Citizenship Amendment Act – the straw that broke the camel’s back

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Since the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, which culminated in the demolition of the Babri Masjid, nothing has polarized Indian politics and society as much the Citizenship Amendment Act. On its own, its fair to assume that CAA is not  a particularly insidious piece of legislature, but when it gets combined with National Register of Citizens (NRC) as explained by Amit Shah below, it becomes some to be vary of.

As Amit Shah stated, CAB(A) will be applied before carrying out the process of NRC. In his own words, the refugees(non Muslim migrants) will be granted citizenship and the infiltrators (Muslim migrants – he also referred to them as termites at one instance) will be thrown out or prosecuted (there was some talk of throwing them into the Bay of Bengal).

Its clear to conclude that by refugees – he means Bangladeshi Muslims who reside illegally in India as almost no Muslims from Pakistan and Afghanistan come to India illegally with an intention a  better life. (When they do cross the LOC illegally, they’re treated as enemy combatants or terrorists)

The ACT: 

The instrumental part of the act reads

any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into India on or before the 31st day of December, 2014 and who has been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 or any rule or order made thereunder, shall not be treated as illegal migrant for the purposes of this Act

While this amendment to the ACT is seen as problematic, one must point out that large portions of the existing ACT are also extremely problematic – most of which were added after 1955 under various governments at various times. In particular the 1986 amendment (under Rajiv Gandhi) – which meant children born to both illegal immigrants wouldn’t get citizenship. This is seen as a contradiction with the Birthright naturalization (Jus soli ) principle of the Constitution. The 2003 amendment (under Vajpayee) further restricted citizenship to children, when either of their parents is an illegal immigrant.

The 2003 amendment also prevented illegal immigrants from claiming naturalization by some other legal means. So in short with the CAA 2019, this particular amendment (2003) has been annulled for Non Muslims who have come to Indian sovereign land from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In other words, the CAA facilitates the imagination of India as the natural homeland of subcontinental Non-Muslims (but not a Hindu Rashtra or Hindu State).

Objective Reasons for opposing the CAA:

Continue reading “Citizenship Amendment Act – the straw that broke the camel’s back”

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Pakistan and Military Rule (and a long interview with General Babar)

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The following are two posts (originally written many years ago) from the Pakistani military historian and analys Agha Humayun Amin.  It is interesting to y see that nothing has changed since 2002 (the article is from 2002 and the interview is from early 2001, before the fall of the taliban). Anyway, whether you agree or disagree with his analysis, you will always get interesting nuggets of information from Major Amin… The first post is a newspaper article he wrote. the second is a very detailed interview he conducted with General Naseerullah Babar, an outstanding military officer who served as Zulfi Bhutto’s Governor in NWFP, then as Benazir Bhutto’s interior minister and played a role in the Karachi operation against MQM as well as in the setting up of the Taliban (as IGFC he was also involved in setting up the first Pakistani-sponsored insurgency in Afghanistan way back in 1973). He was an eyewitness to many important events and whatever you may think of his views, his interview is an extremely important historical document..

Essence of the Matter
A.H Amin
August 21 2002
Daily Nation , Lahore
www.nation.com.pk
While analysis of todays Pakistani politics is outwardly subtle and convincing , serious historical analysis remains the weak point. What is lacking is the long view , the inability to penetrate through appearances, the motivation to write with an ulterior motivation to please or to secure personal business objectives, and worse of all, to criticise simply because a writer has acquired the reputation of a cynic and his writings are read simply because his cynicism provides a catharsis for many! This does not mean that all is well or all military or civil rulers are well meaning reluctant coup makers !

This article is an attempt to capture the crux of the whole issue in a few paragraphs! An ambitious but certainly not impossible endeavour! First of all the basis of modern Indo Pak politics was initially a type of liberal set of beliefs based on faith in British parliamentary system and liberalism mixed with the philosophy of self rule. The British introduced Western democracy in India with a view to afford a vent to the Indians desire for participation and sense of involvement ! The urban professional classes picked it up as a means for self realisation or self advancement ! The feudals picked it up as a means of continuing their unfair advantage or position of influence in the Indian society. The middle classes ran after government jobs as a means of self advancement and economic benefit. The Indian soldiers served in the army as mercenaries motivated by economic benefits and in part propelled by espirit de corps. The politicians came into conflict with the British not because all of them were heroes or martyrs but because it was a struggle for power! The civil servants and mercenary pre 1947 Indo Pak soldiers collaborated with the British because it improved their prospects of self advancement ! The pre 1947 Indian Army , the father of the post 1947 Indian and Pakistan Army had nothing to do with Indo Pak political struggle at least in what they voluntarily or deliberately did less a platoon of Garhwal Rifles which refused to open fire on Muslims demonstrating in Peshawar in 1930 ! After all who was shooting down Indo Pak civilians like partridges in Wana , Razmak ,Sindh and Jallianwalla Bagh other than the British Kings Indian Army ! Four brigades in tribal areas , two brigades in Sindh in the Hur Rebellion! The Indian or Muslim civil servant, soldier and policeman till 14th August (and some to date) were collaborators of the Western power which ruled India till the transfer of power!

The Hindus were better organised politically since the Indian National Congress was dominated by a strong Hindu professional and business class while the Muslims were condemned to be politically more backward since because of peculiar historical reasons Mr Jinnah had no choice but to accept the Muslim feudals who dominated Muslim politics! Mr Jinnah was forced to ally with the Unionists in Punjab and the Sindhi landlords in future against the advice of Punjabi Muslim urban leaders like Dr Iqbal because it was a strategic compulsion. Thus from August 1947 India inherited a strong political culture while The Muslim League was destroyed just a few years after Mr Jinnah’s death by the feudals who had joined it out of fear of land reforms and because of being in debt to Hindu money lenders! Here again economics played a major role ! It has been estimated that in pre 1947 Punjab and Sindh money lending was the most important occupation after agriculture and that while the net revenue of Irrigation Department of Punjab was 267 Lakh Rupees that of money lenders was 500 Lakh Rupees! In 1911 out of a total of 803,560 money lenders in India some 25 % or 193,890 lived in Punjab alone! Thus while the total population of pre 1947 Punjab was one eleventh of India ,it had some one fourth of India’s money lenders! All this ensured that the feudal elements jumped on the Muslim League band wagon not out of genuine motivation but because of economic compulsion!

Now the post 1947 era; While post 1947 Indian Congress leaders like Nehru and Patel chided the Indian Army for their un-nationalistic role in British rule and reduced their basic salary Pakistan was condemned to be ruled by a civil military clique within eleven years of independence! Men who had collaborated with the British before 1947 became Pakistan’s rulers within seven years of Independence! Officials of Indian Audit and Accounts Service like Ghulam Mohammad and Mohammad Ali! Feudals like Kalabagh who before 1947 were faithful servants of a man no higher than the British Deputy Commissioner of Mianwali! Compare the fact that while Nehru abolished Cantonment Boards within no time after independence even today a Pakistani civilian living in a plot of land bought by paying through his nose in a cantonment area lives within perpetual awe of the cantonment boards simply because no Pakistani statesman had the courage or the vision to reduce the military or civil bureucrats to size! Continue reading “Pakistan and Military Rule (and a long interview with General Babar)”

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Sangat and Society: the Sikh remaking of the North Indian Public Sphere

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[Author’s note: With the celebrations of Guru Nanak’s 550th Anniversary and the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor being in the news, this is an opportunity for discussing the importance of the Sikh message, not just from a religious perspective – for Sikhs – but for Indian history. This article places the founding of Kartarpur, and Guru Nanak’s message, in a historical context – juxtaposing it with Babur’s founding of the Mughal Empire.]

I. Turning of the Wheel: Baba Nanak and Babur

In 1519, Babur invaded India – ‘ever since coming to Kabul we had been thinking of a Hindustan campaign, but for one reason or another it had not been possible,’ he writes in the Baburnama (translated by William Thackston, see pp 270-280). For some time his armies had been campaigning on the frontiers of the Hindu Kush, but these campaigns had yielded ‘nothing of consequence to the soldiers’. So, he turned to Hindustan. In the next few months, despite dogged resistance by the Afghans, Gujjars and Jats of the upper reaches of the Jhelum and Chenab, northern Punjab was subjugated, and plundered, by Babur’s armies. Babur himself spent most of his days inebriated, contemplating the legacy of Timur and setting poems to rhythmic metres. While his next great invasion of Punjab would come few years from then, in this interregnum, Punjab burned.

Among the towns and villages devastated was the settlement of Sayyidpur.

It was not long after Babur’s march of death through Punjab that Guru Nanak returned home from his western voyages – to Mecca, through Baghdad, Masshad, Khurasan, to Kabul, Peshawar, and, finally, to Sayyidpur. To the house of a humble carpenter, Bhai Lalo (Janam Sakhi Parampara by Kirpal Singh, pp 138-140). Continue reading “Sangat and Society: the Sikh remaking of the North Indian Public Sphere”

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Westernmost India

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On this weblog, there is sometimes a silly debate between Hindu nationalists and anti-Hindu anti-nationalists about the scope and size of Indian and Hindu cultural spheres (the terms “Indian” and “Hindu” being interchangeable for much of history). I stumbled onto this comment from Isidorus of Charax (a Greek subject of the Parthian Empire) in his Parthian Stations:

19. Beyond is Arachosia, 36 schoeni. And the Parthians call this White India; there are the city of Biyt and the city of Pharsana and the city of Chorochoad and the city of Demetrias; then Alexandropolis, the metropolis of Arachosia; it is Greek, and by it flows the river Arachotus. As far as this place the land is under the rule of the Parthians.

Here Isidorus is alluding to the Indo-Greeks who were dominant in much of Afghanistan and Bactria to the north. “White India” in the first few centuries A.D. seems to have meant the Helmand Valley, modern southern Afghanistan.

Apparently in the Avesta this region is asserted to be staunchly Zoroastrian. Either there is confusion and misrepresentation, or, Zoroastrianism retreated during this period. Though this specific case can be dismissed, it does seem to be a fact that under the Parthians and Sassanids the eastern and northeastern fringe of the Iranian world was coming under strong Buddhist influences. In the early period, Buddhism was, of course, the “Indian religion” (just as Islam was and is the “Arab religion”), so presumably, it was a vector for Indian cultural influence.

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Brown down under

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This Land Is a Sanctuary for Aboriginal Women. Bulldozers May Soon Come:

Mr. Djab Mara greeted them by burning cherry ballart leaves to cleanse their spirits. Then his partner, Ms. Mahomet, an Arrernte woman, invited the young visitors to view the same tree Ms. Jakobi had unknowingly driven by all her life.

The Arrernte are a group which occupies the center of Australia. How’d she get the name “Mahomet.” I’m 99% sure I know, Afghan cameleers in Australia:

A fourth-generation descendant of a Baluch cameleer who settled in Geraldton, Western Australia, set up a sheep station and married an Aboriginal woman, is proud of her heritage on both sides. She says that it was difficult for her ancestor to acquire permanent residence and permission to marry, but the Afghans were honourable men who preferred to marry rather than rape local women.

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Beltway Bandits (Lobbyists and Middle East Policy), Dr Hamid Hussain

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From Dr Hamid Hussain.

Last few years I have been working on horizontal and vertical spread of conflict in the Middle East.  This is first of the series looking at each player.  This one was the outcome of my own trips to Washington every few months to get some feel of beltway currents. I have no specific insight but want to provide some glimpses of the issues facing the region.

Hamid

Beltway Battles 

Hamid Hussain

“I have had lobbyists, and I have had some very good ones.  They could do anything.”  Donald Trump

In United States, domestic and foreign entities engage in lobbying at federal and state levels to promote their interests.  In the last few years, many Arab countries have increased their lobbying efforts in Washington to promote their interests.  In 2017, open conflict between Qatar on one side and Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain on the other has spilled over into international arenas. In Washington, these efforts are multi-faceted including marshalling support of large businesses, think tanks, universities, legislators and public policy influencers.  

The meteoric rise of a 30-year-old previously unknown royal family member to the dizzying height and sidelining of the old hands of Royal family in Saudi Arabia changed power dynamics inside the kingdom. This resulted in some competition even in Washington.  Crown Prince and interior minister Prince Muhammad Bin Nayef hired a lobbying firm run by a Trump campaign advisor Robert Stryk.  The firm was paid $5.4 million to make inroads into new administration.  However, in June 2017 when Muhammad Bin Nayef was removed from his positions and Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) elevated as Crown Prince, the deal ended.  MBS alienated many royal family members but for international image, he used others.  Old hand and once a long-time ambassador to Washington Prince Bandar Bin Sultan quickly changed his direction and lined up behind MBS.  During MBS visit to United States, Bandar was at hand to bring in his old contacts.  Bandar’s daughter Princess Reema provided the soft and feminine face for the new regime on international circuit defending royal family in Washington and Davos.  Full brother and close confidant of MBS Prince Khalid Bin Salman was appointed ambassador to Washington.  Saudi embassy chose an American raised and educated Saudi-American Fatima Baeshen as its spokeswoman.  She had previously worked at a pro Saudi think tank Arabia Foundation run by a former banker Ali Shihabi.  (Bloomberg Businessweek, 26 April 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-26/saudi-arabia-reboots-its-washington-lobbying-blitz) Continue reading “Beltway Bandits (Lobbyists and Middle East Policy), Dr Hamid Hussain”

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Book Review: Descent into Chaos

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An old review from Major Amin, it remains topical.

Descent into Chaos , Ahmed Rashid, Allen Lane,2008.ISBN No .978-1-846-14175-1

Book Review

Major A.H Amin (Retired)

11 October 2008

Ahmed Rashid acquired fame and became darling of the west when his book on Taliban was published in 2000 or so.Descent into Chaos is another bestseller as far as publishing statistics is concerned.It is a tragedy that the West,guardian of the present worlds intellectual property projects what suits its political and social interests and stifles what it finds “ politically unacceptable”.Seen in this background what Ahmed Rashid writes is acceptable to the west.Possibly because what he says fits hand in glove with western perceptions about how to shape the future.

As normal the book has some factual errors.Some insignificant some not so insignificant and some which not have escaped the sagacity of a known Afghanistan hand like Ahmed Rashid. Continue reading “Book Review: Descent into Chaos”

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Review: Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate: Covert Action and Internal Operations

Book Review sent in by Maj Agha Amin. Unfortunately the pictures in the original are low quality and I was unable to fix that problem. Still, you will get the gist of it. 

This is a very interesting book by a Montana University (adjunct) Professor (Owen Sirrs).

The author explains that the  genesis of this book was his:– (page-9)

Two- month stay at the Counterinsurgency Training Center in Kabul, Afghanistan during the summer of 2009. It was there that I learned a great deal more about Afghanistan–Pakistan relations in general and ISI operations in Afghanistan in particular.”

The book examines the following issues in the writers own words:–

  1. How has ISI evolved as an institution exercising intelligence and security responsibilities at home and abroad? What were the driving forces behind that evolutionary process?
  2. How does ISI fit into the larger Pakistani Intelligence Community?
  3. What does the decades- old relationship between ISI and the CIA tell us about the larger US–Pakistan security relationship?
  4. What is ISI’s record in providing accurate and timely early warning intelligence to decision- makers?
  5. To what extent has ISI disrupted and abused Pakistan’s democratic processes? 
  6. Is ISI a rogue agency or a state within a state? 
  7. Can ISI be reined in and the PIC (Pakistani Intelligence community) reformed? 
  8. How has ISI employed UW (Unconventional warfare) in support of the state’s national security objectives? To what extent has UW been a successful strategy for Pakistan?

 These are the very interesting question that the writer has formulated as stated in the books beginning and has attempted to answer in this most interesting book. Continue reading “Review: Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate: Covert Action and Internal Operations”

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