Its Called Dissent, Not Sedition


Indian writer and activist Arundhati Roy who has been canvassing for freedom of Jammu and Kashmir from years of military occupation said on Tuesday that far from seeking a break up of India, as alleged by her rightwing detractors, she fights for the love and pride of the people of India.
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by Alok Tiwari

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The lack of outrage at the conclusion by Delhi police that there is “a fit case” to charge Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and author Arundhati Roy with sedition for what the two said in a seminar at Delhi is appalling. Only a few civil liberties advocates spoke out against the move. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party openly bayed for their blood. Congress maintained a studied silence. The minor parties were just not bothered. Union law minister Veerappa Moily didn’t come out to well when he suggested that freedom of expression couldn’t’ be used to violate “patriotic sentiments”, whatever that means.

The incident isn’t the best advertisement of either our democracy or our famed culture of tolerance. Sedition involves an attempt to overthrow legally constituted government. As far as I know, neither Geelani nor Roy did anything remotely in that direction. What they said was definitely against the government line on Kashmir. It was also against the popular opinion.

Mercifully, there is no law that obligates us to toe the government or popular line. Going against it is dissent, not sedition; and democracies thrive on dissent. They do not shun it.

Geelani’s views about Kashmir are well known. He has made no secret of them. Most other Indians do not agree with him and even find his views offensive. Yet, he is an Indian citizen and entitled to his individual liberties as much as any other. Freedom in a society is tested by its tolerance of what most of its members consider offensive. (more…)

Traveling blind!


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RUSSIA AND NATO PLAN JOINT MISSIONS IN AFGHANISTAN

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Russian forces could return to Afghanistan for the first time since they were forced out by mujahideen fighters in 1989, under a joint initiative with Nato.

A Nato summit next month will be attended by Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev, to discuss the plans. Nato officials said Russia had agreed to sell helicopters to Afghanistan and provide training.

Moscow will allow Nato forces to withdraw equipment from Afghanistan overland for the first time, in proposals expected to be agreed in Lisbon.

The summit can mark a new start in the relationship between Nato and Russia,” said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Nato secretary-general…

EVERYONE CAN LEARN TO BE LOSERS.

While his call has been embraced by Western leaders, including Prime Minister David Cameron who set a five-year deadline on the Army’s combat role, Mr Rasmussen said troops would not be withdrawn immediately.

Under a blueprint drawn up by Gen David Petraeus, Nato commander in Afghanistan, foreign troops would “thin out” but not leave disputed territory.

THE BLIND LEADING THE BLIND IS NOW APPARENTLY PART OF OBAMA’S “NEW” STRATEGY IN AFGHANISTAN?

Source: Eideard YouTube video:

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Pulling Fingernails won’t turn Kashmiris into Indians [Arundhati Roy]


Arundhati Roy shakes hands with JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik during a photo exhibition entitled “Voices for Peace, Voices for Freedom”, in New Delhi. PHOTO: AFP
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ARUNDHATI ROY ONCE AGAIN ON KASHMIR

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by Arundhati Roy

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  • Pity the nation  that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds


  • Pity that nation that jails those who ask for justice, while communal killers, mass murderers,  corporate scamsters,  looters,  rapists and  those who prey on the poorest of the poor,  roam free


  • No one should be killed, raped, imprisoned or have their finger-nails pulled out in order to force them to say they are Indians (more…)

PAKISTAN’s Challenge


“Our goal must be not merely to restore their lives to what they were before the floods, but to give them better lives than before the floods.” – AP Photo
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PAKISTAN FLOODS: THE AFTERMATH

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by Mohsin Hamid

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This year’s floods have brought more devastation to what is now Pakistan than any event since the mass migration and mass murder that accompanied partition in 1947. What happened 63 years ago shaped the fate of this country. So too could the current disaster.

I don’t believe the often-repeated claim that the floods mark some great opportunity for terrorist groups. Terrorist groups in Pakistan cannot win in the long run unless they have the tacit support of the state, because these groups have no agenda capable of convincing even a large minority of the people of this country that what they seek is beneficial.

Nor do I believe the floods sow the seeds of a bloody revolution. There are strong signs of discontent in Pakistan, but revolutions require more than discontent: they require an alternate vision people are willing to rally around. Yet Pakistanis seem unenamoured of political models other than our usual constitutional democracy and military dictatorship. Radical notions —theocracy, for example, or Maoist populism — have little popular support.

Still, the floods could, and should, be transformative. For they reveal to us something from which we Pakistanis do our best to hide.

Our real narrative as a nation is not that of a bulwark of Islam, or of a battlefield in a struggle between great powers, or of an innocent victim bullied by its unreasonable neighbour. After all, in few countries are as many Muslims killed in the name of Islam as ours; the outcome of the duel between China and America does not depend on which way Islamabad tilts; and while India has done much to harm Pakistan, Pakistan has done much to harm India too.

No, the real narrative of Pakistan is one that has nothing to do with the outside world, or geopolitics, or conspiracy theories. The real narrative of Pakistan is the story of a country where a fabulously wealthy elite, as well as a large and growing middle class, refuse to commit sufficiently to helping the majority of their brothers and sisters who remain desperately poor.

The suffering of the Pakistani majority is usually concealed behind sordid dramas enacted by our venal politicians, hypocritical nonsense about our country’s eternal blamelessness, and carefully choreographed nationalistic, ethnic, and sectarian myth-making. But the floods have washed away these illusions and confronted us with our hungry, wet, fearful truth: Pakistan is a land that lets its people suffer.

So now that we can see ourselves as we are, the question is: what will we do?

We can begin by abandoning our mindset of foreign dependency. Yes, aid from abroad is welcome at this terrible time — no single country has the resources to deal with a catastrophe on this scale. But our desire for aid should be temporary. We need to start taking care of ourselves. We need to move beyond aid. Long-term aid cripples us. Pakistan needs to help itself. To do this, we need to look at what we already have. We have enormous know-how that can be brought to bear, especially in our giant cities. We have people who understand warehousing, trucking, road-building, vaccination, tent-manufacture. We have people who operate electronic media, customer service centres, hospitals, mobile phone networks. We have massive private homebuilders and school systems and philanthropic networks. Individual Pakistanis have skills and the burning desire to help. What we need is organisation.

Yes, our civilian bureaucracy is struggling to cope, as any country’s would. But Pakistan also has large and well-organised armed forces. Working together, and alongside non-governmental volunteers, a great deal is already being done, and much, much more can and must be.

We should recognise as self-harming the distinction that leads many to say the army is responding well to this disaster and the government poorly. The army and the government are branches of the same thing: the Pakistani state. The army is funded by our taxes, which are raised by our government. And governments pay for armies in part because they are helpful in times like these.

So if the army is at the forefront of the state’s flood-relief efforts and doing good work, this fact should not be cause for divisive accusations. Instead, we should build on it. Let’s have a joint civilian-military natural disaster command. Let’s have NGO-army liaison offices to use the army’s logistics and planning capacities to help concerned citizens deliver aid as efficiently as possible. Let’s have jointly maintained, publicly accessible websites and call centres so people can see what’s happening and what’s needed. We are one country. Let’s act like it.

In a few months, as the emphasis shifts from saving lives to rebuilding livelihoods, the magnitude of what is required of our country long-term will become clear. Twenty million Pakistanis have been affected, one in nine of us. This year they have been undone by the floods. But for 63 years they have been neglected by their more prosperous countrymen and countrywomen. We can see their predicament now, as we watch them on the news, whether from our walled-off mansions or our middle-class apartments. These are families who each had only a few head of animals and a precarious two-room dwelling.

We can no longer pretend they do not exist. Nor can we pretend that what they had before was enough, given our own relative prosperity. Our goal must be not merely to restore their lives to what they were before the floods, but to give them better lives than before the floods. It was one thing to let them suffer out of sight. It is quite another to see them clearly, washed onto the shores of our newspapers and television sets, and still let them suffer.

Helping them means taxes. We pay only a tenth of our collective income to our state, far less than most countries. India and Sri Lanka pay half again as much as we do. We need to pay more. We need a comprehensive flood tax programme. We need to cease our foolish bickering about whether taxes should be paid to the provinces or to the centre, by merchants or by landlords, on luxury goods or on shareholdings. The answer to these either-or questions is both. Let’s tax both locally and nationally, both trading and agriculture, both consumption and wealth.

If we can do that, and then spend for the benefit of our impoverished majority, we will earn the right to be hopeful again for Pakistan’s future. Partition made us a country. The floods must make us a better one.

The writer is the author of the novels Moth Smoke and The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

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Source: DAWN.COM
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BURNING Kashmir


AJKU students protesting against Indian atrocities in Kashmir by Frontline Kashmir

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KASHMIR – THE WORLD’S LONGEST RUNNING CONFLICT

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by Eric Margolis

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A nuclear war between India and Pakistan would kill and injure tens of millions – and produce clouds of radioactive dust that would pollute all of Asia’s major rivers and, eventually, the entire globe.

I have frequently been under fire on the tense Pakistani-Indian cease fire line, known as the Line of Control, that divided Kashmir into Indian and Pakistani-ruled portions.

Border clashes between Indian and Pakistani troops have frequently threatened to escalate into a wider conflict in the south on the broad plains of Punjab.

Kashmir, some 92,000 sq miles (239,000 sq km), is roughly the size of Great Britain. It has 11 million people, which makes it larger than half the world’s nations. Eight million Kashmiris live in the Indian-ruled portion; 3 million in the Pakistani part. Another million people of Kashmiri origin live in Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region, which is part of historic Kashmir.

Like so many of our world’s problems, the Kashmir conflict harks back to the British Empire.   In 1947, Imperial Britain divided the Indian subcontinent into India and the Muslim majority state of Pakistan.   Millions of Hindus and Muslims died in the ensuing carnage of partition.

Kashmir was an independent princely state ruled by a Hindu maharajah.   Seventy-seven percent of Kashmiris were Muslim; 20% Hindu; and the rest Sikhs and Buddhists. The Hindu prince wanted to join India, but most of his people wanted union with neighboring Pakistan.

Violence erupted. Pakistan and India went to war over Kashmir. By the time the UN imposed a cease-fire, India held two-thirds, including the Vale of Kashmir, and Pakistan one third of the beautiful mountain state. They have sparred and warred over Kashmir ever since.

Further complicating matters, during the 1950’s, China quietly occupied and annexed  Kashmir’s 15,000 ft Aksai Chin region in order to build a military road linking its westernmost Xinjang province (the scene of the recent uprising by Muslim Uighurs) with Tibet.

China also claims the Indian-held Ladakh region of Kashmir as part of Chinese-ruled Tibet.   Ladakh is also called “Little Tibet.”

Anti-Indian sentiment in Kashmir simmered until 1989 when full-scale rebellion or intifada by Kashmiri Muslims erupted. India battled for a decade to crush the uprising, often using tactics that Indian human rights groups and foreign rights groups condemned as brutal and violations of human rights. Massacres, torture, collective reprisals and gang rape became common. So did massacres of Hindus and Sikhs by Muslim insurgents.

Pakistan’s intelligence service, ISI, armed and aided Kashmiri Mujahideen, and helped sustain the popular uprising, until 9/11/2001 when Washington forced Pakistan to mostly end its intervention in Kashmir.

After 40,000-80,000 deaths, most of them Muslims, India seemed in recent years to have extinguished the uprising.   But now, it has sprung once more to life, sharpening Indian-Pakistani tensions and drawing China into the dispute.

In 1948, the UN Security Council ordered a plebiscite to determine if Kashmiris wanted to remain in India, or join Pakistan. India has adamantly rejected the UN resolution and insists Kashmir is a purely internal matter.

The uprising, asserts Delhi, is all due to “cross-border terrorism” from Pakistan. So the conflict has festered for 62 years – even longer than the dispute over Palestine. Further complicating matters, numerous Kashmiri Muslims are calling for an independent state and demand Pakistan return Gilgit-Baltistan (“Northern Territories” to Pakistan).

Now, the Kashmir conflict can no longer be avoided. It has become part of the arc of crisis that includes Afghanistan, Pakistan and India’s violence-plagued western regions. Recent murderous attacks on India by Pakistan-based extremists were motivated by the ongoing conflict in Kashmir.

Equally worrying, there are reports that Chinese troops have entered northern Pakistan, adjacent to Kashmir. Beijing says these troops are helping repair the fabled Karakoram Highway (KKH), the only land link between close allies China and Pakistan. I have been over this 15,000 ft-high marvel carved from the ever-shifting mountains, one of my most hair-raising, thrilling adventures.

China is just finishing a deepwater port and naval base on Pakistan’s western Arabian Sea coast at Gwadar. I first wrote about this highly strategic port in a 1980’s New York Times op-ed piece, predicting it would become a major strategic issue.

Gwadar will afford China’s expanding navy a supply base and safe haven that gives onto the Indian Ocean and Gulf. Today, 55% of China’s oil comes from the Gulf; in a few years, some 80%. Gwadar lies right on China’s vital oil artery.

New roads, a railroad, and a gas pipeline are building northeast from Gwadar to the KKH, then into China. India is increasingly alarmed by this strategic development, which it claims is part of China’s growing “encirclement” of India.   Furthermore, India also warns that Chinese troops along the KKH are ready to intervene in Kashmir in the event of a new conflict between Delhi and Islamabad.

In spite of great reluctance, Washington is slowly being drawn into the Kashmir dispute. The US wants India and Pakistan to resolve their bitter Kashmir conflict so that the bulk of Pakistan’s army, now deployed against an attack from India, can be sent into action in Afghanistan and the Northwest Frontier (recently miserably renamed, Pakhtunkhwa). But this cannot happen so long as Kashmir burns, so Washington is tip-toeing into a new diplomatic mess in the Himalayas.

What a tangled web we weave…..Afghanistan can’t now be solved without stabilizing Pakistan. But Pakistan will remain unstable and angry so long as the Kashmir conflict continues. But the Bush administration allied the US with India, infuriating old ally Pakistan which sees India and now the US as its principal enemies.

Enter the dragon, China, Pakistan’s closet current ally, expanding its power westward towards the oil-rich Gulf.   Sir Halford Mackinder, it appears, was quite right about Kashmir, which lies at the nexus of these great events.

Copyright Eric S, Margolis 2010

‘A picture is worth a thousand words’.

Click on the site and see heart rending pictures shot by Ami Vitale on the current crisis in Kashmir. (http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/flash_point/kashmir/)

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Related Posts:

 

(I). 1/1/2009 The Bleeding Vale of Kashmir, Think the Unthinkable ( II). 4/2/2009Kashmir, the country without a post office (III). 12/3/2009 9 is not 11: Monster in the Mirror – VIII (IV) 18/4/2009 General Hamid Gul former Chief ISI talks to Alex Jones (Part 2) (V). 15/7/2009 Paramilitary Pretense, Who Controls the Predators?(VI) 26/7/2009 From Iraq to Afghanistan, US Wars Not Going According to Plan (VII). 30/11/2009 Arundhati Roy on Human Costs of India’s Economic Growth, Kashmir & Other Issues: I (VIII) 30/11/2009 Arundhati Roy on Human Costs of India’s Economic Growth, Kashmir & Other Issues: II (IX).30/11/2009 Arundhati Roy on Human Costs of India’s Economic Growth, Kashmir & Other Issues: III (X).30/11/2009 Arundhati Roy on Human Costs of India’s Economic Growth: IV(XI). 26/1/2010 Operation Cold Start, the possible war scenario between India, Pakistan & China (XII). 7/2/2010 Tear Gas in Kashmir (XII). 11/2/2010 Will the democratic war president really end the war? (XIII). 24/2/2010 Is India-Pakistan entente possible? (XIV)5/5/2010 YouTube Video: Indian Police murdered 13 years old boy playing cricket

 

 

Source: Eric S. Margolis
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ‘Wonders of Pakistan’. The contents of this article too are the sole responsibility of the author(s). WoP will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this post.

YOUR COMMENT IS IMPORTANT

DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR COMMENT

Wonders of Pakistan supports freedom of expression and this commitment extends to our readers as well. Constraints however, apply in case of a violation of WoP Comments Policy. We also moderate hate speech, libel and gratuitous insults.
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