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SACW | Feb. 16 - April 9, 2008 /

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Wire | February 16- April 9, 2008 | Dispatch No. 2501 - Year 10 running [1] Pakistan: (i) The boycott revisited (S. Akbar Zaidi and Afiya
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 8 5:02 PM
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      South Asia Citizens Wire | February 16- April 9,
      2008 | Dispatch No. 2501 - Year 10 running

      [1] Pakistan:
      (i) The boycott revisited (S. Akbar Zaidi and Afiya S. Zia)
      (ii) They Only Know How To Kill (Pervez Hoodbhoy)
      [2] India and Nepal's Constituent Assembly (Kanak Mani Dixit)
      [3] Bangladesh:
      (i) Try telling Bangladeshis that elections are
      bad for the poor (Polly Toynbee)
      (ii) Moeen as Bangladesh's Musharraf (J. Sri Raman)
      [4] International People's Tribunal On Human
      Rights And Justice In Indian-Administered Kashmir
      [5] India: On the Recent Attack on Historians by Hindutva Fundamentalists
      - Response to Sangh objections on AK Ramanujan's History text
      - An email account of violence and intimidation
      by Hindutva activists against Delhi's historians
      - Sahmat's statement re ABVP's assault on the
      Department of History, Delhi University
      - How many Ramayanas? I am for many Ramayanas (DP Satish)
      [6] Book Review: Witness to folly - An account of
      the mess created by India and Pakistan in Siachen
      (AG Noorani)
      [7] Publication Announcement: Essays on Federalism in Sri Lanka

      ______


      [1]

      Dawn
      April 01, 2008

      THE BOYCOTT REVISITED

      by S. Akbar Zaidi and Afiya S. Zia

      MANY of us, who come from very different
      backgrounds - academics, analysts, activists,
      citizens - argued over the course of October and
      November last year that civil society actors and
      political parties ought to boycott the elections
      which were announced by Gen Pervez Musharraf, and
      which were eventually held on Feb 18.

      It was clear that once the term of the Shaukat
      Aziz government came to an end, elections would
      be held to elect a new parliament.

      In the closing months of last year, political
      groupings like the All Parties Democratic
      Movement and the Pakistan Muslim League-N
      announced that they would not contest the polls,
      primarily because they felt that the elections
      would be neither free nor fair, and nor were
      these parties willing to accept any rules of the
      game announced by the uniformed general-president.

      The efficacy of the decision depended much on
      whether the Pakistan People's Party would also
      come on board and hence give some credence to the
      boycott call. Many were sceptical that if either
      of the two largest parties chose to participate
      in the elections, they would gain legitimacy and
      those who boycotted would be left out of the
      political process.

      Eventually, both the two largest parties agreed
      to contest an election which resulted in a
      resounding victory for the anti-Musharraf
      political forces and put Pakistan on the way to a
      military-free democratic future. Today, we can
      all celebrate the democratic process and look
      back and say that the decision to contest was the
      best decision that political parties could have
      taken.

      Two weeks into the swearing-in of the new
      parliament, it seems that almost all the fears
      and concerns that the boycotters were allaying
      have been proven to be wrong. The judges are
      free, and are likely to be reinstated, and
      President Musharraf just might be pressurised
      into make some sort of hurried exit. The script
      could not have been written any better and
      democracy seems to have triumphed over all other
      forms of politics.

      Having said this, it would be naïve to think that
      the parties are taking these steps in a vacuum.
      There is no ignoring the momentum and
      uncompromised push for these demands coming
      consistently from the lawyers' movement, civil
      society and perhaps within the parties too. In
      fact, rather than waiting detachedly for some
      unproven exercise of sovereignty from parliament,
      the people chose to actively vote out the
      government and then exerted continued political
      pressure for their demands to be met.

      It is only a small section of those we call the
      'apologists' within and outside the political
      parties who seek to dilute principles and
      encourage leaders to backtrack on promises for
      their personal gain, and who call democratic
      pressure a 'confrontation'.

      Those of us who were in favour of the election
      boycott were under no illusions that we were
      anywhere near a revolutionary situation similar
      to France in 1789, or even 1968, but felt that a
      boycott by the main political actors would put
      enough pressure on the Musharraf government where
      it would have to back down and make major
      concessions. The lawyers' movement was still
      vibrant, and the Nov 3 martial law and the
      playing with the constitution under the PCO
      energised and united diverse sections of civil
      society and political actors as well.

      We were confident that had the PPP joined the
      lawyers' struggle and been more active in its
      anti-Musharraf politics rather than indulging in
      deals, perhaps the general may have been forced
      out earlier. The boycott decision was based on a
      reading of the limited strength of the street,
      and had the two largest parties participated we
      could have been near an Indonesia- or
      Philippines-like situation where political power
      overthrew authoritarianism.

      We will never know what would have happened if
      both the PPP and the PML-N had agreed in November
      2007 to work together to boycott the polls. If
      agreements and a workable coalition can be formed
      after the election, a more uncertain and unstable
      agreement could have been possible in agreeing to
      boycott. However, we will never know.

      While the boycott decision may have become far
      less important as the numbers who supported the
      move dwindled, and more and more political actors
      and civil society representatives decided to
      contest or support the elections, if nothing else
      the boycott issue did raise the level of debate
      and exchange in the political public arena.

      While there was a complete consensus in
      condemning the martial law imposed on Nov 3, and
      there was continued support for the lawyers'
      movement with the reinstatement of the judges a
      real demand, the divisions amongst those who were
      in favour of boycotting the elections and those
      who supported participation raised the level of
      discourse in the Urdu and English press manifold.
      There was a lively debate not seen since the time
      of the 1999 coup - and even that was rather
      one-sided, in favour of the coup. The op-ed pages
      of all major newspapers had raised the level of
      debate and argumentation to a lively level not
      seen in many years. The otherwise dry and staid
      political public sphere had come alive.

      This taste for political debate acquired by the
      media has also been simultaneously attributed to
      Gen Musharraf's personal largesse and equally
      dismissed as cacophonic laundry washing by the
      elite. The point of democratic choices and
      transparency, as articulated by the fourth
      estate, needs to be dealt with carefully now on.
      There should be no calls for going soft on the
      new parliament simply because it is nebulous in
      its formation. The democratic role of the media
      must by definition be challenging and expository
      rather than conciliatory and uncritical.

      Many of us who supported the boycott decision are
      now happy to have been proven wrong, and support
      the larger democratic process to further
      strengthen and deepen both democracy and civil
      society. We recognise, however, the role of the
      movements which helped bring about this new
      democratisation in Pakistan beyond electoral
      politics. We hope that the processes under way
      and the promises made will move towards a further
      fruition of democracy with the reinstatement of
      the pre-Nov 3 judiciary and with the removal of
      the former general-president who was resoundingly
      defeated in the Feb 18 elections.

      Those who argued for the elections boycott now
      need to organise themselves democratically to
      fulfil the unfinished agenda of democratisation
      in Pakistan and to ensure that these tasks are
      accomplished. Clearly, democracy has to be taken
      far further than before and needs to be
      strengthened. If parliament is to be sovereign -
      the new mantra of the elected representatives -
      the role of those outside the assembly has to be
      one which ensures that parliamentarians
      accomplish their democratic mandate.

      And if they don't state or tackle the peoples'
      issues due to fear of being de-tracked, then it
      is our work to set the agenda for them - on
      behalf of the electorate, not the elected. While
      happy to have been proven wrong over the boycott
      decision, we would hate to turn around a hundred
      days later to say, 'we told you so'.

      o o o

      Times of India
      12 March 2008

      THEY ONLY KNOW HOW TO KILL

      by Pervez Hoodbhoy

      ISLAMABAD: A drone is a semi-autonomous,
      self-propelled system controlled by an external
      intelligence. Suitably equipped handlers guide it
      towards an assigned target. The MQ-1B General
      Dynamics Predator, connected to high-flying US
      military surveillance satellites, differs from
      the low-tech mullah-trained human drone produced
      in Pakistani madrassas. But they share a common
      characteristic. Neither asks why they must kill.

      Drones, machine and human, have drenched Pakistan
      with the blood of innocents. In 2006, a bevy of
      MQ-1Bs hovering over Damadola launched a barrage
      of 10 Hellfire missiles, costing $60,000 apiece,
      at the village below. They blew up 18 local
      people, including five women and five children.
      The blame was put on faulty local intelligence.
      The same year, a Hellfire missile hit a madrassa
      in Bajaur killing between 80 and 85 people,
      mostly students. Pervez Musharraf's credibility
      stood so low that few believed his claim that
      those killed were training to become Al-Qaida
      militants. Indeed, while these space-age weapons
      have occasionally eliminated a few Al-Qaida men,
      such as Abu Laith al-Libi in January 2008, the
      more usual outcome has been flattened houses,
      dead and maimed children, and a growing tribal
      population that seeks revenge against Pakistan
      and the US.

      The indigenous human drone, equipped with an
      explosive vest surrounded with ball bearings and
      nails, has left a far bloodier trail. Six suicide
      attacks in 2006 turned into 62 in 2007. According
      to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, at least
      1,523 civilians were killed in terror-related
      violence last year. Those praying in mosques or
      at funerals have been no safer than others at
      political rallies. Beards, and prayer marks on
      foreheads, are no protection either.

      This drone does not need to know why and who he
      must kill. Only how. A spine-chilling suicide
      bomber training video illustrates this. It is one
      of the several videos that freely circulate in
      Pakistan's tribal areas, watched by a population
      hostile to Pakistan's armed forces. About 30
      masked fighters are filmed in this video,
      training in some barren, mountainous area. One
      fighter, randomly selected by their leader,
      proceeds to climb a huge rock, perhaps 100 feet
      high. He reaches the highest point, and then
      stands motionless. His arms are outstretched as
      though on a diving board, awaiting the signal
      from below. Subsequently, without hesitation, and
      without closing his eyes, he launches himself
      onto the ground below.

      The camera cuts to the still body lying on the
      blood-soaked ground. It then slowly pans over the
      faces of the other masked fighters. Their eyes
      betray no emotion. A second signal from the
      leader, and they trot military-style to the body,
      dig a shallow grave, toss their dead comrade into
      it, and cover it up. They then march over the
      grave several times, chanting Quranic verses. Why
      sacrifice a human life for a few minutes of
      footage? English subtitles make obvious that this
      is for propaganda. The message: this group's
      fighters have overcome the fear of death, and
      have willingly surrendered to the group leader
      their individual powers to reason and decide.

      While the murder of innocents by the MQ-1B has
      led to much condemnation in Pakistan, the far
      greater carnage left by suicide bombers has
      provoked only mild criticism. A few editorials,
      mostly in English language newspapers, have been
      forthright but there have been no street protests.

      On the other hand, implicit justifications
      abound. In January 2008, 30 leading Deobandi
      religious scholars, while declaring suicide
      attacks "haram", rationalised these as a mere
      reaction to the government's wrong policies in
      the tribal areas. They concluded: "A peaceful
      demand for implementing Shariah was not only
      rejected but the government was also not willing
      to give ear to any reasoning based on Qur'an and
      Sunna in support of the sharia demand.
      Apparently, these circumstances led some minds to
      the frustration that manifested itself in suicide
      attacks".

      What message are these ulema sending?

      That Pakistanis should surrender to Islamic
      extremists and adopt the sharia to avoid being
      attacked? This amounts to encouragement and
      incitement. Why do Pakistanis suddenly lose their
      voice when it comes to suicide bombings? First,
      the bomber - even if he kills pious Muslims or
      even those in the act of prayer - kills in the
      name of Islam. Therefore, people mute their
      criticism lest they be regarded as irreligious or
      even blasphemous.

      Second, many believe that suicide attacks will
      disappear if Pakistan withdraws from a war
      against terror that is not Pakistan's but
      America's. But most of the dead and wounded are
      perfectly ordinary people. They had nothing to do
      with American or Pakistani forces. Even if
      America retreats - which is unlikely - Pakistan
      is now unable to escape the terrible consequences
      of a weapon developed to bleed India and to
      secure Afghanistan for "strategic depth".

      Unfortunately, few Pakistanis accept that more
      and more crazed mullahs have created cults around
      themselves and seized control over the minds of
      worshippers. An enabling environment of poverty,
      deprivation, lack of justice and extreme
      differences of wealth is perfect for demagogues.

      As the mullah's indoctrination gains strength,
      the power to reason weakens. The world of the
      follower becomes increasingly divided into
      absolute good and absolute evil. Doubt is
      replaced by certainty, moral sensibilities are
      blunted, the sensation of pain to oneself and
      others disappears, and the metamorphosis from
      human to drone becomes complete. The writer
      teaches at Quaid-e-Azam University.

      ______


      [2]

      The Hindu
      March 7, 2008

      INDIA AND NEPAL'S CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY

      by Kanak Mani Dixit

      The Indian government is duty-bound to prevent
      the criminal-militant nexus from using Bihar and
      Uttar Pradesh as a base from which to threaten
      the Constituent Assembly process in Nepal.

      The citizens of Nepal go in for Constituent
      Assembly elections on April 10, to put in place a
      601-member House that has the dual responsibility
      of drafting a new constitution and serving as
      Parliament during the interim. The Constituent
      Assembly is a necessary condition for the country
      to achieve political stability, sustainable peace
      and a return to pluralism, nine years after the
      last general elections. In between, the
      population has suffered the Maoist "people 217;s
      war," a dirty reaction by the state, the
      autocracy of Gyanendra, an unprecedented people's
      movement that rejected royal autocracy and Maoist
      violence, and heightened identity-based
      assertions that continue to this day. The hope is
      that the Constituent Assembly will define a
      democratic constitution that will simultaneously
      address the many conflicting and complementary
      demands of marginalised minorities and, at long
      last, provide stable politics as a platform for
      economic progress.

      India too seeks stability in this country that
      runs along the northern frontier of Uttar Pradesh
      and Bihar, and it has done its bit as an
      interlocutor in the recent past. Having
      facilitated the discussions in New Delhi in the
      autumn of 2005 that brought the Maoists to an
      understanding with the parliamentary parties, New
      Delhi is now asked, specifically, to rein in
      militants who have been engaged in bombings and
      targeted killings in Nepal's Tarai plains while
      taking refuge across the open border. These
      militants - most importantly the one known as the
      Janatantrik Mukti Morcha-Jwala Singh - hold the
      ability to destabilise the country as it goes in
      for elections.

      Meanwhile, the Indian intelligentsia should be
      alert to attempts by Hindutva forces, especially
      political elements along the borderland, to force
      their agenda on the Nepali people. This January,
      L.K. Advani of the Bharatiya Janata Party
      launched a blistering attack on the UPA's Nepal
      policy and advocated a Hindu monarchy, while
      exaggerating links between Nepal's Maoists and
      Indian naxalites.

      To be sure, there are more than enough extremist
      threats to the polls from within Nepal. Having
      come to open politics barely two years ago, the
      Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is capable of
      widespread intimidation during its first
      electoral exercise, to try to stave off
      humiliation at the ballot box. The polls could
      also be destabilised by a welter of violent
      newborn groups. Many of these are receiving
      encouragement, if not support, from the
      royalists, who believe (correctly) that the
      political parties will use the Constituent
      Assembly to do away with the monarchy once and
      for all.

      While the Maoists, militants and
      arch-conservatives within Nepal are to be tackled
      domestically, it is the responsibility of the
      Indian authorities to halt the ongoing activities
      of the JTMM-JS, which over the past two years
      have operated with impunity from Indian towns
      such as Sitamarhi, Raxaul, Darbhanga and
      Gorakhpur. The State governments in Patna and
      Lucknow must not allow local politics to wreck
      Nepal's return to normalcy. It must also insist
      that the Madhesi militants lay down arms and talk
      to Kathmandu, or at the very least submit to a
      ceasefire. New Delhi has the clout, and should
      put it to good use when so much is at stake.
      Madhes rises

      The mass upsurge of the People's Movement of
      April 2006 sought peace and pluralism, and
      mandated the writing of a new constitution to
      redraw state-society relations. What is known as
      the Madhes Movement of last winter was a
      spontaneous uprising by the people of
      Tarai-plains origin who have long felt excluded
      amidst the highlander identification of the
      nation-state. 'Madhesi' is an amorphous term
      referring to caste categories of the eastern
      Tarai in particular, but the movement represented
      a historic demand of plains people for inclusion
      in the national mainstream. And indeed, the mass
      mobilisation of the Madhes Movement has changed
      the face of Nepali society, and new political
      forces have emerged to take advantage of the
      space that has opened up.

      Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala was unable
      to countenance the identity-led nature of the
      agitation in the Tarai, heretofore a docile vote
      bank for his Nepali Congress party. He was
      therefore slow in addressing the Madhesi demands,
      which referred to recognition and compensation of
      those killed during the previous year's
      agitation, proportional representation in state
      organs (including the army), changes in electoral
      laws to enhance Madhesi participation, and so on.
      As the government procrastinated, the demands
      became more strident and even unrealistic,
      including self-determination and the declaration
      of the 500-by-20 mile Tarai plains as a single
      province - "Ek Madhes, ek Pradesh."

      Though riding a wave of anti-Kathmandu sentiment
      across the Tarai, the most critical weakness of
      the Madhesi leadership was perhaps that it tended
      to represent the eastern-Tarai caste categories.
      It would be difficult to maintain the pan-Tarai
      momentum for long, because, like the country
      taken as a whole, the plains too are divided by
      language, faith, caste, class, religion,
      indigenity and point of origin.

      As time went on, it became clear that quite a few
      among the Madhesi leadership were seeking
      consortium with the royalists of Kathmandu, as
      well as the Hindutva forces across the border.
      Hindu-right organisations in Nepal have a limited
      base, and for long drew their influence and power
      by proximity to the royal palace. But combine the
      Indian fundamentalists, sections of Madhesi
      militants, royalist politicians and the criminal
      gangs of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh acting in loose
      concert, and you suddenly have quite a vicious
      brew to upset the election cart.

      At the Narayanhiti royal palace, Gyanendra seemed
      energised by the turn of events, which included
      strikes across the plains over the month of
      February and what amounted to an economic
      blockade of Kathmandu Valley by the Madhesi
      activists. He sent emissaries to meet with
      Hindutva and BJP stalwarts in India in a bid to
      revive the flagging fortunes of the monarchy. For
      a while, a couple of weeks ago, it suddenly
      looked as if the Constituent Assembly would be
      held hostage by the BJP-Congress rivalry within
      India, with the former all set to loudly proclaim
      the restoration of the Hindu monarchy in Nepal as
      a political plank.

      Fortunately, while the role of other Indian
      entities and organisations cannot be vouched for,
      at this stage the Foreign Ministry in South Block
      played its card in favour of a pluralistic,
      representative evolution in Nepal. By extending
      the tenure of Indian Ambassador Shiv Shankar
      Mukherjee until after the April elections, the
      Manmohan Singh government also sent a message
      committing its own agenda and standing to the
      holding of elections on schedule in Nepal.

      The polls having already been rescheduled twice
      before, the polity would have been unable to
      sustain another postponement, which would in all
      likelihood have led to a right-wing, militarist
      shift in government. With the Koirala government
      becoming suddenly flexible in negotiations, the
      Madhesi leadership known to favour a poll
      postponement had no option but to call off the
      agitations in the Tarai. By the end of February,
      all the credible political forces had been
      dragged and cajoled into election mode, and the
      people of hill and plain alike were finally
      certain of being able to exercise their franchise.
      Towards April 10

      The sovereign, elected Constituent Assembly is as
      close to a magic wand as the Nepali people can
      hope for. It is certainly one that they deserve,
      to deliver them from the extreme instability,
      political violence and the democracy deficit of
      the last decade. The economy is currently at a
      standstill, even while the northern and southern
      neighbours grow at near double-digit rates. The
      people of Nepal have not had a whiff of the
      so-called peace dividend, nor any post-conflict
      rehabilitation to speak of, almost two years
      after the "people's war" ended.

      For the 601-member House, the challenges of
      constitution-writing, as well as government
      formation, will be enormous. To begin with, the
      legislators must rise above the extreme populism
      that has gripped Nepali politics like a
      malignancy over the last two years, and the lists
      of party candidates are not inspiring. Besides,
      the modalities of the Constituent Assembly's
      functioning have not been discussed and there is
      the possibility of great confusion and anarchy
      immediately after the elections. That is clearly
      an urgent matter to be discussed in the days
      ahead, but for the moment the job is to protect
      the elections from two quarters: those parties
      inclined to participate but influence the polls
      through fear and intimidation, and those forces
      within and without who will try to disrupt the
      elections through killings, kidnappings and
      bombings.

      Fortunately, we know the potential spoilers. The
      Nepali intelligentsia and civil society must keep
      an eye on the domestic forces - royalist
      politicians, militants, criminals as well as the
      unruly ranks of the CPN (Maoist) - to prevent an
      election derailment. India's opinion-makers can
      help Nepal in its return to normalcy by
      watchdogging the Hindutva-inclined monarchists so
      that they have no scope to interfere in the
      affairs of a neighbour. The Indian government,
      meanwhile, is duty-bound to prevent the
      criminal-militant nexus from using Bihar and
      Uttar Pradesh as a base from which to threaten
      the Constituent Assembly process. A peaceful,
      prosperous Nepal will reverberate in the Ganga
      plains as well.

      (Kanak Mani Dixit is a journalist and civil
      rights activist in Kathmandu and editor of the
      Himal Southasian monthly magazine.)


      ______



      [3] Bangladesh:

      (i)

      The Guardian
      February 12 2008

      TRY TELLING BANGLADESHIS THAT ELECTIONS ARE BAD FOR THE POOR

      by Polly Toynbee

      The march of democracy - so impressive in the
      past 50 years - must not stumble over
      indifference and fears of violence

      It was a moving sight: hundreds of people on rows
      of long benches under canopies, enthusiastically
      waiting to register to vote. Kaliakor is a
      district of Bangladesh preparing for elections,
      elections no one is entirely certain the military
      government will call. Many fear a return to
      democracy will bring political violence. Look
      what elections did to Kenya - democracy is
      dangerous. Many query whether imposing late
      western systems on dirt-poor developing nations
      is a good idea.

      David Miliband, the foreign secretary, was
      visiting Bangladesh and urging a safe return to
      democracy. "Clean and effective government," he
      called for here - as he had in Afghanistan two
      days earlier - and in Pakistan, whose imminent
      elections threaten yet more bloodshed.

      Voting alone doesn't guarantee democracy.
      Political violence, feudal patronage and
      corruption may break out the day after hotly
      contested elections. Leaders of both main
      Bangladeshi parties - "the two ladies" - are
      locked up on widely believed corruption charges.
      Frankly, it needs the pen of an Evelyn Waugh to
      do justice to the personal grudge war between
      these two 67-year-olds, one a daughter and the
      other a widow of founding heroes of the war of
      independence, who refuse to speak or compromise
      despite barely a sari's thickness of policy
      difference between them.

      Today, back in Oxford, Miliband gives a lecture
      with a strong message on democracy in honour of
      Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's imprisoned leader. He
      reaffirms the need to back democrats wherever
      they are in a post-Iraq and China-influenced
      world growing dangerously blase about democratic
      values. Despite all the turmoil he has observed,
      he declares that a universal democratic "civilian
      surge" means "there are no regional or
      continental values that are inhospitable to
      democracy".

      The march of democracy in the past 30 years makes
      an impressive list: Europeans liberated in
      Portugal, Spain and Greece; all of Latin America
      (save Cuba) now democratic; the collapse of the
      Soviet empire and authoritarian regimes in Asia,
      from Indonesia and the Philippines to South Korea
      and Taiwan, while Mandela's election seemed to
      mark new hope in Africa. Now 60% of the world's
      people elect their leaders. Put like that,
      democracy looks unstoppable - only a matter of
      time before the Middle East, the Gulf states and
      China succumb.

      Yet democracy has many enemies. China's and
      Singapore's leaders claim rapid economic progress
      needs nothing of the kind, pointing to less
      successful poor countries struggling with
      elections. Meanwhile the left is increasingly
      suspicious of the word "freedom", hijacked by
      neocons. Democracy at the point of a gun can look
      like a fig-leaf excuse for enforcing neocolonial
      western interests. If democracy is such a good
      thing, why does the west prop up and arm
      autocracies such as Saudi Arabia? Why kowtow so
      abjectly to Chinese wealth? It was Ken
      Livingstone who in 1987 - back in his red-hot
      days - wrote a book called If Voting Changed
      Anything, They'd Abolish It. (He's rightly rather
      keen on Londoners getting out to vote now). On
      the right there is always a business phalanx that
      finds stable despotism good to do business with -
      no problem trading with China or the Gulf.

      Democracy struggles to take root in countries so
      poor that the rice needed to keep a family alive
      is willingly traded for a vote: patronage and
      clans promising corrupt favours will trump
      political ideals every time. Political scientists
      observe that democratic governments rarely
      survive in countries with per capita incomes of
      less than $1,500 a year: Kenyans and Pakistanis
      live on under $1,000. The same research finds
      democracy rarely fails once per capita incomes
      rise to $6,000 a year.

      But no rules about human life are absolute: in
      Bangladesh political passions run high, though
      pockets may be empty; and people impressed on
      Miliband time and again the importance of
      elections. Look at India, whose per capita income
      is still under $1,000, yet its democracy thrives
      with a free press and independent judiciary.
      Meanwhile Russia backslides on $8,000 a head.

      There is another endemic problem with democracy -
      the chasm between rhetoric and reality, between
      promise and performance. Nothing again is ever as
      exhilarating as the moment the Berlin Wall fell
      or Mandela walked free. Afterwards disillusion
      with the drudgery of everyday governance turns
      things sour. The longer established a democracy,
      the more secure and better run it is, then the
      more cynical citizens become - less likely to
      vote, more heartily despising their relatively
      uncorrupt and efficient politicians. But telling
      jaded Europeans to value their vote is no more
      use than telling well-fed western children to eat
      crusts that would be the envy of starving
      Zimbabweans.

      Democracy does need constant renewal. In Britain
      neither of the main parties - not David Miliband
      in this speech - are yet willing to reform the
      profound dysfunctions of a system that lets the
      next election revolve around the super-votes of
      just 8,000 swing citizens in key marginals.
      Though in a previous job Miliband was
      forward-thinking in reviving the power and pride
      of Britain's great cities, electoral reform is
      still out of bounds for Labour.

      China's People's Daily was quick to gloat over
      the Kenyan fallout: "Western-style democracy
      simply isn't suited to African conditions, but
      rather carries the roots of disaster." Miliband's
      Oxford lecture will be a resounding refutation of
      this, and a restatement of universal values. But
      he avoids Blairite hubris and triumphalism.
      Although he is "unapologetic about a mission to
      help democracy spread", he also stresses the
      "need to be cautious about our capacity to change
      the world", emphasising the power of
      international institutions - the international
      criminal court, the World Trade Organisation, the
      EU, the UN - to build the culture of democracy.
      "Democracy can and will take root in all
      societies".

      In the end, this argument always falls back on
      Churchill: democracy is the least bad system yet
      devised, which is hardly a ringing endorsement
      with which to confront China or Saudi Arabia, the
      left or the right. Waiting with trepidation for
      what elections may unleash in Pakistan and
      Bangladesh, or next year in Afghanistan, can make
      orderly military rule look a better option than
      Kenyan-style slaughter. But then ask why were so
      many very poor, mostly illiterate, people queuing
      under those canopies in Kaliakor. They were
      driven by the universal desire to chose their own
      rulers, however difficult and dangerous the road
      to democracy.

      o o o

      (ii)

      truthout.org
      02 March 2008

      MOEEN AS BANGLADESH'S MUSHARRAF

      by J. Sri Raman

      In our preoccupation with Pakistan and its
      embattled president, many of us have almost
      forgotten another South Asian country and another
      general encountering another pro-democracy
      movement. General Moeen U Ahmed, chief of the
      Bangladesh armed forces, was in New Delhi for a
      week since February 24 to remind India and the
      region of his role as the other Pervez Musharraf.

      Moeen was supposed to be here on a
      "military-to-military" mission, and met Indian
      counterpart Deepak Kapoor and External Affairs
      Minister Pranab Mukherjee, reportedly to discuss
      cooperation in defense. Moeen, however, did not
      stop there.

      It has been made public on his behalf that
      that he pleaded with Prime Minister Manmohan
      Singh's government to help make Bangladesh safe
      for restored democracy by prevailing upon
      Bangladesh's two most prominent contenders for
      civilian power not to return to electoral
      politics. The reported plea warrants the
      presumption that the recent events in Pakistan
      prompted Moeen's India visit, which was put off
      last year on the officially cited ground of
      floods in Bangladesh.

      The Musharraf syndrome is manifestly obvious
      here. As Pakistan's military ruler, its present
      president of uncertain powers had for years tried
      to prevent the country's two most prominent
      aspirants for civilian power from returning home
      and joining electoral politics. He was forced,
      however, to allow the return of former Prime
      Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif - and
      even of the elections. Musharraf continues to be
      engaged in a contained confrontation with Sharif
      and Asif Ali Zardari - Bhutto's husband who is
      playing her political role after her horrible end.

      Moeen, of course, is no president, but he is
      the power behind the throne in Bangladesh. The
      army-backed government in Dhaka, too, tried to
      exile former Prime Ministers Sheikh Hasina Wajed
      and Begum Khaleda Zia, but failed. Moeen and his
      men also tried to prevent the return of Hasina
      from a visit abroad, and failed again under
      international pressure. The leaders of the Awami
      League (AL) and the Bangladesh National Party
      (BNP), however, have been kept away from all
      political activities through a slew of corruption
      cases and long spells of under-trial detention.

      Indications have been reported of Moeen's
      possible plans to install himself eventually as
      the president in the place of Fakruddin Ahmed, in
      charge of the current caretaker regime. It is not
      known, however, whether something like Pakistan's
      National Reconciliation Order, freeing the two
      leaders from corruption cases, will precede such
      a move. But there is another respect, certainly,
      in which Moeen is trying to do a Musharraf.

      Musharraf may not really have profited by
      splitting Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (PML)
      and forming a party named after the Quaid-e-Azam
      (the title of Pakistan's founder Mohammed Ali
      Jinnah.) The PML-Q has ended up a distant third,
      after Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and
      the PML-Nawaz, in the recent general election.
      The example, however, has not deterred Moeen from
      making a similar effort to give himself political
      legitimacy in the Bangladesh general election
      that the caretaker regime has promised to hold
      before the year end.

      Last year, the army-backed government in
      Dhaka tried its utmost to push Nobel-winning
      economist Mohmmad Yunus into politics and help
      him form a party to end both main parties. The
      attempt proved abortive, with Yunus seeing
      through the cynical game. Efforts followed to
      break the both the AL and the BNP. Not much
      success has attended these efforts, and the
      parties as a whole have remained loyal to the
      harassed leaders with halos of their own.

      Moeen and his men, however, have not given
      up. According to informed observers, he would
      like to be sure of a two-thirds majority in a new
      parliament to ratify the 37 ordinances, through
      which he has ruled the country for the last 13
      months. Will two split-away parties give Moeen
      what a single one could not provide Musharraf?
      Few observers will answer that in the affirmative.

      Moeen would appear to have no illusions about
      what a real democracy can do for him. Even as far
      back as last April, he caused more than a few
      political ripples by declaring at a public
      meeting that Bangladesh would not return to "an
      elective democracy." Days ago, he elaborated on
      the same theme. Asserting that the country had
      tried "Westminster-type parliamentary democracy
      for the last 15 years," but could not make it
      work, he called for "a form of democracy that is
      suitable for us."

      The particular form of democracy he has in
      mind may suit neither the major political parties
      nor the people used to polls. Nothing, however,
      would suit the army more, or the religious
      parties and forces, particularly the
      Jamaat-e-Islami, which, as a member of Begum
      Zia's coalition regime, distinguished itself by
      its divisive role in the Bangladesh society. The
      poor electoral showing of the clerical parties in
      Pakistan has not made their Bangladeshi
      counterparts ardent partisans of ballot politics
      either.

      Moeen and the army-propped regime were able
      to delay the democratic process for quite some
      time with an anti-corruption campaign that
      brought some of the political luminaries of the
      past to law. The glamor of the campaign, however,
      has worn thin, with its perceived excesses
      hitting the country's economy and with graft in
      the army and in select political circles
      appearing to have been placed outside its
      purview. the anti-corruption crusade has lost its
      attraction all the more following the recent
      steep spiral in the prices of rice, pulses and
      other essential commodities.

      All this has not been lost on Moeen and his
      mandarins in the caretaker regime. They crushed a
      rebellion of campus origin months ago, but they
      know that popular discontent can find a dangerous
      expression again. They have made certain moves to
      win over the political opposition. This include
      official initiatives to rehabilitate martyred
      Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, liberator of Bangladesh
      and father of Hasina, as the "Father of the
      Nation," and Ziaur Rahman, former president and
      husband of Begam Khaleda Zia as a "patriot,"
      besides a promise to try the "war criminals of
      1971." By most accounts, however, the moves
      cannot succeed in stalling the pro-democracy
      movement.

      It is interesting to recall, in this context,
      that Moeen himself was in Pakistan during the
      Bangladesh Liberation War and joined and returned
      to the country's armed forces as a "repatriated
      officer." The past record itself may not go
      against his current political ambitions. As in
      Musharraf's case, however, a massive democratic
      upsurge can do so.

      A freelance journalist and a peace activist
      in India, J. Sri Raman is the author of
      "Flashpoint" (Common Courage Press, USA). He is a
      regular contributor to Truthout.


      ______


      [4]

      PRESS NOTE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
      05 APRIL 2008

      INTERNATIONAL PEOPLE'S TRIBUNAL ON HUMAN RIGHTS
      AND JUSTICE IN INDIAN-ADMINISTERED KASHMIR

      www.kashmirprocess.org

      Srinagar, 05 April 2008: The Public Commission on
      Human Rights, a constituent of the Jammu Kashmir
      Coalition of Civil Society, with the support of
      other groups and individuals, announces the
      INTERNATIONAL PEOPLE'S TRIBUNAL ON HUMAN RIGHTS
      AND JUSTICE IN INDIAN-ADMINISTERED
      KASHMIR.

      Stakeholders in civil society across Indian-administered Kashmir state
      that they are engulfed by local, regional, and
      international political processes that bypass
      them, withholding their right to participation
      and decision-making. They note that Kashmir is a
      flashpoint in conflicts between India and
      Pakistan, while the systemic effects of existing
      structures of governance on the lives of the
      people of Kashmir are silenced, trivialized, or
      rationalized as necessary. They note that the
      fabric of militarization in Indian-administered
      Kashmir profoundly affects their lives, while
      undermining their capacity to intervene in the
      regularized violence that results. Segments of
      civil society across Kashmir ask to be a part of
      the international community, to have the right
      and resources to speak to the conditions of their
      life. They state that their portrayal in media
      and politics simplifies issues that are
      intricate, and dehistoricizes them. They ask the
      international community to participate in
      rigorously and thoughtfully engaging their
      experience of protracted isolation and inquire
      into the diminishing of cultural and public life.

      Timeframe:
      The Tribunal will hold its investigations and hearings in 2008-2009.
      The Tribunal Conveners are:
      Dr. Angana Chatterji, Convener. Dr. Chatterji is
      associate professor of anthropology at the
      California Institute of Integral Studies.
      Advocate Parvez Imroz, Convener. Advocate Imroz is a human rights
      lawyer and founder of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society.
      Mr. Gautam Navlakha, Convener. Mr. Navlakha works with the Economic
      and Political Weekly and is a human rights
      defender. Mr. Zaheer-Ud-Din, Convener. Mr.
      Zaheer-Ud-Din is chief editor of Daily Etalat
      and vice president of Jammu and Kashmir Coalition
      of Civil Society.
      The Tribunal Legal Counsel and Liaison are:
      Advocate Mihir Desai, Legal Counsel. Advocate Desai is practising in
      the Mumbai High Court and the Supreme Court of India, and co-founder
      of the Indian People's Tribunal.
      Mr. Khurram Parvez, Liaison. Mr. Parvez is programme coordinator for
      the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society.

      Purpose and Mandate:
      The Tribunal will inquire into the architecture
      of military presence, militarization, and
      governance in Indian-administered Kashmir, and
      their subsequent and continued impact on civil
      society, political
      economy, infrastructure, development, local
      government, media, bureaucracy, and the
      judiciary. The Tribunal proposes to inquire into
      the actions of the Indian state and its
      institutions, as widely
      established by human rights organizations, to
      examine the structure of militaristic violence on
      the part of state institutions, and examine
      conditions of injustice therein.
      Speaking to the need for an International
      People's Tribunal in Kashmir, Advocate Parvez
      Imroz stated: "This Tribunal goes beyond
      condemnation. It initiates an international
      process that looks into complex, systematic, and
      institutionalized repression in order to engage
      global civil society in investigating crimes
      against humanity in Indian-administered Kashmir.
      This process will inform struggles of Kashmiris
      for human rights and justice."
      In defining the urgency for an international
      tribunal, Dr. Angana Chatterji stated: "Across
      India, Kashmir reverberates in the imaginary as
      an icon of unification whose continued possession
      is a must for the assertion of nationalist
      history and purpose. We call upon the
      international community to join us in
      investigating India's record in Kashmir, as
      India, an emergent superpower, argues for a seat
      on the United Nations Security Council. We seek
      accountability under provisions of the
      Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, Constitution
      of India, and International Law and Conventions,
      to insist upon reparations, justice, and
      self-determination."
      Advocate Mihir Desai added: "The use of harsh
      laws, lack of transparency, and virtual total
      impunity and disregard for international law and
      failure of local institutions cry out for an
      independent people's tribunal to inquire into
      the real situation in Kashmir. The Tribunal seeks
      to unravel its impact and issues, so as to bring
      out the true picture of Kashmir before the
      international community."
      Mr. Gautam Navlakha articulated: "As an Indian,
      15 years of covering the war in Jammu and
      Kashmir has convinced me that justice is not
      available to the people who are aggrieved by the
      war being perpetrated by the Government of India.
      It is, therefore, necessary that one demystifies
      the lived realities of the people in order that
      the real issues of people's democratic right to
      determine their destiny is brought out as sharply
      as possible. It is therefore imperative to set
      up a people's tribunal."
      Realities in Kashmir, through neglect,
      indifference, or complicity, continue to
      reproduce cycles of violence that are gendered
      and classed, religious and ethnic in their
      effects, with ever increasing
      social, political, economic, environmental, and
      psychological consequences that affect private,
      public, and everyday life. The Tribunal seeks to
      examine charges of, and expand awareness and
      understanding regarding, institutionalized
      violence, social trauma, and human rights abuses,
      and develop recommendations for justice,
      reparations, and healing, in alliance with
      ethical, peaceable grassroots processes and civil
      society groups and individuals that dissent such
      conditions. Mr. Zaheer-Ud-Din explained that:
      "The Tribunal proposes to inquire into instances
      of intense and regularized violence, such as
      torture, gendered and sexualized violence
      including rape, disablement, killings,
      executions, enforced disappearances,
      interrogations, detentions, and devastations by
      landmines." Further, the Tribunal proposes to
      inquire into if and how this endangers the
      survival of the living, such as among Kashmir's
      majority Muslim population, among women,
      'half-widows', children, and other
      disenfranchised groups, including the aged and
      people with disabilities, and religious minority
      groups, and the effects on culture and society at
      large in Kashmir, and related spheres in Jammu
      and Ladakh.

      The Tribunal will investigate the ongoing and
      systemic nature of violence, and the spiral of
      brutality. The Tribunal will inquire into forms
      of disempowered, reactive, and violent
      resistances on the part of groups engaged in
      militancy, and instances of outside intervention.
      The Tribunal will inquire into the probable
      intersections between the injustices perpetrated
      by Indian military and paramilitary forces and
      those enacted by militants, deepening and
      continuing cycles of repression in the process.
      Further, the Tribunal will inquire into the
      activities of Hindu nationalist organizations.
      The Tribunal will also inquire into forms of
      resistance mounted by civil society, and the
      corresponding demands for justice from various
      segments in Indian-administered Kashmir,
      including people's demand for the right to
      self-determination, and its meanings.

      Advocate Imroz stated: "The Tribunal will address
      growing concerns with, and allegations of,
      breakdowns in social, political, cultural,
      religious, gendered, and economic life in
      Indian-administered Kashmir, that affect history
      and memory, spirit and future. In doing so, the
      Tribunal seeks to increase concern, and ethical,
      constructive, and creative participation of the
      local and international community toward justice,
      peace, and security." Mr. Navlakha clarified
      that: "Power politics recommends 'Truth and
      Reconciliation Commissions' that seek forgiveness
      without justice. The Tribunal maintains that
      there cannot be any reconciliation without
      justice."
      Advocate Desai clarified that: "The Tribunal will
      make distinctions between the 'judicial' and
      'extra-judicial' as drawn by the Indian military
      and paramilitary forces and ask if and how the
      structure of militarization furthers impunity,
      and impacts legal and moral accountability on
      part of the state."

      Dr. Chatterji stated: "The Tribunal will
      investigate the legal, political, and
      militaristic apparatus through which 'states of
      exception' have been established and are
      continued in Indian-administered Kashmir. The
      repression of self-determination struggles and
      genocidal violence has left 70,000+ dead and
      8,000+ disappeared since 1989. Building on its
      mandate from the submissions of civil society,
      this Tribunal calls on the international
      community to recognize the juncture at which
      functions and failures of governance intersect
      with the culture of grief in Indian-administered
      Kashmir."

      Why Indian-administered Kashmir?
      The Tribunal will limit its primary
      investigations to Indian-administered Kashmir,
      and selectively to Jammu and Ladakh, even as
      issues in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and those
      of outside groups that engage in militancy are
      of political, social, and ethical significance.
      Also, access to areas that have experienced
      heightened military presence and violations in
      Indian-administered Kashmir remain limited, and,
      given the politics of borders, it is only
      conceivable for organizations and individuals
      working in Indian Kashmir to access areas
      restricted to its current borders as defined by
      the Line of Control.
      Parameters:
      The Tribunal will confine its investigation to
      the period between November 2003, when the
      Indo-Pak cease-fire began, and 2009, with
      supporting investigations related to the period
      between 1989-2003.
      The Tribunal is constituted as a people's
      collective, to undertake an inquiry into the
      history of the present in Indian-administered
      Kashmir through the participation of civil
      society, to reflect on the past toward energizing
      public space in the present, and for
      determinations of the future. Based on the
      conviction that people's voices must not be
      silenced, this Tribunal will investigate existing
      evidence, and hear statements and testimonials
      through public processes that maintain
      transparency. The Tribunal will solicit the
      participation of survivors, those seeking
      justice, local communities and groups, and
      internal experts from Indian-administered
      Kashmir, and from India and other places in South
      Asia, and the international community. The
      Tribunal will rely on the willingness of those
      affected and others to testify about experiences,
      events, and circumstances, and on the
      participation of credible and competent persons,
      and those not enacting political agendas. On
      completing its work, the Tribunal will invite a
      group of renowned public figures to constitute a
      Council of Justice to deliberate on the
      Tribunal's findings, and craft their statements
      in response. The Tribunal's findings and
      recommendations, and statements of the Council of
      Justice will be presented at a public hearing in
      Indian-administered Kashmir, and subsequently to
      the international community.

      Note:
      The Tribunal is a non-funded and voluntary initiative.

      Press Contacts:
      Mr. Khurram Parvez, Tribunal Liaison
      Mobile: 91.9419013553 (Srinagar); Office: 91.194.2482820 (Srinagar)
      E-mail: khurramparvez@...; kparvez@...

      Dr. Angana Chatterji, Tribunal Convener
      Mobile: 91.9906667238 (Srinagar)
      Mobile: 001.415.640.4013 (United States); Office: 001.415.575.6119
      (United States)
      E-mail: achatterji@...; Angana@...; achatterji@...

      Advocate Parvez Imroz, Tribunal Convener
      Mobile: 91.9797221612 (Srinagar); Office: 91.194.2482820 (Srinagar)
      E-mail: p_imroz@...; pimroz@...


      ______


      [5]


      INDIA: ON THE RECENT ATTACK ON HISTORIANS BY HINDUTVA FUNDAMENTALISTS

      RESPONSE TO SANGH OBJECTIONS ON AK RAMANUJAN'S HISTORY TEXT
      Note prepared by the departmental council of the
      department of history, University of Delhi,
      in its meeting of 4 February 2008
      [. . .]
      http://communalism.blogspot.com/2008/02/response-to-sangh-objections-on-ak.html

      o o o

      AN EMAIL ACCOUNT OF VIOLENCE AND INTIMIDATION BY
      HINDUTVA ACTIVISTS AGAINST DELHI'S HISTORIANS
      Date: Mon, Feb 25, 2008 at 6:25 PM
      Subject: Violence in the Department of History by ABVP activists
      http://www.sacw.net/India_History/25Feb2008.html

      o o o

      SAHMAT'S STATEMENT RE ABVP'S ASSAULT ON THE
      DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY, DELHI UNIVERSITY
      [ . . .]
      http://communalism.blogspot.com/2008/02/sahmat-statement-re-abvps-assault-on.html

      o o o

      HOW MANY RAMAYANAS? I AM FOR MANY RAMAYANAS

      by DP Satish (February 27, 2008)

      The late A K Ramanujan is arguably one of the
      best internationally known Indian writers. The
      Mysore born and educated Ramanujan taught at the
      University of Chicago for decades. He introduced
      India's oral folktales to the West through his
      scholarly writings and translations. His writings
      are so fascinating and you will be hooked to them.
      Ramanujan died more than a decade ago in the
      United States. He is now making news in the
      national capital Delhi. Thanks to our ill
      informed and self proclaimed custodians of
      Hinduism and Hindu mythology : Outfits of the RSS
      like ABVP and VHP. His writing ' Three Hundred
      Ramayanas ' is embroiled in an ugly controversy
      created by the members of the saffron brigade.
      [. . .]
      http://www.sacw.net/India_History/6march2008.html



      ______


      [6]

      Frontline
      Volume 25 - Issue 03 :: Feb. 02-15, 2008

      Books

      WITNESS TO FOLLY

      by A.G. Noorani

      An account of the mess created by India and Pakistan in Siachen.


      MYRA MACDONALD was Reuters correspondent in New
      Delhi for four years, during a critical phase in
      India's relations with Pakistan. No journalist
      has travelled in the Siachen region, from both
      sides of the India-Pakistan divide, as
      extensively as she has. Her book is
      straightforward reportage of what she saw with
      her own eyes and of what she was told by
      responsible military officials. It is enriched by
      her colleague Pawel Kopczynski's stunning
      photographs. The om ission of a map is a serious
      flaw.

      What we have is a good account based on extensive
      interviews on how the two countries got into the
      mess in 1984, their persistence in folly and how
      they are paying for it. At 19,500 feet, Siachen
      has the highest helipad in the world. "It cost,
      so they told me, at least 30 million rupee
      ($740,000) a day to run the operation. It was a
      war where the majority of casualties were claimed
      by the weather and the terrain rather than by
      enemy fire. The Indian Army spent 51,000 rupees
      ($1,260) just to clothe one soldier, not
      including his boots, and 95 per cent of the
      equipment used on Siachen was imported." On the
      basis of the many different estimates she had
      heard, "at least two or three thousand men must
      have died altogether on both sides in the course
      of the war, mostly in the early years. On the
      Indian side alone, 12,000 were wounded, injured
      or brought out sick, many of them physically or
      psychologically scarred for life."

      To what gain? India discovered Pakistan's growing
      interest in Siachen and decided to forestall any
      move by it by dropping men by helicopter to
      occupy the passes on the Saltoro range on April
      13, 1984. This was "Operation Meghdoot". Pakistan
      counter-attacked and the war began. A ceasefire
      followed 20 years later. But the diplomatic
      impasse remains. Indira Gandhi and Zia-ul-Haq
      could well have agreed to let the status quo
      remain with neither side having a presence there.
      But trust was in short supply, understandably.
      India did not intend to have a permanent presence
      there. Pakistan's reaction, predictable as it
      was, left it with little choice. Lt. Gen. M.L.
      Chibber, head of the Northern Command, is a fine
      soldier with a balanced approach. Indira Gandhi
      told him, "General, do it in a manner that it
      does not escalate into an all-out war".

      Lt. Gen. Jahan Dad Khan, head of Pakistan's 10
      Corps, told the author that it was a question of
      who reached the area first. Pakistan decided that
      the earliest it could launch an operation was
      early May. "By March, when I left, details were
      still being worked out," he said. "The
      instructions were very clear that the Commander
      of the Northern Areas was to move in May. Air
      cover would be there. Logistics support would be
      there." But the Indian Army moved in the second
      week of April. Pakistanis spotted Indian troops
      for the first time on April 18.

      Each side attributed to the author motives of a
      bigger plan and painted the worst case scenario.
      In June 1987, India seized control of the Quaid
      Post from Pakistan. It was renamed Bana Top after
      Bana Singh who led the attack. One Pakistani
      Commander wrote in his personal diaries in 1989.
      "The Indians have been stupid in coming into this
      area; we have been sentimental idiots in trying
      to grab the remaining peaks and thereafter throw
      them out. Instead of wasting our meagre
      resources, and banging our heads against ice
      walls, we should fall back to road heads. In a
      very short while, the Indians would look very
      silly sitting on the inhospitable heights, not
      seeing or facing any enemy. Weather and troop
      morale will force them to pull back also."

      Neither side can throw the other out from the
      positions it holds, and holding existing
      positions is not a viable option. The only
      sensible course is for both to withdraw. In June
      1989, they agreed to do just that. A few weeks
      later, India insisted on authentication of
      existing positions. On this issue the talks have
      been deadlocked since.

      An interesting report sheds light on the motives
      underlying Pakistan's foolish venture into Kargil
      in 1999. "According to one former Pakistani
      commander, the targets were to be the Indian base
      camp at the snout of the glacier, and the main
      road leading from Srinagar to Leh as it ran up
      the Line of Control between the towns of Dras and
      Kargil. Only with such a master plan could the
      'agonising slowness' and 'senseless inching
      forward' of the Siachen war be halted, the
      commander wrote at the time. 'It may not be
      necessary to physically occupy both or either. It
      would be quite sufficient to render it impossible
      for the enemy to hold onto them and use them
      freely,' he wrote in a handwritten draft of which
      he gave me a copy on condition that I did not use
      his name."

      One hopes the next edition of this excellent book
      will carry a good map to illustrate the areas it
      mentions.
      ______



      [7] Announcements:


      ESSAYS ON FEDERALISM IN SRI LANKA

      Edited by Rohan Edrisinha and Asanga Welikala
      February 2008

      A collection of essays which can be a useful
      resource for those interested in the Federalism
      debate in Sri Lanka.

      The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)
      24/2, 28th Lane
      Off Flower Road
      Colombo 7
      Sri Lanka


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      Buzz for secularism, on the dangers of fundamentalism(s), on
      matters of peace and democratisation in South
      Asia. SACW is an independent & non-profit
      citizens wire service run since 1998 by South
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