The Sahel – Islam's natural boundary

The Eritrean-Ethiopian highlands are the major Christian exception to the rule (I believe their religion is that of the Copts with the same exceptionalism) whereas the mercantile Arabs were able to spread their faith to the south eastern coast.
Africa is a continent apart – I just arrived in Nairobi for the weekend and I’m very impressed by it – some areas more than trump the subcontinent. 

Election 2014: Death Knell of Strategic Depth?

Afghanistan has voted. And wow, what a lot of voting there was! Millions of Afghans turned out and voted in an election where a vote for anyone was a vote against Mullah Umar and his backers. Now it may be that the results will not be accepted, that the winners will fight each other or that the good feeling will evaporate as some future Taliban offensive shakes the state. But if the results are credible and are accepted, then it may well be (to quote journalist Tahir Mehdi) that April 5th 2014 will be to strategic depth what December 16th 1971 was to the two-nation theory.
Of course, one may then point out that the Two Nation theory has had a very healthy Zombie existence since 1971. But even the healthiest Zombie is still a Zombie. Dying is forever.
One can always hope.
This question came up on twitter: was this election a success because Afghan security forces and ISAF did a fantastic job and the Afghan people rejected Mullah Umar? or because Pakistan was paid (and paid well) and agreed to permit a peaceful election? I suspect a bit of both. But either way, it does not alter the significance of the event. Whether Pakistan’s Taliban allies are just not strong enough to disrupt elections or whether Pakistan has sold them out for money. its all the same as far as strategic depth is concerned. Its over.

PS: I have already heard from people on twitter that this will not lead to milk and honey and a civil war is coming. But please note, I said nothing about those things. All that may be true. But strategic depth was a different story. The story was that Afghanistan is waiting for Americans to leave and then our boys walk in and eject the “mayor of Kabul”. That doesnt seem to be the story at all. “Our boys” didnt look as strong as advertised. And unless they are the dominant and strongest party, strategic depth is dead and strategic nightmare awaits.



Perhaps Mohd. Musa is truly an evil murderer…in his past life. Amidst the mountain of justly deserved scorn save a molehill of pity for the police in SAsia who need to please their fickle patrons. Now that the cat is out of the (media)bag a (scape)goat will be arranged and (unjustly) punished for no fault of his own.

The boy’s grandfather accused the police of making up the charges in
order to get the family out of their land.
…..The attention the case received in the local media caught the eye of
senior security officials, who ordered disciplinary action against the
police officers responsible for writing up a nine-month-old,
reports The Nation. A policeman has since been suspended.



Indian representative

Koyal Rana from Jaipur is a very beautiful lady but perhaps not truly representative of India (in terms of skin color). We wish her all the best in her quest to win over the world.  

The Ranas (=Raja=king also, Rani = queen) were originally Rajput kings from Rajasthan, Maha-Rana Pratap Singh for example hailed from the Sisodia dynasty of Udaipur. Facing Mughal onslaught, the Ranas scattered in the direction of the hills (and to the rest of India), and were rulers of Nepal till recently. 

Surprisingly (not really) there are Rana converts to Islam and many prominent Pakistani families are Ranas as well. Wiki
cites the following – it is only understandable in
an Indian context that these proud people would like to flaunt  their caste
even after conversion.

Bakhtiar Rana – Ex Lieutenant General Pakistan Army; Rana Phool Muhammad Khan – MPA from Bhai Pheru 1971,1977,1985,1990 (Ex. Provincial Minister Punjab), Azmat Rana – Pakistani cricket player, Shafqat Rana – former Pakistani cricketer, Moammar Rana – Pakistani film actor, Shakoor Rana – Pakistani cricket player, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan- Pakistani cricket player, Rana Tanveer Hussain- Former Minister of Defence Production, Rana Mohammad Hanif Khan- Finance Minister of Pakistan, Rana Muhammad Akram Khan – Ex Chairman Punjab Bar Council, Rana Mashood Ahmad Khan – Deputy Speaker, Punjab Assembly, Rana Sanaullah Khan – Law Minister Punjab, Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan – Speaker Punjab (Pakistan) Assembly, Rana Nazeer Ahmed Khan – Federal minister (1990–93) (97-99) (2002–2004)



The Economist condemns The Man

The Economist will not vote for the Man even though they may admire his (economic) policies.
By refusing to put Muslim fears to rest, Mr Modi feeds them. By
clinging to the anti-Muslim vote, he nurtures it. India at its finest
is a joyous cacophony of peoples and faiths, of holy men and rebels.
The best of them, such as the late columnist Khushwant Singh 
are painfully aware of the damage caused by communal hatred. Mr Modi
might start well in Delhi but sooner or later he will have to cope
with a sectarian slaughter or a crisis with Pakistan—and nobody,
least of all the modernisers praising him now, knows what he will do
nor how Muslims, in turn, will react to such a divisive man.

If Mr Modi were to explain his role in the violence and show genuine
remorse, we would consider backing him, but he never has; it would be
wrong for a man who has thrived on division to become prime minister
of a country as fissile as India. We do not find the prospect of a
government led by Congress under Mr Gandhi an inspiring one. But we
have to recommend it to Indians as the less disturbing option.

If, more probably, victory goes to the BJP, its coalition partners should hold out for a prime minister other than Mr Modi. And if they still choose Mr Modi? We would wish him well, and we
would be delighted for him to prove us wrong by governing India in a
modern, honest and fair way. But for now he should be judged on his
record—which is that of a man who is still associated with sectarian
hatred. There is nothing modern, honest or fair about that. India
deserves better.



Death for “blasphemous SMS”

The accusation is that the husband sent a blasphemous SMS from his wife’s mobile. Even if this is the whole truth and nothing but the truth, why is the wife being implicated in the crime and condemned to death? …It appears that the rate of death sentences will keep accelerating until there are no more minorities left to attack. From that point onwards the only victims of blasphemy will be muslims.

Incidentally the couple belong to Toba Tek Singh town, made famous by Sadat Hasan Manto. At this point it is fair to say that the lunatics are in charge of the asylum that Manto had envisioned.
court in eastern Pakistan has sentenced a Christian couple to death for
sending a blasphemous text message insulting the Prophet Muhammad, their
lawyer said on Saturday.

Judge Mian Amir Habib handed the
death sentence to Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar in a jail in the
town of Toba Tek Singh on Friday, defence lawyer Nadeem Hassan told AFP.

Maulvi Mohammad Hussain, the prayer leader at a local mosque in Gojra,
lodged a complaint against couple on July 21 last year for sending him a
text message which he said was insulting to the Prophet Muhammad. 
Hussain accused the husband of sending the message from his wife’s cellphone.

However, defence lawyer Hassan said that the text originated from a
cellphone which the couple had lost some time before the incident, so
they could not have sent the message.

The defence lawyer said
that the couple had suspected rivals of implicating them into blasphemy
case to settle personal scores and that they had ties with the




Tulsi Gabbard: defender of the faith

There is no soft way to say this: brown Hindus need a white sister to help them out in face of virulent opposition from the likes of Syed Bukhari and John Dayal in India and Katherine Mayo (aka Katrina Lantos) in the west. A saffron salute to her courage in standing up for defence-less and powerless Hindus at home (America) and abroad.
Several eminent officials and experts from both
India and the US have told lawmakers that a BJP-led government at the
center would be detrimental to the basic rights of the religious
minorities in India.

Testifying before the influential Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of
the US Congress (TLHRC) on ‘The Plight of Religious Minorities in
India’, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)
Vice Chair Katrina Lantos yesterday said the USCIRF has been closely
monitoring the situation in India.

“Many religious minority communities have reported to USCIRF that they
fear that a BJP win, and the election of Narendra Modi as the country’s
Prime Minister, will be detrimental to them and religious freedom. The
BJP last led the national government between 1998 and 2004,” Lantos

“Between 2002 and 2004 USCIRF had recommended that the State Department
designate India a ‘Country of Particular Concern’ (CPC) for the
government’s systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious
freedom,” she said.

She said the USCIRF has long been concerned about the BJP’s and Modi’s close association with Hindu nationalist organisations.

“The activities of these groups, especially those with an extremist
agenda or history of using violence against minorities, often negatively
impact the status of religious freedom in the country,” she said.

“Sangh Parivar entities aggressively press for governmental policies
that would promote a Hindu nationalist agenda, and adhere in varying
degrees to an ideology of Hindutva, which holds non-Hindus as foreign
to India,” Lantos said.

Meanwhile, Congressman Tulsi Gabbard, the first ever Hindu lawmaker in
the US Congress, questioned the timing of the Congressional hearing and
alleged that its goal is to influence the Indian elections.
“I do not believe the timing of this hearing is a coincidence. The
national elections in India begin on Monday and continue until May 12. I
am concerned that the goal of this hearing is to influence the outcome
of India’s national elections, which is not an appropriate role for the
US Congress,” Gabbard said.



Signal from the MH-370 black box (maybe)

Breaking news: a Chinese ship might have just detected the black box from MH-370.
If so it will be nothing short of a miracle (aided by modern technology that tracks a plane even when some murderous idiot has switched off the transponders). Let us hope for the best (only 3 days are left before the signal is switched off).

A black box detector deployed by the Haixun 01 picked up the signal at
around 25 degrees south latitude and 101 degrees east longitude, the
report said.

The batteries of the black box flight recorders have a life of about 30
days, meaning they will shut down in the next three days.


Officials said the multinational team has entered the most intensive phase in the search operations.

Up to 10 military planes, three civil jets and 11 ships were searching
about 217,000 sq km, 1,700 km north west of Perth, to locate the plane’s
data recorder that could help investigators unravel the mystery of what
happened on March 8, the day the Beijing-bound jet suddenly disappeared
from radar screens.


China’s Liberation Daily reported that three people on board had heard
the signals, which were not recorded as they came suddenly.

The frequency of 37.5 kHz per second is currently the international
standard for the underwater locator beacon on a plane’s black box.

Also, a Chinese air force plane searching for the jet spotted a number of white floating objects in the search area today.

The plane photographed the objects over a period of 20 minutes after spotting them at 11:05 local time.

China’s state-run CCTV reported the ship’s crew detected the signal and alerted both Chinese and Australian rescue centres.
The signal was heard this afternoon by the ship’s crew and it lasted for one and half minutes.


This kind of signal is, however, not exclusive to black box and it could
be from other equipment also. So, it cannot be confirmed at the moment
that the signal is from the black box record of the MH370, the report

The signal of the black box can be picked up in a three-mile radius,
that could further help the search team to narrow down their operation.




A million dollar farewell party

Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardane are loved by millions of cricket fans. They are gentle off the field but ferocious warriors on it. The ICC T20 World Cup ongoing in Dhaka, Bangladesh will be a fitting farewell to those legendary batting arms. May the best team win!!!
If Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Indians win,
they will become the first team to hold all three major limited-overs
titles, having won the 50-over World Cup in 2011 and the Champions
Trophy last year.

Sri Lanka will seek an end to an inexplicable
losing streak in title matches, after being beaten twice in World Cup
finals in 2007 and 2011 and the World Twenty20 finals in 2009 and 2012.

fitting farewell to veterans Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene in
their last T20 international game and a million-dollar winning bonus
offered by officials back home will further inspire the Sri Lankans.



Religious diversity in the world

IOO map is not well thought out….India (and South Asia) is much more religiously diverse than Canada (or Australia) for example. Also in our opinion the religious diversity in Islamic countries and in particular Iran is undercounted (Bahais for example may fear exclusion).

While being a Muslim majority country, Pakistan is more
religiously diverse than 48 other countries of the world including
Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Maldives, Romania and the Vatican City, says a
new study.

According to the Pew Research Center study,
Pakistan does rank amongst the countries with low religious diversity,
but its population makeup keeps it ahead of 48 nations.

country scores a total of 0.8 on a scale of 0 to 10, with 96.4 per cent
of its population Muslims, 1.9 per cent Hindus, 1.6 per cent Christians,
and all other religions less than 0.1 per cent.

The Religious
Diversity Index (RDI) calculates diversity based on national population
shares of eight major world religions (Buddhists, Christians, folk
religions, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, other religions considered as a group,
and the religiously unaffiliated).

The index divides the
countries into four ranges: very high (the top 5 per cent of scores),
high (the next highest 15 per cent of scores, which works out to 16 per
cent because of tie scores), moderate (the next 20 per cent of scores)
and low (the bottom 59 per cent of scores). A score of 10 indicates the
maximum possible diversity if each of the eight groups constitutes an
equal share of the population.

The countries ranking the highest
on the index include Singapore 9.0, Taiwan 8.2, Vietnam 7.7, Suriname
7.6, Guinea-Bissau 7.5, Togo 7.5, Ivory Coast 7.4, South Korea 7.4,
China 7.3, Hong Kong 7.2, Benin 7.2, Mozambique 7.0.

With a score
of 4.0, India ranks amongst countries with moderate religious diversity.
Countries on the moderate range include the US, UAE, Russia, Nepal, and
the UK, among others.

The three countries with the least
religiously diverse population are the Vatican City, Morocco, and
Tokelau – all with a score of 0. They are followed closely by Iran,
Romania, Tunisia, Timor-Leste, Somalia and Afghanistan.