Archive for March, 2019

Talibans’ Mullah Omar …

Posted on March 12, 2019. Filed under: Pakistan |

They say the Younger Bush n his VP, Dick Cheney,had put Osama Bin Laden on the Back Burner n it was OBama who pulled all the Stops to put the Hunt forefront — n rest is History. Here is the Story of the next guy who died a natural death.

Dutch journalist Ms Dam spent five years researching and interviewing Taliban members for her book. She managed to speak to Jabbar Omari, the man who effectively became Omar’s bodyguard when he went into hiding after the ousting of the Taliban regime in 2001.

Culled from The BBC – Bette Dam’s ‘The Secret Life of Mullah Omar’ says the leader never hid in Pakistan – as believed by the US. Instead, he lived in hiding just three miles from a major US Forward Operating Base in his home province of Zabul.

Mullah Omar signed control of the Taliban over to his defence minister, Mullah Obaidullah, in December 2001He lived in isolation and wrote notebook entries in an invented language ………… He died on 23 April 2013 and was buried without a coffin in a featureless grave.

Mr Omari hid the Taliban leader until his death from illness in 2013 Soon after the fall of the Taliban, Omar – on whose head the US placed a $10m bounty after the 11 September terror attacks – hid in secret rooms in a house close to a Forward Operating Base Wolverine, home to 1,000 US troops and where US Navy Seals and British SAS forces were sometimes based.

US forces even searched the on one occasion, but failed to find his hiding place. Omar would sometimes hide in irrigation tunnels to avoid detection

He lhad earlier moved to a second building just three miles from another US base – home to about 1,000 troops. Ms Dam was told that Omar got his news from the BBC’s Pashto language service.

Despite claims by the militants, Omar could not run the Taliban group from his hiding places. But he is said to have approved a Taliban office in the Gulf state of Qatar, where US officials are talking with Taliban leaders in a bid to end the long war in Afghanistan.

The Taliban leader remained a key figurehead despite not having day-to-day involvement.

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The Venerable N Ram of The HINDU …

Posted on March 10, 2019. Filed under: Personalities, Uncategorized |

In an interview with The Wire’s Arfa Khanum Sherwani, N. Ram, chairman of The Hindu publishing group, talks about the role that secret documents play in investigating potential wrong-doing and the government pressures that accompany such journalism. 

Edited excerpts:

The attorney general says that the documents you published in The Hindu were stolen from the defence ministry, which is a punishable offence under the Official Secrets Act, and that the government wants a thorough enquiry and investigation. 

We have not stolen the documents from anyone. We have not paid for these documents and we are fully protected by Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian constitution – the fundamental right to freedom of expression.

We are also protected by section 8(a)(1) and 8(2) of the Right to Information Act which has overtaken the Official Secrets Act of 1923 – that’s what I have been legally advised.

This is not the first time that documents that have been leaked – Mr Prashant Bhushan himself has done that in cases like the coal block allocation case and so on. The courts have looked into it and accepted them. So they are not stolen.

But I also note from the statement by the Editors Guild of India that they are condemning his (attorney general’s) comments before the Supreme Court and the threat to go after the media and The Hindu in particular. He later clarified that they are not contemplating any investigation or prosecution against journalists and lawyers who publish this information. So if that is true and confirmed, then it’s good. We are not concerned about it because we are fully protected and we have done the right thing.

This was published in public interest. This matter was suppressed and this information was suppressed.

You can say this information wants to be free (*chuckles*) because they were on the price of fully fledged combat aircrafts, on parallel negotiations, on dissent within the Indian negotiating team, on doing away with anti-corruption clauses, the presence of commission agents, the deal or influence, or denying access to the books of the companies.

Remember that these are not demands made on the French government so much. They are made on commercial supplier like Dassault Aviation and MBDA France – the weapon-fighter supplier. So why on earth would you do away with standard anti-corruption clauses on which penalties are laid down in case of violations?

And finally, the issue of bank guarantees which was discussed in the fifth article.

But they are saying that this goes against national interest. They have gone to the extent of saying that this has actually, in a way, compromised national security. Do you think by raising this issue to this level and making headlines – even if they do not go further with it – they have done their job? Which is primarily making people aware that they are capable of doing that… that they can intimidate and threaten journalists.

Yes, that is a good point, and I think it is that point which the statement by the Editors Guild of India makes. Despite noting this clarification, they say that they condemn the comments made by the attorney general before the Supreme Court. And also made the same point about sending a message out so that there is a chilling effect on independent and especially investigative journalism. So I agree with you on that.

But on the other hand, we must contest this. People should not be afraid because there is an overarching climate of fear in the present ecosystem of media in this government, more than there was at any time in recent memory.

We have to go back to the Emergency days to see this kind and scaled oppression. I am not comparing that with this but in recent times, no attempt has been made this way to create a climate of fear.

I would also like to add that the major media organisations have brought it upon themselves – to play a propaganda role.

This reminds me of some famous lines about British journalists by Humbert Wolfe. It runs like this:

You cannot hope

to bribe or twist,

thank God! the

British journalist.

But, seeing what

the man will do

unbribed, there’s

no occasion to.

I think these lines apply very much to many sections of our mainstream media –  major media organisations, particularly television channels; many of them – not all of them but many of them which are involved full scale in propaganda role for the government on major issues.

Very briefly, my last question is about the politics around Rafale. After Pulwama and these airstrikes in Pakistan, it seemed that maybe the government was hoping that Rafale would not longer be an issue. But now their nervousness shows that the government still thinks that it is an important political issue which may decide or may impact their fate in May.

Yes, I think that after the Pulwama terror strike and the Balakot action – whatever it was – by India, by the Indian Air Force, I think the BJP thought it could take control of the narrative to some extent, which may have worked particularly in the Hindi speaking region because you have all these hyper-nationalists, jingoists, rhetorics, ‘teach them a lesson…we know what to do’ and so on. Not just macho, but jingoistic. So they think that this will affect the mood, and to some extent, it may have.

My understanding is that corruption is never the top issue in an election. Whether it was Bofors or the 2G spectrum issue, which finally turned out to be a damp squib in court. It was never the top issue. The top issues are shown in a number of public opinion polls, including the last India Today poll which was quite a serious poll. Usually, issues come around unemployment, underemployment, agrarian distress in a period of high inflation, the price rise, and so on.

Also read: Rafale Deal: The Mystery of the 3-Billion-Euro Price Hike

Corruption figures in the top three or four, I would say. If there’s a focus on major corruption issue – a scandal – it serves as a catalyst. It gives a lot of emotional power to the opposition to take it up, and that I see seems to fit the case. And I would say that Congress president Rahul Gandhi has made full use of this. His aggressive stance is being absolutely uninhibited in campaigning on these issues, bringing it out repeatedly.

I think that would surely have an impact because the Congress still matters in this country. And it’s perhaps in some phase of revival. So I think they are determined to make this an issue and independent media should also be on the job.

I appreciate the role of, particularly the digital-only and independent media organisations – The Wire, The Caravan, Scroll, and so on. I think they are doing a good job. In this case, The Hindu has taken a lead – [as] in the Bofors.

But I see this not as the work of one particular media organisation. On the one hand, there is competition, but there is also some sort of collective effort. You build on what other people have.

I think you also have to credit other organisations for information. For example, I used notes from The Wire – the sanitised notes which were shared with the parties before the Supreme Court in the petition filed by Prashant Bhushan the others. I think The Wire had the full text. Even if it was sanitised, it had some interesting information. The Caravan likewise had materials on the benchmark price.

I have also seen M.K. Venu’s articlesSiddharth Varadarjan’s editorials, and so on. I think we need to compete on one hand, but on the other hand, it’s a collaborative exercise.

I think that’s how journalism proceeds. You saw that with The New York Times and The Washington Post – at the peak of their investigative efforts, where they were talking about the Pentagon papers.

Later Watergate, WikiLeaks in which The Hindu had a role along with others. That’s the point I want to make here on those sections of the media that are still independent in the very difficult and corrupt media ecosystem. This role can be played and has to be played in the near future, including in the upcoming elections.

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Scent of Mirza Ghalib …

Posted on March 9, 2019. Filed under: Personalities |

1.  ‘Ghalib, beware the hard, cold hearts of prosperous and satisfied people ………………………………………………………………………………. The hearts and lives which possess anguish and impatience (they are worthy of respect) ….. How much kindness and favours do these hearts and lives possess’

2. ‘If I envy someone at all, that is the person
Who travels alone, hungry and thirsty
In the rocky valleys of mountains
…………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………… Not on the satiated hearts of the haram (sacred territory of Mecca)
Who satisfy themselves with their Aab-e-Zamzam’ (water from Hagar’s well in Mecca) 

3.  ‘When I imagine Paradise and think that if forgiveness is in order and I am rewarded with a palace, as well as a houri, eternal abode and to spend my life with this same lucky woman, my heart is agitated at the thought; and the heart comes to the mouth………………………………………………………………………………………………. He-he that houri will grow weary, why wouldn’t the disposition worry, the same emerald palace, and the same branch of Tooba…’ (a tree of paradise)

4. ‘Seek that joy from the Heavens which was available to Jamshid
Do not desire his splendour (since it is of no worth)
If your cup has grape wine, that is the real thing
Which is admirable ………………………………… ………………………………………. but not that wine cup
Even it be made of ruby.’ 

5. ‘Listen sahib, whatever taste a person has for whichever hobby and he spends his life frankly in it, that is (to be) called pleasure.’

6. ‘If not in the whole world so be it, at least in the city where I live, no one starving or naked should be visible indeed. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Punished by God, rejected by mankind, weak, sick, a fakir, imprisoned by adversity, irrespective of myself and my matters of speech and skill, …………………………………………………………………………… one who cannot see anyone begging, while begging myself from door to door, that person is myself.’ 

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Art – Tricks the Eyes …

Posted on March 9, 2019. Filed under: Light plus Weighty |

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Nanga Parbat …

Posted on March 5, 2019. Filed under: Sports |

Nanga Parbat was first climbed by the German, Herman Buhl in 1953 just after Everest was Summited by Hillary and Tenzing.

It was by far the greater achievement. By then it had claimed over 50 German lives. It has always been assessed as the most difficult mountain to summit amongst all the Eighth Thousanders.

Now it has claimed two more lives ….

hermann Buhl

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India – Pak Air Clash of Feb 27 …

Posted on March 5, 2019. Filed under: From a Services Career, Personalities |

Despite the Air Chief’s understandable Reluctance to Discuss Things, here is an Old Air Chiefs Version of the Recent Air Clash

The NYT Heading reads – After India Loses Dogfight to Pakistan, Questions Arise About Its ‘Vintage’ Military. — That is NOT Quite RIGHT as it Happened This Way ……….

First India didn’t lose the aerial engagement. … I don’t refer to the engagement as a Dog Fight because a DF is a visual manoeuvring engagement in which both combatants are trying to achieve a position of advantage vis-a-via the other in which a missiles or a cannon could be fired to achieve a kill.

The engagement referred to was a beyond-visual-range engagement in which the PAF F-16 fired his AIM 120 first as the IAF MiG 21 came in to its “kill range”.

The intrepid Wg Cdr Abhinandan must have known that he was “illuminated” by the F16 radar, yet he did not do a “last ditch” to attempt escape; knowing that in any case that would have been futile.

He must also have known when the 120 was fired and realised he was a “goner”. A lesser air warrior may have sought to save his life by ejecting before the hostile missile impacted his aircraft.

BUT, he continued, pursuing the F16 (it seems the F16 did not turn tail immediately after firing his missile just to confirm his kill on his own radar) waiting to come within the much shorter kill-firing range of his own missile – flying into the jaws of death. He successfully fired his missile to achieve the first-ever F 16 kill by a MiG 21.

By providence he survived!

The PAF first reported downing two aircraft and three pilots, for two downed aircraft. Three parachuting pilots were reported by non-PAF Pakistanis. Soon enough they realised their faux pas and amended the figures to downing of one aircraft and two pilots.

Actually there were two aircraft and three pilots: 1 MiG 21, one F 16; 1 Indian pilot and two Pakistani pilots. Unfortunately, the “frenzied” locals attacked all three. The IAF pilot and one PAF pilot fortunately survived the mob attack.

The second PAF pilot, alas, perished due to his injuries. The F16 was a twin-seater.

Not much analyses has been done on the import of the fact that a 24 aircraft strong PAF force was heading towards us.

The Indian military spokesman (a major general) at the press briefing said that it was to attack a brigade HQ and its units — to me it appeared a laughable proposition.

Two or at most four aircraft would be the normal strength. My gut feeling is that their planned targets were our air bases at Srinagar and Avantipur in the Valley. When the PAF realised that they had been up-ended, they aborted.

The entire above narrative is my analyses on the basis of media reports. There are absolutely NO INPUTS to me from IAF sources.

There is no doubt that IAF needs to replenish its deficiencies and modernise some of its ageing fleets and I reiterated this on over a dozen TV channels Live and news agencies, including recordings to BBC World (Hindi) BBC Asia(?) (English).

I am not aware if these two were aired.

Despite the “vintage” appellation given to My Fair Lady, (this was my coinage in an article “My Fair Lady – An Ode to the MiG 21″

I wrote for the Asian Age ‘The MiG 21″, circa 2003, published later in many main Russian newspapers). It has the PAF & the US highly embarrassed???!!!

This 21, called the Bison by IAF, is upgraded with an excellent AI radar and modern agile A-A missiles.

It might interest you to know that a day before the IAF attack on the JeM training camp, a Hindi channel had organised a day-long शीखर सम्मेलन at Hotel Lalit, Delhi to discuss the avenues available to India to respond the JeM attack on the CRPF convoy.

My co-panellist for the one hour session was Gen Bikram Singh (Army Chief ‘12-‘14). The Q was whether a surgical strike as was carried out by the army earlier was doable.

My take was that retributary action of sufficient attrition was essential to appease an incenced India; this was possible only through air action deep in to Pak where JeM was lodged and/or training in sufficient strength.

Then I delved on the characteristics of air power that afforded more than necessary weight to an attack with range, surprise and optics that would be most telling.

LESS than 15 hours later, the IAF STRUCK!

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The Chinese – A Positive …

Posted on March 4, 2019. Filed under: Chinese Wisdom |

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The Old n the Young …

Posted on March 4, 2019. Filed under: Light plus Weighty |

An old physician, Doctor Gordon Geezer, became very bored in retirement and decided to re-open a medical clinic. He put a sign up outside that said: “Dr. Geezer’s clinic. Get your treatment for $500 – if not cured, get back $1,000.

Doctor Digger Young, who was positive that this old geezer didn’t know beans about medicine, thought this would be a great opportunity to get $1,000. So he went to Dr. Geezer’s clinic.
Dr. Young: “Dr. Geezer, I have lost all taste in my mouth. Can you please help me?”
Dr. Geezer: “Nurse, please bring medicine from box 22 and put 3 drops in Dr. Young’s mouth.”
Dr. Young: ‘Aaagh! — This is Gasoline!”
Dr. Geezer: “Congratulations! You’ve got your taste back. That will be $500.”

Dr.Young gets annoyed and goes back after a couple of days figuring to recover his money.
Dr.Young: “I have lost my memory, I cannot remember anything.”
Dr. Geezer: “Nurse, please bring medicine from box 22 and put 3 drops in the patient’s mouth.”
Dr. Young: “Oh, no you don’t — that’s Gasoline!
Dr. Geezer: “Congratulations! You’ve got your memory back. That will be $500.”

Dr.Young (after having lost $1000) leaves angrily and comes back after several more days.
Dr.Young: “My eyesight has become weak — I can hardly see anything!”
Dr. Geezer: “Well, I don’t have any medicine for that so here’s your $1000 back” (giving him a $10 bill).
Dr. Young: “But this is only $10!”
Dr.Geezer: “Congratulations! You got your vision back! That will be $500.

Moral -Just because you’re “Young” doesn’t mean that you can outsmart an old Geezer. Remember: Don’t make old people mad. We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to tick us off.

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Leadership …

Posted on March 4, 2019. Filed under: Books |

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India 2019 by a Pakistani …

Posted on March 2, 2019. Filed under: Indian Thought |

Javed Naqvi – Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi. ‘It is in the nature of fascism to find a scapegoat for the gross imperfections of capitalism’.

A BJP supporter in my neighbourhood buttonholed me on the eve of the 2014 elections and asked which candidate would Pakistan want to win.

I said Narendra Modi, and deliberately didn’t say that I.A. Rehman or Mubashir Hasan or the late Asma Jahangir or Sheema Kermani and millions others would prefer a left-of-centre coalition to emerge victorious, while the mullahs and the generals were likely to have an opposite view — a habit that goes back to the anti-left crackdown of Ayub Khan.

I calculated it would be too fine a point for an Indian adult with a closed mind to grasp.

The media is sanguine in its ignorance that, as with India, a complex skein of ideas — often mutually hostile ideas and interests — constitutes the polity of Pakistan too.

“Why would Pakistan support Mr Modi?” the neighbour asked.

I said neither Pakistan nor China could harm India with their military might as the BJP candidate could do single-handedly by destroying the idea of India.

And since the essential idea rested on India’s secular, socialist and democratic constitution —- that has beaten Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders by decades — the only way to wreck India was by destroying the soul of its hugely disparate, intensely beautiful and mostly abused people.

Are the corporate puppeteers, who back Hindu fascism, also prescribing the divisive route that the Congress is taking?

Actually, the cross-border kinship that I discussed with my neighbour has a telling past.

Indira Gandhi liked Mujibur Rehman and was fond of Badshah Khan. But she was allergic to Gen Zia. So Zia took his revenge by according Pakistan’s highest civilian award to her rival, Morarji Desai.

Claiming to fight for democracy in India, Desai was happy with the military dictatorship in the neighbourhood, and stubbornly turned down appeals to intervene against Bhutto’s hanging.

That was also the context of India’s first right-wing foreign minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s visit to Pakistan in 1978. Ironically, liberals on both sides celebrate it as a landmark event.

Vajpayee’s tour included a warm meeting with Zia, but not a word on the condemned Bhutto. Indira Gandhi went hoarse in her futile effort to save Bhutto.

The late Fahmida Riaz had guessed that Pakistan’s mullahs were Hindutva’s kindred spirits, not its adversaries.

The bear hug accorded in Delhi to their patron saint from Saudi Arabia was not misplaced. The dialectics of ideological kinship applies to the tragedy of Pulwama.

Whoever has committed the dastardly act has lent the right-wing ruling establishment in India a helping hand in an election season. Does the Indian opposition have the wherewithal or even the will to staunch the widely feared adverse fallout?

In my view, the opposition’s shortsighted disunity is a bigger setback for democracy than any war drums can create.

Unlike Pulwama, the Mumbai carnage, the plane hijack, and the parliament attack were acts of terror that callously targeted unsuspecting civilians.

Yet terrorism failed to ruffle India’s democratic soul.

Let me say this upfront. I don’t believe the tragedy in Pulwama or its militarist echoes can harm India or defeat the opposition.

What can damage democracy irreparably are the shortsighted and self-harming manoeuvres of the Congress party and the communist-led Left Front.

Just when they were expected to offer sacrifices to save India, they seem so absorbed in eyeing their own electoral chances that they have seriously weakened opposition unity.

Are the corporate puppeteers, who back Hindu fascism, also prescribing the divisive route that the Congress is taking? Let’s not forget that it was Dalit leader Mayawati’s game-changing move to throw her weight behind her former bitter rival in Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, that first punched gaping cracks in Mr Modi’s invincible veneer.

She promoted Akhilesh and didn’t put up her own candidates in critical by-elections in Uttar Pradesh.

The defeat of Modi’s handpicked parliamentary candidates in the BJP’s strongholds of Gorakhpur and Phoolpur was rightly accepted as the way forward for the opposition.

The unselfish experiment was repeated in Karnataka where the Congress support enabled a local ally to form the government against the BJP’s bid. That alliance is now living dangerously with reports of petty squabbles between Congress satraps and the regional ally over power-sharing.

Who are the strongest suits for the opposition in the populous states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal?

In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress should be helping Mayawati and Akhilesh to trounce Modi, but it is curiously going separately. The Rahul-Priyanka duo may make a novel team, but by going it alone they would cut into the tested combine that could defeat the BJP.

In West Bengal, the Congress was reportedly talking to the communists to weaken Mamata Bannerji, a strong opposition asset. In fact the communists have declared Mamata an enemy at par with the BJP. That and not the fallout from Pulwama should worry democracy-loving Indians.

To make it even more curious for the opposition’s strategy, the Congress has so far refused to join hands with Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi.

Kejriwal is reportedly ready to surrender all seven seats in Delhi if that is what it takes to defeat the BJP. Kejriwal had taken a staunchly anti-corporate position. Is the Congress being guided by that?

While trying to come together in West Bengal to waylay a fellow opposition leader, the Congress and the Left are fighting each other in Kerala.

We hear that Modi will use Pulwama to win the elections. One can’t see how that should adversely impact on Mayawati or Akhilesh or Lalu whose men died in the Pulwama tragedy.

Modi may or may not use the tragedy, but the self-destructive opposition parties will certainly need it to explain their defeat, should they miss a great opportunity to defeat fascism. There may not be a second chance.

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