Books and Documents
Current Affairs

Misrule Evident Across India
Najeeb Jung, Vice Chancellor Jamia Millia

HOW MUCH pain, sorrow, disease, and starvation can a human bear! Across centuries the human species has demonstrated an enormous capacity to bear pain and with each passing century has hoped for conquering it. The country is on the brink of collapse, it is often said. Islamic fundamentalism has entered the entrails of society, bazaars and Dargahs are bombed with impunity, secular Pakistanis are under the gun....

The Oxygen Planet Struts Its Stuff:  Not a “Perfect Storm” But the New Norm in the American West
William deBuys

Dire fire conditions, like the inferno of heat, turbulence, and fuel that recently turned 346 homes in Colorado Springs to ash, are now common in the West. A lethal combination of drought, insect plagues, windstorms, and legions of dead, dying, or stressed-out trees constitute what some pundits are calling wildfire’s “perfect storm.”...


A Lesson on the White Man's Justice
Praveen Swami

Impressive as this defence of human rights sounds — and accurate as it might be — it isn’t quite the whole truth. Denmark’s record in the West’s war on jihadist terrorism suggests the same principles don’t apply when the terrorists in question aren’t white, and the victims aren’t brown. ... Then, there is a clear and visible gap between Denmark’s judicially stated values and its less-than-virtuous conduct on renditions. The reason isn’t hard to find: Denmark faces threats from jihadists, not Bengali Hindu cults. “In spite of their small numbers”, scholar Michael Jensen wrote of the Denmark’s jihadists in 2006, “they have managed to wedge themselves between the Muslim communities and mainstream Danish society”. Existential threats, as India’s own sometimes sordid counter-terrorism record demonstrates, are a powerful incentive for ethical compromise….

In America, Nothing Will Change. And There Will Be another Mass Murder
James Holmes

JAMES HOLMES, who opened fire before the midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises,” could not have seen the movie. Like many whose misery is reflected in violence, he may simply have been drawn to a highly publicized event with a big crowd. In cynical terms, he was seeking a publicity tie-in….

Peace in the Valley Deceptive
AS Dulat

Jamaatis have also infiltrated the services and the secretariat in large numbers. Syed Salahuddin has also been prompted to say that if Pakistan did not support the Kashmiri cause then militant guns would be turned on Pakistan. There are whispers of influx of fresh militants and of something big happening in Srinagar which likes a pressure cooker is beginning to hiss. The Kashmiri social network is replete with references to martyrdom….

Misplaced Water Diplomacy
Brahma Chellaney

It makes little sense for a parched India to be so generous in sharing river waters. Reciprocity is the first principle of diplomacy. But not for India, if one goes by its record. India has walked the extra mile to befriend neighbours, yet today it lives in the world's most-troubled neighbourhood. India's generosity on land issues has been well documented, including its surrender of British-inherited extraterritorial rights in Tibet in 1954, the giving back of strategic Haji Pir to Pakistan after the 1965 war….

Abu Jundal Arrest: Saudis Lend a Helping Hand
Hiranmay Karlekar

By handing over Abu Jundal, Riyadh has demonstrated its firm commitment to fighting the global menace of terrorism and strengthening ties with India. The arrest of Zabiuddin Ansari underlines the increasingly cordial relations between India and Saudi Arabia and the growing cooperation between the intelligence agencies of the two countries. The first, and obviously the most significant, development in the process was the visit by the Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz to India in January, 2006, when he was the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations.....

Uncertain World: Russia and the United States: A Precarious Balance
Fyodor Lukyanov

Unfortunately for bilateral relations, two of the strategic priorities that the Bush Administration saw as part of its foreign policy legacy had a direct bearing on Russian interests: drawing Georgia and Ukraine into the NATO orbit and deploying missile defence systems in Eastern Europe. The August 2008 war in South Ossetia was a logical consequence of the attempts to translate these priorities to reality. ...


United States Is Abandoning Its Role as the Global Champion of Human Rights
Jimmy Carter

Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended. This development began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions, without dissent from the general public. As a result, our country can no longer speak with moral authority on these critical issues. …

With leadership from the United States, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948 as “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” This was a bold and clear commitment that power would no longer serve as a cover to oppress or injure people, and it established equal rights of all people to life, liberty, security of person, equal protection of the law and freedom from torture, arbitrary detention or forced exile.

The declaration has been invoked by human rights activists and the international community to replace most of the world’s dictatorships with democracies and to promote the rule of law in domestic and global affairs. It is disturbing that, instead of strengthening these principles, our government’s counterterrorism policies are now clearly violating at least 10 of the declaration’s 30 articles, including the prohibition against “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” …


When Noam Chomsky Wept
Noam Chomsky

I had learned of countless grandmothers burned alive by napalm, countless children buried alive by 500-pound bombs, parents shredded by anti-personnel bombs. I had felt pellets from these bombs still in the bodies of the refugees lucky enough to escape, interviewed people blinded by the bombing, seen napalm wounds on the bodies of infants. I had also learned that the U.S. bombing of the Plain of Jars had turned a 700-year-old civilization of some 200,000 people into a wasteland, and that its main victims were the old people, parents and children....


Don’t Misconstrue Insurgency Fatigue as Political Fatigue
B Raman is former additional secretary

The government of India has done well to release the text of the report of the three-member team of interlocutors headed by Dileep Padgaonkar. Any further delay in the initiation of follow-up action might have created an impression in the state that the entire exercise was an eyewash to gain time. The perceived past inaction of the government in the face of accumulating grievances has contributed to a deep sense of alienation followed by the insurgency....

This Year the Spring Water is Clear, Kashmir is at Peace
Riyaz Wani

“Kashmir is now peaceful. I have this intense feeling that I have come back home,” “My parents had also come last year. They found the same old environment of Hindu-Muslim amity in which they had grown up. They want to come back”. “All my Muslim neighbours came to welcome me. I was overwhelmed with joy and emotion,” “I can’t bear to see that pundits no longer live among us, in our localities,” Muhammad says. “I wish they return to their homeland and Kashmir becomes old Pir Vaer....

Heed the Kashmiri Youth's Anguish
Ram Puniyani is a communal harmony activist

TIME AND again, interacting with youth from Kashmir, what comes strikingly forth is their pain and anguish, their frustration, their realisation of the brutality of the system in which they live. They have a high level of understanding of the issues involved and are restless about their present and future. What have we done to be labelled as terrorists, is one of the questions on their mind and lips. Why do we in Kashmir have to face torture from different quarters? ...


The ‘Islamisation’ Debate In Pakistan And The Secular Space For Society
Nadeem F. Paracha

The ‘Islamisation’ debate in Pakistan should not only be about the implementation of various ‘Islamic laws’ by the state and governments of Pakistan. It should also incorporate the study of the so-called Islamisation of public space, or space that was historically and inherently secular in nature. One of the most prominent examples in this respect is the manifold growth in the number of mosques and madarsas in the last 25 years….

What Do Memo,NATO And Veena Have In Common?
Mehreen Zahra Malik

The ‘facts’: a magazine cover of the model-actress wearing nothing but an ISI tattoo; another one of her in an underwear version of battle fatigues, hand grenade pin between teeth, that one ominous word, ISI, hissing across her arm. Whether the ISI tattoo was her idea? Whether she even knew ISI stood for the Inter-Services Intelligence..…

The mandate of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) for building a globally democratic space for developing Internet related global policies is quite clear. The WSIS outcome document states that, “the process towards enhanced cooperation (on Internet-related international public policies), (is) to be started by the U.N. Secretary-General ... by the end of the first quarter of 2006.” However, six years down the line, developed countries do not seem to be willing to even formally discuss how to operationalise this very important WSIS mandate of “enhanced cooperation,” much less do something concrete about it.....



Pakistan-America: Terms Of Re-Engagement
Najam Sethi

Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan has been replaced by the Obama doctrine of swiftly degrading Al-Qaeda via drones, increasingly fighting with the Taliban by means of a refurbished "Afghan army", strengthening President Hamid Karzai economically and militarily, and pulling out NATO from Afghanistan by 2014. Therefore, unless Pakistan wants to become another North Korea, its best option now is to help secure a stable and peaceful Afghanistan ….


Someone from Mumbai India even dared to declare that taking subsidy is not Haram. May Allah Sub'hanhu wa Ta'aalaa save Indian Muslims from such a thinking. Haj is compulsory for those who can afford it and that too once in a life time. In my opinion thought of taking any subsidy for Haj itself is against the teaching of Islam….


Terrorists And Traitors: Why Is Home Minister Chidambaram Under Attack From Saffronists?
Union Home Minister Chidambaram Under Attack From Saffronists

We had a long conversation and the talk veered round to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and the attack he is under from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Now, I have had good reason to believe that the BJP picks on Chidambaram essentially because he is sitting on a lot of explosive information about saffron terrorism in this country. I have been told by many top cops in Bombay that saffronists may be involved in a lot more terrorist activity in India these past years than just the Malegaon blasts or that at Ajemr Sharif and in the Samjhauta Express. Particularly with situations in Maharashtra – like the discovery of false Muslim beards and caps from a saffron hideout in Gadchiroil district a few months ago – they have shared much of their information with Chidambaram because they find their political masters in Bombay (Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Home Minister R R Patil) too politically naive to shoulder the burden of those facts.

Saadat Hasan Manto: Curator Of a Hollowed Conscience
Ayesha Jalal

A cosmopolitan humanist, he rejected narrow-minded bigotry and refused to let distinctions of religion or culture interfere with his choice of friends. During a brief life that fell short of 43 years, he lived in Amritsar, Bombay, Delhi and Lahore, forging friendships that survived the arbitrary frontiers of 1947…



Salman Rushdie To Write Book On Imran Khan
Nadeem Farooq Paracha

Rushdie and Imran recently experienced an acrimonious fall out when Imran refused to attend a Duran Duran reunion concert in Mumbai in which Rushdie was also invited to perform a live human sacrificial ritual on stage to summon the devil….


India's god laws fail the test of reason
Praveen Swami, The Hindu

Perhaps Indians can congratulate themselves that the god laws have not been used to persecute and kill religious dissenters, as the ever-expanding blasphemy laws which sprang up in Pakistan. Mr. Edamaruku's case ought to make clear, though, just where things are inexorably headed. If Indians wish to avoid the fate of the dystopia to the country's west, its citizens desperately need to accept the right of critics to attack, even insult, what they hold dear.

In 864 CE, the great physician, [Imam] Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Zakaria al-Razi, wrote: “The miracles of the prophets are imposters or belong to the domain of pious legend. The teachings of religions are contrary to the one truth: the proof of this is that they contradict one another. It is tradition and lazy custom that have led men to trust their religious leaders. Religions are the sole cause of the wars which ravage humanity; they are hostile to philosophical speculation and to scientific research. The alleged holy scriptures are books without values”.

Following a rich scholarly life, and a tenure as director of the hospital in Baghdad patronised by the caliph Abu al-Qasim Abd 'Allah, [Imam] al-Razi died quietly at his home in Rey, surrounded by his students. In modern India, his thoughts would have led him to a somewhat less pleasant end.


Best Time To Move On Jammu and Kashmir
A S Dulat is a former R&AW chief

There have already been tens of thousands of tourists in Srinagar in March, not the best time in the valley, vying to visit the tulip garden. Militancy is at an all time low with separatists, even hardliners among them, demonstrating moderation….



Is Iran On The Nuclear Edge?
Praveen Swami, The Hindu

Tim Goldman, Switzerland's Ambassador to Tehran, wrote in his covering letter that the proposals had been approved by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, then-President Mohammad Khatami, and then-Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazzi...

The Afghanistan Riddle
Eugene Robinson

The Afghanistan Riddle
Eugene Robinson is with The Washington Post.

These friendly-fire killings are not just isolated incidents, the report says, but a “continuing pattern” that is leading to a “crisis of trust” between allied and Afghan forces. Unless there is reform of “profoundly dysfunctional Afghan governmental systems and key leaders,” the report predicts, “any efforts in developing a legitimate, functional and trustworthy Afghan army and police force will continue to be futile.”

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