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As mentioned the officer corps of the DGFI and personnel of the NSI have been extensively trained in Pakistan and the CIA and the MI6 have also imparted occasional trainings. There exist special arrangements with Pakistan for training of Bangladeshi military and civilian intelligence officers by the Inter Services Intelligence of Pakistan. The special units of the DGFI are also required to undergo CIA type commando training. Most of them are expert in handling explosives, sophisticated weapons and other black arts of intelligence trade.

Officers of the DGFI and occasionally NSI are assigned cover postings to diplomatic missions in countries considered important to strategic intelligence to Bangladesh. According to Indian intelligence departments, there are about 9 Bangladeshi cover intelligence operators in its Delhi and Kolkata missions.

With personal knowledge and knowledge borrowed from institutions it can be safely asserted that the DGFI has excellent penetration in India, including numbers of penetrations amongst the intelligentsia, academia, print and Kolkata based electronic media (TV channels), political parties, business community and certain minority organisations and institutions. The allegation that the DGFI has achieved penetration in the National Security Advisory Board cannot be shrugged off. Top Indian agencies require hard examination of these affirmative statements.

Besides the DGFI and NSI, intelligence units exist in the BDR and RAB. While the BDR generates shallow trans-border intelligence, the RAB is tasked to generate intelligence on the Communist and Maoist (santrasbadi) organisations and several Indian terrorist groups operating from Bangladesh soil. The RAB is better known for ‘cross fire’ killings of suspected ‘santrasbadis’ euphemism for groups operating against the BNP alliance. Both the BDR and RAB report to Home Department but the DGFI is mandatorily kept informed.

To understand the growth and stranglehold of the DGFI and related Islamist groups on secular Bangla Muslim psyche, a little diversion to past history pages is necessary. Pakistan ideology was conceived in Punjabi and United Province’s Muslim minds, but the political movement was spearheaded by a section of Urdu speaking Muslims; a handful of Bengali speaking Ashraf and most others Ajlaf Muslims were mobilised by the ulama and a few Muslim landlords. Economic clashes against Hindu landlords and business houses and advanced Bengali Hindu dominance in the services had strengthened the separatist tendency.

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The manner in which a small group of radical Islamists pulled down a baul monument at the airport roundabout last week speaks volumes about the path we are treading today. It is instructive to note that the government immediately backed away from taking a stance on the issue –  continuing its policy of appeasement of the religious right. This is not surprising though, since both the major parties would have perhaps done the same, whatever rhetoric we were force-fed on the local TV networks. What is far more significant is that powerful sections of the intelligentsia, the academia, and civil society have remained silent on the issue. While truncheons fall hard on the backs of garments workers demanding their back pay or students demanding restoration of their fundamental rights, the religious identity of these bigots was enough to grant them a sweeping immunity. Yes, Bangladesh is country where the dominant culture is deeply secular despite the religious fault-lines triggered by the partition some sixty years ago. And in the same breath it must be said ‘no, it will not matter, unless we pit that ideology with the one that the bigots preach.’ If we allow this depraved cabal of religious clerics to corner us over and over again, be it on the state’s women’s development policy or a sculpture ‘any sculpture ‘ we are ceding valuable public spaces in which we express diversity and dissent. In the week that has passed, a great number of people from the country’s mainstream have expressed their distress over what they see as an insult to Lalon Shah. Many say they are surprised at the ‘audacity’ of the bigots that they could attack such a potent and universal symbol of our culture and tradition. Don’t be surprised, this is the new milepost. When a women’s rights group attempted a public protest, the government was suddenly all too eager to enforce the Emergency Powers Rules, and they were denied a public platform. Once again, there was a murmur of protest, but those whose call to arms to defend the constitutionally guaranteed equality of the sexes would have mattered often stayed silent – for fear and for convenience. Now, Lalon Shah is just the new milepost.The reality that is emerging is that those who have a stake in power, or are beneficiaries of the existing power structure, will not take the lead in speaking up – and they have too much invested to make a choice that may prove politically unpopular. There are those, however, who have spoken up. A broad spectrum of artistes and cultural activists banded together on the Dhaka University campus for much of the past week and campaigned against what they saw as an invasion of the cultural space by the religious right. The numbers of people this programme attracted was a heartening testimony to the mass appeal of the counterargument to religious radicalism and intolerance.

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THE attack on the baul sculpture is not an attack on religion or values, let alone culture, but is a description of the political mess we have landed into. Bigots and murderers, social misfits and traitors have taken centre stage, thanks to the policy of political convenience of our leadership. If the present government had any moral authority which they claim through their Anti-Corruption Commission and Truth and Accountability Commission activities, it would have taken a position on a piece of heritage art it had itself commissioned and stood by it. Instead, it ran away fearing a backlash from the same group it has given indulgence to including their street agitation against rights of women even as it assiduously claimed no politics was allowed under the emergency. It is a sorry reminder that the elite class is so mentally bankrupt that they are unable to take a position on what is a religious and what is a political standpoint. By allowing the same forces that have continuously made advances against the cultural icons of the people, we have morphed into becoming a race without identity and confidence. One wishes that the debate was about a statue or two and limited only to disagreements about whether it constitutes an inadmissible act as per scriptures but, as it happens in the world of politics, it is essentially about carving out a space for those who see in this act a victory of their views and an endorsement of their belief that the forces against extremism are weak and flabby, unable to defend themselves. It seems we have been sending that message for a long time and the latest is once again a statement of our enfeeblement and their strength. If only they had broad support in society! Had they had that, they would have been in power by now. For the moment, nervous governments will do for them.

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The word ‘democracy’ can be manipulated and moulded into a matter of convenience. It has become, in Bangladesh, an empty word stamped on the country’s ‘international file’, a smile on a mad clown’s face. ‘Human Rights’ can be said to be examined, probed, and discussed to their fullest extent, in order to keep the world’s tired ears, now merely attuned to these proper catch phrases, dulled. The word ‘democracy,’ in the sense of majority rule, doesn’t provide a foolproof guarantee that human rights will be respected. Surely, democratic process requires a government to be publicly justified at every step save in the interests of national security: transparency. The processes of the government must be open to public scrutiny if a democracy is to function. But in addition to instilling a true democratic process, a country committed to human rights makes itself truly accountable to other world democracies. In turn, those ‘other’ democracies in the UN must examine whether all its members are just talking sweet words. his illegitimate government functions because it has no fear, because the world does not instil fear into it, because when the world hears of a National Human Rights Commission being established, a commission that is akin to a carnival mask, the world only wants (or tries) to see this mask. Ultimately, the current Bangladeshi government wards off international critics, allowing those in power to continue with impunity. As New Age reported on September 3 in ‘A toothless human rights commission’, human rights violations are ‘too serious an offence to be left for arbitration or alternative dispute resolution. Any act of human rights violation should be tried in a court of law and the perpetrator punished; there should be no two ways about it.’ The editorial goes on to state the harsh truth: political interest of Bangladesh in human rights is ‘correlated with funding from foreign lending agencies; [the past governments] have only done so much as can ensure uninterrupted flow of external development assistance,’ and the current is no exception.

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True, Pakistan does have a newly elected president, Asif Ali Zardari, but let’s not kid ourselves about his ability (or even desire) to turn his country around. During his last stint in office (as minister of investment in the government led by his late wife, Bhutto), Zardari became known as “Mr. Ten Percent” for his alleged propensity for skimming funds from lucrative government contracts. And Zardari’s probable replacement, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, may be even more corrupt and incompetent. Simply put, Pakistan is facing an existential crisis — on its streets and in its courts, barracks and parliament. American pundits and politicians might be hoping for the best for the country whose lawless border regions are widely thought to harbor Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders. But I don’t see much chance of a happy turnaround. If, as both John McCain and Barack Obama have claimed, a strong, dependable Pakistan is the key to winning the war in Afghanistan, then we are waging an unwinnable war.

So can Pakistan be reformed, or is it doomed to collapse? Despite the country’s post-Musharraf return to civilian rule, its prospects are grim. As of last month, the ISI has a new leader, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, handpicked by the army chief of staff, Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, to replace a predecessor whom Bush administration officials suspected of having ties to the Taliban. But there is little reason to believe that Zardari’s weak, fractious government will be able to reform the ISI. In July, according to the Economist, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani “tried to bring the ISI under the control of the interior ministry. His decision was reversed within hours.”

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Some Bangladeshis ‘still carried away by the present military-backed caretaker government’s drive against corruption ‘ may think that it will help clean up corruption. As a blogger had commented in drishtipat: ‘Like driver’s license renewal or getting cars inspection every year, the national ID card… will have huge impact on and spectacular change in the society.’ Those pro-ID cards probably don’t know that computer disks containing detailed personal information on 25 million individuals, and 7.25 million families in Britain, went missing last year. Personal information included names, addresses, national insurance numbers, and data on almost every child under 16. According to experts, the information ‘could allow crimes beyond identity theft,’ since some people use a child’s name or part of their address as password on their bank account. In other words, a combination of these details could allow criminals to break their code. Another critic says, if a government or criminal wanted to frame someone, amending, erasing, or adding to the details on one’s medical records, employment history, could be easily done, since all information would be stored on a single device.

Khushi Kabir had left a comment on my column at Shahidul’s blog, speaking of her own disturbing experiences: ‘What was also worrying was the religious and other profiling done, albeit arbitrarily in majority of cases, despite that this information was not asked for in the form filled up prior to getting photographed or finger printed. My big teep must have confused them, so they asked for my religion, which I did not find necessary to provide them, or any other information that was not on the form. Others were not asked but religion was put on the basis of their ‘assumption’. When challenged as to why they needed my religion or to keep it blank they stated that they were required by the ‘authorities’ to profile it. Shireen Huq had a similar experience. They informed her there was only space for four religions in the database, i.e. Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian. No scope for others. This kind of information can be potentially frightening.’

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India has long been looking for an opportunity to flex its muscles in the Afghanistan imbroglio. It has been traditionally using the Afghan card to spell gloom and doom in Pakistan. As early as the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict, India urged the then Afghan government to deploy its armed forces along the Durand Line to dissuade Pakistan from any adventurism against India and exploit its weakness when it was being routed by the Chinese along Ladakh. During the 1965 and 1971 Pakistan-Indian wars too, Afghanistan sided with India. During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the decade of seventies, Pakistan became a front-line state and with the help of USA and its allies, helped thwart the Soviet invasion and limited to the Durand Line and ultimately force the Soviets into retreat. India aided the Soviet secret service KGB and Afghan spy agency Khad to attempt to destabilize Pakistan through sabotage, sedition, subversion and acts of terrorism. The seeds of rebellion were sown in Balochistan, the fires of which are now again being stoked by Indian spy agency RAW. The advent of Taliban Rule in Afghanistan threw a damper on Indian machinations to use Afghan soil to destabilize Pakistan; however, 9/11 provided a fresh impetus to Indian nefarious aims towards Pakistan. Since its erstwhile allies the Northern Alliance rose to power in Afghanistan, following the US-led invasion, India made the most of it by deploying Indian personnel working on various projects with the Afghan people and government for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the country. There are approximately 3,000-4,000 Indian nationals working on several such projects across Afghanistan. India has committed aid to Afghanistan in the 2002-09 period amounting to $750 million, making it the fifth largest bilateral donor after the United States, Britain, Japan and Germany. India has used these trade centers and its four Consulates to man with RAW and its four Consulates to man with RAW personnel to hatch plots against Pakistan. Indian forces will give respite to the ISAF and NATO forces but sink the Indians deep into the Afghan quagmire. The choice is theirs if they want to face the humiliation and ignominy of another disaster.

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U.S. is deliberately creating opportunities for terrorism inside Pakistan. The objective is to create a situation where a U.S. political and military intervention in Pakistan becomes inevitable. Segments of the Pakistani ‘leadership’ are part of this agenda, since it cannot be completed without inside help. Pakistani Pashtuns, the most loyal citizens of Pakistan, are being turned into rebels.  If the present trend continues, we may eventually confront a civil war across the country. This is exactly the situation the U.S. is seeking so that it can intervene and establish a puppet regime in Islamabad. Is anyone In Islamabad or Rawalpindi paying attention? Clearly, it involves the U.S. creating space within the tribal areas to move in militarily and eventually restructure the whole Muslim nuclear entity of Pakistan. Attacking civilians and thereby creating chaos and panic which would inevitably lead to a mass displacement and add to the pressure on the central government in Islamabad. Also, knowing full well – after all if we can conclude that such killings will create more space for extremists and terrorists, one can assume the U.S. analysts and advisers must have done the same – that by unleashing a war against our tribals and abusing our sovereignty they will create more space for the terrorists; and thereby more reasons to further destabilize us from outside while we face increasing attacks from our home-grown terrorists. Let us not fool ourselves – the U.S. is no friend but a powerful enemy and its ultimate aim is to defang us in terms of our nuclear assets. Already the statements have become more honed in terms of our nuclear assets – both directly, in terms of a bizarre fear that our nukes will fall into “terrorist” hands even though it is the U.S. that seems to have a problem of loose nukes (remember the U.S. planes flying with such weapons only last year?); and, indirectly, by having their politicians and some international agencies build up a crescendo of Pakistan being the most dangerous country in the world and a new “war zone”.

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The quality of violence characterizing Bangladeshi society at all levels today has an irreducibly political context. Overt and visible violence has been coexisting with invisible violence that in effect destroys the identity of human beings. Visible violence being situational can be dealt by law and order solutions through political intervention. In Bangladesh today, we are witnessing the politics of violence, which in practical terms means resorting to physical violence to promote a political objective. We also observe violence of politics which denotes violence built into the institutional structure of politics. Although our major political parties would deny the existence of violence of politics the people see violence in all politics. The events necessitating 1/11 of 2007 lend credence to the premonition of our citizens. The much discussed phenomena of terrorism may be viewed as the illegal use of violence for inflicting punishment or taking revenge or influencing behavioural change. The roots of political terrorism require careful analysis. The skeptics would say that in defining terrorism there is a bias against people and in favour of governments. Of late, religious zealotry has been a source of terror. Often, there is an expression of anger and a sense of betrayal. Underlying some violent actions are government policies that have failed to address the democratic concerns of the citizens. There is, thus a need, to ensure that State agencies do not go beyond the legal boundaries.

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Religious expansionism has not witnessed this scale, scope, and state resources in a long time. Detailed investigations by Tehelka reveal that American evangelical agencies have established in India an enormous, well-coordinated and strategised religious conversion plan. The operation was launched in the early 1990s but really came into its own after George W Bush Jr, an avowed born-again Christian, became president of the United States in 2001.

When AD2000 was conceived for India, the plan was based on a military model with the intent to invade, occupy, control, or subjugate its population. It was based on solid intelligence emanating from the ground and well-researched information on various facets of selected people groups. The idea was to send out spying missions to source micro details on religion and culture. The social and economic divisions in the various Indian communities were closely examined. Given the oppressive and institutionalised caste system in the Hindu society, American evangelical strategists chalked out plans for reaching these various “unmixable” caste groups. The many faultlines running through the country-divisions in terms of ethnicity, caste, creed, language and class-were all factored in during the generation of ethnographic data.

The Joshua Project, started by a splinter group of CBN, was also a large-scale intelligence operation that brought together American strategists, theologists, missionary specialists, demographers, technologists, sociologists, anthropologists and researchers to create the most comprehensive people group profiles in the 10/40 Window.

Clearly, north India was strategically important for the missionaries. What made things easier for them was the new buoyancy in India-US relations. Therefore, it was open to researchers and their research plans. Billy Graham and his ilk openly admit that they dispatched spying missions to India. “Just as Joshua sent out the spies to survey the land and report on its condition before the children of Israel moved out in obedience to God’s command, many more missionaries and Christian workers are finding research information invaluable in laying their plans,” say the AD2000 and Beyond Movement documents.

The “spying out” missions that generated the vast ethnographic data of the Indian people also involved detailed study of Dr KS Singh’s ‘People of India Project’ that was launched in 1985 by the Anthropological Society of India (ASI). Under Singh’s leadership, the ASI undertook an ambitious project to chart one of the most far-reaching ethnographic studies in the 20th century. Five hundred scholars spent over 26,000 field days to compile information for these volumes. This gigantic research work came handy for American and Indian strategists to draft their evangelical plans for India. According to Luis Bush, “Never before has this kind of information on India been so carefully surveyed, prepared, well published and distributed…We do not believe it is accidental. God is allowing us to “spy out the land” that we might go in and claim both it and its inhabitants for Him.”

The Indian government has been caught napping. Rev Bush, head of a decade-long global evangelisation programme, visited India in January 2003. He was a guest of the Evangelical Fellowship of India and presumably traveled to India on a tourist visa. In the early years of 2000, many evangelists entered India fraudulently. Amongst them were extremist Christians like Don Noble, president of Maranatha Volunteers International affiliated to a fundamentalist Christian group, the Seventh Day Adventists and Pastor Michael Ryan, director of Global Mission, the Seventh Day Adventist church’s international outreach department which co-ordinates India evangelistic initiative. The US state department website makes no bones about the fact that American evangelists enter India by employing fraudulent means.

The link between the CIA and Christian missionary groups is USAID. This is written in great detail in Thy Will Be Done. Here’s a quote again: “…That June, President Nixon’s director of (US) AID, John Hannah, had admitted publicly that AID had funded CIA operations in Laos, and subsequent revelations pointed to CIA-AID collaboration in Ecuador, Uruguay, Thailand and the Phillippines.” In fact, CIA-supported missionaries were embroiled in counter-insurgency operations, civil wars and were more often than not conduits for arms and armaments for Christian insurgent groups all over the world.

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Former prime minister and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Begum Khaleda Zia (R) speaks to the leaders of the Islamic Oikko Jot, a radical Islamic party, in Dhaka September 22, 2008.

Former prime minister and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Begum Khaleda Zia (R) speaks to the leaders of the Islamic Oikko Jot, a radical Islamic party, in Dhaka September 22, 2008.

“We are heading into a more critical time and possibly more violence in case all major parties do not take part in the polls,” a senior government official said on Thursday. “There are too many tasks to be finished, but the time is running out fast,” he said, requesting not to be identified.

The parties have until Oct. 15 to apply for registration but so far only the Awami League led by former prime minister Sheikh Hasina has collected application forms from the commission. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of another ex-prime minister, Begum Khaleda Zia, is still unwilling to register, saying the commission is trying to put parties “unnecessarily in a tight frame”.

Parties represented in past parliaments but having no record of people convicted of war crimes in their fold would be easily registered. The commission has asked parties to submit a draft constitution promising to ensure internal democracy and ratify them soon, and also to give women a larger share in the party’s rural leadership. But the commission also wants political parties to shed their labour, youth and student fronts, and abolish overseas units — which both the BNP and Awami League have refused to do. Unless these issues are settled and the emergency ended, the BNP says it will not participate in the election. The Awami League also demands an early end to the emergency.

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With such a wide remit, I would argue that the first thing that needs to be changed is its name. Its function is far more than mere inter services intelligence, so give it a name that corresponds to its duties, such as the Bureau of National Intelligence. At the moment, because the name implies a reliance on and responsibility to the services, it is primarily staffed by service personnel, frequently with no worthwhile intelligence background. In fact, very few career officers – those going places – used to be posted to intelligence assignments (although that has been altering). This, too, needs to change.

The next aspect to consider is the key job of Director General. Traditionally, the DG has been a serving two- or three-star officer, often with no intelligence background, who does a couple of years before moving on. Intelligence is a specialised business; it needs someone with a flair for the devious intricacies of such a shadowy world, and he needs a sufficiently long term to make policies and see them implemented. By comparison, the director of the CIA serves at the discretion of the President, and the head of Mossad, eight years. I would suggest that it would be appropriate for the reformed agency to be headed by an individual – civilian or military – serving for not less than five years and not exceeding eight. Currently, when we have a serving three-star general (a Lt-Gen) as the DG, subordinate departments are headed by two-star officers (Maj-Gens) – these too are career officers who will do their couple of years before moving on. I strongly suggest that these should be civilians, selected for their flair for intelligence work, contracted for at least 10 years.

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People remember her moving her office to Florida for a whole month during the late-term pregnancy of her daughter and the birth of her first grandchild. Then there was the time when she sat in a paddy field discussing the yield with a Japanese official. There were other instances when she travelled to the UK and the US, two favourite destinations, mainly because her sister and children reside in the two countries.�Some of the trips, other than renewing close family ties, seemed redundant and superfluous.

People remember her moving her office to Florida for a whole month during the late-term pregnancy of her daughter and the birth of her first grandchild. Then there was the time when she sat in a paddy field discussing the yield with a Japanese official. There were other instances when she travelled to the UK and the US, two favourite destinations, mainly because her sister and children reside in the two countries.Some of the trips, other than renewing close family ties, seemed redundant and superfluous.

Nobody, in the right mind can question, doubt or make a snide and disparaging comment about Shakh Hasina attending a seminal event of a near and dear one. That would be unfair, cheap and gratuitous. But the general perception remains that for someone, out on parole ostensibly for emergency treatment of an eye and an ear, Hasina is travelling too much and far too frequently. Her trips to the United States, Canada, the UK and Finland, soon after her release from an 11-month long solitary confinement, seemed like a trans-Atlantic shuttle service. When you talk to diehard Awami League supporters, almost all of them invariably staunch Hasina admirers, you get very testy response, equivocating and rationalising her assorted trips. Nobody would care or comment if she was just a hoi polloi commoner making the widespread travels on her own, at her own time and with her own money even if all seemed a bit much and too frequent

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India has among the highest number of custodial deaths in the world. It’s a country where 25 percent of its territory is out of control of the government.

THIS IS the genius of the Indian state. It’s an extremely sophisticated state. It has a lot to teach the Americans about occupation, it has a lot to teach the world about how you manage dissent. You just wear people down, you just wait things out. When they want to mow people down, when they want to kill and imprison, it does that, too.

  1. India has among the highest number of custodial deaths in the world. It’s a country where 25 percent of its territory is out of control of the government. But the thing is that these areas are so dark, whether it’s Kashmir, whether it’s the northeastern states, whether it’s Chhattisgarh, whether it’s parts of Andhra Pradesh. There is so much going on here, but it’s just a diverse and varied place. So while there are killings going on, say, in Chhattisgarh, there’s a festival in Tamil Nadu or a cricket match between India and Australia in Adelaide. Where the light is shone is where the Sensex stock market is jumping and investments are coming in. And where the lights are switched off are the states where farmers are committing suicide—I think the figure is now 136,000—and the killing, in say, Kashmir, which is 68,000 to 80,000. We have laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which allows even noncommissioned officers to shoot on suspicion.
  2. The Tatas, who until just a few years ago were trying to be the sort of good-uncle corporation, have now decided to go aggressive and enter the world market big time. So, for example, they signed an MOU, memorandum of understanding, with the Chhattisgarh government for the mining of iron ore. And within days, not by coincidence I’m sure, was the announcement of what’s known as the Salva Judum, a people’s militia, which purportedly is a spontaneous movement that sprang up to fight the menace of the Maoists. Salva Judum is armed by the government. Something like four hundred villages have been evacuated and moved into police camps. Chhattisgarh is in a situation of sort of civil war, which is exactly what happened in Colombia. And while our eyes are on this supposed civil war, obviously the mining, the minerals, everything can be just taken away.
  3. They will mop up all the intellectuals and environmentalists. Alcan has given a million-dollar environmental award to one of the leading environmental activists in India. The Tatas have the Jamsetji Tata Trust and the Dorabji Tata Trust, which they use to fund activists, to stage cultural events and so on, to the point where these people are funding the dissent as well as the devastation. The dissent is on a leash; it’s only apparent. It’s a manufactured situation in which everyone is playing out this kind of theater. It’s completely crazy.
  4. Upper castes all over India think that they have the right to pick up a Dalit woman and have sex with her or rape her. Bant Singh’s young daughter was raped by the upper-caste people in his village. Bant Singh was a member of the CPI (ML), which is the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), known as Naxalites, and he filed a case in court. They warned him. They said, “If you don’t drop the case, we will kill you.” He didn’t drop the case, so they caught him and they cut off his arms and his legs.
  5. The RSS, which is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the cultural guild that spawned the BJP (which is just its political wing) was founded in 1925, and it’s been working all these years, sometimes underground, sometimes above ground. It was founded basically on the tenets of Mussolini’s Italian fascism—very open about saying that the Muslims of India are like the Jews of Germany. It’s the Indian liberals who try and say that it’s not fascist, whereas they themselves are very comfortable with the idea of fascism.
  6. Today in India it’s very easy for everybody to keep saying the Maoists are terrible, the government is also terrible, all violence is bad, one is the other side of the coin, these platitudes that are being mouthed. But today, unless I’m prepared to take up arms, I’m not in a position to tell others to take up arms. But unless I’m in a position where I’m at the other end of this battering ram, I’m also not going to sit around saying, “Let’s go on a hunger strike” and “Let’s go and sing songs outside the Ministry of Water Resources.” I’m through with all that.
  7. Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, has never won an election in his life, has no imagination outside that of the IMF and the World Bank. He doesn’t sound to me like he’s ever read a primary textbook on history. He’s probably the only prime minister in the history of the world of a former colony that goes to Cambridge and in his speech thanks colonialism for democracy and thanks the British for every institution of state repression that India has today—the colonial police, the bureaucracy, everything. So it is a country that’s run on the lines of a colonial state, equally extractive, except that the colonizers are the upper caste.
  8. Recently in India, when this whole Nandigram issue erupted, one of the clever things that the CP(M) thought it did was to conjure up a protest against Taslima Nasrin, whose book Dwikhondito had been published four years ago and was on bestseller lists, and no one had anything to say about it. SHE WAS sort of thrown out of Bangladesh and moved to Calcutta. The first people to ask for a ban were the CP(M). Then the high court lifted the ban. The book was published. Nothing happened. And then just at the time when massive protests erupted against the CP(M) for the first time in thirty years—because of Nandigram, where the bulk of the peasants to be displaced were Muslims, suddenly everything was sought to be distracted by suddenly saying “Taslima Nasrin insults Islam” and “Get her out of here.” It was just a piece of currency put into the democratic negotiations that were going on.

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In the given circumstances, the government has succeeded in earning “commitments” from powerful Western nations and U.N. representatives to send election observers to Bangladesh to monitor the election even if it takes place under emergency laws. Election observers from abroad may contribute to a nation’s electoral process if they are capable enough to identify the forms of manipulation taking place in a particular society. It is not clear what role foreign election observers will play this time around. It has been seen that the presence of foreign observers is not helpful in correcting existing faults in the election system. It only helps the incumbent authorities to validate their malpractices and failures, rather than allowing the citizens to choose their own leaders.

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Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama during the presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, October 7, 2008. — AP
Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama during the presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, October 7, 2008.

Some have seen restraint in the ‘if you won’t act, we will’ caveat. But most have overlooked the actionable intelligence part, which is arguably where the idea originated from. Three weeks before Obama’s speech at the Wilson Centre, The New York Times (NYT) made a dramatic revelation: in early 2005, a secret American military mission to capture top al-Qaeda leaders, including Ayman al-Zawahiri, in North Waziristan was aborted by Defence Secretary Rumsfeld. Zawahiri and co had allegedly arrived in North Waziristan to attend a meeting but Rumsfeld aborted the ‘snatch and grab’ mission at the last minute — after ‘members of a Navy Seals unit in parachute gear had already boarded C-130 cargo planes in Afghanistan.’ The NYT story claimed Rumsfeld was concerned that sending several hundred troops (necessary to secure the mission) would convulse US-Pakistan relations, with unpredictable consequences. Political expediency had apparently trumped a potentially great military success.

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Why the US Marines had to risk their lives and go inside the hotel building when they were not from rescue teams or Pakistan security forces? Was there something to hide or cover? Was their something to check because the plan had not executed to perfection (the truck exploded outside where as it was planned to explode in front of the reception) or they never wanted the Rescue forces to get some clue (unexploded material on 4th or 5th floor)?

Why the suicide truck hit the barrier on the left side of the building entrance/gate but the fire broke out on the top floor (5th floor) on the right side and exactly above the lobby?

Why the US ambassador in Islamabad first announced that there were absolutely no US personnel in Marriott Hotel and no one was residing there but later had to change her statement that MAY BE there were some US marines inside the hotel (THIS STATEMENT CAME AFTER THE MEDIA, AAJ TV FOOTAGE CAUGHT US MARINES GOING IN THE HOTEL)

CIA provided clearance issues, ground support local services to carry out the operation using it’s penetration in ISI and it’s influence in Pakistan (Hashwani the owner of Marriott Hotel Chains in Pakistan and an international business man was in total control of himself as he watched his hotel burning in flames).

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It is not any more a mere anti-colonial jab but a fairly good generalisation that it is the first Europeans – starting with the Portuguese — who brought with them syphilis and communalism in the sixteenth century. Secularism came in much, much later, again from the same direction and with a similar amount of poison. Modern medicine has conquered syphilis. The other two continue to rage. The British used what they knew to understand India. They saw Muslims and Hindus, and thought, naturally enough, that it is a handy way of distinguishing them and, if necessary of pitting one against the other. Hindus and Muslims perhaps did not have much choice but to be herded and branded on religious lines. This played itself out in the creation of India and Pakistan in 1947. Faith-based politics in the subcontinent unraveled with the birth of Bangladesh in 1971. Communalism is not about faith and conversions. It is about political clout. That is why secularist rant against communalism is so much of hypocrisy because they do not accept that every religious group wants a share in political power which is not what secularism is all about.

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Over the past few days, we have seen the high-ranking leaders of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the Awami League cry foul whenever the corruption cases filed against Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina took a new turn, accusing the government of either ‘blackmailing’ the two former prime ministers to do things they are ‘unwilling to do’ or renewing its effort to ‘oust’ them from politics. Such accusations unfailingly led to the demand for ‘unconditional’ release of the two leaders and their exoneration from all charges. Given the government’s proven propensity towards subverting the legal process, it is difficult to not take seriously the allegation raised by the BNP and AL leaders. However, if the interim government is to be castigated for its purported plan to use the corruption cases as bargaining chips, these political leaders cannot be condoned either for demanding that Khaleda and Hasina should be acquitted of all charges; both amount to attempts at subversion of justice. While we are staunchly opposed to the very concept of forcing anyone out of politics, we are equally averse to the propaganda by these political leaders wherein they tend to treat indictment in corruption cases and ouster from the political scene as synonymous. We have maintained all along that the accused political leaders should face up to the charges brought against them in the court of law and go through the proper judicial process to prove their innocence. In that case, however, they need to be tried by a competent court of law, in a transparent manner and within the ambit of the ordinary laws of the land. Also, they should be granted regular bail in cases that are bailable under the ordinary laws of the land.

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Clearly, it involves the US creating space within the tribal areas to move in militarily and eventually restructure the whole Muslim nuclear entity of Pakistan. Attacking civilians and thereby creating chaos and panic which would inevitably lead to a mass displacement and add to the pressure on the central government in Islamabad. Also, knowing full well – after all if we can conclude that such killings will create more space for extremists and terrorists, one can assume the US analysts and advisers must have done the same – that by unleashing a war against our tribals and abusing our sovereignty they will create more space for the terrorists; and thereby more reasons to further destabilise us from outside while we face increasing attacks from our home-grown terrorists. Let us not fool ourselves – the US is no friend but a powerful enemy and its ultimate aim is to defang us in terms of our nuclear assets. Already the statements have become more honed in terms of our nuclear assets – both directly, in terms of a bizarre fear that our nukes will fall into “terrorist” hands even though it is the US that seems to have a problem of loose nukes (remember the US planes flying with such weapons only last year?); and, indirectly, by having their politicians and some international agencies build up a crescendo of Pakistan being the most dangerous country in the world and a new “war zone”.

If the present trends continue we may well eventually confront a civil war across the country. This is exactly the situation the US is seeking to come in fully and set up its own quisling set up. As we and the US know, there have always been many in our leadership only too willing to play that role. As for the present leaders, their embarking on the road to power may well have been prepared in Washington, but it is Pakistan’s realities that will ensure their stay in or removal from power. Can they manage to get out of the US embrace to see their own realities?

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CIA alongwith western media instead of curtailing RAW activities is busy in defaming  ISI and  Pakistan Security Force’s efforts regarding war on terror. Recently a report marked confidential and bearing the official seal of Spain’s Defense Ministry charges that Pakistan’s spy service (ISI) was helping  Taliban insurgents in 2005 for assassination plots against the Afghan government and procuring roadside bombs for Taliban . Chief Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said the Spanish report was “baseless, unfounded and part of a malicious, well-orchestrated propaganda campaign to malign the first line of defence i.e. ISI. Top brass of US and western leadership must realize hat Pakistan is fighting war on terror by paying the heavy toll of lives of brave soldiers of security forces  and resources. Any effort of its destabilizing,  further division , tarnishing the image of intelligence / security agencies , funding to militant’s head s by RAW , creating unrest and violence of boundaries by  US  drones will certainly damage the war against extremism and resulted into horrible defeat of US led forces. The military solution to the current regional War is not the only answer, peace agreements and talks are essential for establishment of permanent peace.  NATO Commander General David and British commander Brig Smith also endorsed that issue of Afghan war be resolved politically through peace agreement. In short apparently it seems that RAW is bluffing CIA on the issue of War against terror in the region to complete Indian evil designs, thus US led NATO Forces and CIA must endeavor for disallowing RAW from their hijacking.

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Where is Bangladesh, in international politics of environment? Officials of Environment Ministry can make their vision gloomy. With the G 77 nations, Bangladesh is a supporter of reducing carbon by the rich nations by 50% within 2050. Through signing agreement with Britain, Bangladesh is backtracking and she will join Copenhagen World Environment Conference in 2009 holding the hand of Britain, where there will be huge disputation on carbon trading and carbon issue. Bangladesh may face hate of poor nations. Bangladesh was kept out in Uruguay Round Dialogue by the poor countries once. Foreign and Environment Ministry, civil societies are in one side and ERD is in opposite side. Foreign Ministry was against of signing that day and they protested welcoming the declaration of G 8. They were also against of making World Bank as an administrator of Multidonar Trust Fund. World Bank always prefers debt not donation. Poor countries always demand to get donation, as they sufferer for the activities of rich countries. But why our finance adviser signed the treaty with Britain and made World Bank an administrator was not understood. Replying to the question of the journalists finance adviser told that they had to understand the reality. The private members of Bangladesh contingents did not ask any question though they were loud in another meeting with British NGOs. Now the million-dollar question is why Britain was proactive to sign the treaty? Why they completed the work with caretaker government whereas election is going to be held within few months? The reasons can be well explained in many ways.

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The political mindset doesn’t seem to be in place for such a comfortable sharing of power. After all, despite positive statements from BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia upon the release of Awami League President Sheikh Hasina, the latter did not reciprocate. Quite to the contrary, the release of Begum Zia and Tareque Rahman, and the subsequent sending abroad of the latter, incited vitriolic response from the Awami League camp. Their reaction was bitter. Conveniently turning a blind eye to the charges of corruption levelled against their own leaders, Awami League leadership labelled Khaleda Zia as a thief of the highest order. Suranjit Sengupta said that BNP would first have to apologise for the August 21 grenade blasts before any dialogue could take place. Columnist Muntasir Mamun, known to be of the Awami League ilk, penned articles in the same vein in the Bengali daily Jugantar. With such vitriol out in the open, is power sharing between the two plausible? Unlikely, to put it mildly. This blatant enmity certainly poses as an obstacle to the government’s efforts for consensus, for a smooth run towards the election.

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[The Weekend Interview]

Put simply, the economic crisis Mr. Zardari faces today is, at least in part, a crisis of confidence in him. He alludes to this problem only once in the interview, noting that before he can hope to get foreign help he will “have to make my credibility, my case.” Still, he has a simple and powerful argument to make that the world cannot allow his government to fail — not when it’s becoming increasingly plausible that Pakistan itself, with its stockpile of as many as 200 nuclear warheads, could be toppled by al Qaeda and its allies.

“I need your help,” he says more than once. “If we fall, if we can’t do it, you can’t do it.”

In asking for the help — and $100 billion is no small request, even (or particularly) in the age of AIG — Mr. Zardari is keen to insist that it not be described as aid. “Aid is proven through the researches of the World Bank . . . [to be] bad for a country,” he says. “I’m looking for temporary relief for my budgetary support and cash for my treasury which does not need to be spent by me. It is not something I want to spend. But [it] will stop the [outflow] of my capital every time there is a bomb. . . . In this situation, how do I create capital confidence, how do I create businessmen’s confidence?”


04/10/08: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday reviewed security situation across the country with Army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and both of them agreed to continue the military operation against the Taliban in the restive Bajaur tribal region bordering Afghanistan.  Kayani met Zardari at the presidential palace here and the two discussed the security situation in the country and the war on terror, especially the anti-militancy operation in Bajaur tribal agency, Pakistani media reported.

04/10/08: President Asif Ali Zardari called the recent bombing in Islamabad’s Marriott hotel an assassination attempt he and other top leaders narrowly escaped, in an interview on United States television.  “All of us. All the parliament, the people, all of democracy was the target. We were all supposed to be there,” Zardari told Fox News on Tuesday, AFP reported.

04/10/08:  Violation of Pakistani airspace by US spy drones continued on Saturday as another US spy plane flew over various areas of Mir Ali tehsil of North Waziristan agency.  According to ARY OneWorld, the plane flew over areas of Khushhali Tori Khel tribes and returned to Afghanistan when the local tribesmen targeted it with light weapons.

04/10/08: The US has ruled out an India like civil nuclear deal with Pakistan for the present, saying India’s case ‘was unique in the respect of a long history of Indian behaviour.’ ‘At the moment, I’m not aware of a contemplation of a similar such deal at this time with Pakistan,’ State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said on Thursday when asked about Islamabad’s demand for such a deal.

04/10/08: Pakistan Army has rejected the Spanish spy document which had accused the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) of helping the Taliban in their insurgency in Afghanistan and procured them improvised explosive device (IEDs).

04/10/08: The British High Commission announced on Friday that its visa application centre (VAC) was reopening in Karachi, following a security review.  The VACs were closed following the Marriott hotel suicide attack in which 53 people were killed including four foreigners.

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04/10/08: At least 13 people including law enforcers were injured in a clash between Police-BDR and Bengalee settlers at Mrishya Bazar in Baghaichhari upazila yesterday.  The clash ensued as both police and BDR obstructed a procession brought out by Bengalee settlers under banner of Samo Odhikar Andolan (SOA). They brought out the procession protesting arson and attack on Bengalee settlers at Charmile, about five kilometre off Marishya Bazar Friday night, police said.

04/10/08: Police yesterday arrested four people on charge of involvement with militancy from Pabna and Gaibandha.  Police arrested three suspected activists of ‘Allar Dal’, a banned outfit of Islamist militants, from Chartarpur village in Pabna Sadar upazila early yesterday, reports our Pabna correspondent.

03/10/08: Army personnel have removed the statues of the Lord Buddha form the Bhujulichuk meditation centre, situated on a remote hilltop in Lakshmichari under Khagrachari district, sources from Lakshmichari said.  A member of Lakshmichari Union Parishad told on condition of anonymity that on 23 September a group of 20 – 22 Bangladesh Army soldiers led by Captain Islam, commander of Shuknachari Indra Singh Karbari Para camp, went to the meditation centre at Bhujulichuk hill. They took two villagers — Sunil Chakma and Bhejallya Chakma of Shuknachari village — along with them.

02/10/08: Police have submitted a charge sheet to a district court accusing two persons of raping a pastor’s daughter in the village of Laksmipur, said a state prosecutor.Pastor Motilal Das, who has long received threats from villagers upset with his success as an evangelist, said that local residents gang-raped his 13-year-old daughter in an attempt to drive him from the area.

01/10/08: The US will send election observers to cover the general election in December, even if the emergency is not lifted, said US ambassador James F Moriarty on Tuesday.

01/10/08: Ten Hizbut Tahrir members, arrested for suspected ties to militant activities, were freed from Rajshahi Central Jail on Tuesday, a prisons official said.

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04/10/08: Ten more people were killed, two of them in police firing, as clashes between Bodos and illegal Bangladeshi migrants continued today in Udalguri district where the army staged a flag march. With this, the toll in the violence climbed to 12 after two bodies were found yesterday at a village under Rowta police station.

04/10/08: Russia’s United Aircraft Corp (UAC) said Friday it would participate in the joint development of a new cruise missile with India only if a decision was taken to adapt the missile for service with the Russian Air Force.  “Our participation will be certain only if we receive an official request to equip Russian fighters, the Su-30MKI in particular, with these missiles. So far we have not received such a request,” said UAC president Alexey Fyodorov.

04/10/08:  The overnight blockade of the Durgapur Expressway that runs beside the Tata Motors small car plant and railway lines at the nearby Kamarkundu railway station in Singur, was lifted at noon today, though the dawn to dusk bandh continued.  CPI (M) supporters, who were demanding that the Tata Motors factory reopen after the announcement by Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata last evening that the Nano plant was to be wound up, decided to lift the blockades as it was pay day.

04/10/08:  The condition of BJP Member of Parliament Virendra Kumar Khatik, who was beaten up allegedly by Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel, is stable and he is out of danger, doctors said on Saturday.  The MP from Sagar was beaten up on Friday during an anti-encroachment drive near Bina railway station. He was hit by RPF personnel while protesting against the removal of encroachments from Chhoti Bajaria area, police had said.

04/10/08: After a gap of almost a year, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray is all set to address the party’s traditional Dussehra rally on October 9. The 81-year-old Thackeray has stopped attending Sena rallies owing to ill-health since last year.

04/10/08: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in India on Saturday after Congress ratified a historic nuclear pact, but was unlikely to sign the deal during her visit because of a bureaucratic “glitch.”  U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said an enabling legislation had not yet been formally “enrolled” in the U.S. Congress – a required step before the pact is sent to President George W. Bush for signing into law.

04/10/08: With incidents of transgressions on the unresolved Sino-Indian border on a high, India is set to reopen another strategic airfield in Eastern Ladakh that will allow rapid induction of troops to the region.Work on reviving the Fukche Advanced Landing Ground (ALG), situated at an altitude of 4,200 m barely three kilometers away from the Line of Actual Control, is almost complete and the first fixed wing aircraft is expected to land at the airbase within a month.

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28/09/08: In an intensified military campaign in the strategic areas in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, Pakistan army killed 30 militants in an offensive that also left three soldiers dead, officials said.

28/09/08: A US jet fighter violated Pakistani airspace in North Waziristan on Saturday.

28/09/08: Nineteen militants and two Frontier Corps (FC) personnel were killed in a gunbattle between security forces and militants in Dera Bugti on Saturday, Aaj TV reported..

28/09/08: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and United States Deputy Secretary of State John D Negroponte will co-chair the third meeting of the US-Pak Strategic Dialogue in Washington on Monday.

28/09/08: The U.S. Defense Department said today it approved sales of radar and aircraft upgrades, missiles and other equipment valued at 1.01 billion dollars to four U.S. allies including Pakistan.

28/09/08: In Swat, Taliban blew up the houses of a provincial minister and his brother, killing three of the minister’s servants, in the Dosha Gram area of Matta tehsil on Saturday.

28/09/08 :

A suicide bomber was arrested in Khyber Agency along with a vehicle laden with explosives in Khyber Agency’s area of Alam Gadar.

27/09/08: Pakistani security forces killed 30 militants loyal to al Qaeda and Taliban in the latest fighting in a strategically important tribal region on the Afghan border, officials said on Saturday.

27/09/08: Police arrested a terrorist carrying explosives and a kalashnikov from Mohib Shah Road in Jampur.

27/09/08: The Senate Standing Committee on Interior will meet today (Saturday) at Parliament House to discuss last week’s bombing of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad.

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