Books and Documents
Current Affairs

Does Mumbai Killer Qassab Deserve this Show of Fairness?
K. N. Bhat is former additional solicitor-general of India

The show of fairness through the ritual of re-examination of the whole material by the executive in considering mercy petitions is abhorrent. Unfortunately, it is not just the politicians who indulge in such stunts. Kasab was caught red-handed, literally so. His unmistakable figure was repeatedly seen on TV screens while the massacre was on. Because he was caught alive, an elaborate trial took place in as open a fashion as any civilised country can have. …

Rediscovery of Non-Alignment
Chinmaya R. Gharekhan

Rediscovery of Non-Alignment
Chinmaya R. Gharekhan is former Indian Ambassador to the United Nations

'Nonalignment 2.0' is not without its flaws but on the whole, the document offers a comprehensive view of foreign policy, makes sensible suggestions and is lucid, readable and deserving of wide debate. Eight eminent men — alas, not a single woman — has rendered a very useful and much-needed service by producing “Nonalignment 2.0: A Foreign and Strategic Policy for India in the Twenty First Century.”…


What Pakistan should do in Afghanistan
Pervez Hoodbhoy teaches physics and political science at LUMS

Many Pakistanis living and working in Kabul say they feel a palpable hostility towards them once their nationality becomes known. Some occasionally pretend to be Indians, which brings more acceptability. If this anecdotal evidence indicates an actual truth, then it is worrisome. In principle Afghans should like Pakistanis better;… If Pakistan has to compete with India on various internationally funded reconstruction projects, then so be it. That is a choice for Afghans to make, not us. …

Pakistan military intelligence ISI Has Taken Over Army GHQ
Najam Sethi is Editor-in-Chief of Friday Times, Pakistan

In recent times, however, something even more sinister has been happening. This is the creeping growth of the ISI from a small arms-length intelligence directorate or department of the military in the initial decades of independent Pakistan to an omnipotent and invisible "deep state within the state" that now controls both military strategy and civilian policy…. 


Modesty of Dress and Indian Culture
Suchi Govindarajan volunteers with the Spastics Society of Karnataka

I write to complain about the abysmal standards of modesty I am noticing in Indian society. All bad things — sensationalist TV, obscene movies, diabetes among elders, pick pocketing, dilution of coconut chutney in Saravana Bhavan — are a result of Evil Western Influences. However, to my surprise, in this issue of modesty, even the Great Indian Culture seems to encourage this. …

Some Learned from Fukushima. Did we?
Pervez Hoodbhoy teaches physics and political political science

Since two extreme natural events are unlikely to be similar, this is technically correct. But how would Pakistan deal with massive radioactive release after deliberate sabotage, a terrorist attack, equipment failure, or operator error? Floods and earthquakes have shown that the country can make piteous calls for international aid but lacks the capacity to deal with disasters, natural and human-caused. …

The Rise of the Mullahs in the US … And Indonesia
Julia Suryakusuma is the author of Julia’s Jihad

Well, actually that’s not true. He’s not really a member of JI. It’s just that in her widely syndicated New York Times column, Maureen Dowd calls him a “small-town mullah” (“Rick’s Religious Fanaticism”, NYT, and Feb. 21, 2012). You see his views on issues like religion; women’s rights, homosexuality, abortion and birth control are very similar to those of JI and other hard-line (religious) right-wingers in Indonesia. …

Kashmir Conflict and Chinese Design In the Region
Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, Kashmiri leader living in exile in Switzerland

Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri has comprehensively elaborated about the history and politics of the region as well as he brings into light all the aspects on recent Chinese interest in the region of Gilgit Baltistan which is part of the former princely state of Kashmir. Pakistan has no locus standi on Kashmir issue, she is sample illegal occupier and she should withdraw its troops and those people who enter in Kashmir. Chinese designs are expansionist and colonizing our natural resource…

The Mullah Media Alliance
Mujahid Hussain, New Age Islam

The Mullah Media Alliance

The religious, militant and sectarian organizations are having a field day. Led by Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat ud Dawa, they are holding big rallies across Pakistan. Prominent among those who are attending are some retired military figures. Jamaat ud Dawa wants to bring together all the sympathetic leaders such as Hamid Gul, Shaikh Rasheed Ahamed, Ijaz ul Haq and Maulana Sami ul Haz. For this Hafiz Saeed has received a pat on the back from Rawalpindi. …

Blindfolded, hands tied and mouth gagged in a matter of seconds, trapped in a mélange of elbows, insults and accents, he was driven to a destination 40 minutes away and deposited in a room. Here he was routinely beaten, tortured, fed at the rarest possible intervals, and made to sign blank papers and disclosure agreements. High Court ruled that any evidence connecting the accused to the bombings was "woefully absent" ...

Converting Children into Obsessive-compulsive Consumers Worldwide: Addictions Galore

The US is the world’s leading exporter of children’s TV fare. For instance, Sesame Street was reaching 115 countries and had 500 internationally licensed products some ten years ago. The problem with the Disney channel is not only that it stirs desires and converts children into consumers. For one thing, they don’t develop reading habits. In addition, TV addiction also has consequences for children’s health. ...

India must hold its ground on Iran

Iran is India’s second largest oil supplier after Saudi Arabia, providing about 12 per cent of its annual requirements worth about $ 12 billion. India can potentially obtain pipeline gas or LNG from Iran if security and sanctions issues can be overcome. Iran’s geographical proximity makes it a logical source of hydrocarbons for energy deficient India which today imports 70 per cent of its needs and will import 90 per cent in the years ahead. …


Pandemonium in Libya - Part 2: Gaddafi’s shadow hangs over North and West Africa

The availability of looted Libyan arms may allow new armed groups to form in West Africa with greater ease than usual. The West’s poorly considered support of a spontaneous Libyan rebellion lacking common aims, ideology or even basic organization has secured the present reality. Clearly, the restoration of security in Libya is an essential first step in stabilizing the region. Unfortunately, the ability of Libya’s Transitional National Council to either project force or promote conciliation seems to be diminishing rather than increasing....


Be vigilant of what not only might happen in the Indian peninsula, in the islands but also of what may happen in the wider Indian Ocean,” then President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed had warned cadet officers at the Sri Lanka Military Academy on December 27, 2011. His words rang true on Tuesday when mutinous factions within the police and the Army joined hands to remove him, ... 


Rather than allowing events to drift towards a political or even military showdown, Maldivian President Mohammed “Anni” Nasheed has shown great fidelity to democratic principles in a country where none existed before him by stepping down from office with grace and poise. As President, Nasheed began well. With much help and cooperation from his predecessor, he could ensure a smooth transition when much trouble was feared. -- N. Sathya Moorthy


The myth of the Muslim vote bank, though denied by sociologists and debunked by psephologists, refuses to die. It reasserts itself with new vigour at every election. Even those well aware of the diversity within the community cannot resist building their arguments on this spurious claim. Whether they are Thai, Chechen, Palestinian or European, Muslims are judged unfailingly by their faith and so-called beliefs. -- Shahid Siddiqui

In the present political crisis Islamic radicals have also played an important role. There has been growing Islamic radicalism in Maldives. Islamic radicals have been trying to create problems for the government of Nasheed who represented the moderate stream in the country. Islamic radicals even demolished the monument constructed by Pakistan at Addu city on the occasion of the 17th SAARC summit in November. Nasheed is an honest man but unfortunately he is not an astute politician. -- Anand Kumar

……. the real enemies of Islam are the leaders, the Deobandis, the various extremist leaders and their followers, who behave like this, because what they do is to strengthen the extremely negative image of Islam as an intolerant, repressive, and violent culture, as an ideology masquerading as a gentle faith, whereas actually what happens every time it’s crossed, or every time it dislikes something, is that it resorts to threats and violence. Dar-ul Uloom is the group from which the Taliban learnt their ideology. This is the group which in the notorious Imrana case, a couple of years ago, said that a woman raped by her father-in-law should be divorced by her husband as a result… if this is the face of Islam and it is going to take root in India, then it is a very bad state of affairs.-- Salman Rushdie in an interview to Barkha Dutt

What we see as a legitimate demand for freedom of expression from the artistic community, is seen by many in the Muslim community as a demand for freedom to indulge in an act of blasphemy against their religion. The extremist mindset of sections of the Muslim community—like the extremist mindset of sections of the Hindus and other religions— is a harsh ground reality which is likely to continue for some years to come unless there is a better spread of education in the different communities and more enlightened leaderships emerge in them. Till then no amount of public debates and TV talk shows would eradicate this mindset. -- B. Raman

Had the Indian liberal used logic and not courtesy then, arguing for justice, opposing any threats of violence from fringe elements whether Hindu or Muslim, perhaps those fringes would not have grown to be the problem they are today. Perhaps we could have seen a JLF where anti-Rushdie groups shouted slogans and waved placards - their democratic right - but feared threatening violence in place of severe censure. Perhaps we would have had a situation where, realising targeting artists wasn't going to win elections; politicians - both Hindu and Muslim - would have ensured the Muslim community got its fair share of jobs and education. -- Srijana Mitra Das

The elements of hidden extremism have to be ferreted out from the army and other sensitive organs of the government in a bold but practical manner. Investigations have revealed that some, including those already indoctrinated, have tried to misinterpret Islam to spread extremism. With its roots in the Liberation War, the Bangladesh army must project itself as a well disciplined professional force. -- Haroon Habib

The attempt to introduce strong-arm measures must be viewed against the backdrop of a persistent effort in the U.S. to use judicial processes to access personal data about individuals abroad using services such as Twitter, in the wake of the WikiLeaks expose. It makes matters more difficult that the U.S. court order prohibits the disclosure of its contents. Are there more technology companies that were covered, that have not come to light, for instance? -- G. Ananthakrishnan

But our Constitution and our liberal secular ethos are the essence of our modernity and Ghalib represents this eminently. He was a poet par excellence and his poetry represents modern secular values along with the value of love. Ghalib’s poetry is ghazal poetry though he wrote in other genres also but he is mainly known for his ghazals which is basically love poetry. And he was follower of what is known as wahdat al-wujudi school of Sufism which is most liberal school among Sufis. -- Asghar Ali Engineer

There is no evidence that the Taliban have undertaken “to abandon violence and respect the human rights of their fellow citizens.” Besides, the Afghan Government and not the US has initiated the talks, and it becomes clear from a report in The New York Times of 12 January, that the Taliban took a year to respond by announcing its intention to open a political office in Qatar. -- Hiranmay Karlekar

That Iranian isolation theme only gets weaker when one learns that the country is dumping the dollar in its trade with Russia for rials and rubles -- a similar move to ones already made in its trade with China and Japan.  As for India, an economic powerhouse in the neighbourhood, its leaders also refuse to stop buying Iranian oil, a trade that, in the long run, is similarly unlikely to be conducted in dollars. India is already using the yuan with China, as Russia and China have been trading in rubles and yuan for more than a year, as Japan and China are promoting direct trading in yen and yuan.  As for Iran and China, all new trade and joint investments will be settled in yuan and rial. -- Pepe Escobar

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