August 15, 2009

India has a natural friend in US: Obama

Washington, August 15

US President Barack Obama has greeted people of India on the occasion of the country's 63rd Independence Day saying that a vibrant and promising India has a natural friend in the United States.

"India has attained unprecedented milestones as its democracy has matured. Boasting of a vast diversity of ethnicities and languages, India constitutes the largest democratic union the world has ever known," Obama said in his message.

The President said, "This vibrant and promising India has a natural friend in the United States. Our people are bound by common values and ideals, and Indian Americans contribute to all aspects of American life." In an unusually long one-page message personally signed by him on August 12, Obama noted that the fate of the two countries was tied by the interconnected nature of the world and a shared vision of peace, prosperity and respect for human rights.

Highly impressed by its economic growth, Obama said economically India was forging a new path. Fulfilling the promise of internationally competitive institutes of higher education, Indian professionals are leading their nation into a new phase of growth.

"From Bangalore to Boston; Indian scientists, engineers and thinkers are generating ideas and prosperity that improve and save lives across India and the globe," Obama said

In his message, Obama echoed words of the first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's historic speech "tryst with destiny," mentioned the 1857 War of Independence, the freedom movement under Mahatma Gandhi and the country's all-round development after Independence.

The President said, "Indian politics has given voice to women and countless minorities, and has demonstrated that Indians stand unified in their commitment to human dignity." Obama said he was also impressed by the country's entertainment industry as its members were marking their presence globally.

"Bollywood and Hollywood, Indians contribute to films that captivate audiences in every corner of the world," he said, adding that millions were being lifted out of poverty and were carrying the hope for a bright future as the Indian economy continued along a promising road.

"Marking Indian Independence Day, the United States and its people celebrate the realisation of the vision of Prime Minister Nehru described and the bright future it continues to portend for the people of India," Obama said.

The message sent to the Indian Government starts with reference to Pandit Nehru. "As Indians stood ready to claim their own fate on August 15, 1947, Prime Minister Nehru declared that a 'tryst with destiny,' forged years ago, would finally be fulfilled." — PTI

India is clear: Baloch leader ,Akhtar Mengel


August 4th, 2009
By Neena Gopal

Bengaluru, Aug. 3: On a day when Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gilani crowed over the inclusion of Balochistan in the Sharm el Shaikh joint statement leaving the door open for Pakistan to raise ‘Indian interference in Balochistan’, a former chief minister of the Pakistani province firmly rubbished Islamabad’s claims of Indian support to the Baloch separatist movement.

Sardar Akhtar Mengel, charismatic leader of the Balochistan National Party, at the forefront of the beleaguered Baloch move to carve out a separate state said: “It is a complete fabrication, the Baloch quest for self-determination is completely indigenous, and the attacks are on the Baloch people, not the other way around, it is our young men who are being taken away from their homes to face false charges.”

In a telephone interview with Deccan Chronicle, Mengel, son of the legendary Attaullah Mengel and close aide of the assassinated Nawab Akbar Bugti said: “India is not involved in supplying arms and weapons or cash to the Baloch nationalists. Not one paisa. Not one bullet. It’s a completely false allegation. I wish India were involved, that would make it much easier for us. Nobody has helped us. I wish somebody would. Our people are being systematically attacked with weapons provided by the US to hunt down Taliban and al Qaeda. And no one in the West raises a voice against it.” “First they say Afghanistan, now they say India. Let Pakistan prove it, let them prove Indian involvement,” he said in an open challenge to

Pakistan’s “elected civilian” government, that he said “is no different to the Musharraf dictatorship”.

Instead, he said the ISI and the military continues to target them. “They tried to kill us all. I was lucky to survive. They wanted to eliminate me in an encounter. Brahmadegh Bugti escaped but Nawab Bugti’s other grandsons did not. Not one of us has any protection,” he said.

Released from detention in May this year after two years in a Karachi jail, there was outrage when he was produced bound and fettered in a cage in a Karachi court during a show trial.

The young leader was held on charges of sedition after he planned a long march to protest Bugti’s assassination and the crackdown on the Baloch people that followed Mengel mocked Pakistan’s charge that India was behind the 2004 killing of three Chinese engineers helping to build Gwadar port, and said the claim was patently false.

“The Balochistan Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the killing,” Mengel said, while also denying Pakistan’s allegations that his movement’s leaders had held secret negotiations with India.

“Pakistan’s allegations of outside help are a cover for the annihilation of our people fighting a legitimate movement for self-determination.

Balochistan was a nation before 1947. After the fall of Dhaka, the ISI and the military were afraid we would break away so they stepped up the attacks on our people. Pakistan does not want the Baloch people to survive, they want our land, they want our natural resources,” he said, referring to Balochistan’s rich oil and gas reserves.

“This charge of outsiders helping our movement is not new. It started in 1947 when the Khan of Kalat was forced to sign a document acceding to Pakistan, despite both houses of the Baloch parliament ruling against it, and the movement against accession began.”

At the time, he said, Islamabad claimed Iraq had supplied the Baloch with weapons. “Why would weapons meant for us be found in Islamabad, some 2000 km away when we have an 800 km long coastline that would have been far more accessible?”

He said the current blitz against his people was similar to the time when helicopter gunships supplied by the Shah of Iran to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s government were used to crush the Baloch resistance.

Asked if Pakistan Prime Minister Gilani’s claims that “there would be good news on Balochistan” meant that talks were underway between Islamabad and the separatists, he said “not from our side”.

Talks with the PML(Q) government had seen “two delegations come to us, one led by Waseem Sajjad, chairman of the senate and the other by Mushahid Hussain. The result? The murder of Nawab Bugti.”

Describing the assassination as a huge shock, he said: “Why does no one ask what happened to Nawab Bugti’s body, which nobody saw or of the many supporters who were with him when he died. What happened to their bodies? We believe Musharraf authorised the use of chemical weapons against Nawab Bugti and his men.”

Asked why the Baloch leaders had done little to improve the lot of their people, allegedly keeping the wealth accruing from royalties to the Sui gas pipeline with them, he said: “This is a false charge. Baloch leaders like my father built the only university in the province when he was chief minister, as well as the only hospital. The Pakistan army has built huge cantonments on my land, on Bugti’s land, on Marri land. If they can build illegal cantonments on our land, why can’t they build roads, schools and hospitals?”

Pak back to square one
Pakistani premier Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday said he had expressed “serious concerns over Indian interference in Balochistan” in his discussions with PM Manmohan Singh. He also called for resumption of dialogue on Kashmir.

Himu: The Hindu ‘hero’ Of Medieval India-- MUST READ BOOK

Book: Himu: The Hindu ‘hero’ Of Medieval India (against The Background Of Afghan-mughal Conflicts)


Neither Fate Nor Historians Have Been Kind To Himu... Historians, Medieval And Modern, Have Scant Justice To, And Failed To Show Due Appreciation Of The Unique Personality And Greatness Of A Hindu Who, During The Heyday Of Muslim Rule In India, Worked His Way From A Grocer S Shop To The Throne Of Delhi, And, But For An Accident In A Battle Which Turned Victory Into Defeat, Might Have Founded A Hindu Ruling Dynasty, Instead Of The Mughals, In Delhi... (R.C. Majumdar). The Author Has Made An Attempt To Fill Up This Gap In History. He Has Studied Himu Against The Historical Background Of Afghan-Mughal Conflicts.The Presentation Of The Matter Is Objective, Unbiased And Free From Prejudices And Supernaturalism.It Is Hoped That The Book Would Be Found Useful By Students And Researchers Of Medieval History. It Would Also Be Of Great Interest For The Layman.

Buy at

Posted by Dr Radhasyam Brahmachari on 6/15/09 • Categorized as Op-Ed

Advertise here. faithfreedom2 @
Written by Contributing Editor Dr Radhasyam Brahmachari

Akbar, The Great (?) Monarch:

It is really amazing and ridiculous that, not only the so called pseudo secular and the Marxist historians of India , but also the Western historians portray the Mughal emperor Akbar as a great monarch. But are there sufficient grounds to project him as a great man? The Indian historians, according to the guideline set by the ongoing politics of Muslim appeasement, have to glorify each and every Muslim ruler including Akbar as a compulsion. But it is really incomprehensible why the historians of the West are also in the race in glorifying Akbar, who, in reality, was a foreign invader and came to India to plunder this country. Above all, Akbar was a Muslim and, like each and every Muslim, he possessed three basic Islamic qualities – treachery, lechery and butchery. In several occasions, Akbar played vile treachery with the Hindu kings. Akbar was a cruel killer, who butchered innocent Hindus in millions. As a lecher, Akbar maintained a harem of 5000 women, most of whom were abducted Hindu housewives. So it is necessary to make a fresh estimate of Akbar to asses his greatness.

Picture of Emperor Akbar

Abu’l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar was born on 23 November 1542 at Umarkot Fort, Sind and died on27 October 1605, at the age of 63 at Fatehpur Sikri, Agra. His father was Nasiruddin Humayun and his mother’s name was Nawab Hamida Banu Begum Sahiba. At birth Akbar was named Badruddin Mohammed Akbar, because he was born on the night of a badr (full moon). After the capture of Kabul by Humayun his date of birth and name were changed to throw off evil sorcerers. His name was changed to Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar and his birthdate was officially changed to October 15, 1542. He was given the name Akbar at birth after his maternal grandfather, Shaikh Ali Akbar Jami. [1]
He succeeded his father Humayun as ruler of the Mughal Empire from 1556 to 1605. He was the grandson of Babur who founded the Mughal dynasty in India . On the eve of Akbar’s death in 1605, the Mughal empire spanned almost 1 million square kilometers. [1]

Akbar, widely considered the greatest of the Mughal emperors, was only 14 when he ascended the throne in

Delhi, by defeating the Hindu king Samrat Hem Raj Vikramaditya, also called Himu at the Second Battle of Panipat He was descended from Turks, Mongols, and Iranians — the three peoples who predominated in the political elites of northern India in medieval times. He consolidated his power, during first two decades of his reign and bring parts of northern and central India into his realm. He also reduced external military threats from the Pashtun (Afghan), the descendants of Sher Shah, by waging wars against Afghan. He also solidified his rule in India by pursuing diplomacy with the powerful Rajput rulers of northern part of the country, and by admitting Rajput princesses in his harem. [1]

Picture of Samrat Hem Raj Vikramaditya

Akbar spent a part of his early life in the Princely State of Rewa (in present day Madhya Pradesh) where Akbar grew up in the village of Mukundpur . Akbar and prince Ram Singh who later became the Maharaja of Rewa grew up together and stayed close friends through life. Humayun was the eldest son of Babur. For some time, Akbar was raised by his uncle Askari and his wife in the eastern country of Persia and Afghanistan.He spent his youth learning to hunt, run, and fight, but he never learned to read and write. The so called pseudo-secular and Marxist historians paint Akbar as a generous, kind hearted tolerant king free from religious bigotry, and a genius with refined tastes in the arts, architecture, music and literature. But it is to be seen, how far their portrayal is true.

It has been mentioned earlier that Sher Shah ascended the throne of Delhi on May 17, 1540, by defeating Humayun in a battle near Kannauj and he died in an accident in 1545 AD, in Kalinjar. After his death, anarchy appeared again. The nobles made Jalal Khan, the second son of Sher Shah, the Sultan of Delhi , depriving the eldest Adil Khan as the latter was incompetent, lazy, and ease-loving. After ascending the throne, Jalal Khan assumed the title of Islam Shah. Soon after, a group of nobles made a conspiracy to murder Islam Shah and put Adil Khan on the throne. But the plan divulged and Islam Shah put all the conspirators to the sword.

Chaos after the Death of Sher Shah:

On November 22, 1554, Islam Shah, after ruling for 9 years and’ 6 months, died and his nobles put his minor son Firuz on to the throne. But after a few months, Mubariz Khan, a cousin of Firuz, murdered him and ascended the throne assuming the new name of Muhammad Adil Shah. But he was unsuitable as a ruler. On the other hand, the news of Islam Shah’s death inspired Humayun to invade India and recover his lost territory. At this juncture, Bairam Khan came to Humayun’s help that enhanced his strength considerably and enabled him to re-conquer Kabul, News of these developments made Adil Shah very shaky and he gave up all the responsibilities to his most trusted employee Himu, a Hindu officer, and this incident facilitated Himu to raise himself as the most important man in North Indian politics.

This was the time when the star of Himu’s fortune shone brightest- Adil Shah appointed him the Wzir (Prime Minister) and the incident initiated his rapid rise. But most of the Muslim historians did not like an infidel to hold the highest post in the court of a Muslim king and hence they tried to blacken his character it every opportunity.

Who this Himu was ? Historian R. C, Majumdar, in this regard, writes, “Himu was born in a poor family of Dhansar section of the Baniya caste, living in a town in the southern part of Alwar”.[2] Muslim historian Badayuni has described him as a resident of a small town called Rewari in the taluk of Mewat, and according to him, Himu began his life as a green vendor.[2] Others believe that Himu was a hawker in the town of Mewat.[2] However, at a certain stage, he succeeded to draw the attention of Adil Shah, who appointed him the Superintendent of the Delhi market. But by dint of his sincerity and sense of responsibility, he became a favourite of Adil, who started to elevate him to more and more responsible posts. When Adil Shah died, Himu was the Chief of the Intelligence Department and, at the same time, the Head of the Postal Department (Daroga-i-Dak Chowki).

To introduce Himu, the Muslim historian Ahmmad Yadgar, in his Tarikh-I-Salatin-i-Afghana, writes, “There was a man named Himu, who was a weighman in the bazar, who found means to approach the King on different affairs, and in whom he daily reposed more and more confidence. By degrees he became very powerful and influential, so that he managed the business of the State”. [3]

At that time, Junaid Khan, the governor of Bayana, and his son, the phaujdar of Ajmir rebelled. Adil Shah sent Jamal Khan against him with a large force. But in a severe battle at Kanulapur, Junaid became victorious. The incident made Adil Shah very depressed. Then Himu said, “O Lord of the World, if you will trust me with a small force, I will either overcome Junaid Khan, or perish in the attempt”. [4] The King yielded to his solicitations and sent Himu with 3000 or 4000 horsemen and four war-elephants. Junaid deputed his assistant Daulat Khan to defend Himu. A battle was fought and Daulat Khan was defeated and slain.

Then Junaid himself advanced with 8000 strong cavalry to confront Himu, while Himu had only 3000 horses. So he decided to attack the enemy in the darkness of night and Ahremad Yadgar, in his Tarikh-i-Salatin-i-Afghana, writes, “The enemy remained on the alert during the three watches of the night; but in the last watch they grew negligent and fell asleep, The soldiers of Adil Shah fell furiously on them on all sides. Himu did not give the time to put enemy their armour and the Afghans, sword in hand, passed through their enemy slaughtering all they met.”[5] Himu then went to the court of Adil Shah and Yadgar writes, “He (Himu) then stood with folded hands in front of the throne. Adil Shah honoured him with a purple khilat (garment), the coller and the skirt of which were covered with jewels”.[6]

At that time, Ibrahim Khan, a cousin of Adil.Shah and the governor of Agra , rebelled. Adil Shah sent a detachment against him, but Ibrahim routed them. Then Ibrahim marched towards Delhi and ultimately occupied the city. Inspired by the success of Ibrahim, Ahmmad Khan Sur, the governor of Lahore and brother-in-law of Adil, assumed the name Sikandar Shah and rebelled. In the east, Muhammad Khan Sur, the governor of Bengal revolted and assumed the title of Shamsuddin Muhammad Ghazi. So the empire of Sher Shah got divided into four parts, Delhi and Agra went to Ibrahim Khan, Punjab went to Sikandar Shah, Bengal to Shamsuddin Muhammad and the remai­ning part under the control of Adil Shah.

Meanwhile, in 1555, Sikandar Shah invaded Delhi , in a severe battle he defeated Ibrahim and thus Delhi went under the control of Sikandar. On the other hand, the rivalry among the Afghans provided a great opportunity for the Mughals to recover their lost empire. In November 1554, Humayun left Kabul , advanced towards Lahore , and in February 1555, gained control over the city almcst without any resistance. Then Sikandar Shah marched against Humayun with a 30,000 strong cavalry. A severe battle took place at Machhiara near Ludhiana and Sikandar Shah suffered a complete defeat. Sikandar then marched again against Humayun with 80,000 horsemen, but he was again defeated in a battle near Sirhind and fled to Sivallk Hills.

Ascendency of Himu:

In that hour of crises, Adil Shah Appointed Himu the Wazir, or the Prime Minister of his court and handed over civil, military, finance and, in fact, every other responsibility to him. It is really surprising that Adil Shah, a Muslim king, selected a Hindu kafir for the highest position of his government, and there is no doubt that had Adil could find Muslim candidate suitable for the post, he would certainly not have selected an infidel like Himu for the post. The incident shows that the competency of Himu, for the post, was beyond any dispute.

After assuming the new responsibility, Himu at once marched against Ibrahim and defeated him twice, first at Kalpi and then at Khanwa. To narrate Himu’s victory, Nizamuddin Ahmroad in his Tabakat-i-Akbari, writes, “Adil now sent, the bakkal, who was the Wazir, with a large force, and with 500 war-elephants and artillery, against Agra and Delhi . When Himu reached Kalpi, he resolved to dispose of Ibrahim first and hastened to meet him. A great battle followed, in which Himu was victorious, and Ibrahim fled to his father at Bayana, Himun followed and Invested Bayana, which he besieged for three months”.[7] Himu then marched against Muhammad Shah and a battle was fought at Chhapparghatta , a place 20 miles away from Kalpl. Muhammad Shah was defeated and Himu gained control over Bengal.[8]

Following the chaos over the succession of Islam Shah (Sher Khan Suri’s son), as mentioned above, Humayun reconquered Delhi in 1555, with the help of an army partly provided by his Persian ally Shah Tahmasp.But a few months later, on January 26, 1556, Humayun died and Bairam Khan, the guardian of Akbar, cleverly concealed the report of Humayun’s death in order to prepare for Akbar’s accession to the throne. On February 24, 1556, Akabar, a 13 year-old boy, was proclaimed Shahanshah (Persian for “King of Kings”) of Hindustan . by Bairam Khan at Kalanaur (Gurdaspur, Punjab).

At that time, Himu sought permission of Adil to attack Delhi . Ahmmad Yadgar narrates, “Himun went in front of the throne and said, “O King, the case is this; he (Akbar) is now a child of ten years old, who has lost his father, and the Mughal army is not yet firmly established. It is easy to root up a small plant”. Adil Shah derived confidence from his speech and prepared a powerful force. He sent 7000 horsemen and 20 war-elephants with Himun, who went march by march to Gwalior”.[9] From Gwallor, Himu advanced towards Agra and Adil Shah, on the other hand, went to the safe place at the fort of Chunar.

As Himu got closer to Agra , frightened Iskandar Khan, the Mughal governor of the city, fled to Delhi . So Himu occupied Agra practically without resistance and then the victorious Wazir marched towards Delhi . Alikuli Khan, the Mughal governor of Delhi , also prepared a strong force to confront Himu and a fierce battle followed. Ahmmad Yadgar, to narrate the incident, writes, “When Himu saw that the Mughals were in good spirit and the Afghans disheartened, he advanced with his own division and routed them. They (Mughals) were unable to rally, and as they were utterly defeated, they took to flight. Himu pursued them and slaughtered many, … So much plunder of Mughal army fell into Himun’s hands that it was impossible to take an account of it -160 elephants, l000 horses of Arab breed and an immense quantity of property and valuables”. [10]

Then victorious Himu entered Delhi and Nizamuddin Ahmmad, in his Tarikh -i-Akbari , writes,”Himun had greatly vaunted his achievements at Delhi and had taken to himself the title of Raja Bikrsmjit”.[11] To narrate the same victory, Ahmmad Yadgar, in his Tarikh-i-Salatin-i-Afghana, writes, “Himun rejoiced this victory, sent an account of his success, together with the Spoils captured from the Mughals, to Adll Shah, who was exceedingly pleased when he received it,…He (Adil Shah) gave a great festival and sent Himun a dress of honour, adorned with jewels and worked with gold threads”[12] Ahmmad Yadgar continues to write,” … he (Himu) entered Delhi, raised the Imperial Canopy over him and ordered coins to be struck in his name. He appointed a governor (of Delhi) of his own and brought the Delhi territory and the neighbouring parganas under his control and in order to console the King, he sent an account of the victory in these words,”Your slave, by the royal fortune, has routed the Mughal army, … but I hear that Humayun’s son commands a numerous force and advancing against Delhi”.[13]

Himu’s Misfortune:

The news of defeat of the Mughal governor of Delhi and the skill and braveiy of Himu reached the Mughal prince Akber in time. Nearly 10 months later, Akbar, with a great force of 26,000 horsemen under the command of Bairam Khan marched towards Delhi . So Ahmmad Yadgar, in his Tarikh-i-Salatin-i-Afghana, writes, “He (Akbar) marched without halting, with Bairam Khan. …When they reached Thanesar, a census was taken of the army, which was found to consist of 26,000 horsemen”. [14] And to describe Himu’s army, Nizamuddin Ahmmad in his Tarikh-i-Akbari, writes, “He (Himu) had gathered under his command a mighty force and had 1600 war-elephants. With those, he hastened to meet the Imperial (Mughal) army”. [15]

The battle began in the morning on 5th November, 1556, at Panipat and to describe the same, Nizamuddim Ahmmad writes, “Himun then advanced with his elephants, and made such a determined charge on the Imperial army that the left wing was shaken…. Himu then drew off his forces, and made an assault upon the centre, which was under the command of Khan-Zaman. He led all his elephants against the Khan’s men, who received him with shower of Arrows. An arrow pierced the eye of Hemun, and came out at the back of his head. When those who were fighting under him saw his condition, their hands were paralyzed, and they broke. The Imperial forces pursued them, and cut many of then, to pieces.” [16] According to Abul Fazl, Himu had divided his army into three divisions and he himself was leading the central division with 500 elephants and 20,000 Afghan and Rajput horsemen. [17] So, many believe, when Himu was on the verge of winning the this battle, the accident occured, leading to his defeat.

Ahmad Yadgar had tried to invent a reason for Himu’s defeat, which is extremely incredible. He writes, “The evening preceding the day on which he (Himu) expected the battle, he went to the sanctified mausoleum Kutub-ul-Aktab of His Highness Kutb-ul-Hakk, (the pole-star of religion of Islam), ……and placing the head of entreaty on the august threshold, vowed that, if he were destined to conquer Delhi, if the throne of Delhi were granted to him, he would become a Musulman on his return to Delhi, and diffuse the religion of Muhammad” [18] Yadgar continues, “The Almighty (Allah) gave them (Mughals) victory. But he (Himu) perjured himself, and did not become a Musulman, or forsake his heathen prejudices; nay, he even persecuted the Musulmans. But at last he saw, what he did see”. [18]

Yadgar also writes that, on the previous night, Himu became extremely disheartened after a dream of bad omen. He writes, ”.. he (Himu) beheld in a dream, a torrent come down and carry away the elephant on which he was mounted. When he was nearly drowned, a Mughal came and cast a chain round his neck, and drew him out”. On the next day, an interpreter said, “The torrent which you saw is the Mughal army,..and the chain signifies; the blood which will flow from your body when you are wounded.” [18] This made Himu much frightened, but he said, “The very reverse of the dream will happen”. [18]

But, in fact, it was Akbar who got frightened by observing the valour of Himu and his mighty force, and Bairam Khan, to inspire him, said, “This is the commencement of His Majesty’s reign. This infidel has routed the whole Mughal army, and is now making preparations against us. If you do your best in this business, with one heart and soul, Hindustan is yours. I place my trust in Allah. If we fail in this, you, whose homes are at a distance of 500 kos (1000 miles), will not be able to find an sylum”. [19]

However, the military skill and bravery that Himu displayed in the battle field on November 5, could not have been ignored by even the Muslim historians. So Ahmmad Yadgar writes, “Himu, having made himself ready for action came out into the plain, and seated himself in a howda on an elephant in order the that he might be able to overlook and superintend his troops, …. Bairan Khan also drew up the people of Chaghatai to the right and left in battle array,.. Bairam Khan placed Akbar Mirza’s own private tent in an elevated position, and left 3000 horse to guard him, … Himu was excessively arrogant on account of his troops and elephants. He advanced, fought, and routed the Mughals, whose heads lay in heaps, and whose blood flowed in streams. He thus at first vanquished the Mughals……” [20]

But fortune was not with Himu and his victory turned into a defeat due to an accident and Ahmmad Yadgar writes, “… by the decree of the Almighty, an arrow struck Himu in the forehead. He told his elephant driver to take the eleph­ant out of the field of battle, then the Afghans saw that the animal was retreating, they believed that Himun was flying. … as no benefit is ever derived from disloyalty, he Sustained a complete defeat”. [20]

To narrate the same incident, Vincent Smith writes, “On November 5, Himu succeeded in throwing both the right and the left wings of his opponents into confusion, and sought to make his victory decisive by bringing all his mountain-like elephants to bear on the centre of the enemy, commanded by Khan Zaman. Probably he would have won but for the accident that he was struck in the eye by an arrow which pierced his brain and rendered him unconscious” [21]

Akbar’s Display of Greatness:

After the battle was ended, in accordance with the ghastly custom of the times, a tower was built with the heads of the slain. This “tower of heads” tradition and ceremony was religiously observed by the “magnanimous” Akbar, like his ancestors.

According to Yadgar, Alikuli Khan could trace the elephant of Himu in the forest, brought it back and placed Himu before Bairam Khan, and writes, “Bairam Khan … caused Himu to descend from the elephant, after which he bound his hands, and took him before the young and fortunate Prince, and said, “As this is our first success, let your Highness’s own august hand smite this infidel with the sword”. The Prince, accordingly, struck him, and divided his head from his unclean body”. [22]

Nizamuddin Ahmmad, to describe the incident, writes, “Shah Kuli Khan,… drove the elephant , along with several others which had been captured in the field, to the presence of the Emperor. Bairam Khan Khan Kanan then put Himu to death with his own hand.” [23] So, according to Nizamuddln Ahmmad, Bairam Khan executed himu with his own hand. And similar was the view maintained by Badayuni, Abul Fazl and Faizi. So, Badayuni writes, “Bairam Khan said, “This is your first war (ghazd), prove your sword on this infidel, for it will be a meritorious deed”, Akbar replied, “He is now no better than a dead man, how can I strike him? If he had sense and strength, I would try my sword”. Then, in the presence of them all, the Khan, the warrior of the faith, cut him down with his sword. Himun’s head was sent to Kabul, and his body to Delhi, to be exposed over the gates”.[23]

But according to Vincent Smith, Akbar himself struck Himu with his sword to earn the title of Ghazi , and writes, “Bairam Khan desired Akbar to earm the title of Ghazi, or slayer of the infidel, by fleshing his sword on the captive. The boy naturally obeyed his guardian and smote Hemu on the neck with his scimitar. The bystanders also plunged their swords into the bleeding corpse. Hemu’s head was sent to Kabul to be exposed, and his trunk gibbeted at one of the gates of Delhi “. [24]

He also writes, “Akbar, a boy of fourteen cannot be justly blamed for complying with the instructions of Bairam Khan. … The official story, that a magnanimous sentiment of unwillingness to strike a helpless priso­ner already half dead compelled him (Akbar) to refuse to obey his guardian’s instructions, seems to be the late invention of courtly flatterers, and is opposed to the clear statement of Ahmed Yadgar and the Dutch writer, van der Broecke, as well as to the probabilities of the case”. [24] That was the pathetic end of the saga of a great son of Mother India, who tried his best to restore independence of this ancient country, our beloved motherland, by defeating the Muslim invaders and occupiers, but did not succeed only due to a mere accident. Furthermore, it is a matter of great regret that the people of this country have forgotten that great Hindu hero and the fascinating story of his life, achievements and sacrifice.

Akbar’s Subsequent Display of Greatness:

But the tale of Himu did not end with his death. Intelligence came to Akbar that Himu’s father, his widow and other members of his family were living in Alwar, with their properties and wealth, and, on the pretext of a possible revolt by Haji Khan, the governor of Alwar, he sent a detachment to Alwar, under the command of Nasir-ul-mulk, a.k.a, Pir Muhammad. The Mughal has brought the Mewat region under the rule of Delhi and Pir Muhammad executed Himu’s father. To narrate the incident, Abul Fazl, in his Akbamama, writes, “Himu’s father was taken alive, and brought before Nasir-ul-mulk, who tried to convert him to the faith (of Islam); but the old man said, “For eighty years, I have worshipped God in way of my own religion; how can I forsake my faith? Shall I, through fear of death, embrace your religion without understanding it?” Maulana Pir Muhammad treated his question as unheard, but gave an answer with the tongue of the sword”. [25] Immense treasures were taken with the family of Hemu whose aged father was executed.” This “tower of heads” tradition and ceremony was religuously preserved by the “magnanimous” Akbar.

Historian R. C, Majumdar, while offering his respect to Himu, writes, “Such was the noble end of the family of a great Hindu who was born in a humble life, but made his way to the throne of Delhi by dint of sheer ability and military skill – a unique episode in the history of India during the Muslim rule” [26]

Almost all the Muslim chroniclers have tried to paint Himu a traitor and disloyal, because he ascended the throne of Delhi , in stead of offer­ing the same to his master Adil Shah. But, in this context, R. C. Majumdar writes “No one today can reasonably claim to know the thoughts in Himu’s mind. But a little reflection will show that there was nothing unreasonable or immoral in the aspiration of Himu. No doubt, personal ambition played a great part, but it may not be altogether wrong to think that he was also inspired by the idea of founding a Hindu Raj. This is supported by his assumption to the title of Vikramaditya”. [27] And, perhaps, most shameful as well as most deplorable is the role of the so called secular and the Marxist historians, the most despicable group of people of independent India who, like the Muslim historians, are continuing their efforts to blacken Himu’s character by portraying him a betrayer to his Muslim Master.

So, the historian R. C. Majumdar, in this context, writes, “Unfortunately, Himu’s history has been written almost wholly by his enemies who dreaded him most, and, far from doing justice to his greatness, they have tarnished his name with unmerited odium. It is time to resuscitate the memory and give a true account of the life of Hemchandra, a really great hero, whose dreams and achievements have been forgotten by his countrymen”.[26]

So, it is really unfortunate that our so called secular historians, following their sinister political guideline of Muslim appeasement, are glorifying the foreign Muslim invaders, including Akbar, by concealing their demonic activities, while projecting a real patriotic fighter, like Himu, as a villain. These people, guided by the said policy of Muslim appeasement and motivated by allurement, are going on writing distorted history of this country and thus depriving the people and their posterity from getting acquainted with their real history.

The Muslim rulers who massacred hundreds of thousands of innocent Hindus within a single day in umpteen occasions, these historians are projecting those killers as honest and benevolent rulers. Those blood-thirsty Muslim rulers who, by coercion and torture, converted hundreds of millions of Hindus to Islam at the point of sword, these despicable sub-humans called secular historians are portraying those Muslim despots as noble hearted magnanimous kings. The foreign Muslim invaders who demolished hundreds of thousands of Hindu temples or converted them into mosques, these historians are describing them as generous people liberal in the matter of religion. The abominable and lecherous Muslim invaders, who carried hundreds of thousands of Hindu women and children as captives to the Middle East to be sold as slaves, these wicked historians are painting them as kind and soft-hearted rulers. Those foreign Muslim invaders, who forcibly occupied the forts and palaces of Hindu kings and did not lay a single brick, these historians are highlighting them as great admirers of architecture or great architects, and we fools are cramming those narrations years after years, without assessing the realities of those narrations.

But we, the citizens of free India , have every right to know their true history. They have every right to know, who this Himu was and what were his achievements. We have the right to know the spectacular life of this great son of India , a great patriot who sacrificed his life to defend the foreign occupier Akbar. And, had not by an accident, an arrow pierced Himu’s eye and rendered him unconscious on November 5, 1556, the day on which the Second Battle of Panipat was fought, the people of India would have a different history to read- the chapter of Mughal Dynasty would have been replaced by the Hindu Dynasty of Vikramaditya Heraraj. And at same the time, the hour has arrived to decide who was really Great, Akbar or the Emperor Vikramaditya Hemraj, who now being slighted as Himu.


[1], ,
[2] R. C, Majumdar, The History and Cultures of the Indian People, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (in 12 Vols) , VII ,97
[3] H. M.Elliot and J, Dowson, History of India ; As Told by Its Own Historians, Low Price Publications , Delhi , (in 8 Vols) , V, 48,

[4] H. M. Ellict and J. Dowson, ibid, V, 48.

[5] H. M, Elliot and J. Dowson, ibid, V, 50.

[6] H. M. Hllict and J. Dowson , ibid, V, 51.

[7] H. M. Elliot and J, Dowson, ibid, V, 244

[8] H. M., Elliot and J- Dcwson, ibid, V, 490.

[9] H. M. Elliot and J, Dowson, ibid, V, 59.

[10] H. M. Elliot and J, Dowson, ibid, V, 61

[11] H. M, Elliot and J. Dowson , ibid, V, 252.

[12] H. M- Elliot and J. Dowson, ibid, V, 60,

[13] H. M. Elliot and J. Dowson, ibid, V,61-62,

[14] H. M. Elliot and J. Dowson, ibid, V,62,

[15] H. M. Elliot and J. Dowson, ibid, V, 252.

[16] H. M. Elliot and J. Dowson , ibid, V, 252.

[17] H. M. Elliot and J. Dowson, ibid, V, 252-53.

[18] H. M, Elliot and J. Dcwson, ibid, V, 63.

[19] H. M, Elliot and J, Dowscn, ibid, V, 64.

[20] H. M. Elliot and J. Dowson, ibid, V, 65.

[21] V. A. Smith, Akbar the Great Mogul, Oxford Clarendon Press, 38.

[22] H. M. Elliot and J. Dowson, ibid, V, 66.

[23] H. m. Elliot and J. Dowson, ibid, V, 253.

[24] V. A. Smith, ibid, 39.

[25] H. M. Elliot and J. Dowson, ibid, VI, 21.

[26] R.C. Majumdar, ibid, Bharatiya Vidya Bnavan , VII ,100.

[27] R. C. Majumdar, ibid, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, VII, 101.



In my article of March 10,2009, titled "Obama: Good-Bye To Dalai Lama & Aung San Suu Kyi, Hail Hu Jintao" , available at , I wrote as follows: "There has been no surge in US rhetoric vis-a-vis China after Barack Obama assumed office on January 20, 2009. On the contrary, the focus of his advisers has been on identifying and expanding the mutual comfort features in the bilateral relations rather than on those features, which tended to cause friction in the past. The references from Washington DC to human rights issues---- whether they be in relation to Tibet, Myanmar or the Chinese role in the Sudan--- have been muted."

2. Suspicions that President Barack Obama was quietly planning a major departure from the policy followed by the previous US administrations towards Myanmar, its military junta and its heroic leader Aung San Suu Kyi proved correct on August 14,2009, when Democratic Senator Jim Webb, reputed to be close to Obama, arrived in Myanmar for talks with Senior Gen.Than Shwe, the leader of the military junta.

3. The Junta reportedly extended to Senator Webb courtesies the like of which it had not extended to any other foreign dignitary before, including Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General, who visited Myanmar in the beginning of July. Webb was granted an audience to meet Than Shwe at Naypyidaw, the new capital,shortly after his arrival, instead of having to wait for hours, if not days, as had happened with some foreign visitors in the past. He was also allowed to meet Aung San Suu Kyi at Yangon, the old capital, , a courtesy which was denied to the UN Secretary-General.

4. Senator Webb, a Vietnam war veteran and a former Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan, is presently the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia and Pacific Affairs. He has been an advocate of a more "constructive" US engagement with the Junta. The ostensible purpose of his visit----evidently undertaken with the prior approval of Obama---- was to secure the release of John Yettaw, an American citizen, who was convicted on August 11 along with Aung San Suu Kyi after the American swam uninvited to the Nobel laureate's lakeside home and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and to meet Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been placed under house arrest by the Junta for another 18 months after she was found guilty in the same case of harbouring the American in her house without informing the Police.

5. His visit was as carefully choreographed as the visit of former US President Bill Clinton to Pyongyang on August 4,2009, during which he met President Kim Jong-il and secured the release of two American woman journalists, who had been sentenced by a North Korean court to long periods of imprisonment on a charge of illegally entering North Korean territory from China

6. One can be certain that Webb would not have undertaken the visit had he not been assured beforehand by the Junta through unidentified intermediaries that he would go back with Yettaw and would be allowed to meet Aung San Suu Kyi. Without a meeting with Suu Kyi, his visit would have been seen by the people of Myanmar as a cynical attempt to secure the release of an American citizen without worrying about the continued violation of the human rights of the people of the country by the Junta.

7. After his meeting with the Junta chief and Aung San Suu Kyi and after the announcement that Yettaw would be deported on Auguast 16, Webb said in a statement: " I am grateful to the Myanmar Government for honouring these requests.It is my hope that we can take advantage of these gestures as a way to begin laying a foundation of goodwill and confidence-building in the future." Webb said he also urged the military regime to free Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent most of the last two decades under house arrest. Webb described the meeting with her as "an opportunity for me to convey my deep respect to Aung San Suu Kyi for the sacrifices she has made on behalf of democracy around the world".

8. Webb did not say what was Than Shwe's response to his request for her release and whether she would be allowed to participate in the elections scheduled to be held by the Junta next year.

9. Webb's visit to Myanmar and his meeting with Than Shwe, coming in the wake of Clinton's visit to Pyongyang, indicates that the Obama Administration sees no problem in dealing with dictators and playing down human rights issues, if it will serve US national interests. In North Korea, the US objective was clearly to explore the availability of other options for persuading or pressuring North Korea to give up its nuclear capability.

10. What are the US interests in Myanmar? It is difficult to answer this question definitely at present. However, it is quite likely that the Myanmar initiative was triggered off by concerns that the policy of more and more sanctions followed by the US is not only pushing Myanmar increasingly into the arms of China, but may also push it to embrace North Korea, with which the Junta re-established diplomatic relations two years ago.There have recently been unconfirmed reports that North Korea has established a nuclear supply relationship with Myanmar.

11. While the leaders of the ASEAN would be happy over the US overtures to the Junta, the countries of the European Union, which had condemned very strongly the extended house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, may have been taken by surprise. ( 15-8-09)

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

How a Hindu girl handles American Christian conversion attempt

I think this is a useful video to watch. It shows a conversation between three young girls (seem to be in very early teens). The two American-Christians are trying to convert an American-Hindu. An argument that one of the American-Christian is making is in terms of thePascalan wager.

I really loved the way the American-Hindu conducted herself.

This video is important not only to understand the efforts being made to try to convert Hindus. It is also important in context of how Hinduism is taught to American children.

Internal CCP Conflicts Made Xinjiang Riots Worse

Yesterday | Op Ed

2009-8-14 9:44 is an online news and commentary forum that sometimes carries leaks from Chinese political circles. Late last month the site carried a report from an unnamed high-level cadre who retired from the Communist Party's 17th National Congress.

The cadre said that early on July 5th, head of the Central Political and Legislative Committee Zhou Yongkang received news of growing unrest in China’s Xinjiang region. This was many hours before the peaceful protests turned violent that afternoon.

But Zhou is considered to be part of Jiang Zemin's Shanghai Gang—one faction of an internal conflict inside the Communist Party that pits Jiang against his successor, Party leader Hu Jintao. So Zhou didn't pass the news of the Xinjiang unrest to Hu. And that’s why Hu left the country as planned that day to attend the G8 summit in Italy. The cadre says the protests were allowed to get worse in order to embarrass Hu.

"Maybe it was only a small-scale protest, maybe the march was a peaceful expression of frustration,” the cadre writes here. “But amidst the power struggle for control of the Communist Party, this was nurtured into a big event, and so many people were killed."

Political commentators have weighed into the argument. Respected democracy campaigner Wei Jingsheng says military police stationed outside Urumqi took several hours to respond to the unrest.

[Wei Jingsheng, Democracy Campaigner]:

"Why was it only four or five hours after the incident started that the military police intervened? Why weren’t the military police outside the city allowed to enter the city in advance? This shows who is really behind the scenes.”

Finally it was Xinjiang Party Secretary Wang Lequan, a man personally promoted by Jiang Zemin, who ordered the armed police force to suppress the protestors. Hundreds of people were killed in the riots over the course of several days.

Hu Jintao was forced to interrupt his overseas trip and hurry back to China on July 8th to personally deal with the situation.

But then on July 13th, another incident: State media unexpectedly published news that police had shot and killed twelve Uighur residents that month. It was a rare admission of police brutality that could only have happened with permission from the top. The cadre says the man responsible for the report was another supporter of Jiang Zemin’s Shanghai Gang: Li Changchun—the Party's propaganda chief. And this report caused Hu Jintao even more embarrassment.

Recently, Hu has been putting pressure on the Shanghai Gang. It comes as the Shanghai Gang is trying to ensure that Jiang’s ally, Vice President Xi Jinping, takes over after Hu leaves office, according to a report by Boxun News.

And the Shanghai Gang has faced its own embarrassment with other numerous large-scale outbreaks of unrest across China earlier this year—including the protests in Shishou that brought tens of thousands of angry citizens into the streets. Outbreaks like these call into question the ability of Zhou Yongkang to maintain law and order.

Several of Zhou’s allies—key members of the Shanghai Gang—are now being investigated for corruption under the direction of Hu Jintao.

It is widely speculated that the next target is Zhou Yongkang himself.

Balochistan celebrates Independence Day in London

For regular updates on Balochistan Visit

Pakistan nuclear thefts foiled: Raise doubts about security


Attacks on secret storage sites raise doubts about security

By Arnaud de Borchgrave
Originally published 04:45 a.m., August 13, 2009, updated 12:20 p.m., August 13, 2009

Is Pakistan's nuclear arsenal theft-proof? Former President Pervez Musharraf and his successor, Asif Ali Zardari, and their army and intelligence chiefs repeatedly have assured both the Bush and Obama administrations that their 80-odd nuclear weapons are as secure as the U.S. arsenal of some 7,000 city busters.

The Pakistanis have separated warheads from delivery systems and stored them in different secret locations throughout the second-largest Muslim country in the world (after Indonesia). The United States has given Pakistan copies of its own blueprint to ensure fool-proof, total safety. Yet Pakistan's secret nuclear-storage sites are known to Islamist extremists and have been attacked at least three times over the last two years, according to two recent reputable reports.

The Baltimore-based Maldon Institute, whose worldwide staff consists mostly of retired intelligence officers, and the Times of India's Washington-based foreign editor Chidanand Rajghatta both report attempted nuclear thefts that have been tracked by Shaun Gregory, a professor at Bradford University in Britain.

The first such attack against the nuclear-missile-storage facility was on Nov. 1, 2007, at Sargodha; the second, by a suicide bomber, occurred Dec. 10, 2007, against Pakistan's nuclear air base at Kamra; and the third, Aug. 20, 2008, and most alarming, was launched by several suicide bombers who blew up key entry points to a nuclear-weapons complex at the Wah Cantonment, long believed to be one of Pakistan's main nuclear-weapons assembly points, where warheads and launchers come together in a national emergency.

Mr. Gregory's research paper was first published in West Point's Counter Terrorism Center Sentinel, and elicited no attention or reaction. Renowned terrorist expert Peter Bergen, one of the very few journalists to interview al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden before Sept. 11, 2001, reviewed Mr. Gregory's paper and was baffled by the lack of reaction from the rest of the media.

While not denying the three incidents, Pakistan has said repeatedly that its nuclear weapons are fully secured and there is no chance of them falling into the hands of Islamist extremists, who have attracted a limited number of officers. During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979-89), Islamist extremism was encouraged by the three powers funding the anti-Soviet insurgents, known as the mujahedeen (whose sons and grandsons are today's Taliban guerrillas).

The fear in those days was communist expansion into Pakistan. And madrassas, Koranic schools for boys only, funded by Saudi Arabia's fundamentalist Wahhabi clergy, were set up along the border as an "ideological barrier" against Moscow's godless state religion.

Since then, the madrassa phenomenon has spread to the entire country, and today's reform movement has touched roughly 250 madrassas out of 12,500. The rest are still producing jobless teenagers who are easily seduced by the jihadi siren song to fight the imperialist apostates from the United States, Israel and India.

Still more worrisome is the number of younger army officers who embraced Islamist extremism in the heady days of the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan (February 1989). When the United States began punishing Pakistan with all manner of sanctions for its secret nuclear-weapons program throughout the 1990s, the young officers, reared in what became a bitterly anti-American environment, are today's one-, two- and three-star generals.

Relations between Pakistan's generals and their U.S. counterparts are now middling to good, but at arm's length. Following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a Pakistani general with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency toured the tribal areas along the Afghan border to tell tribal elders that Pakistan would be next on America's list of Muslim targets.

The American government, this general explained to a tribal chief who is a longtime friend of this reporter, is determined to seize "Islam's" nuclear weapons. This was when Gen. Hamid Gul, a former ISI chief, spread the word that Sept. 11 had been concocted by the CIA and Israel's Mossad to provide a pretext for attacking Muslim countries. Sadly, many well-intentioned Pakistanis still believe to this day what is disinformation designed to manipulate public opinion against the United States.
Mr. Gregory points out that during Pakistan's secret nuclear-weapons buildup in the 1970s (after East Pakistan was conquered by the Indian army in 1971 and turned into Bangladesh) and 1980s (when the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Afghanistan), its principal concern was the risk of India overrunning its nuclear facilities in a blitzkrieg armored offensive if they were located close to the 1,300-kilometer (780-mile)-long border between the two countries. Instead, most of the nuclear-weapons infrastructure was moved to the north and west and to the region around the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi (a military garrison city).

This brought these installations close to where Taliban insurgents were operating, in Pakistan proper, as close as 60 miles to the capital. American and Pakistani perceptions of the growing threat to its nukes narrowed accordingly. Mr. Gregory says the army "conducts a tight selection process drawing almost exclusively on officers from Punjab province who are believed to have fewer links with religious extremism, or with the Pashtun areas" of the Northwest Frontier Province and FATA, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas abutting the Afghan border.

The Times of India and the Maldon Institute reported that Pakistan also operates an analog to the U.S. Personnel Reliability Program (PRP) "that screens individuals for Islamist sympathies, personality problems, drug use, inappropriate external affiliations, and sexual deviancy." Mr. Gregory reckons that in total, between 8,000 and 10,000 individuals from the army's security division and from the ISI Directorate, Military Intelligence and Intelligence Bureau agencies are involved in the security clearance and monitoring of those with nuclear-weapons duties.
Pakistan also uses dummy sites to confuse would-be attackers. Formal command authority is under President Zardari and his Cabinet. But army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani has complete control over the country's nuclear weapons. But Mr. Gregory also says that despite "elaborate safeguards, empirical evidence points to a clear set of weaknesses and vulnerabilities in Pakistan's nuclear safety and security arrangements."

How the thousands employed by the nuclear establishment feel about the United States is not known. The question is not considered relevant, perhaps because U.S. and Pakistani views still differ on the nature of the war in Afghanistan. Taliban was useful after the Soviets left Afghanistan. Many of ISI's senior officers believe it will be useful again after the United States and its NATO allies leave.

Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large of The Washington Times and of United Press International.

CHINA WATCH: Crumbling fortune cookie

Pratik Kanjilal, Hindustan Times

August 14, 2009
First Published: 19:48 IST(14/8/2009)
Last Updated: 22:23 IST(14/8/2009)

A Chinese troublemaker who conceals his identity behind the nom de guerre of `Strategy' has raised a storm with the modest proposal that China should break up India by supporting its million mutinies. Since his essay appeared on the website of a Chinese think-tank just in time for the current round of India-China talks, and since Beijing is quite particular about who is allowed to publish and who gets beaten over the kidneys in a soundproof location, maybe we can regard this as an official communiqué.

This is serious. This is seriously irritating. For a half-century, Beijing has been trying to influence the future by fiddling with the past. Now, does it want to fiddle with the present, too? We have to figure this out. Follow me closely because your time is short and my space is limited and space and time structure all realities, as Einstein demonstrated in an elegant theory which is now, sadly, overshadowed by E=mc2, the basic template for a nuclear bomb. The Chinese have more bombs than us. This is related trivia.

However, the main issue between India and China is its claim on Arunachal Pradesh, which it briefly occupied in 1962. Beijing calls this tract South Tibet to justify its historical claim. China had occupied Tibet after suppressing the rising of 1959, and Arunachal became South Tibet by natural extension, since it was the next acquisition. That's Chinese history for you.

Chinese foreign policy is irredentist, reaching back into the distant past to justify current expansionist aims. In 2002, Beijing mandated the Chinese Academy of Social Science to launch the fabulously named Northeast Borderland History and Chain of Events Research Project, which posited the former existence of a Greater China covering half of Asia. All the people of this area are held to be intrinsically Chinese, even if they are now Koreans or Tajiks.

The aim was to strengthen Chinese claims on ethnic Koreans in Manchuria, who could secede if the two Koreas ever unite. But the theory got Beijing into hot water. Both Koreas protested because the early Common Era Korean kingdom of Goguryeo was identified as Chinese. But their outrage did not prevent Beijing from launching similar Southwest and Northwest Projects in Tibet and Xinjiang to strengthen claims to the lands of the restless Buddhists and Uighurs.

And now they want to break up India. I question their wisdom in pursuing this expensive project. Aren't we Indians doing enough already? A fortnight ago Binayak Sen, freshly released from illegal confinement, dropped in for a chat. He was visibly anguished about the use of military force against the villagers of Chhattisgarh. So what else is new? From Kashmir to Dhanushkodi, from Punjab to Manipur, the State has used the assault rifle as a handy replacement for political solutions. It's gotten so bad that Maoism, which promises nothing but more heartbreak, has become a credible alternative to government.

China has problems of its own. It is multi-ethnic like India and the seams show. Its internal differences have a bad habit of becoming huge international issues like Tibet. The Chinese don't need anyone's help to fall apart. `Strategy' would be better off watching his own back instead of stirring up trouble in the region.

Pratik Kanjilal is publisher of The Little Magazine

Afghan race becomes Karzai's cliffhanger

By M K Bhadrakumar

The Taliban's activities are hogging the headlines, as they spill over to the northern and western provinces of Afghanistan. The murder of the police chief of Dasht-e-Archi district in the northern Kunduz province on Wednesday following the Taliban overrunning the district and storming his headquarters in the town center comes as an eye-opener. Sizeable numbers of "foreign fighters" have moved northward with the intent of reaching the Ferghana Valley in Uzbekistan.

The alienation of the Pashtun settlements in the north, the split between the Uzbekis and the Tajiks in the Amu Darya region and the steady fragmentation of Rashid Dostum's Jumbish are factors that help the Taliban. All in all, therefore, the presidential election in Afghanistan on August 20 has assumed immense significance for the geopolitics of the region.

Karzai may face runoff ...
But the election, whose result was considered a foregone conclusion, has become a cliffhanger. President Hamid Karzai faces an existential threat from no one other than his erstwhile mentors in Washington, as his campaign seeking re-election enters the final week.

The US is waging a rearguard battle of attrition to ensure Karzai somehow falls short of securing an outright victory in the first round, which would necessitate a run-off. The latest barrage against Karzai is the sensational report by Germany's Stern magazine that British special forces seized "tons" of opium from the compound of his half-brother. Furious denials followed, but the damage has been done. One more dent in Karzai's reputation.

A painless "regime change" devolves on Karzai's lackluster performance in the first round of the election. The systematic "degradation" of Karzai's political record has eroded his standing. A US-funded opinion poll found Karzai would poll only 36% of votes, which is way below the 50% mark for an outright victory. The British ambassador to Afghanistan, Mark Sedwill, loudly speculated in London last week that the election could go to a second round. A European Union official in Kabul privately admitted that the Independent Election Commission had begun working on the ballot for round two.

Simultaneously, the vicious media attack on Karzai continues. Elizabeth Rubin of The New York Times magazine quoted a Western intelligence official as saying, "The Karzai family has opium and blood on their hands ... When history analyses this period and looks at this family, it will uncover a litany of extensive corruption that was tolerated because the West tolerated this family."

Anthony Cordesman, senior foreign policy analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who just visited Afghanistan to assist US commander General Stanley McChrystal in the preparation of the Pentagon's review of the current situation, wrote in the Times newspaper that Karzai's government is "corrupt, grossly over-centralized, lacking in capacity and virtually absent in large parts of Afghanistan". In an article in The Washington Post last week, US ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry ostentatiously distanced the US from Karzai.

David Kilcullen, one-time counter-insurgency advisor in Iraq to Central Command chief General David Petraeus, in a speech last week at the US Institute of Peace, the influential Washington think-tank, following a visit to Afghanistan said Karzai reminded him of the South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem who was murdered and removed from power in Saigon in 1963 in a US-backed military coup during the John F Kennedy administration.

Underscoring the potential for a post-ballot coup, Kilcullen, who is tipped to join McChrystal's team said: "He [Karzai] is seen as ineffective; his family are corrupt; he's alienated a very substantial portion of the population. He seems paranoid and delusional and out of touch with reality. That's all the sort of things that were said about President Diem in 1963."

Now, that is real dynamite. Kilcullen is wired to the US military establishment. Indeed, McChrystal, who was expected to present this week to the US president his progress report on the AfPak strategy, was summoned to a "secret" meeting in Belgium last week with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and told to take more time and make his report only after the August 20 vote.

Surely, the Afghan kaleidoscope is shifting with dizzying speed. Since his return to Kabul, McChrystal gave a media interview exaggerating the Afghan situation in near-apocalyptic terms. A first-rate political animal - as all good soldiers ought to be, perhaps - he seemed to be preparing the American domestic opinion for some hard decisions.

... as US sponsors his opponents
What is quite apparent already is that the US's preferred candidates in the Afghan election arena are the former World Bank official and finance minister Ashraf Ghani and the former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah.

Ghani is an aristocrat with a long line of ancestors hailing from the Ahmadzai tribe, one of the largest and most powerful Pashtun tribes. Ghani's grandfather brought King Mohammad Nadir Shah (King Zahir Shah's father) to power in the early 20th century. Ghani's brother Hashmat Ghani is the current grand council chieftain of the Kuchis and serves as the tribal representative of approximately one-fourth of the entire Afghan population.

Thus, Ghani is sure to split Pashtun votes that might have gone to Karzai, as happened in the 2004 election. Pashtuns account for nearly 45% of the Afghan population.

Equally, Abdullah who is half-Tajik and was an aide to slain Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud is well poised to split the Northern Alliance votes that Karzai hoped to garner thanks to his choice of vice presidential running mates Mohammed Fahim and Karim Khalili. Abdullah is a bit of a dark horse as he was essentially a public relations man in Massoud's inner circle and lacked grassroots support among Panjshiris. But he was Massoud's blue-eyed boy, half-Tajik and charismatic. His capacity to take on Fahim is debatable, but then Panjshiris are a divided lot today.

Again, Rashid Dostum, Afghan Uzbeki leader, who pledged support to Karzai, has been pressured by Americans from returning to Mazar-i-Sharif from Turkey to rally his supporters. In his absence, Jumbish is drifting and Abdullah hopes to capitalize on it. In short, Abdullah is merrily poaching among Northern Alliance groups and the erstwhile Mujahideen who would have otherwise rallied behind the Karzai-Fahim-Khalili ticket.

The American estimation is that if Karzai is forced into a runoff, anti-Karzai votes would coalesce, especially in a runoff facing Abdullah. The US government-funded media organizations have begun building up Abdullah. One commentary eulogized:
With many Afghans expressing disappointment with the inefficiency and corruption that has plagued Karzai's government, Abdullah is running under a banner of "hope and change" and remains adamant he can turn things around ... Abdullah projects the image of a modern Afghan at ease with his "jihadi" past and integration into the modern world. People who worked closely with him praise his leadership and diplomatic skills ... On the back of a formidable political machine, Abdullah is considered to be the man with the best chance ... to force a runoff with Karzai.'Iran-like' situation may arise
Unsurprisingly, Abdullah has offered to induct Ghani into the new government as a de facto prime minister in line with a political transformation that Washington seeks. (Karzai made a similar offer but Ghani publicly ridiculed it.)

Equally, Washington counts on Abdullah's diplomatic skills to advance reconciliation with the Taliban. He led the Afghan delegation to the Afghanistan-Pakistan regional peace jirga (council) in 2007 and is acceptable to Islamabad. Abdullah, who is a half-Pashtun, was shrewd enough to realize early enough that his post-2001 political future would depend on US patronage and Pakistani acceptance and, therefore, he played his cards skillfully while being the foreign minister during 2002-2006.

Karzai saw through Abdullah's growing ambitions and sacked him - to the dismay of the Americans - when he was on a visit to Washington in 2006 at the invitation of the then-secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. Abdullah's political life seemed to have ended prematurely. But he lingered in the shadows only to be summoned back to the limelight by the Americans who invited him to return to the US in 2008 as a born-again Afghan statesman and was lionized by the think-tankers and policymakers. It was clear that the Americans who had got disenchanted with Karzai by then, were beginning to scout for talent and carefully choreograph Abdullah's re-entry onto the center stage of the Afghan political theater.

Thus, Abdullah shed his close association with Karzai (whose name he proposed in the first instance at the Bonn conference in December 2001 as Afghanistan's interim president) and became one of Karzai's trenchant critics. More importantly, he also shed his legacy as a key player in the anti-Taliban resistance in the 1990s and instead re-invented himself an enthusiastic votary of the Taliban's reconciliation, which fits in with the US and Pakistani thinking.

In comparison, Karzai's running mates Fahim and Khalili who are close to Russia and Iran, remain skeptical of "moderate" Taliban. At a time when the US is pressing ahead with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) expansion and when its containment strategy towards Russia (and China) in the Central Asian region is gaining traction, Washington simply cannot afford an expansion of Russian and Iranian influence in Kabul. There has been a well-planned assassination attempt on Fahim. Fahim evokes strong feelings of antipathy in Islamabad, given his staunch anti-Taliban stance, his military and intelligence background and his networking in regional capitals.

Therefore, a period of extreme volatility lies ahead. To be sure, Karzai refuses to throw in the towel despite the sustained Western media attack on him. This is where the problem arises. Abdullah's camp openly threatens to create an "Iran-like situation" in Kabul if Karzai pulls off victory in the August 20 round. If violence ensues, the Tajik-dominated Afghan security will be hard-pressed to control the situation and foreign forces may need to intervene, which is hugely controversial.

On the other hand, if a runoff becomes necessary, a date needs to be fixed for that, which cannot be earlier than end-October. Meanwhile, the Abdullah-Ghani combine, with tacit encouragement from the US, is bound to challenge the legitimacy of Karzai running a government even after its mandate expires on August 20. But Karzai will most certainly resist any demand on him to step down.

Behind all this looms the grim reality that the Afghan body polity has been hopelessly split on ethnic lines. The election campaign has aggravated the creeping ethnic polarization. Every political issue today takes ethnic overtones. The US should have anticipated this and taken the lead to create a level playing field but instead it narrowly focused on ousting Karzai. Thus, there is no arbiter today - neither the US nor the United Nations or NATO - to ensure that warring contenders will gracefully accept the declared results. The Afghan bazaar seems convinced the US is somehow or the other fixing the outcome of the election according to its priorities.

Meanwhile, the role of Pakistani intelligence remains a dark mystery. For Islamabad, it is a high-stakes game. Ghani enjoys extensive kinship within Pakistan, as a significant portion of Ahmadzais live on the southeastern side of the Durand Line in Waziristan. He and Abdullah were also educated in Pakistan. Whenever Pakistan puts on an air of studied indifference to Afghan developments, as is happening currently, there is reason to worry.

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.

Checkmate, Russia

S. Nihal Singh,-russia.aspx

Augest.14 : As Georgia and the breakaway region of South Ossetia last week observed the first anniversary of the Georgian-Russian little war a year ago in contrasting ways, the bitter exchanges between Moscow and Tbilisi make one point crystal clear. Georgia, together with Ukraine, is the new faultline in Russia´s relations with the West, in particular the United States. If Berlin was the trip wire in the days of the Cold War, these countries serve the same purpose today.

Not long ago, Georgia´s "rose revolution" in 2003, followed by Ukraine´s "orange revolution" a year later and Kyrgyzstan´s "tulip revolution" in 2005, were heady days for Western strategists hoping to bring these former Soviet states into their fold. The Ukrainian and Georgian governments´ ambition to belong to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato). Nato was vociferously supported by Washington over the protests of Moscow.

South Ossetia and the Black Sea region of Abkhazia had broken away from Georgia, which gained independence with the break-up of the Soviet Union in the early 90s. But the telegenic and impetuous President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, bit off more than he could chew by getting his forces to attack South Ossetia´s capital on August 7 last year provoking a devastating Russian response. It was, in fact, to promote his macho image that he thought he could reintegrate the region.

The war lasted five days killing more than 500 people and displacing many. Indeed, Mr Saakashvili´s gamble misfired badly because he had misread the signs of the times and Washington´s freedom of action. For one thing, he had forgotten that the United States had encouraged the breakaway Yugoslav province of Kosovo to declare independence, ignoring dire warnings from Moscow that changing European borders by force - flouting the new holy grail of the post-war world - was playing with fire.

Russia, somewhat unwisely, sought to drive the point home by recognising the two breakaway regions of Georgia and South Ossetia as independent states, recognised thus far only by Moscow and Nicaragua. The measure was as much to tell the West that two could play the game of changing borders as to claim Russia´s "privileged interest" in its "near abroad", the former Soviet space. US vice-president Joe Biden gave his riposte during his visit to Tbilisi, "We don´t recognise, and I want to reiterate this, any sphere of influence".

Ukraine and Georgia have become the touchstone of Russia´s relations with the West because Moscow has drawn a red line as far as their entry into Nato is concerned, despite seeing Washington demolish previous red lines by taking in the Baltic states and Poland. After the debacle of the break-up of the Soviet Union, eight years of Vladimir Putin presidency and high energy prices have made Russia more confident and capable of fighting for its interests. The European heavyweights are more conscious of the stakes involved than Washington and successfully stalled the two countries´ Nato membership.
The American misfortune is that both Ukraine and Georgia are involved in internal power struggles, are divided over their future and are no paragons of democracy. Ukraine´s President Viktor Yushchenko is involved in a bitter battle for power with his Prime Minister, the attractive Yulia Tymoshenko with her trademark peasant braid, while the nation is almost equally divided between a Russian-inclined East and a pro-US West.
It is a marvel that Mr Saakashvili remains Georgia´s President. Thousands of demonstrators had taken to the streets to seek his resignation last April. Despite American fondness for him, it is no secret that he has diligently set about closing opposition newspapers and television channels and wishes to rule his country as a little dictator.

The truth is that the colour of the so-called colour revolutions has faded and beyond the slogans of democracy and wishing to "belong to Europe", a code for joining the European Union and Nato, the two countries are undergoing painful transitions. These are defined more by personal struggles of power and the desire to receive massive Western assistance than issues of ideology. Georgia was pledged $4.5 billion after the nasty little war, of which it has received only a third.

In "resetting" relations with Russia through his own visit, US President Barack Obama was careful to send his vice-president to Ukraine and Georgia to make the point that he had not forgotten them. While Mr Biden gave his country´s support to the two countries´ aspirations leavened with mild lectures, he was careful not to suggest a time frame for their membership of Nato. Washington recognises that the Continental heavyweights remain opposed to provoking Russia by embracing Ukraine and Georgia as Nato members soon.

The problem for the West is somewhat complicated by the fact that oil and gas routes dear to the West run through Georgia and skirt South Ossetia. Energy supplies and how to reduce European dependence on Russia lie at the heart of the new political chess game being played by all sides on the European continent and Central Asia. Turkey, seen by Washington as the saviour in this battle as the hub for Central Asian gas avoiding Russian territory, has just played host to Russian Prime Minister Putin to agree to a Russian-sponsored oil and gas route.

The danger, of course, is that Ukraine and Georgia will end up being pawns in a larger game being played by Russia and the West. In any event, their internal problems give them reduced leverage in seeking gains for their countries. The division between East and West Ukraine is so sharp that, unless handled wisely, it could lead to a break-up. And if Mr Saakashvili chooses to promote his authoritarian tendencies further, he would merely embarrass his American backers although Washington is often flexible in defining democracy.

While Ukraine must await the next presidential election, Georgia faces the reality of losing the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, perhaps for good. It is advantage Russia in the sense that it has acquired the valuable Abkhazian Black Sea coast for stationing its strategic forces on friendly soil. The United States has been training and arming Georgian forces but must calibrate its next moves with an eye on their impact on its relations with Russia.

The `ifs´ of Partition

Nitish Sengupta`ifs´-of-partition.aspx

Augest.14 : With India getting ready to celebrate its 62nd Independence Day, this is an appropriate time to look at the momentous events of the years immediately before 1947 and to analyse whether things could have taken a different course. August 15, 1947, was a day of both triumph and tragedy. Independence came at the cost of Partition. But could we have had an Independent and an undivided India?

The point to emphasise is that the Muslim League adopted the Pakistan Resolution in 1940, seven years before 1947, and this became a serious issue only during the two years preceding 1947. If the British rulers had agreed to Home Rule after World War I or in the ´20s or ´30s, there may have been no Partition.

During World War I, the Congress and the Muslim League held their respective sessions at the same place and adopted identical resolutions. Both had common members, including Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. The Non-Cooperation Movement and the Khilafat Movement also shared a common track. Paradoxically, Jinnah opposed both. In the Non-Cooperation Movement, like Rabindranath Tagore and Ashutosh Mukerjee, he opposed Mahatma Gandhi´s call to students to abandon universities, colleges and schools. He also opposed the Khilafat Movement because it was obscurantist.

Even as late as the Second Round Table Conference of 1930, Jinnah had described himself as a "nationalist Muslim". But, interestingly, Jinnah was never offered the Congress presidentship despite his long years of association with the Congress. This position was, instead, offered to proclaimed communalists, the Ali brothers.

Partition could have been avoided if the Congress, after the 1937 provincial Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, did not dump the Muslim League with which it had jointly fought the elections. The Muslim League screamed breach of faith and went ahead to appoint a committee, headed by the Nawab of Pirpur, to report on the atrocities committed on Muslims in the Congress-ruled provinces. The tendentious Pirpur Report and the resultant agitation claiming that this was a foretaste for Muslims in Independent India accentuated the bitterness.

In Bengal, the Krishak Praja Party of A.K. Fazlul Haque (40 in a House of 250 seats) offered coalition to the Congress (with 59 seats). This offer was spurned on the ground that the Congress would not form a government unless it had complete majority. Fazlul Haque then approached the Muslim League (with 39 seats), which accepted the offer. Within a short time, Haque joined the Muslim League (ML) and moved the Pakistan Resolution in the ML´s Lahore Session, 1940.

Before that "Pakistan" was a faint cry. If the Congress had played its cards well, going along with the Muslim League in Uttar Pradesh and with Haque´s party in Bengal, history would have been different.

It is not known to many that even after Suhrawardy - once a lieutenant of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das - led the ML to victory in the 1946 elections, his first thoughts were to enter into a coalition with the Congress. But this proposal was spurned.
These elections proved that 95 per cent of the Muslims of India considered Jinnah as their leader. And yet, instead of allowing Jinnah to nominate all the Muslim members in the interim Cabinet in Delhi, the Congress insisted on nominating the Muslim Congress leaders. Jinnah took this as a challenge and nominated J.N. Mondal as the Muslim League nominee only to prove that the Congress also did not represent scheduled caste Hindus.

The "Pakistan" slogan was a bargaining counter which Jinnah never felt he would achieve. He eventually did achieve it because the forces of hatred and violence unleashed by his actions and utterances, and of several other leaders, went far beyond the original intention and got the better of reason.

Historians will tell you that it was an unfortunate casual comment by Jawaharlal Nehru, in the course of a press conference in Bombay in June 1946, that perhaps finally convinced Jinnah of his call for Partition.

Both the Congress and the Muslim League had accepted the three-tier formula of the Cabinet Mission of 1946. There was to be a Central Government controlling foreign affairs, defence, currency and a few other subjects and three regional governments: the first, over and above the Muslim-majority provinces of the northeast; the second, over Bengal, Assam (including present-day Bangladesh); and the third, over all other provinces with Hindu majority. Maulana Azad´s term was over and Nehru had just taken over as the president of the Congress. In the habit of thinking aloud, he suddenly announced at a press conference that notwithstanding Congress´ acceptance of the three-tier formula, the Centre would reserve the right to intervene in the affairs of the regional government whenever it felt necessary. Jinnah took this as a breach of faith, a treachery. How could the Muslim-majority regions trust the bona fides of the Congress if, even before Independence,
the Congress leadership was going back on its commitment to the three-tier formula? Jinnah had his own problems with the extremist Muslims and was seeking an opportunity to wriggle out of his commitment to the Cabinet Mission formula. Nehru´s stray comment gave him this opportunity.

The Muslim League called upon Muslims to observe August 16, 1946 as Direct Action Day, and the the rest of the story is too well known to bear repetition.
Originally, transfer of power was to take place in June 1948. Lord Mountbatten came to the stage in March 1947 and announced that the British would withdraw on August 15, 1947, i.e. in five months´ time.

The resultant apprehension felt by the Muslims in East Punjab and the Hindus and Sikhs in West Punjab led to the Punjab holocaust that hardened attitudes. Had the transfer of power proceeded according to the original schedule, there would have been a lot more discussion in a sober atmosphere. The opposing parties might have been able to preserve some links. But Lord Mountbatten´s military commander´s haste to accomplish a task (to leave India) foreclosed that possibility.

Nitish Sengupta, an academic and an author, is a former MP and a
former secretary to the Government of India

The Afghan elections: US busy building relationships

by Maj-Gen Ashok K. Mehta (retd)

After the first ever non-state actor takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban in 1996, elections in the badlands are still an alien activity. The polls have become necessary to give legitimacy to the present Hamid Karzai government. Who the Afghans will choose on August 20 --- a second term for Mr Karzai or a regime change through Dr Abdullah or Mr Ashraf Ghani, both of whom served in the Karzai Cabinet --- is not certain. The Americans have distanced themselves from the incumbent President.

Whoever is the winner, little will change for the Afghan people, caught between foreign forces and the Taliban and for whom the new NATO Secretary-General, Mr Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has sought "better life opportunities". The long-awaited military surge timed with the elections is under way - Operation Khanjar met by the Taliban's Operation Fauladi Jal, which vows to disrupt the elections.

After some years of US meandering in Afghanistan in March President Barack Obama unveiled his new strategy for Af-Pak which includes metrics to measure "success and progress" to determine whether or not the strategy is working. The President's National Security Adviser, General James Jones, has come up with a set of nine broad objectives on the civil and military side for metrics to steer Af-Pak with weightage to development and nation-building. These include rule of law, justice, self-reliance of the Afghan security forces, democracy and governance.

According to Rory Stewart in the London Review of Books, "the new US Army and Marine Corps counter-insurgency doctrine sounds like a World Bank document, replete with commitments to rule of law, economic development, governance, state building and human rights. In Mr Obama's words, `security and humanitarian concern are all part of one project'. Implementing on the ground, these objectives require stamina and resources and measuring success or progress is not easy."

Meanwhile, Mr Obama's Chief Counterterrorism Adviser John Brennan has advocated replacing the global war on terror with more narrowly focused assault on Al-Qaida and engagement with the Muslim world. Are the Americans fighting the wrong enemy? The current surge is against the Taliban in South and East Afghanistan and around Kabul whereas the hardcore Taliban elements are in sanctuaries around Quetta in Pakistan. The Americans say that the precondition for the defeat of Al-Qaida is the defeat of the Taliban and, similarly, for fixing the Afghan state, Pakistan has to be fixed first.

The new US strategic insight emphasises protecting Afghans and building relationships rather than the usual fixation on head count. Avoiding civilian casualties has become a prime concern, especially from errant air-strikes which have reduced from 35 to 17 per cent in June. As many as 1000 civilian deaths up to July 31 are the highest in the war, the majority caused by insurgents. Foreign soldiers killed in July were 75, the highest in a month and bulk of the toll taken by American and British troops. Morale of the fighting forces is dented but operations bash on regardless.

From January to mid-July this year, US combat forces recorded 129 suicide deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq, more than the number killed in the battle and a three-decade high. This is less than the average Indian Army fratricidal rate in counterinsurgency operations.

Things are far worse in the British camp where mounting complaints from Field Commanders against fighting the war "on the cheap" - shortage of helicopters, paucity of troops and fragility of mine-resistant vehicles - have bruised morale and raised in Britain the question: why are we in Afghanistan? To make matters worse, the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee has noted the absence of higher political direction to Commanders.

The Taliban, too, has switched tactics. Gone are pitched battles, the killers are roadside bombs, improvised explosive devices and suicide squads for which R&D has not devised any antidote. Out of every three soldiers killed, two are victims of IEDs. The British, who have a long history of counterinsurgency in Northern Ireland, have drawn a plan involving a necklace of fortified watch towers to spy on Taliban planting bombs as they did in Ulster against the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The biggest challenge of the war is to get to the roadside bomb and human bomber-making networks.

In the sights of the Taliban are Afghan security forces and foreign troops. Attacks on Afghan forces, which number 170000, could go up to 6000 this year from 81 in 2003. The Afghan Army is expected to grow from 90,000 to 134,000 by 2011. With nearly 100,000 NATO forces from 42 countries, the operational force level is 270,000 whereas the requirement is for nearly 500,000 to quell the insurgency while winning hearts and minds. These figures can never be made available by Western nations, terribly averse to troop casualties. There is a limit to what the US and the UK, the main burden-bearers, can provide and do in Afghanistan.

With the accent on counter-terrorism, development has been inadequate. The NATO concept of Provisional Reconstruction Teams has not proved successful and the proposal to send experts will not work either. Defence and development need to be applied in tandem, not staggered, contingent upon resource availability. Building institutions and capacity is a long-term objective and cannot be achieved in two or three years with an eye on an exit strategy.

Britain's Chief of General Staff-in-Waiting, Gen David Richards, who has been the NATO force commander in Afghanistan, dropped a bombshell recetly when he told The Times that the mission in Afghanistan could last up to 40 years. He said while the Army's role will evolve, the whole process of nation-building might take as long as 30 to 40 years. For President Obama and Prime Minister Gordon Brown, this generational commitment would be politically unacceptable and, more importantly, unaffordable. Contextually different, the Indian Army's sizeable deployment in J&K has become open-ended.

President Obama's evolving Af-Pak strategy will falter, even fail, if it attempts any short-cuts. Avoidable are past mistakes: misreading the Taliban defeat as the end of insurgency; not reconciling with some Taliban elements earlier; failing to prevent the revival of the Taliban; not holding the captured ground; defaulting on reconstruction; engaging in errant air-strikes to compensate for boots on the ground and backing warlords, sidelining the moderate Taliban. The view of some Kabul think-tanks is that the US strategy is too little too late.

Af-Pak is in for a long haul. Last week the death of terrorist mastermind Baitullah Mehsud in Pakistan was a boost to counter-terrorism and a blow to Al-Qaida. Remarkably atypical is the absence of terror strikes on India since the attacks on Mumbai. Some hidden hand is holding back the jihadis, but sudden turbulence in Af-Pak could shatter the calm over Delhi. The spillover of the Taliban is a real possibility.

During a recent TV debate, to the question "Should Indian troops be in Afghanistan?" the panelists offered the following: a retired General emphatically said "no" but "we should have contingency plans"; an IDSA scholar, simply "no"; and a journalist, "it's not our war". The contingency plan refers to our notional base in Tajikistan which is usable courtesy Russia's approval. Three "noes" do not mean India should be caught off-guard, exercising merely its soft power across the Hindukush. President Karzai is a friend of India. His re-election will not be unwelcome.

For US body, India is same as Somalia and Afghanistan

Obviously incensed after being denied visas to visit India, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom -- a US Congress-mandated body that monitors religious freedoms and rights worldwide and then provides independent policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State and the Congress -- has released it 2009 country report on India, which it had earlier held back and placed India on its "Watch List".

The reason it says : "The government's largely inadequate response to protecting religious minorities".

The other countries currently on USCIRF's Watch List are Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, Egypt [ Images ], Indonesia, Laos, the Russian Federation, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Venezuela.

It said, "India earned the Watch List designation due to the disturbing increase in communal violence against religious minorities -- specifically Christians in Orissa in 2008 and Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 -- and the largely inadequate response from the Indian government to protect the rights of religious minorities."

A country that is designated on the USCIRF Watch List requires "close monitoring due to the nature and extent of violations of religious freedom engaged in or tolerated by the government".

The newly minted chair of USCIRF, Leonard Leo, making his debut in presiding over the first Watch List designation of his tenure, said, "It is extremely disappointing that India, which has a multitude of religious communities, has done so little to protect and bring justice to its religious minorities under siege."

He said that USCIRF's India chapter had been "released this week to mark the one-year anniversary of the start of the anti-Christian violence in Orissa."

It recalled that last year in Orissa, the murder of Swami Saraswati by Maoist rebels in Kadhamal had sparked "a prolonged and destructive campaign targeting Christians in Orissa, resulting in attacks against churches and individuals."

"These attacks largely were carried out by individuals associated with Hindu national groups, and resulted in at least 40 deaths and the destruction of hundreds of homes and dozens on churches," the USCIRF said, and added, "tens of thousands were displaced and today many still remain in refugee camps, afraid to return home."

Leo argued that "India's democratic institutions charged with upholding the rule of law, most notably state and central judiciaries and police, have emerged as unwilling or unable to seek redress for victims of the violence."

He said it was incumbent upon India to do much more to "ensure future violence does not occur and that perpetrators are held accountable."

The USCIRF said that while the India country report had been released to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the start of the anti-Christian violence in Orissa, the state and central judiciaries and police, had also not brought the perpetrators of the Gujarat violence to justice.

It noted that "during the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, India's National Human Rights Commission found that the Indian government not only failed to prevent the attacks against religious minorities, but that state and local officials aided and participated in the violence."

"In both Orissa and Gujarat, court convictions have been infrequent, perpetrators rarely brought to justice, and thousands of people remains displaced," the USCIRF said.

The report said the "deficiencies in investigating and prosecuting cases have resulted in a culture of impunity that gives members of vulnerable minority communities few assurances of their safety, particularly in areas with a history of communal violence, and little hope of perpetrator accountability."

The report calls on the Obama [ Images ] Administration to urge the government of India to "take new measures to promote communal harmony, protect religious minorities, and prevent communal violence by calling on all parties and religious or social organization to publicly denounced violence against and harassment of religious minorities, women, and low-caste members, and to acknowledge that such violence constitutes a crime under Indian law".

The USCIRF issues its annual reports on religious freedom each May, but this year the India chapter was delayed because the USCIRF had requested to visit India this summer, and there was an expectation by the Commission's leadership that a delegation would visit India before the elections. But weeks went by and after the elections when New Delhi [ Images ] declined to accede to the visa requests, the USCIRF decided to go ahead and issue its India report.

In fact, last month, reacting angrily to being denied the visas, a USCIRF official, who did not want to be identified, told, that since it was definitive that a Commission delegation would not be afforded the opportunity to visit India, the report that had been held back would be released in a few weeks, as soon as the annual changeover of its leadership occurs with Leo taking over from Felice D Gaer.

The official told at the time, that the Commission had wanted to visit "not just Gujarat and Orissa, but also Mumbai [ Images ] and Delhi, and we had planned to have meetings with government officials to discussion the situation (of religious freedom and rights)."

"Of one particular interest was the judiciary system -- how come some of the perpetrators of some of these acts of violence against Muslims and Christians and others as well have not been prosecuted," he said. "Why is the judicial system in the world's largest democracy not providing justice and some sort of redress for these victims."

Regretting the denial of visas, the USCIRF said the intent of the Commissioners visit to India was "to discussion religious freedom conditions with officials, religious leaders, civil society activists and others in the world's largest democracy."

It pointed out that "as a US government body, visits by the Commission must have official status," and hence "USCIRF obtained US State Department support, made travel arrangements, and requested meetings with a variety of officials."

Despite the imprimatur of the US State Department, it complained, "the Indian government did not issue the USCIRF delegation visas," it said.

It explained that the "aim of the long-requested trip was to discuss religion freedom conditions in India, home to a multitude of religious communities that have historically co-existed."

It said since, "India has experienced an increase in communal violence against religious communities in recent years." the agenda of the USCIRF Commissioners were " to discuss the Indian government responses to this, and its development of preventive strategies at the local and national levels."

"According to information before USCIRF, the Indian justice system has prosecuted only a handful of persons responsible for communal violence and related abuses since the mid 1980s," it said.

USCIRF officials said the denial became clear when New Delhi had not offered alternative dates for a visit, and recalled that the USCIRF had first tried to obtain visas for India in 2001.

"This would have been the Commission's first visit to India," it said, and added, now with the denial of visas to the USCIRF, "India joins Cuba as the only other nation to have refused all USCIRF requests to visit."

At the time the official told that the statement by lumping India with Cuba was not trying to insult India, but only stating a fact.

"We are not comparing India to Cuba -- there is a huge difference. But the fact of the matter is, there are only two places we have not been allowed in."

"I mean, we have applied to other places and been told, No, but eventually we got in," the official said, and noted, "Vietnam is an example. Sometimes we get in and sometimes we don't. But these are the only two places, we've applied and never got in."

Outgoing Commission chair Gaer, said of the denial of visas that, "We are particularly disappointed by the new Indian government's refusal to facilitate and official US delegation to discuss religious freedom issues and government measures to counter communal violence, which has a religious component."

She said "our Commission has visited China, Russia [ Images ], Saudi Arabia, and over 20 other countries," but lamented that "India, a close ally of the United States, has been unique among democracies in delaying and denying USCIRF's ability to visit."

She said, "We wanted to hear from all sectors of Indian society, and allow these diverse perspectives to shape our report."

The official at the time that the report on India will now rely on what the USCIRF has heard from religious and human rights groups in India and others, now that "we cannot depend on first hand, on the ground report that we had hoped to bring out."

"Basically, we wanted to comment on India after we've been there and done interviews and done some investigation and looked around. Of course, we have people on the ground that are reporting to us, and obviously there are other reports as well out there that we are using, and we are gathering information in every way we can. But it would have been better if we had first-hand information so that it would have been an authentic USCIRF report," the official said.

A month before the Indian election, this same official had denied that the Indian government had invited the USCIRF, which some newspapers speculated was a political maneuver by the Manmohan Singh [ Images ] government to have the USCIRF visit Gujarat and embarrass the BJP-led government of Narendra Modi [ Images ], who was leading the charge against the Congress Party.

At the time the official said of these reports, "We were all kind of surprised because they hadn't been so far as we knew (an invitation) and we had applied two weeks ago."

In 2002, the USCIRF recommended to the State Department that India be designated a 'Country of Particular Concern' following events in Gujarat that resulted in an estimated 2,000 deaths. Although India was removed from the CPC list in 2005, the USCIRF has continued to monitor, report and comment publicly on events in India, including last year's violence in Orissa, attacks in Mumbai, and other events.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, warning against the visit of a USCIRF delegation to India, had said, such a trip would be an irony since it would signal that while President Obama "is trying to build and repair relationships with all the nations of the world, particularly the Islamic world ruled by kings and dictators, it does not care if its relationship with a peaceful, democratic nation is jeopardized."

It said a visit to India by the USCIRF would be "incomprehensible an that India "as "the largest functioning democracy in the world with an independent judiciary, a statutorily constituted Human Rights Commission, and independent press and other supporting organizations, would appear to be quite capable of taking care of the religious freedoms and human rights of its citizens."

The VHP-USA said, "India not only offers freedom of religion under its constitution, but does not discriminate based on religion," and obviously taking a swipe at Pakistan, added, "Similar freedoms are not available in neighboring countries."

Aziz Haniffa in Washington,DC