September 20, 2008

Towards a taxonomy of blogs

THE WEB Posted: 11-09-2008

http://www.creative.org.au/webboard/results.chtml?filename_num=229836

Before we criticise bloggers, let’s define our terms, writes MARGARET SIMONS

SOMETIMES language can obscure as much as it reveals, particularly when the world changes faster than our ability to create new vocabulary.

I think we have reached this situation with “blogging.” Never the most beautiful sound, the word “blog” is now manifestly inadequate to allow us to talk in sensible ways about the many different things that are happening in internet based publication by individuals and groups.

We need new words. To draw an analogy, both Hello and The Monthly are magazines, but knowing that is hardly enough to decide whether or not you might be interested in reading them. For that we need more information, and more differentiation.

I think the need for new vocabulary is becoming urgent. Last month I took part in many anguished discussions in various forums in the wake of the redundancy announcements at Fairfax, and all the resulting worry about the future of serious journalism in this country. The question was asked – is blogging one of the hopes of the future?

As speakers variously scoffed at the idea or spoke hopefully, it dawned on me that we were not necessarily talking about the same phenomena. Some blogs offer hope for a new kind of journalism. Some don’t, because they are doing a different kind of thing – things which may in themselves be valuable.

I am going to make an attempt to invent some new words for different kinds of blog, in the hope that readers will dive in, add and improve. Where possible, I have tried to adapt the terminology of the past, including that which accompanied the invention of the printing press. I think historical resonances can be helpful in illuminating what is going on in new media, as well as reminding us that this is not the first time that technological innovation has changed almost everything about how we communicate. Certain human needs persist. The means of satisfying them alters.

So, here goes:

Pamphleteering Blogs. These are the sites where an individual or, more commonly these days, groups of individuals argue a case or push a cause. Usually they are responding to facts reported in the mainstream media or occasionally on other blogs. The pamphleteering function is older than the printing press. Before literacy there was the Speakers’ Corner, where those pushing their views would be heckled, harassed and sometimes pelted with fruit and worse. The printing press took the rotten tomatoes out of the business. The internet brings back the interaction, but now we call the tomato-throwers “trolls.” The printing press also meant that only some views got published. The internet has taken out much of that filtering process. I would suggest that on the Australian scene, Larvatus Prodeo, Catalaxy, and Andrew Norton’s blog blog are examples of pamphleteering, although all three also act as digests and, very occasionally, news blogs.

The Digest Blog. These act primarily as guides and summaries to things you can access elsewhere, either in the mainstream media or on other blogs. Sometimes they include commentary as well. I think the digest function of blogs is becoming less important, because social networking sites are overtaking the function. In the future it may well be that what we read, listen to and view will be determined primarily by what our online social network pushes our way. Most pamphleteering blogs also perform a digest function by using hotlinks, but I would suggest that apparent Advocacy Blogs (see below for definition) such as the FairGoFairfax site established by the journalists’ union in recent weeks are, although ostensibly about advocacy of a cause, serving more as a digest and portal to mainstream media articles on the topic of journalism and redundancies. The same could be said about the rival Fairfax management site Just the Facts. Although theoretically opposed to each other, both sites tend to link to the same articles.

The Advocacy Blog. Perhaps this is a subset of pamphleteering, but I am putting it in a separate category because these blogs tend to be run by established advocacy groups or commercial organisations rather than by individuals, and concern themselves with a single topic, whereas the pamphleteering sites cover many different issues. Examples of advocacy blogs include Telstra’s exercise in corporate spin and politicians’ blogs, such as this one.

The Popular Mechanics Blog. Okay, I really need some help with the terminology here. The idea I am trying to capture is that there is now a large and diverse set of often uniquely valuable blogs that offer training and advice in specialist fields, serving the same function as magazines such as Popular Mechanics. Being a gardener, I am particularly aware of blogs that tell me how to get better cabbages or deal with earwigs. Here is a list of some of them. My husband is a photographer, and his favourite site at the moment is Strobist, which is full of detailed information and quite wacky but clever hints on how to light photographic subjects without spending a fortune of special equipment. Like most of the really good Popular Mechanics type blogs, Strobist earns money from advertising and is on the way to becoming a sustainable business. The depth and quality of the information available on the best of these blogs surpasses anything available in specialist magazines.

The Exhibition Blog. I could have called these blogs “vanity publishing”, but I don’t like the pejorative overtones. These are blogs maintained by writers, craftspeople, artists and artisans of many kinds in which they bring their creations to a wider audience, and sometimes discuss their methods and thought processes. Take, for example, the many blogs on quilting, such as AroundtheWorldIn20Quilts, which is a collaboration between quilters in the Netherlands, the United States, Britain and Australia. Sometimes Exhibition Blogs also serve as Diary Blogs (see below).

The Gatewatcher Blog. Often closely related to the Pamphleteers yet serving, I would suggest, the separate function of allowing specialists, experts and others with particular knowledge of public events to watch and hold to account the “gatekeepers” of traditional media. The best known example in Australia is surely Possum Comitatus, whose role in shaming the Australian newspaper in the lead-up to the last election has been widely commented on, including by me. The American journalism academic Jay Rosen and others are experimenting with a mixture of gatewatching and crowdsourcing in their Beat Blogging project, in which the kinds of people who would normally be a journalist’s sources are encouraged to interact with the reporters on line, with the aim of improving the journalism. I can’t think of an old-media technology term for the gatewatching blogs. Perhaps it is a new function, in which case, three cheers.

The Diary. As old as the hills, but now it is public – or partly so. This is the kind of blog people are usually referring to when they claim that most blogging is “rubbish.” What they mean is that they are not interested in it. Nobody says they have to be. The many Diary Blogs are intended for the friends and family of individuals. They contain news, photos and information of a largely personal kind. Often they read as self-indulgent, but since when were diaries anything else? That doesn’t mean that they aren’t valuable and important to those who keep them. The Diary Blog is, I suspect, in decline because of the rise of social networking sites, which allow the dissemination of this kind of information among geographically dispersed “friends,” without the need to make it available to all.

The Advertisement. Nothing new here. A close relative to the Advocacy Blog, but sometimes less honest. Companies are paying established bloggers undisclosed kickbacks to boost their products, as well as establishing their own blogs to do the same.

The News Blog. This one is in its infancy in Australia, though arguably Crikey grew from a news blog, founded by Stephen Mayne, who is now having another go with the Mayne Report. Both of Mayne’s enterprises relied largely on email, which perhaps takes them out of the category “blogs.” Or perhaps not. Advocacy, Gatewatching and Pamphleteering Blogs can also report news, but tend to so incidentally and intermittently. News blogs in the United States are of course better established, and have been used to cover and even break some very important stories indeed. Salam Pax, the Baghdad blogger, is another example. Another variant is the hyperlocal news site, in which news specific to an area is reported in depth. In the United States some of these sites have become sustainable businesses employing reporters as well as making use of user contributed content. It may well be that when asking whether blogging can make a useful contribution to journalism, we need to think about niche and speciality, rather than sticking with old notions that the only journalism that really matters is mass media reporting. The local is a natural “speciality,” but it is not the only one.

I wouldn’t pretend for a second that the above taxonomy of blogs is exhaustive or final. But I hope I have demonstrated that when commentators sneer at blogs and ridicule any suggestion that they could be a useful and important adjunct, or even replacement, for aspects of the mainstream media, they would do well to define their terms.

Blogs do some things very well indeed. Some of the things they do are old functions in new clothes, and some of the things they do are new.

I suspect that in a decade, the word “blog” will no longer be widely used. Instead we will have a whole lot of new words to reflect the diversity of individual publishing on the World Wide Web. •

Margaret Simons’s latest book, The Content Makers: Understanding the Media in Australia, is published by Penguin.

Photo: Adrian Matthiassen/iStockphoto.com

Indian Mujahideen & CounterCurrents - Potential nexus



Offstumped

The famed 5 e-mails from the Indian Mujahideen have been making all the news as media and public attention have been turned away from an earlier less reported and even less investigated event.

For weeks now Offstumped has been researching in collaboration with others the unexplained 6th email which was sent on the 31st July 2008.

This e-mail was sent from the same email id alarbi_gujarat@yahoo.com that was used to send the Ahmedabad Blasts email however it was by faking the from address using SMTP instead of using the Yahoo web mail account directly.

The contents of this email have been sparsely reported in the media and have mainly to do with a bomb threat to India TV News.

Now along comes news that the latest e-mail from the Indian Mujahideen has text lifted from an article on thehoot.org, a delhi based Indian News watchdog (first brought to Offstumped’s attention by Prasanna).

Now the news story in the HT on this also alludes to the fact the thehoot.org is not a well known site, a fact attested to by this blogger for not having heard of thehoot before this. So it stands to reason that the lifting of the text may not have happened from thehoot.org directly but from other sites that reproduced the original article on thehoot.

Strangely enough less than 20 sites have reproduced this original article and first amongst them is countercurrents.org, a radical left leaning Communal Socialist rag-tag packed with prominent apologists for Islamists like Ram Puniyani, Shabnam Hashmi and others.

Now here comes the clincher, this is where the 6th e-mail is important.

That e-mail did not originate from yahoo instead it originated from a U.S. based Internet Hosting Company called DreamHost.com.

Received: by tejava.dreamhost.com (Postfix, from userid 1473975) id 7ED4D9865C; Thu, 31 Jul 2008 01:54:28 -0700 (PDT)



http://www.dreamhost.com/aboutus.html
So whats the connection here ?

Well countercurrents.org is hosted on DreamHost as well.

CounterCurrents on Jaipur Blasts

CounterCurrents on Bangalore Blasts

CounterCurrents on Ahmedabad Blasts

And finally this once again from Apologists par excellence Ram Puniyani and Shabnam Hashmi in the immideate aftermath of the Delhi Blasts.

When one adds the fact that CounterCurrents has been issuing Indian Mujahideen’s most passionate apologies starting from Jaipur Blasts to every single incident ever since,

with the fact that one of the emails from the Indian Mujahideen also originated from the same hosting site as CounterCurrents,

with the fact that it also prominently carried thehoot article which contributed content to the latest e-mail

it raises damning questions if there exists a nexus between someone at CounterCurrents and the Indian Mujahideen ?

Offstumped demands that DreamHost.com be asked to verify the source of the 6th e-mail and CounterCurrents and its prominent apologists be investigated to establish if indeed someone may have been inspiring the Terrorists in private while they apologize for them in public.

Fragrance of fire

THE RIGHT VIEW
TIMES OF INDIA

20 Sep 2008, 1542 hrs IST, Tarun Vijay

Delhi is mourning the death of Inspector M C Sharma who dared to take on the terrorists hiding in Jamia Nagar. It's rare that police force gets such an appreciation and salute that is otherwise reserved for the armed forces. The reactions of the people and the anchors on the news channels were sad, moist and genuine.

Why did he have to have this martyrdom?

The men in Khaki are more known and portrayed in movies as lazy, corrupt, unintelligent and seekers of pleasure at public cost. Few know the trying circumstances they work in and the salaries they draw. They are facing the Communist terrorism in thirteen states, their martyrdom in action, go often less reported and almost unsung. They are given the most outdated rifles and equipment and the facilities to act against terrorists who are cunning, resourceful and heavily armed with modern weapons. The police laws are shamefully inadequate. Indian police was governed under the 1861 act of the British government that was meant for the colonial brute force to control subjugated natives till 2006.

As close as 16th July, the Maoists in Orissa killed 21 policemen. In 2007, Maoists had killed 22 policemen in Bihar. According to a newspaper report, Bihar, one of the worst Maoist affected states along with Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, has the lowest police-people ratio. Over 19,000 posts in the state police department have not been filled up. In March 2007 the Maoists had killed 50 policemen in Chhattisgarh. During Rajasthan's Gujjar movement in May this year, unruly protestors beheaded a policeman.

Every one, including the politician, loves to deride and insult police openly and get applause. But every one wants police to help them in times of distress and crisis. From a small traffic accident to domestic violence and petty thefts to Nithari 's cannibals and Arushi murder, it's the police that faces the public and is under constant pressure to show results. The politicians use them as domestic servants and commission agents, corrupting them and in turn helping out of turn the facilitator men in Khaki. Yet the most important task - to reform and modernize the police force - remains in cold storage till something like Delhi blasts occur and there is a huge pressure built up by people and media on the government. Then just to avoid the immediate criticism a few announcements are made to spend a few more crores on police force. No body knows how many years would take to see these announcements implemented.

It was in July 2006 that the Indian government had unveiled an ambitious Rs.52 billion plan for modernising the Central and state police forces. The money is yet to be utilized. Manipur, for example, which is declared 'A' class seeing high incidents of insurgency, didn't spend eight crores earmarked for police modernization yet showed it as 'spent' in accounts, which was detected in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Lack of men power, political interference, a tendency to demoralize the honest and upright officers, lack of coordination between different forces and a complete absence of a mechanism to share information and cooperate with each other amongst various shades of police forces, including para-military security organisations make the task of police more difficult and cumbersome.

The level of demoralization in police forces is well exemplified by a recent report from Hyderabad that says: "Police stations in at least 100 mandals across the state do not want to avail four and six wheelers fearing landmine attacks by the Maoists. This comes following intelligence inputs that cops deployed in the jurisdiction of these police stations run the highest risk of being targeted by the Naxals. Currently, there are 1,559 police stations in the state of which about 700 have no four wheelers for mobility. Though the police department provided at least 207 vehicles to the police stations through the Police Transport Organisation, the Naxal-hit areas have not been included. A senior police officer said, "There are several instances of Naxals targeting police personnel moving in four wheelers. Landmines and claymore mines are a big threat to the police teams travelling in jeeps and buses in the Naxal-hit Andhra-Orissa border, Khammam-Chhattisgarh border, North Telangana and surroundings of Nallamala.' Police usually move in private vehicles and sometimes on two-wheelers in the Maoist-hit zones."


Those who shoulder the responsibility to provide security to people are left high and dry when the question of their own security arises. Just a month ago an ambitious scheme has been passed by the Union Cabinet, which aims to strengthen police force in Naxal affected areas by raising 10 battalions (10,000 personnel) at a cost of Rs 1389.47 crore. After debating on the proposal for nearly eight months, the Union Home Ministry finally moved the Cabinet Committee on Security chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for raising the Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (COBRA), which will be similar to 'Greyhounds' of Andhra Pradesh Police. The Left-extremism, termed by the Prime Minister as a "virus", has engulfed nearly 13 states.

But it's not just the Naxal affected areas but the entire police network that needs a complete and radical overhaul. Their training needs a Japanese touch which has the best of Eastern values and a tough power to eliminate the rogues. The first and foremost thing that needs to be done is to make the police set up autonomous and remove all the traces of colonialism from the police force, that essentially includes taking off the Khaki colour, which reminds of the imperial British brutishness. In UP and Bihar, old Willy's jeeps, reminding of the Sholay days and dacoit trail are in vogue with policemen wielding 303 guns.

The National Police Commission (NPC), created by the government in 1977, had submitted eight detailed reports during 1979-81, with comprehensive recommendations covering the entire gamut of police work. None was implemented completely. It was only because of a petition to the Supreme Court by one of the most able, honest and spirited police officers, Prakash Singh that the obnoxious Police Act of 1861 was struck down in one go in September 2006. That too happened, not surprisingly, having 'heard' the petition for ten long years. The Supreme Court said, "we think that there cannot be any further wait, and the stage has come for issue of appropriate directions for immediate compliance so as to be operative till such time as a new Model Police Act is prepared by the Central Government and/or the state governments pass the requisite legislations."

The Supreme Court ordered the establishment of three institutions at the state level with a view to insulating the police from extraneous influences, according functional autonomy and ensuring accountability. These were:

• A State Security Commission to lay down broad policies and give directions relating to the preventive and service-oriented functions of the police.
• A Police Establishment Board, comprising the Director-General of Police and four other senior officers to decide on all transfers, postings, promotions and other service-related matters of officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. The Board was also tasked with making appropriate recommendations to the state government regarding the postings and transfers of officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above.
• A Police Complaints Authority at the district and state level to look into allegations of misconduct by police personnel.

In addition, the apex court ordered that the Director-General of Police should be selected by state governments from the three senior-most officers empanelled for promotion to that rank by the UPSC. It further stipulated that the DGP should have a prescribed minimum tenure of two years. Police officers on operational duty in the field, like the Inspector general (IG) Zone, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Range, SP in charge of a district and Station House Officer (SHO) should also have a minimum tenure of two years.

But hardly these have been followed because every time there is a regime change, the entire police set up too is changed buy the incumbent political masters, bringing in their protégés and punishing those whom they thing had side with their rivals. This affects the respect for the able in the force and the virus goes down vertically.
Certainly there are still good officers in the police force and they need protection of law. It's high time that the police forces' control be taken off the authorities of the political set up and put under a professional autonomous body so that the people are secured and the moral of the brave men in khaki is also restored.

Security forces, whether in khaki or olive green, represent the spine of the land and the life of public institutions and democratic mechanism depends on them. Sadly they are the most ignored and left out segments. How the relatives of those brave security personnel, who were killed in action saving the lives of the parliamentarians, felt compelled to return the decorations given to their children is the saddest stories of state's failure in recent times.

While we are nearing another anniversary of 13th December, when Parliament was attacked, can we hope that all the parties would come together to provide more teeth and facilities to our security forces and encourage their morale so that the best talent in our society feels a pride in joining forces and be the real 'bobby' of the people? They are the fragrance of the fire of nobility in our society; let that be preserved with all our support.

The author is the Director, Dr Syamaprasad Mookerjee Research Foundation.
______________
Goodbye, braveheart
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SOBHANA KPosted online: Sep 21, 2008 at 0005 hrs
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New Delhi, September 20 Saturday, 3.30 pm. All roads leading to Nigam Bodh Ghat were lined with white Ambassador cars as traffic police officers scurried around, manning them.
For the first time in the history of Delhi Police, four former Police Commissioners — M B Kaushal, T R Kakkar, Ajai Raj Sharma and K K Paul — were present together to bid a final farewell to an inspector. Police officers of all ranks, many of whom had never even worked with the deceased, were present at Nigam Bodh Ghat.
And they were all bidding farewell to a hero: Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, who died in the gunbattle with alleged militants in Jamia Nagar on Friday.
Not just police brass, even politicians across party lines came to pay final tributes. Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal, senior BJP leader L K Advani, Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and scores of BJP and Congress politicians from the Capital were present.
Amid a sea of khaki, Inspector Sharma’s body was brought on a flower-decked Delhi Police truck. The 12 ceremonial guards fired three rounds from their .303 rifles and the ‘Last Post’ was played in the background as cries of “Jai Bharat Mata” and “Jai M C Sharma” rent the air. Several other mourners who had also come to bid a final farewell to their loved ones forgot their personal grief and stood watching the grand procession.
Police Commissioner Y S Dadwal and Joint Commissioner Karnal Singh carried Sharma’s body.
Sharma’s close associate, Assistant Sub Inspector Prahlad Meena, who had worked with him for the past 12 years, broke down. Meena had been running around since morning at Sharma’s Dwarka residence, making arrangements for the last rites. At the cremation, however, he could not hold back his tears any longer.
Also crying inconsolably was Sub-Inspector Dharmendar, the first police official to go to the flat housing the alleged militants posing as a salesman and who later carried Sharma to the hospital. In a daze almost the whole of Friday in bloodstained clothes, Dharmendar was quiet since Saturday morning. Assistant Sub-Inspector Anil Tyagi, who had also worked with Sharma, had been controlling crowd since morning. Weary and anxious, he shouted time and again, pleading with the crowd to give space for his senior’s body.
Sharma’s 14-year old son Divyanshu could not perform the last rites since he continues to be unwell — the boy is in hospital with dengue.

AL QAEDA & THE MARRIOTT HOTEL CHAIN

B.RAMAN

Since 9/11, the Marriott Hotel Chain has been the victim of six terrorist strikes mounted by Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda jihadi terrorist organisations. On four occasions---- thrice in Islamabad and once in Jakarta--- it was directly targeted. On the remaining two occasions (New York and Karachi) it was a collateral victim of a terrorist strike not directly targeting it.

2. On 9/11, the destruction of the two towers of the New York World Centre by Al Qaeda destroyed the New York Marriott World Trade Center Hotel and damaged the 504-room Marriott Financial Center located there. Some senior executives of the hotel chain, who had their offices in the towers, were killed.

3.On June 14, 2002,the Marriott Hotel in Karachi suffered minor damages when a suicide car bomb exploded near the US Consulate in the same area. Eleven persons----mostly passers-by---were killed. The hotel was not targeted.On August 5, 2003, the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta was the direct target of an attack in which 14 people were killed. The pro-Al Qaeda Jemmah Islamiya was suspected. On October 28, 2004,the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad suffered some damage to its lobby, as a bomb went off inside the hotel. Fifteen persons were injured, including an American diplomat.On January 26, 2007, an alleged suicide bomber and a private security guard, who stopped him for questioning, were killed when the terrorist blew himself up in the parking lot of the hotel.

4. In the third attack directly targeting the hotel at Islamabad on September 20,2008, sixty persons---including some foreigners--- were reported to have been killed when a truck bomber carrying about one ton of explosive blew the truck up, when he was stopped for questioning at the gate by the security guards. The explosion, which practically destroyed part of the hotel causing a major fire,, took place on a day when physical security in Islamabad was very tight since only a few hours before the explosion President Asif Ali Zardari addressed a joint session of the two houses of the Parliament. The Parliament House, the Presidency, the Prime Minister's House, offices of ministers, the judges colony and the housing colony of some of the staff of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are located near the hotel.

5. Hotels and restaurants with suspected Jewish ownership have been among the favourite targets of Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organisations. Al Qaeda had also targeted the Hilton Hotel in Sharm-el-Sheikh in 2005 and the Jewish-owned Paradise Hotel in Mombasa in 2002. Pro-Al Qaeda jihadi terrorists had targeted French submarine construction engineers staying in the Sheraton Hotel of Karachi in May,2002.

6. Apart from suspected Jewish ownership, another reason for the targeting of the Marriott hotels in Jakarta and Islamabad are the fact that often Western Embassies in these capitals use these hotels for providing accommodation to their staff and visiting officials. They also hire a large number of rooms in the hotels for temporarily locating some of their offices till permanent accommodation is found.

7. Pakistani authorities suspect thast the explosion of September 20,2008, might have been carried out by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in retaliation for the current operation s of the Pakistani security forces in the Swat Valley of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and in the Bajaur Agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Another suspicion voiced by them is that the Parliament House might have been the real target of the attack and that the bomber instead went to the hotel when he found that access control to the Parliament House was tight.

8. Even though it may turn out to be correct that the suicide bomber was a Pashtun tribal from the TTP, Al Qaeda involvement in the planning and execution is a strong possibility. Since the commando raid into the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July last year, the TTP and individual terrorists acting on their own have repeatedly demonstrated a capability for terrorist strikes in highly-protected areas in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, where the General Headquarters of the Army are located, and other cantonments. They had even targeted the GHQ itself as well as the offices of the ISI. In most of these cases, the explosions took place under identical circumstances----the suicide bomber triggering the explosion when stopped for questioning by the security personnel.

9. Since the beginning of 2007, there have been nearly 300 suicide explosions in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Most of these strikes are believed to have originated from Pakistan's tribal belt where Al Qaeda and the Taliban have their sanctuaries. These statistics and the continuing wave of suicide strikes or attempted strikes show the inexhaustible availability of explosives and detonators and volunteers for suicide terrorism in the tribal belt. Neither Pakistan nor Afghanistan nor the US nor the other NATO forces have been able to come out with a workable answer to the question as to how to dry up these sources of supply. Unless an answer is found to this question, one has to watch helplessly as suicide bombers spread death and destruction. Whereas in India, the jihadi terrorists have been switching over to commonly available material such as a mix of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, the terrorists in Pakistan seem to have a plentiful supply of high military-grade explosives. (21-9-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

"Creative Genius of India" : YUKTI ENRICHMENT PROGRAM on 26th September 2008

YUKTI ENRICHMENT PROGRAM on 26th September 2008 "Creative Genius of India"


We invite you to YUKTI’s enrichment program for September. This month’s program is a talk and multi-media presentation on the
Creative Genius of India” by Sri Rajeev Srinivasan. The attachment has all details.

Heritage, a not-for-profit charitable organization has created a forum titled YUKTI . The forum is an active one that brings to the contemporary mind knowledge about our country, heritage and culture. Wisdom that will enable us to not only find our roots and keep us connected to our unbroken culture in this fast paced life of globalization but to surge ahead and be leaders too.

This month’s program is supported by Rotary Club of Midtown, so their members will be present too.

If you have any colleagues or friends who are interested kindly do give us their co-ordinates so we can inform them. The audience is restricted to about 125 people so do respond at the earliest. The session will be an inter-active one and we would like audience participation.

Warm Regards, we look forward to your early response,

Vijayalakshmi Vijayakumar
(Secretary Heritage, Director YUKTI)

Post-communism, post wars: life worsens for Gypsies

LeMonde Diplomatique http://mondediplo.com/2008/09/11roms

Balkan Roma, people without a state

The fall of communism and the break-up of the former Yugoslavia have left the Roma people, long settled throughout the Balkans and forming a strong part of the region’s identity, with few protectors. Many fled persecution and unemployment as refugees; others remain, underprivileged and under threat
By Laurent Geslin

The young man drove us carefully on the bumpy road from Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital, to Fakulteta, where more than half the 30,000 Roma of Sofia live. It would be impossible to enter this area, where the socialist housing blocks give way to vegetation and rubbish heaps, without a guide, since it has been under guard since last autumn’s violence. The driver said: “I’m taking these detours to avoid the police. I don’t have a driving licence.”

Baptiste Riot, a young French teacher who gives photography classes to the children of the Mahala, the Roma district, explained: “Groups of Bulgarian extremists regularly come to provoke us, and since the death of a Rom last September the inhabitants have had to organise themselves. The only place the two populations meet is in the market on the outskirts of the Roma quarter. People go there because prices are lower than in central Sofia.”

But trade is not enough to provide a living for the population. Young people have to work at 15 or 16; they cannot afford to study, so they collect garbage from the streets of Sofia and sort it. “We’re lucky, because I work in a primary school; and as my children are quite fair, they can work on building sites with the Bulgarians,” a local housewife said. Others do odd jobs. According to Ilona Tomova from the Sofia Institute of Sociology, only 18% of the active Roma population in Bulgaria were registered as employed in 2001. The statistics have improved slightly since then, but the situation remains serious.

“They face constant discrimination in work, education and health. Every good Bulgarian citizen has a few Roma friends with whom he has the occasional coffee or a drink, but still sees Gypsies as incarnating all the world’s vices,” said Marcel Courthiades, a Romany teacher at the Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (Inalco) in Paris.

In history
The first Gypsies (1) came from the north of India and arrived in Europe during the 14th and 15th centuries; in 1348 a group called Cingarije were observed in Prizren in Kosovo and from 1385, texts mention families living in slavery in Valachia and Moldavia. The groups were spread out during the first half of the 15th century, sometimes with the blessing of the authorities. In 1417 the German emperor Sigismund gave a letter of recommendation and protection to a group of Roma from Bohemia (hence the word, bohemian) (2). In the Balkans, Roma joined the administrative, economic and military system under the Ottoman empire. Some accompanied the Ottoman armies as gunpowder manufacturers or armourers. Others settled and worked as artisans or sharecroppers in the countryside, and gradually constructed Mahala, Gypsy quarters, in many southeastern European towns, including Prizren and Mitrovice in Kosovo.

In peace and affluence, Gypsies were tolerated for their craft and livestock-raising skills, but any deterioration in the economic or political situation meant repression and persecution. Over the centuries, expulsions forced them to migrate. Many arrived in Bulgaria at the end of the 17th century, fleeing the war between Austria and the Ottoman empire. When slavery was abolished in the Romanian principalities in 1860, there was a new diaspora of Roma in Europe. The Nazi genocide in the second world war killed hundreds of thousands of Roma, but the Nuremberg tribunal overlooked their tragedy. We do not know how many died in the Staro Sajmiste concentration camp near Belgrade, and a list of Gypsy victims of the Jasenovac camp in Croatia was only drawn up in 2007 (3).

According to Council of Europe estimates, between seven and nine million Roma live in Europe from Britain to Russia, the largest cross-border minority. Balkan Roma, pushed out by war or poverty, have settled in the West in large numbers, joining the local Gypsies with whom they generally have little contact.

In the past 20 years, international institutions, especially the European Union and the Council of Europe, have become aware of this. But despite their efforts to provide schooling for Roma children, Roma continue to suffer discrimination and have become poorer. In 2005 the Decade of Roma Inclusion was launched under the auspices of the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme and the EU to make it easier for Roma to access education, jobs, health care and housing in nine eastern European and Balkan countries (4). But three years into the project, experts find the results disappointing. While public opinion is becoming aware of the transnational nature of the problem, individual states delay measures to facilitate integration.

Break-up of former Yugoslavia
The Balkan Roma were the first to suffer from the break-up of former Yugoslavia and the fall of the Soviet bloc in the early 1990s. The new governments overlooked them and they were the victims of economic transition. As they grew poorer, they were targeted by the aggressive emergent nationalist movements and scapegoated in intra-community strife; and Roma communities were marginalised and subject to violence and even pogroms.

According to Ilona Tomova: “In 1989 83% of the adult population was employed and the Roma had the highest employment rate in Bulgaria; but in 1993 that figure went down to just 30%. Some Roma haven’t had access to the labour market since the early 1990s. And now we’ve got a second generation without stable jobs.” This is worse in the urban ghettos which sprang up in the late 1970s and grew after the fall of the communist regime.

“Before that, you couldn’t distinguish the Gypsy lifestyle,” said Antonina Zelyazkova, from the International Centre for Minority Studies and Intercultural Relations (Imir). “They worked, put their children into school, had access to health care. The marginalisation began at the same time as the transition. Those who lived in small towns did not benefit from the redistribution of land and had to migrate to the larger cities.”

In the north Macedonian city of Kumanovo, 5,000 Roma live in a shantytown in a flood zone between the Lipkovska and Kojnasrka rivers. Their houses are made of bricks and recycled materials. There are a few shops, a couple of handcarts of watermelons, and groups of young people at a loose end. Milan Demirovskim who runs an NGO called Khan (sun in Romany) which teaches people to read, says: “Some 95% live on minimum welfare. Their only way out is to set up their own trades, because companies will hire on a community basis and there’s never room for the Roma.”

Despite the decentralisation that began in 2001, little has changed. The Ohrid accords signed on 13 August 2001 after clashes between armed Albanian militia from the National Liberation Army (UCK-M) and the Macedonian army, granted political and social rights to all the minorities. Erduan Iseni, mayor of Suto Orizari (Sutka), a majority Roma area of Skopje, is optimistic. “The Roma are better off here than in most other countries in the region. Macedonia is one of the most advanced states in Europe from that point of view.” His municipality of 40,000 inhabitants does seem quite prosperous with its colourful workshops, shopkeepers and customers. But even here the Roma face the same discrimination, prejudices and political brick walls. “We have a smaller budget under the decentralisation law than Macedonians municipalities do,” complained the mayor. “We don’t have enough money to continue repairing the roads and modernising our infrastructure. We were better off under Tito.”

Although the Republic of Macedonia has the only constitution in the world to include the Roma, that does not translate into reality. “Roma are excluded from political life,” confirmed Marcel Courthiades. The Ohrid accord stipulated that minority languages should be used in the administration of any commune where that minority is 20% of the population. But this has served the Albanians (who are 25% of population in Macedonia) better than the other communities (Roma, Serbs, Torbesh, Aromanians, Turks, etc).

In Kosovo
Just 30,000 Roma remain of the 120,000 who lived in Kosovo before 1999. They are scattered over the Serbian area in the north of the country and some enclaves in the Albanian sector south of the Ibar. The scale of the destruction in Mitrovice and Pristina makes evident the violence of the ethnic cleansing there. Extremists from the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) claimed that the Roma worked for the Serbian army to justify their expulsion after the Nato bombings and the retreat of the Serbian army.

In Orahovac/Rahovec in southwest Kosovo, barbed wire is stretched across the roofs of homes and everything is ready to blockade the streets at the first alert. One family has protected its house on the heights above, in the middle of the no-man’s land that marks the border between the Albanian city and the Serbian ghetto. (None of this prevented Albanian extremists from burning down several houses in the Serbian quarter during the March 2004 riots.) “We are rejected by both communities. My son stopped going to school because his Albanian classmates were so violent,” a Rom told us. “I pray every day that nothing happens to him and that he will join his cousins in Germany.” But in fleeing these attacks, the Kosovo Roma still end up in misery, as the thousands squatting in the shantytowns of Seine-Saint-Denis near Paris will confirm.

Prizren is an old market town in southern Kosovo in which Albanians, Serbs, Roma, Bosnians and Turks co-habited before the war. Today some 6,000 Roma are trying to survive a crippling economic situation. “Before 1999 we used to have good relations with the other communities,” one entrepreneur told us. “As a child I spoke Romany with my Bulgarian neighbours, and Serb and Turkish with my classmates. I built my house with my own hands and I’ll stay in Kosovo. This is my land.”

In socialist Yugoslavia, the Roma (and especially those in Kosovo) benefited from social and cultural advancement. The first radio and TV programmes in Romany were broadcast in Prizren and Pristina. Roma did their military service, were integrated into the political system and had representatives in the governments of the republics. One Rom public prosecutor still remains in Kosovo. He was trained in the Tito era and works in Prizren. A journalist, Kujtim Pacaku, fears for the future: “I don’t know what independence will bring. All we want is to live in peace. We want our children to work on the land on which they were born. And for Roma to cease being the butt of blind nationalism.”

Resentment spreads
The ultranationalist movement that emerged in the region in the early 1990s has no trouble mobilising resentment among those left behind during the economic transition. “When so many Bulgarians below the poverty line find out that the EU has set up special aid programmes for the Gypsies like free medical care, when they can’t afford to buy medicines or heat their homes in the winter because of fuel costs, then they are ready to listen to an extremist party like Ataka,” said François Frison-Roche, a Bulgarian specialist and researcher at the research institute, CNRS.

In the eyes of poor Bulgarians, the poorest Roma without work or resources are looters, who steal electricity by linking up to the grid illegally. The media are happy to focus on the trafficking and crimes attributed to the Roma community. During the 2006 presidential elections, the Ataka coalition and its leader Volen Siderov won nearly a quarter of the Bulgarian vote. During the campaign they called for Gypsies to be “turned into soap”. Now they want a “government programme to fight Gypsy crime”.

Ataka’s aggressive campaign is attracting many, convinced that all problems are due to the Roma and disappointed that the traditional parties are not dealing with the problem. In Serbia, a few Roma intellectuals are trying hard to contain the rise of the nationalists. “We are the Radical Party’s fiercest opponents,” said Rajko Djuric, chairman of the International Romany Union, who maintains that 28 members of his family were killed by the Chetniks (the Royalist Yugoslav army) during the second world war.

The Serbian Radical Party (SRS), led by Tomislav Nikolic since Vojislav Sesel was put on trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity in the 1991-1995 Croatian war, still claims to represent the Chetnik ideological heritage. They were loyal to King Peter II of Yugoslavia, and opposed both the Axis forces and Tito’s partisans between 1941 and 1945. They were also responsible for massacres of Croatians, Muslims and Roma.

Ardent defenders of a “greater Serbia”, the extremist nationalists of the SRS want to unite all the Balkan Serbs into a single state and deny political and cultural rights to minorities. Their platform is unacceptable to the Romany Union. “We intend to become a major party in the Serb parliament, a democratic citizen’s group, open to all the communities,” said their president. “We won a seat and 18,000 votes in the 22 January 2007 legislative elections, 33% from non-Roma voters.”

That seems a disappointing result. Serbia has more than 200,000 Roma voters but there are divisions in the community. “The parties in power have always bought votes with fraudulent promises or just a few bottles of akija (a fruit brandy),”said Djuric. Now Marija Serifovic, the 2007 Eurovision song contest winner, has cast her lot with the SRS and won many Roma votes, despite the party’s racism. In Vranje to the south, the Roma always vote massively for the late Slobodan Milosevic’s Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS).

A close stranger
In Serbia, the Roma still take part in politics, despite discrimination. They are courted during elections, used to win European subsidies or stigmatised to galvanise public opinion. Gypsies represent otherness, the close stranger. What Belgrade family would celebrate its slava (the family’s patron saint) without Roma musicians? One of the Serbian nationalists’ most important events is the annual Guca festival, which brings together the best Gypsy orchestras in Serbia. The nationalists come wearing T-shirts with pictures of Milosevic and General Ratko Mladic (who was the military leader of the Bosnia-Herzegovena Serbs between 1992 and 1995), and party to music that nobody could identify with certainty as being Serb or Roma.

Like the other landless minorities, the Aromanians (5) or the Torbesh (6), the Balkan Roma are an essential part of the Balkan identity, with its community, linguistic and territorial differences. A Roma from Novi Pazar in southern Serbia could be a Serbian citizen, feel culturally related to the region of Sandjak (across Serbia and Montenegro), be a Muslim and speak Albanian because his family will have had longstanding trading relations with Kosovo. The Roma from Prizren may be Sunni Muslims or belong to the Rifai Sufi Dervish order.

Unlike the French nation-state model followed by certain countries in the region after the Ottoman empire, there is no single identity. Identities fluctuate within linguistic, territorial, religious and socio-professional frameworks. They shift according to economic constraints. The Bulgarian Roma were Muslim under the Ottomans, but today they are mostly Orthodox. And those who still speak Turkish often pretend to be Turkish so that they can emigrate easily to Istanbul.

The break-up of Yugoslavia and the population movements after the 1990 wars have accelerated identity simplification and cultural standardisation. Croatia and Kosovo no longer have Serbian communities.

Two similar groups now share Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Hungarians are leaving Voivodine in Serbia. Will the Roma and other minorities, who have no base territory to hold on to, be able to keep their place in these constantly mutating Balkan states? Nothing is less certain, unless Roma organisations acquire sufficient clout to make their voice heard regionally, nationally and internationally.


See also
A threat to democracy, by Géraldina Colotti
More about Laurent Geslin.
Translated by Krystyna Horko

Laurent Geslin is a journalist with the Courrier des Balkans and co-author with Jean-Arnault Dérens of Comprendre les Balkans, histoire, société, perspectives (Non lieu, Paris, 2007)

(1) The word Gypsy derives from the mistaken belief that they Roma originally came from Egypt.

(2) See Jean-Pierre Liégeois, Roms en Europe, Council of Europe Publications, Strasbourg, 2007.

(3) See Rajko Djuric and Antun Miletic, Istorija holokausta Roma, Politika, Belgrade, 2008.

(4) Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro and Slovakia.

(5) People who speak a Romance language that is close to Romanian. Historically, they were shepherds and merchants throughout the Balkans.

(6) Slav Muslims from Macedonia.

Oil war: MEND shuns N'Delta elders

Source: VANGUARD ONLINE , Nigeria
Written by Emma Amaize, (Regional Editor, South-South), Miebi Senge& Jimitota Onoyume
Saturday, 20 September 2008

The declaration of “Oil War” by the main militant group in the Niger Delta, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), sparked off gun duels between the militants and the Joint Task Force, JTF, on several fronts in the region yesterday leaving at least 10 suspected militants dead.
The militants however, scored a hit when they destroyed a major pipeline belonging to the Shell


militants Petroleum Development Company at Elem Kalabari, Cajuthone channel in Rivers State.

Two South Africans that were caught in the shootout between the Joint Task Force and the militants were rescued.

The South Africans were released following aa plea for their release from Azuka Okah, wife of the detained MEND leader, Henry Okah.

Former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori has also joined the fray, appealing to both factions to sheath their sword. He said, “If there is a season for everything under the sun as the Bible says, there is a time for war and a time for peace.

Then this is the time for cessation of hostilities in the entire Niger Delta. Having heard the anguished cry of the people of the South-South, President Umaru Yar’Adua is determined to end the suffering of the people, and has therefore approved a large scale intervention in the form of the Niger Delta ministry to reverse decades old under-development which the area has suffered.”

The renewed violence was evidence that moves by some Niger-Delta elders led by Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, to end the violence has been snubbed by MEND.

Tagged, Human Babaross, the oil war was declared, last Sunday, September 14 by MEND following an alleged JTF attack on one of its camps in Rivers State.
10 militants die

No fewer than ten militants would have lost their lives yesterday when they engaged men of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Okrika waters. According to spokesman of the security body, Lieutenant Col. Sagir Musa the militants in eight speed boats had attempted to attack the refinery jetty but were successfully repelled by men of the JTF on ground

Sagir said that during an exchange of fire the soldiers sank three of the speed boats belonging to the militants. And he feared that the occupants would have died. “Three speed boats were sunk. Casualty figure not known. And no casualty at our end.” He also dismissed as untrue allegations by the militants that they attacked a shell facility in Elem Kalabari.

Also when contacted, Mr. Precious Okolobo of Shell said he was not aware of the damage to their facility. But he quickly added that the company would still carry out check on the facility.

Meanwhile, the militants in a statement issued under the aegis of MEND said they blew up the company’s facility in the community. The statement reads: “At 1830 hrs today (Friday), September 18, 2008, fighters from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) using high explosives have destroyed a major pipeline belonging to Shell Development Company at the Elem-Kalabari Cawthorne Channel axis in Rivers State of Nigeria.

“A gunboat patrol that happened to bump into the MEND fighters begged for their lives and showed their magazines to proof that they had not fired from their guns. They were spared and allowed to go but not after they had pledged loyalty to the struggle and denounced the criminality of the oil companies and the government. One of the soldiers actually defecated in his trousers.

“The men have returned safely to base as another team was getting set to return two South African hostages to a drop off zone.”

Militants claim attack on Shell facility

Militants claimed on Thursday that they destroyed a major pipeline belonging to the Shell Petroleum Development Company at Elem Kalabari, Cawthorne Channel, and Rivers State with explosives.
The two South African hostages that were rescued by the MEND, but, trapped in the crossfire between the military and militants, which led to the declaration of an “oil war” were also released, yesterday.

Mrs. Azuka Okah, wife of the detained MEND leader, Henry Okah was said to have sent an e-mail to the MEND, appealing to the group to release the South-African hostages because South Africa has been good to the Okah family since they moved to the country.

The MEND in a statement by its spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, said, “At 1830 hrs today, September 18, 2008, fighters from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) using high explosives have destroyed a major pipeline belonging to Shell Development Company at the Elem-Kalabari Cawthorne Channel axis in Rivers state of Nigeria.

“A gunboat patrol that happened to bump into the MEND fighters begged for their lives and showed their magazines to proof that they had not fired from their guns. They were spared and allowed to go but not after they had pledged loyalty to the struggle and denounced the criminality of the oil companies and the government. One of the soldiers actually defecated in his trousers.

“The men have returned safely to base as another team was getting set to return two South African hostages to a drop off zone,” it said.

On the two South-African hostages, he said, “The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) can categorically confirm that the two South African hostages rescued by MEND from sea pirates have been released unharmed today (yesterday) September 18, 2008.

“The duo were handed over to government secret service officials at 2300 hrs, who will in turn hand them over to representatives of the South African High Commission in Port Harcourt, Rivers State of Nigeria.

“This genuine release puts to rest speculations and anxiety to the families and the people of South Africa caused by the false statement from the obtuse spokesman of the military Joint Task 'Fraud' (JTF).

“In this case, the army had hoped to cash in on a deliberate misinformation we put out and take the credit for a role they had no part in.

“We have been wondering how foolish he must have looked when they could not produce the hostages they said were 'released without any ransom payment'.

“With this exposure, Nigerians and the world can now see that we have a military of deceit who have lied about their combat losses and gains, role in extra-judicial killings, rape, genocide and oil theft,” the militia group stated.


Ibori sues for peace

Former Governor Ibori said that what is needed now is discussion over the activities and funding of the ministry and how best to make it meet the aspirations of the people. He therefore called on all persons of goodwill to join in this peace effort and stop hostilities, to enable the development process the Federal Government has put in place now to succeed.

“War is like a malignant cancer. It usually spreads uncontrollably to other areas. Therefore both sides must listen to the voice of reason and stop the conflagration now,” he said.

Chief Ibori calls on the angry youth of the Niger Delta to have faith in the President and his new initiative. He said, “The Niger Delta and Nigeria needs their energy re-channelled into really productive ventures.

The educated ones among them should be encouraged to contribute their talents to the needed battle of speeding Nigeria and Africa on the part of swift development and global respect, and themselves towards personal fulfilment and glory. The uneducated has to face intellectual and skill acquisition to enable them compete in the national and global space.

“Fortunately, the focus of the new ministry is two-pronged. While one corrects the abysmal lack of infrastructure in the area, the other faces the task of upgrading the intellectual and talent pool of the area.”

Chief Ibori urged the youth of the area to take advantage of this by ending the hostilities, emerge from their hiding places, and exploit the opportunities that now beckon. “If not, when peace eventually returns, they would find, like child soldiers/militia everywhere that while they were fighting in the bush, life has passed them by, and that they lack the skills needed in an ever modernising economy. This is true of freedom fighters in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa , etc.”

To the militants Ibori sends a message: “You have made your point. The whole world now knows that your grievances are genuine, and for the first time, the Federal Government is truly addressing them. In every journey, there is always a place to stop.

Your predecessor in arms, the late Major Isaac Adaka Boro realised this, came out from the bush, and reintegrated himself into the society —after leading the first Niger Delta uprising in the 1960s. You too must do like-wise.”

At the same time he reminds the JTF troops that what they have been tasked to stop is an internal disagreement and so they have to be mindful of the amount of force to employ in restoring order in the blighted Niger Delta. “The militants are Nigerians and have never repudiated their nationality; their fight is for a just order for them and their children in a true federation. In fact, your good conduct could even help win them over,” he said.

Chief Ibori commends all persons of goodwill who have joined in this wholesome peace effort and says that, “The oil war must stop so that a calculated, swift and massive development of the area should begin.

But there is a prerequisite for this development. Peace, justice and understanding that would help knit Nigeria’s various ethnic groups into one strong and united country,” he added.
MEND shuns N’Delta elders

Meanwhile, out of a deluge of nominations for the Minister of Niger Delta, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is believed to have picked Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the BGL Limited, Mr. Albert Okumagba for the plum job.

Okumagba, from Delta State and former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) 2007 gubernatorial aspirant and a young entrepreneur, is believed to have been nominated by Vice President Goodluck Jonathan.

It is said that Okumagba would get the support of Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark.
Some Ijaw youths under the umbrella of the Ijaw Youth Leadership Forum (IYLF) were also understood to be pushing forward the secretary of the Federal Government Committee on Conflict Resolution in the Niger-Delta, Hon. Kingsley Kuku as the Minister of State in the Ministry.

Spokesman of the MEND, Jomo Gbomo, in an exclusive reply via electronic mail to an inquiry by Saturday Vanguard on the peace move by Chief Clark said, “We will not listen to him (Clark) this time with all due respect. A hurricane must run its full circle before down grading to a tropical storm.”

But Cynthia Whyte, spokesperson to MEND, explaining why the group declared the ‘oil war’ told Saturday Vanguard that the Joint Task Force (JTF) attacked an Ijaw community last Saturday, and “must be made to pay for their transgressions”.

The spokesperson accused the JTF of falsifying its media responses to the conflict in order to save their jobs, saying that MEND has decided to show pictures of dead soldiers and attacked facilities.
“You must have noticed that the JTF has begun a rapid media response plan aimed at undermining every action that we take.

Top military brass knows that they may lose their jobs if they do not begin strong media offensives. Notice how quickly they respond with stereotyped responses such as ‘It’s a lie’, ‘they didn’t kill our soldiers, we killed them’, etc etc.

“Recently, we are informed that the military have begun to threaten media houses who refuse to tilt the glory to the side of the armed forces of the Nigerian state. To this end, we have decided to start taking photographs of dead soldiers and attacked facilities. The best way to quell an argument is to show evidence.”

Whyte did not say when the conflict will end.

But Clark, who was in Abuja, last Wednesday to meet with the Chief of Defence Staff and Service Chiefs and possibly with President Umaru Yar’Adua for them to order their men to suspend further hostility with the militants, was jolted by the militant’s rejection of his moves.

MEND, through its spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, in an e-mail to Saturday Vanguard, on peace moves by Chief Clark said, “We will not listen to him (Clark) this time with all due respect. A hurricane must run its full circle before down grading to a tropical storm.”

Saying it was unbelievable that the militants were speaking in different voices, Clark explained that he spoke with some of the militants’ leaders and got assurances that they would cease-fire before he proceeded to Abuja to hold a meeting with the Chief of Defence Staff and others.

Clark told last Saturday Vanguard, Thursday, said, “I am here in Abuja in respect of the discussions I had with the boys on the way forward and I expect that they should listen to the elders of the region. If they don’t listen to their elders, who will they listen to?

“It means they have rejected our representation, because we would not be here representing those that do not listen to the advice of their elders,” Clark said.

MEND last June 22 declared a unilateral cease-fire, effective Tuesday, June 24, as a result of the plea by the elders to allow them to dialogue with the Federal Government. MEND had also warned that any attack on its location during the period by the military would tantamount to war.

But it called it off, two weeks after, accusing British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown of promising at the G8 Summit to support the Nigerian government in ending violence in the Niger-Delta. However, it did not declare any war.

Meanwhile, President Yar’Adua is said to have received a large number of nominations for the position as Minister of the new Niger Delta ministry. And he is said to be consulting to ensure that he gets the right person for the job.

But the Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, according to our dependable source, “is actually the person that is supposed to recommend the Minister of Niger-Delta and he had already done so.

“The Presidency is not unaware that announcing an unpopular person as the Minister of Niger-Delta could spell another round of trouble in the capricious region and that is why it has to be careful,” the source added.

QUOTE OF THE DAY : Vikram Sood


Nearly three years ago in an article, I wrote: “ Many in India are given to wishful thinking that peace between India and Pakistan is possible and .... that this would lead to an end to terrorism in India. It will not, given the mindset that prevails in Rawalpindi and Islamabad along with the madrassa culture which collectively dreams of a destabilised, if not balkanised, India. If Pak- inspired terrorism in India were to come to an end where would all these jehadis be sent? To the rest of India, perhaps? Or to Afghanistan, Central Asia or even further into Europe? Keeping them in Pakistan would be suicidal for the Pakistani establishment. Islamic radicals and terrorists may not have yet developed a replica of the Comintern but they do seem to have a Jehad’s Rapid Deployment Force as a counter to Centcom.” And so it came to pass.
-- Vikram Sood
Vikram Sood was a career intelligence officer who retired in March 2003 after heading India's external intelligence service, the Research and Analysis Wing. He is currently Vice President, Centre for International Relations, Observer Research Foundation, an independent public policy think tank. He has been writing regularly on security, foreign relations and strategic issues in Indian newspapers like the Hindustan Times, the Asian Age and Mail Today in addition to other contributions elsewhere. He is also a consulting editor with and contributor to the Indian Defence Review, a New Delhi based quarterly.

Terrorists innovate, but Govt response is unchanged

By VIKRAM SOOD

THE terror attack in Delhi on Saturday was the 14th such incident — among both big and small – since April 1999 ( about the time Kargil was taking place). It was also the 12th attack on a major urban civilian target since the Mumbai train blasts on July 11, 2006. Other bomb attacks have taken place in Mumbai, Malegaon, the Samjhauta Express, Hyderabad ( twice), Ajmer Sharif, Ludhiana, Lucknow, Varanasi, Faizabad, Jaipur, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad. In the last three years more than 600 persons have been killed in various terrorist attacks.

Democracies are supposed to react to terrorism with determination and sensitivity. In India, however, each terrorist act brings forth the same tired clichés, the same repetitive promises and compensations, the same gory pictures on front pages, the same breathless TV channel reporting in shrill horror, the same allegations of intelligence failure in a trial- bycamera.

Yet nothing is done to strengthen intelligence, the counterterrorist mechanisms or to enhance the quality of the police force. There is no apparent determination to take this battle to the enemy.

Vote-banks
Each time there is an incident we are that much closer to what the terrorists want to achieve — fissures in the Indian community. And today, terrorism in India, thanks to our soft policies, is more or less on autopilot. Terrorism is about murder, not about any great cause or freedom struggle. But for years our leaders have played the Muslim card in vote bank politics, whether it was the Shah Bano case or the Babri Masjid issue. Even in our dealings with Pakistan we have let this feeling creep into our sub- conscious.

We have not realised that the Indian Muslim does not want to be linked with Pakistan in that manner.

All he wants is his place in the sun and not promised quotas at election time.

The terrorists have learnt this game and now it is play back time for them just a few months before elections.

What has happened in Delhi or in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and other cities before is not mindless violence.

It has been carefully planned, executed to perfection and almost at will. They either want to terrorise and get the majority to react or to drive away prospective investors.

Some of the messages that the terrorists have been mailing are distinctly Islamic in character and are thus more inspired by the Al Qaeda mindset than with ethnic or regional aspirations. Of course seeds for all this were sown all these years in the nursery of terrorism — in Pakistan.

Pakistan


Years ago the ISI would have started placing “ sleepers” in India as saboteurs and talent- spotters for new recruits. Many of the Pak- sponsored terrorist groups like the Lashkar- e - Tayyaba and Harkat ul Jehadi ( Bangladesh) are signatories to Osama bin Laden’s International Islamic Front. HUJI’s contacts with the ISI are well known and so also the fact that Bangladesh has been the conduit for arms and terrorists operating in India. HUJI volunteers have been trained in Pakistan and Afghanistan. There have been reports indicating linkages between SIMI, HUJI, LeT and ISI and this could be a reworking of the Afghan Jehad in another place and another time. The Indian Mujahedeen could be a surrogate for any one of these organisations but nothing can be said until the identity of the leadership is established.

Unfortunately, we gave this battle away to glib talk by agreeing that Pakistan too was a victim of terrorism.

We did not point out that Pakistan was a victim of its own terrorism.

The truth is that we have misread Pakistan’s leaders. They need India as an enemy for their survival and Kashmir is the excuse not the cause. Even if Kashmir were solved to Pakistan’s “ satisfaction” they would invent other causes for continued animus. Make no mistake; Kashmir is important for its water that irrigates the Punjab. The will of the people is not important either in Kashmir or Pakistan.

The questions are why is it that we let it happen again and again and can we not do anything to win this war against an unscrupulous and invisible enemy? Why do we give the impression of being soft and confused? There is no short cut to improving the intelligence and security apparatus of the country. Spare no cost and accept no compromises on this. If the country has a well- endowed and trained intelligence apparatus acting without political interference ( as distinct from accountability) it could provide preemptive intelligence that could abort terrorist acts and lead to arrests. It would also prevent indiscriminate arrests and all that follows. We could learn from the Americans — not completely but suitably — they tightened their laws to the extent that they were draconian, spent billions of dollars and improved intelligence collection and surveillance, making them intrusive, and outsourced certain aspects of the work to maximise use of talent.

Policing

This would not be enough. The state apparatus up to the thana level have to be similarly educated and strengthened and placed on the same grid as the national agencies. We need a rapid action force located in the states to follow intelligence trails. We need political will to sustain this campaign over years and changes in governments.

Above all, we need a lot of luck because there is no certified method of spotting a would- be terrorist.

Nearly three years ago in an article, I wrote: “ Many in India are given to wishful thinking that peace between India and Pakistan is possible and .... that this would lead to an end to terrorism in India. It will not, given the mindset that prevails in Rawalpindi and Islamabad along with the madrassa culture which collectively dreams of a destabilised, if not balkanised, India. If Pak- inspired terrorism in India were to come to an end where would all these jehadis be sent? To the rest of India, perhaps? Or to Afghanistan, Central Asia or even further into Europe? Keeping them in Pakistan would be suicidal for the Pakistani establishment. Islamic radicals and terrorists may not have yet developed a replica of the Comintern but they do seem to have a Jehad’s Rapid Deployment Force as a counter to Centcom.” And so it came to pass.

The war is long, arduous and also ruthless. It is a war we cannot afford to lose. Ultimately there is no real choice between security and liberty — for a people to have the second they must have the first.

Source : Mail Today, 18 September 2008

A British Agenda for Europe: Designing Our Own Future

A Chatham House Commission Report

Commission on Europe after Fifty: Policy Implications for Britain, September 2008

Download Paper here



This major new report on Britain's role in Europe is published by the Chatham House Commission on Europe after Fifty: Policy Implications for Britain, chaired by Sir Stephen Wall.

Its key messages are:

The sterile debate about Europe is compromising future British prosperity and security

British thinking on international challenges will evolve closer to its EU partners and away from the US

British leadership is needed, for example, on energy security, to better handle Russia's dominant position

The political thinking behind the island mentality that dominates the British debate on domestic security disregards the increasingly mobile nature of 21st century threats.



First, Britain’s ability to deal with the principal external challenges of the twenty-first century will depend on its active participation in effective EU policies.

Second, Britain should continue to argue the case for further EU enlargement to its east as a strategic priority that will expand the zone of democratic governance and
open economies to other European countries.

Third, Britain will enhance its domestic security against international terrorist and criminal threats by working more closely with EU member states and institutions in the area of justice and home affairs (JHA).

Fourth, at a time when the British economy is once again demonstrating systemic weaknesses, the benefits of creating an evermore open and dynamic EUmarket will
increase.

Fifth, Britain should push for the development of the sort of EU-wide energy market which would benefit its own economy, those of its EU counterparts and their collective commitments to combating climate change.

Top Military Advisor Warns US against Iran Attack

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iranian military advisor warned that any US military action against Iran will seriously endanger thousands of American soldiers deployed in the region.

"If the US officials make a strategic mistake, 200,000 American soldiers will be seriously imperiled in the (Middle East) region," Major General Yahya Safavi, the senior military advisor to Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei told IRNA.

The former chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) emphasized that "the US and Israel are not in a position to get engaged in a great war."

"The Zionist regime of Israel lacks the needed capabilities to begin a large conflict and it seems that the US is not interested in getting engaged in a fourth front, after wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Georgia," he said.

He said that the Iranian military, the IRGC forces, and 11 million volunteer paramilitary troops are ready to defend the country against all threats.

Speculation that Israel may bomb Iran rose after a military exercise by the Zionist regime earlier this year. In early June, Israel conducted a military maneuver over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece in preparation, according to Pentagon officials, for an aerial bombardment of Iranian nuclear facilities.

Over 100 Israeli F-16s and F-15s partook in the exercise, which spanned some 900 miles, roughly the distance between their airfields and a nuclear enrichment facility in the central Iranian city of Natanz.

The United States has also always stressed that military action is among its main options on the table.

In response, Iran has warned it could close the strategic Strait of Hormoz if it became the target of a military attack over its nuclear program.

Strait of Hormoz, the entrance to the strategic Persian Gulf waterway, is a major oil shipping route.

Intensified threats by Tel Aviv and Washington of military action against Iran are in direct opposition to a recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies which endorsed the civilian nature of Iran's nuclear plans and activities.

Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head - one in November and the other one in February - which praised Iran's truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions or launch military attack on Iran seems to be completely irrational.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran's cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran's nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

The UN nuclear watchdog has also carried out at least 14 surprise inspections of Iran's nuclear sites so far, but found nothing to support West's allegations.

Following the said reports by the US and international bodies, many world states have called the UN Security Council pressure against Tehran unjustified, demanding that Iran's case must be normalized and returned from the UNSC to the IAEA.

Meantime, a recent study by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a prestigious American think tank, found that a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities "is unlikely" to delay the country's program.

US Earning Profits on Drug Business in South America

STRATEGIC CULTURE FOUNDATION, Russia

17.09.2008
Nil NIKANDROV

When Grumman Gulf Stream II aircraft crashed in Mexico last year, the police discovered a total of 6 tons of packaged cocaine and heroin among the debris. At that time, the blame was pinned on local drug lords.

Recent publications in Mexican media indicate, however, that the aircraft had a rather dark past. An investigation which influential forces in the Mexican law enforcement agencies attempted to obstruct revealed that the plane had been used by various US special services to transfer terrorism suspects to secret jails in Europe and to the US concentration camp in Guantanamo. But even more often its route has been Colombia-US-Colombia, its passengers being Colombian drug lords taken to the US to reach multi-million deals - or deals with the US justice.

Such stories of air crashes related to drug trafficking occur increasingly often. The consumption of psychoactive drugs in the US is soaring and drug cartels have to upgrade their transit capacities with great urgency, safety problems notwithstanding. Aircrafts with drugs fell, made emergency landings, or were shot down by border guards in Colombia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, and Guatemala. There is hardly a country in Latin America where likewise incidents have not been reported. It transpired in many cases that they were used by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) which is the US agency tasked with fighting the drug business in the US and internationally. One got an impression that DEA was not so much fighting drug trafficking as helping to expand it.

I heard from a local journalist during my recent trip to Bolivia that for the US struggle against the drug business is the same type of a show for foreign consumption as the imitated terrorist attack against the World Trade Center in New York in 2001. While the latter gave Washington full freedom to hunt “the enemies of the empire” all over the world, the former serves as the instrument of total control, at least in Latin America.

I recalled the conversation when some (not too many) of the Western media agencies reported that DEA had been harshly criticized by Venezuelan Vice President Ramon Carrizales. He spoke on the occasion of the publication of a regular report on the activities of the national agencies responsible for fighting the illegal drug circulation in Venezuela. Carrizales said that in many instances DEA agents clearly impeded the efforts made by Venezuela. When the country needed a special reagent used to identify narcotic substances, DEA banned US companies from selling it to Venezuela. Nor was Venezuela allowed to buy radars in the US which it needed to intercept aircrafts carrying drugs. Carrizales concluded that DEA was actually an integral part of the global drug cartel. Eventually, Venezuela got the radars from China in the framework of the military-technical cooperation between the two countries.

The US has frequently resorted to double standards, unfair tricks, and fake evidence meant to compromise the government of Hugo Chavez throughout the history of its cooperation with Venezuela in fighting the drug business. The large DEA team in Caracas was based not only in the US Embassy but also in the headquarters of the Venezuelan Commission against the Illegal Use of Drugs (Conacuid) where it occupied a whole floor. Acting under the pretext of “joint activity” DEA agents kept under surveillance Venezuelan high-ranking officials, military officers, secret service operatives, and individuals from the inner circle of Hugo Chavez. Obviously, the objective was to obtain materials which could be used in blackmail, propaganda, or campaigns portraying Chavez as a partner of the international drug business. The US made suspiciously persistent efforts to gain the right to patrol Venezuela from the air. It transpired increasingly often that the DEA-controlled drug shipments allegedly used to identify the drug trafficking routes and the persons involved in the drug business were in fact fraudulent. Massive quantities of drugs disappeared on the way while the Venezuelan side got no clear explanations. It appeared that DEA exploited its Venezuelan colleagues and treated them as inferior aides.

Being a quick decision-maker, Chavez said that Venezuela would no longer cooperate with DEA on the basis of the old rules. He charged the US agents with spying against the country, providing cover to CIA agents, carrying out operations in Venezuela without any limitations, and manipulating controlled shipments.

This was the first (and so far the only) blow dealt to “the DEA empire” in Latin America. Immediately after Chavez made his statement the US evacuated its archive and computers from Conacuid, even though the computers were formerly donated by the US to the Venezuelan government. Of course DEA never favored Chavez and compiled a dossier on him waiting for the desired moment when it would be able to prosecute “the dictator” in accord with the US law. The US onslaught against Chavez intensified visibly following the de facto severance of the relations with DEA. The reasons are obvious: Presidents of other South American countries could follow the example set by Chavez. While DEA permanently claimed that Venezuela was the main transit country for drug trafficking from Colombia (which was completely untrue), the US attempted to reach a new agreement with Caracas that would re-establish its former privileges. The plan failed. At a certain moment the highly influential DEA chief John P. Walters, who is often called the king of drugs, tried to obtain a Venezuelan entry visa as a private individual to seek a personal meeting with Chavez. Chavez perceived the attempt as yet another provocation by Walters who constantly attacked the Venezuelan leadership for allegedly patronizing drug cartels.

The agreement with DEA still has not been reached, yet the Venezuelan special services and Oficina Nacional Antidrogas (ONA) which coordinates the struggle against drug trafficking in the country have had unprecedented success in their activities. 379 tons of drugs and hundreds of chemical components for their production have been confiscated in Venezuela in 2007, and a number of drug lords have been arrested and deported to their respective countries of residence including the US. This result which would not make DEA feel happy is the main argument currently used by Venezuela at international anti-drug forums. Obviously, the process of combating the drug business is much more efficient without the US help.

According to available data, the circulation of psychoactive drugs in the Western hemisphere increased by 40% in 2006-2007, the US market being the single largest. Intercepting the domestic and international financial flows generated by drug trafficking is a priority of the DEA. The revenues of the organization are to a large extent formed as a result of the corresponding confiscations. The money is used to support operations ranging from legended acquisitions to paying informers in the countries where DEA is working. As a result, the US is not so much combating the illegal drug circulation as earning profits on it and in fact helping to maintain the drug business with its extremely high revenues and turnovers totaling billions of dollars.

In this context, one cannot but recall former Panamian President Manuel Noriega. He was of great use to the CIA and DEA in the epoch marked by the US struggle against left and Marxist movements in Central American countries as he assisted secret operations including drug deliveries to the US and the acquisition of weapons for Contras with the money thus earned. Some of the cash settled down on Noriega's personal accounts. He did not withdraw from the drug business when the confrontation in the region was over and ignored the US demands to step down assuming that he knew too much about its secret operations to be touched. But he was wrong. The US destabilized the situation in Panama, floated a propaganda campaign demonizing Noriega, and organized a provocation with the murder of a U.S. marine on the streets of Panama City. Eventually, a massive military operation using tanks, artillery, aircrafts, and copters was launched to “arrest” Noriega. It led to casualties in the capital of Panama. Unofficially, the death toll may have been as high as 20,000. Noriega was taken to the US, put on trial, and sentenced to a long term in jail, where he still is. The sole purpose was to silence him and not to let him claim a share of the US drug market carefully safeguarded by DEA.

US STRIKES IN FATA: CHANGE IN CONTINUITY

B.RAMAN
The rules of engagement relating to Pakistan's tribal belt followed by the US forces in Afghanistan before July,2008, were that while Pakistan had agreed to deniable air strikes by unmanned Predator aircraft of the US on suspected terrorist hide-outs in Pakistani territory adjoining the Pakistan-Afghan border in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), it had not agreed to any unilateral ground strikes by the US forces based in Afghanistan either in exercise of the right of hot pursuit or to pre-empt planned attacks by Al Qaeda and the Taliban on the NATO forces in Afghanistan from sanctuaries in Pakistani territory.

2. According to leaks to sections of the US media by unidentified US officials, in the middle of July President George Bush approved some changes in the rules of engagement relating to ground strikes under which he authorised the US special forces to undertake unilateral ground strikes in Pakistani territory under certain circumstances. In this connection, reference is invited to my previous article titled PAK-US SNAFU of 13-9-08 at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers29/paper2843.html .

3. Under these revised rules of engagement, a ground strike in Pakistani territory was undertaken by the US special forces in the South Waziristan area on September 3,2008. According to Pakistani claims, the strike was not successful and resulted only in the deaths of some civilians.

4. This ground strike and the stepped up Predator air strikes since the present-Pakistan People's Party-led coalition came to office on March 18,2008, came in for strong criticism from the Pakistan Army, including its Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, and the political leaders of the present Government. They were embarrassed by speculation that the Government had infiormally agreed to the revised rules of engagement during the visit of Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani to Washington DC in the last week of July,2008.

5. The US ground strike of September 3 and the stepped-up air strikes also came in for criticism from tribals, who have remained loyal to the Government and have been co-operating with it in its operations against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) headed by Baitullah Mehsud of South Waziristan. The Government had to take note of the widespread criticism of the US air and ground strikes from the tribals of the area because of the possible impact of their anger on the Frontier Corps (FC) and the Frontier Constabulary on which the Army relies for its military operations in the tribal areas. The FC is deployed in the FATA and the Frontier Constabulary in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Both consist largely of Pashtuns recruited from the tribal belt, but officered mainly by Punjabis from the Army.

6.The revised rules of engagement were greeted with concern not only in the NATO countries, but by influential American experts on Pakistan, who apprehended that unilateral ground strikes by the US special forces in Pakistani territory might prove counter-productive. They argued that apart from adding to the prevailing instability in the tribal area, they could also create dangerous situations if Al Qaeda or the Taliban managed to capture some of the raiding American forces. During a private visit to the UK to admit his daughter in a local University, President Asif Ali Zardari met Prime Minister Gordon Brown and reportedly urged him to advise the US to desist from undertaking any more ground strikes similar to that of September 3.

7. The concern in Pakistan over the political and operational implications of the revised rules of engagement led to an unscheduled visit to Islamabad by Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman, US Joins Chief of Staff, on September 16 and 17,2008, during which he met Prime Minister Gilani and Gen.Kayani. A statement issued by the US Embassy in Islamabad after his meetings said: "Admiral Mullen reiterated the US commitment to respect Pakistan's sovereignty and to develop further US-Pakistan cooperation and coordination on these critical issues that challenge the security and well-being of the people of both countries."

8. Even as Admiral Mullen was in Islamabad for his meetings, US forces based in Afghanistan undertook yet another ( the 13th since March 18) Predator air strike on September 17,2008, on an alleged Al Qaeda hide-out in the same area of South Waziristan where the US special forces had carried out a ground strike on September 3. Seven persons---two of them Arabs of Al Qaeda and one a terrorist from Punjab--- were reported to have been killed in this air strike.

9. This air strike clearly indicated that the reported US assurances to respect Pakistani sovereignty in its territory did not apply to air strikes, which could continue as before. In fact, the Pakistan Army itself had agreed to these air strikes when Musharraf was the President and the COAS. Kayani was a party to that decision and he could not now object to such air strikes unless the Army wanted the permission for air strikes accorded by Musharraf to be withdrawn.

10. However, Musharraf had consistently refused to agree to unilateral ground strikes by the US special forces. The present Government cannot give the impression that it had gone even further than Musharraf in its co-operation with the US forces in their operations against Al Qaeda and the Taliban

11. The US has been undertaking air strikes only in those areas of South and North Waziristan, which are no longer under the de facto control of the Pakistan Government and where Al Qaeda and the Taliban have established their de facto control. It intended to undertake ground strikes too only in those areas where the writ of the Pakistani Government no longer runs. The US has not so far undertaken any air and ground strikes in those agencies of the FATA, which are still under the de facto and the de jure control of the Pakistan army even though such control might be weakening. However, it had undertaken in the past air strikes against suspected hide-outs of Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the No.2 to Osama bin Laden, in the Bajaur Agency.

12. What the Pakistanis want is that the US should not undertake any ground strikes even in those areas of South and North Waziristan, where its writ no longer runs. This poses a dilemma for the US. The Pakistani security forces continue to be engaged in severe clashes with the Taliban in the Swat Valley of the NWFP and in the Bajaur Agency of the FATA. Despite the use of air strikes by the Pakistan Air Force and of helicopter gunships, the Pakistani security forces have not been able to overcome the resistance of the Taliban in these areas. In the Bajaur Agency, the TTP is also being aided by elements from Al Qaeda.

13. The fighting has been going on intermittently in the Swat Valley for over six months now and in the Bajaur Agency for nearly six weeks without the Pakiastani security forces being able to prevail over the TTP. As such, till they prevail in restoring the authority of the Government in these areas, the Pakistani security forces are not in a position to undertake similar operations in the two Waziristans to restore the writ of the Government. Taking advantage of this, Al Qaeda and the Taliban have stepped up their operations in the Afghan territory from these areas, which are under their effective control.If the US does not put down their sanctuaries in the two Waziristans, the NATO forces and the Afghan National Army will continue to bleed.

14. From the vague and contradictory statements coming out of Islamabad and Washington DC as to what was really agreed to during the talks of Admiral Mullen, one could assess that while the US has not agreed to abandon the revised rules of engagement reportedly approved by Bush in July, it has assured Pakistan that these rules will apply only in the areas under the effective control of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the two Waziristans and not to other areas of the FATA. Future operations of the US special forces will show to what extent this assessment is correct. (20-9-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )