. Minorities of Bangladesh: Victims of a Nation's Failure (Mohsin Siddique)
      #2. What Will They Do to Kashmir Now? (K Balagopal)
      #3. Violence in Kashmir (edit, the Daily Times)
      #4. The core issue is not Kashmir, it is mutual suspicion - Circle of
      mistrust (Kuldip Nayar)
      #5. Pakistan's ideological abstract (Asma Khan Lone)
      #6. Indira's Emergency vs Advani's democracy (Jawed Naqvi)
      #7. India: Fixing witnesses? [in Gujarat] (Edit, The Hindu)
      #8. Flimsy Foundations: Theological Roots of Israel & Pakistan (Parsa
      Venkateshwar Rao Jr)
      #9. India Pakistan Arms Race and Militarisation Watch (IPARMW) # 123
      #10. Correspondence re 'The Aryan Connection' in SACW (July 1)



      To: uttorshuri@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [uttorshuri] On Secularism in Bangladesh

      I was invited to speak at a Seminar on Secularism in New York City (in
      Astoria/Queens) organized by a group of Bangladeshis on Sunday, 6/24/03.
      This is what I presented at the Seminar.

      Mohsin Siddique

      Minorities of Bangladesh: Victims of a Nation's Failure

      Mohsin Siddique

      Good Evening, Ladies and Gentlemen. My name is Mohsin Siddique, and I am
      from Maryland. I have lived in this country for many years. Since I am not
      from New York area, you do not know me. So, I would like to introduce
      myself a bit. I want to let you know that I am not a member of Awami
      League, or of BNP, or of Jamat, not even of the Communist Party. I am
      registered to vote in this country, but I am not a Democrat or a
      Republican. I am registered as an Independent in the state of Maryland.
      The point of all this is that as an Independent, I support policies and
      activities of any one if I agree with those, and criticize if I do not.

      I want to thank you very much for inviting me to participate in this
      discussion about secularism, the conditions of the minorities in
      Bangladesh and what we might be able to do about it. I am not a
      politician, and I have no power to do anything. Neither do I have any
      original perspective to offer on the deplorable state in which the
      minorities in Bangladesh find themselves, nor do I know any miracle
      solution to the problem. But I do have a voice, and I offer my voice of
      indignation against the poor treatment of the most vulnerable of its
      citizens. I am a citizen of Bangladesh, where I was born and raised. Its
      current and future state is of great concern to me and I would do what I
      can to change it for the better. I want to see it full-fill the promise it
      made at its birth; the promise was that we would create a secular and just
      society. Todayís Bangladesh is neither secular nor just; we would not have
      to have this seminar, if it were.

      I have not been in Bangladesh for a few years, so, I do not know how it
      feels to be there just now. However, it is clear from various reports that
      crime and anarchy is taking over the country, and the people are becoming
      increasingly powerless. I read that a few days ago, at a meeting organized
      by the Center for Policy Dialog in Dhaka, leaders of both the major
      parties admitted that their organizations have been taken over by the
      goondas. Yet, no oneís life is more insecure from threat of violence and
      no other community is more vulnerable than the religious minorities in
      Bangladesh, including the countryís tribal people. The attack on the
      minority community is relentless; not a single day goes by that the
      rapists, arsonists, religious fanatics or some other miscreants do not
      target the community. I just read about burning of yet another temple,
      this time in Fardidpur. The sad fact is that this has been going on since
      1947; and even sadder is the fact that though we all hoped that with the
      creation of Bangladesh, the situation would improve, it has not. The
      minorities were not better off under the post-liberation regimes of the
      Awami League, or when the military dictators took over, or under BNP. If
      one thing is constant in Bangladesh, it is the treatment of the minorities
      as if they do not belong in Bangladesh; they are viewed as 'problem'; they
      have never been treated as full citizens of Bangladesh in practice, and
      often in law. Some well known political leaders have even questioned the
      loyalty of the minority community to their motherland. And whoever speaks
      the truth about their ill treatment, is accused of anti-state activities
      or of creating a 'bad image' of Bangladesh, and harassed or jailed.
      Remember what happened to journalist Shariar Kabir?

      I have no doubt that the reason why the minorities are targeted is
      precisely because they are non-Muslims, they are numerically small,
      politically and economically weak. Their protection from attacks and
      atrocities is of lowest priority to the government. What disturbs me the
      most however is that the inferior status in which we have relegated our
      minority citizens is not something that seems to trouble the national
      conscience of Bangladesh. There are those who keep telling me that
      Bangladeshi Muslims are not communal, that they are tolerant people. I do
      not know what that means: we keep allowing atrocities to be committed
      against the minorities by the politicians, government officials, local
      pandas, etc., that we elect and tolerate; rape and stealing of properties,
      torment and destruction of religious sites, discrimination in jobs and
      opportunities, all happen with our knowledge. I think looking the other
      way when atrocities are committed against the minorities is a
      manifestation of communalism. Not to rise up in outrage against the
      barbaric treatments of fellow human beings, not to come to the defense and
      protection of our fellow citizens who happen to pray to different gods, is
      support of communalism. I recognize that there are non-communal people in
      Bangladesh and some political parties do protest, but they seem to have
      very little impact on policies or practices and on those who are
      determined to keep the minorities 'in their place'. The progressives have
      not had much success in mobilizing a critical mass of public opinion that
      translate into reversal of the rising tide of anti-secular sentiments and
      activities in the country. I believe that the majority, by their apathy
      towards the inhuman treatment of a segment of fellow citizens is playing a
      role that is similar to the Germansí apathy towards the anti-Semitism of
      the Nazis. It is not apathy without a price to the victims!

      As tragic is the situation - and I do not by any means wish to belittle
      the problems the minorities in Bangladesh face - in my opinion, it is
      symptomatic of a larger problem. I believe that the Bangladesh society has
      not confronted the rise of religious politics in Bangladesh, which begun
      almost immediately after the liberation. Those who opposed the creation of
      Bangladesh regrouped and under the cover of primacy of Islam in the
      constitution, begun their assault on progressive trends that propelled the
      liberation struggle. We did not learn from the Pakistan days the mistakes
      of emphasizing religion in public life in a society that is composed of
      people who are followers of many faiths. If we wanted an Islamic state,
      there was no reason to sacrifice hundreds and thousands of lives during
      the war of liberation and create Bangladesh: we already lived in an
      ìIslamic stateî: it was called Pakistan! I have no doubt that those who
      engineered the changes in the constitution did so to marginalize the
      religious minorities in Bangladesh and to turn them into second-class
      citizens. What else is the reason for this emphasis? There was absolutely
      no impediment for the majority Muslims to practice their religion in
      Bangladesh; there was no threat that any of their rights as citizens would
      be lessened in a secular democracy. There was no possibility that in
      electoral politics they would be relegated to minority status, even though
      in a democracy religion must not be the basis of electoral politics. Why
      then was this change necessary? It is clear from how politics has evolved
      in Bangladesh over the last 30+ years, that the reactionary Muslim
      Leaguers who created Pakistan and their more virulent incarnation, the
      fundamentalist or otherwise Islamist politicians of today have gained
      considerable influence in the country, and a pluralist multi-religious
      secular society is not on their agenda. I am convinced of what the
      ultimate goals of the extremists among them are: to steal whatever little
      properties the minorities own; to convert them to Islam; and, if that does
      not succeed, evict them from their ancestral homes. The emerging primacy
      of these forces in Bangladesh is a national failure.

      Those who sacrificed to create this country must not tolerate these
      efforts to redirect the country towards the old ways of Pakistan or worse;
      they cannot remain silent; they must act. People who use Islam to justify
      their personal political ambitions, and pursue reactionary, even primitive
      political agenda, ignore the realities of today, and refuse to see that we
      do not live in the Middle East of the 6th or 7th century. It would be
      wrong to assume that only those who belong to the avowedly religious
      parties have these ideas; many among the politicians who claim to be
      secular often justify the growing Islamization and fail to see the
      consequences. I am not an expert on Islam, but it is hard for me to
      believe that any religion would endorse humiliation and brutalization of
      another human being in its name. These same forces relentlessly and
      actively pursue or indirectly support and contribute to policies and
      activities that are undemocratic, regressive, and some times savage-like
      in their brutality. Their particular victims are women of Bangladesh who
      are trying to break out of their shackles that have kept them enslaved for
      centuries. They constantly harass the small progressive forces in the
      country, including independent journalists. I have no doubt that given an
      opportunity they will again annihilate the secular intellectual community
      as they did in 1971. Against the minorities, they are practicing what
      amounts to a form of ethnic cleansing, the way Islamists in Pakistan have
      done successfully. This is proven by the steady decline of the minority
      population in the country as the census reports indicate.

      I submit to you that in Bangladesh, at this stage in history, that is the
      fundamental struggle: between secular democracy and a religious state that
      seeks to impose on a heterogeneous population the monolithic way of life a
      few people think is Islamic. It diminishes the status of non-Muslims and
      other oppressed segments of the population, and erodes whatever we have
      left of the spirit that launched the liberation movement. How this is
      resolved will determine the future of the country. I fear that without the
      victory of secular democracy, in not too distant a future, the minority
      community in Bangladesh will be wiped out. Without victory in this battle,
      we are all doomed.

      Communalism of every kind is fundamentally opposed to human rights, and
      demand for the rights of the minorities is not a demand to diminish the
      rights of other communities. Neither is secularism anti-religion. Our
      struggle is to impress upon all segments of the society that we all,
      people of all religions and ethnicity, have the right to full and
      unconditional citizenship, full and unimpeded opportunity to succeed in
      economic, political, cultural and social life, and must have equal
      protection of the law and the state, not only in theory, but also in

      Only real solution is for Bangladesh to become what it promised to be: a
      truly secular democracy in constitution that de-emphasizes religion in
      public life, implement the promises, and consciously learn how to be a
      secular democracy. Anything less is a betrayal of the liberation struggle.
      'Islamic democracy' in any form would be a tragic farce for its victims,
      just as would be 'Hindu democracy' or 'Jewish democracy'! Whenever a
      country takes a religion as its credo, it ceases to be democratic, because
      it automatically causes the people of other faiths to be second-class
      citizens. Fundamental tenet of a democracy is the equality of all its
      citizens, without 'ifs' and 'buts'. Look at Israel, look at Pakistan, and
      look at Bangladesh: conditional democracy is inherently discriminatory.

      I suggest that we refuse to vote for any political party that does not
      commit to a secular democracy as itís expressed goal and does not commit
      to restoring the original constitution, because it is so fundamental to
      why this country was created. They must understand that a constitution
      that begins with a quotation from the holy book of one religion, and
      explicitly establishes it to be its 'state religion', can not but make the
      believers in other religions (and a few non-believers like myself)
      unwelcome in the public life of that country. This must change if
      Bangladesh wishes to be a secular, modern and progressive society. It is
      only then that all its citizens will have the sense of security of equal
      citizenship. We must recognize our historic political and moral failure in
      allowing abandonment of the promises of a secular polity and a just
      society that was the heart and sole of the bloody liberation struggle that
      made Bangladesh possible. Our commitment to restoring the country into a
      (secular) democracy that guarantees protection, equal rights and
      opportunities for all its citizens would be the true _expression of our

      The forces of democracy and progress that organized itself to fight the
      effort to dismantle the religious/undemocratic state called Pakistan must
      come together and resist the rising tide of reactionary, murderous,
      anti-democratic, anti-secular religious-political forces in the country.
      They are consolidating their political power, have already infiltrated the
      administration and the military, and are well financed by their
      ideological mentors in the Middle East to carry out their program of
      pogrom. Simply because the extremists may not have won the majority in the
      last election does not mean they are not growing, or they are not
      expanding their influence and spreading their tentacles. They have enough
      allies within the so-called non-religious parties to influence policies to
      steer the country towards their goals. Not exposing and taking the threat
      posed by them seriously, especially in a society with a history of
      communal strife, is not the way to create a secular society, or protect
      democracy or ensure human rights of all its people.

      What can the minority community do? I say, keep fighting. It is necessary
      to assert, by all available means, and relentlessly, that the non-Muslim
      population of Bangladesh has as much right as the Muslim community to full
      citizenship. We have to find ways to fight public apathy. We must launch
      activities that consciously confront explicit and implicit communal
      feelings, intolerance of other faiths and inhumanity of treating a segment
      of the society as second-class citizens. We know that political power is
      something one has to earn; no one gives it away. We have to keep finding
      ways, new ways, to figure out how to gain power. In politics, several
      factors determine the power of a community: its number, its organization,
      its ability to mobilize, its alliances, and its financial and other
      resources. In each area, we must take steps to make advances. It is
      essential that we continue to be part of the multi-religious secular
      democratic movement in the country. Without strengthening this movement,
      without success in mobilizing significant segment of the country's
      population under its banner, we have no chance. To do so, we have to fight
      the hopelessness that pervades the society, which I believe is the reason
      for the apathy. We have to demonstrate the benefits of real democracy,
      while exposing the hypocrisy and the inhumanity of a political system
      based on this or that religion.

      Those of us who live outside, have to do all we can to help make the
      democratic movement in the country stronger. We have to unite to do so, in
      Bangladesh and here, including this city. If we do not unite, if we waste
      our time and resources in bickering, infighting and fractious petty
      politics, we will not make any headway. Divisiveness among us will only
      strengthen the hands of the communalist anti-democratic forces. I think
      one of the reasons why we have failed in our goals we set out in 1971 is
      that the coalition that was formed to launch and lead the liberation
      struggle fell apart soon after. If we are serious about a secular
      democratic society, we need to recall the spirit of the liberation
      struggle, and reconstitute the kind of coalition that brought victory in

      I suggest ñ unless it is already underway - that we undertake a project,
      with the help of those who are engaged in this struggle inside the
      country, to document (perhaps a database) every incident of communal
      discrimination and communally motivated crime. It should be used to
      prepare annual reports to send to every single human rights group, heads
      of international donor organizations, and make available to the people and
      the lawmakers of the countries on whose charity Bangladesh depends. These
      reports should highlight the plight of the minorities in Bangladesh and
      demand that they donors require Bangladesh to take specific steps to
      protect the minorities and provide them with equal opportunities. We must
      bring every ounce of pressure we can master on the country and its
      government to stop attacks on the minority community. I completely reject
      the accusation that by focusing on the plight of the minorities we some
      how embarrass Bangladesh. It is inhuman to try to sweep under and justify
      treating minorities as second-class citizens by clinging to false
      prestige. If embarrassment is what is needed, let us use it. Let us lobby
      every human rights group, every politician in countries on which
      Bangladesh depends, to bring pressure on it to treat the minorities with
      dignity and as full citizens; to restore secular democracy; and, to
      prevent the rise of fundamentalism, aided by internal apologists and
      external financiers.

      Washington D.C. June 2003



      The Economic and Political Weekly (India)
      June 21, 2003

      What Will They Do to Kashmir Now?

      The several 'formulas' for peace doing the rounds all require only
      the satisfaction of India and Pakistan and the approval of the US.
      The Kashmiris themselves have no formula to offer. It may be because
      of political fatigue, or perhaps there is a deeper reason, for, to
      Kashmiris self-determination is in terms of the whole of the old
      state of Jammu and Kashmir. But this old idea of collective
      self-determination has not been kept alive by the social and
      political leaderships of the ethnic/linguistic sub-regions. The voice
      of 'azaadi' inevitably sounds like Kashmiri particularism easily
      conflated by interested parties with Muslim communalism.

      K Balagopal

      What will the US, India and Pakistan do to Kashmir? That is the
      proper order, the US first, India next and Pakistan last. What do
      they aim to do to Kashmir? For this time round, there is a certain
      apprehension (one can hardly call it hope) in the Valley and
      elsewhere in the state of Jammu and Kashmir that American interest in
      snuffing out the germinating grounds of Islamic militancy - rather
      than any Indo-Pak desire for peace - may well ensure some form of
      resolution of the 'Kashmir dispute'. Indeed the newspapers a few days
      ago reported an American official as having said that the Kashmir
      dispute would be resolved by December 2004. Whether that will be
      before or after finishing off Syria, the report does not clarify.

      However, even granting the sense of urgency that affects the US,
      ruled by a coterie described as Christian fundamentalists by even
      matter-of-fact analysts, whose faith teaches them to beware of the
      visits the sins they have committed are liable to pay them in time,
      and who therefore have reason to hurry and disinfect the breeding
      grounds of Islamic militancy before a few more fidayeen are sent
      westward, it may nevertheless appear that the apprehension that some
      thing is going to happen by way of resolution of the 'dispute' in the
      near future is misplaced. After all, India's offer of talks with
      Pakistan is hardly serious. Has not the union cabinet headed by Atal
      Behari Vajpayee set a record of sorts by way of double talk in the
      last few months in the matter of India's attitude towards Pakistan?

      Consider: its foreign minister begins by declaring quite out of the
      blue one day that Pakistan is a good candidate for pre-emptive
      strikes and India should do an Iraq on Pakistan. Its defence minister
      defends him, while cautioning that it is not yet official to say so.
      The prime minister keeps mum, but suddenly goes to Srinagar and makes
      a speech offering a mouthful of what the Kashmir press has described
      as boons, including offer of a hand of friendship and talks with
      Pakistan without any preconditions. And for good measure he adds that
      if this effort fails there will be no further efforts. That could
      either be taken as an index of his determination to make the talks a
      success, or else as a threat that there will be just one effort and
      then the Sinha-Fernandes formula will take over. The ambiguity just
      adds variety to the confusion.

      But as soon as the prime minister leaves the Valley for Hindustan, he
      adds the usual precondition to the offer of talks: that Pakistan
      should put an end to cross-border terrorism. That really takes it
      back to zero. But soon thereafter he gives an interview to Der
      Spiegel in which he dedicates himself to the success of the talks
      with such passion that he says he will quit if he fails. Just as one
      thought he was at last serious, he clarifies that quit does not mean
      quit and he will not say what it really means. A few days later, back
      in India again, he reduces the offer to an absurdity: we have talked
      of Kashmir in the past, so why not talk of Azad Kashmir this time?
      Musharraf can respond by suggesting that we discuss the future of the
      Vaishno Devi shrine thereafter. Seriously, does Vajpayee want the
      people of this country to believe that he expects Azad Kashmir to
      join India? It is believed in the 'shakhas' of the RSS, we know, but
      nobody outside those benighted places thinks so.

      So why should anybody hope/apprehend that anything at all is going to
      come of this offer of talks that vacillates between a nullity and a

      Other things being the same, nobody would. In the past, Kashmiris
      have expressed scepticism with their intellect and hope with their
      hearts every time talks have been proposed between the two countries.
      They greeted Agra with scepticism, but when Musharraf finally came
      over, 'glued to the TV' is how they describe themselves. In the end,
      the scepticism was justified, but the hope will probably never die.

      But after September 11, 2001, things are no more the same. The US,
      for a variety of reasons, wants peace between India and Pakistan.
      Some of the reasons have to do with both the real and imaginary fears
      of the hatred it has wantonly fostered in the hearts of Muslim
      peoples all over the world and the monsters that have arisen
      therefrom, and the others stem from plain old fashioned economic
      rationality. In fact, from the time of the rise of militancy in
      Kashmir, a section of its political representatives, more
      particularly those in the Hurriyat Conference inclined to Pakistan,
      have believed that economic rationality will impel the US to solve
      the Kashmir dispute. The logic (in my language, not that of any
      Hurriyat leader) goes as follows: the US wants free access to Central
      Asian mineral wealth which, in the face of an unfriendly Iran and a
      backward Afghanistan, requires the sea ports that Pakistan offers.
      Effective utilisation of this facility requires that Pakistan be a
      stable and peaceful society and economy. And that can never be
      guaranteed until Kashmir becomes quiet and India becomes irrelevant
      so that the clerics and the mujahideen who have used Kashmir to
      impose their rule on the minds and the streets (respectively) of
      Pakistan are rendered dispensable. The logic is persuasive, but it is
      remarkable that this rationality had to be supplemented by the dread
      of the Al Qaida to realise itself.

      All this adds up to the apprehension that the Americans may force
      some solution this time round. With some, to be frank, the
      apprehension is in fact a hope because a sizeable section of
      Kashmiris have reached the stage where they feel it does not matter
      how the dispute is resolved so long as the guns fall silent and they
      can stop dreading each dawn for the dead bodies it may bring home.
      But only some. If India has hoped that it has by now reduced all
      Kashmiris to this state, it is mistaken. For many, the apprehension
      is not a hope, it is the negation of hope. They do not want any
      solution that will cheat the memory of the thousands who have died
      these 13 years. In particular they do not want any resolution that
      has not heard them and has not sought their approval.

      But it is evident that the fixers who are active devising solutions
      are working with rulers and pencils drawing lines straight or crooked
      on the map partitioning the land one way or other to the mutual
      satisfaction of India and Pakistan, their proverbial rigidity
      rendered malleable under the weighty glare of America's eyes.
      'Formulas' are already doing the rounds, and there are rumours that
      India and Pakistan have already come to an understanding on making
      the LoC the border. Nobody knows how true this is, but this is indeed
      the favourite solution of what these days is being described as the
      'civil society' of both the countries. Whether one sees it as a just
      idea or not depends on what one is looking for. The well-meaning
      individuals who compose what is being called civil society are
      looking for peace and friendship between India and Pakistan. They are
      doing so for the sake of India and Pakistan. They are not looking for
      anything in particular for the Kashmiris, and are therefore
      unwittingly perhaps joining with the two governments in treating the
      region as a piece of mere territory. Nobody has as yet suggested
      putting this formula to vote in the affected region. On the contrary,
      Brijesh Mishra has been quoted as saying that 'when India and
      Pakistan sit down to talk there will be no third chair'. He is
      lying, of course, there will be an invisible third chair for George
      Bush or his appointee, but what that arrogant representative of
      India's Sangh parivar rulers means is that Kashmiris will have no
      place at the talks nor will their approval be sought for any proposed
      resolution of the territorial dispute that their lives have been
      reduced to by the two countries.

      Making the LoC the permanent border would have the consequence of
      forcing the Kashmiris of the Valley to reconcile themselves to India,
      in spite of the repeated expression of their unwillingness to accept
      that status. It would also mean permanently dividing the
      Pahari-speaking people between the Muzaffarabad region of Azad
      Kashmir and the Rajouri-Poonch region of India. That, surely, cannot
      be done behind their backs?

      Another formula under discussion is that proposed by Sardar Sikander
      Hayat Khan, the prime minister of Azad Kashmir. Until recently a
      support of the official Pakistani position that the whole of the
      (old) J and K belongs to Pakistan, he has now come up with the idea
      of making the river Chenab rather than the LoC the dividing line. The
      right bank of the Chenab will go to Pakistan and the left bank to
      India. It is evident that he is mainly concerned with ensuring that
      all people of his own community - Paharis of Muzaffarabad as well as
      Rajouri-Poonch - get into Pakistan, and his plan assures that. But in
      the process it forces the Valley into Pakistan, whereas it is
      doubtful that more than a minority would prefer joining Pakistan
      unless the third option of independence is closed to them. And
      moreover, the right bank of the Chenab includes also the almost
      totally Hindu Akhnoor tehsil of Jammu, whereas the left bank houses
      the Muslim-majority Kishtwar and Bhaderwah tehsils of Doda. These
      people cannot be thrown into Pakistan and India respectively without
      taking their view in the matter, merely because the Chenab happens to
      be a ready-made line that nature has already drawn on the map.

      Then there is another 'formula' credited to Bill Clinton, among whose
      unsuspected assets was, apparently, this ability to solve problems at
      a distance. This formula hands over to each country the pound of
      flesh it demands, excepting the Valley which is made self-governing
      under the joint supervision of the friends-to-be: Pakistan and India,
      with Uncle Sam looking over the shoulders, of course. Poor Kashmiris!
      is all one can say.

      Everybody has a 'formula', the common point of all the formulas being
      that they require only the satisfaction of India and Pakistan and the
      approval of the US. The Kashmiris alone have none. In a 10 days' tour
      of the state one was unable to elicit anything more specific from the
      Kashmiris than a determined reiteration that their right to
      self-determination shall be assured. One can put it down to fatigue,
      but it is also a fact that the Kashmiris have come to look to the
      Hurriyat Conference for all political responses on the supposition
      that it represents all shades of opinion that dispute their accession
      to India; the Hurriyat in turn, being in fact dominated by a few
      shades of opinion, has lent its political support to Pakistan's
      manoeuvres and is perforce tongue-tied when Pakistan is in a fix; and
      Pakistan is truly in a fix not knowing how to simultaneously please
      George Bush and the armed and unarmed clerics who have established a
      hold on its society by dint of their disruptive capacity if not
      actual mass following.

      There is another and a deeper reason too. The Kashmiris, when they
      talk of self-determination are inclined to think in terms of the
      whole of the old state of Jammu and Kashmir ruled by the heirs of
      Gulab Singh. So long as the discussion is centred on the UN
      resolutions, it is bound to be so. But after 55 years, that region
      has not remained what it was on October 26, 1947. And it cannot be
      said that the social and political leadership of any of the
      ethnic/linguistic sub-regions of that very diverse state (including
      the Kashmiri leadership) has striven to reach out to the others and
      keep alive the old idea of the right of collective self-determination
      for all of them. As a consequence, there is a certain ambiguity today
      regarding the meaning and indeed the very referent of that right.
      When Kashmiris talk of 'azaadi', the referent easily and
      unconsciously slides from the whole of the old J and K to the Valley
      and then to the Valley plus Muzaffarabad and back again to the whole
      of the old J and K. And the other regions are either indifferent or
      suspicious of the Kashmiris. Among those who still regard the old
      state of J and K as a meaningful political entity, Balraj Puri has
      been almost alone in pointing out to the intellectual and political
      leadership of the regions their failure to reach out to the other
      linguistic and ethnic groups in a spirit of mutuality and equity
      leading to the structuring of a federal and secular order that can
      help keep alive the historical sense of oneness of the state. This
      failure has meant that the voice of azaadi inevitably sounds like
      Kashmiri particularism, easily conflated by interested parties with
      Muslim communalism and separatism.

      Not that the Kashmiris carry upon themselves the moral burden of
      cajoling everybody else to join the movement for self-determination
      and thereby disprove the abuse of communalism thrown at them. They
      are under no such obligation, and their demand for
      self-determination, even if reduced to the Valley, makes perfect
      sense, but without such an effort from all sides the old state of J
      and K can no longer be a single collective referent for the demand of
      self-determination. As things stand today, why should anyone expect
      the people of Baltistan and Kathua to see themselves as co-citizens
      of a single state?

      A proposal suggested by the JKLF leader Amanullah Khan of Islamabad
      is significant in this background. Writing in the Kashmir Times, May
      6, 2003, he has suggested letting the whole of the old J and K area
      be a self-governing entity of a democratic, secular and federal
      character for 15 years, at the end of which a plebiscite may be held
      to decide whether they would like to join India or Pakistan or be
      independent. Perhaps the period of 15 years is meant for recreating
      the lost links between the regions and ethnic groups and recover the
      almost lost identity. As well as try out the experiment of
      coexistence within a single state of diverse ethnic/linguistic groups
      on the bais of a secular, democratic and federal polity. It is an
      attractive idea, especially coming at a time when such inclusivist
      idealism has become old fashioned and the narrowest exclusivism is
      the most rebellious attitude. Even so, it is doubtful that the
      Kathua-Jammu area will ever want to leave India, or the Mirpur area
      Pakistan. A one-point plebiscite to be determined by an overall
      majority may not be able to do justice to all. Too much has changed
      in the last 55 years for that. Amanullah Khan's proposal would
      however carry genuine meaning for Rajouri-Poonch, Muzaffarabad, the
      Valley and probably Doda as well.

      However, who is listening to Amanullah Khan? Or to anyone from the
      'disputed area'? It is this and not the correctness of any formula
      for resolving the 'dispute' that is primarily at issue today. Those
      who would resolve it do not even accept that the real 'dispute' is
      not between India and Pakistan. It began as a dispute between the
      people of Jammu and Kashmir and the contending states of India and
      Pakistan. Time may have reconciled some of the people to the disputed
      situation - the accession and its aftermath - but not all are
      reconciled to it, and the dispute today remains between those who
      disagree with it and the two beneficiary states. By pretending that
      the dispute is between them, the two states are able to ignore the
      people and talk of settling it between themselves. And now they have
      the assistance of the world's primary rogue state which believes in
      no democratic principles beyond its shores. This is today's problem
      in Kashmir: and we have no solution in sight.



      The Daily Times (Pakistan)
      July 01, 2003

      Violence in Kashmir

      The recent upswing in violence in Indian-held Kashmir is unfortunate.
      But it needs to be put in a context. Despite the peace initiative and
      some moves along the path to normalisation, it does not seem that
      India and Pakistan are prepared for a basic review of their policies
      relating to each other. This is how the land lies.
      India says it is ready for a peace dialogue with Pakistan. But the
      fact is that it has shown no inclination so far to take any bold
      steps in addressing the basic issues. Indeed, with the dust settling
      down on Mr Vajpayee's hand-of-friendship speech, it appears that New
      Delhi is merely interested in offsetting the costs of non-engagement.
      The old mantra of 'cross-border terrorism' is again being voiced even
      as the two sides have begun to recover lost ground. This hardly
      portends well for any serious peace efforts. Pakistan, too, cannot be
      absolved of its share of blame. General Pervez Musharraf had made a
      commitment to curb infiltration but not enough has been done on this
      score. Now we have to deal with the blowback effect of jihadi attacks
      on activists of Mufti Sayeed's ruling party in Indian-held Kashmir.
      The Mufti won the elections and is trying his best to convince New
      Delhi of the need to streamline its policy on Kashmir. The APHC, too,
      while staying out of the electoral process, has called for a
      political dialogue. Thus there is absolutely no need for anyone in
      Pakistan - officially or otherwise - to muddy the waters. And this is
      regardless of whether New Delhi is prepared to make a move on Kashmir
      or not at this stage.
      Peace is too important for the region to be sacrificed at the altar
      of immediate tactical moves. Policies always run their course and
      latching on to them well after they have been exhausted shows an
      inability to perceive the correct exit point. There was some sense
      that Pakistan was coming round to appreciating the logic of working
      around the problem. That would have involved engaging India on
      multiple fronts, including trade and other exchanges, rather than
      simply focusing on Kashmir. But if violence is to continue or show an
      upswing, as it has done in the last two days in Indian-held Kashmir
      at the behest of the jihadis, the whole exercise could fall by the
      This is the catch 22. Both states seem to be caught in the dynamics
      of their own making. The only way out of this cycle is to
      fundamentally alter perceptions on both sides. India being the bigger
      of the two should have been bold enough to alter the paradigm but
      despite its desire to be accepted as a big power it has failed so far
      to get rid of the pathology of a small power. In South Asia we seem
      to think that conceding ground to an adversary shows weakness.
      Nothing could be further from truth. Yet, both sides think that the
      other is merely buying time even as both ultimately fail to review
      policies substantively.
      The reality in Kashmir may also be changing. There is clear
      indication that Kashmiris are sick of the way the two countries have
      treated them. The Indian security forces have acted shamelessly and
      there is absolutely no doubt in any Indian's mind that the Kashmiris
      have had to bear the full brunt of India's military might and its
      excesses. Yet, there should also be no doubt in any Pakistani's mind
      that the Kashmiris equally abhor the extremist Islamist groups whose
      cadres say they are fighting for Kashmir's independence from India
      but want to chain the state in a literalist exegesis of Islam that is
      anathema to the Kashmiris and does not jibe with the traditional
      moderation of Kashmiri Muslims. *



      The Indian Express
      July 01, 2003

      The core issue is not Kashmir, it is mutual suspicion
      Circle of mistrust
      Kuldip Nayar



      The Hindu (India)
      July 02, 2003

      Pakistan's ideological abstract
      By Asma Khan Lone

      Pakistan's slide towards fundamentalism is in reality a reaction to
      class discrimination...



      July 1, 2003

      Indira's Emergency vs Advani's democracy
      By Jawed Naqvi

      Mrs Indira Gandhi locked up India's so-called strongman, Mr Lal
      Krishan Advani, on June 26, 1975, the day she declared her
      controversial Emergency rule. He was picked up in Bangalore and later
      lodged in the Rohtak Jail in Haryana, a veritable hellhole, for much
      of his imprisonment.
      Mr Advani was one of several opposition leaders who spent all or most
      of the 19 months of Mrs Gandhi's authoritarian rule in different
      prisons across the country. Every year since then, Mr Advani has
      found a ruse to remind us of his undemocratic ordeal. This year too,
      on June 26, he visited the Rohtak Jail with the usual media ensemble
      in attendance. He also got state TV to narrate the sequence of events
      that led to the suspension of civil liberties by Mrs Gandhi. The
      programme lasted an entire day. It's election time and these things
      After he was freed from prison, Mr Advani became information and
      broadcasting minister in the Janata Party government that removed Mrs
      Gandhi from power. She had miscalculated the national mood and called
      elections in mid-1977. She lost. It was a big day for Indian
      democracy. It had narrowly survived what could have been a close
      call. But what did Mr Advani do next? He promptly did as a democrat
      what Mrs Gandhi hesitated to do as a dictator. Within days of its
      inauguration, his government banned four school textbooks that were
      written by world acclaimed professors, including Messrs Bipan
      Chandra, R.S. Sharma and Romila Thapar.
      Hindutva is an ideology that equates the demolition of desolate
      mosques with national awakening. But in some ways Mr Advani came to
      practise his ideology years before his fanatical followers tore down
      the Babri Mosque in Dec 1992. Banning the books was one such.
      Before he became a politician Mr Advani was a film critic. He seemed
      to know his subject when as information minister he chose to show on
      Doordarshan one of the most brazenly communal films made in Hindi
      cinema, Swayam Siddha.
      It is a 1950s film about a Hindu woman's zeal to drive out Christian
      missionaries from her village to purify her motherland. As bonus, in
      the process of her exorcism, her deaf and mute husband is cured. The
      issue became one of several that drove a wedge between Mr Advani's
      loyalty to his ideology and his commitment to democracy via the
      Janata Party experiment. He chose the former. The government
      How do Mr Advani's democratic precepts that he always takes care to
      wear on his sleeves compare with Mrs Gandhi's straight from the
      heart, unpretentious fling with dictatorship? Mrs Gandhi overrode
      parliament and jailed her foes. She then used her contrived majority
      in parliament to shape the constitution to suit her purposes such as
      they were. It is rumoured that she also influenced the Supreme Court
      to vacate her indictment by the Allahabad High Court, which had set
      aside her election from Rae Bareily, an issue that prompted the
      Mrs Gandhi had used a cocktail of draconian laws to hunt her
      quarries. They included MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act),
      COFEPOSA, a law ostensibly to track and check smuggling, and the
      Defence of India Rules. Of these MISA was the most notorious. Mr
      Advani in his turn had no need for the multiplicity of laws, so he
      reduced them to just one, POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act). Mrs
      Gandhi had manipulated the provisions of parliamentary democracy to
      push her way past the opposition. Mr Advani used parliamentary
      loopholes to reach there. He got Prime Minister Vajpayee to summon a
      joint session of parliament after the Congress blocked the passage of
      POTA in the Rajya Sabha. Mr Advani got the bill passed.
      Nowadays, Mr Advani's allies are using POTA freely to fix their
      rivals. The chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are prime
      examples of this abuse, not to speak of Gujarat. If Mrs Gandhi used
      her political power to tame the Supreme Court, Mr Advani used the
      street power of his hordes to reduce the apex court to a helpless
      bystander. That is how the mosque was demolished in Ayodhya. Of
      course there is not a trick in the legal armoury that he has not
      apparently used to delay and deny justice in the matter. He is one of
      the accused in the demolition trial.
      Mrs Gandhi's minions used the Emergency to harass their rivals. Mr
      Advani's cohorts are so brazen they do not need the cover of an
      emergency. Nor do they stop at mere harassment. They rape, burn, kill
      in the name of saving democracy as they did in Gujarat. They then
      seek shelter under the law of the land. That is how a day after Mr
      Advani took his ritual walk down memory lane inside a jail, a local
      court in Baroda allowed 21 men accused of mass murder inside a bakery
      during the February-March pogroms in Gujarat last year to walk free.
      The reason? The key witness, a Muslim woman, had turned hostile
      because she was reportedly too frightened to stand by her charge.
      This was the first case among several that are dealing with the
      carnage. They are all hanging fire. The outcome is cynically known.
      When Mr Advani was imprisoned, he had been a leading participant in a
      nationwide campaign to topple Mrs Gandhi. She accused the press also
      of collusion against her and therefore jailed several journalists and
      imposed strict censorship. But Mr Advani says he believes in
      democracy. So he allows two hapless journalists, Iftikhar Gilani and
      Kumar Badal, to rot in prison over allegations that they had abused
      their privilege as free citizens under his dispensation to harm the
      interests of the state. Iftikhar was picked up in June last year on
      fake charges of espionage and Kumar was next in July for allegedly
      poaching animals. They were freed earlier this year.
      Mr Advani's experiment with his peculiar form of democracy is not
      over yet. His government has caused the closure of the Tehelka
      website, the only news medium that dared to expose the government's
      corrupt ways with hard evidence. Offices of the Outlook magazine were
      raided ostensibly to discipline the editor. And so the experiment
      trundles on. And it has lasted more than Mrs Gandhi's 19 months.



      The Hindu (India)
      July 01, 2003

      Fixing witnesses?

      THE ACQUITTAL OF all the 21 accused in the Best Bakery fire, which
      was part of the post-Godhra Gujarat carnage, is the culmination of a
      sloppy prosecution marred by interference from members of the ruling
      establishment. After crucial witnesses turned hostile during the
      trial in the fast-track court in Vadodara, the Best Bakery case was
      perhaps fated to fail. But the intervention of a BJP member of the
      Assembly, Madhu Shrivastava, who escorted the main complainant,
      Zahira Sheikh, to the court on the day she went back on her charges,
      raises apprehensions about intimidation of witnesses having played a
      decisive role in the outcome of the trial. Mr. Shrivastava, who
      claimed he was only "protecting" Zahira Sheikh and her family from
      anti-social elements, was present in the court through the trial.
      Indeed, he showed a more than ordinary interest in clearing the
      accused of the charges originally made by those in his "protection".
      The trial took on a farcical character with some of the witnesses
      describing as "saviours" the very same persons whom they had
      initially identified as the perpetrators of the crime. The facts and
      circumstances of the fire, which claimed at least 12 human lives,
      were well documented with the survivors recounting their ordeal
      before the National Human Rights Commission, the Government-appointed
      Commission of Inquiry, the Concerned Citizens Tribunal and the
      national media. However, everything changed the moment Mr.
      Shrivastava came on the scene and took the witnesses in his
      "protective" custody.

      The acquittal aside, what is disconcerting is that the sessions
      judge, H.U. Mahida, made no comment about the conduct of the
      witnesses. The prosecution was faulted, not for its inability to fix
      the charges on the accused, but for "fabricating" the accounts of the
      witnesses. Investigation of any riot case is difficult, as the police
      have to rely almost entirely on the accounts of the witnesses. In the
      Bakery case, Zahira Sheikh had voluntarily deposed against the
      accused in several public fora before retracting her deposition in
      court. That should have been sufficient cause for suspecting
      manipulation of the judicial process. To add to the intrigue, Zahira
      Sheikh was not immediately traceable after the verdict. In an already
      terrorised atmosphere, as in post-Godhra Gujarat, the witnesses are
      no doubt susceptible to intimidation and influence. Unfortunately,
      this aspect does not appear to have received the required attention
      during the trial stage.

      If such a high-profile case can collapse so easily, there is reason
      to believe that other cases registered in connection with the Gujarat
      riots might go the same way. If anything, the interference of the
      ruling establishment would be more in cases on the Naroda-Patiya and
      Gulmarg Society incidents, in which ruling party MLAs and VHP and
      Bajrang Dal leaders have been listed as accused. As the former Union
      Minister and National Conference leader, Omar Abdullah, has pointed
      out, the acquittal contrasts sharply with the detention, under the
      Prevention of Terrorism Act, of the accused in the Godhra
      train-burning case. In the end, the verdict in the Bakery case has
      only contributed to scepticism about a free investigation of the
      riots followed by a fair trial of the accused. Thus, it is imperative
      for the Government legal department to take steps to appeal against
      the acquittal. Otherwise, allegations of State complicity in the
      post-Godhra pogroms will stand confirmed, and the Bakery case will be
      a dangerous precedent for witnesses and investigators.



      The Times of India, July 2, 2003
      Flimsy Foundations: Theological Roots of Israel & Pakistan



      India Pakistan Arms Race and Militarisation Watch (IPARMW) # 123
      2 July 2003


      #10. [Correspondence]
      Subject: Re: SACW | 1 July, 2003

      >From Brian Cloughley

      In His article 'The Aryan Connection' (1 July) Mr Satya Sagar
      states "I know all about the Balfour declaration of 1917 (who the
      hell were the British to 'promise' Palestine to a handful of
      Zionists) . . . "

      Alas Mr Sagar does not know all about the Balfour Declaration, which
      was sent in letter form to Lord Rothschild, dated 2 November 1917,
      and stated:

      "Her Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in
      Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people . . . "

      This was not a promise, as the British government could not make such
      a promise. Neither could any other government. The British
      government was asked to make clear its stance and did so.

      The support offered concerning the 'national home' was dependent on
      "it being clearly understood that nothing may be done which shall
      prejudice the civil and religious rights of the non-Jewish community
      . . . "

      SACW is an admirable organisation with total credibility. I hope
      that this error may be publicised.

      Best wishes,
      Brian Cloughley

      o o o

      Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2003 04:41:22 -0700 (PDT)
      From: Satya Sagar
      Subject: Re: Response to Aryan Connection - Fwd: Re: SACW | 1 July, 2003

      Mr Cloughley is 'technically' correct regarding his point that the
      Balfour Declaration does not mention the word 'promise' anywhere and
      that the 'British government nor any other government could not make
      such a promise'.

      But first can I ask please what does it amount to, if not a
      'promise', when Britain, the world's only superpower in 1917,:

      a) Becomes the first major country to recognize in principle
      even the idea of a 'national home for the Jewish people'?

      b) Says explicitly in the Balfour declaration that Her Majesty's
      government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a
      national home for the Jewish people.

      c) Galvanizes the Zionists at that time to fight for a Jewish
      homeland. Balfourís letter to Lord Rothschild clearly refers to the
      Declaration as a 'declaration of our sympathy with Jewish Zionist
      aspirations'. The Zionists definitely understood the Balfour
      declaration as almost complete British support for their cause leave
      alone being a mere promise.

      The fact that the British did not have the 'right' to make such a
      promise is irrelevant because that is not the way real history
      happens and besides imperialism has never been about rule of law or
      'rights' of any kind anyway. The fork-tongued British Imperialists
      reshaped the maps of the entire world in their own interests all the
      time while always being very 'proper' in their use of the English

      As for the 'civil and religious rights of the non-Jewish community'
      let me quote from Lord Arthur Balfour talking about Palestine a mere
      two years after his famous Declaration 'The four great powers are
      committed to Zionism and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad,
      is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes,
      of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the
      700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land' ( via Noam Chomsky
      in the Fateful Triangle, pg.90, South End Press)

      Hope this settles Mr Cloughley's semantic confusion and undoes his
      perception that my article in any way has harmed SACW's credibility.

      Yours truly

      Satya Sagar


      SACW is an informal, independent & non-profit citizens wire service
      run since 1998 by
      South Asia Citizens Web (www.mnet.fr/aiindex).
      The complete SACW archive is available at: http://sacw.insaf.net

      DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
      necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.
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