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Archive for May, 2014

“The Audacity of Hope” by Sherry Rehman

The Audacity of Hope” by Sherry Rehman

The Audacity of Hope by Sherry Rehmanimages

The flight to New Delhi for Pakistan’s Prime Minister to attend Narendra Modi’s inaugural among other SAARC leaders is a short one, but it is nothing short of a diplomatic coup for both. The symbolic ceremonials of the event can at best be, well, just that: Symbolic.


It is Sharif’s bilateral meeting with the newly anointed PM of India, Narendra Modi, that has more than all the usual suspects chattering. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the average Pakistani no longer thinks about India, except to visit, trade or watch Bollywood movies. But this time, everyone has an opinion on two things: whether Sharif should have gone, or not, and more importantly, what he should expect from his first meeting with a BJP prime minister.

As former President Zardari said in support of the move, it’s a good decision, but a difficult one. It’s a tough call because hardliners are at their shrillest peak in trashing any reciprocity as a compromise with received history, Kashmir and Gujarat. Sharif must also know that to be taken seriously on foreign policy, the current muddle-through on counter-terrorism policy at home must change.


But it is smart politics because the positives far outweigh the negatives, just like the numbers for the decision far outweigh those against it in parliament. Pakistan is now a noisy democracy. Its elected representatives have spoken with a consensus on waging peace with India, which includes the main opposition party.
Given the limits of short-run diplomacy, what can take this meeting beyond a photo-op?
A first encounter after years of stalled dialogue can only hope to do three things. If the aim is to re-set ties, and not just drive PM Modi’s stock up on the global stage, then the two can at least go beyond sizing each other up. They can use the meeting to kick-start a long, often challenging journey of planned engagement to make South Asia a prohibitive, more lonelier place on the planet for terrorists, poverty and energy insecurity. They don’t need to make a calendar or a roadmap. That’s not what Prime Ministers do. But they can certainly direct their Foreign and Home Ministries to plot a course for the ‘new normal’. They can flesh this out in September at the UN sidelines, or earlier.
Two, they can buck a trend, and some criticism, to set a higher value on legacy politics than on just business. Don’t get me wrong. Business, trade, economic integration are the future, and must drive the motor for game-change. Yet all of us who have been powerful advocates of economic change as the lead engine in bilateral ties, have to step back and remind ourselves that while rightist governments dominate in both countries, at this point in time, history will not bend without a hand at its helm. The politics of extremism are at an unprecedented high in both countries, albeit in very different form and intensity. Pakistan faces a rash of terrorist violence and intolerance bordering on bigotry, especially with minorities. Afghanistan, is facing multiple vulnerabilities, including a security and economic vacuum. Such transition likely, if not surely, begets chaos. And while comparisons with Indian formal protections against religious intolerance may be odious and even misplaced, to the outside world, the BJP is still the benign face of a communalist machine that messaged anti-Pakistan sentiment in its election campaign. This is in stark contrast to Pakistan’s election, where none of the mainstream political parties even bothered to mention, let alone demonize India.
So what must the business-backed PMs do? Still plug hard for economic ties, but make the executive leap to broader course correction and resumption of full spectrum composite dialogue, including Kashmir. Before that can realistically be uninterruptible, PM Sharif has the Mumbai-trial baggage to sort, while PM Modi has to moderate some of his colleagues’ hawkish talk.
Lastly, Messrs Modi and Sharif really should take ten minutes out to game out what happens in event of a crisis.
Let’s not even pretend that the region is inured from that, or that through 2015 the Line of Control cannot flare up dangerously. Both must know that any real test of diplomacy will be during a flashpoint moment. Heads of nuclear states usually get this. Yet we still leave two hot borders and crisis management systems on autopilot. Both have been in politics long enough to know that usually between India and Pakistan, broad policy intentions spelt out at press stakeouts fall into the black hole of strategic drift. So before the next crisis erupts, they must commit to a time-lined plan to prevent events taking on a life of their own.
This is indeed an order as tall as the Minar-i-Pakistan which another vintage of BJP PM had the foresight and vision to visit. It is time another, more empowered BJP PM looked to history.

For Pakistan’s Sharif, his parliamentary numbers also mandates him to lead history at home. It’s true, the military’s worries can’t be wished away. They need to be dealt with, not ignored. Moving away from Siachin and Kargil mindsets in both countries won’t be easy. But big crowns come stuffed with thorns, as we all know. Even the smallest ambition for peace between India and Pakistan needs statesmanship and roadblock-mitigation. Hope is not a plan, no matter how audacious.


Sherry Rehman is President of Jinnah Institute. Rehman has served as Federal Minister of Information and Pakistan’s Ambassador to the USA in the PPP Government. She tweets @sherryrehman


This article also appears in The Times of India and The News (Pakistan) today.

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Nitty-gritty of Kashmir Track II

For the first time India accepts that LeT wasn’t involved in Bombay attack. Statement of a man no less than S.K Lambah, the famed diplomat heading the track 11 since long should put to rest all other speculations.
Read the criticism  below of his lecture in Kashmir University on 13 May 2014.

On May 13, S.K. Lambah, former diplomat and PM’s special envoy on  Track II talks with Pakistan delivered a lecture on on-going bilateral talks with Pakistan on resolving Kashmir tangle. He claims to be at the wheel since 2005. Never before has any officially accredited top level interlocutor   gone public on the sensitive theme of Kashmir. Why this uninhibited and dramatic exposition now, is the question? The timing, venue and the theme of lecture, all are intriguing. The venue, Kashmir University, is the power house for generating and disseminating separatist and secessionist ideology among the educated youth of Kashmir. Was the venue chosen to placate the champions of that ideology? What a crude and unrealistic strategy more likely to be counter-productive. About timing, the lecture was scheduled for just three days before the announcement of the result of parliamentary election. Remember that both Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and PDP Chief Mufti Mohd Sayeed both have been consistently exuding rhetoric of Indo-Pak talks to resole Kashmir tangle. Moving away from this prefatory, we find Lambah’s speech a concoction of lies, myths and spurious perceptions. According to him, K-situation has been worked out “quietly” since 2001. He hides elucidating why 2001. The reality is that when after 9/11 General Musharraf of Pakistan decided to be on the side of the US in her fight against Al-Qaeda terror, he emphatically sought US intervention in Kashmir as the price for siding with the US. He blackmailed the US and mounted pressure on Pentagon to link Kashmir to Pakistan’s anti-Al Qaeda and pro-US posture. It will be recalled the then US Defence Secretary Rumsfeld, and later on Powell— a buddy with Musharraf— both handed out subtle warnings to India that she would be in trouble if Kashmir issue was not resolved. American think-tanks and policy planners in Bush administration, espousing determinative pontifical role, vexed eloquent on what they considered positive aspects of climb down on Kashmir for India. Lambah’s following passage is verbatim reproduction of Pentagon’s brief to US Senate Foreign Relations Committee note: “A solution of the Kashmir issue will substantially enhance India’s security, strengthen the prospects for durable peace and stability in the region, and enable India to focus more on rapidly emerging long-term geo-political challenges…” Read between the lines, the note contains veiled threat that India’s security will be endangered if Kashmir question was not solved. It also harkens India to extended threat not only from the rising jihadists on her west but also the rapidly emerging regional threat of China without mentioning any name. It will be noted that Lambah changes the goal post by declaring that Mumbai attack was not conducted by LeT but by Al Qaeda. This is brazen distortion purporting to reinforce US’ veiled threat to India and coerce her into climb down on Kashmir. Lambah is eloquent in speaking the language of the US. What was Ilyas Kashmiri’s role before he joined Al Qaeda and what were his links? Lambah did not touch on that. Lambah claims Kashmir talks have “survived a string of deadly and high visibility attacks.” What a paradox and naiveté. Who made attacks to disrupt talks and whose creation are they? Why does the Indian envoy want to exonerate his counterpart who is integral to the attacking outfit? Lambah links our destiny to a “stable, peaceful, cooperative and connected neighbour.” Presuming the State of Pakistan has not these attributes, does it mean that our destiny is doomed? What a typical servile and slavish mentality.  Lambah knows more than anybody else that Pakistan owes her survival to instability, disorder and non-cooperation with India. She receives enormous cash doles from her western and Gulf patrons for perpetuating instability and disorder. This is the essential pre-requisite of a military dominated polity. Contributing to American agenda in the region (Kashmir included); Lambah joins their chorus of “militant spill over” into Kashmir. What he proposes is that India should succumb but not resist. What an irony that a diplomat of a nuclear country should speak the language of slavery and imbecility and label it as diplomacy. That is what his mentors want him to profess. He talks of national interests without elucidating what precisely are our national interests. Pakistan’s national interest is capturing Kashmir by whatever means possible — war, proxy war, low intensity war, instigating armed uprising, destabilising elected government in Kashmir and last but not the least Track II diplomacy, which she is carrying forward simultaneously with it.  For achieving this national interest, Pakistan has publicly announced that she will render all sort of support to the so-called Kashmiri freedom fighters. Is India’s national interest to concede on table what Pakistan could not achieve on the ground? Did Pakistan ever show even the faintest symptom of deviating from her stated interest? Against this, India’s climb down is explicit: she has watered down the Parliament Resolution of February 1994 on Kashmir; she has succumbed to legalizing the return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri militants responsible for killing Kashmiri Pandits, and ethnically cleansing Kashmir of 3.5 lakh Kashmiri Hindu minority community. Is it India’s national interests to silently allow Wahhabizing of Kashmirian society and let secessionist leaders like Ali Geelani to rubbish Indian Constitution by demanding secession from India and accession to Pakistan and giving a call for boycott of elections. Lambah wants these parallel interests to be preserved and pursued and formalised through secret talks between the two states. Lambah’s claim that talks between the two countries are carried on “silently without the knowledge, prompting and intervention of any third Party”, is blatant lie and horrendous attempt of misleading ordinary people.  Not only had the sources of US administration but even President Obama as well repeatedly said that the two countries were carrying forward their talks on Kashmir and that the US would facilitate it if asked for. Former Pakistani President General Musharraf said that his country was talking to Indians. What for has been ARS the NC leader shuttling between Islamabad and Srinagar almost every month, and at whose expenses? Coming to the much touted 7-point proposal of Lambah, he has lionised himself by defending each point as vigorously as he could. But nowhere in his speech did he drop even the slightest hint about the reaction of his counterpart to his proposal. He avoids giving us a peep into the mind of Pakistani mind. Anyway, we react to his proposal as follows: By suggesting “no redrawing of borders” does he not water down the Parliament’s Resolution of February 1994? When he concedes correctness of India’s legal, historical and political standpoint in Kashmir, why then oppose redrawing the original border of the State of Jammu and Kashmir? It is a contradiction in terms, a fallacy incompatible with ground situation. As regards free movement and removal of tariff, let us be realists. Trade between two sides is not and shall not grow as may be cherished by Lambah and his votaries. On several occasions, Indian security and excise personnel checking the cargo and people at the transit point in Poonch sector have seized drugs, fake currency, hawala money and sub-standard material brought to our side. They have also seized goods made in Pakistan which are not allowed. Azad Kashmir side has been abusing the facility. It is absolute naivety to believe that movement of people will be a successful confidence building measure. It has proved another source of hurting India and, therefore, should be shut down forthwith. The expectation of Pakistan putting an end to hostility, violence and terrorism is far-fetched and wishful. Pakistan has three power centres not one: the government in Islamabad, army in Rawalpindi GHQ and TTP in Waziristan. Each power centre has its perception, programme and target. Lambah also says peace effort has survived a string of deadly and high visibility attacks. Unwittingly he contradicts his own statements. As far as the reduction of troops on both sides is concerned, Lambah should know that two decades back Pakistan has raised fully trained, equipped and motivated jihadi crusaders all along the LoC as well as IB with India. Pakistan army has publicly announced that the jihadis form the frontline of defence along her eastern border. We have met with their adventures in Kashmir and even at the IB near Kathua. Pakistan has repeatedly stated that she has no control on “non-State actors” meaning jihadis. She has created this force and put the safety valve in place. What sense is there in proposing reduction of army on both sides? As far as self-governance proposal is concerned, Lambah knows that in terms of political and democratic arrangement, the two sides are not comparable. Gilgit Baltistan has been integrated into Pakistan despite the decision of “AJK” High Court that it is part of the original state of Jammu and Kashmir. What about the self-rule of that region? Will Pakistan allow them autonomous status and promise to maintain it? Lastly, Lambah touches on volatile human rights issue clubbing it with reintegration of militants into society. We need to identify the groups whose human rights have been violated before we proceed further on the subject. These are (a) Nearly 10 lakh Hindus and Sikhs who were attacked by Pakistan sponsored and abetted tribesmen on 22 October 1947 in Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Kotli, Bagh etc. and forced them out of their homes to migrate to Indian part of the state (b) Hindus and Sikhs who were attacked by tribesmen in 1947 and looted by locals in the then district of Baramulla extending from Uri to Shalteng in the peripheries of Srinagar. (c) About a thousand Kashmiri  Hindus killed by Pakistan armed militants during the rise of Theo-fascism in early 1990 in Kashmir valley followed by extirpation of entire 3.5 lakh-strong community, and loot and vandalizing of their moveable and immoveable property. They are sill living in refugee camps in exile, and last but not the least the Shia community of Gilgit-Baltistan that has been denied religious, political, economic and social rights and have been subjected to forcible demographic change by Pakistani rulers. To add to these, now thousands of Chinese troops have been allowed to occupy the region and exploit its mineral wealth and water resources to the benefit of Pakistanis and not the locals. Respecting human rights of these victimized groups means doing something in practice to mitigate their suffering and compensating them for material and psychological losses they have gone through. As regards re-integration of militants into society, the question is where they ever disintegrated from society and who disintegrated them?  Lambah needs to put the record straight. These young Kashmiris enthusiastically responded to Pakistan’s prompting to clandestinely cross the LoC, join terrorist camps in PoK, go through brain washing, receive training in arms and subversion, re-enter Kashmir and cause killing, mayhem, insurgency, rape, loot of banks, kidnapping and other criminal activities. Their home people gave them outright support in these activities and even felt proud that if they were killed they would attain martyrdom. Which of their human right was violated and by whom, Lambah must specify. This exposition will make it clear to the audience that the US exerted great pressure on India to climb down on Kashmir so that her interests in Afghanistan and Pakistan were served. All that one can say is that India should refuse to be blackmailed and intimidated. We have to build the capacity of facing any challenge from any quarter. We should expose interlocutors who are going around with somebody else’s agenda in their brief cases. (The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University)

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“You do not do evil to those who do evil to you, but you deal with them with forgiveness and kindness.” —Prophet Muhammad عليه السلام (Sahih Al-Bukhari).
Jesus never taught, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, but rather
He taught “When someone strikes you on the left cheek, offer the other side
also”. He wants us to be forgiving and loving towards those who hurt us 
and not render evil for evil, but instead render good for evil; that your
light may shine and the Love of God show through your life. 
(Matthew 5:38-40) (Matthew 5:16)



Major Muhammad Hassan Miraj

Pakistan Army

The track from Sar Shameer meets the road from Samundri at Gojra. The city is famous for many reasons but all of them are tainted with remorse.

Before partition, a large eye hospital functioned at Gojra. India, in those days, had three ophthalmologists. The other two practiced in relatively large cities but Dr Harbhajan Singh stayed at Gojra and treated his patients, some of whom traversed almost entire India to visit him. In 1947, the doctor decided to leave. The locals tried to convince him but the new found land was far more promising than the one which had nurtured him for decades. Many eyes were lost due to tears while others went dark due to absence of treatment, but the city had an answer to blind eyes.
When Amir Ali, a 2nd year student from Gojra lost his eyesight, he did not lose his hope. Graduating from Lincoln’s Inn, he went on to become the first blind person to secure a Doctorate in Legal studies from Canada. The spirit which illuminated Dr Amir Ali Amjad’s ambition now furnishes his dream to build a large eye complex in Gojra for low income patients.
Field hockey is another feature of the city. Gojra rose to prominence as a nursery town of Hockey players, when Pakistan championed the game. As the public and private interest faded, the game also divorced itself from the city. Few kids, however, can still be spotted chasing the torn ball with improvised hockey sticks. The last reference to the city is from the first of August, 2009. The day was painted black due to carnage that resulted in eight deaths including three women and a child. Along with the sun, the hopes and the sense of security also went down. The Christians of Gojra realised that though the city had an answer to the blind eye, it could not do anything for the blind heart.
Few miles away from Gojra is the village of Korian, home to many Christians. It all started from a Christian wedding on July 29, 2009, when a Muslim guest was shown out due to his bad behaviour. After few hours, a mob started building up in front of the wedding house. The rejected guest was leading the crowd with an allegation of blasphemy. The mob insisted that Talib Maseeh and his fellows had desecrated Quran. Before Korian residents could come out bare-footed with the Bible raised above their head to plead not guilty, a church and few houses were set on fire.
  Courtesy Samson Simon Sharaf
—Courtesy Samson Simon Sharaf
Two days later, the Imams of Gojra mosques demanded the federal government to force Christians out of the city. Rallies were called and Muslims worldwide were appealed to save the religion. The appeal was instantly answered by students of seminaries in Jhang. When the crowd swelled, a political leader further instigated the crowd and directed them towards the Christian colony. The leader, who was interested in a housing scheme next to Christian colony, was recently sworn in the parliament. Militants from Jhang drove their twin cabin vehicles to Gojra, brandishing their weapons. While all this happened, police chose to look the other way. More so, when the violence picked up, they fled the scene telling the Christians to run for their lives. By then, all the escape routes had been blocked.
The mob initially chanted the slogans and then pelted stones at Christian houses. With every passing minute, the slogans picked up in tone and rage. A little later, someone shouted Allah o Akbar and torched a house. When the neighboring residences caught fire, people started running for their lives, devastated by the dilemma of what to take and what to leave. The flickering flames burnt houses, securities, pledges and safeguards leaving debris that told miserable stories. In one of the vandalised quarter, a portrait of Jesus Christ had crashed on floor. The Biblical injunction could be read through scratched frame. 
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”(Romans 12:14)
Minhas Hameed, the sole survivor of his family which lost seven lives, clearly recalls that his father was shot in the forehead. He rushed to the hospital without any idea that this was the last he would see of his house and family. After he left, the violence picked up and his scared family gathered in one room to save their lives. When the house caught fire, they could not leave the room. Around 60 houses were burnt that day. These men took instructions from mobile phones and torched houses, which were built by the meager earnings of one generation or even two.
Though the miscreants had masked their faces but the victims also deflected identities. When I looked through caskets, the faces appeared strangely familiar. The burnt corpse of 50-year-old Hameed Maseeh bore striking resemblance with Lal Din Sharaf Sargodhavi, a Christian freedom fighter who had penned an anthem and blocked Jinnah’s entourage at Mission Hospital Quetta to secure guarantees for Pakistani minorities. Forty-year-old Ikhlas Maseeh looked a lot like Sepoy Murad Maseeh, who was martyred on May 17, 2013, while fighting miscreants in Mitni, Peshawar. The 20-year-old charred body was not Asia bibi but probably Sister Martha who never forgot to wish us on Eid and never expected our greetings on Christmas. The scorched remains of 22-year-old Imamia bibi reminded me of Safia, our Christian maid and a part of my childhood memories. While I always ridiculed her dark complexion and called her names, she wore a patient smile and did not leave until I had taken my meal.
Every mourning woman of Gojra looked so familiar. I had seen them moving in our houses every morning, placing their religion and their crockery, besides the electric meter boxes (normally out of the houses) and taking care of our faith that commanded cleanliness. The displaced men looked so much like A R Cornelius and the wounded resembled Cecil Choudhary. Sitting with the coffins, these dark men had managed our schools, ran our offices, maintained our libraries and trimmed our lawns. They were partners to every refinement and accomplishment in our lives.
When the world got the word after two days, police started with raids and arrests. An inquiry commission was ordered which awaits its report to-date. The initial investigations have ruled out any incident of defiling of Quran. The men who set ablaze the church and Christian houses are hinted from Sipah-e-Sahaba (the military of companions of Prophet (PBUH)). Little did they know that one of the companions appointed by the Prophet himself was Waraqa Ibn Naufil, a Christian who had endorsed prophet-hood before many of the faithful.

اگست کی پہلی

سمندری سے آنے والی سڑک اور سر شمیر سے آنے والی ریل گوجرہ میں گلے ملتی ہے۔ یوں تو شہر کے کئی حوالے ہیں مگر ہر حوالہ تاسف سے ہو کر گزرتا ہے۔
تقسیم سے پہلے گوجرہ میں آنکھوں کا ایک بڑا ہسپتال ہوا کرتا تھا۔ یہ وہ دور تھا جب پورے ہندوستان میں آنکھوں کے بس تین ہی ڈاکٹر مشہور تھے۔ باقی دو تو بڑے شہروں میں آباد تھے مگر ڈاکٹر ہربھجن سنگھ گوجرہ میں رہتے اور دور پار سے آنے والوں کی بینائی کا سبب کیا کرتے تھے۔
تقسیم ہوئی تو ڈاکٹر صاحب نے بھی سامان باندھ لیا۔ لوگوں نے انہیں بہت روکا مگر اس وطن کی کشش جو لکیر کھینچنے سے بنا تھا، اس وطن سے زیادہ نکلی جس نے پال پوس کر بڑا کیا تھا۔
کچھ آنکھیں تو جانے والوں کی آزردگی میں رو رو کر اندھی ہو گئیں اور کچھ علاج نہ ملنے کے سبب۔ مگر شائد شہر کے مقدر میں روشنیاں باقی تھیں۔ اسی شہر کا ایک طالب علم نابینا ہونے کے باوجود انگلستان سے بیرسٹری اور کینیڈا سے ڈاکٹریٹ کی ڈگری لے کر تاریکیوں سے لڑ رہا ہے۔
ڈاکٹر عامر علی امجد نے بصارت چلے جانے کے بعد جس بصیرت سے اپنے خواب پورے کئے، اب اسی حوصلے سے اندھیری زندگیوں میں روشنیاں بانٹنے کے لئے گوجرہ میں آنکھوں کا بہت بڑا ہسپتال بنا رہے ہیں۔
شہر کی ایک اور شناخت ہاکی کا کھیل ہے۔ کوئی وقت تھا کہ ان گلیوں میں ہاکی کھیلنے والوں کو دنیا رشک کی نگاہ سے دیکھتی، مگر پھر لوگوں کو دلچسپی کے نئے سامان مل گئے اور یہ کھیل پس منظر میں چلا گیا۔ شہر کے کونوں کھدروں میں اب بھی خال خال بچے ٹوٹی کھپچیوں سے پھٹی گیند کا تعاقب کرتے نظر آ تے ہیں۔

فوٹو — سیمسن سائمن شرف –.
شہر کی آخری یاد اگست 2009 کی پہلی تاریخ ہے۔ یہ سیاہ دن جاتے جاتے اپنے ساتھ تین عورتوں اور ایک بچے سمیت نو لوگوں کی جان لے کر گیا۔ جب اگست کا پہلا سورج غروب ہوا تو اس کے ساتھ ہی امید کے ہزاروں چراغ اور تحفظ کے لاکھوں دئیے بھی بجھ گئے۔ گوجرہ کے مسیحیوں کو پہلی بار لگا کہ شہر کے مقدر میں روشنیاں تو ہیں مگر بینائی نہیں۔
بات کوریاں سے شروع ہوئی جو گوجرہ سے کچھ میل کے فاصلے پہ واقع ہے۔ گاؤں میں آباد عیسائیوں کے ہاں ایک شادی کا اہتمام تھا۔ تقریب کے دوران جب مسلمان مہمان نے تہذیب کی حد پار کی تو اسے محفل سے بھیج دیا گیا۔
تھوڑی دیر بعد گاؤں کے مختلف حصوں سے ایک ہجوم اکٹھا ہونے لگا۔ نکالا گیا مہمان، قران کی بے حرمتی کے الزام اور مشتعل افراد کے ساتھ اس ہجوم کی قیادت کر رہا تھا۔ مظاہرین بضد تھے کہ طالب مسیح نے اپنے ساتھیوں کے ساتھ مل کر مقدس اوراق کی بے حرمتی کی تھی۔
اس سے پہلے کہ کوریاں کے عیسائی انجیل سروں پہ بلند کئے، اپنی بے گناہی کا ثبوت دینے ننگے پاؤں گھروں سے باہر آتے، مشتعل افراد نے گھروں اور گرجا کو آگ لگانا شروع کر دی۔

فوٹو — سیمسن سائمن شرف –.
دو دن بعد مقامی مساجد میں امام صاحب نے جمعے کے خطبے کے ذریعے حکومت وقت سے مطالبہ کیا کہ گوجرہ سے مسیحی آبادی کو بے دخل کر دیا جائے۔ ریلیاں نکالنے کے اعلان کے ساتھ ساتھ، عالم اسلام سے بھی مدد کی اپیل کی گئی، جس پہ جھنگ کے مدرسے کے طلبا نے فوراً لبّیک کہا۔
جب مجمع کافی تعداد میں اکٹھا ہو گیا تو ایک سیاسی رہنما نے ہجوم کو مزید اشتعال دلایا اور اس کا رخ عیسائی آبادی کی طرف موڑ دیا۔ یہ سیاسی رہنما جو کرسچن کالونی سے ملحقہ زمین پہ ایک نئی ہاؤسنگ سکیم بنانا چاہتے تھے، اب پارلیمان کا حصہ ہیں۔
موقع پہ موجود پولیس دیر تک تماشا دیکھتی رہی اور آخر میں لوگوں کو جان بچا کر بھاگنے کا مشورہ دیتے ہوئے غائب ہو گئی۔ تب تک بھاگنے کے تمام راستے بھی مسدود ہو چکے تھے۔
پہلے کرسچن کالونی کے گھروں کے سامنے نعرے برسنا شروع ہوئے اور پھر پتھر۔ آہستہ آہستہ نعروں میں شدت اور ہجوم میں جوش بڑھنے لگا۔ پھر کسی نے تکبیر کا نعرہ لگایا اور آگے بڑھ کر ایک گھر کو آگ لگا دی۔ جب آگ پھیلنے لگی تو لوگ گھر چھوڑ کر جان بچانے کو بھاگ پڑے۔
مکان سے اٹھتے ہوئے شعلوں میں یوں تو بہت کچھ جلا مگر ایک ملبے سے حضرت عیسیٰ کی تصویر سیاہ حاشیوں سے چٹخ کر نیچے گر پڑی۔ دراڑ پڑے شیشوں کے نیچے سے تصویر پہ انجیل کی آئت صاف پڑھی جاتی تھی؛
“ان کی خیر مانگ جو تجھے اذیت دیں، خیر مانگ اور برا بھلا مت کہہ”۔
جس گھر سے سات جنازے اٹھے وہاں بچنے والے منہاس حمید کو بس اتنا یاد ہے کہ پہلی گولی اس کے والد کو ماتھے پہ لگی۔ وہ باپ کو لے کر اسپتال کی طرف بھاگا تو اس کے وہم و گمان میں بھی نہ تھا کہ اس کی واپسی کسی جلے ہوئے کھنڈر میں ہو گی۔

فوٹو — سیمسن سائمن شرف –.
منہاس کے جاتے ہی حملوں میں تیزی آ گئی ۔ گھر والوں کو کچھ سمجھ نہ آئ تو وہ ایک کمرے میں اکٹھے ہو گئے۔ آگ لگی تو جس کمرے میں ان لوگوں نے پناہ لے رکھی تھی وہی ان کا مرقد بن گیا۔
اس دن تقریبا ساٹھ گھر راکھ ہوئے۔ نقاب پوش افراد موبائل فون پہ ہدایات لیتے اور پٹرول سے ان گھروں کو آگ لگاتے جاتے تھے جنہیں بناتے بناتے ان مظلوموں کی ایک سے زیادہ نسلوں نے محنت کی تھی۔
جلانے والے تو خیر نامعلوم افراد تھے ہی، عجیب بات یہ ہے کہ بند گھروں کے جھلسے ہوئے چہروں پہ بھی کسی اور کا گمان ہوتا تھا۔ میں نے قریب سے دیکھا تو ان فریادی شکلوں میں عجیب عکس نظر آئے۔
مجھے لگا کہ یہ کملائی ہوئی لاش پچاس سالہ حمید مسیح کی نہیں بلکہ لال دین شرف سرگودھوی کی ہے جنہوں نے مشن اسپتال کوئٹہ کے سامنے قائد اعظم کی سواری روک کر اقلیتوں کے حقوق منوائے تھے۔
40 سالہ اخلاص مسیح کے مڑے تڑے وجود میں مجھے خانیوال کا سپاہی مراد مسیح نظر آیا جو 18 مئی 2013 کو متنیٰ میں شدت پسندوں سے لڑتا ہوا شہید ہوا تھا۔ بیس سالہ وہ لاش مجھے آسیہ بی بی کی نہیں بلکہ سسٹر مارتھا کی لگی جو ہمیں تو عیدی دیا کرتی مگر ہم سے کرسمس کی مبارکباد کی توقع نہ رکھتی تھی۔
22 سالہ امامیہ بی بی کی بجائے تابوت میں اس صفیہ کا جسم پڑا تھا، جو میرے بچپن کا حصہ تھی۔ میں ہمیشہ صفیہ کو اس کی سیاہ رنگت کا طعنہ دیتا مگر وہ خندہ پیشانی سے مسکراتی رہتی اور مجھے کھانا کھلا کر گھر جاتی۔
گوجرہ کی ماتم کرتی خواتین کا ہر چہرہ جانا پہچانا تھا، یہ وہ عورتیں تھیں، جو ہر روز اپنا مذہب، باہر بجلی کے میٹر والے خانے میں تام چینی کے برتنوں کے ساتھ رکھ کر ہمارے گھروں میں داخل ہوتیں اور ہمارے نصف ایمان کا بندوبست کرتیں۔

فوٹو — صدف اشرف –.
بے گھر ہونے والے افراد میں کوئی جسٹس اے آر کارنیلییس تھا تو ملبے میں سے صاف اینٹیں اکٹھی کرنے والا کوئی سیسل چوہدری۔ تابوتوں کے دامن میں ہاتھوں کی زنجیر باندھے یہ سب لوگ وہ تھے جنہوں نے اپنی محنت سے ہمارے سکولوں کی لائبریریاں بھی سنبھالی تھیں اور ہمارے گھر وں کے باغیچے بھی سنوارے تھے۔
دو دن بعد جب آگ کی تپش باہر کی دنیا سے گھوم کر اسلام آباد پہنچی تو پولیس نے چھاپے بھی مارے اور گرفتاریاں بھی کیں۔ ایک انکوائری تشکیل دی گئی جس کی رپورٹ ابھی تک نہیں آئی۔
ابتدائی تحقیقات کے مطابق مقدس اوراق کی بے حرمتی کا کوئی واقعہ سرے سے پیش ہی نہ آیا تھا۔ ان گھروں اور عبادت گاہوں کو آگ لگانے والے ان صحابہ کے سپاہی تھے جن میں حضرت محمد کی نبوّت کی تصدیق کرنے والے واحد عیسائی ورقہ بن نوفل کا نام بھی آتا ہے۔
Muhammad Hassan Miraj


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Is India on a Totalitarian Path? Arundhati Roy on Corporatism, Nationalism and World’s Largest Vote

Editor: Maqsood Kayani,Pakistan Think Tank
Is India on a Totalitarian Path? Arundhati Roy on Corporatism, Nationalism and World’s Largest Vote  

As voting begins in India in the largest elections the world has ever seen, we spend the hour with Indian novelist and essayist Arundhati Roy. Nearly 815 million Indians are eligible to vote, and results will be issued in May. One of India’s most famous authors — and one of its fiercest critics — Roy is out with a new book, “Capitalism: A Ghost Story,” which dives into India’s transforming political landscape and makes the case that globalized capitalism has intensified the wealth divide, racism, and environmental degradation. “This new election is going to be [about] who the corporates choose,” Roy says, “[about] who is not going to blink about deploying the Indian army against the poorest people in this country, and pushing them out to give over those lands, those rivers, those mountains, to the major mining corporations.” Roy won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel, “The God of Small Things.” Her other books include “An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire” and “Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers.”


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Voting has begun in India in the largest election the world has ever seen. About 815 million Indians are eligible to vote over the next five weeks. The number of voters in India is more than two-and-a-half times the entire population of the United States. The election will take place in nine phases at over 900,000 polling stations across India. Results will be known on May 16th. Pre-election polls indicate Narendra Modi will likely become India’s next prime minister. Modi is the leader of the BJP, a Hindu nationalist party. He serves—he served as the chief minister of Gujarat, where one of India’s worst anti-Muslim riots occurred in 2002 that left at least a thousand people dead. After the bloodshed, the U.S. State Department revoked Modi’s visa, saying it could not grant a visa to any foreign government official who, quote, “was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom.” Modi has never apologized for or explained his actions at the time of the riots. Modi’s main challenger to become prime minister is Rahul Gandhi of the ruling Congress party. Gandhi is heir to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that’s governed India for much of its post-independence history. Several smaller regional parties and the new anti-corruption Common Man Party are also in the running. If no single party wins a clear majority, the smaller parties could play a crucial role in forming a coalition government. Well, today we spend the hour with one of India’s most famous authors and one of its fiercest critics, Arundhati Roy. In 1997, Roy won the Booker Prize for her novel, The God of Small Things. Since then, she has focused on nonfiction. Her books include An Ordinary Person’s Guide to EmpireField Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers and Walking with the Comrades. Her latest book is titled Capitalism: A Ghost Story. Nermeen Shaikh and I recently sat down with Arundhati Roy when she was in New York. We began by asking about her new book and the changes that have taken place in India since it opened its economy in the early ’90s.

ARUNDHATI ROY: What we’re always told is that, you know, there’s going to be a trickle-down revolution. You know, that kind of opening up of the economy that happened in the early ’90s was going to lead to an inflow of foreign capital, and eventually the poor would benefit. So, you know, being a novelist, I started out by standing outside this 27-story building that belonged to Mukesh Ambani, with its ballrooms and its six floors of parking and 900 servants and helipads and so on. And it had this 27-story-high vertical lawn, and bits of the grass had sort of fallen off in squares. And so, I said, “Well, trickle down hasn’t worked, but gush up has,” because after the opening up of the economy, we are in a situation where, you know, 100 of India’s wealthiest people own—their combined wealth is 25 percent of the GDP, whereas more than 80 percent of its population lives on less than half a dollar a day. And the levels of malnutrition, the levels of hunger, the amount of food intake, all these—all these, you know, while India is shown as a quickly growing economy, though, of course, that has slowed down now dramatically, but at its peak, what happened was that this new—these new economic policies created a big middle class, which, given the population of India, gave the impression of—it was a universe of its own, with, you know, the ability to consume cars and air conditioners and mobile phones and all of that. And that huge middle class came at a cost of a much larger underclass, which was just away from the arc lights, you know, which wasn’t—which wasn’t even being looked at, millions of people being displaced, pushed off their lands either by big development project or just by land which had ceased to be productive. You had—I mean, we have had 250,000 farmers committing suicide, which, if you even try to talk about, let’s say, on the Indian television channels, you actually get insulted, you know, because it—

NERMEEN SHAIKH: I mean, that’s an extraordinary figure. It’s a quarter of a million farmers who have killed themselves.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Yeah, and let me say that that figure doesn’t include the fact that, you know, if it’s a woman who kills herself, she’s not considered a farmer, or now they’ll start saying, “Oh, it wasn’t suicide. Oh, it was depression. It was this. It was that.” You know?

AMY GOODMAN: But why are they killing themselves?

ARUNDHATI ROY: Because they are caught in a debt trap, you know, because what happens is that the entire—the entire face of agriculture has changed. So people start growing cash crops, you know, crops which are market-friendly, which need a lot of input. You know, they need pesticides. They need borewells. They need all kinds of chemicals. And then the crop fails, or the cost of the—that they get for their product doesn’t match the amount of money they have to put into it. And also you have situations like in the Punjab, where—which was called the “rice bowl of India.” Punjab never used to grow rice earlier, but now—

AMY GOODMAN: In the north of India.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Yes, in the north. And it’s supposed to be India’s richest agricultural state. But there you have so many farmer suicides now, land going saline. The, you know, people, ironically, the way they commit suicide is by drinking the pesticide, you know, which they need to—and apart from the fact that the debt, the illness that is being caused by all of this, in Punjab, you have a train called the Cancer Express, you know, where people just coming in droves to be treated for illness and—you know, and—

AMY GOODMAN: And the train is called the Cancer Express?

ARUNDHATI ROY: Yes, it’s called the Cancer Express. And—

AMY GOODMAN: Because of the pesticide that they’re exposed to?

ARUNDHATI ROY: Yeah, and they are. And this is the richest state in India, you know—I mean agriculturally the richest. And there’s a crisis there—never mind in places like, you know, towards the west, Maharashtra and Vidarbha, where, you know, farmers are killing themselves almost every day.

AMY GOODMAN: I was wondering if you could read from Capitalism: A Ghost Story.

ARUNDHATI ROY: So, “In India, the 300 million of us who belong to the new, post-IMF’reforms’ middle class—the market—live side by side with the spirits of the nether world, the poltergeists of dead rivers, dry wells, bald mountains and denuded forests; the ghosts of 250,000 debt-ridden farmers who have killed themselves, and the 800 million who have been impoverished and dispossessed to make way for us. And who survive on less than half a dollar, which is 20 Indian rupees, a day.

“Mukesh Ambani is personally worth $20 billion. He holds a majority controlling share in Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), a company with a market capitalization of $47 billion and global business interests that include petrochemicals, oil, natural gas, polyester fibre, Special Economic Zones, fresh food retail, high schools, life sciences research and stem cell storage services. RIL recently bought 95 per cent shares in Infotel, a TV consortium that controls 27 TV news and entertainment channels in almost every regional language.

“RIL is one of a handful of corporations that run India. Some of the others are the Tatas, Jindals, Vedanta, Mittals, Infosys, Essar. Their race for growth has spilled across Europe, Central Asia, Africa and Latin America. Their nets are cast wide; they are visible and invisible, over-ground as well as underground. The Tatas, for example, run more than 100 companies in 80 countries. They are one of India’s oldest and largest private sector power companies. They own mines, gas fields, steel plants, telephone, cable TV and broadband networks, and they run whole townships. They manufacture cars and trucks, and own the Taj Hotel chain, Jaguar, Land Rover, Daewoo, Tetley Tea, a publishing company, a chain of bookstores, a major brand of iodized salt and the cosmetics giant Lakme—which I think they’ve sold now. Their advertising tagline could easily be: You Can’t Live Without Us.

“According to the rules of the Gush-Up Gospel, the more you have, the more you can have.”

AMY GOODMAN: Arundhati Roy, reading from her new book, Capitalism: A Ghost Story. We’ll be back with her in a minute. [break] AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!democracynow.orgThe War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue our conversation with the world-renowned author Arundhati Roy. Voting has just begun in India in the largest election the world has ever seen. About 815 million Indians are eligible to vote over the next five weeks. The number of eligible voters in India is larger than the total population of the United States and European Union combined. Arundhati Roy won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel, The God of Small Things. Her latest book is called Capitalism: A Love Story [sic]. Democracy Now!‘s — Capitalism: A Ghost StoryDemocracy Now!‘s Nermeen Shaikh and I talked to Arundhati Roy about the changes in India she describes in her latest book and the implications for the elections.

ARUNDHATI ROY: So, I’m talking about how, when you have this kind of control over all business, over the media, over its essential infrastructure, electricity generation, information, everything, then you just field your, you know, pet politicians. And right now, for example, what’s happening in India is that one of the reasons that is being attributed to the slowdown of the economy is the fact that there is a tremendous resistance to all of this from the people on the ground, from the people who are being displaced, from the—and in the forests, it’s the Maoist guerrillas; in the villages, it’s all kinds of people’s movements—all of whom are of course being called Maoist. And now, there is a—you see, these economic policies—these new economic policies cannot be implemented unless—except with state—with coercive state violence. So you have a situation where the forests are full of paramilitary just burning villages, you know, pushing people out of their homes, trying to clear the land for mining companies to whom the government has signed, you know, hundreds of memorandums of understanding. Outside the forests, too, this is happening. So there is a kind of war which, of course, always existed in India. There hasn’t been a year when the Indian army hasn’t been deployed against its own people. I mean, I’ll talk about that later—

AMY GOODMAN: Since when?

ARUNDHATI ROY: Since independence, since 1947, you know? But now the plan is to deploy them. Now it’s the paramilitary. But this new election is going to be who is the person that the corporates choose, who is not going to blink about putting the Indian—about deploying the Indian army against the poorest people in this country, you know, and pushing them out to give over those lands, those rivers, those mountains, to the major mining corporations. So this is what we are being prepared for now—the air force, the army, going in into the heart of India now.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Before we go to the elections, could you—one of the operations, the military operations, you talk about is Operation Green Hunt.


NERMEEN SHAIKH: Could you explain what that is, when it started, and who it targets?

ARUNDHATI ROY: Well, Operation Green Hunt, basically—you know, in 2004, the current government signed a series of memorandums of understanding with a number of mining corporations and infrastructure development companies to build dams, to do mining, to build roads, to move India into the space where, as the home minister at the time said, he wanted 75 percent of India’s population to live in cities, which is, you know, moving—social engineering, really, moving 500 million people or so out of their homes. And so, then they came up against this very, very militant resistance from the ground. As I said, in the forests, there were armed Maoist guerrillas; outside the forest, there are militant, you know, some call themselves Gandhians, all kinds. There’s a whole diversity of resistance but, although strategically they had different ways of dealing with it, were all fighting the same thing. So then, in the state of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, which are where there are huge indigenous populations—

NERMEEN SHAIKH: In central India.

ARUNDHATI ROY: In central India—the first thing the government did was to—very similar to what happened in places like Peru and Colombia, you know, they started to arm a section of the indigenous population and create a vigilante army. It was called the Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh. The Salwa Judum, along with local paramilitary, went in and started decimating villages, like they basically chased some 300,000 people out of the forests, and some 600 villages were emptied. And then the people began to fight back. And really, this whole Salwa Judum experiment failed, at which point they announced Operation Green Hunt, where there was this official declaration of war.

And there was so much propaganda in the media. As I explain to you now, the media is owned by the corporations who have vested interests. So there was this—you know, the prime minister came out and said, “They are the greatest internal security threat.” And, you know, there was this kind of conflation between the Maoists with their ski caps and, you know, the Lashkar-e-Taiba and all these people who are threatening the idea of India.

What the government wasn’t prepared for was the fightback, not just from the people in the forest, but even from a range of activists, a range of people who were outraged by this. And, you know, they passed these laws which meant that anybody could be called a Maoist and, you know, a threat to security. And thousands—even today, there are thousands of people in jail under sedition, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and so on. And—but that was Operation Green Hunt. But that, too, ran aground, because it’s very difficult terrain and—you know, so now the idea is to deploy the army. And now the corporations feel that this past government hadn’t—didn’t have the nerve to send out the army, that it blinked. And so—

AMY GOODMAN: This is the Congress party.

ARUNDHATI ROY: The Congress party and its allies. So now all the big corporations are backing the chief—the three-times chief minister of the state of Gujarat, the western state of Gujarat, who has proved his mettle, you know, by being an extremely hard and cold-blooded chief minister, who is now—I mean, he is, of course, best known for having presided over a pogrom against Muslims in Gujarat.

AMY GOODMAN: So talk about who Modi is—I mean, this moves us into the election of April; it’s going to be the largest election in the world—who the contenders are, who this man is who could well become the head of India, who the United States has not granted a visa to in years because of what you’re describing.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Well, who is Narendra Modi? I think he’s, you know, changing his—changing his idea of who he himself is, you know, because he started out as a kind of activist in this self-proclaimed fascist organization called the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the RSS, which was founded in 1925, who the heroes of the RSS were Mussolini and Hitler. Even today, you know, their—the bible of the RSS was written by a man called Golwalkar, you know, who says the Muslims of India are like the Jews of Germany. And so, they have a very clear idea of India as a Hindu nation, very much like the Hindu version of Pakistan.

AMY GOODMAN: Where, you’re saying, the Muslims should be eradicated.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Where they should be either made to live as, I think, second-class citizens and—

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Or they should move to Pakistan.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Yeah, or they should move to Pakistan. Or if they don’t behave themselves, they should just be killed, you know? So, this is a very old—you know, Modi didn’t invent it. But he was—he and even the former BJP prime minister, Vajpayee, the former home minister, Advani—all of these are members of the RSS. The RSS is an organization which has 40,000 or 50,000 units across India, extremely—I mean, they were at one point banned because a former member of the RSS killed Gandhi. But now—you know, now they are of course not a banned organization, and they work—

AMY GOODMAN: Killed Mahatma Gandhi.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Yeah, assassinated him. But that—but, so, Modi started out as a worker for the RSS. He, of course, came into great prominence in 2002, when he was already the chief minister of Gujarat but had been losing local municipal elections. And this was at the time when the BJP had run this big campaign in—they had demolished the Babri Masjid, this old 14th century mosque, in 1992. But they were now saying, “We want to build a big Hindu temple in that place.” And a group of pilgrims who were returning from the site where this temple was supposed to be built, the train in which they were traveling, the compartment was set on fire, and 58 Hindu pilgrims were burned. Nobody knows, even today, who set that compartment on fire and how it happened. But, of course, it was immediately, you know, blamed on Muslims. And then there followed an unbelievable pogrom in Gujarat, where more than a thousand people were lynched, were burned alive. Women were raped. Their abdomens were slit open. Their fetuses were taken out and so on. And not only that—

AMY GOODMAN: These were Muslims.

ARUNDHATI ROY: These were Muslims, by these Hindu mobs. And it became very clear that they had lists, they had support. The police were, you know, on side of the mobs. And, you know, 100,000 Muslims were driven from their homes. And this happened in 2002, this was 12 years ago. And subsequently, they have been—you know, the killers themselves have come on TV and boasted about their killing, come on—in sting operations. But the more they boasted, the more it became—I mean, for people who thought other people would be outraged, in fact it worked as election propaganda for Modi.

And even now, though he took off his sort of saffron turban and his red tikka and then put on a sharp suit and became the development chief minister, and yet, you know, when—recently, when he was interviewed by Reuters and asked whether he regretted what happened in 2002, he more or less said, “You know, I mean, even if I were driving a car and I drove over a puppy, I would feel bad,” you know? But he very expressly has refused to take any responsibility or regret what happened.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: But that’s one of the extraordinary things that you describe in the book, is that following liberalization and the growth of this enormous middle class, 300 million, there was a simultaneous shift, gradual shift, to a more right-wing, exclusive, intolerant conception of India as a Hindu state. So, simultaneously, this class embraces neoliberalism, the neoliberalism in India, and also a more conservative Hindu ideology. So can you explain how those two go together, and how in fact, along with what you said now about Modi, how that might play out in this election?

ARUNDHATI ROY: You know, whenever I speak in India, I say that in the late ’80s what the government did was they opened two locks. One was the lock of the free—of the market. The Indian market was not a free market, not an open market; it was a regulated market. They opened the lock of the markets. And they opened the lock of the Babri Masjid, which for years had been a disputed site, you know, and they opened it. And both those locks—the opening of both those locks eventually led to two kinds of totalitarianisms. One—and they both led to two kinds of manufactured terrorisms. You know, so the lock of the open market led to what are now being described as the Maoist terrorist, which includes all of us, you know, all of us. Anybody who’s speaking against this kind of economic totalitarianism is a Maoist, whether you are a Maoist or not. And the other, you know, the Islamist terrorist. So, what happens is that both the Congress party and the BJP has different prioritizations for which terrorist is on the top of the list, you know? But what happens is that whoever wins the elections, they always have an excuse to continue to militarize.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So the two main parties who are contesting this election are Congress, which is the ruling party now, and the BJP, the Bharatiya Janata Party, of which Narendra Modi is the head. And you’ve said that the only difference between them is that one does by day what the other does by night, so as far as these policies are concerned, you can see no difference, irrespective of who wins.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Yeah, well, you know, when it comes down to the wire, I agree with what I’ve said. And yet, you know, there is something to be said for hypocrisy, you know, for doing things by night, because there’s a little bit of tentativeness there; there isn’t this sureness of, you know, “We want the Hindu nation, and we want the rule of the corporations,” and so on. But, yes, I mean, what happens is that everybody knows. It’s like whoever is in power gets 60 percent of the cut, and whoever is not in power gets 40 percent. That’s how the corporates work. You know, they have enough money to pay the government and the opposition. And all these institutions of democracy have been hollowed out, and their shells have been placed back, and we continue this sort of charade in some ways.

AMY GOODMAN: Indian writer Arundhati Roy, author of the new book, Capitalism: A Ghost Story. India is in the midst of the largest election in world history. We’ll be back with Arundhati Roy in a minute. [break] AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!democracynow.orgThe War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Together with Nermeen Shaikh, we sat down with the world-renowned author Arundhati Roy when she came to the United States last week. Arundhati Roy won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel The God of Small Things. She begins with a reading from her new book,Capitalism: A Ghost Story.

ARUNDHATI ROY: “Which of us sinners was going to cast the first stone? Not me, who lives off royalties from corporate publishing houses. We all watch Tata Sky, we surf the net with Tata Photon, we ride in Tata taxis, we stay in Tata Hotels, sip our Tata tea in Tata bone china and stir it with teaspoons made of Tata Steel. We buy Tata books in Tata bookshops. We eat Tata salt. We are under siege.

“If the sledgehammer of moral purity is to be the criterion for stone-throwing, then the only people who qualify are those who have been silenced already. Those who live outside the system; the outlaws in the forests or those whose protests are never covered by the press, or the well-behaved dispossessed, who go from tribunal to tribunal, bearing witness and giving testimony.”

But this—you know, I’m talking about this because, as I said, you know, for the poor, India has the army and the paramilitary and the air force and the displacement and the police and the concentration camps. But what are you going to do to the rest? And there, I talk about the exquisite art of corporate philanthropy, you know, and how these very mining corporations and the people who are involved in, really, the pillaging of not just the poor, but of the mountains, of the rivers, of everything, are now—have now turned their attention to the arts, you know? So, apart from the fact that, of course, they own the TV channels and they fund all of that, they, for example, fund the Jaipur Literary Festival—Literature Festival, where the biggest writers in the world come, and they discuss free speech, and the logo is shining out there behind you. But you don’t hear about the fact that in the forest the bodies are piling up, you know? The public hearings where people have the right to ask these corporations what is being done to their environment, to their homes, they are just silenced. They are not allowed to speak. There are collusions between these companies and the police, the Salwa Judum, which I was talking about earlier.

And, you know, the whole—the whole way in which capitalism works is not just as simple as we seem—as it seems to be. We don’t even understand the long-term game, you know? And, of course, America is where it began, in some ways, with foundations like the Rockefeller and the Ford and the Carnegie. And what was—what was their idea? You know? How did it start? It was—now it seems like part of your daily life, like Coca-Cola or coffee or something, but in fact it was a very conceptual leap of the business imagination, when a small percentage of the massive profits of these steel magnates and so on went into the forming of these foundations, which then began to control public policy. You know, they really were the people who gave the seed money for the U.N., for the CIA, for the Foreign Relations Council. And how did they then—when U.S. capitalism started to move outwards, to look for resources outwards, what roles did the Rockefeller and Ford and all these play? You know, how did—for example, the Ford Foundation was very, very crucial in the imagining of a society like America which lived on credit, you know? And that idea has now been imported to places like Bangladesh, India, in the form of microcredit, in the form of—and that, too, has led to a lot of distress, to a lot of killing, this kind of microcapitalism.

AMY GOODMAN: These corporate foundations you talk about, how are they evidenced in India?

ARUNDHATI ROY: Which ones? You mean—

AMY GOODMAN: Like the Ford, the Carnegie, the Rockefeller.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Rockefeller. Well, you know, I mean, in this, I’ve talked about the role not just in India, but even in the U.S. For example, how do they even—how do they deal with things like political people’s movements? How did they fragment the civil rights movement? I’ll just read you a part about what happened with the civil rights movement.

“Having worked out how to manage governments, political parties, elections, courts, the media and liberal opinion, the neoliberal establishment faced one more challenge: how to deal with the growing unrest, the threat of ’people’s power.’ How do you domesticate it? How do you turn protesters into pets? How do you vacuum up people’s fury and redirect it into a blind alley?

“Here too, foundations and their allied organizations have a long and illustrious history. A revealing example is their role in defusing and deradicalizing the Black Civil Rights movement in the United States in the 1960s and the successful transformation of Black Power into Black Capitalism.

“The Rockefeller Foundation, in keeping with J.D. Rockefeller’s ideals, had worked closely with Martin Luther King Sr. (father of Martin Luther King Jr). But his influence waned with the rise of the more militant organizations—the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Black Panthers. The Ford and Rockefeller Foundations moved in. In 1970, they donated $15 million to ‘moderate’ black organizations, giving people grants, fellowships, scholarships, job training programs for dropouts and seed money for black-owned businesses. Repression, infighting and the honey trap of funding led to the gradual atrophying of the radical black organizations.

“Martin Luther King made the forbidden connections between Capitalism, Imperialism, Racism and the Vietnam War. As a result, after he was assassinated, even his memory became toxic to them, a threat to public order. Foundations and Corporations worked hard to remodel his legacy to fit a market-friendly format. The Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, with an operational grant of $2 million, was set up by, among others, the Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Mobil, Western Electric, Procter & Gamble, U.S. Steel and Monsanto. The Center maintains the King Library and Archives of the Civil Rights Movement. Among the many programs the King Center runs have been projects that work—quote, ‘work closely with the United States Department of Defense, the Armed Forces Chaplains Board and others,’ unquote. It co-sponsored the Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture Series called—and I quote—’The Free Enterprise System: An Agent for Non-violent Social Change.’”

It did the same thing in South Africa. They did the same thing in Indonesia, you know, with the—General Suharto’s war, which all of us now know about because of The Act of Killing in Indonesia. And very much so in even places like India, where they move in and they begin to NGO-ize, say, the feminist movement, you know? So you have a feminist movement, which was very radical, very vibrant, suddenly getting funded, and not doing—it’s not that the funded organizations are doing terrible things; they are doing important things. They are doing—you know, whether it’s working on gender rights, whether it’s with sex workers or AIDS. But they will, in their funding, gradually make a little border between any movement which involves women, which is actually threatening the economic order, and these issues, you know? So, in the forest, when I went and spent weeks with the guerrillas, you had 90,000 women who were members of the Adivasi Krantikari Mahila Sangathan, this revolutionary indigenous women’s organization, but they are threatening the corporations, they are threatening the economic architecture of the world, by refusing to move out of there. So they’re not considered feminists, you know? So how you domesticate something and turn it into this little—what in India we call paltu shers, you know, which is a tame tiger, like a tiger on a leash, that is pretending to be resistance, but it isn’t.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: But before we conclude, Arundhati Roy, you have not written a novel—you’re probably sick of being asked this question—since The God of Small Things. And you said that you may return to novel writing now as a more subversive way of being political. So could you either talk about what you intend to write or what you mean by that?

ARUNDHATI ROY: I’ve been writing straightforward political essays for 15—almost 15 years now. And often, they are interventions in a situation that seems to be closing down, you know, whether it was on the dam or whether it was about privatization or whether it was about Operation Green Hunt. And I feel now that, you know, in some ways, through those very urgent political essays, which are all interconnected—they are not just separate issues, they are all interconnected, and they are, together, presenting a worldview. Now I feel that I don’t have anything direct to say without repeating myself, but I think what—you know, that understanding, which was not just an understanding I had in the past and I was just preaching to my readers, you know; it was I was learning as I wrote and as I grew. And I feel that fiction now will complicate that more, because I think the way I think has become more complicated than nonfiction, straightforward nonfiction, can deal with. You know, so I need to break down those proteins and write in a way which—I don’t have to write overtly politically, because I don’t believe that—I mean, I think what we are made up of, what our DNA is and how we are wired, will come out in literature without making a great effort to raise slogans. And—

AMY GOODMAN: Before we end, and before you come out with this next novel that we’ll ask you to read next time when you come to the United States, I was wondering if you could read from an earlier essay. It’s an excerpt that you read at the New School, when hundreds of people came out to see you here recently.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Well, it was—it was really the first—in a way, the first political essay I wrote, anyway, after The God of Small Things, and it was an essay called “The End of Imagination,” when the Indian government conducted a series of nuclear tests in 1998.

“In early May (before the bomb), I left home for three weeks. I thought I would return. I had every intention of returning. Of course, things haven’t worked out quite the way I planned.” Of course, by which I meant that India just wasn’t the same anymore.

“While I was away, I met a friend of mine whom I have always loved for, among other things, her ability to combine deep affection with a frankness that borders on savagery.

“’I’ve been thinking about you,’ she said, ‘about The God of Small Things — what’s in it, what’s over it, under it, around it, above it…’

“She fell silent for a while. I was uneasy and not at all sure that I wanted to hear the rest of what she had to say. She, however, was sure that she was going to say it. ‘In this last year,’ she said, ‘less than a year actually—you’ve had too much of everything—fame, money, prizes, adulation, criticism, condemnation, ridicule, love, hate, anger, envy, generosity—everything. In some ways it’s a perfect story. Perfectly baroque in its excess. The trouble is that it has, or can have, only one perfect ending.’ Her eyes were on me, bright with a slanting, probing brilliance. She knew that I knew what she was going to say. She was insane.

” She was going to say that nothing that happened to me in the future could ever match the buzz of this. That the whole of the rest of my life was going to be vaguely unsatisfying. And, therefore, the only perfect ending to the story would be death. My death.

“The thought had occurred to me too. Of course it had. The fact that all this, this global dazzle—these lights in my eyes, the applause, the flowers, the photographers, the journalists feigning a deep interest in my life (yet struggling to get a single fact straight), the men in suits fawning over me, the shiny hotel bathrooms with endless towels—none of it was likely to happen again. Would I miss it? Had I grown to need it? Was I a fame-junkie? Would I have withdrawal symptoms?

“I told my friend there was no such thing as a perfect story. I said in any case hers was an external view of things, this assumption that the trajectory of a person’s happiness, or let’s say fulfillment, had peaked (and now must trough) because she had accidentally stumbled upon ‘success.’ It was premised on the unimaginative belief that wealth and fame were the mandatory stuff of everybody’s dreams.

“You’ve lived too long in New York, I told her. There are other worlds. Other kinds of dreams. Dreams in which failure is feasible. Honorable. And sometimes even worth striving for. Worlds in which recognition is not the only barometer of brilliance or human worth. There are plenty of warriors that I know and love, people far more valuable than myself, who go to war each day, knowing in advance that they will fail. True, they are less ‘successful’ in the most vulgar sense of the word, but by no means less fulfilled.

“The only dream worth having, I told her, is to dream that you will live while you’re alive and die only when you’re dead.

“’Which means exactly what?’

“I tried to explain, but didn’t do a very good job of it. Sometimes I need to write to think. So I wrote it down for her on a paper napkin. And this is what I wrote: To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”

AMY GOODMAN: Arundhati Roy, reading from her essay, “The End of Imagination.” She is the author of the new book, Capitalism: A Ghost Story. To read an excerpt of that new book, you can go to democracynow.org. We will also link there to our full archive of interviews with Arundhati Roy, as well as her speeches. That’s democracynow.org. To watch this broadcast, to listen to it, to read the transcript of what Arundhati Roy said, you can go to democracynow.org, as well. Reference

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Why is JF-17 Thunder a Real Threat by dm_50d9ab0679d41

Jf-17 Thunder Block 2



December 31, 1969 07:00 PM

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1951, Sino-Pakistani relations have steadily deepened, and the two countries have never had a public disagreement over any bilateral, regional, or global issue. If there was any wrinkle in their mutual relations, it was amicably resolved in private, outside the view of the world’s eye. The key to this closeness has been the frequency of highest-level contacts between the two countries, which yielded unprecedented results. A case in point is the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Pakistan in April last year, which led to the signing of the “Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Good Neighborly Relations” (Dawn, April 6, 2005). The treaty binds both signatories to desist from joining “any alliance or bloc which infringes upon the sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity of the other side” (Ibid.).


Similarly, General Musharraf’s third state visit to Beijing on February 19-23, which was a week apart from President Bush’s planned visit to South Asia in March, further strengthened the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Good Neighborly Relations. On February 20, China and Pakistan signed 13 agreements in Beijing, while President Hu Jintao and General Musharraf remained present at the signing ceremony. Of these, agreements on defense production, particularly the manufacture of multi-role JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft, nuclear power generation, and strategic infrastructure-building, including the widening of the Karakorum Highway, are critically important to the future direction of Islamabad’s relations with Beijing.


Joint Defense Production: JF-17s


Nothing explains Pakistan’s Sino-centric relations better than its defense and strategic ties with Beijing. Since the 1970s, these relations have continued to deepen and widen with progressive expansion in defense cooperation. Joint defense production, however, peaked in the 2000s. Today, all three branches of the Pakistani military—land, air and navy (in that order)—are equipped with Chinese weapons systems. Taxila Heavy Industrial Complex, situated near Islamabad, was the first seed of mutual collaboration that sprouted to branch off into building components for air defense. As a result, a state-of-the-art Aeronautical Complex was built at Kamra, a small town in Attock district of the Punjab province. Most recently, Beijing has offered Islamabad a helping hand in building two frigates at its naval base in Karachi, which will be a landmark breakthrough in their joint naval defense production as well. General Musharraf, at the conclusion of his five-day visit to Beijing, declared that “defense relations have been the bedrock of Sino-Pakistan relations” (Dawn, February 25). The hallmark of their decades-long defense collaboration, however, is the joint production of JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft, which General Musharraf described as a “great success.” He favorably compared JF-17s with the U.S. Air Force’s F-16 fighter jets “in platform engine, maneuverability, avionics and capability of carrying various modern weapon systems” (Ibid.).


JF-17s are being manufactured in Chengdu, capital of China’s Sichuan province. In 1999, Chengdu Aircraft Industry Company (CATIC) signed an agreement with the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) for joint production of JF-17s. Since then, CATIC, Chengdu Aircraft Designing Institute and the PAF have been working on this project. They rolled out the prototype of JF-17 on September 3, 2003, the test-flight of which satisfied both Chinese and Pakistani pilots. Almost two-and-a-half years later, General Musharraf watched the demonstration flight of the aircraft on February 22 when he visited Chengdu, Sichuan, which is China’s center of high-tech defense production. General Musharraf was so impressed by the manufacture of JF-17s that he had a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between China and Pakistan to declare Sichuan and Punjab (Pakistan’s most populous province that predominantly contributes “manpower” to the country’s three services) as “sister provinces” (Dawn, February 22). Pakistan is now celebrating JF-17s as worthy substitutes for F-16s.


Although Pakistan did receive 40 F-16s from the U.S. in the 1980s and is expected to receive an additional 80 F-16s this year, it still faces problems in their maintenance and service as its access to spare parts and manufacture technology is highly regulated (Dawn, February 25). This is what, Pakistan thinks, makes the U.S. an “unreliable” arms supplier, pushing Islamabad into the instinctive embrace of Beijing, which it considers an “all-weather friend” (Daily Times, February 24). Since 9/11, the U.S., however, has taken important measures to rebuild Pakistan-U.S. relations into longer-lasting cooperation. A case in point is Pakistan’s upgraded status as a major non-NATO ally of the U.S. to the perceptible unease of India, its arch rival. Yet Pakistan views such steps as symbolic as compared to the emerging strategic partnership between India and the U.S.


Nuclear Power Production


Pakistan is especially wary of the Indo-U.S. agreement on the transfer of nuclear power technology to Delhi, which is expected to be finalized during President Bush’s visit to India later this week. Since the signing of the Indo-U.S. nuclear agreement on July 18, 2005, when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a state visit to the U.S., Pakistan has been lobbying the U.S. to allow it the same access to nuclear power technology, but to no avail. It is not just the ruling Republican Party in the U.S. that is averse to providing Islamabad with nuclear reactors; leaders of the Democratic Party are even more adamant on this issue. Senator John Kerry, who visited Pakistan this year on January 14-15, told a news conference in Islamabad: “India is a democracy and it has adhered to the non-proliferation agreement in all the years of its involvement with nuclear facilities. This is not yet true of Pakistan, though Pakistan is moving in that direction” (The Hindu, January 16). Pakistan is, nevertheless, pursuing a plan to generate 8,000 MW of electrical power from nuclear fuel by 2020, an ambitious plan that makes it look to Beijing for support.


Beijing has already provided Islamabad a 300-MW nuclear reactor (Chashma-I), which is sited in a small town—Chashma—of the Punjab province. Beijing has now agreed to provide another nuclear power plant—Chashma-II—which will be sited next to Chashma-I. It will take five years before Chashma-II becomes operational. In addition, Pakistan is in talks with Beijing to buy six to eight nuclear power reactors of 600 MW each over the next decade (Press Trust of India, January 3). If the talks are successful, Pakistan will buy a number of nuclear reactors at the cost $10 billion to produce 4,800 MW of electricity. Pakistan’s current production of nuclear power is just 425 MW (Ibid.). Although Pakistan denies any such talks, it did sign an agreement with Beijing on February 20 to further “deepen cooperation in peaceful application of nuclear power.” In addition, Pakistan and China signed an “energy cooperation framework agreement,” which will explore the possibility of a gas pipeline between Iran and China through Pakistan (Dawn, February 22).


Strategic Infrastructure: the Karakorum Highway


Besides, China and Pakistan are engaged in building key strategic infrastructures to further strengthen their defense ties. The construction of the Karakorum Highway (KKH)—which connects western China and its largest autonomous region of Xinjiang with Pakistan’s Northern Areas (NAs) all the way through Islamabad—was the first such major project. Since its completion in the 1970s, the Karakorum Highway has been used for limited trade and travel, however. In harsh winters, the stretch running through the Northern Areas and Xinjiang becomes unusable for motorized traffic due to heavy snowfall. Chinese and Pakistani engineers have since been trying to render it into an all-weather passageway. Yet limited trade and travel remained a poor incentive for such an expensive undertaking, until its renewed strategic significance became all too apparent in recent days. In a strict strategic sense, KKH is considered priceless. It gives Beijing unhindered access to Jammu and Kashmir in India, in addition to enabling it to the India’s movement along Aksai Chin, which China seized from India in 1962, severing India’s land-link to China’s turbulent autonomous regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. For Pakistan, the KKH is an added security for its turbulent Northern Areas, all the way up to Siachin where Indian and Pakistani troops have been in a stand-off since the mid-1980s.


On February 20, China and Pakistan agreed to widen KKH for larger vehicles with heavier freight. The rebuilding of KKH will enable China to ship its energy supplies from the Middle East from Gwader Port in Baluchistan through the land route of KKH to western China, which is its development hub. This alternative energy supply route will reduce Beijing’s dependence on the Malacca Straits. General Musharraf also wants to set up a “crude transit route” through Gwader Port for Beijing’s energy shipments from Iran and Africa. For this reason, Pakistan is building oil refineries, natural gas terminals, oil and gas equipment, and transit facilities in Baluchistan. China has agreed to help Pakistan with its plans for the development of its oil and gas industry. With this planned elaborate energy infrastructure, KKH has assumed an added significance as an alternative land link between China and its energy sources, of which Iran sits atop.


Beijing and Tehran are now all set to sign a $100 billion agreement on developing Iran’s Yadavaran oil field in southern Iran as early as March this year (Reuters, February 17). Under this agreement, China will buy 10 million tons of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from Iran each year over the next 25 years. KKH would be the shortest and safest land route to ship Iranian LNG to western China. In return for LNG, China will develop the Yadavaran oil field, which is estimated to have three billion barrels of oil and is expected to produce about 300,000 barrels of oil per day, which is equivalent to China’s current imports from Iran (Ibid.). General Musharraf wants to turn Pakistan into China’s “energy corridor” for Chinese energy imports from the Middle East, Persian Gulf and Africa (Daily Times, February 18). He also wants Pakistan to be China’s “trade corridor” for its exports to Central Asia. For the latter reason, Pakistan has recently built the Torkham-Jalalabad road in northwestern Pakistan (i.e., Pakhtunkhaw province) and Chaman-Kandahar railroad link in Baluchistan to carry Chinese manufactured goods to Central Asia through Afghanistan.


China generously recognizes General Musharraf’s contribution to forging even closer relations between Beijing and Islamabad. It also wants Pakistan to play a bigger role in the region, for which General Musharraf has asked Beijing to upgrade Pakistan’s observer status at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to full membership. China will notify all SCO member states of Pakistan’s request to consider it at the SCO’s scheduled summit meeting this year (Dawn, February 20). To honor his contribution and his visit to Beijing, China put General Musharraf’s face on its postage stamps, which is a rare gesture even by Chinese standards.




Defense and strategic ties are the bedrock of Sino-Pakistan relations, which are too solid for any hint of weakness. Their ambitious future agenda for high-tech defense production (such as JF-17s and Frigates), nuclear power generation, and strategic infrastructure building (such as KKH and deep-sea Gwader Port) will further energize their ties. Although Sino-Pakistan relations have flourished under all military governments in Islamabad, General Musharraf has taken them to even greater heights by signing a territorial defense treaty in April last year, and literally and metaphorically putting (JF-17) “thunder” in Sino-Pakistan relations.

Sale of JF-17 Thunder jets to start next year

October 25, 2013

Sale of JF-17 Thunder jets to start next year

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan has decided to start sale of state of the art JF-17 Thunder combat jets developed in collaboration with China to other countries from next year.
According to sources, a sum of $100 million has also been released to Pakistan Ordinance Factories Wah in connection with up-gradation of its machinery.
Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Kamra has carried out up-gradation of Cobra Helicopters presently under the use of army besides installing high tech system therein. Pakistan will also import modern helicopters from Turkey. The Ministry of Defence Production sources said as many as 42 JF-17 Thunder planes have been developed so far under joint venture with China. The Pakistan Air Force has been assigned target of exporting 5 to 7 JF-17 Thunder planes next year and discussions in this regard are under way with Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Qatar and other friendly countries.
The Ministry of Defence Production officials have expressed optimism that Pakistan would succeed in exporting these modern planes during the next year.
The sources said Heavy Industries Taxila has manufactured prototype of Buraq vehicle to defuse land mines and remote control explosive material.
It has also been learnt that Pakistan is continuing dialogue process with Turkey to acquire T 120 high tech helicopters from the latter. Pakistan is also endeavouring to launch a joint venture with Turkey with reference to manufacturing of these helicopters. If both the countries don’t agree over it then Pakistan will execute agreement with Turkey to purchase these helicopters.
The sources said that PAC Kamra has refurbished several helicopters being used by Army Aviation. Pakistan has acquired these helicopters from the US and they have now been upgraded.

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