Who betrayed whom?

Carlotta Gall is a New York Times correspondent

The book – “The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014”
penned by NYT correspondent Carlotta Gall – claims that former Army
Chief Gen Ashfaque Pervez Kayani and then-ISI chief Gen Ahmed Shuja
Pasha were aware of Osama’s presence in the country. 

Ms Gall, who covered Afghanistan and Pakistan for The New York Times
from 2001 to 2013, has also claimed in her book that the ISI ran a
special desk to handle Bin Laden, which “operated independently” and was
“led by an officer who made his own decisions and did not report to a
The officer “handled only one person: Bin Laden”, she wrote.

In effect, Gall’s charge is that Pakistan betrayed America by knowingly hosting OBL.

Here are the official rebuttals: A
spokesperson for the military’s media wing denied the allegations.
“Nobody in Pakistan knew about the presence of Osama bin Laden,” said a
text message sent out by the ISPR to correspondents on behalf of the
ISI. “There is no truth in the New York Times report,” it said.

foreign office on Thursday also rebuffed the claims. “These are
baseless allegations and the ISPR and former PAF chief have already
denied these,” said a spokesperson at the weekly briefing of the Foreign

What is far more interesting IMO are the comments from (the above noted former PAF chief) Air Chief Marshall (retd) Rao Qamar Suleman.

“General Kayani phoned me at 2:07 am and informed me that two foreign
helicopters have been detected and to please check this movement,”
Suleman told Dawn.com
at the M.M. Alam airbase in Mianwali, recalling
the incidents that happened that night. 

“I have told the Abbotabad commission all the facts about the
incident in which Osama bin Laden was killed, including the record of
phone calls and maps,” he said.

To a question, he said that US
Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen rang up General Kayani
at 5:00 am on the same morning and informed him that US soldiers had
conducted the operation and killed Osama inside Pakistan.

former air chief said Pakistan Air Force (PAF) radars were working well
at the time of the intrusion by US Navy SEALS but were not set at low
altitude because Pakistan did not consider US as its enemy.

radars at the Pakistan-China border, Pakistan-Iran border and the
Pakistan-Afghanistan border have not been on low altitude because there
have been no threats to our security from these countries.“According
to Pakistan’s security policy, USA has never been an enemy. Rather, it
has been our friend so we never alerted our radars towards the western
borders,” he said.

“After the Abbottabad operation, the entire
national security policy has been revised and now radars on all borders
monitor every movement,” he said.

In effect Suleman’s charge is that America betrayed Pakistan and abusing the trust vested in a (presumed) friend.

If the underlying claims are true then presumably both the accusations of betrayal would stand as well.



The billion dollar candidate

From Rs 200 to Rs 7700 crores. The richest Lok Sabha candidate (as declared so far).

An inspiring (true) story. The IITs have given much to the nation but much more is expected (and from other elite academic institutions as well). It is also to be hoped that Mr Nilekani’s charitable donations will be focused on improving education of all stripes (engineering, medical, liberal arts, K-12 etc).

what would perhaps make him the richest Lok Sabha candidate, ahead of
officially declaring his assets, when he files the nomination papers
here on Friday, former UIDAI chairman and Bangalore South Congress
candidate Nandan Nilekani
on Thursday announced that his wife Rohini and
he were worth Rs 7,700 crore.

“I started out with Rs 200 in my
pocket, when I graduated from IIT. We founded the Infosys with Rs
10,000,” Nilekani and Rohini said in a statement issued to declare their

Nilekani said of the Rs 7,700 crore, almost 80% of the
wealth remains in Infosys shares, where he still owns 1.45% and Rohini
1.3%. “This wealth was created, while Infosys brought lakhs of jobs to
Bangalore. The company also shared a lot of wealth with our employees
through ESOPs,” he added.
Apart from the huge assets, Nilekani
said: “The biggest thing the money Infosys brought me is the freedom to
do what I want.
And what I want, is to give millions more the
opportunities I had.”

According to him the Infosys story,
inspired a generation of young Indians to start something on their own,
to take risks that created wealth for the country, as well as millions
of new jobs.

In the statement, the couple said they have
donated almost Rs 400 crore of their wealth to various causes and

“‘I am proud of the fact
that my wealth is completely transparent.
I haven’t made any of my money
illegally, or hid it in investments outside the country. Nothing is
hidden in someone else’s bank account. It is all completely transparent
and tax-paid,” Nilekani said.


Another Day, Another Shia Doctor Killed…

This is the second time in about a year that they have struck within our circle of friends. First it was the universally loved Dr Ali Haider, famous retina surgeon, our junior in college, son of the great Professor Zafar Haider and Professor Tahira Bokhari, killed in broad daylight in Lahore along with his young son. This time, its Dr Babar Ali, our friend and senior in King Edward Medical College; He was the DHO (district health officer) and head of the anti-Polio campaign as well as practicing physician in Hasanabdal (I am not sure but I think that would be DHO Attock, but I have to check that). He drove out of Hasan hospital at night after work and “unknown assailants” stopped his car and shot him 5 times. He died on the spot. No one has been nominated, much less arrested. 
Shia killing portals have reported his death. They refer to him as an “active Shia”, with the best of intentions, but that is somewhat misleading. It may imply to people that he was an activist, a known Shia partisan in some sort of active political/sectarian struggle. But he was nothing of the sort. He was a quiet, unassuming, pleasant man. Friendly to all. Totally apolitical. Its reported that he sat on the board of the local Imambargah, but that should be totally unremarkable. He was a well known physician, a pillar of the community, why wouldnt he participate in the affairs of his local house of worship? But he was no activist. That is worth pointing out because it is important to realize that this is not some sort of war in which active soldiers from “both sides” are being killed.
He leaves behind 3 young daugthers (all in college or high school) and one son (second year of medical school). Countless friends and family were at his funeral and are at his home right now. But no TV channel or  major news outlet has reported on this murder. Such deaths are now too routine to make the news.
That should scare everyone.


Trapped at the border of impulse and conscience

hat sort of a Pakistan was this that had entered their village like some maddened bull, trampling humanity under its hooves and turning everything upside down?” wonders an anguished man in Savage Harvest: Stories of Partition by Mohinder Singh Sarna (1923-2001), translated from Punjabi and introduced by his son and diplomat, Navtej Sarna. On both sides of the new western border between India and Pakistan, an orgy of violence had broken out in towns and villages. It was Hindus and Sikhs vs. Muslims, with both sides pillaging, raping, and killing, leaving a million dead, 12-18 million refugees, and a still-poisoned well of politics in the region.
Over the decades, Partition has produced many popular and critical narratives: its causes, villains, avoidable mistakes, its defining features and aftermath. While such narratives can never be immune from subjective perspective, much of it — despite notable work from scholars like Gurharpal Singh, Ian Talbot, Urvashi Butalia, Perry Anderson, Gyanendra Pandey, and Jan Breman — remains mired in crude nationalistic politics, taboos, and mythologies of India, Pakistan, and Great Britain.
In 2011 for instance, when Jaswant Singh, former defense minister of India and a senior member of BJP, wrote a book in which he blamed Nehru more than Jinnah for Partition and even praised many aspects of Jinnah’s personality, the BJP expelled him from the party and banned his book in Gujarat. This happened despite the fact that Singh was articulating an increasingly common view among scholars. Recent scholarship has also shown that a lot of Partition violence, such as that of Rawalpindi massacres, attacks on refugee trains and foot convoys, and ethnic cleansing of villages, was carefully planned and executed — with ample collusion of state agents — by extremist groups competing for political power. This is why the violence of Partition was so much more brutal and genocidal than the violence of “mere” communal riots. Such groups included Muslim para-militaries, Hindu volunteers of the RSS, and Sikh jathas and princely rulers. In other words, much of Partition violence in Punjab did not erupt “spontaneously” among mobs and hotheads, an idea that still rules the popular imagination.

Happy Holi

My father-in-law to be sent me this  and I thought I should share.

Does Holi celebrate the love of the gods?

“there is a chance my parents are still alive”

Poor kid. Fat chance of anything like that happening.

The net has now been cast wide from Kazakhstan to the north to the Southern Indian Ocean near Perth, Australia. The main suspect are now the two pilots (and other crew). The co-pilot is known to be a ladies man who has on an earlier occasion entertained passengers in the cockpit.  

The plane was confirmed to be flying for seven hours after contact with civilian radar was lost.
Malaysian police have begun searching the home of the pilot at the helm of
the missing Malaysia
Airlines flight MH370, after the country’s prime minister confirmed that
the Boeing 777’s communications were deliberately disabled by “someone on
the plane”. Police officers arrived at 53-year-old captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s home on
the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur shortly after the PM, Najib Razak, finished his
dramatic press conference,
during which he told reporters new satellite data
indicated that MH370 last made contact roughly seven hours after it vanished
from civilian radar one week ago.

While the raw satellite footage has helped investigators determine that the
plane was still flying long after it lost contact with air traffic control at
1.22am on Saturday 8 March with 239 people on board, it could not discern the
aircraft’s exact location, Najib said – putting it anywhere along two possible
flight corridors: a northern corridor stretching from Kazakhstan, in central
Asia, down to northern Thailand; and a southern corridor stretching from
Indonesia towards the southern Indian Ocean.

authorities had initially focused their investigation on the missing plane on
four possible explanations, including possible hijacking, sabotage, or the
personal or psychological problems of the crew or passengers,
the “new
information” that had come to light was forcing investigators to rethink
their strategy, Najib said. “In view of this latest development, the Malaysian authorities have
refocused their investigation into the crew and passengers on board,” he
told reporters on Saturday.

The satellite data indicates that the plane was flying far longer than had
been initially believed, and is likely to instigate what may be the biggest
hunt ever for a missing plane. Some 14 countries, 43 ships and 58 aircraft are
already involved in search and rescue efforts, but the two new flight corridors
will necessitate the assistance of the countries underneath those corridors –
including, possibly, Burma, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, China,
Nepal, Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

The hunt for the plane will therefore require military and diplomatic
co-operation as investigators attempt to piece together, through civilian,
military and satellite data, what the exact fate of the missing jet may be.
It is unclear if police had also begun searching the homes of the other 11
Malaysian crew on board, including co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, who is known to have entertained passengers on board a previous flight
in the cockpit during a Phuket-Kuala Lumpur flight in 2011.

Another report emerged on Saturday indicating that MH370 may have turned
south towards the Indian Ocean, where it is believed to have last been
identified some 1,000 miles west of Perth in Australia, according to satellite
“pings” that recorded the plane’s data, Bloomberg reported.

While it is not clear how much fuel the Boeing-777 was holding, there would
have been enough to fly it at cruising altitude to its scheduled destination,
Beijing, a nearly six-hour flight. It is believed, however, the missing jet may
have been flying at a higher altitude, which would have allowed it to carry on
for longer.

The news is likely to fuel further speculation over suspected terrorism
although no person or group has come forward to disclose why the plane may have
been hijacked, or if it even was. For some relatives of those missing, however, the news the plane was still
flying at 8.11am last Saturday is an indication that there may be hope for
their missing loved ones. “It means there’s still a chance my parents are alive,” Eric Chen
Zhi Yang, 15, told Malaysia’s New Straits Times. Both his mother and father
were on board MH370.



Betrayal in Telangana

Telangana (also Karnataka and Kerala) with 17 Lok Sabha seats was the great southern hope for  the Congress in order to avoid annihilation at the polls.
Now with the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) rejecting alliance with the Congress (both at the state and national level) there will be considerable heart-break.

Not only this is a disaster in the short term, but in the long term Congress will lose what was a few years ago its most loyal base (stayed with Mrs Gandhi even after the emergency horrors in 1977).

TRS is perhaps making a calculation that an alliance with the BJP may provide them with much needed Central bounty as the partition moves forward.

Not to worry, in the next election these fair weather friends will find a way to meet up again (in response to the demands of the people).  Another day in the wonder that is political India.

BTW this is a background map illustrating how the southern states (Karnataka shown with deep blue borders) were formed through reorganization of the British ruled and Native ruled states. The new Telangana state is in the North-East corner. The new Andhra state is shown in sky-blue.

In a severe setback to Congress in Telangana, TRS dashed its hopes of an
alliance for the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the region.

“There will not be any electoral alliance with Congress. Let’s see from
tomorrow if TRS MLAs will join the Congress or the reverse will happen,”
Telangana Rashtra Samiti chief K Chandrasekhar Rao said addressing his
party workers at the Telangana Bhavan here. KCR’s remarks appear significant amidst indication that two former women
ministers were all set to quit the Congress and join the TRS in a day
or two.

Congress, which seeks credit for the role of the Congress-led UPA
government at the Centre in the carving out of the new state out of
Andhra Pradesh, has been seeking at least an alliance after TRS ruled
out a merger with it. There are 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana whose assembly strength is 117.

Referring to remarks made by AICC General Secretary Digvijaya Singh on
TRS’ refusal to merge with the Congress after the creation of
Telangana., Rao attacked the Congress, asking, “They say KCR betrayed
them but what was the betrayal.”

Rao said they had proposed merger of TRS with Congress to secure
statehood for the region and prevent suicides by hundreds of youth. “But now, people are against our merger and hence we are going by their wish,” he added.

He recalled that many of those who committed suicide for a separate state had named the Congress for their act. “Now the Congress started a drama saying it will give tickets to kin of those victims in the coming elections,” he said.



An advocate for “radical social transformation”

Saroj Giri is passionate about bringing back the blood-red (in a non-pejorative sense) left and is clear that the best way to fight communalism is through “radical social transformation.” .But he does not say where lies the magic wand that will drive the masses back into the fold of  the left.

It was a point of pride for the left in India that they are the true secularists as well as above dirty caste politics (the left will at best acknowledge that class is caste). The left was (as usual) mainly ruled by the super-castes – EMS Namboodiripad belonged to the cream of the cream (the Kedarnath shrine in the Himalayas can have only Namboodiri priests. But there were also powerful leaders from so-called backward backgrounds as well, including the formidable VS Achuthanandan, the prince of the Ezhavas.

Good governance in the rule-book of the left used to mean no communal riots and (in earlier times) no corruption. But then the left in India became part of the ruling class and became corrupted. This had been predicted by the left’s own theoreticians who preferred to usher in the red revolution. Unfortunately revolutions aka “radical social transformation” is hard work, you have to kill of millions of people, deport others to gulags, and re-educate all the peasants. And after all the hard work they may still dump you for the promise of a nice pair of jeans.Shameful ingratitude indeed.

As the masses have abandoned the left, all one can do now is to cry over split milk and sneer at the “low information” voters. This is the tragedy of the left in India and elsewhere.
game-changing equation is being suggested here: that even those who do not
explicitly endorse majoritarian Hindu sentiments will vote for Hindutva
thanks to the new agenda of opposing vote bank politics, fighting corruption,
what goes around in the name of say good governance.

Here we can do well to recall Praveen Togadia’s tweet that Hindutva followers should not
be too opposed to Modi ordering the arrest of Bajrang Dal activists (they were
arrested on August 20th, 2013, by Gujarat Police after they had vandalized an
art exhibition in Ahmedabad which included art exhibits from Pakistani
artists). The reason Togadia provided: ‘Let him add secular votes’.

The RSS functionary’s views assumes a particular understanding of the Indian
voter for whom fighting vote bank politics and pitching for good governance
becomes more important than fighting the dangers of Hindutva politics. This
points to one emerging affinity in Indian politics today: that the wider agenda
of good governance and anti-corruption is compatible with Hindutva,
that, for
example, fighting corruption is in sync with supporting Modi’s Hindutva. The
mainstream fight against corruption today might deliver itself at the feet of
Modi’s Hindutva.

How is this possible? How is it possible that Hindutva’s communal
polarisation often leading to communal riots and breakdown of the rule of law
becomes compatible with good governance?
We get some answers through a close
reading of the recent riots in Muzaffarnagar (Sep 2013) and in fact its (non-)
resonance in wider Indian politics.

Muzaffarnagar pointed towards a new kind of riots. The strategy there seems
to follow from the ‘lessons learned’ from what ‘went wrong’ in Gujarat 2002,
where the high number of Muslims killed (790) attracted enormous press and
civil society attention around the world, and created a political albatross
that dogs Modi to this day.  

Hence keep the number of actual killings low and
instead compensate for that by increasing those displaced and uprooted from
their land and homes
—clearly the pattern in Muzaffarnagar riots, where the
thrust was on displacing Muslims (50,000), shattering their economic base and
means of livelihood, rather than on killings per se (‘only’ 37 Muslims killed).

The trick: keep communal polarisation low profile or low intensity and keep
chanting the mantra of development and governance!

Now many, among them ardent secularists and leftists, welcome this new
agenda of politics while opposing Modi/BJP. They think of good governance as
rightly taking us away from divisive issues and communal or vote bank politics
and open the way towards a more enlightened, rational politics based on genuine
issues of development and governance. A Muslim as much as a Dalit or an upper
caste Hindu or a jhuggi dweller all want basic amenities like water,
electricity, good schools—they all want good governance, don’t they?

So if only we could stop Modi or the BJP from coming to power, this agenda
is in itself very positive! It is by dint of this logic that scores of
secularist or left-leaning activists and academics have joined AAP which in
many ways is spearheading the good governance crusade. And yet in terms of its
articulation, effects and ramifications, the new agenda seems already set in
its affinity with communal politics. This is reflected in, say, AAP’s coyness
when it comes to talking about communalism.
Their insistence that they are not
about vote banks so often seems to be a way to duck communal issues, a
hesitation to take on communalism—and definitely overlook its affinity with
good governance.

Here we notice a major structural shift in Indian politics. This means that
Indian politics’ umbilical cord with communal politics and riots is magically
rendered invisible by the cunning discourse of good governance, transparency
and anti-corruption. Only a politics of radical social transformation can
dislodge this bonhomie of good governance and communalism.