November 03, 2007

Arab and Western Media Perspectives

Oct 22nd, 2007

Center for Strategic & International Studies - Washington, D.C.

Arab and Western Media Perspectives featuring panelists Philip Bennett, Nadia Bilbassy-Charters, Salameh Nematt and moderated by Paul Salem speaking at the Overcoming Extremism: Protecting Civilians from Terrorist Violence conference.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) hosted a two-day conference featuring high-profile leaders, experts, and opinion-makers to develop a shared international agenda for protecting civilians from terrorist violence. In addition to examining government responses and legal structures, the conference considers how local communities and international partners can transform the enabling environment that can intimidate local actors into silence or acquiescence. Topics include the impact of new media tools, changes in international humanitarian law, the evolution of terrorist tactics, the proliferation of suicide bombings, and innovative approaches to protecting civilians - CSIS

Salameh Nematt has over 20 years experience in economic and political reporting, research and analysis of developments in the broader Middle East, Europe, and the United States, including extensive work on Arab-Israeli political, economic, security and human rights issues, and in-depth reporting on conflicts throughout the Middle East, the Gulf, and North Africa. As Washington Bureau Chief for Al Hayat International Arab daily for the past four years (2003-2007), his work focused on reporting on and analyzing U.S. foreign policy, including issues related to the war in Iraq, the global war on terrorism, the U.S. drive for democratization in the broader Middle East, and issues related to U.S. military and security strategies in the region. He has also written extensively on regional and global energy issues and their economic and political implications.

Department for the Dubai based television channel. Prior to moving to Washington, she was embedded with the 101st Marines Divison in Kuwait on the push to Baghdad in March 2003. From 1997 to 2003, Bilbassy was the Bureau Chief for MBC TV, Middle East Broadcasting Centre based in Nairobi, Kenya. She covered most of Africa’s conflicts. She has traveled extensively in southern Sudan with the SPLA, The Sudan People’s Liberation Army.

Nadia Bilbassy-Charters is the Senior Diplomatic Correspondent for Al Arabiya TV based in Washington DC. Ms. Bilbassy covers the White House and the State Department for the Dubai based television channel. Prior to moving to Washington, she was embedded with the 101st Marines Divison in Kuwait on the push to Baghdad in March 2003. From 1997 to 2003, Bilbassy was the Bureau Chief for MBC TV, Middle East Broadcasting Centre based in Nairobi, Kenya. She covered most of Africa’s conflicts. She has traveled extensively in southern Sudan with the SPLA, The Sudan People’s Liberation Army.

Philip Bennett is managing editor of The Washington Post. From 1999 through 2004 he was assistant managing editor for foreign news at The Post. During his tenure, The Post's international coverage was recognized with numerous awards, including two Pulitzer prizes for international reporting, most recently for coverage of the war in Iraq.

Bennett joined The Post in 1997 as a deputy national editor for coverage of national security, defense and foreign policy. He came to the paper from the Boston Globe, where he was a foreign correspondent covering Latin America and later the Globe’s foreign editor. He has written about Latin America for a variety of magazines. He started in journalism as a reporter for The Lima Times in Peru. Bennett grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a degree in history from Harvard College.

PAKISTAN : Reversal in Swat and the residual state


The militia of Fazlullah, the warlord of Swat, has defeated the paramilitary forces sent in to “bring peace to the people of the valley”. Official spokesmen denied the defeat and the capture of paramilitaries by the militia, but the truth could not be hidden when this time, instead of beheading them, Fazlullah decided to free the 48 captives in Charbagh with Rs 500 notes of “baksheesh” stuck in their hands. The freed men declared they were not willing to fight their fellow-Muslims; some said they would leave their jobs and join the Taliban and fight for Islam instead.

The government troops retreated from Khwazakhela and have camped in Madian. The police stations of Charbagh — which was set on fire by the militia — and Matta were abandoned, effectively passing on the control of the area to the Taliban-Al Qaeda pax of the warlord given as a gift to the people of Swat by the erstwhile government of MMA in the NWFP. The army troops are in waiting. They were supposed to come in to help the paramilitaries, but it now seems too late for a number of reasons, some of them already presaged in the capture of troops in Waziristan earlier in the year. Instead of putting Fazlullah under pressure before talking to him, now the government is under pressure and Fazlullah wants to talk.

To the frog-chorus of politicians and intellectuals recommending “negotiations” with the Al Qaeda-led elements, one can only offer a glimpse into what the warlord in Swat wants. As a topic for discussion, he has put forward three demands: 1) evacuation of Swat so that he can legitimise his occupation of it; 2) enforcement of sharia in the area — which of course means the kind of sharia enforced under Talibanisation; and 3) scrapping of all criminal cases registered against his men. This is what the militant elements in the Tribal Areas would want too. Last time Islamabad negotiated with the Taliban in Waziristan, it agreed to remove its checkposts and virtually leave the territory to those patronised by Al Qaeda.

What Al Qaeda wants is territory from where it can operate freely at the global level. (Already most of the bombers in Europe are trained in Waziristan.) Defeats suffered by Pakistani security forces have created a fait accompli of what in old parlance was called loss of territory. The instrument of control over this territory is sought through the enforcement of a sharia that differs a great deal from the “inclusive” sharia in force in the country. Constitutional amendments have set up a Federal Shariat Court with powers of “reverse legislation” by striking down any law found repugnant to Islam. The MMA government had tried to part company with the constitutional sharia of the rest of the country through what it called the Hasba Bill. This is now the norm that Lal Masjid, backed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, wants to impose in the capital itself.

That Al Qaeda is in search of a state of its own is known to the world. The last time it tried to gain a foothold inside a state was in Somalia in 2006. The sharia there was of the Arab variety and very close to what the Taliban want. The Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), dispensing a wide variety of adjudication based on differing but legitimate sources of jurisprudence, set up its own legally fractured government, only to arouse alarm in the neighbourhood. The United States got “Christian” Ethiopia to invade Somalia and put the Islamic warriors — some of them hailing from Pakistan — to flight. The case of Pakistan will greatly differ in detail but the general drift is the same. An invasion will target the “lost territories” as the Pakistan army watches.

A number of “failing” states in the Horn of Africa are now allowing international law to develop in favour of invited and uninvited intervention, some of it illegal and some — that organised by the Organisation of African Union — legal. In the case of Pakistan, while the patriotic Pakistanis defiantly oppose the label of “failed state”, there are signs of intervention that we can hardly ignore. Drones flown from the US have been attacking suspected Al Qaeda hideouts inside Pakistani territory. Even at the time of writing North Waziristan reports drones overflying territory that is virtually lost to Pakistan. The little-discussed legal ground is “hot pursuit” because Pakistan is in no position to stop Al Qaeda and its Pakistani warriors from attacking as far inland in Afghanistan as Helmand and Herat.

The latest development in this direction of invited or uninvited “intervention-in-failed-state” development has come in the shape of the “offer” of US forces “to fight the Taliban elements in the Tribal Areas and Swat” by the US Central Command (Centcom) chief, Admiral William J Fallon, to President Musharraf. It is quite clear what direction the national crisis is taking. The central concern is not democracy and civil-military relations but the survival of the state and, ironically, within the consensus that wishes to ignore the state are also those who actually want the federation to come to an end. *

A Call from the Pulpit


Like all the rural areas of Pakistan, District Swat which is famous not only in Pakistan but all over the globe for its scenic beauty, has been ignored regarding development and provision of modern infrastructure by the provincial or central government. However, the never yielding inhabitants of this beautiful terrain have carried on in life through their unending struggle and hard work. The basic and most important communication sources of modern era, the road networks either have been ignored or turned a deaf ear to by the provincial and federal government alike since the merger of Swat State to Pakistan. The deteriorating condition of the hospitals and the wheel and deal between the doctors and pharmaceutical companies representatives have enraged and left the impoverished people in desperation and utter desolation. The overwhelming nepotism, alarming fee hike in educational and other governmental institutions has left the justice-starved citizens of Swat in an eternal abyss of corruption and inequity. The despicable and the never-ending court trials have made the public restless and paranoid. The skyrocketing prices of essential commodities and immense inflation has vaporized the trust and belief of the people in the government. The rampant abductions, daylight murders and robberies and the indolent nature of the local police and other law enforcing agencies have backfired so severely that the people has to answer the call of a person who himself is meagerly educated and does not know the true sense and significance of justice and equality.

Maulana Fazlullah who is also the son-in-law of the former Shariat Movement chairperson, Sufi Muhammad, is born in Swat and educated in a Madrassa (Religious Seminary) in Dir District, came to lime light when he started his personal FM Radio station from Imam Derai (a small village in the fertile plains of upper Swat). The radio regularly broadcasted the religious preaching and elucidation of the Holy Quran by the Maulana. The novice cleric received staggering response from the mostly uneducated housewives and peasants who sacredly listened to every sermon and lecture of the Mullah with innocence and naïve sensibility. Every word and line the cleric uttered was considered as the true appreciation and elucidation of the Word of God. When the cleric said that listening to music was an immoral and irreligious act, the people shunned tape recorders. When the cleric said that watching and keeping television in the house will incur God’s wrath, the simple people burned their television sets in the daylight to express their love and trust on every word the Mullah spoke. When the Mullah asked for charity to build a religious seminary, everyone magnanimously aided and to such an extent that the women who are considered extremely fond of jewelry and gold, gave all their jewels in charity to the cleric to earn the love and favour of God.

This mounting fame and eminence intoxicated massively, he started intervention in the disputes and problems of the public, and people started coming to his seminary in processions to seek justice and resolve their disputes and controversies. Due to the social insecurity, corruption, plunder, looting, opportunism and rampant disorder in the society, the people welcomed the Mullah as a Messiah who will absolve them of all their problems and tribulations. Slowly and gradually, the cleric concentrated a huge crowd of cutthroat followers and raised his own security and law-enforcing body to deal wit public problems. Anonymous letters were dispatched to all the music, Cds, cinemas and video shop owners in Swat to stop their despicable and unethical business. The barbers were ordered to stop shaving off the beards of their customers and those who refused to comply were threatened of grave consequences. The threats were not mere shallow threats and some mulish and aggressive owners fell pray to the vagary of the cleric and his subordinates when their shops and business centers were blown to smithereens.

The cleric has enacted his private court of law and even has punished some criminals involved in car jackin in front of a thousand spectators in a ground.Some alleged murderers have received death sentences, fortunately not acted upon yet. Several other are on the death row waiting for their gruesome fates. Co-education has become a taboo in Swat and school going girls have received strict orders to wear veils and comply with the Islamic values of segregation and morality. Ladies cannot go for shopping and cannot visit the marketplaces. The volunteer security forces of the cleric visit the markets and marts and inspect the shops, its items and their prices in a gross violation of the prevailing writ of law. Several government and law enforcing personnel have received decapitation sentences in the public. The life and property of the people is no more secure due to the recurring suicide attacks and ambushes on government personnel. A state has been enacted within a sovereign and independent state; and the government and its law enforcement agencies are silent spectators and bystanders without taking any result-oriented and prompt step to curb and contain the worsening situation and atmosphere.

Due to the laxity and sloppy reaction of the government, the situation has deteriorated to such an extent that the government has no other choice except a military operation, which will certainly plunge the picturesque valley of Swat into a blood bath and chaos. The innocent and impoverished residents of Swat have now to endure the repercussions of the irresponsible and inconsiderate policies and strategies of the contemporary government. The blindfolded reaction of the government has provided innumerable opportunities to foreign secret intelligentsia to interfere and aggravate the deteriorating situation further.

Due to a handful of miscreants, who could have been apprehended in a wink of an eye, the whole population of Swat particularly and Pakistan generally have started suffering. Many an innocent lives have been lost and wasted for nothing. Many a children have been orphaned and many wives widows. The businesses in the locale have plummeted due to the hovering clouds of civil war and military operation. If the government now take the much-anticipated action, starts the operation and handle the aggravating situation, then who will compensate and sustain those who have lost their near and dear ones? Who will adopt the orphans; and who will shoulder the unfortunate and hapless families? Who will recover the sole bread earners of the impoverished families? These are some daunting questions, which will haunt the minds and spirits of thoughtful and thinking people of Pakistan forever.

INTERVIEW: General Hameed Gul

HAVE FUN : Bush Pakistan

Shameful retreat of the UPA

Media Watch

The precipitous retreat of the Government of India after all the talk and aggressive behaviour of both Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh over the 123 Agreement has shocked the media. That was almost the last thing it expected. “Is the Prime Minister eating his words?” asked The Indian Express (October 13), “No comment” was its own answer. The paper said: “It appears from the suggestive and politically cohabitative noises now emanating from the capital that a strange tentativeness has entered the thinking on the nuclear deal. There is an uncertainty wavering that can be discerned from the utterances of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well as the Congress president Sonia Gandhi so far as the much tom-tommed nuclear deal is concerned” the paper said. Quoting freely from past utterances of both the Congress President and the Prime Minister in the past the paper seemed to be taken by surprise by their latest utterances. “What more can we say?” the paper wondered.

Deccan Herald (October 15) thought that “the two top UPA leaders would have avoided the embarrassment of publicly announcing a go-slow approach of the deal if only they had a realistic assessment of the political pulse of their Left partners’ opposition to the deal.” “Was all this just a political brinkmanship intended to force the Left to accept the deal? What prompted the Congress to talk of midterm polls”, the paper asked. The paper noted the Congress change in stance that showed that the party was “rather keen to opt for the certainty of another 20 months’ tenure in office than an election” and added: “For this, the party is also willing to put the nuclear deal on the back-burner even though aware that it would have to tackle a Left that would be more aggressive and assertive after having forced the Congress to blink.”

The paper said the change in policy of the Congress was “certainly a blow to India’s global aspirations and a diminution of its international stature when New Delhi makes commitments to foreign governments that it can’t deliver on because of internal opposition, even when it strikes deals that are transparently in its own interest”. It added: “By backing down after having raised the bar so high, the government has signaled, in effect, that it is weak and open to blackmail, on any issue by any pressure group in Parliament.”

A columnist, Gautam Adhikari, writing in The times of India (October 15) gave a lot of credit to Prakash Karat, General Secretary of the CPM. “The way this man—a neophyte in national affairs till just a few years ago—had developed his power based while sticking to his beliefs and an expired ideology is truly awe-inspiring” gushed Shri Adhikari. The columnist said that Karat “may not have the power, at least not yet, to implement public policy in line with his belief system, but he can stop India in its tracks when he wants (and) actually he has done so.”

As for the Prime Minister the columnist wrote: “Oh, and the Prime Minister, yes, he is a nice man. Very nice. In fact, nothing but nive”.

Not many newspapers are happy with Sonia Gandhi’s choice of her son Rahul Gandhi as General Secretary of the Congress in charge of the youth and student wing of the party. Wrote The Hindu (September 25): “The moment Sonia Gandhi—who had kept clear of any formal role after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi—overcame her reluctance and agreed to become president of the Indian National Congress sin 1998, it became clear that the attempt to find leadership outside India’s best-known political family had collapsed.” The paper noted that “the pre-eminent leadership of the party has been out of (Nehru-Gandhi) family’s hands for just nine of the 60 years of Independence”, but then “the future has not been in much doubt from the time Rahul Gandhi decided in 2004 to stake his claim to it from the family stronghold of Amethi…From then, it has been a quick climb to the general secretaryship of the party”. The editorial was headed: “From heir apparent to heir manifest”—and that tells its own story.

The Tribune (September 27) said that Rahul’s father, Rajiv was inducted into the top leadership of the Congress in almost the same manner as the son is now being inducted. The paper said, somewhat cynically, that Rahul’s “record as a parliamentarian and party campaigner is well known”—implying that neither is much to write home about. What is surprising about Rahul’s appointment now, the paper noted “is that it took her (Sonia Gandhi) so long to take it”. What is significant is the scepticism that is prevalent in the media about Rahul Gandhi’s talents as a possible leader of the party.

Iraq Shuts Down PKK-Allied Party


ISTANBUL, 4 November 2007 — Iraq said yesterday it was ready to hunt down and arrest Kurdish guerrilla leaders responsible for cross-border raids into Turkey and closed down the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Solution party, an organization with close ties to PKK guerrillas. Separately, a news agency close to the guerrillas said eight Turkish soldiers captured by them on Oct. 21 will be released today.

Major powers and countries in the region, meeting in Istanbul to discuss Iraqi security, sought to ease tension on the Turkish-Iraqi border that could escalate into a bigger regional crisis.

Turkey wants leaders of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) arrested and seeks the closure of camps in northern Iraq which they use as bases for cross-border attacks in their 23-year-old campaign for a homeland in southeast Turkey.

Amid intensified diplomacy between Turkey, Iraq and the United States, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki met Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul.

“The prime minister renewed the willingness of the Iraqi government to take steps to isolate the terrorist PKK, prevent any help reaching its members, chase and arrest them, and put them in front of the Iraqi judiciary because of their terrorist activities,” Maliki’s office said in a statement.

Maliki’s spokesman added that Baghdad did not rule out joint military action with Ankara, although Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said: “I think there is a whole number of measures to be taken before getting to that.”

A senior Turkish diplomat, who declined to be named, said a meeting between Turkey, Iraq and the United States “wasn’t satisfactory for Turkey” because old promises rather than new concrete proposals were presented.

Turkey is impatient at what it sees as US and Iraqi foot-dragging over the threat from the PKK and has massed 100,000 troops on the border for a possible offensive against about 3,000 rebels using Iraq as a base. But the government in Baghdad has little influence over the semi-autonomous Kurdish regions in the north and the success of any measures against PKK militants would depend on the cooperation of Kurdish authorities. Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani has so far refused to arrest PKK members.

But there were signs of the autonomous Kurdish government taking small steps to stave off a full-fledged Turkish invasion. It shut down the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Solution party.

Turkey has sought the party’s closure, accusing it of being a front organization for the PKK.

Security officials first shut the party’s office in Irbil, a northern Iraqi city that serves as capital to the government of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region. Later yesterday, forces surrounded the party’s headquarters in Sulaimaniyah and closed down that office as well, security and party officials said.

The Brussels-based Firat news agency, generally considered a mouthpiece of the PKK, said the captured Turkish soldiers would be handed over to pro-Kurdish MPs at an undisclosed location.

The soldiers were captured when their unit was ambushed near the border with Iraq. The attack also left 12 other soldiers dead.

At the Istanbul meeting, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal reiterated the Kingdom’s condemnation of terrorist attacks against Turkey and expressed his condolences to the families of victims. “There is no justifications for those attacks and every efforts should be made to stop these encroaches,” he added.

He said the Kingdom had always called for strengthening the unity of Iraq and protecting its independence and sovereignty. “We are against any interference in Iraq’s internal affairs... and we maintain equal distance from all ethnic groups in the country,” he said.

Blind spots of Pakistani politics

By Ghazi Salahuddin
This is what I heard Mahmood Khan Achakzai saying in a conversation in Quetta on Thursday last week: "Balochistan is the blind spot of every Pakistani". We know what a blind spot is, technically as well as metaphorically. What he meant was, and I quote from my dictionary: "if someone has a blind spot about something, they ignore it or they are unwilling or unable to understand it".

Let us not go into why he included "every Pakistani" in a certain category. It could be a Freudian slip. But I am not reporting the views expressed by the erudite and affable leader of the Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party because the encounter was off the record. And it was part of the visit to Quetta by the Citizens Group on Electoral Process, facilitated by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat). In addition to our regular monthly meeting, held this time in Quetta, we had an instructive exposure to a variety of opinions about the state of affairs in a troubled province of Pakistan.

Though an interactive seminar on 'national integration and free and fair elections' was the highlight of the visit, we also had a separate session with the Baloch leaders of the National Party. And if views expressed in the off-the-record sessions and the open seminar were extremely disquieting, projecting deep anger and alarm over the federal rulers' attitude towards Balochistan, we were served with large helpings of confidence and tranquillity at the dinner-meeting with Governor Owais Ghani on Friday.

This visit, lasting for less than three days, was very hectic -- and that explains my absence from this space last week. But I should not refer to it in any detail because of the breathless pace of events during this week. In fact, it is hard to focus on any one issue since so much is happening across the national spectrum. Every flaming headline would deserve a separate column. Every day, there is something that provides a mirror to reflect the deepening crisis of Pakistan. In short, we are under siege.

On Tuesday, there was a suicide bombing in the highly sensitive area of Rawalpindi, killing at least eight people. This explosion took place almost half-a-kilometre from the Army House, the official residence of the president. On Thursday, a suicide bomber rammed his motorcycle into a PAF bus on the Sargodha-Faisalabad road, killing five PAF officers and three civilians.

But even these major incidents seem to have faded into the larger conflagration in Swat, a beautiful valley lodged in the fond memories of innumerable domestic tourists. After Waziristan, it is in Swat that the militants have challenged the writ of the government. Was Swat, then, the blind spot of our rulers in Islamabad? As I write this column, I have Saturday's newspaper on my table and one headline is truly frightening: "Militants release 48 FC troops, claim capture of another 100".

At another level, confusion that has been created about the prospect of promulgation of a state of emergency in the country or even martial law is a source of great anxiety and apprehension. There have been potent hints that the government was considering extraordinary measures to deal with the grave situation that prevails in the country. So-called reliable sources have asserted that the rulers are weighing their options that include supra-constitutional measures.

These reports have gained some credibility with Condoleezza Rice's statement on Friday that the United States was opposed to any move by President Pervez Musharraf to impose martial law. She said that Pakistan must go ahead with elections early next year. "We are in constant contact with the leadership and the political leaders in Pakistan but I am not going to speculate on what might happen", she added. You may recall that telephone call she made to Musharraf at two in the morning a few weeks ago in the same context. Obviously, something can still happen.

On the face of it, the situation in the northern areas and suicide bombings in the heart of the country could be an excuse for taking these extreme measures. However, the government seems more worried about the Supreme Court proceedings on petitions that have challenged Musharraf's eligibility as a presidential candidate. Earlier, a ruling was expected this week but now it has been delayed.

Reports about the possibility of imposition of emergency or martial law have also echoed in the Supreme Court. On Thursday, Justice Javed Iqbal, the head of the 11-member larger bench, said the Supreme Court could neither be tamed by any threat of martial law nor taken hostage by any one. He reiterated on Friday that the court would not yield to any threat of imposition of martial law, emergency or extra-constitutional measures and would give its verdict according to the Constitution and law.

Come to think of it, if the situation has become so dire as to justify extraordinary measures, who should be held responsible? The irony here is these measures are being contemplated merely to protect the person who is at the helm for more than eight years. And credible opinion polls have confirmed that he has totally lost popular support. Is it that Musharraf is America's blind spot?

We can also see how our rulers turn a blind eye to reality that exists on the ground. For instance, there was that unbearably horrifying report about the beheading of four security personnel in Swat last week. It was published on Saturday, October 27, with some details of how the militants kidnapped three men of the Frontier Constabulary and two policemen and later they paraded beheaded bodies of three FC men and a constable in the bazaar. On the same day -- Saturday -- Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz was in Karachi and he called on Pir Pagara with Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, and we had a graphic account of the jokes that they had traded. We were informed that the prime minister was confident of PML-Q's victory in the elections.

But can elections be held in these circumstances and can they be free and fair? With things falling apart -- yes, Yeats again -- and the centre not being able to hold, apprehensions about the promised transition to democracy are hard to dispel. To return to the meeting of the Citizens' Group in Quetta, a review of the overall political conditions in the country had prompted serious concern about the declining prospects for the holding of free and fair elections. And this assessment was founded on an objective analysis of concrete moves that have been made by the government.

In this gloom that surrounds us, the only note of cheer is provided by promotional television commercials that figure Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi. Or do you look at them as an unintended spoof of our ruling politicians?

The writer is a staff member.


Why Not Dissolve Pakistan, Too?

Pakistan is not a country. It is a failed British fantasy about the fabrication of a nation-state. It has other failed and failing peers in the Middle East, all fabricated during the 20th century. It is time to seriously review all of these structures and redraw the borderlines.

Pakistan was a phrase coined for an idealistic confederation of five Muslim provinces within the old British-controlled India (Punjab, Northwest Frontier Province or Afghania, Kashmir, Sindh and Baluchistan). However, these are tribal lands with distinct traditions and have very little in common. These provinces were all knocked together, on presumption of a common religion, and a “dominion” was fabricated within the Commonwealth with self-governance authority akin to independence after World War II. It was all part of the post-war fire sale of territorial control of Britain. The ill-conceived plan even set up a separate territory of East Bengal as East Pakistan, a subcontinent away, with the rough-and-ready argument of common religious beliefs and a majority Muslim population. East Pakistan eventually became independent and renamed itself Bangladesh.

Pakistan’s short 60-year history is full of coups and raw, violent tribal rivalry, peppered by jailing or executing the previous rulers. Most recently, we saw a stark and bold example of such rivalry: a returning Pakistani politician, a former prime minister, was deported from his own country.

There is no commonly accepted language among these tribes and thus the official language of Pakistan is English.

For as long as I remember, Iran’s eastern border with Pakistan has always been a hub of instability, smuggling and violent crime. Pakistan is the main transit route for opium and heroin from Afghanistan, where more than 90% of the world’s opium supply is produced. In turn, that cash flow encourages money laundering, armed banditry, murder, violence and corruption. Therefore, several conflicting layers of official structure naturally form, each operating as lawless gangs or states within a state. Drug-infested territories have a poor record of development. Power and corruption leads to uneven, Byzantine relations between groups and to opaque alliances. Meanwhile, the masses remain in poverty: according to the World Bank, that’s about a third of all Pakistanis.

In this kind of political greenhouse of a country, no new politicians or doctrines surface. I wonder why news about Pakistani politics seems to be a game of musical chairs, with familiar names and faces periodically recycled.

There are other issues to ponder, namely a nuclear arsenal, missiles, a brisk small-arms export business (about $250 million a year) and the schizophrenic dual-tracked “friendship” with the U.S., al-Qaeda and Wahhabi extremists. Pakistan’s aimless Kashmir policies are perfect examples of circular political indecision. U.N. peacekeepers have remained stationed in Kashmir for more than three decades.

Pakistan is a relic set up as a counterweight to India -- and its tendency to tilt towards the Eastern Block. I think it is high time to revisit the old composite structure of five provinces combined into one artificial country. A redrawing of borders might serve useful and to cut through the farce. Let each province mature and declare independence. Some will eventually join their long-time tribal allies, leaving two or three independent lands and a more transparent political agenda.

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Mr. V. Pirapaharan's message released by the LTTE

The Sinhala nation has taken the life of a political leader "deeply loved by the Tamil speaking world" and "greatly respected by the international community," said Velupillai Pirapaharan, the leader of Liberation Tigers, in a message to the Tamil people on Saturday, following the demise of LTTE's Political Head and Chief Negotiator, Brigadier S. P. Thamilchelvan. "I raised him as a great commander, an unparalleled political head, a diplomat who communicated with the entire world, and a skilled negotiator," Mr. Pirapaharan said. "Buried within his beautiful smile, I recognized, right from the beginning, a thousand profound meanings, his abilities, and his leadership qualities."

Full text of Mr. V. Pirapaharan's message released by the LTTE follows:

Head Quarters
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
Tamil Eelam
3 November 2007

My beloved people

Despite the repeated and continuous calls from the international community to find a peaceful resolution to Tamil national question, we have not seen any goodwill from the Sinhala nation. We do not see the Buddhist universal love. Sinhala nation did not open its heart and send a peace message. On the contrary, it is sending war-vultures that are dropping giant bombs. It has cruelly killed our peace dove.

Sinhala nation has taken the life of a political leader deeply loved by the Tamil speaking world and greatly respected by the international community. It has taken away an unrivalled leader who has won the hearts of the people of Tamil Eelam. Tamil Eelam nation is confronting an unparalleled loss after losing the head of our political wing, Brig. S P Tamilselvan and five other LTTE members. Our people are in profound shock and sorrow.

S. P. Thamilchelvan
(1967 - 2007)

Tamilselvan was close to me ever since he joined our freedom movement. I loved him deeply. I taught him as my own beloved younger brother. Buried within his beautiful smile, I recognized, right from the beginning, a thousand profound meanings, his abilities, and his leadership qualities. I raised him as a great commander, an unparalleled political head, a diplomat who communicated with the entire world, and a skilled negotiator.

His thoughts were always about the liberation of the land and the people he so dearly loved. He longed for a free, honourable and safe life for our people. He was a fire that laboured selflessly and with determination towards the goal.

In a new form, he joins our liberation struggle which is moving on like a lengthy river of blaze. In this new form, he has set alight in our heavy hearts a deep yearning for the goal. He has nourished that yearning. Strengthened by his nourishment we will continue to travel on our path towards the goal with renewed determination.

V. Pirapaharan
Leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

In quotes: Pakistan emergency reaction

Source: BBC

Leaders in Pakistan and around the world have been reacting to the imposition of emergency rule by President Pervez Musharraf. He suspended the constitution, blaming judges for interfering and Islamist extremists for unprecedented levels of violence.


"The US has made clear that it does not support extra-constitutional measures because those measures would take Pakistan away from the path of democracy and civilian rule.

"Whatever happens we will be urging for a quick return to a constitutional order, we will be urging that the commitment to hold free and fair elections be kept and we would be urging calm among the parties.


"This action is very disappointing. President Musharraf needs to stand by his pledges to have free and fair elections in January and step down as chief of army staff before retaking the presidential oath of office,"


"I think these are desperate measures by a desperate man trying to cling to power. And I would certainly say this now puts an end to elections taking place in January.

"And on that basis, there is no other option than to go on the streets. And one has to look at what happened in Ukraine with the orange revolution. The people power can now prevent President Musharraf from being a supreme dictator."


"We have never seen or heard of a crisis like this. For the first time in the 60-year history of Pakistan I am seeing today what the president of Pakistan has done and what the chief of army staff of Pakistan has done.

"He has taken certain actions using both his offices. In my opinion, both offices, the office of the president as well as the office of the chief of army staff, are involved in treason against Pakistan."


"All friends of Pakistan will be concerned by the turn of events today. We recognise the threat to peace and security faced by the country, but its future rests on harnessing the power of democracy and the rule of law to achieve the goals of stability, development and countering terrorism.

"I am gravely concerned by the measures adopted today, which will take Pakistan further from these goals. It is vital that the government acts in accordance with the constitution, and abides by the commitment to hold free and fair elections on schedule which President Musharraf reiterated to the prime minister when they spoke on 1 November.

"We will raise our concerns about these developments at the highest levels..."


"The verdict about [the legality of] President Musharraf's re-election was expected, and it was probably going to go against the wishes of the government.

"The government had run out of options to prevent that from happening."


"This emergency can be challenged in court. The court can weigh or judge whether there was any justification. It can declare it null and void.

"Even if there was a dispute between the judiciary and the government, they should not have imposed an emergency."


"This the end for General Musharraf. If he had been a man of honour, he would have resigned when the chief justice was restored.

"The emergency will not prevent the lawyers and people of Pakistan from protesting against this unconstitutional and illegal move.

"Now is the time for us to get rid of Pervez Musharraf. Pervez Musharraf has ordered me to be put under house arrest for 30 days but he himself will be finished within 30 days. The countdown has started."


"This is another dark chapter in Pakistan's history. Even after eight years the constitution of the country has been trampled.

"Who is responsible for this state of affairs? General Musharraf is president. He has his own cabinet - who is he blaming?"


"We regret the difficult times that Pakistan is passing through.

"We trust that conditions of normalcy will soon return, permitting Pakistan's transition to stability and democracy to continue."


"We are concerned about the situation, but we don't want to prejudge the outcome.

"Relations [between the two countries] have been very good lately.

"We have been working closely on follow-up to the peace jirga [in August]. Those results could now be in jeopardy."

Text of Pakistan emergency declaration
Following is the text of the "Proclamation of emergency", declared by Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf on 3 November.

Whereas there is visible ascendancy in the activities of extremists and incidents of terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, IED [improvised explosive device] explosions, rocket firing and bomb explosions and the banding together of some militant groups have taken such activities to an unprecedented level of violent intensity posing a grave threat to the life and property of the citizens of Pakistan;

Whereas there has also been a spate of attacks on state infrastructure and on law enforcement agencies;

Whereas some members of the judiciary are working at cross purposes with the executive and legislature in the fight against terrorism and extremism thereby weakening the government and the nation's resolve diluting the efficacy of its actions to control this menace;

Whereas there has been increasing interference by some members of the judiciary in government policy, adversely affecting economic growth, in particular;

Whereas constant interference in executive functions, including but not limited to the control of terrorist activity, economic policy, price controls, downsizing of corporations and urban planning, has weakened the writ of the government; the police force has been completely demoralised and is fast losing its efficacy to fight terrorism and intelligence agencies have been thwarted in their activities and prevented from pursuing terrorists;

Whereas some hard core militants, extremists, terrorists and suicide bombers, who were arrested and being investigated were ordered to be released. The persons so released have subsequently been involved in heinous terrorist activities, resulting in loss of human life and property. Militants across the country have, thus, been encouraged while law enforcement agencies subdued;

Whereas some judges by overstepping the limits of judicial authority have taken over the executive and legislative functions;

Whereas the government is committed to the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law and holds the superior judiciary in high esteem, it is nonetheless of paramount importance that the honourable judges confine the scope of their activity to the judicial function and not assume charge of administration;

Whereas an important constitutional institution, the Supreme Judicial Council, has been made entirely irrelevant and non est by a recent order and judges have, thus, made themselves immune from inquiry into their conduct and put themselves beyond accountability;

Whereas the humiliating treatment meted out to government officials by some members of the judiciary on a routine basis during court proceedings has demoralised the civil bureaucracy and senior government functionaries, to avoid being harassed, prefer inaction;

Whereas the law and order situation in the country as well as the economy have been adversely affected and trichotomy of powers eroded;

Whereas a situation has thus arisen where the government of the country cannot be carried on in accordance with the constitution and as the constitution provides no solution for this situation, there is no way out except through emergent and extraordinary measures;

And whereas the situation has been reviewed in meetings with the prime minister, governors of all four provinces and with the chairman joint chiefs of staff committee, chiefs of the armed forces, vice chief of army staff and corps commanders of the Pakistan army;

Now, therefore, in pursuance of the deliberations and decisions of the said meetings, I General Pervez Musharraf, Chief of Army Staff, proclaim emergency throughout Pakistan.

I hereby order and proclaim that the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan shall remain in abeyance.

This proclamation shall come into force at once.

Interview : Environmental campaigner Sunita Narain

The Interview, BBC

Jeo Jeo Sunita .... Excellent Interview... KEEP IT UP

At the start of a week of special programming about climate change on the BBC World Service, leading Indian environmental campaigner, Sunita Narain talks to George Arney on The Interview.

"You first have to get the rich world to really cut emissions"

Sunita tells us why she backs the Indian government in refusing to join international agreements to set limits on carbon emissions.

She explains why she thinks India can still steer a different course in development than the West.

And she describes the social conscience which has led her to dedicate her life to working for India's land and its people. CLICK TO LISTEN

Musharraf declares martial law. What next?

Extracts from our September 2007 assessment…

The imposition of martial law will plunge Pakistan into its deepest political crisis since 1971

Scenario 2 - Musharraf ruling under martial law. Musharraf would impose martial law after running out of options to remain both president and army chief. The higher judiciary would be required to re-take their oaths of allegiance, and those refusing to do so would dropped from the Bench. The federal parliament and the provincial assemblies would be suspended and Musharraf would seek to govern through the nazims, or local government officials elected on non-party basis. The Army would be further entrenched in power, occupying key positions in Musharraf’s cabinet as well as in the bureaucracy. Neither Bhutto nor Sharif would be allowed to return to Pakistan, and a crackdown would put political and civil society leaders under arrest.

Imposition of martial law will precipitate an immediate political crisis: popular opposition to Musharraf is likely to take the shape of general strikes and street protests, causing martial law administrators to employ strong repressive measures. Criminal and violent elements – from political party activists to sectarian groups – are likely to use the breakdown of law & order to engage in acts of violence and criminality. While the Army could possibly employ even greater force against insurgents in Balochistan, there is an even chance that the BLA might be able to retaliate by carrying out terrorist attacks in Pakistani cities. The Army will find it even harder to trade off having to carry out operations in the tribal areas and retaining US support.

The imposition of martial law will plunge Pakistan into its deepest political crisis since 1971, when the civil war led to the secession of its eastern wing. The Army itself is likely to come under attack from various quarters leading to large numbers of desertions and mutinies by units sent to tribal areas. While there the chances of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into unauthorised hands is remote, it is possible that nuclear material and technology may be stolen. It is almost certain that Pakistan will witness large scale capital flight, drying of foreign investment and disruptions to the economy. Moreover, the turmoil in Pakistan is likely to spill over into the region in the form of terrorist attacks in India, strengthening of the Taleban in Afghanistan and could even extend to the China’s Xinjiang province.

President Declares State Of Emergency

Pakistani President Musharraf has declared a state of emergency after rising violence and political turmoil. The cabinet is currently meeting to approve the President's dramatic move.

November 02, 2007

‘Probe panel diluted facts about anti-Sikh riots’

More than 2,700 killed in 1984 riots, and just 13 punished for murder: book

A book ‘When a Tree Shook Delhi’ claims to give an “uncensored” insight into the events

It details incidents which show complicity of the police in the riots after Indira’s assassination

Ignoring the aggressors, police cracked down on the Sikhs who were defending themselves

New Delhi: A new book on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in the capital claims that the Ranganath Misra Commission which probed the carnage presented a “diluted” version of events and also blames the police for the mass killings.

“When a Tree Shook Delhi”, written by senior editor Manoj Mitta and advocate for many of the victims’ families, H. S. Phoolka, claims to give an “uncensored” insight into the events.

It details incidents, particularly in East Delhi, which show complicity of the police in the rioting that broke out after the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination on October 31, 1984.

Beginning with the attack on the then President Giani Zail Singh’s cavalcade in front of AIIMS, the book traces the genesis of the violence through eyewitness accounts and the investigations by Mr. Phoolka as counsel for the victims. “Far from booking aggressors, the police cracked down on the victims -- the Sikhs who had been exercising the right of self defence at home,” it says.

“The essence of all the findings on the Block 11 events in Kalyanpuri is unmistakable: that the police colluded with a mob to kill members of a minority community,” says the book.

On the Ranganath Misra Commission constituted to probe the violence, it says “given the circumstances in which it was appointed, the Misra Commission faced a credibility crisis from its very birth. For almost six months, the government had blatantly stonewalled all demands for an inquiry into the carnage”.

“The Rajiv Gandhi regime made no bones about the fact that it had appointed the inquiry merely to pave the way for an accord on the long festering Punjab problem,” the book goes on to say.

Casting aspersions on the probe held by the Misra Commission, Mr. Phoolka says, “....Misra had not just shut out the public and the press. Unknown to us, we had also been excluded from crucial parts of the inquiry”.

Comparing the situation in Delhi with that in Kolkata which had also witnessed initial violence against the Sikhs, the book says “the failure of Delhi authorities to respond to the early signals of trouble contrasted with the alacrity displayed by their counterparts in Kolkata”.

“Significantly, mob violence broke out in Kolkata even before it did in Delhi. The violence, however, fizzled out in Kolkata because at the first sign of attacks on Sikhs, the local government led by Communists immediately called in the Army to restore law and order,” it reads. -- PTI

Wednesday October 31, 09:31 AM

New Delhi, Oct 31 (IANS) Nearly a quarter century after horrific anti-Sikh violence in the national capital left 2,733 innocents dead, just 13 people have been punished in half a dozen murder cases, says a new book.

'In all other cases, either the police have closed the file or the courts have acquitted the accused. Symbolism assumes greater significance, given the gap between the rhetoric and reality of the rule of law in India,' said the book, 'When a Tree Shook Delhi' (Roli). The book hit the stores this week.

'In a larger perspective, this shows that for all the material progress made by India, its legal culture is still far from developed,' the book said.

'If the struggle for justice could not secure the conviction of a single political leader or police officer; if so many institutions collapsed during and after the 1984 carnage; if Delhi set a precedent for mass killings in Gujarat, the civil society cannot escape blame for lack of 'due diligence', and for neglecting the duty of 'eternal vigilance',' it added.

Authored by journalist Manoj Mitta and advocate H.S. Phoolka, the book takes an overview of the butchery that took place on the streets of New Delhi and elsewhere in the country's north following the Oct 31, 1984, assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi at the hands of two of her Sikh bodyguards.

The book is based mainly on the wealth of evidence that emerged in the course of the Justice G.T. Nanavati Commission of inquiry into the 1984 violence. The report was made public in 2005.

Besides a journalist's reconstruction of the terrible killings and destruction of Sikh property in Delhi after Indira Gandhi's assassination, the book also has a first person account of the struggle for justice by victims of the violence.

The book praises Maxwell Pereira, who then was deputy head of the Delhi Police north district unit, for ably controlling the violence that erupted outside the Sis Ganj gurudwara on Chandni Chowk in the city's old quarters, despite having few men with him.

'Unlike his counterparts in other parts of Delhi, Pereira did not disarm the Sikhs and leave them at the mercy of the mobs. Instead, he persuaded them to go inside the gurudwara by promising to provide them security. He kept his word and dealt with the mobs sternly despite having a meagre force at his command.

'It took a lot of courage and ingenuity to do so. Once he got the Sikhs to go indoors, the mobs from both directions were emboldened to pelt stones with greater vigour. All that Pereira and his men could do in return was threaten to fire with their revolvers.

'In a gritty display of policing, they managed to keep the crowd at a safe distance from the gurdwara till a small reinforcement came along with tear smoke ammunition.'

When the officer saw a mob looting a watch shop owned by a Sikh at Chandni Chowk, he ordered his men to fire at the miscreants. A constable fired three rounds, killing one rioter instantly.

'Driving home the rule of law, Pereira announced then and there a reward of Rs. 200 to the constable, making sure the reward was heard by everyone as he announced it on a loud hailer. The firing and the reward had the desired - and expected - effect. Sis Ganj Gurudwara was saved as the mobs melted away.'

The book refers to the apology to the Sikh community and the nation Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tendered in parliament over the 1984 violence.

'It is no credit, however, to the Indian democracy that it took so long for the government to apologise in the parliament for a massacre of Sikhs and that it finally took a Sikh prime minister to do so.

'Whatever the circumstances, the symbolic value of Manmohan Singh's apology cannot be underestimated. It is in keeping with the spirit of 'truth and reconciliation' catching on in the world.'

Victims of 1984 riots hold demonstration, seek justice

Wednesday October 31, 03:15 PM

New Delhi, Oct 31 (IANS) Victims of the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 staged a demonstration in the capital Wednesday seeking the arrest of those still at large despite committing heinous acts of crime against their community.

A large number of victims and their family members, including women and children, assembled at the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat and marched towards the Supreme Court to air their grievances.

They shouted slogans against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Congress leaders Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar.

According to the protestors, around 10,000 of those accused in various cases of rioting and worse are still roaming freely in Delhi and no action has been taken against them.

The spokesperson of the All India Sikh Conference, Gurcharan Singh Babbar, said: 'We want the Supreme Court to answer for its failure in taking any action in the case of the perpetrators of the violence of 1984.

'If the Supreme Court can take cognisance of issues like the spread of dengue in Delhi, sealing of commercial enterprises being run from residential premises, the fodder scam of Bihar and pollution in the Yamuna, isn't the matter of Sikhs important enough for it to take action?'

Babbar said that 5,327 members of the Sikh community were killed in Delhi in the violence that followed the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi on Oct 31, 1984.

The protestors carried placards with slogans like 'Is sealing more important than 10,000 killers', 'How will Indian judiciary prove its credibility about 1984 carnage' and 'We have lost faith in the judicial system'.

The protestors demanded that all the accused in the 1984 riots cases who are still roaming free be booked and action taken against them. They wanted the government to be made a party in the case in order to ensure its accountability.

Babbar said: 'We want that all the affidavits filed before various commissions set up to look into the matter and the reports of these commissions be put before the Supreme Court so that it may take up the matter in a proper manner.'

When asked about the Rs.75 billion package announced by the government last year for the victims of the 1984 violence, Babbar said: 'The question today is not of relief. We are not talking of relief. We are talking of justice. We want it soon.'

He claimed that the victims are facing lots of problems in claiming the economic relief on account of bureaucratic procedures.

A delegation of the protestors submitted a petition enlisting their problems to the registrar of the Supreme Court.

Africa Insight: How much longer will Sudan peace deal hold?

Publication Date: 11/2/2007
Khartoum should have seen it coming. For nearly a year now, anger has been building up in the South over the National Congress Party-led (NCP) government’s refusal to implement the peace agreement.

The NCP has rejected the recommendations of international experts assigned to draw the boundary of the oil-rich Abyei, yet the Comprehensive Peace Agreement bound the two parties to the experts’ decision. And rather than withdrawing to the north, Sudan’s armed forces have reinforced around the oil areas, yet they should have moved by July 9.

The north-south borders — which have a profound impact on the census in February and the elections and referendum afterwards — are yet to be demarcated, partly because Khartoum says some documents got burnt.

The north refused to agree to a reshuffle a Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) ministers, yet the CPA gives powers to the SPLM chairman to dismiss or appoint SPLM ministers.

A week after Southern Sudan announced that it had recalled its ministers and presidential advisers serving in the Government of National Unity, I strolled along the dirt road to the plush venue of the SPLM meeting.

Upstairs, in a meeting room, officials held discussions late into the night as they hammered out positions on the communiqué they would issue a week later. After opening the meeting, Southern Sudan President Salva Kiir went to tour the states bordering north Sudan.

The air smelled of impending doom.

“We are going back to war,” a security official remarked. “Salva Kiir has gone to mobilise.”

Word spread, even before the meeting ended, that the partnership between the SPLM and the NCP had ended.

President Kiir had, indeed, gone to tour the states bordering northern Sudan, but it was to assess the impact of floods, not mobilise for war.
Five days later, the SPLM Political Bureau recalled its ministers and presidential advisers in the national government.

“Our ministers will not report to work until these contentious issues are resolved,” SPLM Secretary-General Pagan Amum told journalists.

That day, Juba stood still. Not from a stampede nor from war rhetoric and a call on people to mobilise for war. It was a stillness borne of a feeling that something new was on the way.

People curled by battery-powered radio sets, whose broadcasts were drowned in the blare of the generators that power much of the town. Still, the town was calm. It was the sight of a nation psyched up for war, a nation that has been waiting for this war.

By some estimates, more than half the population of Southern Sudan has seen only war. Old people have never seen peace, except the lulls immediately following the signing of peace agreements. The 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement ended in 1983 after then President Jaffer Numeiri’s administration abrogated the truce. The truce in 1997 with South Sudan President Dr Riek Machar’s South Sudan Defence Forces, a breakaway rebel group from the Sudan People Liberation Army, ended in 2000 after it became clear that the mainly Arab north was only interested in it as long as it served its interests of subjugating the black and the largely animist south.

As a result, many people in Juba see the CPA, signed in Naivasha, Kenya, merely as a temporary lull in an ongoing war. They have got accustomed to waiting.

On the other side of town, President Kiir moved about much more like a statesman than a commander-in-chief faced with an impending war.

While walking out of a meeting with investors planning what is perhaps this region’s largest project — $1.5 billion in three years,— Kiir stopped briefly at a restaurant to share a joke with a journalist and other SPLM officials.

Throughout this standoff — at a church service and while addressing demonstrators — Kiir has maintained that the SPLM will not go back to war

But if there is fighting, the South Sudan President said, “We can fight, and what is wrong with that?”

The South does not need a war with the north, so why fight unless attacked? The issue that triggered the last wars — oppression — has nearly been eradicated. With the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the south not only runs nearly all its own affairs, but also has the right to determine its destiny in a referendum come 2011. Khartoum doesn’t appoint the South’s ministers, governors (except one state that is shared with the SPLM), commissioners, or president.

It’s the National Congress Party that needs a war to reverse any gains made by the south. But the signs are — and nearly everybody here agrees — that the NCP can’t afford a war front with the south.

In the west of the country, Darfuris, who fought the Arabs’ war against the black south, are fighting their own war for self-determination. The people of eastern Sudan are fighting the NCP government. The Nuba Mountains in the north is restive. And in Khartoum, the Islamists are furiously knocking at the door, hoping to rid the country of the moderate wing of the NCP government.

It’s the south that is holding the northern government together, much in the same way Darfur and Eastern Sudan held successive Khartoum regimes together against the south.

Another war would also be costly for the NCP because the south is much more united. Southern tribal quarrels still abound, but with remarkably reduced rancor, and with less likelihood they would degenerate into gun battles as often happened during the civil war, when rival tribal militias fought along each side.

When I arrived in Juba a year ago, anti-Dinka feelings were so strong that at one time, chiefs met and decided to chase the Dinka out of Equatoria.

But when one has been here long enough, one understands the venomous anti-Dinka feelings, especially in South Sudan’s capital town: The town was part of the NCP machine during the war, and it was only natural that people resisted the reversal of dining table roles that favoured the tribe that formed the bulk of the rebel outfit. Anti-Dinka feelings have since subsided.

Many agree that the unity among Southerners owes much to Salva Kiir’s pragmatism. For instance, it is widely held in Juba that Kiir’s ascendancy to power forestalled a war that was about to break out because then SPLM chairman, John Garang, was not ready to reconcile with Southern militia who fought alongside Khartoum. This included the largest group, the South Sudan Defence Forces, commanded by Lt Gen Paulino Matip.
It is said that when Garang went to Khartoum, he initially refused to meet Matip, whose militia operated in the oil-rich states where he hails from.

Kiir, on the other hand, embraced Matip, and even made him deputy commander-in-chief. Some people believe that Khartoum wanted Matip to destabilise the SPLA from within. If that is true, then the reverse has happened.

This southern unity Kiir seemingly sought to enhance when, a day to the SPLM Political Bureau meeting, he promoted the Speaker of the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly, and easily the most revered figure in the three states at the lower end of the south, to SPLM deputy chairperson, alongside Vice-President Riek Machar, and Maliik Agar, governor of Blue Nile State in the north. Machar had in July lost his post as Housing minister, partly because quarrels with Dr Garang’s widow, Rebecca Nyandeng, were seen as destructive to the nascent government.

The quarrels sank to a level where Nyandeng refused to recognise Machar as vice-president. Machar has clout in the northern regions of Southern Sudan. Meanwhile, Agar’s promotion was largely seen as an attempt to woo the northerners in the Nuba Mountains who supported the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), but who have been complaining that the south dumped them immediately after it climbed up the ladder.

If the south has moved ahead — no matter how slowly — to mend historical tribal divisions, the north does not seem to have noticed.

For example, when Kiir sent the ministerial reshuffle list to Khartoum, President Omar el Bashir asked him why he wanted to move Foreign Affairs Minister Lam Akol, according to one source. Bashir sees Akol as effective, the south sees Akol as a man who has sold his soul and the region to Bashir. Bashir proposed the names of those he believed Kiir should reshuffle. When Kiir declined and Bashir didn’t reshuffle the ministers, Kiir recalled some of the SPLM ministers, one by one, and reassigned them different posts. The problem with that strategy was that he couldn’t swear in replacements.

It is surprising that al Bashir even considered asking Kiir to submit a different list. But by so doing, he has played right into the hands of a pulsating independence wave sweeping across southern Sudan. The secessionists have one more weapon to use against unity: the north, despite the constitution and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, is not prepared to look at them as any more than former servants supposed to do the its bidding.

Khartoum, Southerners say, has hang-ups from the 60 through the 90s when the south was good only as long as it was divided and they could rule it.

During the current crisis, it seems the north’s strategy has been to paint the south as disjointed and divided. Two days after the south’s walk-out from the national government, a presidential adviser told the press in Khartoum that the South was divided over the resolution, yet only one state minister had cried out — not against the decision, but that he didn’t know how to survive without a job.

Bashir met Joseph Okello, the leader of the Union of Sudan African Parties, a secessionist political party that proclaimed itself mediator, but he first declined to meet Machar, whom Kiir sent with the South’s resolutions. Perhaps with the assurance of people who knew they had the upper hand, Machar’s team left the resolutions at the Republican Palace in Khartoum and headed back to Juba. Machar was stopped just as he was leaving; Apparently, Bashir had had a change of heart and would meet him. But Bashir had no choice. Even the political party that offered to mediate later supported the SPLM; it would be political suicide to oppose such a decision in the South.

In return, Bashir announced a ministerial reshuffle ahead of a meeting with Kiir.

After a four-hour meeting, Kiir and Bashir disagreed. Kiir flew back to the South. The reshuffle, Presidential Affairs minister Luka Biong told national television, “is at the bottom of our demands”.

His comments are an apparent reaction to sections of the international community and analysts who, to the surprise of many, reduced the confrontation to a disagreement over a ministerial list. In such reports, which reduce the confrontation to a petty quarrel over posts while silent on the major concerns, some Southerners sense that sections of the international community are trying to arm-twist the South into returning to government.

Arabs and Arab governments openly work against secession because it chips away at the Arab empire. And whether true or not, Southerners feel that the current US administration’s policy is for unity, so that the South can serve as a counterpoint to plots by Islamists to overrun Sudan.

Despite backing by sections of the international community, Khartoum’s failure to read the South’s reaction is its Achilles’ heel.

This is not to say that the south doesn’t have its own Achilles’ heel. The South’s is its failure to diversify its sources of income. It depends entirely on Khartoum’s goodwill to send the monthly oil money on time. Every month, the ministries wait for the fluctuating oil money — between $60m and $120m — to fund the government’s entire budget.

This could be Khartoum’s weapon against it. Bashir’s government could ignore the south and punish it by withholding the monthly budget.

That, however, would be a direct violation of the peace agreement. And with the people psyched up for secession, it a decision to withhold oil money would only lead to what the south is clamouring for: A unilateral declaration of independence.

After living in Juba for a year, I have not found a single Southerner who wants unity. The mistrust of the Arabic north won’t die tomorrow just because that is what sections of the international community want.

To keep the country together, the north must rebuild trust. One way would be by the ruling party fielding a Southerner for president in 2009. But the north is currently not winning over any Southerner by its failure to implement key aspects of the peace agreement.

Khartoum could be tempted to react to a declaration of independence with war. But wars for independence are rather difficult to defeat because they tend to galvanise the population behind the insurgents. Perhaps nothing in the South unites the people like the word “Jallaba”, as they call Arabs because of the brown skin, but voiced with deep anger.

“With a war, it’s not the weapons that count,” Nhial Bol, editor-in-chief of The Citizen, said. “It’s the people, and they decide, they can fight whether it is with sticks and stones.”

The Biafra insurgents lost largely because the Cold War politics was stacked against them, with the West interested in them only as long as they remained part of Nigeria to provide a check against the Nigerian central government. With the Cold War over, not many powers would put themselves on the line for another country embroiled in a civil war, which explains why the Yugoslavian and Eritrean wars succeeded.

A war could also disrupt the oil supplies on which Khartoum relies to fight on its other war fronts.

It’s not lost on Southerners that Khartoum can’t go the war road. Nor is it lost on them that the Arabs are stalling over the peace agreement. The Arabs, the Southerners say, want to resolve the Darfur war quickly, which would free them to fight another war with the South, rather than implement the peace agreement.

As news filtered through from Khartoum that Kiir had walked out of the meeting with Bashir without agreement, Juba seemed to erupt into a celebratory mood.

“This is the best decision they have ever made,” Luka Mariak, a deputy communications officer at the Presidency, said of the refusal by the south to rejoin government even after Kiir’s meeting with al Bashir. “This is the right time to take that decision.”

The south has given the north up to January 9, the anniversary of the signing of the CPA, to respond. That date could as well read Independence Day. A unilateral declaration of independence by the South could see the other marginalised groups in Darfur, Eastern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains unilaterally seek independence.

And with the oil supplies possibly disrupted in the south, the NCP regime would not have the resources to buy political loyalty and fend off the Islamists in Khartoum, who are possibly baying for President al Bashir’s blood, annoyed that he has sold out to the US.

Considering the wave for independence, the international community has two options: Push for Sudan’s unity and risk a messy backlash, or force Khartoum to implement the peace treaty to the letter and hope that this wins the South’s trust and reign in the pro-independence wave.

The south’s walkout of government is not a checkmate, still, it’s a check.
The chips are so stacked against the NCP — to say otherwise is spurious — this time round that, perhaps for the first time in Sudan’s history, the north has one choice: do the South’s bidding. The alternatives would be ugly.

Africa Insight is an initiative of the Nation Media Group’s Africa Media Network Project.

NIGERIA: Navy kills 7 militants, loses 1 officer in gun battle

Source: Vanguard Media Limited

Written by Kingsley Omonobi, Emma Arubi
Friday, 02 November 2007

ABUJA—THE Nigerian Navy yesterday explained its version of the attack on its Warship in the Niger Delta by militants saying its personnel killed seven militants while one Naval personnel on ‘lookout duty’ was killed when the militants in four boats attempted to attack the ship, NNS Obula. According to the Naval High Command, the Naval Officer, who was performing the ‘lookout duty’ observed that some boats carrying suspicious persons were approaching the Naval ship at about 2 am Wednesday and he immediately raised an alarm resulting in his being shot at and killed immediately.

“Security men on guard immediately responded and opened fire resulting in the death of seven sea robbers while the remaining boats fled.”

A statement signed by the Director of Naval Information, Capt. Henry Babalola reads, “The Nigerian Navy’s attention is drawn to the rather distorted version of her ship, NNS Obula’s encounter with sea robbers posing as militants, off Finnuwa oil field in the early hours of 31st October 2007”

“The ship was on routine patrol in an area where fishing trawlers largely operate due to upsurge in attacks when a lookout (Watchman) on the ship observed that a boat was approaching menacingly. He raised an alarm and he was killed instantly.

Security men on guard immediately opened fire resulting in the death of seven sea robbers while the remaining boats fled.”
“The whole idea is to scare the fishing trawlers into believing that the Navy was incapable of protecting them. This has fallen flat on their face as NNS Obula, joined by other ships are still on task.”

Reiterating that the Nigerian Navy will continue to perform her statutory policing functions, the statement “warned of very dire consequences if sea robbers and other miscreants do not desist from attacks on their facilities.”

“The need for political solution to the Niger Delta problem and matured restraint from the Nigerian Navy should not be mistaken for lack of firepower to curtail illegalities in the Niger Delta” the statement further said.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) claimed responsibility for the attack saying it was carried out to prove to oil companies in the Niger Delta that the military presence could not prevent them from carrying out any action if they so wished.

ABUJA—THE Nigerian Navy yesterday explained its version of the attack on its Warship in the Niger Delta by militants saying its personnel killed seven militants while one Naval personnel on ‘lookout duty’ was killed when the militants in four boats attempted to attack the ship, NNS Obula. According to the Naval High Command, the Naval Officer, who was performing the ‘lookout duty’ observed that some boats carrying suspicious persons were approaching the Naval ship at about 2 am Wednesday and he immediately raised an alarm resulting in his being shot at and killed immediately.

“Security men on guard immediately responded and opened fire resulting in the death of seven sea robbers while the remaining boats fled.”

A statement signed by the Director of Naval Information, Capt. Henry Babalola reads, “The Nigerian Navy’s attention is drawn to the rather distorted version of her ship, NNS Obula’s encounter with sea robbers posing as militants, off Finnuwa oil field in the early hours of 31st October 2007”

“The ship was on routine patrol in an area where fishing trawlers largely operate due to upsurge in attacks when a lookout (Watchman) on the ship observed that a boat was approaching menacingly. He raised an alarm and he was killed instantly.

Security men on guard immediately opened fire resulting in the death of seven sea robbers while the remaining boats fled.”
“The whole idea is to scare the fishing trawlers into believing that the Navy was incapable of protecting them. This has fallen flat on their face as NNS Obula, joined by other ships are still on task.”

Reiterating that the Nigerian Navy will continue to perform her statutory policing functions, the statement “warned of very dire consequences if sea robbers and other miscreants do not desist from attacks on their facilities.”

“The need for political solution to the Niger Delta problem and matured restraint from the Nigerian Navy should not be mistaken for lack of firepower to curtail illegalities in the Niger Delta” the statement further said.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) claimed responsibility for the attack saying it was carried out to prove to oil companies in the Niger Delta that the military presence could not prevent them from carrying out any action if they so wished.

‘Abductors cooked for us' , INDIAN HOSTAGES TELLS MEDIA

Divyesh Singh
Friday, November 02, 2007 03:42 IST

Dombivili hostage said six of them were served whatever they wanted to eat

MUMBAI: The sophisticated firearms of his abductors gave Pandurang Tari, 48, the feel that death was near. A chill went down the spine of the Dombivili man when a group of Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) activists surrounded him and five others working on the sea-bed oil production platform of a ship at Port Harcourt in Nigeria. But in the end, it was found that the abductors were too friendly.

The incident happened last Friday last week. Of the six abducted people, four were Indians and two Polish. Tari was working on the project as a production supervisor with UK-based organisation Sipem.

“There were 75-80 people on the ship when the gun-wielding MEND activists came aboard. Majority hid themselves in the engine room, while six of us ducked into a cabin on the platform. MEND activists broke open the cabin door and told us to surrender,” said Tari.

Asked how his abductors treated him, Tari said, “They were friendly. While taking us into custody, they assured that wouldn’t be harmed. They only wanted money from our employers for the development of the Niger Delta. They carried sophisticated arms and were dressed in army fatigue. For the first two days, we were given only biscuits to eat. But on the third day, they asked us for a list of things we wanted to eat.”

MEND activists ensured that the captives got everything mentioned on the list. For the last two days, the activists even cooked for their hostages, he added.

Tari said, “When our employers accepted the activists’ demands, they released us on Monday night and dropped us at Port Harcourt town. We returned to the platform, and informed our families that we were safe and sound.”

Tari’s employers has decided to transfer him to some other site in another country. He would return to work after a short break.

Mukasey's Letter: Not Good Enough

JURIST Guest Columnist Benjamin Davis of the University of Toledo College of Law says that Judge Michael Mukasey's written response to Senate Judiciary Committee follow-up inquiries concerning his views on the legality of waterboarding and torture demonstrate views of America's obligations under international law so limited and problematic that he should not be confirmed...

Judge Mukasey has responded to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s written inquiry with regard to waterboarding and torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. His four-page letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee supplemented by 172 pages of related responses prompts several thoughts.

First, Judge Mukasey notes that "some Members of Congress, including those on the intelligence committees", have been briefed on the specifics of "a program run by the Central Intelligence Agency". In the context of the confirmation process, it is essential that we now ask who were those members of Congress, whether they were briefed on waterboarding and other techniques as part of that briefing, and what were the members' views on those techniques. It is far too convenient to hold Judge Mukasey’s feet to the fire on waterboarding without also holding accountable the members of Congress who have been briefed on this subject. This information is important in the context of Judge Mukasey’s confirmation because his phrase can be easily read as a veiled warning to those Congresspersons that they will be “outed” for what they allowed to go forward. That veiled warning has the effect of chilling further inquiry by other members of Congress for fear of alienating colleagues. We need to cut through this gamesmanship and get the truth out. Americans can handle the truth.

Second, Judge Mukasey, in addressing the legality of "coercive interrogation techniques," including waterboarding, provides an instance of the kind of legal analysis he would make as Attorney General as a way of assisting the committee in understanding his work method if he were to be confirmed. He essentially limits his analysis to federal statutes that are enabling legislation of the Convention Against Torture and Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment (“Convention Against Torture”) and the Constitutional standard of “shocks the conscience” that is said to apply pursuant to a United States reservation to that treaty. He makes passing reference to the Geneva Conventions and to the Convention Against Torture itself.

That is not enough. Let me be specific:
Judge Mukasey's analysis does not take into account the prohibition against torture and cruel inhuman or degrading treatment in Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). His analysis does not take into account the non-derogability of those prohibitions even in times of public emergency as expressed in Article 4 of the ICCPR.

His analysis does not take into account the question of whether the US reservation to the Convention Against Torture is inconsistent with the object and purpose of the treaty and, as a matter of international law, of no effect. His analysis also does not express clearly whether he subscribes to the position that said reservation is only substantive (as was stated by Abram Sofaer, the negotiator of that treaty for the United States, in his January 2005 testimony to the committee) or whether he subscribes to the view that it is both substantive and geographic in limitation (i.e. only within the United States) as was stated by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. This point is important since detainees are essentially held abroad.

His analysis does not take into account the fact that foreigners held by the United States are subject to the protection of the state of their nationality. Said state, as Australia did for David Hicks, will insist that their citizens be treated in accordance with the requirements of international law applicable. He does not seem aware that internal statutes of the United States are of no moment to such foreign states. What is important to those states is whether the United States is in compliance with the language of the relevant international law obligation (such as the Convention Against Torture) – not United States domestic law. He does not see that the internal law (which he might have used in his court) cannot be used in this non-court context on the international plane to extract the United States from its international obligations.

His analysis refers to Geneva Common Article 3 War Crimes but does not address the question of liability for Non-Common Article 3 War Crimes. In Hamdan the Supreme Court only said that Common Article 3 applied without reaching the broader question of whether other articles of the Geneva Conventions apply in the current armed conflicts. A careful analysis would therefore have looked at the non-Common Article 3 articles in the Geneva Convention III on Prisoners of War as well as the non-Common Article 3 articles in the Geneva Convention IV on Civilians including protected persons and security detainees. His analysis does none of that and therefore is unacceptably cursory. He presents a cramped vision of Geneva Conventions applicability that seems even narrower than that which Jack Goldsmith took but closer to that of David Addington, which I find extremely problematic. His vision limits the analysis to the detriment of evaluating waterboarding as a per se war crime under these other provisions of the Geneva Conventions.

He appears to be applying domestic U.S. standards for treaty interpretation and not international standards such as the Vienna Convention Law of Treaties which has been seen as authoritative by the United States in the past. With regard to the Convention Against Torture, it is of great concern that in his analysis he makes no mention of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties with regard to interpretation of our obligations. Rather than only referencing a couple of internal cases to describe the court’s “shocks the conscience” standard, I hoped that Judge Mukasey would have taken into greater account the evaluation to be done is in the context of compliance with treaty obligations of the United States – not just compliance with a Constitutional standard. In a setting where he will be under enormous pressure to use internal law interpretations of the treaty that are the President’s and by definition self-serving, his inability to even bring forward the idea of the more traditional international standard is deeply troubling. Thus, the evaluation of the “shocks the conscience” standard would need to take into account concerns such as compliance with the object and purpose of the treaty, the traditional methods in international law of interpretation of treaties, and issues of whether the “shocks the conscience” reservation is an improper derogation from peremptory norms. None of that appears in the four-page letter, nor is it intimated that he would consider such matters. This type of analysis is well-known by those steeped in international law but possibly less familiar to persons who work essentially in U.S. foreign relations law We are all aware of the separation of powers, but neither the President, the Congress, nor the Supreme Court are above the United States. The treaty obligations (as well as customary international law obligations) fall squarely on the United States and his analysis in domestic law of “shocks the conscience” should be tempered by this international background. This type of analysis is all the more important in a context where the techniques are being applied to foreigners who are subject to the protection of the state of their nationality. On the state to state level, the internal law modifications of the United States to treaty and customary international law obligations are of no moment.

In addition to not making any reference to the ICCPR in his analysis, he makes no reference to customary international humanitarian law, human rights law, law of diplomatic protection, or international criminal law. These additional areas of international law and the jurisprudence of international tribunals from the Nuremberg trials or the Tokyo trials onward are not referenced or analyzed in any meaningful manner. In the context of an armed conflict of global proportions, that lack of familiarity and absence in his legal analysis are of concern.

There is no evidence that Judge Mukasey looked at the relevant state practice of other states under treaty or customary international law with regard to evaluating waterboarding or at the American jurisprudence on the subject in domestic or in international tribunals we helped to create over the past 100 years. That is not good enough these days.
Third, Judge Mukasey's analysis purports to present great concern for the impact of his comments on the personal jeopardy of those in the field or those charged with reviewing conduct of those in the field. His loyalty – upwards or downwards – is misplaced. It pains me greatly that his solicitude for those persons seems far greater than what I would hope is the central concern – defending and protecting the United States. In his role as Attorney General, an important part of the task ahead will be to cleanse the state itself of its criminality: whether at the level of those who wrote the shameless memos (that are more than mistakes), those who ordered the memos, or those down below to the lowest level implementer of the policy. It would seem that a truly independent person would show now a willingness to follow the facts where they lead both up and down and not personal loyalty concerns. If someone was induced in error as part of the common plan by someone above in the hierarchy, Judge Mukasey may determine to be solicitous towards such a person in his investigation and discretion as to prosecute. But, as the Attorney General nominee, these type of personal, almost managerial, concerns are beneath the office of the Attorney General.

Fourth, because of what is not said in Judge Mukasey's analysis above, I am worried about his commitment to transparency in his approach to the Attorney General position. Maybe one way he could show that openness would be if he committed to release or examine releasing the International Committee of the Red Cross report on the detention and interrogation techniques in the CIA Black Sites referenced in a recent New Yorker article. That report no doubt has the truth on what we have been doing. Rather than playing internal law semantic games, the discussion of the ICRC would point out whether in our practice we have complied with the international obligations that fall upon the United States as a whole and for which we would expect the Attorney General to have great concern. Those who have read the report in Congress seem to suggest that we have failed miserably. Let the American people know what our leaders and the detainees know. Have we been leveled with by our leaders? We can handle the truth.

Fifth, it pains me greatly that Judge Mukasey has not simply said that “waterboarding is torture and illegal.” It pains me greatly that the international component of his analysis is not as extensive as I think it should be of the Attorney General who would serve at this crucial time.

For these reasons, as a citizen I remain extremely troubled by Judge Mukasey’s nomination and suggest that the Senate not confirm him. If he asks why, someone might respond as Churchill responded to an employee he had fired: “Not up to the job.”

Benjamin Davis is a professor at the University of Toledo College of Law