Monday, February 13, 2006

Highlights 13th February 2006


FLASHPOINT ASSAM
Armed Guilt

Tragic as the events were, they must not be seen as the end of the peace process in Assam. In fact, the biggest challenge that the events have thrown up to the peace-negotiators is to keep the dialogue alive. The people’s consultative group that the banned militant outfit, the United Liberation Front of Asom, has appointed to negotiate with New Delhi has to take the main initiative in this respect.
It would be unfortunate if the group pulls out of the talks in response to the tragedy in Tinsukia....more in Telegraph

Army sorry, but heat on
Eastern Command chief Lt Gen. Arvind Sharma today visited Kakopathar, the Assam town that exploded in mutiny against the army over a custody death just over a week ago, to hand a cheque for Rs 1 lakh and Rs 5,000 in cash to the victim’s family. However, there was no stemming the tide of protests, which spread from Tinsukia district to other areas. Residents of Demow, in Sivasagar district, blocked National Highway 37 in protest against Friday’s police firing on protesters at Kakopathar. Movement of vehicles on the highway, which links Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts, was stalled for over two-and-a-half hours. In Kakopathar, there was an uneasy calm when Lt Gen. Sharma visited the house of Ajit Mahanta, who had been picked up by the army on February 4 for allegedly working as an “Ulfa linkman”. The general-officer-commanding of the Eastern Command spent about 30 minutes in the family’s hut....more in Telegraph
The Emerging Cold War on Asia's High Seas

The vulnerability of the Straits has been heightened by the presence of a multitude of Islamic insurgencies and separatist movements in the region, existing in Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia. There is also a fear of the Straits emerging as a security "black hole" with the use of the waters to engage in arms, narcotics and human trafficking, which has been highlighted by the periodic discovery of arms shipments headed to the Tamil Tigers (L.T.T.E.) in Sri Lanka, terrorist organizations in Bangladesh and separatist groups in northeast India....more in PINR

End of a boycott in Bangladesh

Where does the Awami League stand now? When the opposition trooped into the house yesterday, it was still not clear whether they had a change of mind, or whether they were trying only to protect their seats and the benefits that obtained from being members. For instance, had the Opposition leader kept herself out of parliament for two more days, the law would have made sure that she lost her seat. And, the same with the other members of the Opposition......more in Khaleej Times

Balochistan unrest: Agencies ‘have proof’ of Indian involvement

Sources said on Sunday that in a report to the government, intelligence agencies have provided “solid proof” that Indian consulates in Afghan cities are providing financial assistance to Baloch tribal leaders, along with funds and weapons to the Balochistan Liberation Army and the Balochistan Liberation Front. This support has played “an important part” in worsening the situation in the province, the report says....more in Daily Times

India for the Muslims! Antarctica and most of Bangladesh for the Hindus!

Take, for example, the “Bangabhumi Movement” Bangladesh, created in 1971 as the successor to East Pakistan, literally means “country [or land] of the Bangla.” (Bangladesh also has one of the least original but most ugliest flags in the Muslim World. Period, followed by a period.) “Desh” is the Bangla word for
“land, country,” in the same sense as “stan” – hence, "Bangistan" would functionally be the same as Bangladesh. But the Bangabhumi “Bangabhumi Movement” – it means, in Hindi, “land of the Banglas,” which doesn’t help us much – aims to create a Hindu Bengali republic; though Hindus number about fifteen percent of Bangladesh, the territory they envision is some half of Bangladesh, perhaps on the theory that upper-caste nutcases count for ten or twelve of lower-caste unwanteds. (Note No. 1: How the Bangabhumi Bumchums want to create a Bangabhumideshistan which is not only as awkward as a terminally long Sanskrit term, but as ungainly as the original Pakistan, easily swallowed up by the India that caresses from west and east, which of course is not the erotic and suppressed intention. Heaven/Pitrloka/Jannah forbid.) (Note No. 2: Did someone do a simple copy+paste from CIA World Factbook and play color in the spaces, explaining the uncomfortable saffron purdah over Chittagong-cum-Ch'ong?)...more in Avari

India and Bangladesh: Wind of change in political thinking

In his popular post-editorial column in the second largest circulated daily Jugantor ( 23 March 2005), political analyst and poet Farhad Mazhar, who earned his name as the most effective advocate of secular-left thinking, was far more critical. Writing under the heading, ‘What did Condolezza Rice say?’, he said, ‘ if you show even slightest sympathy to Islam or write on any Islamic issue, you will be automatically tainted as terrorist…… we were told that there is some thing called ‘freedom of expression’, well if there is, such luxuries are accorded only to the Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen’s of the world, and instantly denied to all those who wish to speak against injustice and torture, from an Islamic point of view.’ He reminded his readers that it was ‘Dr. Rice who presented her thesis to the US State Department’ that the, ‘madrasas (religious seminaries) are responsible for training terrorists’. And as soon as she uttered those words, ‘some of our own newspapers started, with indecent haste, to publish stories complete with photographs, of how madrasa’s are conducting such training.’ The ‘fascist’ intolerance to Islam such quarters demonstrate is really amazing and all in the name of ‘democracy and secularism’. Farhad Mazhar was certain that toeing the line in such slavish fashion will not be sufficient to save Bangladesh from the wrath of the imperialist super power, in his words ‘there is no barrier that might protect us from this all engulfing fire’. Although he argues that everything is not black and white and even in the State Department there are people who would argue that Bangladesh is a moderate Muslim country. It may be in the interest of their wider strategic equation, yet this view exists. However, some Bangladeshi leaders and intellectuals actively promote a dark picture of Bangladesh. Even during Sheikh Hasina’a tenure when American president Bill Clinton came to visit the country, almost at the same time Bangladesh missions abroad were busily distributing a pamphlet, depicting an assassin’s hand with blood stained dagger on its green cover, which claimed that Bangladesh is fast turning into a hot bed of Taleban, Al-Qaida type Islamic terrorism. ‘Although no one could be in doubt about the intention, the source of this publication still remains a mystery, some suspect it to be a joint operation by the Indian and Israeli intelligence’....more in Disha Bangladesh

On the land with two people and two people with a land

Start with Israel. The Jewish state’s 1967 border was extremely difficult to defend militarily — at some places, the Mediterranean was within the reach of Arab artillery.
This by itself need not be a problem — the Bay of Bengal is within the reach of Indian artillery around Belonia, but even the most rabid anti-Indian politician in Bangladesh would not suggest occupying Tripura. Two factors mitigate against such a call: India’s overwhelming military superiority; and the fact that no Indian politician vows to destroy Bangladesh, even though partition created no less tragic a population displacement than did the establishment of Israel....more Amar Akbar Anthony

When a Muslim paints nude Hindu gods

Fortunately, there have not been virulent protests in India against the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, though close to 150 million Muslims reside in the country. However, attention is being drawn to Hindu fundamentalists taking umbrage at India's top artist, M F Husain, who has been booked by police for
"hurting sentiments of people" with paintings that depict nude gods.The tirade against Husain also puts into question the often-held perception that Islam is the least tolerant of all religions to any act that is perceived as blasphemy. Fringe elements exist everywhere, though it is also true that the extent and intensity of protests by some of those who follow Islam set the religion apart....more In Asia Times Online

The tyranny of geography

Geopolitics is queering our eastern pitch as well.
Bangladesh is playing dog in the manger. It cannot afford to buy its own gas being produced by Shell and Unocal because it is contracted to purchase it at exorbitant prices linked to the Japanese crude cocktail basket. At the same time, it won’t allow the MNCs to export the gas to India. It won’t allow us to even pipe gas from Myanmar through its territory. Already, there’s talk of sending the gas eastward to Thailand and other markets. Geopolitics and geography have confounded India’s energy security plans......more in NewsInsight

Conversion law push

The Sangh parivar’s Shabri Kumbh passed a resolution today urging state governments to enact laws to check religious conversions. On the second day of the Kumbh, thought up by the Sangh to push tribals towards Hindutva, participants expressed concern at what they described as mass conversion of Dalits and tribals. In the absence of a central legislation, states should enact stringent laws to curb the “illegal” activities of Christian missionaries, the resolution said. RSS chief K. Sudarshan, VHP general secretary Praveen Togadia and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan were present at the Kumbh.....more in Telegraph

Somewhere, Beyond the Sea

The U.S. armed services are constantly reinventing themselves to keep pace with emerging threats. While the Navy is seeking to improve its capability and reach in littoral warfare, it is also leveraging past lessons of the Cold War with new technology. Databases once developed to support intelligence analysis and data fusion have become nearly ubiquitous in the commercial computing sector.
Data-mining techniques are being used increasingly to peer through the clutter and to assemble patterns of action. Link analysis can connect the dots, an arms merchant in Chechnya, a mosque in Bangladesh, and a missing merchant ship presumed lost in the South China Sea draw a picture that can lead to actionable intelligence. Advances of commercial technology combined with Cold War relics are being fused into a new force for future security....more in Annoy Mouse Speak

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