October 13, 2012

Afterlife exists says top brain surgeon

By Mark Hughes, New York 09 Oct 2012

A prominent scientist who had previously dismissed the possibility of the afterlife says he has reconsidered his belief after experiencing an out of body experience which has convinced him that heaven exists.

Dr Eben Alexander, a Harvard-educated neurosurgeon, fell into a coma for seven days in 2008 after contracting meningitis.

During his illness Dr Alexander says that the part of his brain which controls human thought and emotion "shut down" and that he then experienced "something so profound that it gave me a scientific reason to believe in consciousness after death." In an essay for American magazine Newsweek, which he wrote to promote his book Proof of Heaven, Dr Alexander says he was met by a beautiful blue-eyed woman in a "place of clouds, big fluffy pink-white ones" and "shimmering beings".

He continues: "Birds? Angels? These words registered later, when I was writing down my recollections. But neither of these words do justice to the beings themselves, which were quite simply different from anything I have known on this planet. They were more advanced. Higher forms." The doctor adds that a "huge and booming like a glorious chant, came down from above, and I wondered if the winged beings were producing it. the sound was palpable and almost material, like a rain that you can feel on your skin but doesn't get you wet."

Dr Alexander says he had heard stories from patients who spoke of outer body experiences but had disregarded them as "wishful thinking" but has reconsidered his opinion following his own experience.

He added: "I know full well how extraordinary, how frankly unbelievable, all this sounds. Had someone even a doctor told me a story like this in the old days, I would have been quite certain that they were under the spell of some delusion.

"But what happened to me was, far from being delusional, as real or more real than any event in my life. That includes my wedding day and the birth of my two sons." He added: "I've spent decades as a neurosurgeon at some of the most prestigous medical institutions in our country. I know that many of my peers hold as I myself did to the theory that the brain, and in particular the cortex, generates consciousness and that we live in a universe devoid of any kind of emotion, much less the unconditional love that I now know God and the universe have toward us.

"But that belief, that theory, now lies broken at our feet. What happened to me destroyed it."

Advani makes strong case for UNSC reform

Friday, 12 October 2012 22:05
Yoshita Singh | United Nations

Senior BJP leader LK Advani has made a strong case for reform of the UN Security Council, emphasising that it should be expanded to include nations willing to share responsibility of combating global threats like terrorism and piracy and help in maintaining security.

Advani stressed on the need for addressing the deficit in global governance, noting that the 15-nation Council with a "structure and a set of governing norms that harkens back to the realities of the late 1940s" is an "anachronism".

"A reformed Council must include countries that are willing to bear additional burdens relating to the maintenance of international peace and security and be able to sustain worldwide campaigns against new and emerging global threats including terrorism and piracy," Advani told a session on 'Revitalisation of the work of the General Assembly' here.

He on Thursday said the Security Council needs to be expanded in both the permanent and non-permanent categories in order to make it reflective of current geopolitical realities.

Given the political upheaval in West Asia and North Africa and financial crisis, he said that global responses to these most challenging socio-political and economic crises of the last 50 years cannot be "patchy and half-hearted."

"The process should begin here at the UN and must be guided by a sense of urgency," said Advani, who is leading a group of visiting Indian Parliamentarians here to attend sessions of the UN General Assembly.     PTI

Indo-US Relations: Economic Respite?

Sudesh Rani
Research Associate, NMF 

Amid domestic political opposition by various states and political parties, the Indian government issued a notification clearing the way for the implementation of economic reforms. New Delhi  announced massive set of  reforms viz. 100 percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in  single-brand sector (earlier it was 51 per cent), 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail (prohibited so far), 49 per cent in aviation and 74 per cent in broadcast sector (except the TV news channels and FM Radio). 

The move is not surprising as the proposal regarding the reforms was approved by the cabinet in November 2011. But the implementation of the proposals had been deferred because of lack of a broader consensus among the various states. Some states and union territories extended their support in written and asked for its implementation, while other states expressed their reservations on the proposed reforms.

Following the announcement, there has been widespread criticism amongst various political parties. They argue that through this step the government is trying to divert the people's attention from corruption issues faced by the government. According to them, the small industry sector will be adversely affected by these reforms. However, the government justified these reforms in terms of capital infusion and employment opportunities. These economic reforms are being seen as a second wave of reforms after 1991, when reforms were introduced to save India from the severe balance of payment crisis. India integrated its economy with the world economy by adopting the policy of liberalisation. 

However, despite the opposition, this move will strengthen the bilateral relations of India with other countries as the foreign companies would get a chance to invest more in many sectors. The US media and corporations have hailed the Indian reforms as the biggest positive development in the last decade. US-India Business Council (USIBC) President Ron Somers said that these big bang reforms send a crystal clear signal that India is open for business. 

Infact, the leadership in the US had been pushing India for economic reforms for a long time. Earlier, US President Barak Obama had expressed concerns over deteriorating investment climate and stated that India has delayed decisions on FDI proposals in many sectors. However, corporate minister Veerappa Moily had countered such statements by stating that the US President was not properly informed about the country's strong economic fundamentals.  
Thereafter, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her Indian visit in May this year expressed her expectations from India regarding economic reforms. This visit was significant because she visited China just before arriving in India. During this visit she met with her Indian counterparts and the Chief Minister of West Bengal. There were media reports that during her meeting with Indian officials, Secretary Clinton discussed the investment issue that indicated the US desire of the economic reforms as its business corporation can get benefits from the large Indian market. So, one of the motives of Hillary Clinton's visit to India was to push India for further reforms particularly in the multi-brand retail sector. 

While in 1991 Indian policy of liberalisation was one of the major factors that led to the gradual improvement in Indo-US relations, India's hesitance of late was now being deemed by analysts in both the countries as an area of discord in Indo-US economic relations. The recent reforms in India can be deemed as bonhomie in the Indo-US relations. Despite this, US investors may be hesitant on the absence of Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between India and the US. According to this treaty, the government commits to protect investment in their territory by other countries (82 of them currently).  At the instance of lack of security assurance the US investors will find themselves in a disadvantageous condition as compared to other foreign competitors. 

There is no doubt that it these reforms will make way for better Indo-US relations and especially in the economic realm. But signing the Bilateral Investment Treaty is a must if both the nations want to gain full advantage from each other's markets. At the same time, the Indian decision to put on hold its complaint against the US over the visa fee hike in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is also a welcome move from New Delhi as it will strengthen the bilateral relations further.   



The ability to read and understand the adversary's mind and message is a vital component of strategic decision-making. When decisions that could lead to military conflicts are made without such an ability, surprise and possible disaster are often the outcome.

2. The truth of this was illustrated during the Korean war of the late 1940s and the 1950s and the Sino-Indian war of 1962.

3.During the initial months of the Korean war, as the defeated North Korean Army was retreating towards the Yalu river marking North Korea's border with China, there were repeated warnings from Beijing directly and indirectly that it would not be a silent spectator of the UN troops commanded by the US reaching the river that could pose a threat to China's security and that the PLA might be forced to intervene to prevent such an eventuality.

4. Gen.Douglas MacArthur of the US Army, who then commanded the Far East Command, was so confident of final and decisive victory over the North Korean Army and so dismissive of Beijing's warnings and its ability to have them executed on the ground that he kept up the advance unmindful of the dangers of a Chinese intervention.

5. As the UN troops neared the Yaluriver, the PLA intervened massively and with determination and threw the UN troops back with heavy casualties.Gen.MacArthurhad underestimated the strength and fighting capability of not only the PLA, but also the PLA (Air Force).

6. Fifty years later, a study of the lessons of the massive Chinese interventioncarried out in the U.S. Army Centre of Military History by Richard W. Stewart came to the following conclusions regarding the Chinese intervention in the war:

"The period from early November 1950 to late January 1951 was in many ways the most heartbreaking of the Korean War. During the previous summer the North Korean attack had been a total surprise, and the disastrous retreat to the Pusan Perimeter was painful in the extreme. However, the series of defeats could be explained by the necessarily haphazard and slow reinforcement of the outnumbered U.S. and South Korean forces. Moreover, these defeats were followed by elation as the Inchon landings reversed the situation and the UN forces seemed on the verge not just of victory in South Korea but of total victory, including the liberation of North Korea and the reunification of the peninsula. All these dreams were swept away by the massive intervention of the Chinese Army in late November 1950. There would be no homecoming victory parade by Christmas.

"The initial warning attacks and diplomatic hints by the Chinese were ignored by the overconfident Far Eastern Command under General MacArthur. MacArthur's failure to comprehend the reality of the situation led the entire United Nations army to near disaster at the Chongchon River and the Chosin Reservoir. Only the grit and determination of the individual American soldiers and marines as they fought the three major enemies of cold, fear, and isolation held the UN line together during the retreats from North Korea. Once tied together into a coherent defensive line, under new and dynamic leadership, these same soldiers and marines showed their determination to continue the fight. Hard battles lay ahead, but the period of headlong retreats from an attacking, unsuspected foe, was finally over."

7.The mistakes committed by Gen.MacArthur which led to the massive Chinese intervention could be summed up as follows: Over-confidence and over-estimation of the strength of his own forces, under-estimation of the strength and determination of the Chinese, an inability to read the Chinese mind, and treating lightly and dismissively Chinese warnings regarding the likely consequences of the UN forces reaching the Yalu river, thereby posing a threat to China.

8. Similar mistakes were committed---in a much larger measure--- by our political and military leadership before the Sino-Indian war of 1962 leading to the humiliating defeat of our Army at the hands of the PLA. There have been very few comprehensive studies available to the public in India on the reasons for our defeat. As we observe the 50th anniversary of the defeat, many articles have been appearing in the media, but they are largely a collection of wishful thinking, unverified assumptions, breast-beatings and claims unsupported by concrete facts. Such studies do not serve any purpose in enabling us to learn the right lessons so that such mistakes are not repeated.

9.One such unverifiable claim made recently is that if we had used our Air Force our Army might not have suffered a humiliating defeat. Such claims have not been supported by a factual analysis of the state of the Air Force of the two countries in 1962. Many of the analyses that have appeared recently have not brought out the fact that barring the military conflict with Pakistan in Jammu & Kashmir in 1947-48, our  Armed Forces had not fought a major war since we became independent in 1947.

10. As against this, the Chinese Armed Forces had fought a major war against the UN troops led by the US in Korea, almost giving a bloody nose to them. And their Air Force had played a very important and creditable role against the UN Air Force. No authentic assessment of the Chinese air power and capability as exhibited during the Korean war  is available, but according to one Chinese claim they managed to shoot down 320 UN aircraft and lost 220 of their own. Their account of their losses indicate their already massive aircraft holdings in the 1950s, thanks to the assistance from the USSR. According to Western analysts as cited by GlobalSecurity.org, even in 1953, the PLA ( Air Force) had a total holding of 1500 combat aircraft of different types.

11. The 1962 war with India took place long after the Korean war was over. Even if there was no need for the Chinese to shift their Army units from the Korean border to the Indian border, they were in a position to shift a large number of their aircraft to Sichuan and Yunnan for possible use against India. Our Armed Forces with no experience of having fought a major war since 1947 were forced by our political leadership to confront the PLA whose self-confidence, experience and war-fighting capabilities had been enhanced by the experiences gained by it against the UN troops led by the US in Korea.

12. Our political leadership forced our armed forces to engage in a confrontation with the PLA thinking that the PLA of 1962 would be no different from the PLA of 1949 which had captured control of China from the KMT.Before we embarked on our so-called forward policy which led to a military confrontation, two intelligence assessments should have been made----firstly, an assessment of the Chinese strength and capabilities in Tibet and Xinjiang and secondly, an assessment of their military and air power, fighting capabilities and generalship as exhibited during the war in Korea.

13. Our Intelligence Bureau (IB) did the first assessment, however inadequate it might have been. It was not in a position to undertake the second since its area of focus was limited to the peripheral countries. Thus, we went to war with China in 1962 largely unaware of the advances made by the Chinese Armed Forces during the 1950s and of their professional qualities as exhibited in Korea.

14. Fifty years after the 1962 war, we still have limited mental horizons in matters strategic. Our horizons are largely limited by Pakistan, its ISI, the Lashkar-e-Toiba and its Amir Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed. There is a hugepanoply of threats arising from China which have not received our attention.It is Pakistan, Pakistan and Pakistan all the time.

15.As an example of how our mental horizons in matters strategic continue to be limited, let me narrate the following: We had a military conflict with Pakistan in the Kargil heights in 1999. After the conflict, the Government of ShriAtalBehari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister, set up a committee  headed by the late K.Subrahmaniam to identify the inadequacies noticed in the conduct of the war and to recommend  steps for removing them.

16. On the basis of its recommendations, a number of Task Forces were set up to examine weaknesses in our national security structure and recommend action for removing them. These Task Forces dealt with Defence Management, Intelligence Revamp, Border Management and Internal Security. Their reports were vetted by a Group of Ministers nominated by the Prime Minister and the national security architecture was modified.

17.Since the GOM and its Task Forces were the outcome of the Kargil war with Pakistan, their terms of reference mostly related to likely threats from Pakistan. Most of their recommendations were Pakistan-centric. So was the modified national security architecture that came into being. Some of their recommendations did collaterally strengthen our capabilities with regard to China, but the focus of their study was not China.

18. Ten years later, Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh set up a blue ribbon Task Force on National Security chaired by ShriNaresh Chandra, former Cabinet Secretary. Since it was not the outcome of any war with Pakistan with restricted terms of reference, it was expected to cover a much larger strategic depth, with a greater focus on the examination of our capabilities vis-à-vis those of China.

19. "The Hindu" of October 9,2012, has carried a moving tribute to ShriBrajesh Mishra, the National Security Adviser under Shri Vajpayee, who passed away recently, byShriShivshankarMenon, the present NSA. He has said  that when the national security structures built up under Mishra 'were reviewed after 10 years by a Task Force, they actually suggested more of the same, rather than a radical restructuring." He is referring to the Task Force chaired by ShriNaresh Chandra.

20. I interpret this as an implied criticism  of the report of the Naresh Chandra Task Force submitted to the Prime Minister on May 24,2012, which is presently under examination. The report went into greater details than the reports of the GOM regarding likely concerns arising from China, but these concerns have not been adequately reflected in suggesting a further modification and modernisation of our national security architecture.

21.Attention on Pakistan continues to be important. It continues to target our jugular vein.But in our preoccupation with Pakistan, we should not lose sight of the fact that an architecture created for dealing with Pakistan, will not be able to deal satisfactorily with China.To deal with China we need a different mindset, a different ability to read its mind and message, a different military and intelligence capability etc. The focus of the Task Force should have been on them.

22. Some other countries had in the past undertaken comprehensive studies of the Sino-Indian war of 1962 in order to see what lessons it has for them. A very useful study released  in April 1984 was by Lt.Commander  James Barnard Calvin of the US Navy on behalf of the Marine Corps and Staff College of the US.  His interesting conclusions are annexed. They are quite valid even today  (13-10-2012)

(The  writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com  Twitter @SORBONNE75)



There may well have beenroom for compromise,but stubbornness andIndia's aggressive forward policy resulted in armed conflict.World leaders must heed other nations' stated vital strategicobjectives.

Assumptions are dangerous.  Nehru's assumption that Chinawould not confront Indian troops and would passively retreatcaused Nehru to pursue a very assertive forward policy ofthrusting troops and border patrols into-and sometimes evenbeyond--disputed frontier areas.  His assumptions and resultingpolicy eventually brought retaliation from China.  Assumptionsare still dangerous; hypotheses about one's enemy must bevalidated by accurate intelligence.

Ignoring the advice of senior, experienced army officerswas disastrous for India.  Many officers had warned Nehruthat India was poorly prepared for war with China: they wererelieved or replaced, their advice ignored.  Leaders may believe what they want to believe, but foolishly discounting thecounsel of experts may lead them to disaster.

Intelligence and appropriate interpretation of intelligence is vital; only valid information--not assumptions—isimportant to military planning.  India seemed almost totallyunaware that she was heavily outnumbered along the border andthat China (unlike India) was well prepared logistically andwell versed in alpine warfare tactics.  Both sides used reconnaissance patrols, but battle results would indicate thatChina had good intelligence and used it to good advantage.One must "know your enemy."

Logistic readiness is vital to any military operation.India was very poorly prepared logistically, especially forcold weather and mountain operations.  On several occasions,India ran out of ammunition or was otherwise unable to sustainherself.  The Chinese had stockpiled supplies in Tibet, andhad the manpower to keep the front well supplied.  The BorderWar's mountain operationswere relatively slow moving.  Today,high mobility will make proper logistic support even morecrucial.

Similarly, India was neither trained nor prepared foralpine warfare.  Until Nehru's assertive forward policy wasinitiated, few Indian soldiers had operated in mountain areas.Altitudes above 14,000 feet can be frigid even in summer.  InOctober and November, many Indian soldiers had only summeruniforms and jackets to warm them.  Many Indians died not fromcombat, but from exposure.  Today's military forces must beprepared for operations in any locale or climate, from hotarid deserts to frozen mountain slopes.

Generalship, leadership, command and control are alwaysimportant.  Even though defeated in Aksai Chin, the Indianforces in Western Command always deemed well organized andled.  But in NEFA, there was often confusion; numerous commandchanges resulted in disorganization and poor combat readiness.Poor communications and control resulted in troop movementswhich were totally inappropriate, such as sending out Forcesto positions which had already been overrun. 

General Kauloften ignored or disputed the advice of his junior generals;further, he was often indecisive, changing orders minutes afterthey had been issued. Immediately after the ceasefire, GeneralKaul was relieved; days later, he would resign from the army.

Today's lethal firepower and high mobility make command, controland communications more vital than ever.Hopefully, future military and political leaders willstudy the causes and the lessons learned from this Border War.And hopefully, they will learn.

Obamney vs. Robama

By Joel Bowman

The portmanteau monikers are not ours, though we are fast warming to them. They spring, instead, from the minds of an increasingly cognizant non-voter class. And the message from the non-voter class is clear: The presidential race is at best fertile fodder for mockery. At worst, it is a sinister distraction from all that really matters in the lives of good, honest Americans. 

But the truth is, it's both. Last Wednesday night's rhetorical soft- on serves best as a reminder of the former. 

The two candidates dueled with all the ferocity of a couple of sleepy-eyed puppies, rolling around on the rug before returning to their respective teams' campaign teat for a lazy afternoon feed and some overdue ego petting. The first presidential debate for 2012 was an evening of canned responses, cardboard grins and catchphrases so dull and predictable one could have used them to build the instructions for a drinking game even before the event kicked off. And indeed, many did. 

One such meme found floating around the Internet the morning-of encouraged viewers to take a swig of their preferred libation every time a candidate trotted out one of their dog-eared canards (a specific selection was even provided), addressed their opponent in the third person, ignored a question to instead speak to the "American people"...and a slew of other directly and indirectly intoxicating platitudes and quarter-hearted gestures.

Those following the rules of the game closely, regardless of their professed constitution, should have passed out in their armchair even before the microwave popcorn was ready. And a good thing, too. 

A smattering of comments from below a YouTube post of the debate summed up the overall impact of the gabfest rather well:

"Is this American idol??" wondered one commenter. 

"Two demons spouting different lies at each? other. Sweet," observed another.

A third, "You are being crooked America, they are crooking? you."

And, in reference to the Nobel Peace Prize winning candidate's ongoing and ever expanding dehumanization of war:

"Where is a? drone when you need one..."

Not exactly the unbridled, chest-thumping enthusiasm one would ordinarily expect from the main event at the greatest political circus in town. Still, we can hardly blame an apathetic votership for failing to fall for the feigned pleas and ploys of the political/mobster class. On the contrary. We applaud their mockery of a process H.L. Menken once wryly referred to as an "advanced auction on stolen goods."

Many past voters have seen enough to know they don't want to be part of the whole sordid affair. They voted for the "aww shucks" candidate before falling for his hopey changey alternative. And now they know: it's just like the street vendors say in Indonesia and Thailand, "Same same...but different." That is, except for the "different" part. Even the perennial "throw the bums out" crowd is beginning to grow weary...realizing that, in the end, there's nothing to choose from but bums anyway.

In the case of the current race, both candidates are pro-war and the military industrial complex that thirsts insatiably for it. Both are pro-Federal Reserve and the vampire banksters who feast on the bloodletting of would-be savers. Both are pro-bailouts. Both are pro-big government, whether at home (Obama...followed closely by Romney) and abroad (where the roles are ever so slightly reversed). 

One gets the feeling that anyone who actually musters enough delusion to carry them to the ballot box will be doing so only because, in the words of Thomas Sowell, they prefer "disaster to catastrophe." 

But when you strip away the veneer, the varnish...and the deafening vacuity...there's really nothing to inspire the trip. The suits are there, lapel pins affixed just so...the mouths are moving...the teeth are flashing...but there is...nothing. 

President Obama, for his part, appeared tired, perhaps vaguely uncomfortable at the prospect of defending a four-year record of near-unmitigated failure. Forty-plus months of above 8% unemployment. Trillion dollar budget deficits projected out as far as the decade is long...and beyond. Additional debt equal to that added by no fewer than forty previous presidents, combined. And a not-insignificant twenty million Americans added to the food stamp lines (the "bread" to the debate's "circus") since he first set foot in the White House.

So enervated was Obama's performance that Governor Romney, a man who dedicated much of his own campaign to earning the description "pretend human," appeared almost lifelike beside him. Almost. Sensing weakness in his opponent, the Romneybot honed in on the president's key soft spots...only to betray his own affinity for many of those same positions. Romney is not against the Dodd-Frank Act, for example, only some parts of it. A free market needs regulation, he proclaimed, evidently unaware of the exclusive and contradictory nature of the terms. (You know, it's free up until...uh, it's not?) He is not against Obamacare per se, only some parts of it...the parts that may or may not be common to his own state's enormously costly program, Romneycare, by many measures the most expensive in the entire nation. 

If these issues were highlighted, as was supposed to be the case, to cut a great philosophical divide between the two parties, one is left to wonder about the conspicuous absence of other issues such as, oh... extrajudicial assassinations of American citizens abroad, the exponentially increasing scope of America's deathly drone operations both on foreign soil and in "The Homeland," the relentless mission creep of Orwellian agencies like the TSA, FDA, DHS (etc.) or the fact that, with less than 5% of the world's population and nearly a quarter of the global prison population, the "Land of the Free, Home of the Brave" is now unquestionably deserved of its new tag line, "Land of the Fee, Home of the Slave." And on... and on... and on... 

Anything on those "dividing" issues? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. 

There are, of course, some key differences between these two suits. One chose for the evening to wear a solid blue tie; the other a faintly striped red number. Look for a flip-flop in the next debate.

Gradually, the non-voter class is wizening up to the fact that the act of voting is more akin to kissing one or the other cheek on the same bloated derrière than exercising any quaint, propagandized notion of "civic duty." After all, a buttock smooch will not change the chief function of that end of the political anatomy. No, Fellow Reckoner, the soft seat of the body politick is built for expelling one thing and one thing only...as the candidates dutifully and effortlessly displayed. 


Joel Bowman
for The Daily Reckoning

"Ooh La La Tu Hai Meri Fantasy" Full Video Song- The Dirty Picture- Feat. Vidya Balan

October 12, 2012

US offers 245 Stinger missiles to India

The US is offering 245 Stinger missiles to India as part of a weapons package for the Apache attack choppers being acquired by the Air Force.
"245 air-to-air Stinger missiles and 56 launchers are included in the weapons package for the Apache helicopters," officials of Raytheon, which manufactures the missiles, said.

"The Stinger compliments the advanced performance of the Apache by providing the IAF with the critical air-to-air defence capability," they said.

India has selected the American Apache helicopter for its requirement of 22 attack helicopters which will have both air-to-ground and air-to-air roles in the service.

"Yes, Apache is final now," IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne had recently told a press conference when asked if the service was procuring the American choppers. The two sides are at present negotiating the contract.

The American helicopter edged out the Russian Mi-28 in the race for the IAF contract.

The surface-to-air version of the Stinger missile is widely credited for the collapse of Russian helicopter fleet in Afghan war in 1980s and was also used by Pakistani troops to bring down an IAF Mi-17 helicopter during the Kargil war in 1999.
Commenting on its relations with Indian armed forces, Raytheon said it was "providing advanced air traffic management AutoTrac technology solution for the IAF" as part of Modernisation of Air Field Infrastructure (MAFI) project.
Under the MAFI programme, India is planning to upgrade 30 military air fields to enable them to carry out night operations and operate large-bodied planes such as the C-17 Heavy-lift transport aircraft.

The rise and fall of Sonia’s son-in-law — Ajaz Ashraf

Yet all the legal quibbling cannot dissuade people from believing that Vadra's marriage into India's most powerful family facilitated his emergence as a businessman

The Gandhis and the Bhuttos share 
similar traits and fate in many astonishing ways. At least two generations of their families have ruled their respective countries, their members command indisputable charisma and an enviable following, and some of them have met tragically violent deaths. To this list we can now add the questionable business dealings of their sons-in-law, which have besmirched the reputation of the two families.

Now ensconced in the President's House, Mr Asif Ali Zardari, you could say, has been punished to an extent because of a spell he served in jail. In contrast, Robert Vadra's problems have only just begun. Married to Priyanka, the charming daughter of Sonia Gandhi, who decidedly commands power comparable to that of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Vadra was caught last week in a maelstrom of corruption charges that is likely to clip the wings his ambitions were growing to soar in the sky.

Firing thunderous volleys against Vadra were the two activists of India Against Corruption (IAC), lawyer Prashant Bhushan and former Indian Revenue Service officer Arvind Kejriwal, who have over the last two years shaken and stirred the political class as never before. Yet all their past activism cannot match their audacity of accusing Vadra of corruption, for it also implicitly tars the Gandhis and the Congress with the same brush and throws awry the political calculations pundits were busy toting for a general election still nearly two years away. There cannot be any doubt that the IAC, which is to now participate in electoral politics, is setting the country's agenda, irrespective of what its own performance in elections might eventually be.

Kejriwal and Bhushan's accusations underscored the symbiotic relationship between Vadra and DLF, India's realty giant. They cited public records to wonder how Vadra's five companies with a total share capital of Rupees five million, and not engaged in any commercial activities, could have acquired during 2007-2010 property worth Rs 3,000 million, the value of which at the current market price is now well over Rs 5,000 million. The irrepressible duo then went on to unravel the modus operandi, claiming Vadra's transactions were financed through an unsecured, interest-free loan of Rs 650 million DLF granted to him. Not only this, the realty giant sold him prime properties at a heavily discounted price. Thus, for instance, Vadra acquired a 50 percent share in a Delhi hotel from DLF for a little over Rs 300 million, as against the prevailing market value of Rs 1,500 million; a 10,000 square feet apartment worth Rs 250 million, for less than Rs 10 million. The list of properties Vadra owns includes not only acquisitions, which the aspiring class pines for, but also agricultural land in towns on Delhi's fringes, including a whopping 160.62 acres in one particular district.

These accusations against the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi had the big guns of the Congress booming. They claimed that any two entities were entitled to enter into business agreements on whatever terms they wished, and it is legal for a realty firm to sell at prices lower than the prevailing market rate. It was not a loan, chimed the DLF Group, but "business advances", a common industry practice. But the change in nomenclature for describing the Rs 650 million given to Vadra raises serious issues of corporate governance. Independent directors of DLF claimed the issue of loan or advances to Vadra was never brought to the board for discussion, nor were the controversial transactions between him and the construction company. Should DLF not be accountable to its shareholders?

Nevertheless, the plot soon thickened, and both Vadra and DLF seemed sucked deep into it, as Kejriwal and Bhushan harped on the gains DLF reaped from the Congress government of the state of Haryana. They pointed out that it acquired land from farmers for public purposes but subsequently transferred it to DLF to build residential complexes; that 30 acres of land earmarked for a hospital were transferred to DLF for creating a Special Economic Zone; and how rules for bids for a parcel of government land were changed to ensure DLF became its owner. DLF denied these allegations, yet all the legal quibbling cannot dissuade people from believing that Vadra's marriage into India's most powerful family facilitated his emergence as a businessman. 

The Vadra-DLF controversy has highlighted other important aspects of the Indian polity. For one, most opposition parties initially responded tepidly to the charges the IAC levelled against Vadra, in sharp contrast to the furore they generate every time a scandal comes tumbling out of the Congress cupboard. This was partly because the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is India's principal Opposition party, grew nervous at the IAC's declaration that it next planned to expose the BJP managers.

Their fear stems from the IAC's agenda of exposing the venality of the Indian political class and the tacit consensus among its members to desist from scrutinising the businesses of even their rivals. The BJP is particularly vulnerable to this charge: it forfeited the opportunity to raise the DLF-Vadra sweetheart deal that a business newspaper reported a year ago. Then the BJP felt the code of ethics operating in Indian politics demanded that they should not cast aspersions on a non-political member of the Gandhi family, particularly as the business conduct ostensibly did not result in losses to the state exchequer. But their refusal to even demand an inquiry suggests the BJP was chary of the Congress exposing dubious deals party luminaries or their children were rumoured to have hammered during the six years they were in power, beginning 1996.

The Vadra controversy has also trained the spotlight on the media's role. Usually, it unearths scams to reveal incriminating evidence against state functionaries belonging to the ruling party. Political parties raise the issue in Parliament, as also outside it, demanding discussions and probes. Precisely the opposite has happened now — civil society activists, now nursing political ambitions, have raised the Vadra-DLF issue that the media and non-Congress parties are highlighting. Is the Indian media too close to the political class to pursue investigations inimical to India's bigwigs? Or has its edge been blunted because of its corporatisation? These questions assume importance as a newspaper flagged Vadra's acquisitions a year ago, albeit in a neutral, even laudatory tone. Yet no one cared to probe or ask questions until Kejriwal and Bhushan decided to hurl their barbs against him.

Indeed, IAC activists are playing several simultaneous roles. They expose the political class as well as ferociously enact the role of a democracy watchdog. They have assumed the mantle of the Opposition, setting the agenda for India as well as launching campaigns to win popular endorsement for it. They have chosen to enter the electoral arena not through just rhetoric and promises but through political action that displays their intent and resolve to extricate India from the cesspool of corruption. It is said the best advertisement for any publication is the story it publishes. You can now say that the best advertisement for an emerging party, as is the IAC, is to expose the sheer hollowness of the existing political class.

The author is a Delhi-based journalist and can be reached at ashrafajaz3@gmail.com

Forget property, how did he acquire Priyanka?

by Lakshmi Chaudhry Oct 9, 2012

Each time Robert Vadra steps into the spotlight, the average mango folks can't help but wonder, "Really? She married him?"  Of all the men at all the Delhi A-list parties, Priyanka Gandhi picked this guy?

"Vadra's sweet-heart deal with DLF raises many questions but what makes no sense whatsoever is how a petty brass trader from Moradabad, who looks more like Priyanka's chauffer than her significant other, could patao a Nehru-Gandhi scion and marry into India's most powerful political family. We demand that Vadra come clean on this," thunders a fake Arvind Kejriwal in an Unreal Times spoof of the unfolding drama.

The bigger mystery, as the humour mag cheekily points out, is not how Vadra got rich, but how he got hitched. As a friend wryly observes, "It's like she married Ajay Devgn." And that's a bit unfair to Devgn.

"Businessman Robert Vadhera is unlikely to figure anywhere among the country's 1,000 most eligible bachelors. Priyanka Gandhi's 28-year-old beau is short, fair, rather stocky and only moderately well-to-do," begins a 1997 Outlook profile of Vadra the fiancé. The article went on to damn him with faint praise, describing him variously as "unremarkable man"; "an average student and not an outstanding sportsman"; and, most amusingly, as "a bit of a Puppy," and not of the canine kind. According to Outlook, Robert's own friends in Moradabad were in shock: "We haven't stopped wondering what Priyanka could possibly see in the boy. There is nothing exceptional about him or the family." Ouch!

We will never solve the mystery behind the miracle that is Robert Vadra. But his saving virtue for the Gandhi family is clear: He makes his brother-in-law look like Albert Einstein. Reuters
In other words, he was all crass, no class, and unlike his predecessors, not even easy on the eye.

Now, the Gandhis have typically married down: Feroze was a no-name backbencher, Maneka a beauty pageant type, and Sonia will perennially remain "that Italian waitress" to her detractors. So a petty trader from Moradabad isn't exactly unprecedented. What makes Robert exceptional is that he is astoundingly, indisputably dumb. While neither the Gandhis nor their spouses have been towering intellectuals, none of them have come remotely close to matching Vadra's lack of intelligence.

The now infamous Facebook update — "Mango people in banana republic" — was not just crassly elitist but just plain stupid. It requires the complete absence of common sense. The presence of even one gray cell may have given our Robert some pause. Just maybe I shouldn't sneer at ordinary people in the midst of an unfolding corruption scandal targeting my disproportionate wealth. Just maybe it spells political suicide for my illustrious in-laws. Just maybe the media is tracking my Facebook account since my last update made headline news.

Damaadji entertained no such eminently sensible doubts, not even when deleting his FB account in a huff: "Obviously, it seems I have people on my Facebook account who do not have a sense of humour. Everything I write becomes news and further debates on television?? I have decided to delete my account."

Obviously, Robert isn't very good at comprehending the obvious.

"Nothing I say is premeditated," said Robert in a TOI interview earlier this year, or — as it turns out — remotely intelligent. Tooting his own horn, he declared, "I am very determined, be it business or my fitness. I've lost 20 kg in five years. And in this much time, if I'd wanted to, I could have become a big celebrity. It's been a fight to stay normal."

"I gave up my life for Priyanka, fighting every day to not be a celebrity," he insists again toward the end of the interview — just in case we don't quite grasp the full measure of his sacrifice. Poor Robert, condemned to fight a lifelong battle against fame, valiantly staving off even the slightest hint of imminent success for the sake of his wife.

A battle he has clearly lost. Despite his best efforts to remain an unknown loser, his many ventures have been vastly  and inexplicably profitable. Crores of rupees have wilfully slithered onto their balance sheets and into his pockets without a single sound business reason. As Mint editor R Sukumar notes:

To call the story of the growth of Vadra's business empire… rags to riches would be stretching things a bit simply because there were no rags at its beginning. If anything, The Hindu's description makes the business model of Vadra's companies sound like a perpetual motion machine, with assets swelling despite no increase in business activity.

Then again, Robert's ability to acquire precious commodities has always relied on the miraculous, as Unreal Times points out: "Certainly, Vadra's acquisition of Priyanka was disproportionate to all his known sources of talent and Vadra needs to give a full account of his courtship to the public."

We will never solve the mystery behind the miracle that is Robert Vadra. But his saving virtue for the Gandhi family is clear: He makes his brother-in-law look like Albert Einstein.

October 11, 2012




After over 48 hours of panic over the allegations levelled by ShriArvindKejriwal of India Against Corruption (IAC) against Shri Robert Vadra, the husband of Ms.Priyanka Gandhi and the son-in-law of Mrs.SoniaGandi, the President of the Congress, the Congress has cooled down and worked out a strategy of tiring out   the IAC in general and ShriKejriwal in particular.

2. It is reported that the initial panic was triggered by Mrs.Sonia Gandhi herself which led to the unwise intervention of a number of senior Ministers in support of ShriVadra and the tactless remarks of ShriVadra in his FB.

3. After this initial spectacle of chicken-like panic, Ms.Priyanka Gandhi, who is concerned over the likely impact of the allegations and the subsequent crisis management on the credibility and political future of the family and the Congress, reportedly stepped in to calm down the panic.

4.A new set of crisis management advisers not haunted by memories of the old Bofors controversy against Rajiv Gandhi,took advantage of certain evolving characteristics of L'AffaireVadra. Firstly, there has been no smoking gun so far. Secondly, there has been no paper trail. Thirdly, ShriVadra's alleged involvement was with a listed company and not with shady individual businessmen, either in India or in the diaspora abroad. Fourthly, ShriArvindKejriwal, during his first two Press conferences, seem to have fired all his bullets without seriously hurting ShriVadra. He does not appear to have any more unused bullets at his disposal. And, fifthly, by announcing beforehand that he would be exposing another prominent personality on October 16,ShriKejriwal has set a trap for himself. Whether he targets another prominent personality or tries to re-use the same bullets against ShriVadra, he will dilute the public focus on the Sonia Gandhi family.

5. Congress circles feel that the allegations made by ShriKejriwal are nothing but re-cycled versions of allegations made by a national business daily earlier this year. Those allegations were not taken note of by the conventional media---print or TV----, but were noted and exploited on the Net by a group of NRIs, which has been carrying on a campaign against Mrs.Sonia Gandhi and her family and in favour of the Hindutva organisations.This NRI group kept the allegations re-cycled through various means and these have now been picked up by ShriKejriwal and his IAC. It is claimed that in addition to these re-cycled allegations from the Net, there have been no new allegations in the charges levelled by ShriKejriwal.

6. These Congress circles draw attention to the intriguing coincidence between the campaign against Mrs. Sonia Gandhi unleashed by ShriNarendraModi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, on the issue of her foreign travel expenditure and the campaign against ShriVadra over his wealth unleashed by the IAC group. They suspect that the same group of pro-HindutvaNRIs is the inspiring force behind both the campaigns.

7. The initial panic was also caused by the dramatic projection to the viewers by the TV channels  of the charges made by ShriKejriwal against ShriVadra. This panic  has also since subsided. They point out how the TV pendulum dramatically swung towards Anna Hazare during his fast in August last year and then equally dramatically swung away from him when there were signs of agitation fatigue in Mumbai where Anna went for the second stage of his campaign. They are hoping that the TV pendulum, which has swung towards ShriKejriwal, would similarly swing away from him if he keeps re-cycling old allegations.

8. The new strategy of the Congress is to give a long rope to ShriKejriwal and not to do anything in panic. Unless ShriKejriwal is able to come out with a smoking gun or new evidence, this strategy might work.(12-10-12)

(The  writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com  Twitter @SORBONNE75)





Dr. Rahmat  Rabi  Zirakyar, Independent Scholar of Pashtun/Afghan Heritage, USA



April 2, 2011



The colonial Durand Treaty (1893) along with its imaginary Durand Line is immoral, invalid and illegal.





This analysis will present a well argued case that the history of British Empire has been rather callous to the fate of Pashtuns and Balochs. I hope my expose will contribute to a constructive discussion in political and intellectual arena about the future of unfortunate Balochs and Pashtuns, who are ready to be part of the vision of a fair and rule-based world order but regrettably excluded from international visibility and progress.

A dangerous potential for conflicts is continually arising in those developing countries whose borders and administrative nations were determined by the force of colonialist nations.   While African borders  were determined on the  basis of particular longitudes and latitudes, the exit strategy from British-governed India was shaped by religious divisions. The post-colonial development in the Afghan-Indian subcontinent  provides a perfect example of such a potential for conflicts.  Here the British colonialism left behind a series of permanent sources of conflict: Kashmir, the creation of an entirely new state Pakistan that has no other state to inherit from, the separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971, and now the Pashtunkhwa and Balochistan problem.  The last also contains the stuff of political conflict because the area is in the sensitive zone of geopolitics.






To defend India, Governor-General Auckland invaded Afghanistan (1839-42). After almost 30 years, Prince Shuja (the Afghan protégé of the British) was again enthroned in Kabul. This First Anglo-Afghan War (known as "Auckland's Folly") ended in a complete disaster. To revenge their unmitigated defeat, the British forces attacked Kabul in the fall of 1842 and burned its historic bazaar. Until this war, the British were considered invincible and supreme. But the First Anglo-Afghan war severely debilitated the British prestige. Also, the loss of Afghan life and property was followed by bitter resentment of foreign influence and modernization. The Second Anglo-Afghan war ended formally with the colonial Treaty of Gandomak (1879) through which the British gained control over the strategically important east and southeast areas of Afghanistan, which also had to seek British advice in its foreign and defense policies.  Under the pressure of these half-colonial circumstances, the Afghan King/Amir Abdul Rahman (1880-1901) had to face—for  the Afghans oppressive—Durand Treaty of 1893 that provides  for the division of Pashtuns and Balochs between Afghanistan and British-governed  India (present day  "British-Pakistan"). The Durand Treaty and the imaginary  Durand Line were named after the Foreign Secretary of British-governed India Sir Mortimer Durand, who negotiated the colonial treaty.


The Afghan King Abdul Rahman in his autobiography  calls a letter which he received from the reigning British Viceroy "practically an ultimatum." (Rahmat Zirakyar, Stammesgesellschaft, Nationalstaat und Irredentismus am Beispiel der Pashtunistanfrage. Frankfurt/Main, Germany: Haag+Herchen Verlag, 1978, p.118). Afghan diplomat Mohammad Sarwar  Rona brought to our attention the "miracle" of Amir Abdul Rahman Khan.  The   government of  British India wrote to him to set up a commission for fixing the boundary. But the Afghan King  responded with postponing tactics: He argued that if he would share the British note with the Afghan religious and tribal leaders to grant him a mandate on the matter, they would wage war against them.  Mohammad Sarwar Rona had read the above note in the Afghan Ministry for Foreign Affairs.  He published the text of the reminder, which the Afghan King Abdul Rahman had written on the back of the said British note: "To my successors! Until the last day of my life I would not take a step forward to determine the boundary of Afghanistan with British India. Also, I am delaying and responding to their letters to show the imposition and coercion of the [Durand] Treaty. I hope my successors in the future could have the power to defend their right and to determine the boundaries of Afghanistan through an honorable treaty." The Afghan King pointed out in his above remarks to two Indias: "I believe that in the near future  the people of India and Muslims will awaken to defend  their right to freedom, and most probably  two Indias will emerge: Indian India and Muslim India.  Muslim India will border on our country, and probably it will become a headache for my people and my children."(Original Persian text published in Lapa magazine in Pashto and Persian, No.6, January-March 2007=  Winter 1385 solar A.H., pp. 64-74; also, see Rahmat R. Zirakyar, Examining Durand Agreement within Law and Politics. Electronic version, May 19,  2010, pp. 36-37).  

The exactitude of a treaty's contents is usually taken in international law as evidence of validity. But in the case of the Durand Treaty it is not clear from its contents what the counterparts wanted.  Out of the vague formulation of the central concepts of the treaty's text it is manifest that clarity of exposition is missing.  The ambiguous  concept "frontier" (further elucidation of which cannot be obtained from the individual stipulations of the treaty) does not correspond so much with the phrase "respective spheres of influence" in the preamble as with concept of "border" in the sense of border area. Firstly it can mean a one-dimensional "border" in the sense of "border-line" and secondly "border" in the sense of "border-area".  In order to denote a border-line, the English language possesses the word "boundary" or better "boundary-line".  In the Durand Treaty, the word frontier is mentioned five times, and frontier-line, border, boundary and boundary-line each once.  There is also no further explanation ascertainable in the stipulations of the treaty for the concept of reciprocal "interference" (Article 2). The Afghan government understood under this concept "armed interference" but not the work of political agitation which was necessary for the continuation of their influence on the other side of the so-called Durand Line.  It becomes clear through the connection of Article 11 of the Kabul Treaty of 1921 with Appendix no. 4—which is considered an integral part of the Treaty—that the British concession of a legitimate Afghan interest in the frontier Pashtuns supplies the legal basis for Afghan interference and Afghan participation in these areas.

The question  of the demarcation line of the Durand Treaty is also unclear. The imaginary Durand Line refers to a "line shown in the map attached to" that treaty (Article 1) which, however,  was "not reproduced." (This comment is to be found in: C.U. Aitchison, ed. , A Collections of Treaties, Engagements and Sanads relating to India and Neighbouring Countries, in  14 vols, Calcutta 1929-33, vol. 13, p. 256f.).  Harris writes in his Ph.D. dissertation : "In fact the only evidence of an agreement to divide the tribe was the line drawn on the [Durand] Convention map, and this map the Amir[Abdul Rahman: 1880-1901] had not signed."(L. Harris, British Policy on the North-West Frontier of India,1889-1901,Ph.D., London 1960,p. 239). Also, in Lord Curzon Colletions we can read: "…the rough line drawn upon the map, in this quarter ,which he[Durand] presented as an official record to the late Amir[Abdul Rahman] is of the most haphazard, careless, and  unscientific description."(India Office Library, London, MSS. Eur. F.111,vol 162, No. 24, 13.4..1903=Curzon to Hamilton).

Were the imprecise and vague contents of the Durand Treaty of 1893  modified in any way in the treaties which followed?  The opposing legal standpoints of the parties with regard to the concepst of "renewal" and "continuance" in the title of the Treaty of March 21, 1905 were resolved by omitting the heading altogether  in the English translation of the treaty (See German historian: H. Jaeckel, Die Nordwestgrenze in der Verteidigung Indiens 1900-1908 und der Weg Englands zum russisch-britischen Abkommen von 1907. Cologne: Opladen,1968, p.86).  In all the written agreements (1905, 1919, 1921,1930) there is no alteration discernable with respect to the evaluation of the Durand Line because all the subsequent treaties refer ultimately to the Durand Treaty without however establishing  its substance again(F. Moeding, Nationalitaeten- und Grenzfragen in Suedasien: Das Problem der Pashtunen. Hausarbeit in Geschichte, 1969, p.17).

After the British withdrawal from "Afghan-Indian" subcontinent , Pakistan claimed the British heritage. But "an entirely new state has no other state to inherit from"—thus the "no doubt ingenious" argument of Afghanistan from U.S. scholar L.B. Poullada's perspective ("Some International Legal Aspects of Pashtunistan",1969). Prior to the independence of Pakistan on August 14, 1947 ,the British government as the predecessor state  revoked ("lapse"), in conformity with the 'Indian Independence Act' of July 18, 1947, " any treaties and agreements", etc. made with the authorities of the "tribal areas"( Article 7, Clause C). This fact along with the circumstance that Pakistan emerged as a completely new state out of (as representative for the whole) colonial India disqualifies Pakistan's claim as the legal successor to British India.

Verdict on India Beverley Nichols (London, 1944) was a political treatise written in a strong conservative language. In this book Gandhi was depicted as a Nazi, who hated the British, while Jinnah was characterized as a dynamic and peace-loving leader of India's Muslim population. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1940-45) was influenced by this book. Alex von Tanzelmann, a young Oxford-trained historian, quotes Churchill in her book about the drama of the British Raj's final months: "I [Churchill] agree with the book [Verdict on India] and also with its conclusions-Pakistan." Von Tanzelmann adds that Churchill's "vocal support" of  Pakistan was "instrumental in creating the world's first modern Islamic  state and in sabotaging  any last hopes of Indian unity." She points to Jinnah's close relations with Churchill in December 1946. Jinnah was  mailing his letters to a secret female name in London selected by Churchill himself.  Von Tanzelmann reveals the secret name: Elizabeth Gilliat, who was Churchill's secretary.  If Jinnah was considered  as the father of Pakistan, "Churchill must qualify as its uncle, and therefore, as a pivotal figure in the resurgence of political Islam", Alex von Tanzelmann concludes in her book (Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire. New York: Henry & Holt, 2007, pp. 126-128). According to von Tanzelman, Churchill "trusted" Jinnah the upcoming leader of Pakistan "to run it [Pakistan] in a way that would serve British interests." (Ibid., p.180)  


The purpose of the treaties which had been made with Afghanistan originated in England's interest in shielding the British Indian Empire from the feared Russian invasion. This observation is linked with the consideration in international law that a treaty is regarded as null and void "when its impact is exhausted and its goal is achieved" ("wenn sich seine Wirkung erschoepft hat und das Vertragsziel erreicht ist". Fr. Berber, Lehrbuch des  Voelkerrehts, 1975,vol.1,p. 252 ). As a result of this consideration  it would be reasonable to think that with the departure of the British  from the Afghan-Indian subcontinent the Durand Treaty  would automatically be seen as having been fulfilled because one of the partners ceased to exist (and with him his interests which made the treaty necessary).  Hence it follows that the validity and  legality  of the so-called Durand Line and the questions  of Pashtun and Baloch self-determination  and territorial dispute were  open once again.

Since 1993, when the  vague and  abrogated Durand Treaty completed a century, Pakistan is trying to revive the sanctification of the imaginary "Durand Line".  To that effect, Pakistan is bound to use the "religious" garb  for its three  major  national interests, namely: territorial integrity, strategic depth and control of international trade route through Afghanistan. For the realization of these interests, Pakistan will take all steps to secure a more docile and  anti-national government in current Afghanistan.  

Out of the, in colonialism built-in contradiction (to begin in the name of one's own nation and at the same time to cause the negation of the national existence of the colonized) grew  the impulse for Afghan nationalism.  Just as the Afghan people on their side of the wretched colonial  and imaginary Durand Line rejected the colonial policy of partition so too did the Pashtuns and Balochs on their side of the practically non-existent Durand Line.  In 1897 a revolt broke out in Waziristan whose significance determined the development in the frontier areas for a year.  The British reacted with the creation of "North-West Frontier Province" (NWFP) in 1901, a misnomer designed to  deprive  Pashtuns from their  identity with Afghanistan.  It took 109 years for Pashtuns to change this misleading term in March of 2010 to "Khyber-Pashtunkhwa" (Khyber-Pashtun Country).  In addition to the above spontaneous uprising, the anti-colonial opposition of the Pashtuns also took an organized form: So, for example:  'Majlas-e Watan' (Alliance for the Fatherland) which was organized at the beginning of the 20th century by Mirajan Kaka-Khel, the establishement of a center for enlightenment in 1914  through Badsha Khan (Abul-Ghafar Khan, the  "nonviolent soldier of Islam"), the foundation of 'Anjoman-e  Eslahol Afaghena' (Reform Alliance of the Afghans) in 1921 by  'Fakhr-e Afghan' (Honour of the Afghans, Abdul-Ghafar Khan/Badshah Khan), and in  1928 the foundation of the 'Nawjawan-e  Sahard' (Yourth of the Border Areas). Badshah Khan and his close friends started in 1928  a journal in Pashto language, called "Pashtun" (the Pashtun Nation). Its title page carried a Pashto  poem by Badshah Khan's  fifteen-year-old son Abdul Ghani, "already an aspiring and impassioned writer" (Easwaran, Nonviolent Soldier of Islam: Badshah Khan,1999, p. 105):


If I  a slave lie buried in a grave

under a dazzling tombstone,

respect it not; spit on it!

O mother, with what face will you wail for me

if I am not torn to pieces by British guns?

Either I turn this wretched land of mine

into a Garden of Eden

or I wipe  out the lanes and homes of  Pashtuns!


It was out of all these groups with their socio-political aims  that in 1929 the organization of the  nonviolent "Servants of God" (Khodai Khidmatgar) under the leadership of  Badshah Khan ("the nonviolent soldier of Islam": 1890-1988) developed.  Badshah Khan (Abdul-Ghafar Khan) established Azad (Free) Schools to educate and enlighten his people.  Pashto was the medium of instruction in these schools. In 1946,  Abdul Ghani founded the "Zalmay Pashtun"  organization  ( the "Young Pashtun") to educate   the young Pashtuns about  the  instructive experiences of their national rulers  and intellectuals:  Sher Shah Suri (1540-1555), Khoshal Khattak  Baba(1613-1690), Mirwais Hotaki (Grandfather Mirwais: 1707-1715), and Ahmad Shah Baba (Father Ahmad Shah: 1747-1772).

"Jarga" or "Jirga" (Council) is the backbone of Pashtun/Afghan political culture.  Like Badshah Khan, his elder brother Dr. Khan Sahib was a champion in the Pashtun national independence movement (British sources falsely called him Abdul Jabar, and others repeated this mistake).  Based on the grant of limited self-government and announcement of provincial elections  in 1937, as well as again in 1946, Dr. Khan Sahib's party (Frontier National Congress=Servants of God) won elections with a large majority: thirty out of  fifty seats in the Provincial Legislative Assembly.  Consequently, Dr. Khan Sahib became chief minister.  In the words of Badshah Khan,  these elections in the North-West Frontier Province "had been fought on the issue of India or Pakistan [ Congress Party against Muslim League]", and "we had won and Muslim League had lost. It was as simple as that." (My Life and Struggle, Autobiography. Delhi, 1969, p. 204).   As we can see Pashtuns have mature cultural and political institutions.  Their party Servants of God (affiliated with the Indian National Congress) had won the elections, and at the time of the partition of the Afghan-Indian subcontinent Dr. Khan Sahib was chief minister.  Thus there was no need for new elections in the Pashtun province (current Khyber-Pashuunkhwa).  In addition, several weeks before the creation of Pakistan ("The Land of the Pure", August 14, 1947), the Pashtuns  proclaimed  their  desire  for a state of their own on June 21, 1947, in which their egalitarian and democratic mentality would achieve explicit expression:




"The Pashtun have decided for their own free state. The Pashtuns do not want either India or Pakistan.

On  21 June 1947 under the chairmanship of Khan Amir Mohammad Khan [President of the NWFP Committee of Congress Party/Khudai Khidmatgars=Servants of God] a general assembly  of the province's Jirga [Council], of the members of the assembly, of the functionaries of the Khudai Khidmatgars[Servants of God] and of  Zalmay Pashtun Jirga [Young Pashtun Council] was held.  This assembly decided unanimously to establish in this country an independent, free, state of all Pashtuns , whose constitution should be based on Islamic and republican principles as well as on equality and national justice.  This assembly calls on all Pashtuns unitedly to strive for this high purpose and not to subject themselves to any other power than that of the Pashtuns.

This was decided by the Grand  Council ["Loya Jirga"]  of the  North-West Frontier Province.

The  original text of the historic Bannu Resolution."

(For facsimile of the original text in Pashto, see Rahmat Zirakyar, Stammesgesellschft, Nationalstaat und Irredentismus, Frankfurt/Main, Germany, 1978, p. 332).






"If you see sun red…..any redness in flowers,

These must be the blood of my people."  Baloch poet, Ghulam Rasool Mulla (1939- )


To better understand the rightful cause of the Baloch people and their political organizations struggling for unity and independence, it is necessary to reflect on the historical Kalat State that existed for centuries in Balochistan. It had treaty relations with the British in the second half of the 19th century, but its special status was different  from that in the princely states in the Indian subcontinent as the Kalat State's treaties were concluded with Whitehall, not New Delhi.




Mir Chakar Rind is the "first nation builder" in Baloch mind. He founded the Baloch tribal union (1487-1511), which was destroyed by an intertribal war between Rinds and Lasharis. The origin and the continuation of the Kalat State can be traced back to the Kalat Confederacy (probably from 1666), which was created as a central instance by the Ahmadzai leader, Mir Ahmad of the Pashtun heritage: "The Kalat Confederacy…was established by Ahmadzi rulers, who were ironically Pathans or Pashtuns, but later adopted the language, life style and tribal mores of the Brahui speaking people who were more numerous in the terrain named after Balochis."(Balochis of Pakistan: On the Margins of History. Foreign Policy Centre, London, November 2006, pp. 10-11). A   prominent Baloch nationalist, Dr. Naseer Dashti writes that Mir Ahmad, "the leader of a Brahui tribal confederation founded the Ahmadzai Khanate [state] of Kalat"(A Brief History of Balochistan, 2004, Balochwarna).  During the early 18th century, Abdullah Khan was the 4th  leader of the Kalat Confederacy. He commanded the allegiance of the Baloch tribes and established a far-flung  realm stretching from  current southern Afghanistan across the  Makran (now in southern Balochistan) to Bandar Abbas (now in Iran at the strait of Hurmoz). In the southeast, his jurisdiction encompassed the Dera Ghazi Khan district on the edge of Punjab province (now in Pakistan).  These realities prevailed upon the Baloch historians to believe that the Dera Ghazi Khan belonged to the Kalat Confederacy under Abdullah Khan and most of his successors. Giving attention  to the size of his domain, Abdullah Khan seems to have  neglected the chance to integrate the wide-stretching areas under his military control into a unified state.  The dynamic Naseer Khan (the 6th Khan of Kalat), who ruled for more than half century, beginning in 1741, could cope with this task. Known as Naseer Khan I, he created a unified army of some 25000 men and 1000 camels, as well as established a proto-centralized  administration. The bureaucracy was headed by a Wazir (prime minister), who was responsible for the internal and foreign affairs of the state. For these services, Naseer Khan needed a Vakil, who collected revenue from crown lands and tribute from loosely affiliated principalities or chieftains. Since Jirga is the major institution of Baloch political culture, Naseer Khan might have used Consultation Councils (Jirgas) coming closer to a legislative assembly. All these developments witnessed to  the maturity of the Baloch nation for self-determination. Balochistan's largest city is Quetta, which is derived from the Pashto word "Kwatta" meaning fort. This important district was hold in terns by neighboring powers: the Afghan Ghaznavids and Ghorids, the Indian Moghuls, the Iranian Safavids, only to be reclaimed by the  Indian Moghul Akbar in 1595. Baloch leader Naseer Khan I, who paid tribute to the Iranian ruler Nader Afshar, repudiated this tributary status following Nader Afshar's assassination by a non-Afghan in 1747. A power-gap was created. Before Naseer Khan could take advantage of the situation, the Pashtun/Afghan Ahmad Shah Abdali stepped into the resulting vacuum: This 25-year old commander under the Iranian Nader Afshar was selected  by the Loya Jirga (Grand Council) in Kandahar according to the principle of "primus inter pares" (first among equals) as the leader of Afghanistan with the honorific title  "Dur-e Dauran" (Pearl of the Time) or "Dur-e Duran" (Pearl of the Pearls).  Henceforth, he became "the Father of the  

 Afghan Nation" (Ahmad Shah Baba).   Ahmad Shah Baba defeated Naseer Khan but reinstated him as the ruler of Kalat.  After 11 years Naseer Khan fought back the Afghan forces in 1758. While remaining an ally of Afghanistan, Balochistan  commanded a greater degree of autonomy until the British battled with Balochs  for the first time in 1839, when they advanced through the Bolan Pass toward Afghanistan. Above 400 Balochs were slain, including  their leader Mehrab Khan himself, and 2,000 prisoners were taken.  His son Mir Naseer Khan II was recognized by the British in 1841 as the ruler of Kalat, and in 1842, consequent upon the British withdrawal from Afghanistan, the occupied districts were returned to the Baloch ruler.         


The British perception to block Russian advances southward caused the Great Game, which, in turn, drew Balochistan into the vortex of power politics. Twelve years later the British defeated the then Baloch ruler in 1854 and enter into a treaty with him. According to this treaty, Naseer Khan II promised to  cooperate with the British army against its enemies, as well as to prevent  his subjects from plundering British merchants. In return, the Baloch leader was to receive an annual subsidy of fifty thousand rupees. After his death his successors were unable or unwilling to fulfill the terms of the treaty, and consequently British relations with the Kalat State cam to an end in 1874. Quetta was permanently occupied in 1876 by the British army. This town  and its surrounding territory (Nushki, Naseerabad, and Bolan) were  leased from the  then ruler of Kalat according to the new  treaty of 1876.  This treaty renewed the previous treaty of 1854 in many particulars, but in matter of non-intervention the clauses were changed : The British reserved the right to settle disputes between the Khan  of Kalat and the Sardars (native chieftains), which was  earlier the privilege of  the Baloch rulers.  To please the Afghan and Persian rulers against the Russian ambitions, the British gifted away some portions of the Baloch territory  to Iran (1871) and a stripe of it to Afghanistan (1896). While the border commission of 1871 headed by Major General Goldsmith was named the Perso-Baloch Boundary Commission, the border commission of 1896 headed by Captain (later Sir) Henry McMahon was called Anglo-Persian Joint Boundary Commission.  The Kalat National Party was formed in 1920, which was influenced by the progressive Afghan King Amanullah(1919-1929) and remained underground until 1931. To protest against the partition of his country, Mir Abdul Aziz Kurd published in 1933  the first map of Greater Balochistan. The moment  an entirely new state Pakistan ( which had no other state to inherit from) , was created on August 14 of 1947, it claimed the British heritage,  and the Baloch Shahi Jirga, "a remnant of the British system of patronage, consisting of collaborative sardars [chieftains] and feudal overlords, immediately veered around Pakistan and supported Balochistan's accession to Pakistan. The rulers of [the princely states of] Kharan and Makran were also too timid to support the Khan[ of Kalat]."  (Baloch and Balochistan Through History. The Foreign Policy Centre, London, 2006/Balochis of Pakistan, ibid., p. 16).





In view of the foregoing considerations, the relations of the Kalat state with the colonial power were governed by the treaty of 1876, and consequently with the termination of that treaty the Kalat state will revert to its pre-treaty position of independence. The British Cabinet Mission was created in 1946 to discuss and finalize plans for the transfer of power from the British Raj to Indian leadership.  Mohammad Ali Jinnah was legal advisor to the  then Kalat ruler Mir Ahmad Yar Khan. Distinguished legal experts prepared the case in the form of a memorandum , which  after examined by Jinnah himself was submitted to the Cabinet Mission in March 1946. Herein the Khan of Kalat focused on the  special  status of his state.  He asserted that the treaty relations of the colonial government in New Delhi apply to those states only that succeed  the British Raj, not to those states who maintained treaty relations with Whitehall in London.  In addition, the memorandum stated that the state of Kalat "will become fully sovereign  and independent in respect to both internal and external affairs, and will be free to conclude treaties with any other government or state….The Khan [of Kalat], his government, and his people can never agree to Kalat being included in any form of Indian union." (Qtd. in Selig S. Harrison, In Afghanistan's Shadow: Baluch Nationalism and Soviet Temptations,1981, p.23).  The British Cabinet Mission left the issue unresolved—most  probably because it could not identify legal shortcomings of the demand.  

On June 3, 1947, the last viceroy (1947) and governor-general (1947-48) Lord Mountbatten announced the partition plan for the British India, which he had prepared in consultation with the British Government.  Mohammad Ali Jinnah the leader of the Muslim League party and the governor-general of upcoming Pakistan reminded Mir Ahmad Yar Khan that  the position of his state was different from the other Indian states. Also, Jinnah advised him that on behalf of his state a direct representation to the viceroy

in Delhi was necessary to address the future position of his state along with the return of Baloch regions  hitherto controlled by the British. Accordingly, the Chief Secretary of  Kalat State took to Delhi a draft of the new position of his state as prepared by legal experts . This led to a round table conference, held on August 4, 1947. Lord Mountbatten, Jinnah, Liaqat Ali Khan, Chief Minister of Kalat, legal expert Sir Sultan Ahmed, and the ruler of Kalat Mir Ahmad Yar Khan participated in the deliberations of the round table conference. This  resulted in the agreement upon the following points: "Kalat State will be independent on August 5, 1947, enjoying the same status as it originally held in 1838, having friendly relations with its neighbors. In case the relations of Kalat with any future government got strained, Kalat will exercise its right of self-determination, and the British Government should take precautionary measures to help Kalat in the matter as per the Treaties of 1839 and 1841." As a practical consequence of the round table conference at Delhi, another agreement was signed between upcoming Pakistan and the state of Kalat on August 4, 1947, and the following points agreed upon were broadcast a week later on August 11, 1947: "The Government of Pakistan agrees that Kalat is an independent state, being quite different in status from other states on India.; and commits to its relations with the British Government  as manifested in several agreements….. In the meantime, Standstill Agreement will be made between Pakistan and Kalat by which Pakistan shall stand committed to all the responsibilities and agreement signed by Kalat and the British Government from 1839 to 1947…..In order to discuss finally the relations between Kalat and Pakistan on matters of defense, foreign relations, and [communication,] deliberations  will be held in the near future in Karachi."  Following this agreement, the Agent to the Governor-General Jinnah notified the rulers of Kharan and Lasbela that the control of their regions had been reassigned to  the Kalat State. Subsequently, the Marri and Bugti tribal regions were turned over to Kalat. This new Baloch suzerainty of the Khan of Kalat, Mir Ahmad Yard Khan, resembled the Baloch tribal  Confederacy founded by Mir Ahmad/Ahmadzai in 1666-67—eighty  years before modern Afghanistan was established by Ahmad Shah Baba in 1747.

Pakistan was created on August 14, 1947. The next day the Khan of Kalat declared his state's independence but offered to negotiate special arrangements with Pakistan in matters of mutual defense, foreign affairs and communications. Immediately, the  Khanof Kalat dispatched a delegation comprising his prime minister and foreign minister to Karachi, the then capital of Pakistan.  Its purpose was to reach an honorable settlement with Pakistan in light of the Standstill Agreement, which was mutually endorsed on August 4 and  broadcast on August 11, 1947. Mohammad Ali Jinnah as the governor-general of   Pakistan suddenly antagonized his previous legal argumentation in support of  the  special status of the Kalat State.  He bitterly opposed the independence of  Kalat and "coarsely persuaded" the ruler of  Kalat to "expedite" the merger with Pakistan.  The shock-and-grief-stricken Mir Ahmad Yar Khan, who did not understand  Jinnah's sudden anti-Baloch stance, could not do but to reply in a way  that by implication pointed to the ultimatum  he had  received  from Pakistan's  ruler.  Listen to  Ahmad Yar Khan's reply: " I have great respect for your advice…but Balochistan, being a land of numerous tribes, the people there must be duly consulted in the matter prior to any decision I take; for, according to the prevalent tribal convention, no decision can be binding upon them unless they are taken into confidence beforehand by their Khan[leader/ruler]." After this provisional arrangement, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan  could not do but to immediately return to Kalat, hastily hold election and promptly summon the Kalat State Houses of Parliament, which met for a week in early September 1947 and again in mid-December. The Kalat ruler requested from the assembly to grant him a mandate on the matter of Kalat's amalgamation with Pakistan. Members of the assembly  rejected  the merger with Pakistan for these reasons:  It contradicted against the spirit of the earlier agreement between the Kalat Government and the spokesmen for the upcoming Pakistan on August 4, 1947, as  also against the round table conference declaration and the Independence Act of the same year.  An American authority on Balochistan, Selig Harrison, observes that "Although most members clearly desired an alliance with Pakistan, an overwhelming consensus favored independence as a precondition for such a relationship." He continues that "Speaker after speaker argued that Pakistan had shown malice toward the Baluch by perpetuating the separate status of the three 'leased' Baluch principalities detached from Kalat by the British."  Harrison goes on that "If a unified Baluch identity had been recognized within the framework of Pakistan, several members said, it might have been possible to consider accession. But Pakistan had shown its true colors. Formalizing the dismemberment" of  Kalat in the words of  the ruler of Kalat Mir Ahmad Yar Khan, "was 'tantamount to political castration of the Baluch'."( Harrison, pp. 24-25).  The crisis between Kalat and Pakistan reached its climax on April 1, 1948 when Pakistan's  army invaded Kalat and arrested its ruler Mir Ahmad Yar Khan, who under duress signed the merger  document in his personal capacity.  The Khan of Kalat capitulated, but with his  "tacit approval"  his younger brother Prince Abdul Karim declared the first guerrilla revolt against Pakistan  and sought support   from Afghanistan.  After  the  end of  World War II, the British strategic thinking about the defense of the Persian Gulf shifted from Balochistan to Pakistan. They  believed that  "instead of locating a base in a weak Balochistan, such a base could be established in Pakistan which was more than willing to accommodate  the British. Hence, it was in British interests to ensure that Balochistan was kept within Pakistan and did not become an independent entity."(Balochis of Pakistan ,op. cit., pp 21-22).





The colonial Durand Treaty of 1893 was imposed on the then Afghan King Abdul Rahman. It refers in its first article to the imaginary "Durand Line" as follows: "The eastern and southern frontier of His Highness's  dominions, from Wakhan to the Persian border, shall follow the line shown in the map attached to this agreement." But Harris in his Ph.D. dissertation( London ,1960) wrote that  this map the Afghan ruler "had not signed." Although  the Durand Treaty did not mention Balochistan or the Afghan-Baloch boundary, its so-called Durand Line—running  from Wakhan  in the northeast to the Persian border in the south—divides  Pashtun and Baloch tribes and subtribes.  None of the treaties between the British-governed India and Balochistan permitted  the colonial power to demark Baloch boundaries without the consent of the Baloch rulers.  In reality, the Durand Treaty was a trilateral treaty among Afghanistan, Balochistan and the British India.  As such, this treaty legally should have required the participation and signatures of all three states. But actually, the Durand Treaty was presented as a bilateral treaty between the Afghan King Abdul Rahman (1880-1901) and Sir Henry Mortimer Durand only.  This way, the British-governed India intentionally excluded Balochistan. Because of this failure to demark the boundaries of all three states with their participation, the Durand Treaty was null and void as soon as it was written.  The British circumvent the truth by possibly assuring the Afghan rulers that  Balochistan were part of the  British India—and, consequently, the colonial power did not need to have the consent of any Baluch ruler on matter of demarking their boundaries. As you can remember from the previous discussion, the border commission of 1871 headed by Major General Goldsmith was named the Perso-Baloch Boundary Commission, while the border commission of 1896 headed by Captain (later Sir) McMahon was called Anglo-Persian Joint Boundary Commission. In this misnomer the names Afghan and Baloch were evaporated. Pashtuns and Balochs may not forget these acts of deception.  

To avert any dilemmas, the British withheld information from the Baloch rulers about theDurand Treaty. This way, the colonial power kept Afghanistan and Balochistan in ignorance and apart from each other to unmask the wretched Durand Treaty of 1893, which divided the tribes and subtribes of both nations. In view of the above considerations, the Durand Treaty and its imaginary boundary line were an art of legal deception par excellence. The Secretary General of the Government of Balochistan in Exile, Mir Azaad Khan Baloch  specified in his analysis an important issue published  in May of 2006 : "Once Balochistan was secured, the Pakistani deceptively used" the legal concept of  uti possidetis juris "to their advantage and continued occupation of territories belonging to Afghanistan." In his expose, Secretary General Mir  Azad Khan  Baloch suggested this solution:  Afghanistan and Balochistan "should form a legal team to challenge the illegal occupation of Afghan territories and Balochistan by Pakistan in the International Court of Justice." (Durand Line Agreement is Illegal, in:  governmentofbalochistan.blogspot.com; Afghanland.com; also, see Dr. Dipak Basu, Professor of  International Economics, Nagasaki University, Japan: "Durand Line: The Line of Evil", October 1, 2006, in: balochrise.com [March 15, 2009].

London, Washington and Islamabad have been ignoring the Pashtun and Baloch national question. They should use their energy positively to help a just and viable solution emerge for all sides involved.

All Afghan nation is tired of being nothing more than fodder for corporate goliath.  Empires come and go.  All have coveted the territory and treasure of others.  All have shed the blood of innocents and all have been relegated to the dustbin of history.  All Afghan nation had all along fought against British private imperialism and Soviet social imperialism. All Afghan nation has all along demanded the return of its territories situated on the British-Pakistani side of the Sir Mortimer Durand line of 1893. All Afghan nation deserves full legal, political, territorial and social integrity of All Afghanistan stretching from Oxus to Indus and Baloch Sea.   March 17, 2011