North Korea and Iran share a common hostility to the US and have a long history of military and economic cooperation. Iran's ballistic missile force, the largest in the Middle East, is largely based on transferred North Korean missiles and weapon designs. North Korea has also sold Iran conventional weapons, including rocket launchers, small arms, and mini-submarines. The two countries are known to have close intelligence ties and to exchange intelligence regularly. The extent of North Korean cooperation with Iran on nuclear issues remains unknown. However, both are known to have received help from AQ Khan’s proliferation network. Iran helped to finance North Korea’s nuclear programme in exchange for nuclear technology and equipment, according to CIA sources cited in a 1993 Economist Foreign Report. --James Phillips
It was a usual Bara-wafaat procession going on for many years (mind it Bareilly is great seat of Sunni Muslim school). The city has unparalleled history of communal harmony and pluralistic life style. No one among my parents and uncles remembers anything ever going wrong between Hindus and Muslims for past as many decades as can possibly be remembered by living generations. Then what went wrong???!!!
This procession was scheduled on the very day of Holi but in line with the communal tolerance and brotherhood the Muslims had agreed to postpone their procession for the next day, as they have been doing for past many years On that fateful day of 2nd March 2010 A small group of Muslim boys (whose collective number was not more than 30) was coming to join in the main body of the procession about a kilometre far off at Koharapeer--- Aditya Kohli
The father of five-year-old kidnap victim Sahil Saeed told for the first time yesterday of the chilling moment he was told by the gang holding the boy: ‘Do exactly as we say, or you will be receiving a little gift – any part of his body.’
They threatened to cut off the boy’s arms, fingers, ears and even a leg and said they would deliver it in a black bin bag if their demands were not followed to the letter.
Reunited: Sahil Saeed with his mother Akila and father Raja back in Oldham
In a heartfelt interview with The Mail on Sunday after an emotional reunion with his son, Raja Saeed told how, after Sahil was kidnapped during a family holiday to Pakistan, the gang demanded his father return to Britain and raise a £200,000 ransom to free Sahil within 12 hours of landing.
And as they became increasingly frustrated by his pleas that he was not a wealthy man and could not possibly raise such a sum they told him: ‘Look, you know how we came to your house in jackets packed with bullets and grenades.
'You know what we can do to him – we can put a jacket around him with grenades and explosives and blow him to pieces. And we will deliver what’s left of him to you in a bin bag on a roundabout.’ -- Andrew Chapman and Jo Macfarlane
Photo: Sahil With his mother
During the 2008 US presidential election there was a belief in New Delhi that a Barack Obama presidency would trigger the re-calibration of Indo-American relations. Translated into English, it implied concern that the new guy wouldn’t accord the same priority to Indian concerns as President George W Bush did. At that time we were assured by star-struck Indian reporters in Washington, DC, that this was poppycock and a function of the deranged Islamophobia of the Dick Cheney Fan Club. Obama, we were informed, saw Hanuman as his lucky mascot. The more sober interlocutors informed us that the Cold War was over, that India was no longer a hyphenated link with Pakistan and that the relationship was on auto-pilot. -- Swapan Dasgupta
Muslims are numerous but powerless. Divisions among Muslims, especially between Sunni and Shiites, have consigned the Muslim Middle East to almost a century of Western control. Muslims cannot even play together. The Islamic Solidarity Games, a regional version of the Olympics, which were to be held in April in Iran, have been cancelled, because the Iranians and the Arabs cannot agree on whether to call the body of water that separates Iran from the Arabian Peninsula the Persian Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. -- Paul Craig Roberts
A vast majority have lived in freedom even after committing unspeakable crimes. All this and more is being investigated under the orders of our apex court on a petition filed by Zakia Ahsan Jafri and the Citizens for Justice and Peace. For the first time in our history criminal conspiracy and mass murder are the charges, the chief minister and 61 others the accused. Will the wealth of evidence be matched by the rigour of investigation? Will the will to prosecute surmount political considerations? Will the Indian system throw a spotlight on what surely must be its darkest hour? As we stood, remembered and prayed in painful memorial, with lit candles at the Gulbarg Society this Sunday we did so in both faith and hope. -- Teesta Setalvad
It is Pakistan that runs on electricity produced by Mangla. It is Pakistan's irrigation that has benefited from the storage capacity of Mangla. It is the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir who have borne the brunt of the construction and operation of Mangla. Yet, when they ask for 614 cusecs, they are told that they are not part of Pakistan. -- Ahmad Rafay Alam
Urdu portal Urdutahzeeb.net is organising a seminar on Terrorism and the Response of Our Composite Culture on 28 February 2010.
Venue: Crystal Room, The Taj Mahal Palace & Towers, Mumbai
Excerpts from the Concept paper: When we talk of the country’s composite culture we mean the unity in diversity which has brought India into being. There are many forces working today to wreak this unity by preaching sectarian and fissiparous ideologies that divide the people and pit brother against brother.
The present situation calls for reiteration of our national heritage and our composite culture. In this regard Urdu has played an important role to contain and detoxify the poison being spread by vested interests both within the country and from outside.
The need of the hour is to have healthy discussion and discourse to counter all kinds of anti-national, anti-secular, anti-democratic and fanatic ideas. A seminar on the country’s composite culture, therefore, will go a long way in providing fodder to secular forces to work as a bulwark against divisive forces.
Urdutahzeeb.net has been playing this role for the last few years. It has become a platform for secular values and modern outlook. Through a rich fare of text and visual material the portal has been propagating the composite culture of India of which Urdu has been a sort of focal point.
The demolition of homes of militants and those suspected of supporting and harbouring them has become a standard policy of the government not only in the tribal areas but also in settled districts such as Swat. There has been no debate on this important issue and it is unclear how many houses have been destroyed to date in the NWFP and FATA and whether this is the correct approach to tackling extremism and terrorism. In fact, army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had once taken the decision to stop this practice that punished the whole family for the crime of a single member involved in militancy and damaged more houses than intended, but the demolition of homes has continued with a greater vigour than before. -- Rahimullah Yusufzai
It would be absurd to suggest that India has no right to take a stand on atrocities committed against religious minority communities in Pakistan, or Bangladesh for that matter. The outrageous murder of Sikhs by the Taliban or the hounding of Hindus cannot be glossed over as an ‘internal affair’ of Pakistan or Bangladesh. India has a moral responsibility towards followers of Indic religions in its immediate neighbourhood and must explore every possible means of ensuring their safety and security. If Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists are unsafe in either Pakistan or Bangladesh, they must be provided shelter in India so that they can live with their honour intact; the onus is on us to give them the dignity which has been denied by their Islamic tormentors. –- The Pioneer
“The U.K. is going through the motions of outrage, but our assessment is that they will do nothing,” The Daily Telegraph reported an Israeli government source as saying. The British government, clearly embarrassed first by the disclosure about the misuse of its passports and then by Israeli bid to play down its fallout, insists that it is taking the issue “very seriously” and has ordered an investigation by the Serious Organised Crime Agency. Foreign Secretary David Miliband described the theft of identities of six Israel-based British citizens and their use in the cold-blooded murder of Mahmoud as an “outrage.”
“We want to get to the bottom of the issue of the fraudulent passports,” he said.-- Hasan Suroor
AMITABH Bachchan seems to have stepped on his own foot. The Bollywood legend’s decision to become the brand ambassador of Narendra Modi’s Gujarat has drawn flak from different quarters. And now danseuse and social activist Mallika Sarabhai has sent a letter (full text on right) to Bachchan, asking him what prompted him to become the brand ambassador of a state which is reeling under poverty and has witnessed the killings of innocent Muslims.
In her letter, Sarabhai has reeled off statistics to show the state Gujarat is in today.
Sarabhai claimed that the state has a huge debt of close to Rs 1 lakh crore.
She also stated that over 75,000 small and medium businesses have shut shop while the state went into an overdrive to dole out subsidies to rich industrial houses. Sarabhai’s words found an echo in social activist Teesta Setalvad. –- Mail Today
Cities are where strangers meet. But in Ahmedabad, a town which is yet to recover from the intense trauma of the 2002 communal riots, both Hindus and Muslims still perceive each other purely through a lens of fear and insecurity. The municipal corporation randomly picked some 8,000 families to resettle them along the Sabarmati Riverfront project — a list that naturally included Hindus and Muslims, and placed them in proximity to each other. There was no deliberate social engineering element to this exercise, but both communities protested and demanded to be kept separate because they felt this situation would leave them defenceless in the event of communal violence. -- Editorial in Indian Express
Photo: AMITABH Bachchan seems to have stepped on his own foot. The Bollywood legend’s decision to become the brand ambassador of Narendra Modi’s Gujarat.
The initial nods, winks and pats on the back here (Jerusalem) over the assassination last month of a senior Hamas official in Dubai are turning to puzzlement and concern as mounting evidence, including extensive surveillance videos, points to a remarkably clumsy operation many Israelis deem unworthy of their intelligence service, Mossad.Officially, Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement in the case, as is customary in delicate matters of intelligence and national security. But since the news of the assassination broke last month, Israel has unofficially made the story its own, with newspapers blaring congratulatory headlines and government ministers praising Mossad's director. -- ISABEL KERSHNER
The killing in Dubai is a classic example of how Mossad goes about its work. Al-Mabhouh's 11 assassins had been chosen from the 48 current kidon, six of whom are women. It has yet to be established how al-Mabhouh was killed, but kidon's preference is strangling with wire, a well-placed car bomb, an electric shock or one of the poisons created by Mossad scientists at their headquarters in a Tel Aviv suburb...
The assassination of a Hamas military commander in Dubai was a professional hit -–The Daily Telegraph
Interestingly, the debate on federal autonomy has been reopened in PAJK as well. In a recent interview, PAJK Prime Minister Farooq Haider stated that there is no need for the Islamabad-based Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council as it is an extra-constitutional body...
Powers of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council are absolute. Article 35 of the PAJK constitution states that a Bill passed by the council shall not require the assent of the president and shall upon its authentication by the chairman of the council become law and be called an Act of the council. This means that the council is empowered to legislate on some subjects without the direct involvement of the PAJK legislative assembly, an elected body of the belt... -- Luv Puri
While well-spoken and earnest, the members of the itinerant Pakistani intelligentsia are not quite representative or in control of their country. They cannot realistically become the power establishment in Islamabad, displacing the army or even the politicians who, corrupt as they are, still represent sectional, provincial interests. It would be downright over-optimistic to believe Pakistani civil rights activists and liberals can actually influence policy on India. There is a difference between what is desirable and what is feasible. Pakistan is not about to throw up its own Vaclav Havel.
How then does India address Pakistan? There is no unanimous view. As Stephen Cohen once put it, “Indians are profoundly ambiguous as to Pakistan. Some would like to embrace Pakistan… Others, for example a friend of mine… wrote me a little note of all the reasons why a broken-up Pakistan would be in India’s interest… Others simply would like to ignore Pakistan. A shining India… [Is] out of Pakistan’s league… India shouldn’t pay any attention to Pakistan.” -- Ashok Malik
In peacetime, China is intimidating India through intermittent cyber warfare, even as it steps up military pressure along the Himalayan frontier. In a conflict, China could cripple major Indian systems through a wave of cyber attacks. With cyber intrusions against the Indian government, defence and commercial targets ramping up since 2007, the protection of sensitive computer networks must become a national security priority.
The cyber threat is at two levels. The first is national, as manifest...
So the reasonable supposition at the highest levels of the Indian government is that most cyber attacks have been carried out from China. That is also the conclusion Google reached when it reported “a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China” and threatened to end “our business operations in China” last week. Let’s be clear: If China can carry out sophisticated cyber attacks on at least 34 US companies, including Google, as part of a concerted effort to pilfer valuable intellectual property, it certainly has the capability to outwit the elementary safeguards found in most Indian computer systems. -- Brahma Chellaney
There is simmering resentment among the local populace against the treatment meted out to the region in distribution of royalty in mega projects like Diamer-Bhasha Dam. To give credence to its claim of empowerment, the local government of the PPP needs to take a stance on the important issues that influence the fate of the whole region of Gilgit-Baltistan. If the elected members of GBLA fail to protect the economic interests and basic rights of the people, the assembly is doomed, because it will expose the hollowness of the so-called empowerment.
The absence of participation of Gilgit-Baltistan in decision-making bodies at the national level will make the whole exercise of administrative and political changes in the empowerment package meaningless. Real participation comes with a role in decision-making. Otherwise, holding elections, appointing office bearers, and following the procedures of a parliamentary system become just rituals to be performed time and again to keep a semblance of legitimacy. But the semblance of representative institutions cannot be kept for a long period when discontent brews in society. This holds true for Gilgit-Baltistan as well. -- Aziz Ali Dad
The intolerance of the Shiv Sena (and now the MNS) may be the most virulent and violent but it is symptomatic of a sickness that has spread to every corner of the country. Shah Rukh Khan is a cultural icon, a face that the whole world identifies as Indian. If the Shiv Sena is able to silence him or make him take back his words by threatening violence, we might as well pack up and throw away the idea of India as a land where democracy and culture flourish. So how is this contest going to end? When confronted by mobs, each and every one of his predecessors in the Home Ministry chose the path of least resistance. Mr. Chidambaram cannot afford to fail the Thackeray test. -- Siddharth Varadarajan
Jayant Prasad, India’s ambassador in Kabul, suggests that if Afghanistan does not stabilise, the resulting chaos can impact India’s security in very many negative ways. In an interview to Anand K. Sahay, on the eve of the London Conference on Afghanistan on January 28, Mr Prasad expands on the policy to remain engaged.
The US has at last recognised the ‘criminal terrorism fusion model’ 17 years after Dawood Ibrahim planned and executed the Mumbai bombings in which at least 258 people were killed. A US Congressional Research Service report, International Terrorism and Transnational Crime: Security Threats, US Policy, and Considerations for Congress, provides a fascinating overview of the criminal-terrorist nexus. The following are excerpts from the report pertaining to the chief of the infamous D-Company:
Over time, a purely criminal group may transform, adopting political goals and new operational objectives. These organisations can form alliances with existing terrorist organisations or foreign Governments to help achieve their strategic aspirations. Or they can initiate, direct, and perpetrate terrorist attacks without external assistance, resulting in the group becoming labelled a terrorist organisation.
We should not succumb to hopelessness when terrorists get through our defences and inflict violence, as they did in Srinagar this week. There may not be unanimity in the Pakistani establishment on peace, but, as noted, the participation of Jang represents an important reappraisal and it would be extremely foolish to ignore any glimmer. The initiative taken by media groups also means that they must create a new culture of reporting in which honesty is not undermined by hysteria. The street listens to media in the hope that it is more credible than Governments, a hope that is often belied.
Peace, like charity, begins at home, and peace is where media is. -- MJ Akbar
… Further reductions of force levels in the Valley, beyond the two divisions already withdrawn, would be an unsound decision. Kashmir is an issue of core national security for India on which there can be no weakening or compromise. -- Gen. Shankar Roychowdhury, former Indian Army Chief
The government must be vigilant to protect the people of Jammu and Kashmir against such persons and the jihadists who misuse and misinterpret religion. Certainly even more troops should be withdrawn as conditions improve. The reduction, however, should not increase in any way the risk to the life and property of men, women and children of the state. -- Arun Bhagat, former director, Indian Intelligence Bureau.
In addition to its geopolitical position as a major global oil transit chokepoint, Yemen is reported to hold some of the world’s greatest untapped oil reserves. Yemen’s Masila Basin and Shabwa Basin are reported by international oil companies to contain "world class discoveries." France’s Total and several smaller international oil companies are engaged in developing Yemen’s oil production. Some fifteen years ago I was told in a private meeting with a well-informed Washington insider that Yemen contained "enough undeveloped oil to fill the oil demand of the entire world for the next fifty years." Perhaps there is more to Washington’s recent Yemen concern than a rag-tag al Qaeda whose very existence as a global terror organization has been doubted by seasoned Islamic experts. -- F. William Engdahl