September 09, 2006

Pakistani Scholar Worries About Country’s Future

Siraj Wahab, Arab News

JEDDAH, 9 September 2006 — Dr. Israr Ahmad is known for his excellent analysis of the Qur’an in Urdu. He appears regularly on PTV, QTV and Peace TV providing critical explanations of the holy verses. He was originally associated with Maulana Abul Ala Maududi, the founding father of the Jamaat-e-Islami. He was even more closer to the legendary Maulana Ameen Ahsan Islahi, the author of the monumental analysis of the Qur’an entitled “Tadabbur Al-Qur’an.” Dr. Israr drew inspiration from his mentor, Maulana Islahi.

Maulana Islahi was also associated with Maulana Maududi. When there were differences between Maulana Maududi and Maulana Islahi and many other leading scholars of the time on the issue of whether the Jamaat should dabble in politics, Maulana Islahi parted ways with Maulana Maududi. Dr. Israr followed his mentor and dissociated himself from the Jamaat and Maulana Maududi in the late 1950s. Maulana Islahi and Dr. Israr were of the opinion that reforming society should take precedence over politics.

Maulana Islahi also edited the respected Islamic journal “Misaq,” which is still published from Lahore. In a special issue of the journal, Dr. Israr’s biography was published.

Dr. Israr completed his graduate degree in medicine (MBBS) from Lahore’s King Edward Medical College in 1954. He gave up his medical practice in 1970 and since then has devoted his life for the study and teaching of the Holy Qur’an.

Dr. Israr was in Jeddah last week and Arab News sat down with him for a discussion on the current state of affairs in Pakistan. Now in his 70s, Dr. Israr seemed very disillusioned and pessimistic. In his younger days he was very active in politics having been the president of the Jamiat-ul-Tulba, but it is politics that now disturbs him.

[font color=navy size=4]“I am upset with this vicious cycle, or what I call this three-sided prism of military democracy, civil bureaucracy and feudal lords,”[/font] Dr. Israr said. [b]“They take turns at power. Sometimes the military takes charge, and the other two follow it; at other times the bureaucracy takes over, and the remaining two follow suit. Their interests are intertwined.”[/b]

[font color=red size=4]PAKISTAN IS A BITCH , DON"T U KNOW THAT DR.ISRA ?? People who advocated for Pakistan during Independence Movement remained in India ... HA HA AH ... PAKISTAN IS AN ARTIFICIAL COUNTRY[/font]

Dr. Israr described the situation. “When Ayub Khan took over everybody joined hands against him,” he said.[b] “At that time, it was believed that Ayub was the source of all evil and that immediately after his removal, things would be hunky-dory. When Ayub left, Yahya Khan took over. When Yahya left Zulfikar Ali Bhutto assumed power. Then all the religious parties came together to oust him. Then Zia-ul Haq took over. So democracy could never take root.”[/b]

The scholar said Pakistan has been thus plagued since its beginnings. [b]“The party that was responsible for the country’s creation — the Muslim League — was in fact not a party. It was a ‘tehreek’ (movement). And as with all movements when it achieves its goal, it folds up. The Muslim League that created Pakistan died immediately after achieving its sole purpose.”[/b]

When asked about military interventions interrupting the flow of the political process, Dr. Israr said they were due in large part to the weakness of Pakistan’s political system. [b]“If the political traditions were strong, the military would never have dared to intervene. Why didn’t the military intervene in India? Is it a small army? Morarji Desai (the former prime minister of India) was once visiting Pakistan. He was traveling by train from Lahore to Karachi. As was mandatory, the DIG in Rahim Yar Khan area was accompanying him in the train’s coupe. So he asked him why the Indian military never intervened in his country’s political affairs. Desai replied that the Indian military knew full well that if martial law were to be imposed, there would be thousands of bodies littering the streets of India, and one of them would be that of Morarji Desai.”[/b]

Dr. Israr said the ongoing political upheaval in Pakistan damaged the nation’s respect among its neighbors and the world community. [b]“We became a laughing stock with the frequent changes in governments. So much so that (Jawaharlal) Nehru (India’s first prime minister) once said sarcastically: ‘People keep pestering me to hold dialogue with the Pakistani leadership. My question to them is: Who should I talk to? I don’t change my clothes as frequently as they change governments in Pakistan.’ It is very easy to blame the military establishment, but one should also be asking who gave it the reason to intervene? It was the ineptitude of the political leadership. There were elements in the political class that were ready to welcome the military rulers with garlands. If the military had felt that the people would not like its intervention in the country’s political affairs, then it would have hesitated; it would have thought twice.”[/b]

Now Dr. Israr finds a disturbing portent for the future of Pakistan. [font color=red size=4]“I am worried. The reasons why Pakistan was created (‘wajh-e-jawaaz’), its raison d’etre, are being questioned now. This worries me. ‘Why Pakistan?’ the younger generation keeps asking. It is becoming a chorus now. ‘Why did you go for partition?’ they ask. ‘What was the reason?’ Is that not a worrying factor?”[/font]
[b]FOOL Dr.ISRA ! PAKISTAN WAS CREATED TO SERVE BRITISH INTRESTS TO CONTAIN RUSSIA AND FOR OIL , READ LATEST BOOK OF Narendra Singh Sarila The Shadow of the Great Game : The Untold Story of India's Partition/Narendra Singh Sarila. New Delhi, Harper Collins, 2005, 436 p., illus., $30. ISBN 81-7223-569-0[/b]
[link= newwindow][/link]

READ PART [ newwindow][/link]

Dr. Israr elaborated. “There were two reasons (for the creation of Pakistan) — one positive and one negative. The negative factor was the fear of the Hindu: the Hindu will finish us off; the Hindu will suppress us[u] (‘Hindu hum ko dabayega,’ ‘Hindu hum ko kha jayega’... etc., etc.)[/u] The Hindu will take revenge. It will finish our culture. It will strangle our language. [b]This was the negative issue that became a rallying cry for the Muslim League. Remember, at this stage the Muslim League was not a party[/b]. [b]It was just a club of nawabs and jagirdars.[/b] In his address of 1930 in Allahabad (‘Khutba-e-Allahabad’), the legendary poet Iqbal gave an ideological injection to this movement. During the address, Iqbal said: ‘It is my conviction that in the north of India an independent Muslim state will be established.’ It was a prophesy — not a proposal. Iqbal went on to say: ‘If this happens, we will be able to project the true picture of Islam to the world.’ [u]This was the positive reason. One year before 1930 Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinnah ... I am not calling him Quaid-e-Azam because he had not yet become the ‘quaid’. He was not among the founders of the Muslim League. And for six years after the founding of the Muslim League he didn’t join it. He was the private secretary of (the Indian independence hero) Dadabhai Nawroji. Even when he eventually became a member of the Muslim League, he retained dual membership — both in the Congress and the Muslim League. He did his best (‘sartod koshish ki’) to find some solution to the Hindu-Muslim problem. That is why Mr. Jinnah was referred to in those days as the ambassador of unity. Then he became disillusioned. So in 1929 one year before Iqbal’s ‘Khutba-e-Allahabad,’ Mr. Jinnah closed his political shop, bought a palace (‘kothi’) in London and started practicing law. S.M. Ikram, who wrote some interesting books in Urdu, was in England in those days studying at Oxford. He went to see Jinnah and asked him why he had left India. ‘The Muslims of India need your leadership,’ he told Jinnah. Jinnah’s reply will give you some idea of his disillusionment. ‘Hindus are incorrigible,’ he told Ikram. ‘And the thing with Muslims is that their biggest and tallest leader who talks with me in the morning goes to the commissioner or deputy commissioner or governor in the evening and spills all the beans. How can I lead such a community?’”[/u]

[i]After the second world war, British realized that they had to get out of India ,but the subcontinent was a vital strategic asset, so till the end London tried to keep India as a dominion like Australia or Canada , to keep it as– "a base for Britain to continue their domination of the Indian Ocean and the oil-rich Persian Gulf with its wells of power," says the author . But as the "Congress party of India would not play the great game with Britain against the Soviet Union," the British decided to partition India.

The ultimate object was to retain at least some part in the North-West of India, "for defensive and offensive action against the USSR in any future dispensation in the sub-continent". And Britain knew that this could be best achieved by having a willing and subservient Pakistan as its client. So the only way -- was to use Jinnah to detach areas of India, which border Iran, Afghanistan and Sinkiang and create a new state there. The author also traces the roots of the present Kashmir imbroglio and how the matter was dealt with in the UN to help out allyPakistan.[/i]

The turnaround in Jinnah, according to Dr. Israr, came later. [b]“It happened in 1932 when Iqbal went to London for the Second Roundtable Conference. At that time, he gave the same ideological injection to Mr. Jinnah. ‘This is the cause of the Muslims,’ he told Mr. Jinnah. It was this injection that Mr. Jinnah came back with to India in 1934. He was rejuvenated, and then he became the Quaid-e-Azam.”[/b]

When Dr. Israr thinks back to the creation of Pakistan, he marvels over the consensus that formed it. [b]“It was a miracle. Can there be any bigger stupidity from the political standpoint as to why a UP Muslim should support the Muslim League? It was an emotional atmosphere. Bombay Muslim, Madrasi Muslim, CP (Central Provinces) Muslim — what did they have to do with Pakistan? But they were the real creators of Pakistan. In Punjab, there was never a Muslim League ministry even for one day. It was either in East Pakistan or Sindh. Until the end, it was the Congress ministry in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). The real creators of Pakistan then were the Muslims of the minority provinces. They generated a wave in 1946. It was because of this wave that when the elections took place, they established beyond a shadow of doubt that the Muslim League was the sole representative party of the Muslim community.”[/b]

Dr. Israr said that what started right, soon went wrong. “The creation of Pakistan was a good thing. It was created with good intentions; there was a long historical background to the movement, but we failed badly. There is one quote from Quaid-e-Azam worth remembering: ‘God has given us a golden opportunity to prove our worth as architects of a new state, and let it not be said that we didn’t prove equal to the task.’ Unfortunately, we proved that we were not equal to the task. Where is Pakistan? We divided it into two countries (in 1971). What do we have now? [font color=red size=4]There is no such thing as ‘qaum’ in Pakistan. ‘Qaumiyaten basti hain. Qaum ho aur Kala Bagh dam na ban sake?’”[/font]

The Islamic scholar was asked if his view was similar to the American view which considers Pakistan a failed state.[font color=red size=4] “I don’t know what the Americans are saying. When they say Pakistan is a failed state, maybe they are referring to the country’s failed economic policies. I am talking about the ideological failure. Pakistan was not an ordinary country. It came into existence on the basis of an ideology. If you couldn’t take care of that ideology, then it is a failed state. It is an ideologically failed state.”[/font]

When asked if Pakistan’s nuclear leadership of the Muslim world qualified it as having some measure of success, Dr. Israr dismissed the idea out of hand. [font color=red size=4]“What is the use? Just one phone call — ‘with us or against us’ — and you are finished,”[/font] he said, noting that it wasn’t just a failure of leadership but rather the failure of personal conviction of the populace. “A country is known by its leader,” he said, “and then what about the people? What did they do? Don’t just blame the leader; the people are equally responsible for the sad state of affairs. ‘Paisa imaan hai, paisa deen hai.’ Except for materialism, people are not interested in anything. This is not the case of one or two people; I am talking about everybody in Pakistan. They have become too materialistic.”

So now the aging scholar holds a dim view of Pakistan’s future — divine intervention notwithstanding. “Only a miracle can save Pakistan,” Dr. Israr said. “To me, the creation of Pakistan was in itself a miracle, and I see optimism only in the form of a miracle. In 1946, Quaid-e-Azam had given up on the demand for Pakistan. When you had accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan, what did it mean? It meant that the country would remain united for 10 years. There were to be three zones. Yes, after 10 years any zone would have had the option of secession. All this meant that for 10 long years, there was no question of an independent country. It was only after Nehru issued a statement saying ‘Who lets anybody separate after 10 years?’ that is when Quaid-e-Azam got adamant. He took a step back. ‘Agar yahi niyat hai to ye Cabinet mission plan hamen manzoor nahi hai’ (If these are what your intentions are, then we don’t accept this Cabinet Mission Plan). It was Nehru who created Pakistan. To be honest, what Nehru said was absolutely true. Would anybody have allowed one zone to separate after 10 years? Nehru was right. ‘Nikal jaati hai jis ke muh se sacchi baat masti me/Faqeeh-e-maslehat been se wo rind-e-baada khaar accha.’ A miracle is possible even now but only if there is a will in the nation and among the people for the cause of Islam. Not for Islamabad but for Islam. The young generation should re-read the chapters of history. ‘Sabaq padh phir shujaa’at ka, adalat ka, sadaqat ka.’”

September 06, 2006


by B. Raman

Since June 25, 2006, there has been a ceasefire in the North Waziristan area of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, where the Pakistan Army, under US pressure, had launched a military campaign two years ago against the remnants of Al Qaeda and the Taliban operating from there and their local tribal supporters, who had set up a de facto Talibanised Sharia state in the area.

2. The de facto Sharia state arrested and executed suspected spies of the US and the Government of Pakistan, banned radio and TV entertainment programmes, burnt TV sets and vigorously enforced the Islamic laws. It allowed Pakistani jihadi organisations such as the Jundullah, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) to set up their training camps there where Uzbeck, Chechen and Afghan instructors trained volunteers from Pakistan and the Pakistani diaspora abroad.

3. According to some Pakistani police sources, at least two of the suicide British terrorists of Pakistani origin, who had participated in the London blasts of July, 2005, and some of those arrested in connection with a recently thwarted terrorist plot targeted against US-bound planes had been trained in one of the training camps in the North Waziristan area. In addition to the training camps of these Pakistani organisations, a training camp of the Taliban of Mullah Mohammad Omar, its Amir, and another of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) are also located in North Waziristan.

4. While the Jundullh camp was being run by Maitur Rehman, ,its Amir, who was previously in the LEJ and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), the camp of the Taliban was being run by Jalaluddin Haqqani and that of the IMU by Tahir Yuldeshev, its Amir. Apart from the Afghan Pashtuns and the Uzbecks, the other foreigners present in North Waziristan were Chechens, Uighurs and some Arabs, mainly Yemenis, Saudis and Egyptians. All these foreigners were mainly the survivors from among those who were helping the Taliban and Al Qaeda before 9/11. They were originally based in Afghanistan and crossed over into the FATA when the US started its military action against the Taliban and Al Qaeda on October 7, 2001.Many of these foreigners have married Pakistani tribal women, who have given birth to children. The tribals do not look upon those married to their women as foreigners. They treat them as members of their own tribe. Only those who have not married their women are treated by them as foreigners.

5. According to the same police sources, Osama bin Laden himself and his No.2 Ayman al-Zawahiri live separately. They keep moving between North Waziristan, the adjoining Bajaur agency and the Chitral area adjoining the Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan).

6. The FATA has a total area of 27, 220 sq.kilometers---about 2.6 per cent of the total area of Pakistan. It has seven tribal agencies--- South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Kurram, Orakzai, Khyber, Mohmand and Bajaur. Orakzai is the only agency which does not have a common border with Afghanistan. The remaining six agencies have a common border with Afghanistan.

7. There are six more pockets which are designated as tribal areas, but these are in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and are located in the Districts of Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, Laki, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan. The combined tribal population of the FATA and these six pockets is 3.5 million.

8. Initially, all these terrorist remnants had taken shelter in South Waziristan. The Army, under US pressure, mounted an operation against them in 2003. These operations, in which the Army sustained heavy casualties, led to a ceasefire under which the local tribals agreed not to allow foreigners to operate in Afghanistan from sanctuaries in South Waziristan. In return, the Army agreed to release all those arrested and to withdraw its troops from the area.

9. Following this, the terrorist remnants moved to North Waziristan and started operating against the US-led forces in Afghanistan from their new sanctuaries there. While Mullah Dadulla Akhund, a Pakistani member of the Taliban, co-ordinated the Taliban forays into Afghanistan from sanctuaries in Balochistan, Jallaluddin Haqqani co-ordinated the Taliban forays into Afghanistan from North Waziristan and Yuldeshev co-ordinated the forays of the Al Qaeda and the IMU.

10. In December last year, when the situation in Balochistan deteriorated due to the increase in the activities of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and other Baloch nationalist organisations, the majority of the Corps Commanders was reported to have told President General Pervez Musharraf that the Army was not in a position to wage two-front war---one against the Balochs in Balochistan and the other against the tribals of the FATA for sheltering the foreign terrorist elements operating against the NATO forces in Afghanistan.

11. They reportedly pointed out that the activities of the Baloch freedom-fighters posed a threat to Pakistan's unity and territorial integrity whereas the activities of the remnants of the Al Qaeda and the Taliban did not pose a threat to Pakistan's unity and territorial integrity. They, therefore, urged that Musharraf should reach a cease-fire with the tribals in the FATA area and divert the troops deployed there in support of the operations of the US-led forces in Afghanistan to Balochistan.

12. Since the beginning of this year, Musharraf started shifting some of the troops and equipment given by the US for counter-terrorism operations in the FATA to Balochistan. He posted Lt-Gen (retd) Ali Muhammad Jan Orakzai, who is from the FATA, as the Governor of the NWFP, in which capacity he is also in charge of the FATA.

13. Lt.Gen.Orakzai, who has many friends from amongst the tribal elders in North Waziristan, persuaded the tribals to agree to a cease-fire from June 25, 2006, to enable the shifting of more troops to Balochistan. The cease-fire has held since then except for a few minor incidents. Lt. Gen. Orakzai constituted on July 20, 2006, a 50-member jirga (consultative council) of tribal elders to negotiate a peace agreement with representatives of the Government.

14. This peace agreement was signed on September 5, 2006. Azad Khan, a representative of the local Taliban, and North Waziristan's Chief Administrator Dr Fakhar-e-Alam signed the agreement at the football stadium of Government Degree College in Miranshah, the headquarter town of North Waziristan, in the presence of army commander Major General Azhar Ali Shah. A 10-member committee of tribal elders, clerics and administration officials was set up to monitor the progress and implementation of the agreement.

15. Under the agreement, the local Pakistani Taliban accepted the Government demand that cross-border attacks should not be launched into Afghanistan and no sanctuary should be given to foreign terrorists. They also agreed not to attack government buildings or security forces, and not to conduct “targeted killings” of government servants, tribal elders and journalists co-operating with the Government. In return, the Government agreed to stop air and ground operations; return all weapons and other material seized during operations; restore the privileges of tribesmen; and remove all check-posts.

16. A similar agreement signed in South Waziristan two years ago did not work. The Taliban, Al Qaeda and their supporters just moved to North Waziristan and started operating from there. It is likely that they would now move to Bajaur or some other agency and operate from there. The agreement covers only the forays of the terrorists from North Waziristan into Afghanistan. It does not cover their forays into Afghanistan from Balochistan.

17. The provision regarding the foreign terrorists who have taken sanctuary in this area merely says as follows: "They have resolved that all foreigners in North Waziristan will leave Pakistan, albeit those who are unable to do so for certain genuine reasons shall respect law of the land and abide by all conditions of the agreement. They shall not disturb the peace and tranquillity of the area." The provision for the departure of the foreigners is voluntary. It will be the responsibility of the tribal elders to persuade them to leave or to become law-abiding residents of the area if they choose to continue to live in this area. The Government has agreed that they will not be arrested and deported. Thus, bin Laden and Zawahiri can continue to live in this area without fear of being arrested and deported if the tribal elders certify that they are not violating law and order.

18. The fact that Musharraf has signed such an agreement even at the risk of causing concern in Washington, London, Ottawa and other NATO capitals is indicative of his serious concern over the situation in Balochistan after the massacre of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, the tribal leader, and some of his followers by the Pakistan Army and Air Force. The BLA has resumed its activities and there have been more attacks on the local gas pipelines.

19. His first national security priority now is to crush the Baloch freedom struggle.He is hoping that the peace agreement with the Talibanised tribals of North Waziristan would enable him not only to divert more troops to Balochistan, but also to seek the help of the Taliban elements in Balochistan in his operations against the Balochs.

20. The Pashtuns are in a majority in certain districts of Balochistan. Quetta, the capital, itself has a fast growing Pashtun population. For many years now, there has been a movement for the merger of the Pashtun majority districts of Balochistan with the NWFP to form a bigger Pashtun state to be called Pakhtoonkwa. Tension between the two communities had led to serious riots in Quetta in the early 1990s. Subsequently, the leaders of the two communities had come together and resolved not to let temselves be manipulated by the Army and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to make them fight against each other. The two communities have been living in close harmony since then.

21. Since December last year, apart from stepping up the military operations against the Baloch freedom-fighters,Musharraf has embarked on a policy of divide and rule. Many Balochs living in Punjab and other parts of the country were motivated by the Army to return to Balochistan and help the army in countering the activities of the Baloch freedom-fighters. He distributed to them arms and ammunition and the land and other property confiscated from the freedom-fighters. In the wake of the deterioration in the situation, he is trying to revert to the old policy of creating a divide between the Balochs and the Pashtuns. He is hoping that in return for his cessation of the military operations in North Waziristan, the Taliban elements in Balochistan would help him against the Baloch freedom-fighters.

22. The Miranshah agreement should be a cause for concern not only to the Balochs, but also to the NATO forces in Afghanistan. It is likely to lead to an intensification of the Taliban attacks in Afghan territory from Balochistan.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail:

September 04, 2006

Hindu American Foundation Wins Lawsuit—But Contentious Textbooks Retained

DATE: September 1, 2006

Sacramento, CA– The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) prevailed today in
its legal action on behalf of Hindu parents from California against
the California School Board of Education (SBE). But in a mixed
ruling, the demand by HAF that the SBE be required to throw out the
currently approved textbooks and revisit the entire textbook adoption
process was denied.

HAF brought the lawsuit contending that the procedure through which
the SBE reviewed and approved revisions in sixth grade textbooks,
especially as to their presentation of Hinduism, was not conducted
under regulations required under the California Administrative
Procedures Act and contravened the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act. As
a result, HAF held, anti-Hindu academics were illegally allowed to
bias the process against Hindu parents and students in California
resulting in textbooks that presented the debunked Aryan Migration
Theory as fact, misrepresented caste as central to Hinduism and left
the impression that Hinduism devalued the role of women.

In his ruling on Hindu American Foundation, et al., v. California
State Board of Education, et al, Case No. 06 CS 00386, Judge Patrick
Marlette of the California Superior Court upheld HAF's claim that the
textbook adoption process was flawed and illegal. Judge Marlette
wrote that the California SBE, "at all times relevant to this matter
has been conducting its textbook approval process under invalid
`underground regulations. '" He withheld an opinion on the violation
of the open meeting act deciding that since the entire process was
already "invalid" a specific ruling would be redundant.

In his conflicted ruling, however, Judge Marlette ruled that the
"relief" demanded by HAF—that is to reject the textbooks adopted under
an illegal process—would be disruptive not only to those affected
sixth graders, but potentially every California public school student
using any and every textbooks adopted under the SBE's unlawful
policies. Judge Marlette wrote, "The Court therefore determines…that
respondent [SBE] should be permitted a reasonable opportunity to
correct the deficiencies in its regulatory framework governing the
textbook approval process…while maintaining the current system in the

"We are pleased, of course, that Judge Marlette agreed with our
position all along that the process in adopting the textbooks was
flawed and illegal," said Suhag Shukla, Esq., legal counsel of HAF who
coordinated the lawsuit with attorneys at Olson Hagel and Fishburn,
LLP in representing HAF and Hindu parents. "It would seem logical
that if the process was illegal, then the resulting textbooks must be
tossed out and the adoption process repeated. Apparently, Judge
Marlette is reluctant to reject possibly millions of books, in
addition to those in this case covering sixth grade social studies,
that could be implicated and allowed them to stand for now—that is
very disappointing. "

Despite stating that he considered the declarations and
correspondences attesting to the inaccuracies and discrepancies in the
Hinduism section of adopted textbooks from several scholars that
actually teach Hinduism, including a past president of the American
Academy of Religion (AAR) and current co-chairs of the Hinduism Unit
of the AAR, Judge Marlette held that the textbooks were not
necessarily illegal in terms of the standards set forth by the
education code because they were not "grossly inaccurate."

HAF attorneys interpreted the ruling to mean that the focus of Hindu
parents and HAF in California and other states should shift to
changing the standards and framework that set the criteria that must
be covered in any textbook covering Hinduism. If those standards
accurately reflect the Hinduism that most Hindus practice, then the
textbooks will necessarily comply. Current standards, they held, are
grossly outdated and inaccurate.

So while the process followed in adopting the contentious Hinduism
sections, and all recently approved textbooks in California, was
illegal—as HAF had argued—the judge apparently decided against a
sweeping ruling that could open the door to other lawsuits discarding
textbooks in the most populous state in the United States. HAF
attorneys are considering their options for an appeal of this lawsuit
to force revisions to the Hinduism section in the contested textbooks.

Importantly, Judge Marlette read versions of the textbooks that
already had been significantly improved in their coverage of Hinduism
due to the efforts of the Hindu Education Foundation and Vedic
Foundation. This success was in spite of the efforts of a subsection
of non-Hindu academics historically antagonistic to practitioners of
Hinduism, and a coalition of Indian communist and anti-Hindu groups.

While the immediate goal of revising textbooks beyond the changes was
unmet, HAF leaders expressed satisfaction that their efforts will
ultimately benefit all Californians in having reinstated public
accountability to the actions of the SBE.

"Over 14 years ago, in 1992, another California court ordered the SBE
to revamp its textbook adoption processes to bring it in compliance
with the law and all of this time, the SBE has been ignoring that.
It's taken HAF's lawsuit to put the SBE's proverbial feet to the
fire," said Shukla. "HAF, and the efforts of a talented team of
attorneys at Olson Hagel and Fishburn, have ensured that the SBE will
end its pattern of misleading California public school students by
acting arbitrarily, and in the case of Hindus, unfairly and inequitably. "

Judge Marlette in his ruling also rejected outright an
amicus, or friend-of-the- court, brief against HAF and Hindu parents
filed by a coalition of anti-Hindu and communist groups, as it lacked
merit and relevance.

"Our lawsuit was the first collective effort by a wide array of Hindu
American groups to counter a major injustice perpetrated against
them," said Mihir Meghani, M.D., President of HAF. "Our action,
enabled entirely by the support of Americans living throughout our
nation, is a testament to the Hindu community's potential and
determination to ascertain a secure and confident future for the next
generation of Hindu Americans. Today, Hindus have a voice, and they
have asserted that they will never again remain silent spectators as
they shape their destiny in this great country."

The Hindu American Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3), non-partisan
organization, promoting the Hindu and American ideals of
understanding, tolerance and pluralism.

Courts Slam the Harvard Ethics and Antics of the California Education Board

 Septemeber 4, 2006

Underground processes, Hostile academics

The headline above that appeared following the Calfornia court ruling on the Michael Witzel orchestrated, but possibly railroaded by the California Education Secretary Alan Bersin, the CSBE's shady textbook adoption process summarizes the predicament in which California Education authorities find themselves in. The whole process has raised eyebrows about a possible nexus between Harvard and California Department of Education, for Secretary Bersin sits on the Harvard Board of Overseers. The last minute entry of Michael Witzel of Harvard in the textbook preparation process and the extraordinary privilege accorded to him in preparing the textbooks has raised the specter of conflict of interest and worse in the $400 million textbook market.

The court has ruled that the process was in violation of procedures, but the enormous financial stakes invloved raises other questions.

Part of Bersin's job is to raise funds for Harvard, while his position as California Secretary of Education puts him in position to arm-twist publishers through the Harvard Professor Michael Witzel whose career has been in the doldrums since he was forced to step down as chairman of the Sanskrit Department at Harvard. Recently, his standing as an 'expert' received another blow when both science (genetics) and British admission of complicity demolished his favorite (and Nazi favored) Aryan theories.

This makes his scramble for publicity and political lobbying perfectly understandable. In his desperation, he even tried to sell his services in the Paksitani media!

Witzel of course claims that he was not aware that Secretary Bersin was on the Harvard Board of Overseers. He would, wouldn't he?

The report goes on to observe: "Given the devastating import of that finding for the entire California School System, the State Court has given the State lawyers some time to consider how they will remedy the fraud. The Federal Court had ruled that the State as such has sovereign immunity (or whatever) from the civil rights suit, but that members and employees who violated the law, must stand trial."

Where does this leave Messrs Witzel and Bersin? In the court room or the Board room?

Beyond the court rulings, what is the nature of their relationship to the $400 million California textbook market? It is known that Witzel at one time wanted to write books for California schools— has he renewed the proposal to the publishers, with the help of some arm-twisting by the helpful Secretary-cum- Harvard Board member Bersin?

No doubt lawyers and the media will look into this juicy story, but in the meantime, California school children and parents are stuck with these highly compromised and publicly discredited textbooks.

Recognizing the very great difficulty of the school boards to discard these books and come up with new ones, the report noted: "The State court Judge has agreed to the State’s desperate plea – for time to correct the SBE’s illegal processes. Stalling? Foot-dragging? ENRON-type fraud? Only time will tell."

In the meantime, "California teachers know that textbooks approved through Bersin’s shady process are grossly inadequate for a 21st century education. The State and taxpayers are stuck with the reminders of the SBE’s fraud and arrogance."

Just another thing: what about teacher morale? As a former educator in Indiana, Ohio and Texas, I see the damage to teacher morale as the greatest casualty. One hopes it will not come down to the same level as Witzel's morals.

N.S. Rajaram

For more details visit:

September 03, 2006

VSM awardee's note: Vande Mataram: Brig. Chitranjan Sawant


By Brig Chitranjan Sawant,VSM

Vande Mataram had indeed worked like a Ved mantra. This is what the author and poet, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya had prophesied in answer to the criticism that the words used in the song were too difficult to pronounce. He said to his critics "I may not live to see its popularity, but this song will be sung by every Indian like a Ved mantra". How true his words were. The history of the Indian freedom struggle bears a testimony to it. Vande Mataram has spontaneity and emotional appeal to arouse patriotism even in a slavish heart. The song has the capability to transcend barriers of caste, creed, region and religion. It was sung with gusto by patriotic Indians throughout the length and breadth of Bharat. When the song was sung , with the fading notes of the last stanza, the emotionally surcharged crowd of men and women would raise the slogan : Bharat Mata Ki Jai. The sound and the echo shook the mighty British Empire to its foundation.

Bankim babu wrote Vande Mataram in one sitting in his native village, Naihati, just a few miles away from the metropolis, Calcutta..It was Akshay Naomi which fell on a Sunday on 7 November 1875 and Bankim babu, a Deputy Collector of the British Raj was relaxing in his ancestral home. His mind and heart were in turmoil. The English masters were forcing their own national anthem, God Save the Queen, down the throat of all Indians. Bankim babu felt the divine inspiration and words came pouring out of his heart and on to his pen. An immortal song, Vande Mataram, stood composed. It was seven years later that Vande Mataram was incorporated in the famous novel of the author, Anand Math, dealing with the history of the Sanyasi uprising in Dacca, North Bengal and other places from 1763 to 1780. The Dharm Yudh was against the foreign domination. The English and their collaborators were targeted. The saints uprising has inspired the youth of Bengal ever since. Indeed, it was a never fading source of inspiration for the patriots all over Bharat

No less a person than Gurudev Ravindra Nath Tagore lent his voice to Vande Mataram when he sang it in the session of the Indian National Congress in Calcutta in 1896. It was a stirring moment, although the tempo was rather slow compared to that of the rendering of Vande Mataram by Lata Mangeshkar in the movie, Anand Math. Nevertheless, Vande Mataram had come out of the rural landscape to play its all important role on the national stage. Bengal loved the song and the rest of India was not far behind. Vande Mataram was sung in many tunes, in many languages by many men and women voluntarily. North, South, East and West of India were equally involved.
1905 was the high noon of the national fervour that Vande Mataram generated. Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy, passed a decree dividing Bengal into two parts, east and west. The British are at their best when they play the game called, Divide and Rule. However, it was rather unfortunate for the rulers that the Bang Bhang united India as a whole. Men and women of all faiths walked the streets of towns and talukas of Bengal singing Vande Mataram with religious fervour. It was a sight to be seen to be believed. The decree of Curzon was rescinded. But the British were back to their game of dividing the united people. They made some elements believe that singing Vande Mataram was a sign of Hindu domination. Their trick worked. The bogey of religion took its toll. The Muslim League was born. No one was happier than the British masters.

The Indian National Congress, at its Varanasi session , adopted Vande Mataram as the national song on 7th September 1905. The cohesive spirit that the song generated could not be lost sight of by the national leaders. The momentous decision was taken unanimously a century ago. Since then the national song is sung at all sessions not only of the Congress but also the Bhartiya Janata Party and some others. It is sung in the closing session of the parliament too. Truly national in word and deed.
Vande Mataram has all along been a song of patriotism and unification. Gandhi and Jinnah sang it together on the Congress platform till the latter quit the Congress as he was a non-believer in the principle of Swaraj . Of course, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Shri Purshottam Das Tandon, born rivals, were in the forefront in singing Vande Mataram at the beginning of the session everywhere. Shri Rafi Ahmad Kidwai , out and out a nationalist, never had a second thought about singing Vande Mataram. Nevertheless, the divisive forces were working overtime at the behest of their British masters to upset the applecart. How sad, the mischief mongers had their way. The rest is history. Is history repeating itsef ? Time alone will tell.

Singing Vande Mataram the Indian people had waged the war of Independence non-violently. The song was all along the National Anthem to the rank and file of freedom fighters. A committee comprising Nehru, Azad, Subhash Bose and Narendra Dev had said that the first two stanzas of the song had no reference to any religion and should be our anthem. It came as a rude shock when the controversial decision to make Jana Gana Mana the national anthem was announced on 24 January 1950. However, the words of Dr Rajendra Prasad, President of the Constituent Assembly, came as a soothing balm. He said, "…the song Vande Mataram , which has played a historic part in the struggle for Indian freedom, shall be honoured equally with Jana Gana mana and shall have equal status with it."

Taking a look at the English translation of Vande Mataram, done by Shree Aurobindo, one may safely surmise that the storm in a tea cup brewing at the behest of separatists will blow away and patriotism will prevail. The stanzas of the song are given below :
Mother, I bow to Thee !
Rich with thy hurrying streams
Bright with orchard gleams.
Cool with thy winds of delight
Green fields waving Mother of might,
Mother free.
Glory of moonlight dreams,
Over thy branches and lordly streams,
Clad in thy blossoming trees,
Mother, giver of ease
Laughing low and sweet!
Mother I kiss thy feet,
Speaker sweet and low!
Mother, to thee I bow

Indeed the original song in Bangala with a rich dose of Sanskrit words is soul stirring. Although the British government in India had banned the national song Vande Mataram, it surfaced and resurfaced. The British failed in suppressing the spirit of independence. The Indians won their freedom. Let us now all sing in unison the song of the People,

Upvan, 609, Sector 29, NOIDA – 201303, INDIA Mobile : 9811173590

BALOCHISTAN : How important it is for Hindus around the world

The events in Balochistan has triggered a ripple effect after brutal assasination of Senior Baloch leader Mr.Nawab Akbar Bugti by Pakistani Millitary , ripples reached to the hearts of Hindus . Prominent Hindu intelectuals have issued statements condemning Pakistan and also Hindu organizations indifference towards the incident and shortsightedness of its leaders . Before this tragic incident, Balochistan appeared on the radar of Hindus when former External Afffairs Minister , BJP leader Mr.Jaswanth Singh made a high profile to Hinglaj temple in Balochistan . Media coverage has brought the attention of temples in Pakistan that are in dilapidated conditions .

Though Baloch people are secular ,the Indians and Hindus in particular are not aware of this fact , that they took care of Hindus living in their areas unlike the rest of Pakistan . Dr.Kalyanaraman expressed solidarity to Baloch people and said Hindu need to explore all opportunities to forge closer relationship with Baloch community . Talking to IntelliBriefs he suggested hindus to organize seminars in Gujarat . He said "Start with Gujarat; the region is the closest neighbour. Let seminars be organized in Rann of Kutch, to start with."

He also said "Encourage pilgrims travel to Hinglaj and other hindu temples in Baloch. There are shakti peethams there and protection of these ancient temples and encouragement of pilgrims from Hindustan and all parts of the globe must be made top priority"

In this context Balochistan occupies special place in the hearts of Hindus and Indians .

Astola (Haft Talar) Island

A small, uninhabited island about six kilometres in length, with an isolated rock a short distance to the south. The island lies about 25 km south of the desert coast of southern Balochistan, and is the only significant offshore island along the north coast of the Arabian Sea. It is part of Balochistan, Gwadar district.

An aura of mystery and legend has always surrounded Astola Island. According to the Balochistan Gazetteer, printed in the beginning of the 20th century, the island is held in extreme veneration by the Hindus and pilgrims from all parts of the country visit in increasing numbers. It is said that goats are taken to the island for sacrifice; only the blood is spilt at the shrine while the flesh and entrails are thrown out to the sea. The island, also known as 'Satadip' among Hindus, houses the remains of an ancient temple of the goddess, Kali Devi.


Hingol Park is1,650 square km² and is the largest of National Parks of Pakistan and lies on the Makran coast in Balochistan and approximately 190 km from Karachi. A 109-kilometre stretch of the Makran Coastal Highway lies within the Hingol National Park, home to the Hinglaj shrine, which is dedicated to a 'goddess' known as Nani to the Muslims and Parvati, Kali or Mata to the Hindus. The Chandragup mud volcana, also sacred to the Hindus, lies across the coastal highway towards the beach.


The Murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti

The Murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti

Source: IndianMavericks
A very simple adage to keep in mind about Pakistan is that if it cannot export violence to other countries, it will implode.

And that is what is happening in Baluchistan.

The Pakistani Army's decapitation strike on Nawab Bugti's command complex has succeeded. Though it is increasingly becoming apparent that Nawab Bugti was shot before he was buried in the cave, we must all remember that in Pakistan they shoot first and then arrange everything for a photo op later.

The assasination has left the Balochis seething. There has been rioting in many parts of the Balochistan and in the past the Pakistan Army has proved incapable of preventing attacks on the Sui gas production facilities. A Baloch strike on the Sui facility had successfully managed to cut the supply of gas to parts of pakistan and forced several steel mills in Punjab to close down. The anger among Punjabi steel barons had encouraged Gen. Musharraf to take a harder line on the Balochis and consequently a cantonment had been set up in Kalpars with the help of Khan Mohammed Kalpars, who is a Bugti chieftian opposed to Nawab Akbar Bugti.

It may be recalled that a number of oil companies such as Occidental Petroleum, had expressed interest in being able to carry out prospecting for oil in Bugti and Marri dominated areas. The companies were unable to carry out prospecting as the local Bugti and Marri Sardars had made additional demands on the companies. One report suggests that a Bugti chieftian had quite bluntly lectured an American oil company representive on the need to give greater revenue and benifits directly to the Baloch people. The company representative was unhappy, to say the least.

By having a funeral for Nawab Bugti attended only by members of the Kalpars and Masuri clans, the sworn enemies of the Nawab, the Pakistan Army is now rubbing salt into the Nawab's family's wounds. This may seem highly offensive to you all, but its all par for the course in Pakistan.

Every Pakistani politician has taken it upon himself or herself to rail in the media about the negative impact of the murder of Nawab Bugti on the longevity of Pervez Musharraf's reign. Given how many people are running around helter skelter, screaming on top of their lungs in Musharraf's controlled media, that the end is near, you can be certain of one thing...

Nothing is going to happen.

By making a major show of their grief at the Nawab's death at Musharraf's hands, the Pakistani political elite are divesting themselves of the cost of actually having to do something politically about it.

What rankles among most of them, is not that a veteran political leader of the Baloch people has been killed, but that a member of the RAPE (as they are called on that disreputable forum) has been murdered in broad daylight. Despite all his connections to Eton, and his British Nanny, and good friends like Mary Anne Weaver of the NYT etc... the good Nawab has fallen to the Pakistan Army's bullets. Neither the US Ambassador nor the State Department spokesman is willing to say a harsh word to Musharraf about this. After all Musharraf helped the world so much by wiping out that planned terrorist attack on US bound airplanes from Heathrow.

The RAPE aren't shedding a tear for the Baloch people, they are in fact crying about the current American induced pecking order that places Musharraf far above them. This pecking order allows Musharraf to get away with murder, not just of random homeless men accused of being Al Qaida, if Musharraf desires he could pick any member of his choice among the RAPE and simply shoot them. He could order that their bodies be arranged with a few rocks in the middle of Wana somewhere and then the BBC and CNN will dutifully report that the Pakistan Army has used their brand new F-16s to kill "Al Qaida Terrorists plotting to attack America".

Fed rich on the trickle down from the drug trade of the roaring 80s and 90s, the RAPE now whines about the death of Nawab Bugti in the hope that their plea to their western sponsors will save them from Musharraf's bloodlust.

A large number of people are talking about how India should support the Baloch insurgency. These ideas are premature. Among those that are angry over the Nawab's death, perhaps a recent event has gone unnoticed? the surrender of a large number of Marri forces to the Pakistan Army. Also unnoticed was the surrender of a number of Bugti warriors to the Pakistan Army in Quetta.

The analogies between the Baloch insurgency and 1971 are largely based on hype. The Baloch people are too thinly spread to mount the kind of effective resistance that the Bengali speaking East Pakistanis put up. Unlike the Bengali speakers who were the majority in Pakistan (45 million Bengalis v/s 25 million west Pakistanis), the Balochis are a minority. Their only tactical advantage so far has been their command of the terrain and the PA will soon overcome that with their use of the American supplied helicopter gunships. Also after 1973, the Pakistan Army mapped out all the major water sources in the region. They are now in a position to deny Baloch populations access to these at will. This tactic was very effectively used to bring Bugti to the negotiating table last year.

All things taken into consideration, the essential core of a real freedom struggle is missing in Balochistan and consequently there can be no real movement towards that goal.

A year or so ago, I was asked to comment on the security situation in Sui after the Kalpars Cantonment had commenced building. I was specifically asked to evaluate the threat to the Sui fields and to the pipelines and generations stations in the Rajanpur area. I concluded that subsequent to the deployment of a large number of Pakistan Army units, and the institution of a punitive artillery shelling policy by the Pakistan Army, any further attacks on the Sui complex or the pipelines themselves would be severely disincentivized. I stand by that assessment.

It is difficult to assign such an assessment to the security of Gwadur or other nodes in the Balochistan road network.

The questions pm did not answer

- By Yashwant Sinha

For some of us who have been striving to ensure that the one-sided India-US nuclear deal does not pass muster in Indian Parliament, August 17, 2006 when the Rajya Sabha debated the issue, was a day of partial satisfaction, of partial victory. I have no doubt in my mind that if we, in the various political parties, other writers, commentators and editors, and the nuclear scientists had not expressed our reservations against the deal, the Prime Minister would not have been compelled to offer the clarifications he offered in Rajya Sabha on that day. Let us not forget that when the House of Representatives of the US Congress passed the Bill, there was no official response from the government of India. In fact, through background briefings of a section of the media which is blindly supporting the deal, the government sent out a message that it was happy at the outcome. August 17 is a victory of sorts because the Prime Minister has been forced to dismount from his high horse. But a large number of questions remain, which the Prime Minister deliberately ducked that day. Even when I put some of these questions to him directly and pointedly at the end of the debate, he decided to remain glued to his seat and chose not to respond to them. If we want an equal and mutually beneficial deal with the US, these questions must be answered satisfactorily. And until that happens, we must not give up.

The Prime Minister reiterated once again that there will be no shifting of the goalposts from the July 18, 2005 statement. I had, in my intervention in Rajya Sabha, made the point that some of the goalposts had already been shifted from July 18. I even listed them point-wise. But the Prime Minister chose to ignore these questions. The following is the list of questions asked to the Prime Minister and which he deliberately chose to ignore in his reply:

1. I challenged the basis of the deal, namely energy security. I quoted facts and figures to prove how the approach was fundamentally flawed. I asked the Prime Minister to share with the House his understanding of the economics of nuclear energy compared to other sources of energy. He did not reply to this point. I also asked him to state the kind of investment which was needed even to have a meagre 20,000 MW of nuclear energy by 2020. He again did not reply.

2. I asked him to share with the House the financial cost of the separation of our nuclear facilities between civilian and military. I reminded him that at no stage has the government taken Parliament into confidence with regard to this cost which some have estimated at US $40 billion. He once again chose not to share this information with Parliament.

3. He did not explain why his interpretation of the deal and the US interpretation of the deal have remained so diametrically opposed to each other all these 13 months.

4. I asked him why we have accepted a water-tight separation plan which does not apply to nuclear weapon states. As is well known, nuclear weapon states accept only voluntary, revocable safeguards while perpetual inspections by the IAEA apply solely to non-nuclear weapon states. He kept quiet.

5. I asked him why the fast breeder programme, which is based entirely on our own technology, has been offered for safeguards in future in the separation plan when he had assured the nation that it will not be brought within the safeguards. He kept quiet.

6. I asked him why the Cirus experimental reactor, which as Arun Shourie said, produced a third of our weapons grade plutonium, had been included in the list of civilian facilities and the fuel core of Apsara was being sought to be shifted from its present location. He ducked this question.

7. I quoted the US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 5, 2006 where she said, "We have been very clear with the Indians that the permanence of the safeguards is permanence of the safeguards, without condition. In fact, we reserve the right, should India test, as it has agreed not to, or should India violate in any way IAEA safeguard agreement to which it would be adhering, that the deal from our point of view would at that point be off." The Prime Minister told the House that India would not accept any obligation in the bilateral agreement not to test. Secretary Rice has said the opposite and has asserted as highlighted earlier that we have already agreed not to test. Who should we believe?

8. I asked the Prime Minister specifically whether the US actually opposed the supply of fuel for Tarapur by the Russians recently despite their commitment in the July 18 agreement to facilitate such supply. He did not reply.

9. My colleague Arun Shourie asked him pointedly about the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty. In the July 18, 2005 statement, we have agreed to "work with" the US for the conclusion of this treaty. The question is has the US agreed to work with us or does it expect us to toe whatever line it enunciates? This is exactly what has happened. Reliable verification is a key issue of this treaty. Our consistent position has been that observance of obligations under the treaty must be verifiable. Yet, the draft which the US has presented to the Committee on Disarmament does not contain any such provision. Arun Shourie wanted to know what government of India’s position on this issue was. It was met with resounding silence.

The principles of reciprocity, parity and sequencing of the various steps as enunciated in the July 18, 2005 statement have already been violated by the US with impunity. Thus, based on what has already happened, not on what is likely to happen, the July 18 statement is in tatters. What is going to happen to it when the final Bill is adopted by the US Congress is horrendous from our point of view. And yet, we choose to bury our head in the sand in the face of the gathering storm and pretend that all is well.

I was disappointed when Sitaram Yechury rose in Rajya Sabha at the end of the Prime Minister’s speech, even after I had expressed my reservations about it, and suggested that the Prime Minister’s reply should be taken as the Sense of the House. I immediately disagreed with his suggestion. But I must note here that there is a fundamental difference between our position and the position of the CPI(M). The CPI(M) had criticised the 1998 nuclear tests. They are against India becoming a nuclear weapon state. So, their concerns did not include concerns relating to the weapons programme, which incidentally is our basic concern. The CPI(M) also accepts the July 18, 2005 statement about which we have reservations. They are also reconciled to the deviations and departures which have already taken place from the July 18 statement.

I began my speech in Rajya Sabha with these words, "I propose to approach this task not in a partisan manner, but in as objective a manner, as fair a manner as possible, and I expect that those who will respond from the government’s side will also keep this in mind and respond to our concerns taking this as an issue of supreme national importance." I was disappointed, therefore, when the three speakers from the Congress Party including the minister of state for external affairs, Anand Sharma, indulged in "tu tu main main." But the Prime Minister was even more disappointing. He gave the House an overdose of his biography which was entirely unnecessary because nobody had attacked him personally. Was he responding to his friends in his own party? His remark that he inherited a bankrupt economy from me in 1991 was in poor taste. Dr Manmohan Singh was the economic adviser to the then Prime Minister, Mr Chandrashekhar. In that capacity he used to not only attend all Cabinet meetings but was also fully involved in economic management. Nobody, therefore, should know better than him what we had inherited when we came into office in November 1990. His mentor and the famous economist I.G. Patel in a lecture delivered at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore on October 28, 1991 had this to say: "If the present crisis is the greatest that we have faced since independence … it is because successive governments in the Eighties chose to abdicate their responsibilities to the nation for the sake of short-term partisan political gains and indeed out of sheer political cynicism." He went on to blame the Rajiv Gandhi regime directly for this crisis. He called the Chandrashekhar government feckless but added that, "The Chandrashekhar government began to behave more responsibly than most people had expected." It would have been better, therefore, if the Prime Minister had shown greater intellectual honesty than he did while making this entirely uncalled for remark.

We have only partially succeeded in dissuading the Prime Minister from treading the dangerous path of the India-US nuclear deal. The struggle is far from over. I hope Lok Sabha will keep up the pressure when it debates the nuclear deal. I hope the scientists who issued the statement will keep up the pressure when they meet the Prime Minister on August 26, 2006. I have already said in Rajya Sabha that if the deal goes through in the shape that the Americans have given it and even if this government accepts such a deal, it cannot bind India in future.

Yashwant Sinha is a former Union minister for finance and for external affairs

Islam in China: no longer insulated

http://www.hindu. com/
Pallavi Aiyar

.........Reliable data are difficult to obtain but China's estimated 20-30 million Muslims may, in fact, be the country's second largest religious community, after the 100 million or so Buddhists. Islam in China is moreover currently in the process of a strong revival, spurred on by increasing trade links with the Middle East that have ended the centuries-long isolation of Chinese Muslims from the wider Islamic world.

Greater orthodoxy amongst Chinese Muslims is on the rise as ever-larger numbers go on Haj and youngsters return from their studies abroad in Muslim countries........

Certain restrictions continue to apply to Islam in China. For example, proselytising is strictly forbidden and Muslims who work for the government are not allowed to pray in their offices. Moreover, children below the age of 18 are not permitted to receive religious instruction at all. Nonetheless, as a visit to virtually any part of Ningxia will reveal, the Hui are embracing their faith with enthusiasm.

In recent years, Ningxia has benefited from donations worth millions of dollars from the Islamic Development Bank, which has enabled a facelift for The Islamic College in the provincial capital Yinchuan, as well as the establishment of several Arabic language schools. Interest in Arabic is booming so much so that even the Ningxia Economic Institute has begun to offer 3-4 year Arabic courses.

A hundred miles east of Yinchuan in the small town of Ling Wu, 50 other women, their heads covered with scarves, sit in a room reciting verses in Arabic from the Koran.......While the women are granted the title of Imam they are still not allowed to lead men in prayers. Their role is more that of a teacher and their students are exclusively women.

Ling Wu's Tai Zi mosque has been rebuilt four times in the last 20 years. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), most places of worship were demolished and Tai Zi suffered the same fate. Since the 1980s, however, a religious renaissance accompanied by increasing prosperity has led to the local Muslims donating enough money for four major expansions of the building.... ...the stronger sense of group identity...fostered by these renewed linkages with the Islamic world, is leading to new challenges.

In the past, the Hui were amongst the least orthodox Muslims in the world. Many smoked and drank, few grew beards, and Hui women rarely wore veils. Increased contact with the Middle East has, however, wrought changes. Thousands of Hui students have returned from colleges in Arab countries over the last few years and they have brought with them stricter ideas of Islam. Mosques in Ningxia have now begun to receive worshippers five times a day, more Hui women have taken to wearing head scarves and skull caps are in wide evidence.

There is a strong identification among the Hui community today with the wider problems of the Islamic world. "It is American policy that has given all of us Muslims a bad reputation," says Yang, Tai Zi mosque's woman Imam, quivering with indignation.

For many Han, this identification of the Hui with communities outside of China is problematic. "Earlier the Hui were just like us except they didn't eat pork. Now they think they are very special. They think of themselves as foreigners," a Han foreign office official in Ningxia complained. .......

The second liberation of Tibet?


Sunday September 3, 2006

A rather strange piece of news appeared recently in the press: a German Google Earth user spotted a military base in China’s Northern plains. There would be nothing extraordinary in this if the free satellite imagery software had not shown an accurate scale model of a highly sensitive stretch of the disputed Sino-Indian border in the Aksai Chin area of Ladakh. Now, the model is located 2,400 km away in the Huangyangtan province. The military complex is said to be used for training and familiarisation of troops, helicopters and infantry vehicles.

The facility, with ‘uncharacteristic and man-made snow peaks, glacial lakes and snow rifts ironically in the middle of an arid plain’ is flanked by a large military depot.

The Indian Express was told by an army official: “Militaries are always known to simulate potential conflict zones as a standard practice. …There is nothing alarming, these are standard training methodologies.”

Alarming or not, one can only conclude that training on a Himalayan terrain is still very much a part of the PLA’s preparation today.

It is in South Block corridors alone that some still believe that because Special Representative M K Narayanan and his Chinese counterpart Dai Bingguo regularly meet to discuss ‘border issues’, the Chinese are not preparing for any contingency.

After the last round of talks, the Indian public was told: “the focus of the current round of talks is on devising an agreed framework for a settlement of the border issue on the basis of the political parameters and guiding principles” finalised during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in 2005. The Indian Envoy even declared that a ‘package deal’ on the boundary issue would be agreed upon within the next two or three rounds of dialogue. It probably means that like in the fifties, the Chinese negotiators will tell their Indian colleagues: “you give us Aksai Chin and we will recognise that Arunachal is part of India.”

Whatever it is, the Chinese planners are cautious people and in case they do not get what they want, they prepare for any eventuality.

That is why some ten years ago, the Chinese government undertook to consolidate its western borders. Today the arrival of a railway track to Lhasa provides a tremendous boost to the ‘consolidation of the borders’ and it changes the strategic and military balance in the region. Beijing is now able to bring troops and medium range missiles to the Tibetan capital, located less than two days by road from both the Eastern and Western sectors of the Indian border (Arunachal or Ladakh).

Beijing has further decided to include a railway track from Lhasa to Shigatse in southern Tibet. The following step will probably be to close China’s western railway loop and bring the train from Shigatse to Kashgar, cutting across the same disputed Aksai Chin. Who can doubt that it is the most serious threat to India’s security since the not-so by-gone Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai era.

In 1959, while intervening in Parliament on the Chinese intrusions in Aksai Chin, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had declared: “Nobody has been present there. It is a territory where not even a blade of grass grows.” Nehru had thus justified that his government had taken several years to inform the Indian Parliament about the road built on the barren heights of the Aksai Chin.

A few years ago, former Defense Minister George Fernandes is reported to have told a news agency: “China has built roads up to the border, while there has been negligence on India’s part.” But since then nothing has been done to counter the Chinese moves.

In October 1950, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had entered Tibet under the pretext that “China’s borders had to be consolidated.”

In 1994, China’s Vice Minister of Railways Sun Yongfu had first announced that the train was a way to “promote the economic development of the Tibet Autonomous Region and to strengthen national defense.” Although the ‘strengthening of the borders’ is listed second in the program, it is undoubtedly, the most crucial factor for the leadership in Beijing.

The ‘Tibetan railway dream’ (since the early days of the Sun Yat Sen regime, Chinese engineers had dreamt of a railway to Lhasa) was part of a grand Tenth Five-Year Plan (2001-2005). UPI had commented: “Sun’s mention of defense concerns is a reminder that China’s borders with India, the former Soviet Union and Vietnam have been troubled by skirmishes and full-blown war over the past three decades. Better rail links will facilitate swifter access for military personnel and equipment, which may also be targeted against the country’s occasionally restive minorities.”

In 1996, Xinhua News Agency had made public the project known as ‘Third Railway Construction Boom’, part of a ‘Go West’ campaign.

Ten years later, in July 2006, the 1118-km railway stretch from Golmud to Lhasa was inaugurated. With about 960 km of the Qinghai-Tibet railway located 4,000 meters above sea level (the highest point is 5,072 meters), the arrival of the first train in Lhasa attracted as much attention in world media as Zidane’s head butt.

Indeed it is a great achievement for the Chinese engineers and one can only remain in awe of such a technical feat. During the last few weeks, the press has continued to carry stories of the highest railway in the world. It appears that the train transported 7,241 people from Xining, capital of Qinghai Province, to Lhasa, in its first two weeks of operation: all trains were full.

All this should not make us forget that the railway is not only a showcase of Chinese technology and wealthy economy. John Ackerly in the The Wall Street Journal wrote: “Its $4.1 billion dollar price tag makes it the largest and one of the most unprofitable projects ever undertaken in Western China.” And to add: “It is also the most unwanted by local residents.”

Chinese are pragmatic; there is no question for them to invest in ‘unprofitable’ projects. It is clear that China will profit in two ways: the first one by bringing more Han settlers to the Roof of the World.

The Dalai Lama and Tibetans in exile see the opening of Lhasa to railway traffic as a Chinese plot to ‘liberate’ Tibet a second time. Bringing ‘vast seas of Chinese colons’ into their country would be the best way to demographically ‘cleanse’ the Tibetan plateau, a technique successfully implemented in Inner Mongolia and more recently in Xinjiang.

The London-based Tibetan Information Network had reported sometimes ago: “the construction of railways to Urumqi and Kashgar in the western-most Xinjiang Autonomous Region was accompanied by a significant influx of Han Chinese migrants, as was the establishment of a railway to Golmud in the 1960s.”

Apart from the flood of Han settlers, the extraction and transport of minerals (like uranium) and precious metals out of Tibet by railway will also benefit the Chinese government which could thus quickly recover its investments. Even in Communist China, business is business and investments have to be recovered.

And ominously for India, the main beneficiary is bound to be the People’s Liberation Army, which today faces huge costs in feeding and equipping hundreds of thousands of soldiers in Tibet.

During the course of a stay in Lhasa in 2001, President Hu Jintao declared: “With the passage of 50 extraordinary years, Tibet of today presents a scene of vitality and prosperity with economic growth, social progress and stability, ethnic solidarity and solid border defense.”

It is important to note the emphasis on the ‘solid border defense’. The train will be the crucial factor to reinforce Chinese ‘border defense’.

Even if India would decide to build similar roads or railway tracks to protect her borders, it would take at least eight to ten years to begin the work and perhaps as many years to complete it.

In the meantime, India and China will continue their ritual border talks: the last one was the 8th round since the appointment of special representatives in 2003.