February 17, 2007

Professor Subhash Kak resolves Einstein's twin paradox

LSU professor resolves Einstein's twin paradox

BATON ROUGE – Subhash Kak, Delaune Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at LSU, recently resolved the twin paradox, known as one of the most enduring puzzles of modern-day physics.

First suggested by Albert Einstein more than 100 years ago, the paradox deals with the effects of time in the context of travel at near the speed of light. Einstein originally used the example of two clocks – one motionless, one in transit. He stated that, due to the laws of physics, clocks being transported near the speed of light would move more slowly than clocks that remained stationary. In more recent times, the paradox has been described using the analogy of twins. If one twin is placed on a space shuttle and travels near the speed of light while the remaining twin remains earthbound, the unmoved twin would have aged dramatically compared to his interstellar sibling, according to the paradox.

“If the twin aboard the spaceship went to the nearest star, which is 4.45 light years away at 86 percent of the speed of light, when he returned, he would have aged 5 years. But the earthbound twin would have aged more than 10 years!” said Kak.

The fact that time slows down on moving objects has been documented and verified over the years through repeated experimentation. But, in the previous scenario, the paradox is that the earthbound twin is the one who would be considered to be in motion – in relation to the sibling – and therefore should be the one aging more slowly. Einstein and other scientists have attempted to resolve this problem before, but none of the formulas they presented proved satisfactory.

Kak’s findings were published online in the International Journal of Theoretical Science, and will appear in the upcoming print version of the publication. “I solved the paradox by incorporating a new principle within the relativity framework that defines motion not in relation to individual objects, such as the two twins with respect to each other, but in relation to distant stars,” said Kak. Using probabilistic relationships, Kak’s solution assumes that the universe has the same general properties no matter where one might be within it.

The implications of this resolution will be widespread, generally enhancing the scientific community’s comprehension of relativity. It may eventually even have some impact on quantum communications and computers, potentially making it possible to design more efficient and reliable communication systems for space applications.

For more information, please contact Subhash Kak at 225-578-5552 or kak@ece.lsu.edu.


Contact: Ashley Berthelot
LSU Media Relations

Narendra Modi : Man with a mission and vision

People must point out my mistakes: Modi

[ 15 Feb, 2007 2019hrs IST INDIA TIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

POLITICALLY CORRECT: A murderer from Punjab is a murderer, and one from Kashmir is not, asks Modi (PTI Photo)

NEW DELHI: Is Hindutva icon Narendra Modi sounding increasingly circumspect and politically correct as elections in Gujarat approach? Has he stopped talking about minority appeasement, for instance? No, says the man himself. "My language is what it was."

To elucidate, he talks about a recent visit to Punjab where he brought up the issue of Parliament-attack- accused Afzal's plea for clemency. The Congress he said had taken but an hour to reject a similar plea from the accused in General Vaidya's assassination. But on Afzal, despite the Supreme Court endorsing that he be hanged, the Congress is dragging its feet. "A murderer from Punjab is a murderer, and one from Kashmir is not - where is the justice in this?"

That is vintage Modi - making tenuous links to drive home his point and derive the maximum political mileage. Punjab went to the polls this week.

The Gujarat Chief Minister recounts this incident in a long chat with RSS weekly Panchjanya in its latest issue. That the state elections due at the end of this year are top of the mind is clear from the fact that a major chunk of what he says is Gujarat-related. As always, he wears his swayamsevak badge for all to see, but talk of nationalism begins with the state. Deftly, he weaves personal politics with an electoral agenda, denying national aspirations or even a propensity to be controversial.

"I don't say anything that is controversial", says Modi. "I only say what I think is in the interest of the nation. Like Lokmanya Tilak used the Ganesh festival as a vehicle for the freedom struggle, I have used Narmada as a symbol of the country's development."

Asked about when the Sachar Committee on the status of Muslims came calling in Gujarat, Modi says: "They asked me, what do you do for Muslims? I said I do nothing. Please write my words down carefully, I do nothing for Muslims or for Hindus. Whatever I do, I do for 50 million Gujaratis."

Then he lashed out. "What you (the committee) are doing is designed to divide people. Till you do divisive things I have no information for you. I have brought Narmada waters to the dry Sabarmati. Should I now tell you how much of Sabarmati water has gone into Hindu stomachs and how much into Muslim stomachs?" The sound and fury ends with a tongue-in-cheek recounting of how the committee members were heard saying it was best not to mess with Modi.
Hate campaigns don't wash with Modi. Whether it is protests against the Yoga practice of Suryanamaskar or the enduring campaign against him personally, "I don't care", is the essence of Modi's reaction. But yes, the consummate politico knows it's not enough to brush aside all criticism. "As a swayamsevak I have tried to fulfil all responsibilities. If someone brings my mistakes to my notice I'll try to correct them. If I knew all my mistakes I would be God. That's why I expect people to come forward and acquaint me with my flaws."

Or, when asked about his ambitions in national politics, the Gujarat CM says in most unlikely fashion: "I am a small state functionary." He insists he holds but a small position as the chief minister of Gujarat and as such will not speak on matters at the national level. But, "since childhood I've been a swayamsevak and have prayed for my nation's glory. And I will do all I can to see Gujarat contributes to that national glory."

So where is the famed arrogance? There is no arrogance, says Modi, even getting philosophical. Asked what his deepest regret is, he says: "Sadness and joy are a part of life. I have no complaints, no expectations nor a personal agenda."


N.S. Rajaram
A literary phenomenon

Like Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, S.L. Bhyrappa’s Aavarana is likely to have far-reaching social and political fallout that goes beyond its literary niche.

In reading S.L. Bhyrappa’s latest (Kannada) novel Aavarana, Dan Brown’s best selling novel Da Vinci Code springs naturally to mind. Both have as their subject the suppression of true history and the propagation of a myth by powerful interests. In Da Vinci Code, the villain is the Catholic Church and its modern secret and sinister arm the Opus Dei. In Bhyrappa’s novel, the villain is the collective of politically correct historians and ‘intellectuals’ who out a combination of greed and fear have suppressed the truth about Islam and its record in India. While these intellectuals—called dhimmis by the Egypt-born scholar Bat Ye’or—can boast of no Vatican or Opus Dei, they do form a powerful clique enjoying the support of successive governments who find it politically expedient to appease Islam and conceal the truth about its record and teachings. As this phenomenon is by no means limited to India, Bhyrappa’s Aavarana, and the public reaction to it should be of interest far beyond its intended readership.

The comparison between Aavarana and Da Vinci Code cannot be taken too far, for Bhyrappa’s treatment and also the truth—actually truths—he brings out are far more real than the mystery and adventure that make up the story of Da Vinci Code. It is not clear if Bhyrappa was influenced by Dan Brown’s novel, but seems unlikely. He does not mention it in his extensive bibliography (for a novel). In his preface Bhyrappa states what led to his latest novel (my translated summary):

This is my second historical novel. My earlier work Saartha was an attempt to portray in novel form the transitional period (from the old to the medieval) that took place in the eight century AD. In Aavarna I have made a similar attempt for the long period after Saartha to the present. This period of Indian history, though rich in records is in the grip of aavarana (concealment and suppression) forces. The Saartha period presents no such problems. One can write the truth without fear. It is very different with the Aavarana period. One encounters barriers of aavarana at every step. I had therefore to adopt a radically different approach and narrative technique.

…As things stand today, forces of aavarana hold both the historian and history in their grip. How can historical truth flourish when the historian stands as the main barrier to its discovery? …Truth and beauty, that is to say the link between truth and art, as well as the differences— this has been the subject of my research (in his doctoral dissertation and later as academic). Later as a novelist, I have had to grapple with this challenge at every stage of my creative life.

In writing historical fiction, I am constantly aware of my responsibility for being true to history. One can write fiction about contemporary issues without research. But in a historical novel every important detail must be supported by research. A writer’s ultimate responsibility is to historical truth. When there is a conflict between beauty and truth, the writer must choose truth over beauty.

From this discussion it is clear that Bhyrappa is a serious thinker who has studied the subject, often going to the primary sources and major research works. His bibliography is quite extensive for a novel and artfully introduced as part of the narrative. (A surprising omission is the eight volume magnum opus History of India as Told by Its Own Historians compiled by Eliot and Dowson.) It is to Bhyrappa’s credit that he has gone beyond superficialities by tracing the horrors of Islamic rule and Jihad to the sources themselves— the Quran and the Hadits. He has consulted several Islamic scholars and lived with Muslim friends to learn how Indian Muslims today practice their faith and also how they relate to their history. As a result, Aavarana is more than a novel about Muslim India; it is also a primer on the beliefs and practices that condition the life and thought of Indian Muslims.

In this regard, as in much else, Aavarana is a much more serious work than Dan Brown’s novel. To begin with, the readers of Da Vinci Code don’t carry the burden of history to the same extent as Hindus and Muslims. The Catholic Church sees Dan Brown’s novel as an assault on its doctrine and its version of history, but the largely secular West can shrug it off and treat it as entertainment. To understand the potential impact of Aavarana, one has to imagine what Da Vinci Code would have provoked had it appeared in Europe in Martin Luther’s time. When Aavarana appears in English—as it surely will—the reaction even in the West, is likely to be much more vociferous than what we have seen against Da Vinci Code, especially among the Muslims and their apologists.

India today is caught in a time warp. Though secular in name, its people, Muslims in particular, are still trapped in the medieval ethos of the Islamic past. Driven by a combination of political expediency and fear of violence, successive governments have refrained from rocking the boat. Left dominated intellectuals have turned Islam negationism (Jihad negationaism)—comparable to Holocaust negationism—into official ideology. Any work that challenges the cozy myth of peaceful Hindu-Muslim coexistence is bound to raise their ire. Bhyrappa is the bete noir of this brand of intellectuals. He sees them as enemies of truth and is not afraid to say so. They are the real villain of his novel. This background is necessary to fully appreciate the novel as well as the ferocity of the denunciations that will soon be coming.

To return to Da Vinci Code, what Brown has rattled is the theological construct called the Gospels, which the Church also projects as authentic history. The suppression of the true origins of Christianity is something that most scholars including many theologians are prepared to acknowledge. But Brown goes beyond this to the claim that Jesus survived the crucifixion and left a bloodline by fathering Mary Magdalene’s children. This according to Da Vinci Code led to the Merovingian dynasty that went on to rule what is now France. This rests on flimsy evidence at best, though there is a persistent tradition in the Provence region of France that Mary Magdalene did migrate to southern France from Palestine.

The main source for Brown’s novel is the speculative work Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln that appeared nearly twenty years ago. More substantial is Brown’s claim that Mary Magdalene was a much more important figure in the early Church, even called the ‘Apostle of Apostles.’ She was defamed by the Church and turned into the prototypical sinner who repents and is forgiven by Jesus. The Vatican may not accept it, but the Nag Hammadi Manuscripts, known also (wrongly) as the Gnostic Gospels do suggest that she was an important figure on par with the other Apostles. (For the record, Gnostic Christians were not Christians and Gnostic Gospels are not gospels, if we mean by gospel a theological biography of Jesus.)

A second thread in Dan Brown’s novel is the destruction of the feminine divine by early Church leaders and the institutionalization of anti-feminism by the Vatican. The idea that Christianity was originally not anti-feminist and Jesus was a feminist is favorite theme of feminist theologians like Barbara Thiering. But this theory does not wash unless we make early Christianity more Pagan than Jewish, and turn Jesus into a Pagan sage. These theologians and writers don’t seem to see that the feminine divine is incompatible with monotheism. Religions of the Book—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—will never allow their One God to be usurped by a Goddess. The exaltation of Mary Magdalene too has its limits: she can only reflect Jesus’s glory, never exist independently of him.

Be as it may, Da Vinci Code may still be read as an entertaining mystery thriller untroubled by its subversive message— some would say its hidden agenda. He leaves untouched the darker aspects of the medieval history of Europe, especially the horrors of the Albigensian Crusade launched by Pope Innocent III that destroyed the brilliant Provencal civilization in what amounted to genocide of the followers of the Albigensian heresy. In place of this real history Dan Brown gives us a romanticized version of the Knights Templars as preservers of the secret and its possibly fictional successor Priory of Sion as the protectors of the Merovingian royal line. So, far all the turmoil it has caused, Da Vinci Code remains entertaining fiction that causes no great anguish.

Bhyrappa’s Aavarana gives the reader no such respite from historical horrors. It narrates the story of a Rajput prince and his wife captured in the siege of Deoghar and turned into slaves in Muslim courts in the time of the Mogul Emperor Aurangazeb (reigned 1659 – 1707). He later accompanies a Mogul officer and witnesses the destruction of the great Vishwanath Temple in Benares and witnesses the horrors inflicted by Moguls on the Hindus. Aavarana describes these horrors in vivid detail and understated language, leaving little to the imagination. There is no hyperbole to obscure facts, which makes the horror all the more real.

To bring out how these horrors are whitewashed and even concealed by modern negationists (aavarana forces in his words), Bhyrappa introduces a contemporary character Lakshmi-Razia, a Muslim convert who returns to Hinduism after being shocked by the truth about India’s Islamic past. She receives her first jolt when she visits the famous ruins of Vijayanagar (destroyed in 1565), now a World Heritage Site, as a script writer for a documentary. Soon her father, whom she had not seen since her conversion to Islam dies and she inherits his papers. She finds that her father in her absence had made a detailed study of Islam and its record in India. Using his notes she writes and publishes the novel about the captured Rajput prince in Mogul service noted earlier.

This lands her in all kinds of trouble, beginning with her former colleagues and friends, especially her mentor, one Professor Krishna Shastry. Her novel has blown their cover and they use their influence to have the novel banned and she is forced to go into hiding. In this, Bhyrappa has given a hint of what may befall his own novel for the same crime: he has exposed the horrors to a wide audience and has also punctured the scholarly pretensions of Jihad apologists masquerading as intellectuals.

It is unlikely that Bhyrappa and his latest novel will suffer the same fate as the novelist-hero and her novel in Aavarana. He is too well-known a figure with a huge following. The political climate has also changed. But the experience of many recent authors suffering a similar fate is too fresh in memory for readers to miss the main points of his novel: horrors of Islamic rule and the collusion of Aavarana forces.

In summary, with his latest novel Aavarana Dr. S.L.Bhyrappa has produced a major literary work distinguished by skill, scholarship and courage. One hopes that it will soon be translated into other languages and made available to a wide audience. Of one thing we may be certain: Aavarana will be “cussed and discussed” for a long time to come, to borrow a phrase from Lincoln.

February 14, 2007

Rahul Gandhi & HinduUnity.org : Rape allegation, Media , Video clips

Why Hindu Unity is withholding video clips of two key individuals ?

Media is deliberately misleading Indian Public : Indian media is known for manipulating “headline readers” by posting ambiguous headlines . On this issue few news reports carried these headlines :

“Ezboard apologises for scurrilous writing on Rahul Gandhi “(Hindustan Times): It gave an impression that the EzBoard and HinduUnity guys are same .

“Web portal apologises” (Times Now.tv) , “We are sorry Rahul, says web portal” (Times of India) : Which portal ? HinduUnity.org or ezBoard which hosted their message board . A politician who read the news got an imporession that Hinduunity.org apologized . Ezboad said one line , "We do not support what has been said on hinduunity.org". Hinduunity was on offensive and gave a tit for tat to Rahul Gandhi’s legal notice with a message on it’s website and relaunched the message board in few days, and video clips .

Though media reports say that BJP and RSS wish to keep a distance from hinduunity , it could be possible that other opposition parties will strike at right time and in the meantime they are encouraging hinduunity to carry on with their groundwork . On the other hand Hinduunity is seriously looking for a leaders who can take up this issue in India , and some sources say they found few powerful leaders .


Rahul Gandhi’s aides are working hard with media to plant articles demonizing hinduunity.org in the name of hindutva . To this the Pakistani newspaper Dawn splashed an article projecting hindutva as hindu version of Zionism and alliances between Hindus and Jews in US are growing . The article churned out from an old article published in NewYork Times , with heavy quote lifted ,when website hosting company pulled plug on Hinduunity website back in 2001 . Another one Minister Dasuinshi compared Rahul traits with Rahul "All these traits are like Rajiv. But there are many challenges ahead of him. I think his way of learning, his discipline, not making himself obvious, these things are like Rajiv, and he is very forward thinking -- about technology and scientific issues," . talking to BBC Hindi service .

Indian media is predisposed to project Rahul Gandhi as a future leader of Congress and capable of leading India , nevertheless open records speak the truth . Commenting his performance in the parliament one leader said Rahul “is yet to establish himself as an able parliamentarian” . It is correct, a quick Question search of Loksabha website reveal more information and supports the assertion of the leader . , Rahul Gandhi asked 2 questions , yes TWO questions in 30 months . and on the whole he spoke 3 times ,(THREE) . Now compare this with other young Parliamentarians , all sons of prominent politicians .

Questions asked

Mr.Dushyant Singh: 421
Milind Murli Deora = 197
Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia : 290

Source : Loksabha

In the meantime an online petition to President of India and Chief Justice of India is gathering momentum with number of signatures nearing to 500 . There is a common question that is been raised by many who were skeptic about the veracity of the allegation , be on internet forums or in person , that is “if this is correct ,the first persons who exploit such incidents are members of opposition parties , so why they are not raising their voice ?” . True , an answer posted on a forum is either there are more skeletons in the closets of opposition parties or it is too hot to handle. One should notice the attitude of women’s group particularly NGO’s, they usually rush their fact finding teams based on the information . In this particular case the website clearly mentioned the girl’s residential address along with the name of her Parents and to mock Rahul Gandhi’s legal notice they released few video clips of individuals who spoke on camera covering their face , probably fearing for their life accusing Mr.Salman Kurshid of intimidating the witness .
Sources say HinduUnity deliberately released partial video interviews , people who saw complete video say there are 2 individuals who spoke without cover . One person in 70’s took the victim Ms.Sukanya to Delhi to register with Human Rights commission and also National Commission for Women , he even arranged a Press Conference . Another a member of a political party . We don’t know what is the rationale behind this ,but something is cooking in HinduUnity.org .


Prakash Javadekar,
Spokesperson, BJP

The idea is to pay lip service to the public anger, as in the case of retail FDI, and to show beyond doubt that Sonia Gandhi's writ is supreme

The letter diplomacy between Congress President Sonia Gandhi and the UPA government is by design. There are two purposes of this, one is to pay lip service to public anger over FDI in retail and the second is to show beyond doubt that Sonia Gandhi’s writ is supreme in this government.

The problem with the Congress is that they have no cohesive economic policy. First they were votaries of a mixed economy. After that they favoured liberalisation, which, if Ashok Mitra would have us believe, was a choice thrust upon them by the US. This is the reason why they have always fumbled with regard to the economy. I firmly believe that Manmohan Singh as finance minister under Narasimha Rao was more honest and effective than he is as prime minister under Sonia Gandhi.

This is not the first letter that Gandhi has written and which was systematically leaked to the media. These leaks are not about the subject of the letter, but a way to show Dr Singh his place. Which is why this letter diplomacy, in a way, explains the internal dynamics between the Congress party and the UPA government.
My thesis goes like this: the letter has very little to with its subject; it is basically a shock absorber for the furore which arises after the government decides on a course of action. It also appears that there are other purposes to be achieved by the letters — to express resentment against certain actions of the government which cannot be voiced publicly.

Let’s go a little into the history of this letter diplomacy. The first such letter written by Gandhi was about price rise. The Congress became hyper active, the prime minister and the finance minister were humiliated at a Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting and the news leaked to the media. Then the government announced some policy measures in terms of the export of wheat and pulses. Ultimately wheat import was ineffective, pulses were not imported and prices continue to remain high. The common man continues to suffer, but that does not seem to have forced Gandhi to write on the matter again.

The second letter was about the prices of diesel and petrol, and keep in mind that this was written when prices were $70 per barrel. Now the prices have come down to $50 per barrel, but the cuts offered by the government have not been commensurate with those demanded by Gandhi or even what the public deserves. She played to the gallery, the government showed that it jumped through hoops to bring down prices, and the public got only marginal cuts, but lots of drama.

The third outburst was about farmers’ plight under the SEZ policy. But in this case too, the government has not come up with a comprehensive rehabilitation policy, despite the fact that in one of its last acts before Sonia Gandhi quit its chairmanship, the National Advisory Council (NAC) had written to the government with a draft policy. Neither the centre nor any Congress-led state government have issued any substantive directives to fulfil at least some of the demands made by the farmers. This third issue which Gandhi raised has also remained in limbo.

The latest letter is on FDI in retail, which the BJP believes will lead to massive unemployment. The letter, portions of which were selectively made available, does not seem to oppose FDI in retail on principle, as the BJP does. There must be something personal that has spurred Gandhi to write. Looking at the last few examples, there is no doubt in my mind as to how this latest round of letter diplomacy will pan out. There will be no follow up and indeed, as Kamal Nath has already shown, it’s business as usual on this matter in the commerce ministry. Thus the whole thing is a charade — more political than real — and designed to fool the people. But the Congress should realise that one cannot fool all the people all the time.


Source: SAAG.org
Guest Column by Belaar Baloch

The low-level insurgency in Balochistan is now moving towards full-fledged war with a well-equipped conventional army's force much larger than that of the Baloch guerrillas. History, however, shows that nationalism as a political ideology can be an effective tool against an occupying force, even a sizeable one, as experienced by foreign occupiers in Asia, Africa and Latin America following the Second World War. This is true, in part, because nationalists are resolute and often more willing than their opponents to risk death in the pursuit of self-determination.

Andrew Mack argues in his book 'Why Big Nations Lose Small Wars': "an actor's relative resolve interest explains success or failure in asymmetric conflicts. In essence, the actor with the most resolve wins, regardless of material power resources." According to this theory, power asymmetry explains interest asymmetry, the greater the gaps in relative power, the less resolute and hence more politically vulnerable strong actors are, and the more resolute and less politically vulnerable weak actors are. In this context, the outcome of war in Balochistan depends on our resolve. Here leadership will play a vital role in determining the future of the Baloch nation. Thus far, however, while the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) has made a remarkable show of unity and successfully avoided political games and empty phrases, Baloch political leadership has been unable to forge a common front. A fragmented leadership is open to many kinds of exploitation and Islamabad's ruthless army will go to any length to undermine Baloch unity.

Politics rule in all aspects of war. In a Clausewitzian sense, the use of organised force for political purposes must have a political dimension, such as the trinity comprised of people, political leadership and an army (in our case, Baloch guerrilla forces). In this view, the burden of responsibility lies with political leadership whose responsibilities include: providing moral and material support to its forces, educating the public and fighting on the diplomatic front. These objectives can be achieved by forming a common front and devising a coherent strategy.

The assassination of Nawab Akbar Bugti in August 2006 was an attempt by the Punjabi army to send the message that negotiations over autonomy (which Nawab Bugti initially desired) were not an option. From the outset, Baloch leadership, particularly Nawab Bugti, believed a democratic approach might work and that desired political objectives could be achieved through a dialogue with the central government. The Dera Bugti Agreement in 2005 with the Punjabi establishment was the first step in direction, though the outcome of the "Deal" remains mysterious even now. It now seems, however, that this agreement, coupled with parliamentary initiatives for minimal provincial autonomy, were simply a deception on the part of the military establishment to buy more time to increase its military presence in the region and speed the construction of additional cantonments.

Although Nawab Bugti took command of local forces and embarked on a plan to target enemy forces, such drastic steps were probably defensive. By escalating the conflict, he may have actually intended to bring the government back to the negotiating table. From a military perspective, the motive behind such escalation is to compel the opponent to negotiate favourable terms. Later, however, Nawab Bugti surely grasped the military's ulterior design. And in his subsequent messages to the Baloch nation, he urged every individual to take up arms to defend every inch of the fatherland against naked Punjabi aggression.

The incident of 26th August 2005 not only shocked the entire Baloch nation, but also marked a clear departure from its previous policy of coexistence. From the beginning, the BLA has advocated a clear policy objective, i.e., restoration of full sovereign status to the Baloch nation. The BLA maintains that the only way to achieve this objective is through guerrilla warfare, not with a policy of appeasement.

Those so-called democrats in Balochistan who believe in a unified Pakistan and hope that with the return of democracy, the Baloch will benefit, are not only ignorant of Pakistan's past but unwittingly legitimising the occupation of Baloch lands. In fact, since the emergence of this artificial state, the Punjab majority and its military have made every effort to suppress the national identities of its small nations in the name of unity and the integrity of this so-called Islamic state. In fact, Pakistan, which has been ruled by tin-pot dictators for most of its history, has never enjoyed fully-realized democratic institutions, nor is it predicated to experience democratisation in the near future. In fact, historical experiences suggest that the process of democratisation in countries like Greece, Argentina and Brazil only began when their juntas realized they were unable to successfully wield power without legitimacy and were thus forced to surrender authority to the civilians.

In Pakistan, democratic rule is almost impossible for two reasons:
First, Punjab province constitutes the largest province in terms of population and it has never embraced democratic values. Instead its population uses military power as an instrument to promote its interests at the expense of the smaller provinces. The people of Punjab have welcomed each military coup, portraying the military as the saviour of Pakistan. If the 'democrats' in Balochistan are still not convinced, they should examine public opinion in Punjab state. There a vast majority support the very military rule whose policies include genocide of the Baloch people, the plundering of Baloch resources, plans for new settlements in Balochistan, and the construction of Kalabagh Dam which will deprive rural Sindh of water, upon which rests its agro-based economy.

Second, the military has emerged as the largest corporate conglomerate in Pakistan 's economy. From breakfast cereal to the banking sector, military interests run through every aspect of Pakistani society. To defend this financial corruption, the military needs to be at the forefront of power, and a final decision maker. It will go to any length to defend its policies. The ultimate goal of the Punjabi elite is to use the power of the army to secure its interests. The goal is not only to deprive small nations of their rights, but to make their own people fear that any concession to the smaller provinces will lead to break-up of the state.

It is pointless to hope that in the near future, the military will recognise the rights of civilian rule. The only time the military has taken a backseat was when a catastrophe had occurred under its rule, for example, in the 1970s the humiliating defeat and loss of Bangladesh compelled it to transfer authority to a civilian administration, though for a very short period of time. Similarly, when the Afghan war ended in the late eighties, top generals became liabilities rather than assets for both for the West and for its own Army.

Such signs are again emerging:. Punjabi elites are now willing to back down over their disputed claims to Kashmir-the Kashmir policy that has been the cornerstone of Pakistan's foreign policy for decades. The official rationale behind such initiatives is to make peace with India and promote coexistence in the subcontinent. The underlying evidence, however, shows a different picture. In a situation where both resources and military are heavily overstretched on its eastern borders, Pakistan's dictator is making every effort to normalise relations with India in order to persuade the Indian government to reduce its troop levels. Facing tough resistance from Baloch forces, Islamabad is willing to sacrifice its Kashmir policy in a bid to save Balochistan.

Any moral support from India for the Baloch cause will increase Pakistan's perception of a threat to its eastern borders. As the world's largest democracy and an emerging global power, India carries moral weight and the Baloch would be the potential beneficiary of its moral support.

Those who claim that China is a progressive force in the region often shy away from the question: why does China overlook Baloch grievances? In fact, China's hunger for energy has become the driving force behind its exploitation of third world resources. The key purpose of its foreign expeditions is to ensure steady economic growth. To accomplish this, China aligns itself with dictatorial regimes: from Sudan to Burma , the Chinese are on a mission to exploit natural resources; in return they provide extensive support to some of the world's most ruthless dictators. Being the largest authoritarian state in the world, China has never regarded it necessary to consider human rights issues in developing countries, including Pakistan; what drives Chinese policy is crude national interest.

In pursuit of their short-term economic interests, the 'champions' of the Baloch middle class are undermining long-term Baloch national interests. At a time when the whole leadership of one party is behind bars and facing punitive actions, the opportunists are hoping to make gains at the expense of others. A dangerous silence on their part simply favours the Punjabi regime.

A critical moment in the history of Baloch people has arrived and it requires its political leadership to show character and courage.

(The writer is a Baloch academic living abroad. He is working in areas related to strategic and security issues.His E-mail address is:bellar3@yahoo.com)

February 13, 2007

Jalal Talabani : A gift for power

A gift for power

Iraq's Kurdish president is impossible to pin down. He's friends with the Americans - but also with Iran. He calls himself a Maoist - yet enjoys immense wealth. Who is Jalal Talabani? Jon Lee Anderson meets him in Baghdad

Friday February 9, 2007
The Guardian

On November 5, the day Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death, Jalal Talabani, the longtime Kurdish guerrilla leader, who is currently Iraq's president, was in Paris, on a state visit. He was installed in the sumptuous presidential suite at Le Meurice, a gold-and-marble Louis XVI hotel on the Rue de Rivoli, overlooking the Jardin des Tuileries. I watched the verdict with Talabani in his suite, on a large plasma-screen television tuned to the satellite channel Al Arabiya. He sat in a gilded chair, and his expression betrayed nothing. Soon, after a few curt words, Talabani got up and wandered off to his bedroom. One of his aides tiptoed behind him. The aide reappeared a moment later to say that Talabani was sitting in an armchair, deep in thought.
Saddam's death sentence put Talabani in an awkward position. Saddam had been convicted for the mass killing of 146 people in the Shia village of Dujail in 1982. If he was executed, he would not face a second trial, for the 1988 Anfal campaign, in which as many as 186,000 Kurds were killed. Talabani was on the record as being opposed to capital punishment, but, according to the Iraqi constitution, one of his duties was to approve death warrants. In public statements, he had finessed this problem by saying that he would respect any decisions made by Iraq's judiciary. Still, he was in a predicament.

After a while, Talabani returned, in a better mood. He sat down next to me, but we were interrupted by the arrival of two superbly dressed Frenchmen carrying large shopping bags from Façonnable and Ermenegildo Zegna. They approached Talabani, bowed deferentially, and took a pair of dark suits from the bags. One man brandished a measuring tape, and explained that they needed His Excellency to remove some of his clothes for a fitting. Talabani stood up and began struggling to take off his jacket. A valet rushed over to help.

Talabani, who is 73 and has the fat cheeks, brush moustache and large belly of a storybook pastry chef, is renowned for his political cunning, his prodigious love of food and cigars, his sense of humour, his unflagging optimism, and his inability to keep a secret. He is known as Mam Jalal, which means Uncle Jalal in Kurdish. It is a term of both endearment and cautious deference; Talabani has a mercurial personality, with extreme mood swings. He has survived in Iraqi politics largely owing to an ability to outfox his opponents and, sometimes, his allies. Over the years, he has made deals with everyone from Saddam Hussein to Ayatollah Khomeini and both Bush presidents. He is probably one of the very few people in the world who can claim, truthfully and unapologetically, to have kissed the cheeks of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. Talabani refers to George W Bush as his "good friend" but regards Mao Zedong as his political role model.

Mowaffak al-Rubaie, a Shia politician who is Iraq's national security adviser, told me, "He's very difficult to define. If you are an Islamist, he brings you Koranic verses; if you're a Marxist, he'll talk to you about Marxist-Leninist theory, dialectics and Descartes. He has a very interesting ability to speak several languages, sometimes" - he laughed - "with a very limited vocabulary. He has a lot of anecdotes and knows a lot of jokes. He is an extraordinarily generous person, and he spends like there is no tomorrow."

Rubaie mentioned a period in the 60s when Talabani was allied with Saddam. "One day he was a good friend of Saddam, and then he became a staunch enemy," he said. (In fact, Talabani flirted with Saddam twice more.) Rubaie saw nothing contradictory in this; Talabani, he said, was the ultimate pragmatist.

No other Iraqi politician has Talabani's experience, contacts, and savvy. As a result, he has made the presidency, which was meant to be more ceremonial than the prime minister's job, a powerful post. Yet this role, too, carries contradictions. After spending decades fighting for "self-determination" for Iraq's Kurds, Talabani finds himself defending Iraq's unity. He now has a choice to make: either he can be a founding father of the "new Iraq" - the elder statesman who will help rescue it from civil war - or, if Iraq falls apart, he can be a founding father of an independent Kurdish state. As always, Talabani has hedged his bets. "I am a Kurd from Iraqi Kurdistan, but now I am responsible for Iraq," he told me. "And I feel my responsibility." In another conversation, he said, "It's true that I am an Iraqi, but in the final analysis I am a Kurd."

Under Saddam, the Kurds "were facing a dictatorship in Baghdad that was launching a war of annihilation against the Kurdish people," he said. "We were in need of all kinds of support from anybody in the world. When war starts, and you participate in it, you will need support from anyone. There is no supermarket where you can go and choose your friends in a war."

In the current war, some of his unreconciled friendships have been troublesome. Iran was once one of the Kurds' greatest allies, and Talabani had planned to fly from Paris to Tehran. But he abruptly postponed the trip at the request of the Bush administration: he would have arrived in Tehran on November 6, and the prospect of pictures of America's Iraqi ally visiting Iran the day before the midterm elections made the White House uncomfortable.

In Baghdad, Talabani lives in a yellow- brick mansion on the eastern shore of the Tigris river, outside the Green Zone. Until April 2003, when Talabani seized it, the mansion belonged to Barzan al-Tikriti, Saddam Hussein's half brother and the former chief of the secret police, who, like Saddam, was sentenced to die for his role in the Dujail massacre. (Barzan was executed on January 15, but his hanging was bungled when the rope ripped off his head.) The presidential offices are next door, in a palace that once belonged to Saddam's wife, Sajida.

Talabani's complex sits on the north side of the ramparts of the Jadiriya Bridge; on the south side is the home of his political ally Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the Shia leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Hakim's house is where Tariq Aziz, Saddam's deputy prime minister, once lived. The approaches on Talabani's side are heavily guarded by Kurdish peshmerga ("those who face death") fighters - Talabani commands some 50,000 peshmerga in the militia of his party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, or PUK - and on Hakim's by militiamen of the Badr Organization, his party's armed wing.

The two leaders and their militias work closely on political and security matters, though in other ways the Kurds, who are largely secular, and the Shias, who are very devout, present a sharp contrast in styles. During weeks spent in Talabani's company, I never saw him or any of his aides pray. Talabani is not averse to alcohol, either, and he enjoys playing cards with a small group of his cronies.

Talabani's wife, Hero, does not live in Baghdad with her husband. She stays in their home city of Sulaimaniya, where she runs a foundation and a television station, and publishes a newspaper. She and Talabani have two sons: one, Bafel, runs the counterinsurgency wing of his father's party; the other, Qubad, represents the autonomous Kurdish government in the US.

At home in Baghdad one morning, Talabani invited me up to his private quarters. It was early, and he was still dressed in loose-fitting pyjama bottoms and an immense yellow-and-blue striped rugby shirt. A valet brought us Nescafé stirred with sugar into a creamy mixture. (I later learned that this was "Mam Jalal style".) Talabani lit a cigar. (He favours the long ones known as Churchills.) The day before, two suicide bombers had blown themselves up at a police recruitment centre just outside the Green Zone, killing 38 potential recruits. It was the latest incident in what almost everyone but Talabani acknowledged was an accelerating sectarian war. "I don't think Iraq is on the eve of a civil war," he said stubbornly. "Day by day - and this is not an exaggeration - Sunni and Shia leaders are coming close to each other."

Iraq's main problem was not sectarianism, he said, but a terrorist war waged by Ba'athists and foreign forces such as al-Qaida. Without losing his habitual equanimity, he added that the situation had been made worse by American ineptitude, arrogance and naivety, saying: "I think the main one responsible for this was Rumsfeld" - Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who had resigned days earlier. (Talabani has since welcomed President Bush's plan to send an additional 21,500 American soldiers to Baghdad in a so-called "surge". He said in a statement that it showed "a new effort to improve security in Iraq" and that it "concurs and corresponds with Iraq's plans and ideas" - although some members of the government had been openly sceptical.)

After breakfast, Talabani went downstairs to deal with the affairs of the day. Half a dozen senior personnel were waiting, as they do each morning. When Talabani has an appointment elsewhere, he is driven in a BMW 7 Series armoured black saloon, preceded and followed by a sizable fleet of white Nissan Patrols carrying peshmerga guards. But, more often than not, people come to Talabani. It is a measure of his ascendancy that Nuri al-Maliki, the prime minister, usually comes to Talabani, rather than vice versa. Maliki is the third prime minister since 2004, while Talabani has been a constant fixture. Maliki does not have Talabani's access to American and other foreign leaders, and must often work through him. In public, Talabani tries to defer to Maliki, and he appears to wish him to succeed.

One source of Talabani's power is his wealth. Together with his old rival Massoud Barzani, who is the president of the autonomous Kurdish region, Talabani is believed to have amassed many millions of dollars in "taxes" on oil smuggled out of Iraq through Kurdistan between 1991 and 2003, when the country was under UN sanctions. And Talabani obsessively dispenses gifts, trades favours, and buys allegiances, on the assumption that, in Iraq, the richest suitor has the best chance of winning the bride.

In many ways, Talabani's behaviour and his lifestyle are those of a clandestine party boss. His private quarters are cramped, poorly lit, and undecorated, with counters cluttered with satellite phones. His indulgences are food and a large personal staff. He and the US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad have regular meetings over kallapacha, an Iraqi dish consisting of the head and stuffed intestines of a sheep. Twice a month, Talabani sends consignments of Kurdish yogurt, cheeses, honey and handmade sweets to foreign ambassadors and leading politicians.

Several of Talabani's aides told me privately about men in his entourage who, they suspected, profited from government contracts that they steered toward their friends. In this, Talabani's circle is not unusual. Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish MP, is close to Talabani but is scathing about the entire government's profligacy, corruption and moral cowardice. "How does the government expect to have respect when it is closed off?" he said. "The leaders live in Saddam's palaces, and in the Green Zone, and they never go out. The prime minister and the president have discretionary funds to spend as they like of a million or more dollars a month. I think the corruption is widespread and systemic and comes from the very top . . . All of this is against a reality in which the families of killed soldiers or police are given pensions of only $100 a month."

In Maliki's government, cobbled together after four months of tortuous negotiations following the December 2005 parliamentary elections, Talabani helped make sure that many of the high-level jobs that didn't go to Shias went to Kurds. (A number of them are Talabani's friends and relatives.) One of the two deputy prime ministers is a Kurd, and Kurds head several ministries, including the foreign ministry; the minister of water resources is Talabani's brother-in-law. From the American perspective, there is simply an abundance of qualified Kurds - or, at least, many with whom the US feels comfortable.

Talabani, like many senior Iraqi politicians, views Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shia militia leader whose militia is known as the Mahdi army, with a mixture of condescension and contempt. The key to weakening Sadr, Talabani said, was Iran. "If the Iranians will calm down the Mahdi army, if there will be no assassination, if these - what do you call them? - 'death squads' will be no more, then only the terrorists will remain. And if Syria will be silent, only al-Qaida will remain, and we can defeat al-Qaida very easily."

Talabani went on, "One of the main mistakes the Americans have made in fighting terrorism is tying our hands and the hands of the Shias, while at the same time the terrorists are free to do what they want. If they let us, within one week we will clean all Kirkuk and adjacent areas." (Talabani's implication was clear: "to clean" is a euphemism for wiping out your opposition, for killing or capturing your enemies.) Talabani then adopted a high-pitched, whining voice, to mimic the Americans: "'No-o, Kurds must not move to the Arab areas, this is sensitive.' If they let the Shias clean the road from Najaf to Baghdad, they can do it within days. If they permit the people of Anbar to liberate their area, they will do it, but they say, 'Ah, no, this is another kind of militia.' They don't understand the realities of Iraq. From the beginning, we have had this problem with them." He added, "Wrong plan, wrong tactic, and wrong policy."

Talabani has been involved in politics since 1946, when, at the age of 13, with Iraq still ruled by the British-installed Hashemite monarchy, he joined an underground Kurdish student organisation. It was part of a Kurdish independence movement that had taken shape during the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, after the first world war, when the victorious European powers failed to give the Kurds their own state. The division of the empire left the Kurds spread among Iraq (with an estimated four million Kurds today, or between 15% and 20% of Iraq's population), Turkey, Syria, and Iran; the greater Kurdistan envisaged by some separatists would encompass parts of each of those countries.

Talabani was born in the village of Kelkan, in south-eastern Iraqi Kurdistan; his father was a local sheikh. By 18, Talabani was the youngest member of the central committee of the Soviet-backed Kurdistan Democratic Party, led by Mullah Mustafa Barzani. He studied law in Baghdad (interrupted by a period spent in hiding) and completed his obligatory service in the Iraqi army. Then, in 1961, Talabani joined an armed uprising launched by Barzani.

Three years later, Talabani split with Barzani to join a splinter group founded by Ibrahim Ahmed, the father of his future wife, Hero. Ahmed did not like the terms of Barzani's negotiations with the central government. This was a period of violent political instability in Iraq, with four presidents in the space of 10 years. After a Ba'athist coup in 1968, Talabani made a deal with Saddam, who was then the deputy president, to obtain more rights for the Kurds and to get his help in fighting Barzani - only to reconcile with Barzani when Saddam switched sides. It was the beginning of a dizzying sequence of schisms within the Kurdish rebellion, for which Talabani bears significant responsibility, and which, for a time, strengthened Saddam.

Talabani was a Marxist, and then a Maoist, attracted by "Mao's idea of popular war, of fighting in the mountains against dictatorship". He was also drawn to the anti-colonial Arab nationalist causes of the day. On trips during the 60s, he made important contacts - with Gamel Abdel Nasser of Egypt, King Hussein of Jordan, Muammar Gadafy, Yasser Arafat, and President Hafez al-Assad of Syria. (In Talabani's office, there is a single photograph on the wall, of him with Assad. "He was very, very kind to me," Talabani said.)

In the mid-70s, Talabani spent time in Beirut, working with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Marxist Palestinian guerrilla organisation. It is a murky period about which Talabani says little, but Kurds close to him suggest that he was then at his most radical, and at one point became involved in a Palestinian plot to hijack an American plane in Europe. He is said to have abandoned the scheme when a contact warned him that Mossad planned to assassinate him.

"We considered the US the enemy of the Iraqi Kurdish people," Talabani told me. Through the 80s, the US, for its part, saw the Kurds primarily as troublemakers and as pawns of Syria and Iran. In Turkey, America's Nato ally, Kurdish separatists had been waging a remorseless guerrilla war, to which the Turkish military responded with a vicious counterinsurgency campaign; thousands of Kurdish civilians were killed.

At the height of the Iran-Iraq War, Talabani once again allied himself with Saddam, then opposed him and helped Iran. Saddam's next move was the genocidal Anfal campaign. Saddam razed thousands of Kurdish villages, primarily in Talabani's territory. In the town of Halabja, between March 16 and March 17 1988, 5,000 Kurdish civilians were killed when planes dropped a lethal chemical cocktail that reportedly included mustard gas and nerve agents such as sarin, tabun and VX. Although these attacks later became part of the current Bush administration's case for overthrowing Saddam, the Reagan administration, which was supporting Saddam in his war with Iran, paid little attention; when the news of Halabja broke, the White House blamed Iran.

After Saddam's defeat in the first Gulf war, in early 1991, Shias in the south and Kurds in the north carried out uprisings. Talabani led his forces into Sulaimaniya and Kirkuk. With the US looking on, Saddam dispatched his army against them. Hundreds of thousands of Kurds fled, in the midst of a harsh winter, provoking a humanitarian crisis. The US and its allies declared a safe haven in the north; Talabani and Barzani (who had temporarily reconciled) began negotiating terms of settlement with Saddam.

There is an unfortunate photograph from this period that shows Talabani kissing Saddam on the cheek. "But, you know, at that time the Kurdish people were in danger of being annihilated," Talabani told me, by way of explanation. "Fighting is not playing ping-pong," Talabani said. "Fighting is killing each other. When we were fighting Saddam, we killed them, they killed us. It's something ordinary. It's war. And when we stop the war both killers sit down to receive each other. And this happens all over the world. Mao, he sat down with Chiang Kai-shek! Chiang Kai-shek killed his wife. His son! . . . But when the time comes to talk peace, they must sit down with each other. This is the process of life."

As the Kurdish "safe haven" developed into a "no fly zone" policed by US and British warplanes - a de facto Kurdish autonomous zone, beyond the authority of Saddam Hussein - Barzani and Talabani fought for pre-eminence. One dispute was over revenues from oil smuggling.

"Jalal is at his best when he is down, and is prone to making mistakes when he is up," a longtime friend of Talabani's told me. "In 1991, he was emerging as a statesman of the Kurds, internationally renowned. Instead of moving to become the nation builder that he was supposed to be, he moved into battle, playing with fire, undermining all that he built. "

In 1994, a civil war broke between the armies of Talabani and Barzani. In the midst of the fighting, Talabani provided a base for a CIA task force, and for Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi exile leader, who were involved in various failed coup plots. Hundreds of people died in these efforts. Talabani continued fighting Barzani, who at one point, astoundingly, invited Saddam's army into the north.

When President Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act, in 1998, promising American support for Iraqi opposition groups, Talabani and Barzani went to Washington and settled their differences. By then, several thousand Kurds from both sides had been killed.

Talabani called the bipartisan Iraq Study Group's report "unfair" and "unjust"; he compared it to terms imposed on a "colony". But one recommendation that he had no problem with was that President Bush begin direct talks with Syria and Iran. "It is in our interest that relations between the US and Iran about Iraq be at least normal, and if they have other differences let them take them to other parts of the world," he had told me a couple of weeks earlier. He was about to leave for his delayed trip to Iran. He was also keeping the Americans informed. "We never hide our relation with Iran from America."

Tehran was cold and grey on November 27 last year, when Talabani and his entourage arrived. Several ministers and a clutch of Iraqi journalists and photographers were on board. During our descent into Tehran, one of Talabani's junior aides came down the aisles, handing each person a form to sign. It was printed in Arabic, and, assuming it was an official landing document of some sort, I signed it, whereupon he handed me a thick envelope and moved on. Inside were 20 $100 bills. After we landed, I asked the aide why he had given me money, and he said it was "a gift from the president". I thanked him, but said that I could not accept it, and handed the envelope back. He looked very confused. A senior aide translated my explanation about "journalistic ethics", which left the man looking only more mystified. The senior aide then opened his own envelope and, whistling, counted out 50 $100 bills. "I think he's given me the same amount as the ministers," he exclaimed. "He does this from his own pocket, you know." He said that, on each trip, Talabani gives money to all those on board, including the bodyguards, the flight attendants and the pilot. We calculated that during the one-hour flight Talabani had given away about $100,000.

The contrast with Baghdad was striking. There were no armed soldiers or blast walls and security barricades to negotiate. Instead, we drove through street after street of brightly lit stores with neon signs; the sidewalks were full of people. But what most caught the attention of the Iraqis was the large number of women and girls out on the street; the sight of women in public has become a rarity in Baghdad.

The next morning, Talabani awoke early and visited the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini. Then he met Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Sources close to Talabani told me that in their talks he requested a reversal in Iran's policy - specifically, that Iran's leadership "control" Sadr's militia and ally itself instead with his government, and that it persuade its allies, including Syria, Hamas and Hizbullah, to do the same. Talabani then asked that Iran open up communications with the multinational forces in Iraq, and cooperate with the Iraqi and US governments in their security plan for Baghdad. And, perhaps most controversial from the Americans' point of view - assuming that they knew about it - Talabani proposed that Tehran and Baghdad exchange intelligence, and that Iran help train and equip Iraq's security forces.

One of the Iraqis who attended the meeting said that Talabani told Khamenei that Iraq was "at a make-or-break point and needed Iran's help". He went on: "The Supreme Leader said that he understood and would do everything he could. In return, he wanted the Iraqis to take more control over their own security from the Americans."

At a press conference, Ahmadinejad said, "Iraq is like a wounded hero." Talabani, standing next to him, said, smiling, "We can only hope that he recovers." The crowd laughed; it was a classic Mam Jalal moment. Ahmadinejad added, "The best way to support Iraq is to support its democratically elected government." However disingenuous this may have sounded under the circumstances, Talabani's officials took it as a further sign that the Iranians were prepared to help. They told me it was the first time that the Iranians had explicitly endorsed the current Iraqi government.

An Iraqi minister came up to me afterward, looking enthusiastic, and said, "You see? I told you it was more than symbolic!" After a short pause, the official leaned over and whispered excitedly, "These guys even offered us weapons!"

That evening, a senior Iraqi official said that he was worried about the "mixed messages" coming from the US. "I emphasised with the Iranians that they should not just assume that because the Americans were bogged down in Iraq they were incapable of taking action against Iran; I said that they were entirely capable of it."

Saddam's execution, which came at dawn on December 30, was a clumsy and brutish affair. As he stood on a scaffold with the noose around his neck, he was taunted by some of his hooded executioners and by spectators. Talabani was in Sulaimaniya. Hours before the execution, he had found the perfect solution to his dilemma concerning the death warrant. "It couldn't have been any better," Hiwa Osman, his media adviser, explained. "He found that in cases of international war crimes the constitution did not give him the authority to alter the court's ruling. In a way, it was a blessing from the sky, and it solved his ethical dilemma."

As for Talabani's reaction to the execution, Osman said: "Remember what he did in Paris when the death sentence was announced, and he went into his bedroom for an hour or so? This time, it lasted three or four days. No one saw him".

© 2007 Jon Lee Anderson

· Jon Lee Anderson is the author of The Fall of Baghdad, The Lion's Grave: Dispatches from Afghanistan and Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life

India's Communists:Marxists here and markets there

- From Economist.com

AT THE headquarters of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), a fine brownstone building in central Delhi, bald-headed Lenin busts glower at crazy-haired Che Guevara pictures. Soviet posters celebrating collective farms, all Cyrillic script and tractors, decorate the walls.
The symbols are meant in earnest. Prakash Karat, secretary-general of the party, concedes that “there is an economic rationale for industrialisation”, but with obvious distaste. The party views the collapse of the Soviet empire as merely a tactical setback for the communist and revolutionary forces.
Yet CPI(M), as the party is known, is a crucial ally of India's reform-inclined but complicated coalition government, led by the Congress party and its avuncular prime minister, Manmohan Singh. This government's stated aim is to reduce poverty by liberalising the economy, encouraging foreign investment, and hacking away at red tape.
The record of reform has been mixed and modest. The leftists have blocked deregulation in banking and mining. They have rendered cuts to bloated government pay-rolls a distant dream. And they have offended America by opposing its bid to refer Iran to the UN Security Council.

All this is bad, but probably no worse than many recalcitrant lefties in the Congress party would have managed unaided, given the chance. The real surprise is how many relatively good things have passed into law, given the Communists' noisy pro-forma objections to anything smacking of liberalism. They initially barracked against foreign retailers' being allowed a toehold in India, for example. But single-brand stores and wholesalers have been let in, and the commies have kept calm. If they are not really serious about revolution, they are impressive survivors.
The further you get from Delhi, the more clearly the Communists' pragmatism can be seen. They control state governments in Kerala, in Tripura, and in West Bengal, which has a population of 80m. In May in West Bengal they won a seventh straight election victory. Unlike earlier victories, it was neither violent nor rigged. After three decades in power there, the Communists have learned how to make themselves popular.

Socialism helped at first. Early in their rule, almost alone among state governments, the Communists enforced laws to redistribute land to the landless. Peasants prospered¯and capital fled, sending Calcutta, the vast state capital, spiralling deeper into the poverty for which it is notorious. But in the past decade the Communists have lured some of the capitalists back.
Bhuddadeb Bhattacharya, West Bengal's boss for most of that time, is often reckoned the best chief minister in India. He is a visionary reformer, an architect of information hubs, business parks and special economic zones. Sensibly governed, West Bengal grew by over 7% a year from 1994 to 2003, becoming the third-biggest state economy in the country.

This is the curious contradiction of the Communists. To sustain its popularity in West Bengal, the party there has embraced reform. But to maintain their political identity, Communist leaders in Delhi have opposed those same reforms. At the same time, to stay close to power, they have allowed through a trickle of liberal measures.

Mr Karat and the rest of his politburo want to keep at least one foot in old-fashioned Marxism, because they sense a populist threat
This has made them maddening allies for Mr Singh. He has accused them of double standards. But hypocrisy and self-interest are nothing new in politics. Mr Karat and the rest of his politburo want to keep at least one foot in old-fashioned Marxism, because they sense a populist threat. The big winners at the 2004 election were a cluster of small regional and caste-based parties that collected almost half the vote.

India's Communists fear that these rising parties may eat much deeper into the vote. With that in mind, rather than risking a move towards the liberal centrists, as left-wing parties have done in many European countries, the Indian Communists are clinging all the harder to what makes them distinctive¯their ideology. Expect the busts of Lenin to go on grinning malignly in the Communists' Delhi headquarters, no matter how liberally the party rules in West Bengal¯at least until the building gets sold to Wal-Mart.

Hindu renaissance; remembering an exemplary son of Bharata maataa

Hindu renaissance; remembering an exemplary son of Bharata maataa

'Emphasising a State as 'secular,' from the point of view of a Hindu, is superfluous. All these centuries in the past, we have been able to maintain religious harmony in the country. The State was only keeping a close watch to see that the people did not fall out and thus render the State weak. Otherwise, all had their freedom of worship, etc. That was the concept followed by Hindu ideology.... Therefore, the qualifying word 'secular' is superfluous and unwanted from our point of view.' …Sri Guruji's time-defying message to all of us is this: 'Our existence as embodied beings is purely temporary; what are a hundred years in eternity; but if we shatter the chains of egotism, and melt into the ocean of Bharat Mata (representing humanity), we share its dignity. To feel that we are something is to set up a barrier between the Goddess of Bharat Mata and ourselves, to cease feeling that we are something is to become one with the Goddess of Bharat Mata. A drop in the ocean partakes of the greatness of its parent, although it is unconscious of it. But it is dried up as soon as it enters upon an existence independent of the ocean. As soon as we become one with the ocean in the shape of Bharat Mata, there is no more rest for us, nor indeed do we need rest any longer. Our very sleep is action. For we sleep with the thought of Bharat Mata in our hearts. This restlessness constitutes true rest. This never-ceasing agitation holds the key to peace ineffable.'

Source: http://newstodaynet.com

a) At a meeting of all caste leaders to celebrate Sri Guruji's centenary in Chennimalai in Erode District, people went into ecstasy when they were permitted to participate in Gayatri Homa.

b) Members belonging to Ambedkar Makkal Mandram voluntarily came forward to participate in the Reception Committee connected with the Centenary Celebrations at Adyar, Chennai. All of them worked with tremendous enthusiasm round the clock to spread the message of Hindu solidarity.

c) Sri Varadarajan, a Scheduled Tribe (Arunthathiyar) leader was moved to tears at Arakkonam when he was given the honour of hoisting the Saffron Flag of the RSS at the conference in connection with the Centenary Celebrations of Sri Guruji. Likewise, Velumani, a Harijan leader, spoke eloquently about the role played by the RSS in bringing all the castes together on the same public platform. He too was given the honour of hoisting the Saffron Flag in the Periyapalayam conference held in Tiruvallur District.

d) Sri Srinivasan, a Harijan Leader from Atthur in Salem District declared: 'Spirituality alone can unite all the sections of society. RSS is a shining symbol of spirituality, selfless service and sacrifice. I for my part pledge myself to work round the clock for the RSS in all its society-building activities.'

e) Sri Madhiarasan, a Leader of the Indian Republican Party, participating in the Caste Leaders' Conference organised in Kancheepuram as part of the centenary celebrations, declared: 'In order to overcome the onslaughts on Hindu society, all the Hindus should come together shedding their caste differences. The only organisation that can help us achieve this great national goal is the RSS.'

f) In the Conference held at Chromepet, Chennai in which I participated, 50 Muslim women participated to show their solidarity with the Hindus in that area.

g) Former Adi Dravidar Welfare Minister Rajangam enthusiastically participated in the Sri Guruji Centenary Celebrations held at Panruti and Cuddalore.

h) The youths belonging to the PMK party of Endiyur village near Pondicherry voluntarily came forward to work for the Hindu Unity Conference in their village and proclaimed: 'Our village is an RSS village.'

i) Sri Varadarajan, an important Congress Leader of Tiruvottiyur had to face the ire of his party men because of his participation in the Hindu Unity Conference held in his locality. His shop was ransacked. Despite this great personal loss, he remained firm and fearless, expressing his solidarity towards RSS and took a vow to fight for Hindu unity. All the traders of the locality, condemning the looting of his shop, observed a one day bandh.

j) An Advocate called Sri Dayanidhi who presided over the centenary conference at Villupuram said: 'Myself and my father Sri Vengaimarban (who was performing Bhajans in the Conference) have been staunch supporters of the Dravida Kazhagam in the past. After realising that Hindu unity is a need of the hour, we are actively associating ourselves with the RSS.'

k) At Edayapalayam village in Tiruvannamalai district, all the people actively participated in decorating the village and gave it a festive outlook to 11 streets by offering floral tributes to the portrait of Sri Guruji.


State Terrorism of the worst Kind
Rawalpindi, Feb 5, 2007:

There has always been a question mark against the assertion if Pakistan
has the least semblance to any type of democracy. However, if there was
any misunderstanding on this count, it should be removed just now with
the realization that it is the worst type of military dictatorship
under the garb of so many deceptive epithets challenging all those who
claim the right of and aspire for pure and simple and understandable
democracy. Why?

A function held in connection with the 'Kashmir Bachao' (save Kashmir)
campaign under the auspices of pro-establishment 'Kashmir Committee' in
Holiday Inn Hotel (Islamabad) yesterday. It was also attended by many
so called pro-establishment dignitaries and generals like Hameed Gul of
'varan fame' and others who were preaching 'jehad' non-stop as the only
solution of Jammu Kashmir dispute (just think of this shameless lot
famous for being land and plot mafia), for to them, it was not the problem
of people of Jammu Kashmir but that of Muslim Ummah. Mr. Arif Shahid,
Secretary General of JKNLF and a member of 'Bolore Jammu Kashmir (BJK)
All Parties National Alliance (APNA), was also invited by a member of
the management and also spoke there. He contradicted the views put forth
by the pro-establishment speakers, especially generals, and said that '
Kashmir issue could only be resolved through peaceful struggle and
dialogue and not through militancy and 'jehad'. He also said that Kashmir
is to be saved from nobody else except the rulers and ruling classes of
Pakistan, because this issue was there due to their wrong policies'.
After some time when he left the Hotel at about 4 pm, he was followed and
chased by 2 persons on motorbyke even to his house at 'Adiala Road'
where he reached after 6 pm. After a while he was told that a host of
motorbykes and jeeps with about 20-25 strong contingent (some of them on
the roofs of adjoining houses) in civies had surrounded his house. It was
about 7 pm. His telephone, mobile and other communication was disturbed
and disrupted. He was left disconnected and completely helpless. His
guests coming to meet him were misbehaved and sent back with the commnad
to keep shut. The dreadful state of affairs prevailed upto 12.30 am and
partly upto 4 am in the morning on 5th Feb, 07 (some snippers remained
there on roofs of other houses). He, alongwith other inmates of the
house remained disconnected with the outside world for about 9 hours and
was extremely terrified without knowing why - a complete hostage? In the
meantime, perhaps one of the guests communicated to some one in Europe
(Mr. Khalik Habib) who informed Mr. Shahid's colleagues, friends,
partymen and relatives within country - Shaukat Maqbool Butt, Sardar Anwar,
Mirza Wajahat Hassan Khan, Col (R) Mirza Nadir Hassan Khan, Sardar
Sabir Kashmiri, Sardar Aftab Ahmed Khan, and others of this vandalism and
state terrorism, who started communicating and expressing their worries.
They also reached to him at about 1 am in the morning on 5th Feb, 07.
Thus this unjustified and condemnable siege was lifted partly after 5
and partly after 9 hours, whereas his communication system was restored
in the morning on 5 Feb, 07, which also shows that communication
ministry as well as the entire life of the people in Pakistan is also at the
mercy of secret agencies!

Is this a place to live? Is this a country to be considered country
amongst other countries of the world? Is this a govt. to be called govt.?
Is this a state to stay? Mr. Arif Shahid didn't preach violence,
terrorism, militancy and bloodshed, but appealed for peace, dialogue and
spoke truth right in the face of plunderers and exploiters. Should no body
speak truth in front of Hameed Gul of 'Varan' and other generals? These
questions beg answer which is due to all the citizens of Pakistan and
the world at large.

Issued by All Parties National Alliance (APNA), Which Represents both the parts
of Pakistan Occupied Jamuu & Kashmir (including Gilgit Baltistan and

Balawaristan National Front(BNF) condemns Pakistan State Sponsored
Terrorism against the nationalist political parties and religious opponents
by giving free hand to all those terrorists, who obey the orders of
Musharraf and his ISI. ISI has kidnapped many Kashmiri leaders and
innocent people of Gilgit Baltistan in the past including Sardar Shakat Ali
kashmiri, Chairman of UKPNP, Shafqat Ali Inqalabi of KNM, Mr. Bilal
Qazalbash a techaer and Syed Sharf-Ud-Din a semi government employee. ISI
has also kidnapped many Baluchis, Sindhis and Muhajirs, who dare to deny
the orders of ISI. ISI also detains, kidnapps and kills those
terrorists, who quit the terrorism and do not obey the instructions of ISI, but
propagates, that it is committed to eliminate terrorisim, with the
clear intention to make fool, those (including Americans and Europeans) who
do believe Musharaf words and ignore his practice. The recent terrorist
act of ISI with the famous Kashmiri national leader, Sardar Arif Shahid
in Islamabad Rawalpindi of Pakistan, whos only fault was a speach for
peace in front of the ISI forward block, who do as pioneer for the
terrorist network within as well as outside of Pakistan.

Forwarded By
Abdul Hamid Khan
Balawaristan National Front (BNF)
Head Off:
Majini Mahla, Gilgit, Balawaristan
(Pakistan occupied Gilgit Baltistan)
WEBSITE (Urdu & English) www.balawaristan.net
EMAIL: balawaristan@usa.com

February 11, 2007

IKA condemns the abduction of girl student by LeT in POK

Mumtaz Kan Vice-Chair International Kashmir Alliance-IKA, has strongly reacted to the incident of abduction of Muzafarabad University girl student at gun point by the militants of extremist organization Leshker-E-Tayaba, LeT on Friday while she was going to the University with her Brother in the Morning. The unidentified gunmen stopped their vehcle in front of them and picked her up at Gun point in the city but police remained spectator to whole this incident who sped away with firing. However, entire city took to the street as soon as news reached to them. The unprecedented public reaction was witnessed in the history of Muzafarabad over the news of kidnapping according to the Pakistani media reports, and who gave ultimatum to the government to produce the girl and arrest the kidnappers by the three PM otherwise get ready to face the public wrath. As a result of mounting public pressure government was forced to arrest the culprits after five hours in District Bagh while police let of off the hook two kidnappers and weapons, reported by some media. Media has also reported that behind this whole incident an influential government personality’s son is involved who is kept secret and government is trying to twist the whole story to save the real culprit who had hired the militants of this extremist organization.

Mr. Khan has strongly condemned this cowardice and shameless act of abduction by the criminals of extremist organizations LeT, and government nexus that still operates and cooperates against the innocent Kashmirir’s. These militants have wreaked havoc in the Indian administered Kashmir first in the name of Jihad and now their guns are turning against the innocent resident of Azad Kashmir.
According to the media reports the LeT militants have claimed that they had seen the poor girl during the earthquake relief operation, and since then he was after her, when Pakistani media and government had lauded the relief activities of LeT widely. While international media was blaming and critical to government of Pakistan for helping and supporting the LeT to soften its image among the interntaional community and internally by facilitating them through government support. Now the true picture of these jihadis is unfolding since they have begun to act as mercenaries against the innocent people irrespective of region and religion.

Mr. Khan has demanded the fair trial of the abduction and to unmask the other involved people who have committed such heinous crime against our innocent student and so that no one should dare in the future to commit such crime again. Government must act impartially otherwise people would be forced to take the situation in their hands. As people continue to be deprived of shelters and live in the tents after year and half while their security and dignity is being threatened by the government sponsored extremists and officials, needs to be addressed.

Mumtaz Khan

62 Pogonia st Toronto M1S 3L1

Rahul Gandhi rape allegation : Indian Media's biased reporting

Mr.Saroj Nagi ,
Hindustan times

Your report "Ezboard apologises for scurrilous writing on Rahul Gandhi" dated February 10, 2007 on Rahul Gandhi about and hinduuniy.org's "scurrilous and perverse" writing and ezboard apology , you said hinduunity has not responded to the legal notice sent by Rahul Gandhis legal counsel .

"But there has been no response so far from Vyasman or hinduunity.com that is reportedly closely linked to Bajrang Dal."

I wish to bring to your attention that hinduunity.org has responded to the legal notice by a statement from vyasman on its website . I guess the website is not accessible in India , here is what thay said

1. "We will not back down under any circumstances. A complete and an independent investigation on this rape case must be launched immediately and secure the rape victim and her mother from any assassination attempts by the Congress Government of India. We fear for their safety. This is an atrocity, a modern day tragedy of an innocent young lady and the retaliation to blindfold, hide and intimidate the Indian public by a ruling party that is naively revered by many as divine" - Rohit Vyasmaan, Chairman, H.U.

2. Also they released few video interviews via youtube you can see all at the blog

3. "RAHUL RAPE COMMENT: This is the issue on which the course of India can be changed. Hindu Leaders, Politicians, and all freedom loving Hindus please stick together. Make enough noise and sign the petition. You have demanded a Hindu Rashtra, now prove that you meant it. Either we shall win together or be killed individually." (hinduunity.org)

One observer said after reading the news item "there must be a lot of skeletons in the closet, with the damage control team putting out bush firs."