[sacw] SACW | 26 Dec. 00
Tue, 26 Dec 2000 03:03:47 +0100
SOUTH ASIA CITIZENS WIRE
26 December 2000
(Seasons Greetings to all and appologies for all those who may have
recieved the previous dispatch twice. your sincerely, Harsh Kapoor for SACW=
#1. Mediator reveals blueprint for peace in Kashmir
#2. Even birds welcome peace along India and Pakistan border
#3. New US administration and Pakistan
#4. India: Hindu Far Right wants electorates based on religion
#5. India: BJP tells cadre to join RSS campaign
#6. India: Sita's Kitchen after Ram Temple
#7. India: Hindutva mania around the Taj Mahal
The News International
25 December 2000
MEDIATOR REVEALS BLUEPRINT FOR PEACE IN KASHMIR
DUBAI: Details of what is going on
between India, Pakistan and the Kashmiris were revealed by Mansoor Ijaz, a
private US mediator trying to push the peace process in Kashmir. Here are
some questions The News put to him and his answers:
Q: What are the next steps envisioned in the blueprint for peace in
Kashmir as you see it?
A: The process of empowering both civilian and militant Kashmiri voices
remains the central objective of our efforts at present because a strong
Kashmiri provides Pakistan and India with face-saving exit strategies. In
mid-January, political and militant leaders will meet in Islamabad. Their
key objective will be to set a common political agenda for talks with New
Delhi and to take Gen Musharraf into confidence about the merits and
rationale for their decision to talk to Delhi. There will also be a clear
effort made to deal with the so-called mercenary problem whether or not to
allow non-indigenous Pakistani-backed insurgents a seat at the peace
table. Once the internal agenda is agreed upon and the various Kashmiri
parties are united on a message and a delegation, Indo-Kashmiri dialogue
can begin. New Delhi's talks with Islamabad, inaugurated perhaps with a
Musharraf-Vajpayee summit by March during which meaningful Indian troop
withdrawals are formalised, will begin virtually at the same time. Once
ground ceasefire modalities are worked out, and pending progress of the
Indo-Kashmiri bilateral negotiations, the Kashmiris will be free to suggest
Pakistan's inclusion either partially or wholly in political dialogue aimed
at a permanent solution. Delhi understands this as a condition for
beginning talks with the Kashmiris. Trilateral negotiations at onset are
not, as Islamabad is now stating openly, a necessary condition for
dialogue with New Delhi. This modification in Pakistan's stance from
conditions added in the aftermath of August's failed ceasefire is itself an
open indication of the respect Gen Musharraf has for the Kashmiri people's
wishes to achieve peace.
Q: You have been in constant contact with the Indians and the Kashmiris in
recent weeks. What does the decision of the Kashmiri leadership to talk to
India, and vice versa, imply for Pakistan? How should Pakistan react?
A: Pakistan is a Party to the dispute. But Gen Musharraf is rapidly,
flexibly and correctly adapting the Pakistani position to the reality that
Islamabad's pursuit of Jihad-based resistance in Kashmir has not worked.
As head of state rather than just head of the army, his responsibility to
the larger interests of the Pakistani people go far beyond the narrow
pursuit of an ideological war that is decimating an innocent population
while deeply scarring the image and vitality of Pakistan as a nation.
Principled resistance has turned into violent hatred and the Kashmiri
political leadership has now said enough is enough. That is why Gen
Musharraf is wisely preparing the people of Pakistan for a policy of
maximum flexibility in its negotiating stance. By doing so, he
accommodates growing Kashmiri willpower to test India's sincerity for
peace and resolution while maintaining a firm bottom line that protects
Pakistan's security interests.
Q: You have had frequent interactions with the Kashmiri leadership. Do you
see a conflict brewing between pro-Pakistan and pro-independence Kashmiri
leaders and if so, how serious could this become in the final analysis?
A: In the embryonic stages of any conflict resolution process, there are
many differing agendas which have to be fused together to create a united
position. The internal rifts you suggest exist will disappear the moment
APHC leaders travel to Islamabad and take militant factions with differing
objectives into confidence. They simply cannot negotiate with Delhi unless
there is a united stance. The issue facing Hurriyet and Hizb is not
unification of purpose and agenda, but rather how to insure the Kashmiris
are a Party to the dispute rather than Mediator between Pakistan and
India. Vajpayee's BJP hawks could pull their support if the Kashmiris are
seen as Pakistan's pawns. Conversely, Islamabad could lose its already
precarious moral centre of gravity with the Kashmiris if, during the
Hurriyet visit to Islamabad, they are not empowered by Gen Musharraf to
act as a Party vs being relegated to the role of a Mediator.
Q: What signs, if any, do you see that Pakistan's extremist and so-called
Jihadist forces are now in retreat? Are more moderate forces who seek a
reasonable solution gaining the upper hand?
A: The most visible sign of change in militant thinking was last weekend's
gathering of the various Mujahedeen factions, including notably Hizb
leader Syed Salahuddin, in Saudi Arabia. They are carrying formulae for
discussion and committee approval among the Jihad's Arab backers that will
serve as the basis of their discussions with Hurriyet leaders in
mid-January, and possibly with Delhi thereon. The coordination of Kashmiri
militant and political moves is vital to the success of any future talks.
Equally critical is re-establishing the authority of the Kashmiri
resistance's political wing by weaving together the militant agenda with a
clear, objective-oriented political agenda for talks with Delhi. Pakistan
has lived its tortured history with a military ceiling on civilian
authority. The Kashmiris have learned this formula, in the end, does not
Q: Why do you think the Indian leadership has softened its stance on talks
with the Kashmiris and Pakistan? Does it really want a solution in which
both sides can claim victory and still resolve the dispute?
A: The Kargil affair created a structural anomaly India had not seen since
independence: the army became uncomfortably more vocal in civilian
political affairs that affected national security. This dangerous trend
for a functional democracy would be reversed with a solution in Kashmir.
Additionally, because India has genuine potential to become a regional
economic power, and the energy rich Persian Gulf wants to provide large
amounts of power generation capacity while the West develops its export
markets, New Delhi's long-term strategic planners view Kashmir as a
potential poison pill to economic revitalisation in which radicalism's
roots could spread to other parts of the federation. From what I have
seen, there is meaningful flexibility in the Indian position to find a
solution that addresses each party's fundamental concerns.
Q: As a private American citizen mediating this peace effort, how do you
envision the final Kashmir settlement will look?
A: If Islamabad is prepared to demonstrate maximum flexibility, it is
highly unlikely that a pragmatic Gen Musharraf can maintain UN plebiscite
resolutions as the best mechanism to resolve Kashmir. Given recent
reactions in the Valley to the Jihadist movement, Islamabad does not need
the embarrassment of the Kashmiri people voting against accession to
Pakistan. Equally, Delhi knows it cannot maintain Kashmir as an integral
part of its territory. Western theorists and interested third parties who
have proposed elaborate Balkanisation schemes fail to understand the
delicate fabric that holds Kashmir together as a people with a unique
genetic similarity. These divide-and-conquer proposals simply won't work,
even if supported by the US State Department. The only viable deep
concession left is preparing a third option that allows the Kashmiris a
pre-determined right to self-rule at some date certain in the future, with
the option going to both Islamabad and Delhi to win them over in an
interim period of, say, five years. Details to follow.
Q: Are there any other countries involved in the efforts to bring Pakistan
and India to the peace table? If so, can you elaborate on their role?
A: The most notable of these is Saudi Arabia. As a long time ally of
Pakistan's, as home to conservative Islam's wealthy spectrum of followers
and as a potential large-scale supplier of energy needs to India, the
Saudi government is taking an active role in finding mechanisms to
moderate the Jihadist movement in Kashmir. It is no accident that Jaswant
Singh, India's foreign minister, will visit Riyadh in early January just a
week after militant Kashmiri leaders return from Jeddah and a week before
Hurriyet leaders are scheduled to meet Salahuddin and company in Islamabad.
The Saudis have vested interests in both Pakistan (the Bomb) and India (oil
sales), and a flare-up over Kashmir serves no one's greater interests.
Equally, while Jihad is a fundamental concept in Islam, it is clear that
Riyadh would prefer to keep the pot boiling at a lower temperature than
Lashkar-e-Taiba and Harkat-ul-Mujahedeen seem willing to tolerate.
24 December 2000
EVEN BIRDS WELCOME PEACE ALONG LoC
ISLAMABAD (NNI): Even birds seem to be happy with the new peace along the
Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.
Thousands of migratory birds are arriving at the 'Charana Wetland Reserve'
on the border in Jammu. These guests have stopped visiting the region over
the past several years due to exchange of fire between the Indian and
Pakistan troops, reports Door Darshan.
About thirty five kilometers from Jammu is situated Wetland Reserve of
Gharana, just on the Indo-Pak border in Ranbhirsingpura sector. Thousands
of migrating birds from Siberia and other countries are arriving here. For
the last so many years, these water birds were coming in a very small
number due to the continuos firing. But this year, due to the ceasefire in
the month of Ramadan and silencing of guns on the borders, lots of these
birds are seen in this Reserve.
This year, the birds found favourable conditions, as the border firing has
stopped. These foreign guests, including Siberian Cranes have travelled
thousands of miles and crossed borders of several countries to reach this
The migrated birds do not have any border disputes nor they have any
conflict. The whole of the world is their home.
Sunday December 24, 2000
NEW US ADMINISTRATION AND PAKISTAN
Dr Manzur Ejaz
Optimism about improvement in Pak-US relations, with the induction of the
Bush administration seems unrealistic. It is based on incorrect premises
that the Republicans are more amenable to their Cold War allies like
Pakistan than the Democrats were. Long time ago, much before the Clinton
presidency, the Republicans warriors of the Cold War had shifted their
target from the Soviet Union to the Middle East and Iran. New US foreign
policy establishment is going to be led by General Colin Powell as
Secretary of the State and Condoleezza Rice as the advisor of National
Security Council (NSC). Ms Rice, a specialist on Russia, has yet to
redefine her international perspective after the collapse of Soviet Union.
However, General Powell's popularity is based on his conquest of Iraq.
Therefore, there in nothing in the background of this foreign policy team
which can signal softening towards Pakistan. Furthermore, the Republican
record in dealing with Pakistan is not very encouraging.
It has been completely forgotten that it was a Republican US President,
George Bush Sr, who clamped sanctions on Pakistan. In the US Senate, it
was a Republican Senator, Larry Pressler, who had framed punitive
sanctions against Pakistan much before the country had even tested its
nuclear devices. As a matter of fact, the Bush administration left such a
legacy of anti-Pakistan sanctions that Clinton administration felt
helpless when it wanted to use incentives to entice Pakistan. Clinton
administration expressed its frustration on several occasions for not
being able to have a flexible policy towards Pakistan (and later on about
India) because of Bush-Pressler sanctions.
To create some space for dealing with Pakistan, and to dilute the effects
of the Pressler, Brown Amendment was passed. The author of this amendment,
Senator Brown, was a Republican but it was not a Republican Party
initiative. On the contrary, this amendment was passed with massive
support from the Clinton administration. It could not have been carried
through the Congress otherwise. Realistically, if the Republican Party
wanted to help Pakistan during the last eight years, it could have done so
very easily because it controlled both Congress and the Senate. But it did
not do anything for Pakistan despite Senator Jessie Helm, a classic
warrior of the Cold War was chairing the Foreign Relations Committee of
the Senate. Therefore, the historical experience does not prove the point
that Republicans have been more accommodative for Pakistan.
Fact of the matter is that as soon as the Soviet Union collapsed, the
Americans started looking the other way. Their priorities changed. In
post-Cold War era their target changed from the "evil empire" to the
"Islamic Fundamentalist."Manipulating Iraq and Iran to fight a
self-destructive war and later on to demolish Iraq (Iraq's outrageous
behaviour notwithstanding) were the new accomplishments of the Republican
strategists. Pakistan also had a new role to play in the post-Cold War
era: to join forces against Iraq. Ironically, despite Pakistan's
cooperation in the Gulf War, the Republican administration did not spare
Pakistan from sanctions.
In the future, the Republican administration, keen on increasing the
defence budget and strengthening America's military might may seek another
'evil empire.' China seems to be the most appropriate candidate for such a
make-believe villain. In addition, the terrorist bogey will be touted more
vigorously in the American press to justify high defence expenditures. In
this possible scenario, India might be taken to be the front line state
against China and the 'terrorists.' Pakistan's strategical importance may
be conceived as a partner in policing the Persian Gulf and containment of
Iran. However, it is clear that the new Republican administration cannot
afford to be soft on the 'terrorist' or their alleged sponsor,
Afghanistan. Therefore, Pakistan's hope to "have a new start" with the US
may never materialise.
It is a well known fact that President-elect George W Bush is not very
knowledgeable about international affairs. Pakistani diplomats and some
experts believe that Bush's knowledge gap will be filled by the Pentagon
and NSC which are sympathetic to Pakistan. However, it should be kept in
mind that these defence agencies have changed their direction over the
years: Pentagon has been conducting joint military exercises with India
also. Therefore, Pakistan may not get as much backing from the Pentagon as
it used to. Furthermore, Bush's lack of international perspective may
discourage him from taking up thorny issues like Kashmir and troubled
Indo-Pak relations. Some think-tank operators are predicting that no
administration in the near future will dare to touch Indo-Pak conflict
after President Clinton's failure to make any headway.
One of the reason for misconceptions about the Republican administration
in Pakistani foreign policy circles is that most of the diplomats dealing
with the Clinton administration had never dealt with Republican
administrations. They have abstract and make-belief notions about
Republican's propensity to honour Cold War allies. They have been facing a
difficult ordeal at the State Department and White House. Their wishful
thinking makes them believe that they will have an easier time with the
new administration. It does not seem likely. There is a bipartisan
consensus on foreign policy in the US and Pakistani diplomats will run
into familiar difficulties, erroneously ascribed to the Clinton
Similarly, undue importance is also given to minor changes in the US
Congress. Some quarters may take credit for the defeat of rabid
anti-Pakistan Congress members or Senators but such changes do not make
any difference. Once John Glenn, Larry Pressler and Steven Solarz were the
major anti-Pakistan activists in the US Congress. Senator John Glen
retired, Senator Pressler and Congressman Solarz were defeated. However,
Pakistan's position did not improve in the US despite the departure of
this trio. New Pakistan bashers emerged in the shape of Congressmen Bill
McCollum (Republican) and Sam Gejdenson (Democrat). Both were defeated in
the recent election and some lobbyist, taking credit for their downfall,
are projecting a rosy scenario for Pakistan. If past experience provides
any guidance to the future, the departure of these two will not improve
Pakistan's position in the US Congress in any way.
Despite the change of administration, Pakistan's relations with the US are
not going to improve unless the core issues are addressed properly. For
the US, Pakistan's alleged support for the 'terrorists' and Afghanistan is
top priority. The issues of nuclear proliferation and restoration of
democracy are also important but not as much as the 'terrorist' issue.
Therefore, Pakistan has to alter its policy regarding this issue to
normalise relations with the US. If Pakistan feels that the US demands are
violating its national interests, then it should devise a policy which
does not depend on the US goodwill. The question is: Can it be done?
The Times of India
24 December 2000
VHP WANTS ELECTRORATES BASED ON RELIGION
AHMEDABAD: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Sunday advocated communal
electorates in the country if Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's proposal of
disenfranchisement of Muslims could not be implemented.
Ashok Singhal, working president of VHP, said one way to end vote bank
politics was to switch over to communal electorates. He was addressing a
press conference at the end of a two-day meet of the VHP's international
coordination committee here.
''Even communal electorates would help end the vote bank politics as the
Muslims would be electing people of their own community and there would be
no need for the majority to woo them for votes,'' Singhal said.
Singhal said separate electorates would ensure the interests of Muslims
and other minorities since they would then be assured of their
representation in the elected bodies.
Singhal said Hindus had no vote in Pakistan while in neighbouring
Bangladesh, which emerged as an independent country solely due to the
sacrifices of Indians, Hindus were being discriminated against.
Citing an instance, he said that in Bangladesh the property of Hindus that
was confiscated under the Enemies Properties Act, 1965, passed by
Pakistan, was yet to be restored to them. Therefore, Muslims were better
off in India.
Singhal refused to comment on the Ayodhya issue saying all decisions in
this regard would be taken by the ninth Dharma Sansad (religious
parliament) to be held at Prayag (Allahabad) during the Mahakumbh mela
When asked how could the construction of the Ram temple begin on a land
acquired by the government through an act of Parliament eight years ago,
he said about 5,000 sadhus and sants would march from Ayodhya to
Parliament to demand the land back.
''The date of the march would be decided next month,'' he said.
''We will start a large scale mobilisation in support of our demands.''
Lambasting whom he called the so-called secular forces, Singhal said
Ayodhya was purely a religious issue which they had politicised for their
Architect of the proposed Ayodhya temple, Chandrakant Sompura, who was
also present, said 40 per cent of carving work on the temple's pillars and
other structures had already been completed and the rest would be
completed within the next two years.
Replying to a question, he said the temple's cost, which was estimated to
be about Rs 10 crore in 1992, was now likely to go up.
He said the temple complex would come up over an area of 65 acres and
would include four ''gopurams'' and temples dedicated to Sita and Laxman,
Bharat and Hanuman, besides other additions like Katha Kunj and victory
pillar (Vijay Stambh). (UNI)
The Times of India
BJP TELLS CADRE TO JOIN RSS CAMPAIGN
By Our Special Correspondent
GANDHINAGAR: Perturbed at reports that the Sangh Parivar cadre stayed away
from the BJP's campaign in the recent panchayat and municipal elections,
the state executive of the party has given a clear directive to its party
workers to join the RSS-sponsored "national awakening campaign" in January.
Full Text at: http://www.timesofindia.com/today/25mahm1.htm
25 December 2000
SITA'S KITCHEN AFTER RAM TEMPLE=20
FROM BASANT RAWAT Ahmedabad, Dec. 24: The VHP plans to build three
more shrines around the proposed Ram temple on the 65-acre plot in Ayodhya
that the government acquired after the demolition of the Babri mosque.
VHP president Ashok Singhal said: "We have decided to build temples to
Bharat, Laxman and Hanuman because we do not want any masjid to come up
close to the Ram temple."
The VHP also intends to build Sita's "kitchen" and a complex for sadhus.
There will be a garden too, he said.
Singhal, who was here to attend the VHP International Coordination
Committee meet, said 5,000 sadhus will march to Parliament to pressure the
Centre to transfer the 65 acres to Hindus to build the Ram temple.
The sadhus will march to Delhi after the Kumbh Mela where a date for the
construction of the temple will be set.
Chandrakant Sompura, the architect who designed the Ram temple, has drawn
up the plans for the three new temples, Sita's kitchen, the garden and the
residential complex for sadhus.
Expressing the hope the government will oblige the sadhus by transferring
the land to build the temple, the VHP president said: "No government can
afford to incur the wrath of the sadhu samaj."
Replying to Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's controversial statement,
Singhal said: "I support his view that Muslims should be disenfranchised."
If Muslims in India are disenfranchised, it will only help the community,
he said. Now they are a mere votebank, Singhal added.
Referring to the killings of army personnel in Red Fort, the VHP president
said: "The attack has exposed the fallacies of the peace initiative.
Jihadis do not want peace."
The VHP adopted resolutions on jihad, conversions, the plight of Hindus in
Bangladesh and Muslim infiltration.
It appealed to the UN and the US to blacklist militant organisations and
countries that sponsor cross-border terrorism. Demanding that Muslim
infiltrators from Bangladesh be driven out, the VHP called for a ban on
conversion and cow slaughter.
HINDUTVA MANIA REACHES THE TAJ
A website says that there are "109 other proofs and logical points which
tell us that the structure known as the Taj Mahal is actually Tejo
Mahalaya" and sounds very much like an RSS-VHP rant, says Nabina Das
New Delhi, December 24
It is more than often that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), its
offshoot the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), and the notorious youth wing,
the Bajrang Dal, have been professing and believing that the Taj Mahal,
one of the Seven Wonders of the world is actually a temple. They trash the
story that it is a mausoleum built by emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his
beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal and insist that actually it has been built upon
the debris of a temple called the Tejo Mahalaya, after the temple was-no
prize for guessing-destroyed by the "tyrannical" Muslim rulers.
It is slightly wondrous that a website called
http://www.flex.com/~jai/satyamevajayate/ in its sublink "Taj Mahal-a
Hindu Temple-Palace" says the same thing and with greater zeal. It
furnishes every bit of proof found under the sun and states that there are
"109 =8Aproofs and logical points which tell us that the structure known a=
the Taj Mahal is actually Tejo Mahalaya". However, in the actual listing,
there are only 108 proofs displayed.
The site says that the most valuable evidence of all that Tejo Mahalaya
is not an Islamic building is in the Badshahnama which contains the
history of the first 20 years of Shah Jahan's reign. It says, "the writer
Abdul Hamid has stated that Taj Mahal is a temple-palace taken from
Jaipur's Maharaja Jai Singh and the building was known as Raja Man Singh's
palace. This by itself is enough proof to state that Tejo Mahalaya is a
Hindu structure captured, plundered and converted to a mausoleum by Shah
Jahan and his henchmen."
The venom is obvious, the agenda is apparent, and the intent highly
No where does the site mention the names of the RSS, the VHP or the
Bajrang Dal but goes on to describe in choicest terms 'Islamic tyranny
and perversion' with striking similarity to the canards spread by the
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