Archive | April 19th, 2012

US: Where is justice?

The real criminals in the Tarek Mehanna case:

An American Muslim punished for his political views delivers an extraordinary statement in court

BY GLENN GREENWALD

In one of the most egregious violations of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech seen in quite some time, Tarek Mehanna, an American Muslim, was convicted this week in a federal court in Boston and then sentenced yesterday to 17 years in prison. He was found guilty of supporting Al Qaeda (by virtue of translating Terrorists’ documents into English and expressing “sympathetic views” to the group) as well as conspiring to “murder” U.S. soldiers in Iraq (i.e., to wage war against an invading army perpetrating an aggressive attack on a Muslim nation). I’m still traveling and don’t have much time today to write about the case itself — Adam Serwer several months ago wrote an excellent summary of why the prosecution of Mehanna is such an odious threat to free speech and more background on the case is here, and I’ve written before about the growing criminalization of free speech under the Bush and Obama DOJs, whereby Muslims are prosecuted for their plainly protected political views — but I urge everyone to read something quite amazing: Mehanna’s incredibly eloquent, thoughtful statement at his sentencing hearing, before being given a 17-year prison term.

At some point in the future, I believe history will be quite clear about who the actual criminals are in this case: not Mehanna, but rather the architects of the policies he felt compelled to battle and the entities that have conspired to consign him to a cage for two decades:
________________________

TAREK’S SENTENCING STATEMENT
APRIL 12, 2012

Read to Judge O’Toole during his sentencing, April 12th 2012.

In the name of God the most gracious the most merciful Exactly four years ago this month I was finishing my work shift at a
local hospital. As I was walking to my car I was approached by two federal agents. They said that I had a choice to make: I could do things the easy way, or I could do them the hard way. The “easy ” way, as they explained, was that I would become an informant for the government, and if I did so I would never see the inside of a courtroom or a prison cell. As for the hard way, this is it. Here I
am, having spent the majority of the four years since then in a solitary cell the size of a small closet, in which I am locked down
for 23 hours each day. The FBI and these prosecutors worked very hard-and the government spent millions of tax dollars – to put me in that cell, keep me there, put me on trial, and finally to have me stand here before you today to be sentenced to even more time in a cell.

In the weeks leading up to this moment, many people have offered suggestions as to what I should say to you. Some said I should plead for mercy in hopes of a light sentence, while others suggested I would be hit hard either way. But what I want to do is just talk about myself for a few minutes.

When I refused to become an informant, the government responded by charging me with the “crime” of supporting the mujahideen fighting the occupation of Muslim countries around the world. Or as they like to call them, “terrorists.” I wasn’t born in a Muslim country, though. I was born and raised right here in America and this angers many people: how is it that I can be an American and believe the things I believe, take the positions I take? Everything a man is exposed to in his environment becomes an ingredient that shapes his outlook, and I’m no different. So, in more ways than one, it’s because of America that I am who I am.

When I was six, I began putting together a massive collection of comic books. Batman implanted a concept in my mind, introduced me to a paradigm as to how the world is set up: that there are oppressors, there are the oppressed, and there are those who step up to defend the oppressed. This resonated with me so much that throughout the rest of my childhood, I gravitated towards any book that reflected that paradigm – Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and I even saw an ehical dimension to The Catcher in the Rye.

By the time I began high school and took a real history class, I was learning just how real that paradigm is in the world. I learned about the Native Americans and what befell them at the hands of European settlers. I learned about how the descendents of those European settlers were in turn oppressed under the tyranny of King George III.

I read about Paul Revere, Tom Paine, and how Americans began an armed insurgency against British forces – an insurgency we now celebrate as the American revolutionary war. As a kid I even went on school field trips just blocks away from where we sit now. I learned about Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, John Brown, and the fight against slavery in this country. I learned about Emma Goldman, Eugene Debs, and the struggles of the labor unions, working class, and poor. I learned about Anne Frank, the Nazis, and how they persecuted minorities and imprisoned dissidents. I learned about Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King,
and the civil rights struggle.

I learned about Ho Chi Minh, and how the Vietnamese fought for decades to liberate themselves from one invader after another. I learned about Nelson Mandela and the fight against apartheid in South Africa. Everything I learned in those years confirmed what I was beginning to learn when I was six: that throughout history, there has been a constant struggle between the oppressed and their oppressors. With each struggle I learned about, I found myself consistently siding with the oppressed, and consistently respecting those who stepped up to defend them -regardless of nationality, regardless of religion. And I never threw my class notes away. As I stand here speaking, they are in a neat pile in my bedroom closet at home.

From all the historical figures I learned about, one stood out above the rest. I was impressed be many things about Malcolm X, but above all, I was fascinated by the idea of transformation, his transformation. I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie “X” by Spike Lee, it’s over three and a half hours long, and the Malcolm at the beginning is different from the Malcolm at the end. He starts off as an illiterate criminal, but ends up a husband, a father, a protective and eloquent leader for his people, a disciplined Muslim performing the Hajj in Makkah, and finally, a martyr. Malcolm’s life taught me that Islam is not something inherited; it’s not a culture or ethnicity. It’s a way of life, a state of mind anyone can choose no matter where they come from or how they were raised.

This led me to look deeper into Islam, and I was hooked. I was just a teenager, but Islam answered the question that the greatest scientific minds were clueless about, the question that drives the rich & famous to depression and suicide from being unable to answer: what is the purpose of life? Why do we exist in this Universe? But it also answered the question of how we’re supposed to exist. And since there’s no hierarchy or priesthood, I could directly and immediately begin digging into the texts of the Qur’an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, to begin the journey of understanding what this was all about, the implications of Islam for me as a human being, as an individual, for the people around me, for the world; and the more I learned, the more I valued Islam like a piece of gold. This was when I was a teen, but even today, despite the pressures of the last few years, I stand here before you, and everyone else in this courtroom, as a very proud Muslim.

With that, my attention turned to what was happening to other Muslims in different parts of the world. And everywhere I looked, I saw the powers that be trying to destroy what I loved. I learned what the Soviets had done to the Muslims of Afghanistan. I learned what the Serbs had done to the Muslims of Bosnia. I learned what the Russians were doing to the Muslims of Chechnya. I learned what Israel had done in Lebanon – and what it continues to do in Palestine – with the full backing of the United States. And I learned what America itself was doing to Muslims. I learned about the Gulf War, and the depleted uranium bombs that killed thousands and caused cancer rates to skyrocket across Iraq.

I learned about the American-led sanctions that prevented food, medicine, and medical equipment from entering Iraq, and how – according to the United Nations – over half a million children perished as a result. I remember a clip from a’60 Minutes` interview of Madeline Albright where she expressed her view that these dead children were “worth it.” I watched on September 11th as a group of people felt driven to hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings from their outrage at the deaths of these children. I watched as America then attacked and invaded Iraq directly. I saw the effects of ‘Shock & Awe’ in the opening day of the invasion – the children in hospital wards with shrapnel from American missiles sticking but of their foreheads (of course, none of this was shown on CNN).

I learned about the town of Haditha, where 24 Muslims – including a 76-year old man in a wheelchair, women, and even toddlers – were shot up and blown up in their bedclothes as the slept by US Marines. I learned about Abeer al-Janabi, a fourteen-year old Iraqi girl gang-raped by five American soldiers, who then shot her and her family in the head, then set fire to their corpses. I just want to point out, as you can see, Muslim women don’t even show their hair to unrelated men. So try to imagine this young girl from a conservative village with her dress torn off, being sexually assaulted by not one, not two, not three, not four, but five soldiers. Even today, as I sit in my jail cell, I read about the drone strikes which continue to kill Muslims daily in places like Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. Just last month, we all heard about the seventeen Afghan Muslims – mostly mothers and their kids – shot to death by an American soldier, who also set fire to their corpses.

These are just the stories that make it to the headlines, but one of the first concepts I learned in Islam is that of loyalty, of brotherhood – that each Muslim woman is my sister, each man is my brother, and together, we are one large body who must protect each other. In other words, I couldn’t see these things beings done to my brothers & sisters – including by America – and remain neutral. My sympathy for the oppressed continued, but was now more personal, as was my respect for those defending them.

I mentioned Paul Revere – when he went on his midnight ride, it was for the purpose of warning the people that the British were marching to Lexington to arrest Sam Adams and John Hancock, then on to Concord to confiscate the weapons stored there by the Minuteman. By the time they got to Concord, they found the Minuteman waiting for them, weapons in hand. They fired at the British, fought them, and beat them. From that battle came the American Revolution. There’s an Arabic word to describe what those Minutemen did that day. That word is: JIHAD, and this is what my trial was about.

All those videos and translations and childish bickering over `Oh, he translated this paragraph’ and `Oh, he edited that sentence,’ and all those exhibits revolved around a single issue: Muslims who were defending themselves against American soldiers doing to them exactly what the British did to America. It was made crystal clear at trial that I never, ever plotted to “kill Americans” at shopping malls or whatever the story was. The government’s own witnesses contradicted this claim, and we put expert after expert up on that stand, who spent hours dissecting my every written word, who explained my beliefs. Further, when I was free, the government sent an undercover agent to prod me into one of their little “terror plots,” but I refused to participate. Mysteriously, however, the jury never heard this.

So, this trial was not about my position on Muslims killing American civilians. It was about my position on Americans killing Muslim civilians, which is that Muslims should defend their lands from foreign invaders – Soviets, Americans, or Martians. This is what I believe. It’s what I’ve always believed, and what I will always believe. This is not terrorism, and it’s not extremism. It’s what the arrows on that seal above your head represent: defense of the homeland. So, I disagree with my lawyers when they say that you don’t have to agree with my beliefs – no. Anyone with commonsense and humanity has no choice but to agree with me. If someone breaks into your home to rob you and harm your family, logic dictates that you do whatever it takes to expel that invader from your home.

But when that home is a Muslim land, and that invader is the US military, for some reason the standards suddenly change. Common sense is renamed “terrorism” and the people defending themselves against those who come to kill them from across the ocean become “the terrorists” who are “killing Americans.” The mentality that America was victimized with when British soldiers walked these streets 2 ½ centuries ago is the same mentality Muslims are victimized by as American soldiers walk their streets today. It’s the mentality of colonialism.

When Sgt. Bales shot those Afghans to death last month, all of the focus in the media was on him-his life, his stress, his PTSD, the mortgage on his home-as if he was the victim. Very little sympathy was expressed for the people he actually killed, as if they’re not real, they’re not humans. Unfortunately, this mentality trickles down to everyone in society, whether or not they realize it. Even with my lawyers, it took nearly two years of discussing, explaining, and clarifying before they were finally able to think outside the box and at least ostensibly accept the logic in what I was saying. Two years! If it took that long for people so intelligent, whose job it is to defend me, to de-program themselves, then to throw me in front of a randomly selected jury under the premise that they’re my “impartial peers,” I mean, come on. I wasn’t tried before a jury of my peers because with the mentality gripping America today, I have no peers. Counting on this fact, the government prosecuted me – not because they needed to, but simply because they could.

I learned one more thing in history class: America has historically supported the most unjust policies against its minorities – practices that were even protected by the law – only to look back later and ask: ‘what were we thinking?’ Slavery, Jim Crow, the internment of the Japanese during World War II – each was widely accepted by American society, each was defended by the Supreme Court. But as time passed and America changed, both people and courts looked back and asked ‘What were we thinking?’ Nelson Mandela was considered a terrorist by the South African government, and given a life sentence. But time passed, the world changed, they realized how oppressive their policies were, that it was not he who was the terrorist, and they released him from prison. He even became president. So, everything is subjective – even this whole business of “terrorism” and who is a “terrorist.” It all depends on the time and place and who the superpower happens to be at the moment.

In your eyes, I’m a terrorist, and it’s perfectly reasonable that I be standing here in an orange jumpsuit. But one day, America will change and people will recognize this day for what it is. They will look at how hundreds of thousands of Muslims were killed and maimed by the US military in foreign countries, yet somehow I’m the one going to prison for “conspiring to kill and maim” in those countries – because I support the Mujahidin defending those people. They will look back on how the government spent millions of dollars to imprison me as a “terrorist,” yet if we were to somehow bring Abeer al-Janabi back to life in the moment she was being gang-raped by your soldiers, to put her on that witness stand and ask her who the “terrorists” are, she sure wouldn’t be pointing at me.

The government says that I was obsessed with violence, obsessed with “killing Americans.” But, as a Muslim living in these times, I can think of a lie no more ironic.

-Tarek Mehanna
4/12/12

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INS CHAKRA: A POTENTIAL THREAT TO INDIAN OCEAN STABILITY

NOVANEWS

By Naveed Ahmed

INS CHAKRA, a nuclear submarine, was formally inducted into the Indian Fleet at VISHAKAPATNAM, Headquarters of Eastern Naval Command, by the Indian defence minster Mr AK Antony on 4 April 2012.  This event could have taken place two years earlier but for the accident onboard the vessel during her sea trials in the Sea of Japan the entire project got delayed by at least two years.

How does induction of INS CHAKRA affect the naval balance in the Indian Ocean particularly when viewed in a regional perspective? Since INS CHAKRA is not carrying ballistic or cruise nuclear missiles onboard as such the parity with Pakistan in the strategic realm does not alter drastically, this is a point which needs to be correctly understood. However with the induction of the SLBM (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile) carrying nuclear submarine, INS ARIHANT, likely to be inducted by end 2012, the strategic balance would definitely be altered. The presently inducted INS CHAKRA is an SSN submarine, whose strength lies in her ability to maintain almost unlimited sustained submerged covert presence in the Area of Interest either for reconnaissance or to undertake sea denial operations with the capacity to do high speeds of up to 30 knots, thanks to the unlimited power generated by its nuclear reactor.

Before examining other issues it is important to understand what constitutes a “Threat”. It comprises “Capability and Intent”.  “Capability” is permanent and is achieved over a long period of time whereas “Intent” is transient and can change overnight. Put simply “Capability” has a predominant role in defining the “Threat”. Induction of INS CHAKRA should be examined in the perspective of “capability”, as it has given India an unprecedented offensive capability generating a pronounced threat for all the stake holders in the region.

Let’s take a look at the affects of INS CHAKRA (SSN) on the Indian Ocean Region called IOR. This region extends from Australia in the East to South Africa in the West.  It links the world through most important straits including Straits of Malacca, Hormuz, Bab-al-Mandab and the Mozambique Channel. Leading economies of the world including China, Indian, Japan, and Australia are excessively dependant on these passages, also called “Choke Points”.  The ports of Indian Ocean handle about 30% of the world commerce. The trade flowing through Indian Ocean comprises 80% for extra-regional and 20% for intra-regional countries. Half of the world containerised traffic traverses through Indian Ocean. It is also home to the largest number of “Failed” or “Failing States” on the Foreign Policy Index. Three Nuclear powers (one potential) are poised perilously close to each other with simmering intra and extra regional conflicts making it the world’s most volatile region.

Starting from the East, lets examine how it affects Australia, which has the longest coastline of 36,000 km, second largest continental shelf and fourth largest EEZ  with economy totally dependant upon sea.  Potential presence of an SSN, capable of

covertly monitoring and interfering with Australian SLOCs (Sea Lines of Communications) in a conflict situation will definitely make Australian maritime thinkers uncomfortable. Looking at South East Asia comprising some of the emerging economies like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, whose total economic growth is dependant on free flow of trade are already under the influence of growing Indian maritime military capability. The establishment of the Joint Command at Andaman & Nicobar Islands overlooking the Straits of Malacca has already squeezed vital strategic space from them. The enhanced threat in the form of INS CHAKRA would make these nations even more wary of Indian presence perilously close to their strategic interests.

On the other hand, South Asian countries are already suffering at the hands of an excessive Indian presence in Indian Ocean, almost all countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have/had some disputes with India in the maritime domain. This enhanced threat of covert presence of an SSN would add to the security concerns of these nations. GCC countries and Iran whose economies are totally dependant on free flow oil supplies to the world would definitely feel threatened as potential covert and sustained presence of an Indian naval platform right at the mouth of the Gulf in their strategic core area would alter their security calculus. Particularly, Iran would be more concerned due to growing Indo-US nexus and what role can Indian Navy potentially play in case of a conflict at sea.

On the African continent, the countries neighbouring the Indian Ocean are already bogged down with their woes of almost failing economies and are constantly suffering at the hands of Somalian piracy. In the south, the strategic location of South Africa joining the Indian to the Pacific Ocean around the Cape of Good Hope is heavily dependant on maritime trade for its prosperity and well being. An enhanced presence of covert Indian platform close to its strategic areas generating potential threat, hitherto not possible, will be a cause of concern for South Africa.

The most affected of all  the nations is China whose economic security particularly her energy security is totally dependant on the  SLOCs passing through  Indian Ocean, therefore Chinese maritime interests  in the  Indian Ocean  are being directly threatened, more than yesterday. As a natural outcome China would adopt measures to protect its interests in the Indian Ocean resulting in increased presence of competing military powers for safeguarding their interests; thus possibly more militarisation and instability in the Indian Ocean. This therefore goes counter to the economic and strategic interests of the countries located in the Indian Ocean Region.

Similarly, France which is maintaining a permanent military presence in the Indian Ocean for safeguarding her overseas interests in La Reunion and Mauritius may not be totally at ease with the introduction  of an enhanced (additional SSN) military capability in the security calculus of Indian Ocean. Though the Indo-US nexus in the Indian Ocean has grown over the years however US would not allow an unbridled capability enhancement of the Indian maritime military capability particularly through the Russian conduit. In any case, the Indian SSN is a direct and potent military threat to the American Carrier Groups permanently stationed in Indian Ocean and Gulf, which US military planners can ill afford to ignore in the short and long term.

So what is to be done? The response to this exponentially growing military threat has to come from within the Indian Ocean Region countries particularly those, whose permanent interests are at stakes due to this unprecedented Indian naval expansion. The countries of Indian Ocean Region must unite their voices and exert pressure on India at all international forums through diplomatic and other means to curtail an un-justified and hegemonic Indian naval expansion jeopardising the regional and maritime strategic stability. Countries like Australia, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore and Saudi Arabia must use their international stature and clout to curtail Indian hegemonic designs.  Response from countries like Pakistan, China and other directly affected countries including Iran would be but natural and morally justified, but the resultant affects would not serve the long term interests of Indian Ocean countries.

 

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Baloch nationalism

Is Baloch nationalism assuming dangerous proportions?

By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
In connivance with KGB and KHAD, RAW with the willing cooperation of Sardar Khair Baksh Marri and Sardar Attallullah Mengal succeeded in establishing Baloch Student Organisation (BSO) in Balochistan in 1964, which raised the bogey of Greater Balochistan. Consequent to abolishment of Sardari system in Balochistan and sacking of Mengal led government in Quetta by Bhutto in 1974; insurgency broke out in Balochistan in 1974. Both Afghanistan under King Zahir Shah and former Soviet Union provided arms and ammunition and moral support to the insurgents and also gave shelter to Sardars of Marris and Mengals. ZA Bhutto employed the army to quell insurgency which remained confined to areas dominated by Marris and Mengals only since Nawab Akbar Bugti had refused to join hands with the insurgents. Insurgency continued till as late as 1978 and was finally extinguished by Gen Zia through dialogue. Governor Balochistan Lt Gen Rahimuddin had played a constructive role in winning over dissident Baloch leaders and appeasing them by providing material benefits to neglected Balochistan. Democratic era from 1988 till 1999 did little to remove extreme poverty and backwardness of the province or to free the people from the perverse stranglehold of exploitative Sardars.
As a consequence to 2002 elections held by gen Musharraf, Zafarullah Jamali was made the PM. Backed by the centre, MMA-PML-Q coalition government in Balochistan made genuine efforts to remove socio-politico-economic inequities of Balochistan. Several mega projects were launched to usher in prosperity in the neglected province. Displaced Kalpars and Masuris from Dera Bugti were rehabilitated. However, efforts to build Balochistan were thwarted by the Sardars of Bugti, Marri and Mengal tribes who have been traditionally anti-development. Nawab Akbar Bugti, Nawab Khair Bux Marri and Akhtar Mengal got easily swayed by USA, India and UK and at their behest initiated an armed insurgency in 2005. It received a fillip after the death of Akbar Bugti in August 2006 and subsequently it got converted into a separatist movement when democratic government led by PPP took over and a corrupt and inefficient government in Balochistan was formed.
Insurgency led by radical Baloch nationalists mostly belonging to Bugti, Marri and Mengal tribes in Balochistan has spread to most parts of Baloch inhabited areas and even Mekran coast has become restive. Quetta which has always been under the sway of Pathans, settlers and Hazaras, has become violent because of frequent terrorist attacks and target killings. Entire Pashtun belt strung along Afghan border is so far peaceful and it has not lent support to Baloch separatists or even to Afghan Taliban and has also managed to keep TTP at bay.
Turbat is the capital of Mekran and is the second largest city in Balochistan after Quetta and is inhibited by Baloch. People of this area are moderate and have shunned repressive Sardari system. National Party and BNP of Akhtar Mengal are to some extent seen as moderate political parties who have their set of grievances but want to settle them while remaining within framework of federation of Pakistan. Baloch separatists however want independence through armed struggle and any one talking of Pakistan is targeted. Harbyar Marri son of Nawab Khair Bux Marri residing in London heads banned BLA and vociferously espouses independence of Balochistan. Previously elder son Balaach Marri used to run BLA. Balaach had been killed by Habib Jalib’s Qaimkhawani tribe.
Banned BRA is run by Brahamdagh Bugti grandson of Akbar Bugti. He shifted from Kandahar to Geneva last year. Besides these two outfits, Dr Allah Nazar from Avaran district has emerged as the fiercest among Baloch rebel leaders and wields sway over Baloch militants in Mekran, Khuzdar and Avaran. He has remained member of BSO during his medical college student days. He is waging insurgency from the mountains. Reportedly he was involved in killings of moderate Baloch leaders like Turbat’s Nazim Maula Bux Dasti, Liaquat Mengal, Rehmatullah, Khalil Tufail, and possibly BNP leader Habib Jalib. Like other outfits, Nazar is also on the payroll of RAW. Heads of all the separatist groups are receiving heavy funds from RAW, which is ensuring regular flow of weapons and equipment to Baloch fighters who number 2-2500. Regular supply from India is keeping the rebellious groups active.
Besides destroying national assets including gas pipelines and targeting security forces deployed in interior Balochistan, the rebels also resort to hideous practice of target killing the non-Baloch settlers and the Hazaras. Most of the victims of terrorist groups BLA and BRA were teachers, professors, doctors, policemen and businessmen. All murderous attacks are promptly and proudly claimed by these two groups. Retaliatory acts by security forces are censured by western media and termed as state terrorism or violation of human rights. Even our own media energetically debates Balochistan issue and gives lot of space to dissident Baloch leaders. Instead of highlighting the sorry plight of affected settlers and Hazaras, and also lamenting the impotence of courts who let off hardened terrorists because of inefficiency of police and prosecution, the focus is on missing persons and mutilated bodies.
In 2009 a deadline was given to non-locals to leave Balochistan or else face the consequences. After expiry of the deadline, hired terrorist were unleashed to ruthlessly gun down settlers especially from Punjab. Artisans, skilled persons, doctors, engineers, policemen, teachers and professors were systematically killed forcing them to runaway. Tens of thousands of non-locals have migrated from Balochistan where they had lived for centuries and had played a predominant role in uplifting the province. Government officials, pro-government or pro-Pakistan Baloch and Hazara community are also being viciously targeted. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is involved in killing Shias in Balochistan. So far, none of the victim communities have retaliated by picking up arms against Baloch terrorists.
Balochi students studying in schools and colleges particularly within Baloch inhabited regions are being brainwashed through literature prepared in Afghanistan and in India to make them hate Pakistan, Pak Army and Punjab. They are being led up the garden path that Balochistan would attain prosperity it had never seen before if detached from Pakistan owing to presence of abundant gas and mineral resources. Pattern of former East Pakistan is being pursued.
Rebellious Baloch Sardars in exile are encouraged by foreign powers to keep up with their diatribes against federation of Pakistan, Pak Army and intelligence agencies. They keep holding heavily attended seminars, conferences and meetings in Washington, various capitals of western countries and India to project the Baloch as victims of aggression and to promote independence of Balochistan. Dr Wahid Baloch is among the most active anti-Pakistan Baloch leader in USA. He and others sing the Indian tutored themes that Balochistan is an occupied territory and Pak Army and FC are occupying forces involved in brutal persecution of the Baloch.
The US, western world, India, international NGOs and HRW working in Pakistan have never condemned violence of radical Baloch nationalists or restrained exiled Baloch Sardars from unleashing propaganda campaign against Pakistan to influence the policy makers of USA and western countries. The US court however punished Kashmiri leader Dr Fai on charges of trying to influence US officials to support the genuine cause of Kashmir declared as disputed by UN resolutions. The US has also announced head money for Pakistani nationals Hafiz Saeed and Makki who are not in hiding and are engaged in charity work and religious education.
The US Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs convened a meeting on February 8, 2012 to discuss the situation in Balochistan. Self-exiled Baloch leaders espousing independence of Balochistan, American scholars and human rights activists were invited. Congressman Dana Rohrabachar chaired the meeting. He said Balochistan needed urgent attention since it was marred by human rights violations. He advocated right of self-determination for the Baloch and championed the cause of independent Balochistan. He pleaded the case of the Baloch saying that they were natural allies of USA who would gladly share the mineral resources of Balochistan and would let the US run Gwadar Port. Several members of Congress lent their support since Pak-US relations had dipped low after Salala incident and Pakistan was surprisingly acting tough. Mst Christine Fair was the lone woman who out rightly shunned the notion of independent Balochistan asserting that it was unsustainable because of ethnic diversity and geographic constraints.
Nobody questions the rebellious Sardars that if the Baloch are under the sword, what they are doing abroad? Fascist Sardars shedding crocodile tears are not asked as to why they failed to develop their respective regions upon which they enjoyed total sway and as to why they were against development and education? They don’t quiz them as to who was funding the six year old insurgency and that if Balochistan was an occupied state, what was the status of Indian held Kashmir? None ask them whether the Baloch represented the whole of Balochistan, and what was their following. They need to be educated that the Pashtuns, Brahvis and Hazaras in Balochistan comprise 60% of the province and are averse to the idea of independence and fully support the federation. They forget that majority of Baloch are patriots and loyal to the federation.
The self-exiled Sardars and their patrons need to be asked if Balochistan is an occupied state, how USA will define its role in Afghanistan which is in its occupation since 2001. One wonders why the US never declared Kashmir as an occupied territory which is disputed as per the UN resolutions and is under forceful occupation of 700,000 Indian security forces involved in massive human rights violations. What about Palestine which is in illegal occupation of Israel since 1948? The US and western countries never comment about Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam, Maghalaya and dozens of other states where separatist movements are raging since 1950s and 1960s and where Indian forces are employing excessive force to quell the movements? The US has the cheek to become the champion of human rights after its bloody invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and running infamous Gitmo, Abu Garib and Bagram airbase prisons. It doesn’t talk of the private militias and private jails of the Baloch Sardars who put all the dissidents in dungeons, torture them ruthlessly and then kill them if they refuse to tow their line.
Baloch nationalism is assuming dangerous proportions because of heavy involvement of foreign agencies and deleterious role of dissident Baloch Sardars who are prepared to go to any extent to save their Sardari system. The dissidents on payroll of foreign agencies are not more than 0.2% of Baloch population while the rest are pro-Pakistan. This small segment wants to impose its will over the great majority with the help of foreign powers who they rate as their well-wishers. Failing to make any headway, they keep demanding ouster of Army and Frontier Corps from Balochistan so as to pave the way for foreign troops to barge in unopposed; thus giving the Sardars opportunity to garland them as liberators. Exiled Baloch leaders living in fancy world are advised to avail the lucrative offer of the government of amnesty and waiving off their umpteen criminal cases and rush back home before it changes its mind and they are left high and dry.

 

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PAKISTAN-SIACHEN-INDIA

NOVANEWS

by 

Siachen

                                          

Pakistan and India are strange neighbours. Their relationship is deeply grounded in mistrust. On the onset of a typical crisis, the bilateral mechanism to manage such events collapses almost instantly. Anticipating the entanglement, regional and extra regional well-wishers start flocking-in to keep the two antagonists apart. Thanks to these good offices, war has been averted a number of times. Recent private-public visit by Pakistan’s President was an interesting event. Composition of delegation indicted that it had an official dimension too. To keep the expectations manageable, a two facade mix and match was worked out.

Visit of this level was the first in the last seven years. It commenced on the heels of a human tragedy caused by a massive avalanche that had hit a Pakistani military camp in Siachen which left 124 army personnel and 11 civilians buried alive. An announcement of a pullout of respective militaries from the glacier could have a befitting gift to the two nations. However, Pak-India relations are too complex to be swayed even by a human tragedy of this magnitude. Two leaders settled by exchanging one frail prisoner each.

Both the countries have gotten used to an interesting pattern and profile package in the context of their bilateral interactions. They work meticulously for years to build a rapprochement framework, or at least an aura of it; then something happens and things are back to square one– generally a near war situation.

The cycle then reengineers itself under the pressure of compulsions to stay engaged. Under the fear of domestic backlash, leaders from both sides restart through somewhat shying encounters on the periphery of international diplomatic venues, then graduate to meet under the cover of sports, cultural or religious events. Political oppositions of both the countries remain too eager to blame respective governments for a ‘sell-out’ without really specifying the commodity. Dr Manmohan Singh was about to lose his job after his meeting with Pakistani counterpart on the side lines of NAM summit at Sharm-ul Sheikh. However, this time it was an enabling political environment; the opposition political parties of Pakistan had wished the President of Pakistan good luck before the visit and the Indian leader of opposition joined him for the lunch.

One major setback to bilateral relations came as a result of Indian invasion of Siachen in 1984, a glacier which had been respected as a ‘no man’s land’ since independence. Siachen was invaded to pressurize Pakistan amidst the most dense and intense phase of Afghan war of independence against the erstwhile Soviets. Soon after, it was followed by massive military deployments, all along India-Pakistan border, under the garb of military exercise “Brass-tacks”. Presumably both these actions were executed by India on the behest of Soviets. During those days India used to be too happy to play proxy for Soviets. Like these days, during Soviet occupation of Afghanistan also, India was on the wrong side of popular Afghan aspirations.

Siachen was considered so irrelevant piece of land that Simla Agreement, while drawing the Line of Control, did not consider it significant enough to demarcate the territory beyond the map coordinate known as NJ9842. Indian armed forces crept into Siachen in 1984 and moved on to the Saltoro Range to the west. Realising that India had come so close to Skardu, Pakistan too sent its troops up to the Saltoro Range. A misplaced adventure by Indian army to climb up an un-demarcated glacier and to hang-on there sowed a powerful seed of mistrust that has been a cause of later happenings like Kargil etc.

Moreover, unprovoked Indian invasion of Siachen resulted in the activation of highest battle ground of the world. Until the ceasefire in 2003, Siachen remained one of the world’s most tense battle zones, where Indian and Pakistani armies confronted each other over disputed territory for over two decades. Siachen is 20,000 feet above sea level. Indian and Pakistani troops have fought there in temperatures of around minus 60 degrees Celsius. Ever since Siachen’s occupation by India, both counties have exposed their troops to environmental hardships; more have died or have been maimed because of inhospitable climatic conditions than due to direct military combat. India has incurred higher human and economic cost of maintaining a garrison at Siachen.

It is unfortunate that despite numerous efforts by Pakistan over the previous several years, the Siachen issue could not be resolved and troops from both sides are suffering; though everyone has been saying that it should be resolves. A tentative agreement has already been worked out.

Pakistan didn’t start this conflict. India moved into the area and occupied the higher peaks on the Saltoro Range. India aggressed; its military should not have been at its present location. Pakistan has all along been trying to end the conflict; but it cannot do it unilaterally. At the same time India has no incentive to withdraw. Indian army is the main hurdle; to justify its continued occupation, it tries to attach fairy tale strategic significance to the territory that it now occupies. For any meaningful initiative for durable peace between India and Pakistan, demilitarization of Siachen could be a starting point. Pakistani side has proposed a solution: the un-demarcated areas under the Simla Agreement become zones of disengagement with both sides withdrawing their troops without prejudice to their pre-Siachen-conflict positions.

President’s current visit, although it was not explicitly stated, was about consolidating the recently refreshed ‘Confidence Building Measures’ (CBM) which have been cautiously embarked upon by thegovernment and non-government entities from both sides. Despite no Indian concessions on Non-Tariff Barriers, Pakistan has ceded a major concession to India by according it the status of Most Favoured Nations (MFN). The business communities of both states had been inching towards a viable framework during the last one year or so. If even playing field is provided by removing the NTBs by India, both India and Pakistan could benefit mutually from enhanced trade; both have much to sell to one another.

A reciprocals visit by Dr Singh towards the end of this year would help in maintaining the momentum. The short meeting between the two produced a rather comprehensive frame work for further movement. All that could be, was mentioned in the Indian foreign secretary’s press briefing. Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affair’s spokesperson recently commented: “The Siachen is, as you know, already part of the dialogue process. There is nothing new about it. As far as Pakistan is concerned we have always maintained that all issues between Pakistan and India should be resolved, especially the core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir. That continues to be our policy. All the bilateral issues including Siachen, Sir Creek, are part of the dialogue agenda. We hope that as this dialogue process moves forward, our two countries will be able to move beyond the CBMs because it is important for the two countries to settle these issues and move forward”.

The challenge is to strive towards reducing tensions and resolving as well as managing the conflicts while understanding clearly that complexities involved in Pak-India relations cannot be simply wished away.

Posted in Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on PAKISTAN-SIACHEN-INDIA

BAHRAIN: CORRUPT SAUDI REGIME ATTACKED ANTI-REGIME PROTESTERS

NOVANEWS
Bahraini forces attack protesters demanding F1 race cancellation

Female Bahraini protesters take part in a demonstration calling for the cancellation of the upcoming Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix race in Isa town near the capital Manama on April 18, 2012.
Saudi-backed Bahraini forces have attacked anti-government protesters in the capital who demanded the Formula 1 Grand Prix be called off in response to Manama’s suppression of protests.

Witnesses said on Wednesday that regime forces fired stun grenades at protesters outside a cultural exhibition for Bahrain’s Formula One race, urging Formula 1’s governing body, the FIA, to cancel the sporting event as it did last year.

They also called for the immediate release of jailed rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and other political activists.

Veteran activist Nabeel Rajab also took part in the demonstration, chanting anti-government slogans.

Bahrainis have vowed to stage “Days of Rage” during the Formula One Grand Prix, Bahrain’s most high-profile international event scheduled to be held from April 20-22.

Meanwhile, Khawaja’s wife has accused Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone of ignoring her husband’s plight by deciding to go ahead with this weekend’s race in Bahrain.

“I am not angry with the government…it’s their future at stake. What makes me angry is people like Ecclestone who decides to come to Bahrain because he thinks everyone is happy,” Khadijaal-Mousawi told Reuters on Wednesday, adding that the F1 boss had missed a chance to do something to help the Bahrain uprising and her husband Abdulhadi, who has been on hunger strike for more than two months.

Bahraini protesters have repeatedly called for the cancellation of the race over Manama’s brutal crackdown on demonstrations, saying that the return of F1 gives a symbolic stamp of approval to the Al Khalifa regime.

Last year the FIA cancelled the F1 race in Bahrain over nationwide anti-government protests and the suppression that ensued.

Posted in BahrainComments Off on BAHRAIN: CORRUPT SAUDI REGIME ATTACKED ANTI-REGIME PROTESTERS

BAHRAIN: CORRUPT REGIME ARRESTED LEADING ACTIVISTS

NOVANEWS
Bahrain arrests 80 protest leaders ahead of F1 Grand Prix

Men walk past anti-Formula 1 graffiti in the village of Barbar, west of Manama, which reads, “Boycott F1 in Bahrain, you will race on the blood of martyrs”.(File Photo)
The Bahraini government has arrested at least 80 protest leaders as the country prepares for its most high-profile international event, the Formula One Grand Prix.

According to a Bahraini rights group, security forces have detained about 80 leading activists this week to avoid anti-government protest rallies taking place during the upcoming F1 race scheduled to be held from April 20-22.

Bahrainis, however, have vowed to stage “Days of Rage” during the sporting event.

Bahraini protesters have repeatedly called for the cancellation of the race over Manama’s brutal crackdown on demonstrations, saying that the return of F1 gives a symbolic stamp of approval to the Al Khalifa regime.

Last year the FIA cancelled the F1 race in Bahrain over nationwide anti-government protests and the suppression that ensued.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International has announced the situation in Bahrain has not improved since last year and that human rights are still being violated. It also said that Formula 1 risks being used as a political tool by allowing next weekend’s race to go ahead.

“No-one should be under any illusions that the country’s human rights crisis is over,” Amnesty said on Tuesday.

Bahrainis have been staging demonstrations since mid-February 2011, demanding political reform and a constitutional monarchy, a demand that later changed to an outright call for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family following its brutal crackdown on popular protests.

Scores of people have also been killed and many others have been injured in the Saudi-backed crackdown on peaceful protesters in Bahrain.

Bahraini demonstrators hold King Hamad Al Khalifa responsible for the killings during the popular uprising in the country.

Posted in BahrainComments Off on BAHRAIN: CORRUPT REGIME ARRESTED LEADING ACTIVISTS

BAHRAIN: ZIONIST AL-KHALIFA CONFRONTED BY PROTESTERS

NOVANEWS
Bahraini Crown Prince confronted by protesters in Sanabis

Protestors hold banners picturing the victims of Manama crackdown as Bahraini Crown Prince Shekh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa arrives in Sanabis
Bahraini Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad has been confronted by a group of anti-government protesters during his visit to the Manama suburb of Sanabis.

Scores of protesters holding banners picturing the victims of the Manama crackdown on demonstrations gathered outside a mosque in Sanabis on Wednesday after Sheikh Salman arrived there to attend a funeral ceremony.

They also shouted “Down with Al Khalifa”. There were no reports of violence.

Bahrainis have been holding protest rallies across the country since last year, demanding freedom and the fall of the ruling regime. They also want the release of all political prisoners, including opposition leader Hassan Mushaima and prominent human rights activists Andulhadi al-Khawaja, who has been on hunger strike for more than two months.

Scores of people have also been killed and many others have been injured in the Saudi-backed crackdown on peaceful protesters in Bahrain.

Bahraini demonstrators hold King Hamad Al Khalifa responsible for the killings during the popular uprising in the country.

Posted in BahrainComments Off on BAHRAIN: ZIONIST AL-KHALIFA CONFRONTED BY PROTESTERS

SYRIA: ZIO-NATO TERRORIST PUPPET’S KILL SIX POLICEMAN

NOVANEWS
Terrorist groups kill six Syrian policemen despite ceasefire

Members of the terrorist Free Syrian Army (File Photo)
At least six Syrian law enforcement officers have been killed in a roadside bomb attack by armed groups despite a ceasefire brokered by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

According to Syria’s state news agency SANA, 11 others were also wounded in the blast in al-Mastoumeh town in Idlib Province on Wednesday.

The bomb was detonated on al-Mastoumeh-Idlib road as a group of law enforcement personnel passed the area.

In another incident, armed groups fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad killed a policeman in the southern city of Dara’a.

Calm has returned to most parts of Syria since the ceasefire was announced almost a week ago, though there have been reports of sporadic clashes in some parts of the country with Damascus accusing armed groups of violating the truce by continuing attacks on government forces.

Opposition activists have been claiming that the army has killed a number of civilians since the ceasefire took effect last Thursday.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March 2011 and many people, including security forces, have been killed in the unrest.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on SYRIA: ZIO-NATO TERRORIST PUPPET’S KILL SIX POLICEMAN

Syria: Zio-Nato Puppet’s Attack Army Convoy

NOVANEWS

 

antiwar.com

Repeated claims from both sides of ceasefire violations in Syria were entirely meaningless today, when witnesses saw troops with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) battling openly with the military in Qusayr, near the Lebanon border.

According to reports from a journalist on site, the fighting began when the FSA ambushed an army convoy near the town, sparking a battle. They insisted that attacking the convoy wasn’t a “violation” of the ceasefire as such, arguing that the convoy was itself a violation.

Even with the confirmed fighting in Qusayr, nationwide the fighting was still comparatively subdued, and the ceasefire remains mostly intact. Nearly a week into the ceasefire, however, things are far from normal in the country.

Indeed, reports from the key battleground towns suggest that the displaced civilian populations are not returning home just yet, and that most of the population movement is rebels moving back into the positions in those cities. What this means for the ceasefire remains to be seen, as there is still no solid timetable for moving on to formal negotiations.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Syria: Zio-Nato Puppet’s Attack Army Convoy

Ron Paul Shocks Campaign Staff With New Position On IsraHell

NOVANEWS

By: Wes Messamore

Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul revealed this week that he would support moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a surprising position that contradicts conventional wisdom about Paul’s stance toward the Jewish state.

Paul first made this position known Wednesday night, during a private meeting with evangelical leaders interested in helping the Texas Congressman reach out to the conservative Christian community.

According to a transcript of the meeting obtained by Business Insider, the leaders started off the meeting by asking Paul whether he would sign an Executive Order to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a major policy objective for Israeli hardliners and many leaders in the Christian Right.

“The real issue here is not what America wants, but what does Israel want,” Paul told evangelical leaders, according to a transcript of the meeting obtained by Business Insider. “If Israel wants their capital to be Jerusalem, then the United States should honor that.”

“How would we like it if some other nation said ‘We decided to recognize New York City as your capital instead, so we will build our embassy there?'” he added.

Even Paul’s senior campaign aides were surprised by his response.

“We were floored,” senior advisor Doug Wead told Business Insider. “It sounds like pure Ron Paul, but it still caught us off guard…If someone would have asked him that in a national debate, I suppose it would have popped right out, but nobody did!”

Wead added that Paul’s position “makes sense after the fact,” noting that the candidate has frequently emphasized Israel’s sovereignty.

This is just one more example of how Ron Paul’s political worldview– his strict constitutionalism, Founding Fathers’ wisdom, and his application of “the Golden Rule  to foreign policy– would actually benefit the state of Israel, not threaten or weaken it.

Another is the fact that Ron Paul is more supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from Iran with military force if it deems necessary than Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, who would rather hold Israel on a leash and require it to come kowtowing to Washington for permission to defend itself.

Let me ask you this: If Iran got close to nuclear capability and Israel unilaterally struck Iran’s nuclear facilities and destroyed them (just like it did to Iraq’s Osirak nuclear facility in 1981), do you think Obama or Romney would condemn Israel? You bet they would! Guess what? Ron Paul wouldn’t and has said so multiple times. Ron Paul stands by Israel’s right to defend itself:

Posted in USAComments Off on Ron Paul Shocks Campaign Staff With New Position On IsraHell

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