Tag Archives: west

Leaving the West Behind – Germany Looks East

By Hans Kundnani

Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014 was a strategic shock for Germany. Suddenly, Russian aggression threatened the European security order that Germany had taken for granted since the end of the Cold War. Berlin had spent two decades trying to strengthen political and economic ties with Moscow, but Russia’s actions in Ukraine suggested that the Kremlin was no longer interested in a partnership with Europe. Despite Germany’s dependence on Russian gas and Russia’s importance to German exporters, German Chancellor Angela Merkel ultimately agreed to impose sanctions on Russia and helped persuade other EU member states to do likewise.

Nevertheless, the Ukraine crisis has reopened old questions about Germany’s relationship to the rest of the West. In April, when the German public-service broadcaster ARD asked Germans what role their country should play in the crisis, just 45 percent wanted Germany to side with its partners and allies in the EU and NATO; 49 percent wanted Germany to mediate between Russia and the West. These results led the weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel, in an editorial published last May, to warn Germany against turning away from the West.

Germany’s response to the Ukraine crisis can be understood against the backdrop of a long-term weakening of the so-called Westbindung, the country’s postwar integration into the West. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the enlargement of the EU freed the country from its reliance on the United States for protection against a powerful Soviet Union. At the same time, Germany’s export-dependent economy has become increasingly reliant on demand from emerging markets such as China. Although Germany remains committed to European integration, these factors have made it possible to imagine a post-Western German foreign policy. Such a shift comes with high stakes. Given Germany’s increased power within the EU, the country’s relationship to the rest of the world will, to a large extent, determine that of Europe.

THE GERMAN PARADOX

Germany has produced 
the most radical challenge to the West from within.

Germany has always had a complex relationship with the West. On the one hand, many of the political and philosophical ideas that became central to the West originated in Germany with Enlightenment thinkers such as Immanuel Kant. On the other hand, German intellectual history has included darker strains that have threatened Western norms—such as the current of nationalism that emerged in the early nineteenth century. Beginning in the latter half of the nineteenth century, German nationalists increasingly sought to define Germany’s identity in opposition to the liberal, rationalistic principles of the French Revolution and the Enlightenment. This version of German nationalism culminated in Nazism, which the German historian Heinrich August Winkler has called “the climax of the German rejection of the Western world.” Germany, therefore, was a paradox: it was part of the West yet produced the most radical challenge to it from within.

Read more » Foreign Affairs
Learn more » http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/142492/hans-kundnani%E2%80%A8/leaving-the-west-behind

Putin To Western Elites: Play-Time Is Over

 

by Tyler Durden

Via Club Orlov blog,

Most people in the English-speaking parts of the world missed Putin’s speech at the Valdai conference in Sochi a few days ago, and, chances are, those of you who have heard of the speech didn’t get a chance to read it, and missed its importance. Western media did their best to ignore it or to twist its meaning. Regardless of what you think or don’t think of Putin (like the sun and the moon, he does not exist for you to cultivate an opinion)this is probably the most important political speech since Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech of March 5, 1946.

In this speech, Putin abruptly changed the rules of the game. Previously, the game of international politics was played as follows: politicians made public pronouncements, for the sake of maintaining a pleasant fiction of national sovereignty, but they were strictly for show and had nothing to do with the substance of international politics; in the meantime, they engaged in secret back-room negotiations, in which the actual deals were hammered out. Previously, Putin tried to play this game, expecting only that Russia be treated as an equal. But these hopes have been dashed, and at this conference he declared the game to be over, explicitly violating Western taboo by speaking directly to the people over the heads of elite clans and political leaders.

To sum it all up:  play-time is over. Children, put away your toys. Now is the time for the adults to make decisions. Russia is ready for this; is the world? 

The Russian blogger chipstone summarized the most salient points from Putin speech as follows:

Read more » Zerohedge.com
See more » http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-10-30/putin-western-elites-play-time-over

 

Russia, Ukraine and the West: Will there be war?

Written by Alan Woods

As Ukraine slides deeper into chaos, the sound of war drums gets ever louder. On Saturday President Vladimir Putin secured his parliament’s authority to send the Russian army, not just into Crimea but also into Ukraine itself.

This threat was issued only days after “unidentified” armed men seized control of the Crimea peninsula. These were later unsurprisingly identified as troops from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, based in Crimea. The new pro-Russian president of Crimea equally unsurprisingly immediately called on Moscow to intervene. At the same time, pro-Moscow demonstrators hoisted flags above government buildings in two eastern cities.

Western leaders shook their heads and said that Russia must not intervene. Moscow held up its hands, indignantly protesting that it would not do so. But the facts seem to indicate otherwise. For the whole of last week Russian troops were staging what were described as “routine manoeuvres” on the borders of Ukraine.

Putin secured without difficulty the unanimous approval of the Russian senate for the use of armed force on the territory of his neighbour, citing the need to protect Russian citizens. He asked that Russian forces be used “until the normalisation of the political situation in the country”: a very reasonable sounding request, a velvet glove that barely conceals the iron fist within, for he gave exactly the same reason for invading Georgia in 2008.

This threat to what was supposed to be an independent country of 46 million people on the edges of central Europe creates the biggest direct confrontation between Russia and the West since the Cold War. There has been a flurry of diplomatic activity in different capitals aimed at “calming the situation”. The government in Kiev protested. The EU protested. Obama protested.

Britain summoned the Russian ambassador to voice its “concern”. Soon after the UK’s Foreign Minister William Hague flew to Kiev, presumably to express his sympathy to the provisional government there. EU ministers were due to hold emergency talks. Czech President Milos Zeman recalled the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

Washington has warned that Russia’s actions would have “consequences”. But nobody is saying what these would be. In reply Putin calmly asserted his right to deploy troops in Ukraine “to defend the interests of Russian people”. Western politicians have hundreds of arguments, but Putin has hundreds of thousands of troops, tanks and guns. And whereas the forces of NATO are rather far away, his own forces are conveniently massing right on the Ukrainian border, and some are already on the ground in Crimea as Russia has a permanent naval base there.

The tension between the two sides increases by the hour. In a televised address, Ukraine’s acting President Olexander Turchynov urged people to remain calm. (Everyone is urging exactly the same thing). He asked Ukrainians to bridge divisions in the country and said they must not fall for provocations. But in the same breath said he had put the army on full alert, which is hardly a very calming message.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who was standing next to Mr Turchynov, said he was “convinced” Russia would not intervene militarily “as this would be the beginning of war and the end of all relations.”

Fear and misery in Ukraine

The situation in Ukraine is dramatic. The euphoria of the first few days after the fall of Yanukovych has dissipated and is being replaced with an anxious and tense mood.

Continue reading Russia, Ukraine and the West: Will there be war?

Ukraine Leader Warns of Separatism

Ukraine crisis: Turchynov warns of ‘separatism’ risk

Ukraine’s interim President Olexander Turchynov has warned of the dangers of separatism following the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych. His comments came amid continuing opposition in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking regions to the new administration in Kiev.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26333587

Ukraine – Will Putin Send in the Tanks?

By

“In the words of the popular proverb, Moscow was the heart of Russia; St Petersburg, its head. But Kiev, its mother…”

By James H. Billington

Just hours after a truce had been established between protesters and the government, violence erupted again today in the central square of Kiev, Ukraine’s capital city.

A trio of officials from the European Union—the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland—now head to Kiev to try to breach the fundamental divide roiling the country: a struggle between east and west, its outcome highly uncertain, the possibility of a civil war undeniably looming.

This divide has been at Ukraine’s core for centuries. What’s unfolding now is nothing less than the violent struggle for a nation’s soul. To some current and former diplomats, what is surprising is not that Ukraine appears to be coming apart, but that it has taken this long into the post Soviet era for something like this to happen.

At its origins, more than ten centuries ago, what was known as “Kievan Russia” was, as James Billington wrote in his classic study of Russian culture, “closely linked with Western Europe—through trade and intermarriage with every important royal family of Western Christendom.”

But , he continued, “those promising early links with the West were, fatefully, never made secure.”

Focus on that one word. “Fatefully.”  “Increasingly,” Billington writes, “inexerorably, Kievan Russia was drawn eastward into a debilitating struggle for control of the Eurasian steppe.”

What we’re witnessing now, make no mistake, is the latest chapter of that struggle. And it is one in which Moscow has an important, inherent and obvious advantage: Ukraine matters more to President Vladimir Putin, and Russia, than it does to Barack Obama, or German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

 The dissolution of the Soviet Union is the central, disastrous geopolitical fact of Putin’s life (See Newsweek cover story February 13, Putin’s Games). And among the new states that were created when the empire imploded, Ukraine was first among equals. It was, as Walter Russell Mead, professor and author at Bard College wrote recently, “the largest and most important republic within the Soviet Union.”

If Putin dreams of reassembling a reasonable facsimile of the Soviet empire—and he does—then, as Russell wrote, “everything pales beside the battle for Ukraine.”

When it appeared last fall that the government in Kiev was going to more closely align itself politically and economically with Europe than ever before, Putin moved forcefully to block it. Flush with oil and gas revenue—the beginning and the end of Russian economic strength–he offered Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych a $15 billion bribe to spurn the European Union.

Read more » News Week
http://www.newsweek.com/will-putin-send-tanks-229631

Noam Chomsky: We’re no longer a functioning democracy, we’re really a plutocracy

By Travis Gettys

The world faces two potentially existential threats, according to the linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky.

“There are two major dark shadows that hover over everything, and they’re getting more and more serious,” Chomsky said. “The one is the continuing threat of nuclear war that has not ended. It’s very serious, and another is the crisis of ecological, environmental catastrophe, which is getting more and more serious.”

Chomsky appeared Friday on the last episode of NPR’s “Smiley and West” program to discuss his education, his views on current affairs and how he manages to spread his message without much help from the mainstream media.

He told the hosts that the world was racing toward an environmental disaster with potentially lethal consequence, which the world’s most developed nations were doing nothing to prevent – and in fact were speeding up the process.

“If there ever is future historians, they’re going to look back at this period of history with some astonishment,” Chomsky said. “The danger, the threat, is evident to anyone who has eyes open and pays attention at all to the scientific literature, and there are attempts to retard it, there are also at the other end attempts to accelerate the disaster, and if you look who’s involved it’s pretty shocking.”

Chomsky noted efforts to halt environmental damage by indigenous people in countries all over the world – from Canada’s First Nations to tribal people in Latin America and India to aboriginal people in Australia—but the nation’s richest, most advanced and most powerful countries, such as the United States, were doing nothing to forestall disaster.

“When people here talk enthusiastically about a hundred years of energy independence, what they’re saying is, ‘Let’s try to get every drop of fossil fuel out of the ground so as to accelerate the disaster that we’re racing towards,’” Chomsky said. “These are problems that overlie all of the domestic problems of oppression, of poverty, of attacks on the education system (and) massive inequality, huge unemployment.”

He blamed the “financialization” of the U.S. economy for income inequality and unemployment, saying that banks that were “too big to fail” skimmed enormous wealth from the market.

“In fact, there was a recent (International Monetary Fund) study that estimated that virtually all the profits of the big banks can be traced back to this government insurance policy, and in general they’re quite harmful, I think, quite harmful to the economy,” Chomsky said.

Those harmful effects can be easily observed by looking at unemployment numbers and stock market gains, he said.

“There are tens of millions of people unemployed, looking for work, wanting to work (and) there are huge resources available,” Chomsky said. “Corporate profits are going through the roof, there’s endless amounts of work to be done – just drive through a city and see all sorts of things that have to be done – infrastructure is collapsing, the schools have to be revived. We have a situation in which huge numbers of people want to work, there are plenty, huge resources available, an enormous amount to be done, and the system is so rotten they can’t put them together.”

The reason for this is simple, Chomsky said.

“There is plenty of profit being made by those who pretty much dominate and control the system,” he said. “We’ve moved from the days where there was some kind of functioning democracy. It’s by now really a plutocracy.”

Chomsky strongly disagreed with Smiley and West that he had been marginalized for his views, saying that he regretfully turned down dozens of invitations to speak on a daily basis because he was otherwise engaged.

He also disagreed that a platform in the mainstream media was necessary to influence the debate.

“If you take a look at the progressive changes that have taken place in the country, say, just in the last 50 years – the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, opposition to aggression, the women’s movement, the environmental movement and so on – they’re not led by any debate in the media,” Chomsky said. “No, they were led by popular organizations, by activists on the ground.”

He recalled the earliest days of the antiwar movement, in the early 1960s, when he spoke in living rooms and church basements to just a handful of other activists and they were harassed – even in liberal Boston – by the authorities and media.

But that movement eventually grew and helped hasten the end of the Vietnam War, and Chomsky said it’s grown and become so mainstream that antiwar activists can limit wars before they even begin.

He said President Ronald Reagan was unable to launch a full-scale war in Central America during the 1980s because of the antiwar movement, and he bitterly disputed the idea that antiwar activists had no impact on the Iraq War.

“I don’t agree; it had a big effect,” Chomsky said. “It sharply limited the means that were available to the government to try to carry out the invasion and subdue the population. In fact, it’s one reason why the U.S. ended up really defeated in Iraq, seriously had to give up all of its war aims. The major victor in Iraq turns out to be Iran.”

Despite these limitations, he said the Iraq War had been one of the new millennium’s worst atrocities and had provoked a violent schism between Sunni and Shiite Muslims that had sparked regional conflicts throughout the Middle East.

“The United States is now involved in a global terror campaign largely against the tribal people of the world, mostly Muslim tribes, and it’s all over. The intention is to go on and on,” Chomsky said. “These are all terrible consequences, but nevertheless they’re not as bad as they would be if there weren’t public opposition.”

Courtesy: The Raw Story
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/27/noam-chomsky-were-no-longer-a-functioning-democracy-were-really-a-plutocracy/

Brutality of Syrian Rebels Posing Dilemma in West – New York Times

By

The Syrian rebels posed casually, standing over their prisoners with firearms pointed down at the shirtless and terrified men. The prisoners, seven in all, were captured Syrian soldiers. Five were trussed, their backs marked with red welts. They kept their faces pressed to the dirt as the rebels’ commander recited a bitter revolutionary verse.

Read more » The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/05/world/middleeast/brutality-of-syrian-rebels-pose-dilemma-in-west.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

—– – –

Via – News adopted from Facebook

Nawaz promises to stand together with West in taking on terror

The next prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif has promised to stand together with the West in taking on the forces of terrorism, hours after voting finished in the country’s historic general election.

During a close-fought campaign Nawaz Sharif had promised to end drone strikes and review the country’s relationship with America. As he publicly claimed victory in the poll, the two-time prime minister sought to reassure Western governments and said he would not pull back on the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

“I have experience of working with US counterparts and will be very happy to further work with them,” he told The Sunday Telegraph.

“What is most important is that we must never allow our soil to be used by anyone to create problems with any country in this world.”

Continue reading Nawaz promises to stand together with West in taking on terror

Husain Haqqani: Manipulated Outrage and Misplaced Fury

Islamists stoke resentment of the West—and anger over the long decline of Muslim influence—to serve their own violent ends.

BY HUSAIN HAQQANI

The attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions this week—beginning in Egypt and Libya, and moving to Yemen and other Muslim countries—came under cover of riots against an obscure online video insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H). But the mob violence and assaults should be seen for what they really are: an effort by Islamists to garner support and mobilize their base by exacerbating anti-Western sentiments.

When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to calm Muslims Thursday by denouncing the video, she was unwittingly playing along with the ruse the radicals set up. The United States would have been better off focusing …

Read more » The Wall Street Journal

The Rise of Settler Terrorism

The West Bank’s Other Violent Extremists

By: Daniel Byman and Natan Sachs

Late this past June, a group of Israeli settlers in the West Bank defaced and burned a mosque in the small West Bank village of Jabaa. Graffiti sprayed by the vandals warned of a “war” over the planned evacuation, ordered by the Israeli Supreme Court, of a handful of houses illegally built on private Palestinian land near the Israeli settlement of Beit El. The torching of the mosque was the fourth such attack in 18 months and part of a wider trend of routine violence committed by radical settlers against innocent Palestinians, Israeli security personnel, and mainstream settler leaders — all aimed at intimidating perceived enemies of the settlement project.

This violence has not always plagued the settler community. Although many paint all Israeli settlers as extremists, conflating them with the often-justified criticism of Israeli government policy in the West Bank, the vast majority of them oppose attacks against Palestinian civilians or the Israeli state. In the past, Israeli authorities and the settler leadership often worked together to prevent such assaults and keep radicalism at bay. Yet in recent years, the settler movement has experienced a profound breakdown in discipline, with extremists now beyond the reach of either Israeli law enforcement or the discipline of settler leaders.

Nothing justifies violence by extremists of any variety. But to be stopped, it must be understood.

Continue reading The Rise of Settler Terrorism

What’s being said about Muslims in the West is what was once said about Catholics & Jews in 19th & early 20th century

Popular anti-Muslim myths busted in new book

By Haroon Siddiqui

It started “in the far reaches of the Internet and the mutterings of the political right, then in increasingly mainstream and mass-market venues” and has since entered “the central corridors of European and American politics.”

So writes Doug Saunders in The Myth of the Muslim Tide (Alfred Knopf Canada), to be released next week. He is the European bureau chief of the Globe and Mail, and author of the much-acclaimed Arrival City (about the sprawling slums of Mumbai, Rio, London, Paris, Chongqing, Los Angeles, etc. — the first stop in the mass migration of millions from rural to urban areas).

Saunders was living in the U.S. during the Sept. 11 attacks and in London during the July 7, 2005, subway bombing. He has reported extensively on the war on terror and on Islamophobia in Europe.

Continue reading What’s being said about Muslims in the West is what was once said about Catholics & Jews in 19th & early 20th century

Jonathan Kay: Time to call Pakistan what it is – a state supporter of terrorism

By: Jonathan Kay

Here in the West, the killing of Osama Bin Laden was considered a triumph. In Pakistan, where the al-Qaeda leader lived out his final years, attitudes are very different: On Wednesday, a Pakistani court brought down a guilty verdict against the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA locate bin Laden in May, 2011. Having been convicted of treason, Shakil Afridi now faces a 33-year prison sentence.

Each story like this brings fresh evidence that Pakistan, a nominal Western ally in the war on terrorism, actually is doing more to enable the jihadis than fight them. We don’t yet have definitive evidence to suggest that the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment was actively housing and protecting bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad. But that certainly would have been in keeping with long-standing Pakistani policies.

And those policies won’t change any time soon: With the Americans, Canadians and others having announced their exit date in Afghanistan, Pakistan has less incentive to co-operate in the war on terrorism than at any time since 9/11. In coming years, the better way to deal with Pakistan will be to acknowledge the reality that the country is nothing less than a full-blown state sponsor of terrorism.

Continue reading Jonathan Kay: Time to call Pakistan what it is – a state supporter of terrorism

“Bin Laden told his children to live in peace in the West” – They only ask others children to go to Heaven. Shame

Bin Laden told his children to live in peace in the West

He did not want them to follow jihad — report

By AFP

London: Slain Al Qaida chief Osama Bin Laden urged his younger children to go live peacefully in the West and get a university education, his brother-in-law said in an interview published on Sunday.

Zakaria Al Sadah, the brother of Bin Laden’s Yemeni fifth wife Amal, told Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper that the militant believed his children “should not follow him down the road to jihad”.

“He told his own children and grandchildren, ‘Go to Europe and America and get a good education,'” Al Sadah told the Sunday Times.

Al Sadah said Bin Laden told them: “You have to study, live in peace and don’t do what I am doing or what I have done.”

Bin Laden was killed in a commando raid in May 2011 by US Navy SEALs at a house in Abbottabad, northwest Pakistan.

Al Sadah said that in November he had seen his sister for the first time since she was shot in the knee during the raid and had since been allowed to have a number of meetings with her in the presence of guards.

He said the three wives and nine children who were in the compound — some are Bin Laden’s children and others are his grandchildren — have been held for months in a three-room flat in Islamabad. They are guarded by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency, he said.

The Sunday Times published what it said was the first photograph to show some of the young children from the compound: two sons and a daughter, and two grandsons and a granddaughter. The children were still traumatised after seeing the raid in which Bin Laden died, Al Sadah said.

“These children have seen their father killed and they need a caring environment, not a prison — whatever you think of their father and what he has done,” he said.

Courtesy: Gulf News

http://gulfnews.com/news/world/uk/bin-laden-told-his-children-to-live-in-peace-in-the-west-1.979749

Via – Twitter

Israel: High Court Rulings Undermine Human Rights

Recent Decisions Uphold Discrimination, Exploitation of Occupied Territory

(Jerusalem) – Recent decisions by Israel’s high court aim to legitimize clear violations of Israel’s international legal obligations, Human Rights Watch said today. In one decision, the court disregarded international law prohibiting discrimination, and in another, it ignored international law on the use of resources in an occupied territory. Israel should annul a law preventing Israeli citizens from living with their Palestinian spouses and end policies that permit private Israeli companies to strip rocks and other construction materials from quarries in the occupied West Bank for their own economic gain.

“With these rulings, Israel’s highest court has veered seriously off course in serving as a final bastion for upholding human rights,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “For the system of legal checks against rights abuses to break down like this is one more indication of the unraveling of protections for rights and freedom in Israel.” ….

Read more » Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Solve the Pakistan problem by redrawing the map – By M. CHRIS MASON – Globe and Mail

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have reached an all-time low. The Khyber Pass is closed to NATO cargo, U.S. personnel were evicted from Shamsi airbase and Pakistani observers have been recalled from joint co-operation centres.

Much more importantly, senior officials in Washington now know that Pakistan has been playing them false since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and understand that Pakistan was sheltering Osama bin Laden a few hundred yards from its version of West Point. The recent shelling of Afghan troops inside Afghanistan by the Pakistani army, and the NATO counterstrike, cleared in error by Pakistan, has further embarrassed the Pakistani military.

Continue reading Solve the Pakistan problem by redrawing the map – By M. CHRIS MASON – Globe and Mail

Defeat in the West

by Waseem Altaf

Pakistan lost half its navy, a quarter of its air force and a third of its army. Pakistan suffered most, with 8,000 killed and 25,000 wounded while India lost 3,000 lives and 12,000 wounded.14000 square kilometers of land was captured by the Indian army on the Western front

In most of our narratives, the Eastern Theatre during the 1971 Indo-Pak war remains the focus of our attention. This is primarily due to the magnitude and complexity of war in the East and the far-reaching consequences it had on the geo-political developments in the region. However, little has been written and known on our side as to the conduct of war on the Western front.

Apart from political factors, the Pak Army generally puts the blame of its defeat in East Pakistan to large scale Indian involvement and the role Mukti Bahini played as a guerilla force supporting the invading Indian army. However, it would be enlightening as to how it performed in the Western Theatre of operations where Pakistan army existed as an integrated military force with no threat of any sabotage or clandestine acts of hostility by an invisible enemy. ….

Read more » ViewPoint

Criticized at home, Pakistan army defends its lack of air response during deadly NATO attack

By Associated Press

ISLAMABAD — Confusion and a communication breakdown prevented Pakistan’s airforce from scrambling to defend troops on the ground during the deadly NATO bombing last weekend of two border outposts, the military said Friday, responding to rare domestic criticism of the powerful institution.

The attack killed 24 Pakistani troops and pushed already strained ties between Washington and Islamabad over the future of Afghanistan close to rupture. Islamabad has closed its eastern border to NATO supplies traveling into landlocked Afghanistan and said it is reviewing its cooperation with Washington.

Thousands of Islamist extremists took to the streets across the country after Friday prayers, some shouting they would join the army in a battle with the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan. The chants were a worrying sign for the West, reflecting how the anger over the incident is uniting hard-liners and the military.

Others rallied against the country’s already weak government for its alliance with Washington.

The Pakistani military, which eats up most of the country’s budget and is accountable to no one, has said Saturday’s border attack was an “act of deliberate aggression” that went on for close two hours. It has also said that Pakistani commanders contacted and pleaded with coalition commanders to stop firing.

NATO and U.S. officials have disputed that account, which has triggered uncomfortable questions in this South Asian country over why Pakistan’s own fighter jets and helicopters stationed close to the border did not take off to defend the ground troops during the attack.

The military has said troops did fire back at the NATO choppers when they attacked.

A Pakistani military statement on Friday said the response could have been more “effective” if the airforce had been called in, but this was not possible because of a “breakdown of communication” and confusion at “various levels” within the organization. …

Read more » The Washington Post

Source – http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/criticized-at-home-pakistan-army-defends-its-lack-of-air-response-during-deadly-nato-attack/2011/12/02/gIQAkQaYJO_story.html

via » Siasat.pk

A former pupil of a Jamaat – Personal accounts of 1971

Personal accounts of 1971

By Ajmal Kamal

This month brings memories of what happened between December 1970 and December 1971 with us as a nation — or rather with the diverse groups aligned variously along all kinds of fissures trying to imagine themselves as a nation. Much has been written on those events in Pakistan, Bangladesh and elsewhere: from political analyses to cover-ups to attempts at apportioning the blame for one of the gravest man-made tragedies of the century. There are personal accounts too, but in most cases written by West Pakistani bureaucrats or military personnel who are usually more interested in painting themselves in a kind light than honestly recording what they observed. Or, they carry a heavy ideological baggage and are in a hurry to make their description look politically neat as per their bent.

Continue reading A former pupil of a Jamaat – Personal accounts of 1971

How China kept lid on Ramadan

In the aftermath of violent protests by Uighurs, a Muslim minority in China’s far northwest, authorities deepened their campaign against religious practices.

By Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Beijing — At a teachers college in far northwestern China, students were irritated to find that their professors were escorting them to lunch last month — an odd occurrence since they were more than capable of finding the cafeteria themselves.

There was an ulterior motive, students told travelers who recently visited the city of Kashgar: The college wanted to make sure that the students, most of them Muslims, were eating rather than fasting in daylight hours during the holy month of Ramadan.

Courtesy: → Los Angeles Times

GHQ generals are trying to do in Baluchistan what it failed to do in East Pakistan (Bangladesh)

Saggaan ra kushaada-and, ‘o’ sing ra basta – by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Half-hearted denials and condemnations are not going to appease the tormented and agonised families who lose their dear ones nor hoodwink the people who struggle for their rights

Dissembling, deceiving and denying are the coveted tools of statecraft for those who essentially fear people and their rights. These tools have been the cornerstone of the state policy in Balochistan with which the state tries to convince the world that it is the Baloch people who are to blame.

Talking to the press recently, Lieutenant-General Javed Zia denied that the missing Baloch were kidnapped and killed by the army, the FC or the ISI. He said some people, who for monetary gains burnt the Pakistani flag or carried out subversive activities, were hit by ‘patriotic elements’. Well, well if the gentleman knows that these Baloch were hit by ‘patriotic elements’ then he surely must know who these ‘patriotic elements’ are. If they deny knowledge of these ‘patriotic elements’, how on earth do they know that these atrocities-committing elements are ‘patriotic’? Not a single soul among the obsequiously compliant media bothered to ask this touchy question.

One wonders how is it that those who consider “killings of missing persons as abhorrent acts” and rule the roost for all practical purposes in Balochistan fail to see the weapons and activities of these ‘patriotic elements’? Certainly these ‘patriotic elements’ are not characters from Harry Potter movies wearing invisibility cloaks; how come they always successfully carry out the abductions and killings in spite of numerous checkposts that dot Balochistan?

This indeed is an extraordinary situation because ordinary Baloch suffer ordeals of numerous restrictive checkposts but somehow the ‘patriotic elements’ evade detection. It so happens that the ‘flag burners’ and ‘subversives’ neither adorn fortified palaces and mansions nor ride the bulletproof Mercedes and BMWs like the ‘patriotic’ politicians and Generals. ….

Read more → Daily Times

Discussion – Was Pakistan created on a fake ideology by Dr Farooq Haider Maudoodi

Hasn’t the “Two Nation” theory proved wrong on 16 December 1971, the day Pakistan split. Hasn’t it proved that Muslims of West Pakistan could not even live with the Muslims of East Pakistan. Wasn’t the “Two Nation” theory just an excuse created by Muslim feudal class to come into power. The language of the talk show is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: → Express News Tv (Pakistani talk show “Frontline with Kamran Shahid”) → YouTube

Anniversary: What if Pakistan did not have the bomb?

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan has spent the last few years confined by the Pakistan Army to one of his palatial Islamabad residences where he whiles away his days writing weekly columns in newspapers. This venerable metallurgist, who claims paternity rights over Pakistan’s bomb, says it alone saves Pakistan. In a recent article, he wistfully wrote: “If we had had nuclear capability before 1971, we would not have lost half of our country – present-day Bangladesh – after disgraceful defeat.”

Given that 30,000 nuclear weapons failed to save the Soviet Union from decay, defeat and collapse, could the Bomb really have saved Pakistan in 1971? Can it do so now?

Let’s revisit 1971. Those of us who grew up in those times know in our hearts that East and West Pakistan were one country but never one nation. Young people today cannot imagine the rampant anti-Bengali racism among West Pakistanis then. With great shame, I must admit that as a thoughtless young boy I too felt embarrassed about small and dark people being among our compatriots. Victims of a delusion, we thought that good Muslims and Pakistanis were tall, fair, and spoke chaste Urdu. Some schoolmates would laugh at the strange sounding Bengali news broadcasts from Radio Pakistan.
The Bengali people suffered under West Pakistani rule. They believed their historical destiny was to be a Bengali-speaking nation, not the Urdu-speaking East Pakistan which Jinnah wanted. The East was rightfully bitter on other grounds too. It had 54% of Pakistan’s population and was the biggest earner of foreign exchange. But West Pakistani generals, bureaucrats, and politicians such as Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, feared a democratic system would transfer power and national resources to the East.

Denied democracy and justice, the people of East Pakistan helplessly watched the cash flow from East to fund government, industry, schools and dams in the West. When the Bhola cyclone killed half a million people in 1970, President Yahya Khan and his fellow generals in Rawalpindi’s GHQ could not have cared less.

The decisive break came with the elections. The Awami League won a majority in Pakistan’s parliament. Bhutto and the generals would not accept the peoples’ verdict. The Bengalis finally rose up for independence. When the West Pakistan army was sent in, massacre followed massacre. Political activists, intellectuals, trade unionists, and students were slaughtered. Blood ran in street gutters, and millions fled across the border. After India intervened to support the East, the army surrendered. Bangladesh was born.

That Pakistan did not have the bomb in 1971 must surely be among the greatest of blessings. It is hard for me to see what Dr AQ Khan has in mind when he suggests that it could have saved Pakistan.

Would the good doctor have dropped the bomb on the raging pro-independence mobs in Dhaka? Or used it to incinerate Calcutta and Delhi, and have the favour duly returned to Lahore and Karachi? Or should we have threatened India with nuclear attack to keep it out of the war so that we could endlessly kill East Pakistanis? Even without the bomb, estimated civilian deaths numbered in the hundreds of thousands if not a million. How many more East Pakistanis would he have liked to see killed for keeping Pakistan together?
Some might argue that regardless of the death and destruction, using the bomb to keep Pakistan together would have been a good thing for the people of East Pakistan in the long term. A look at developmental statistics can help decide.
Bangladesh is ranked 96th out of 110 countries in a 2010 prosperity index compiled by an independent London-based think-tank, the Legatum Institute, using governance, education, health, security, personal freedom, and social capital as criteria. Pakistan is at the 109th position, just one notch above Zimbabwe. By this measure the people of the East have benefited from independence. ….

Read more : The Express Tribune

Bahrain protests will go nowhere while the US supports its government

by Ian Black, Middle East editor

The Al-Khalifa family, who control Bahrain, has cracked down on dissent with little condemnation from the west

History and geography explain why Bahrain’s peaceful uprising was the early exception to the “Arab spring”, which began with high hopes in Tunisia and Egypt but now faces bloody uncertainties in Libya and Syria.

Sitting astride the faultline between the Shia and Sunni worlds, the small Gulf island state lies at the heart of a strategically sensitive region that is dominated by bitter rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia – both very tough neighbours. …

Read more: guardian.co.uk

Pakistan looks towards China for building naval base in Gwadar

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Saturday it wanted China to build it a naval base, in the latest sign of moves to strengthen ties with Beijing as relations with Washington falter.

The announcement from Pakistan’s defence minister came a day after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani returned from a four-day visit to China, Islamabad’s biggest arms supplier.

“We would be … grateful to the Chinese government if a naval base is … constructed at the site of Gwadar for Pakistan,” Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar said in a statement, referring to the deep-water port in Pakistan’s southwest.

The statement did not say whether Pakistan had asked China to build the base at the port in Balochistan province.

Islamabad is trying to deepen ties with Beijing as relations with the United States have strained following the killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan earlier this month.

Many in Washington have called for a review of billions of dollars of US aid to Pakistan after discovering bin Laden had been hiding for years in a Pakistani garrison town.

China invested $200 million in the first phase of the construction of the port, which was inaugurated in 2007.

The development, 70 km east of the Iranian border and on the doorstep of Gulf shipping lanes, was designed to handle transhipment traffic for the Gulf. ….

Read more: The Express Tribune

Israeli hardliners have started a massive campaign to undermine Obama’s stand that peace can only come with a truly independent Palestinian state

Obama Sees ’67 Borders as Starting Point for Peace Deal

By MARK LANDLER and STEVEN LEE MYERS

WASHINGTON — President Obama, seeking to capture a moment of epochal change in the Arab world, began a new effort on Thursday to break the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, setting out a new starting point for negotiations on the region’s most intractable problem.

A day before the arrival in Washington of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Mr. Obama declared that the prevailing borders before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war — adjusted to some degree to account for Israeli settlements in the West Bank — should be the basis of a deal. While the 1967 borders have long been viewed as the foundation for a peace agreement, Mr. Obama’s formula of land swaps to compensate for disputed territory created a new benchmark for a diplomatic solution.

Mr. Obama’s statement represented a subtle, but significant shift, in American policy. And it thrust him back into the region’s most nettlesome dispute at a time when conditions would seem to make reaching a deal especially difficult.

The Israeli government immediately protested, saying that for Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders would leave it “indefensible.” Mr. Netanyahu held an angry phone conversation with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday before the speech, officials said, in which he demanded that the president’s reference to 1967 borders be cut.

Israeli officials continued to lobby the administration until right before Mr. Obama arrived at the State Department for the address. White House officials said he did not alter anything under Israeli pressure ….

Read more : The New York Times

The Long Overdue Palestinian State

By MAHMOUD ABBAS

Ramallah, West Bank:SIXTY-THREE years ago, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was forced to leave his home in the Galilean city of Safed and flee with his family to Syria. He took up shelter in a canvas tent provided to all the arriving refugees. Though he and his family wished for decades to return to their home and homeland, they were denied that most basic of human rights. That child’s story, like that of so many other Palestinians, is mine.

This month, however, as we commemorate another year of our expulsion — which we call the nakba, or catastrophe — the Palestinian people have cause for hope: this September, at the United Nations General Assembly, we will request international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and that our state be admitted as a full member of the United Nations.

Many are questioning what value there is to such recognition while the Israeli occupation continues. Others have accused us of imperiling the peace process. We believe, however, that there is tremendous value for all Palestinians — those living in the homeland, in exile and under occupation. …

Read more : The New York Times

Canada’s National Post columnist, Lawrence Solomon advocates the breakup of Pakistan

Lawrence Solomon: Pakistan would work better in pieces

by: Lawrence Solomon

Pakistan would be a more stable and peaceful place if its four component nations were unstitched from one another

Since Osama bin Laden was found living unmolested in a Pakistani military town, debate has raged over how to deal with this duplicitous, faction-ridden country. Should the United States and others in the West continue to provide Pakistan with billions in foreign aid, in the hopes of currying at least some influence among elements of the Pakistani leadership? Or should we get tough, and declare it to be the state sponsor of terrorism that it is, knowing this course of action could cripple our efforts to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan and drive Pakistan further into the Chinese sphere of influence?

Neither course would be satisfactory and neither should be adopted. Instead, the West should recognize that the muddle it faces stems from Pakistan’s internal contradictions. This is not one cohesive country but four entirely distinct nations, having little in common save their animosity toward one another, a predominantly Muslim faith and Britain’s decision to confine them within the same borders in partitioning the Indian subcontinent more than a half century ago. The West’s only sensible course of action today is to unstitch the British patchwork, let the major nations within Pakistan choose their future, and negotiate coherently with new national administrations that don’t have impossibly conflicted mandates.

Continue reading Canada’s National Post columnist, Lawrence Solomon advocates the breakup of Pakistan

Mujib’s 6 points

1. The constitution should provide for a Federation of Pakistan in its true sense on the 1940 Lahore Resolution and the parliamentary form of government with supremacy of a legislature directly elected on the basis of universal adult franchise.

2. The federal government should deal with only two subjects: defence and foreign affairs, and all other residuary subjects shall be vested in the federating states.

3. Two separate, but freely convertible currencies for two wings should be introduced; or if this is not feasible, there should be one currency for the whole country, but effective constitutional provisions should be introduced to stop the flight of capital from East to West Pakistan. Furthermore, a separate banking reserve should be established and separate fiscal and monetary policy be adopted for East Pakistan.

4. The power of taxation and revenue collection shall be vested in the federating units and the federal centre will have no such power. The federation will be entitled to a share in the state taxes to meet its expenditures.

5. There should be two separate accounts for the foreign exchange earnings of the two wings; the foreign exchange requirements of the federal government should be met by the two wings equally or in a ratio to be fixed; indigenous products should move free of duty between the two wings, and the constitution should empower the units to establish trade links with foreign countries.

6. East Pakistan should have a separate militia or paramilitary forces.

Source – Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, April 21, 2011.