[sacw] SACW | 21 April 03
Mon, 21 Apr 2003 03:26:35 +0100
South Asia Citizens Wire | 21 April, 2003
#1. Padlocks and posturing (Brian Cloughley)
#2. Give chance to Mr Vajpayee (Imtiaz Alam)
#3. Kashmir's fabled forests vanish
#4. War on Iraq: what next? (Iftikhar H. Malik)
#5. Placating the Reactionaries?: Iraq After the War (Harold A. Gould)
#6. India: An update from ANHAD
The Nation, April 20, 2003
Padlocks and posturing
Bower-birds are notorious for collecting objects that are of no
particular use to them, but they pick them up and decorate their
environs with them because they like unusual things, and why
shouldn't they? I am a bower bird, and my study is full of things I
consider fascinating but which many people would regard as dust traps
(a view subscribed to by Control, I might add). One collection is of
old brass padlocks, many with dates and names on them; and it is one
of these that brought me to write this piece, because it is inscribed
in shaky but deep capital lettering:
This is hardly earth-shattering, one might imagine, but when one
thinks about it, the history of the Sub-continent for the past
fifty-five years is bound up with that inscription. I have the
padlock beside me as I write, and wonder, as I often do, just who
were the Singhs of Jhelum? Merchants? Farmers? Retired soldiers of
the Raj? And what happened to them in 1947? Were they stabbed to
death, or hanged by their turbans, or did they manage to escape
across the newly-delineated border to Sikh Punjab? Perhaps they
managed to flee eastwards by train, only to be hacked to bits on
board - just as so many Muslims were murdered coming the other way.
It is all very well for people to say that the atrocities happened
over half-a-century ago and that passage of time should have eroded
horrible memories, but the plain fact is that they haven't
disappeared. Far from it, because India and Pakistan still consider
themselves enemies. The years since the period in which the Singhs
lived in peace in Jhelum (when there were Sikhs and Hindus in Quetta,
for example; and Jews in Karachi) and the present day, in which one
cannot even fly directly from one country to the other (how absurd),
are dotted and defiled by wars and atrocities. There can be no
question of instant harmony and it would na_ve to imagine this happy
state could be attained. But this does not mean that efforts toward a
modus vivendi cannot be made. They should be made, and that right
soon, because the world has changed enormously in the last two years.
Those nations which do not prepare themselves to resist the growth of
US imperialism are destined to be treated as pliant nonentities whose
rights in international affairs will be overridden or dismissed
contemptuously by Washington, so long as Bush is in power.
It is no longer possible to seek international justice in any case
involving America or an American citizen, as the International
Criminal Court is not recognised by the Bush administration. Justice,
or what passes for justice, will be meted out by America or by
countries approved by Bush, and nobody else. If Bush America decides
that a binding international agreement is unsatisfactory it will be
abrogated unilaterally. There is no question, now, of compromise or
negotiation with interested parties. Bush ignores findings of the
World Trade Organisation, and regards the Geneva Convention as a
vehicle for expostulation when convenient (showing pictures of US
prisoners on television) and an out-dated piece of liberal trivia
when inconvenient (as in US treatment of the non-persons in its
Guantanamo Gulag). So countries wishing to retain self-respect and a
modicum of independence should sharpen up and decide what their
posture is going to be: autonomous nation or dormant doormat.
So far as India and Pakistan are concerned the message is that if you
don't set your regional house in order there is likely to be movement
by America to take action about it. It is of course a wider message,
and countries in the fatuously-titled 'Axis of Evil' and beyond can
expect even more robust treatment - if they are weak, militarily and
politically. Bush will never dare take on a country that can fight
back, so India and Pakistan will be spared the Shock and Awe
liberation option. But there could be unpleasant means of bringing
pressure on both countries to reach agreement about their
differences, and, given the proclivity of modern-day Washington for
meddling in other countries' business in the most aggressive and
insolent fashion, it is to be hoped that the Sub-continent can avoid
the vulgar attentions of such as Rumsfeld, whose grotesque antics
have ceased to be even mildly amusing. The question for India and
Pakistan, as ever, is: What do we do next about Kashmir? In an
interview with Reuters last week I said "People have become
accustomed to living with [the threat of war over Kashmir], and one
of these days it is actually going to happen". This is a terrifying
Both countries are anxious to instruct the other about what should be
done, and the result is deepening intransigence. The refrain "You
cannot clap with only one hand" has been run to death by both sides,
but, alas, other deaths have occurred and, apart from making
propaganda out of tragedy, no practical suggestions have been made
following the massacre at Nandimarg in Indian-administered Kashmir
last month. (The world at large barely heard of this brutal,
senseless, wicked killing of 24 defenceless civilians by terrorists,
because the equally vile slaughter of very many more defenceless
civilians was taking place in Iraq.) Mr Advani said "this is an act
of our neighbour, and violence in the state is continuing only
because of them", which was a singularly unhelpful observation.
Nobody could seriously propose that Mr Advani should embrace
Islamabad following a filthy act of mass murder that was carried out
most probably by a Pakistan-oriented terrorist organisation. But
cannot he see that such rhetoric plays into the hands of the wild men
on both sides? President Musharraf was quick to condemn the massacre,
as well he might, because the very fact it took place - apart from
being an atrocity only the lowest and most disgusting beasts could
carry out and support - produced yet more problems for Pakistan.
Musharraf has pointed out that incidents like this work mightily
against any moves towards talks between India and Pakistan, and
indeed he is right. But what can he do about it?
His best move would be to request the help of the United Nations
Security Council. No: not to again seek a plebiscite as provided for
by UNSC resolutions, for such a tactic would only intensify New
Delhi's resistance to movement towards a Kashmir solution. In fact
Islamabad should realise that if a plebiscite were held it is
unlikely the inhabitants of Indian-administered Kashmir would vote
for accession to Pakistan. They have had their fill of terrorism
supposedly in the name of Islam and have experienced quite enough
brutality from what they regard as an army of occupation. Valley
Kashmiris were never anything but practical about religion (during my
fourteen months in Srinagar I bought alcohol openly - and even on a
visit two years ago could have a Scotch or three in a hotel), and
they look with genuine and justified apprehension at possible
imposition of a strict regime such as demanded by extremists and
terrorist groups, few of which have a genuine Valley Kashmiri on
board. A pox on both Islamabad and Delhi say the gentle artisans and
peaceable lake and country-folk of the Valley and outlying areas. The
Jammu region and probably Ladakh would vote for accession to India,
but the plurality would be for independence. If that came about there
would be even more disaster, for the loonies would fight amongst
Pakistan should choose the pragmatic approach and take advantage of
the fact that responsible members of the Security Council, determined
to neutralize American arrogance, can help India and Pakistan move
forward to a Kashmir solution. To demonstrate good faith (and
common-sense) Islamabad should accept the inevitable and declare, as
a major concession, that it is willing to sacrifice its former
insistence on the plebiscite resolutions in the cause of movement
towards rapprochement. The price of such a significant offer of
compromise should be made clear beforehand. It should be suggested
(not 'demanded') that the UNSC should decide on adjustment of the
Line of Control to reflect reality. An independent Commission would
then realign the LOC. This could not possibly reflect what should
have been decided in 1947 - the obvious solution of having an Indian
State of Jammu, divided from a Pakistani State of Kashmir by the
southern Panjal Range - but could adjust territorial anomalies,
notably in the Siachen region. The mutual condition would be that
India and Pakistan would accept the neutrally-decided Line as their
international border and agree to UN involvement to a degree to be
determined by the Council.
To even begin an approach to UN discussions there would have to be
agreement between Islamabad and Delhi to conduct preliminary talks
without posturing for domestic political advantage. This is the
likely sticking point, but given international guarantees that Indian
and Pakistani territorial integrity will not be sacrificed, it should
be attractive for both sides to come to the table. The Simla Accord,
after all, adjures both parties to arrange "a final settlement of
Jammu and Kashmir". The descendants of Sardar Singh and Kartar Singh
may never see Jhelum, and perhaps it is too much to hope that India
and Pakistan could become true partners; but the door to peaceful
coexistence should not remain closed and padlocked.
The News International
April 21, 2003
Give chance to Mr Vajpayee
Kashmir's fabled forests vanish
MUZAFARRABAD, Pakistani-controlled Kashmir (AFP) Apr 13, 2003
On an autumn morning last year Kashmiris in Lamnian, 60 kilometers
(37 miles) south of the Pakistani-controlled zone's capital, watched
in horror as an ambulance skidded off the road and plunged into a
Horror turned to bemusement when the rear doors of the crashed
ambulance, driven by a Pakistani soldier, swung open to reveal planks
of sawn timber.
"We were surprised to see this in an ambulance, which is supposed to
carry people wounded by shelling," said one of the villagers.
Kashmir is barely clinging on to some the world's most glorious
forests, and soldiers, villagers, officials, and timber merchants are
blamed for their depletion.
Cedar, pine, fir, and spruce trees once shrouded all Kashmir's peaks.
Maple, walnut, ash, oak and willow trees blanketed its velvet valleys
and alpine meadows, home to rare pheasants, black bears, ibex, musk
deer, striped hyaena, lynx, and snow leopards.
But since 1947, when Pakistan was created for South Asia's Muslims,
forest cover in Azad (free) Jammu Kashmir, the 13,300 square
kilometer north-west strip of the region under Pakistani control, has
diminished by two-thirds. Most of its slopes are bare.
"It's embarrassing. When we were divided in 1947, we had 42 percent
of Azad Kashmir under forest. Today it's 13 percent," AJK President
Sardar Anwar Khan, a retired major-general, told AFP.
"It's an environmental disaster."
=46orests are vanishing "at an alarming rate," Farooq A. Niazi, head of
the Jammu Kashmir Human Rights Movement, told AFP.
Disappearing with the forests is Kashmir's exotic wildlife. "There's
not much left," Khan said.
They are also victims of incessant shelling along the heavily
militarised 767 kilometer (476 mile) Line of Control (LoC) splitting
the Himalayan region between Pakistan and India.
"Cross-border bombardment is damaging the forests and wildlife beyond
imagination," Niazi said.
Pakistan and India, both claiming Kashmir in full, have fought two
wars over it.
Last year 60,000 shells landed on the Pakistani side, killing 96
people and wounding 383, according to Pakistan's military.
"Shelling kills the living tissues of trees," AJK's chief forests
conservationist Sardar Farooq said.
The 1999 fighting over Kargil in northern Kashmir took its toll on the fauna=
"More than 100 wild deer, found only in the Indian-held side, were
nowhere to be seen after Kargil. The number of snow leopards shrunk
from 80 to 20," he said.
"Migratory birds, which would come to Kashmir from Siberia, have
changed their routes.
Pakistani and Indian soldiers alike are involved in illegal logging,
rights groups and government officials say.
"Pakistan army personnel cut trees to use as fuel. They smuggle sawn
wood. So do Indian army men on the other side," Niazi said.
=46orestry officials checking vehicles for smuggled timber, especially
"precious" cedar and walnut wood, are not allowed to check army
trucks, an AJK official said.
"Army vehicles dont permit forestry officials to search them on the
pretext of transporting weapons," the official told AFP, requesting
Military spokesman Major General Rashid Qureshi denied any felling by soldie=
"I don't know of any incident where a soldier has cut trees or tried
to smuggle. By and large it's the civilian population which cuts
trees for fuel.
The army prevents this from happening," he told AFP.
President Khan blames "timber mafia" and compliant authorities.
"There is lots of connivance by local forestry officials," he said.
Some 25 percent of AJK's forest are zoned commercial, providing up to
60 percent of its revenue and 2,800 jobs. They too have shrunk, by
one third, since 1947.
Institutionally the army is doing its bit for reforestation, planting
more than 30,000 saplings in 2002, according to conservationists WWF
AJK villagers, angry at the depletion of their forests, have tried to
prevent illegal felling, Niazi said.
"But they cannot forbid the army."
=46rustration was inclining many towards independence rather than rule
by either Pakistan or India, Niazi said.
"People in Kashmir feel that if the two countries have to fight, they
should fight at Wagah," the official crossing on the
"At Wagah they trade with each other, while we Kashmiris have been
left to face their bullets."
All rights reserved. =A9 2002 Agence France-Presse.
DAWN, 19 April 2003
War on Iraq: what next?
By Dr Iftikhar H. Malik
The fall of Saddam Hussein, though quite expected and long overdue,
has been an unnerving event for all those who stood against this
unjustified and illegal invasion of Iraq by the Anglo-American
coalition. Unlike the general expectations, neither the Iraqi
generals defected nor did the Iraqi masses appear on the streets
carrying bouquets for their liberators.
However, it is true that the high-sounding Takriti rulers have melted
away without putting up a due fight. The war of 'liberation' has
already deteriorated into mire of squabbles and reawakened polarities
varying from regional to sectarian and personalist loyalties. One
more third world country goes down the tube on the back of hopes of
reconstruction and democracy, thanks to its self-motivated leaders
and callous invaders. The Anglo-American rationale for war - the
weapons of mass destruction - remains never-to-be-found and the UN
characterised as Western Jimadaarni by Arundhati Roy, turns further
Like Afghanistan, Saddam's power structure crumbled before the North
Atlantic powers without offering worthwhile resistance - even too
soon for an otherwise estimated time span. Muslims, pacifists and
other anti-hegemony alliances, who had tried their best to forestall
the invasion through numerous rallies, vigils and marches, thought
that the proponents of pre-emptive unilateralism would face some
modicum of formidable resistance disallowing the neo-conservatives
from achieving their goals so easily.
Most of all, the Arabs and Muslims, are, once again crest fallen
thanks to a dictatorial regime that only prided in building ugly
statues and vulgar murals of its dictator without establishing
anything worthwile. It is not the ordinary Iraqis whose bravery or
perseverance is in question, it is their undemocratic rulers, who
have failed the nation and there is nothing unique about it. In 1971,
Pakistan lost its major wing thanks to a similar junta when in the
wake of sheer brutalisation, our generals failed to protect their
country. They succeeded only in one thing: keeping our people in the
dark through misinformation while brutalising our other half in the
East in our name.
The fall of Saddam Hussein may still augur well for Iraq but the way
it has been achieved from above, leaves a bitter taste. The
Baathists, like the Taliban, fell prey to their own exaggerated whims
and unreal expectations. They crumbled like a pack of cards and no
one seems to have any tears for them, but at what cost?
Like Afghans, millions of Iraqis have suffered the most horrendous
bombing, massive killings and an unjustifiable decimation of ecology,
infrastructure and heritage. The inhuman crimes committed by the
Taliban and Baathist hotheads have been only superseded by the
latter-day Mongols, promising liberation and reconstruction to these
God-forsaken lands of harmless and patient peoples.
It was on 8 March 1917, on the eve British invasion of the Ottoman
provinces of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra, when General Stanley Maude
announced: "Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as
conquerors or enemies, but as liberators." Listening to moralist
pronouncements from Blair+Bush Duo, it appears as if the world has
not changed at all. The civilising traditions of the Conquistadors,
Colonials and Christian missionaries still reign supreme!
While the Anglo-American troops were in a hurry to capture the oil
wells and even the Oil Ministry in Baghdad, they allowed the looters
to their maximum to play havoc with the collections in the World's
seventh largest museum. The next day as helplessly witnessed by
Robert Fisk, the ink from the charred rare Ottoman, Arab and Islamic
documents and manuscripts mingled with the muddy waters of Tigris.
References to Helagu Khan's burning of libraries in Baghdad in 1258
were not lost on anyone. There are a few important lessons to be
drawn from this great tragedy.
=46irstly, dictatorship, how benevolent it may be, is no guarantee for
a country's survival and security. Time and again, we have seen
dictatorships oppressing their people and then dissolving like
quicksand. In the process, they destroy the socio-economic and moral
fabrics of their societies. The best security for a nation is not
through a few individuals monopolising power at the top and coercing
everyone else; instead, it is through institution building.
Similarly, it cannot be ascertained on the back of borrowed money and
fledgling economy. All the way from the Soviet Union to Iraq,
dictatorships, vetoing people's participation, have caused the
edifices fall so rapidly leaving million mutinies in their wake.
Secondly, it is not sheer military power or a centralizing
authoritarianism that can guarantee a country's internal stability
and cohesion. Without durable political systems, consensual
constitutionalism and egalitarian economic edifices, countries and
regimes fall like withered leaves in autumn. Mere rhetoric and
outdated weaponry without corresponding institutions rooted among
people is just a charade.
It is no wonder that the democracies have been rarely attacked and
when confronted with such eventualities, their people put up
formidable defence since they share collective stakes. Unlike the
Middle Eastern and third world tin-pot dictatorships, democracies
always come back victorious. Democracy, despite its several
weaknesses, cherishes pluralism, nourishes free debate, tolerates
criticism, creates participatory institutions and undoubtedly
delivers in every sense of the word. India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and
Bangladesh are the best examples in our part of the world and even
Turkey with its parliamentary democracy has been able to stand up for
its interests. On the contrary, in our case, a vital though
unavoidable decision was made by one individual at the dead of the
night in September 2001.
Thirdly, the fall of Iraq has evaporated the myth that plain
emotionalism based on a dismissive attitude towards science and
technology (modernity) is certainly a dangerous terrain. Like our
clerics of the ilk of Mullah Soofi of Malakand, Saddam and his
coterie lived in fools' paradise feeling secure in their own
propaganda. The great Persian poet, Saadi, had lamented the fall of
Abbasid Caliph Mustasim in 1258, but he also mourned the useless
rhetoric that had become the order of the day in a decadent court at
Baghdad. For years, Shia and Sunni multitudes led by the Caliph and
Ibn Ulqami had been engaged on defining a true Muslim. Let us see,
how far Zalmay Khalizad, the Afghan-American fixer, and General Jay
Garner succeed in rebuilding a new Iraq!
=46ourthly, there is a genuine concern that the United States led by "
the iron triangle" of Jewish donors, Christian Right and
Neo-Conservatives (as identified by Jonathan Friedland in The
Guardian) will expand their campaign to Syria, Iran and such other
countries. An easy victory plan for new American century and the
wargames partly meant for reelection could spawn these ventures which
appear cost effective after Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, they may have to prudently wait until the presidential
elections next year though the saber rattling will go on. In the same
vein, we will be too romantic to expect the unfolding of the
mysterious road map for peace in Palestine. Bush and his followers
are not foolhardy to give away their victory owing to a disgruntled
Jewry. Syria is being pinned down for obvious reason; simply to win
over American Jews from the Democratic Party.
=46ifthly, to several of the pundits in Washington, Pakistan with its
nuclear weapons and rising anti-Americanism is "a powder keg waiting
to explode" (as observed by Dr. Schmidt on the CNN on 15 April). The
recent daily bombastic announcements by Yashwant Sinha and George
=46ernandes are not empty statements but are rather meant to test
waters given the Anglo-American dictum of preemptive strikes. Where
Pakistan's nuclear capability has failed to secure a credible
deterrence, its constitutional chaos, a manipulated political system
and a deadlocked economy present it as a plum case for its
Pakistan's full-fledged democracy, restoration of 1973 constitution
in toto and meaningful efforts to engage India on all fronts are the
only guarantee against any regional or extra regional security
threat. Nobody is asking Pakistan to surrender its sovereignty or
Muslim credentials, but its stalemated policies, internal chaos,
army's extra professionalism and a continued confrontation with an
increasingly powerful neighbour are steadily pushing it towards undue
risks and uncharted courses. Pakistan, not out of a fear complex, but
certainly for an overdue reformism, needs to move forward,
unencumbered by any form of authoritarianism and unrealistic regional
>Finally, though the events in Iraq may further encourage Israeli
>irredentism and could marginalise already disempowered Muslim and
>Arab voices, yet any form of cynicism or rejectionism, though
>expected, must be guarded against. One needs to remember those
>millions of people across the world demonstrating for peace and a
>better Western Asia.
Britain witnessed the largest peace march in its history when two
million people converged on London on 15 February. More than 70%
Italians, French, Germans, Scandinavians and Spaniards are against
war and so are the sizable communities in North America and
Australia. Even the demonstrators in Cairo, despite the official
wrath, were chanting 'Hyde Park', 'Hyde Park', reverberating this new
global humanism from below.
In our moments of despair we must not forget these majorities who,
despite their class, colour and creed variations, have refused to be
silent and stand for a better, plural and egalitarian world, away
from racism, imperialism and unilateralism.
April 17, 2003
Placating the Reactionaries?: Iraq After the War
by HAROLD A. GOULD
As the military phase of the campaign against Saddam Hussain's Iraq
approaches its denouement, the experts are now turning their
attention to what comes next. The steps by which this next phase has
at last become inevitable have proved to be far less sanguine than
was originally anticipated. Much has been said and written about the
miscalculations that beset the original scenario. The Pentagonists,
who trumped the proponents of a more massive and prudent preparation
for Mr Bush's war, and who failed to adequately factor the power of
anti-colonialism and strident Islamism into their strategic
calculations, appear to have carried the day despite themselves, but
at a greater cost in lives, treasure and social chaos than anybody
wanted or anticipated. The latter, in fact, i.e, social chaos, may
turn out to be the greatest cost of all.
Because of the considerable disparity between words and deeds, the
search is on for scapegoats. There are reputations to be protected
and egos to be saved. The outcome of this struggle will have a major
bearing on which factions will become the designated arbiters of the
shape that Iraqi society and politics will take once the guns are
finally silent. Everybody, of course, is paying lip-service to
democracy. It has become practically a cliche that it is the Iraqi
people who must be allowed to choose their own post-Saddam political
path. There is a closet war underway between the State Department,
the CIA and the Pantagonists over whose scenario for achieving these
worthy ends will prevail. Right now, the Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Cheney
team appears to have the upper hand, since nothing succeeds like
apparent success. The trouble with all of the proposed scenarios,
however, is that none appear to be overly cognizant of the fact that
democracy is a system of government that by definition cannot be
imposed from above. It must be grown from below. Proof of this is
provided by the case of Pakistan. Over the past half century, with
the US acting as facilitator, four Pakistani military dictators
assured their people and their US sponsors that popular government
can be imposed from the top. The result is there for all to see.
General/aka-President Pervez Musharraf and his military predecessors
have ruled, and rule today, Pakistan from their residences in the
army cantonments, not from the parliament building..
In the case of Iraq, achieving the open polity in a place where
democracy has never really been tried, where for thirty years what
potentiality for accommodational politics existed was ruthlessly
crushed by one of this century's most vicious dictators, where
inter-ethnic racism has been an unremitting fact of life, will try
the patience of the gods. These facts alone will inevitably tempt
Iraq's conquerors, good intentions to the contrary notwithstanding,
to incline toward political shortcuts, especially since the American
President is already on record as regarding "nation-building" (i.e,
slow, patient, and expensive socio-political reform) as a repugnant
enterprise with which no self-respecting neo-con should soil his
hands. The fruits of that repugnance have already been demonstrated
in the shameful neglect of Afghanistan's reconstruction since the
Taliban blight was excised.
One must then add the sorry record which American diplomacy has rung
up all the way back to the Cold War where the underlying challenge
repeatedly was promoting the very nation-building processes that Mr
Bush finds so unpalatable. Other than NATO, the tendency over and
over was and continues to be to opt for the easy way out and either
tolerate, encourage or subsidize military-dominated governments in
the name of "efficiency" and realpolitik. When the Democracy Movement
erupted in China in the 1980s, the US not only stood passively by
while hundreds of youthful idealists were slaughtered, but ultimately
put their implicit seal of approval on the perpetrators by doing
business with them in the aftermath. It was called "constructive
engagement", whose rationale was (and continues to be) trying to
leverage a country away from dictatorship and political repression by
whetting the leadership's appetite for the riches of the free market.
The cost was (and continues to be) a regime that makes a mockery of
human rights, knowing that it can get away with it as long as it
plays ball with the mughals who run the global economy.
We have already alluded to Pakistan. Instead of employing America's
very considerable power and influence to encourage and promote
democratic forces in that country from Independence onward, one US
administration after another instead chose to placate the reactionary
military and other extra-parliamentary groups there who had nothing
but contempt for the open society, and did their utmost to subdue and
repress every attempt by those who desired to grow democracy to do
so. The excuse was and is always the same: One must be "realistic."
If the Bush administration proves to be sincere about doing what is
necessary to facilitate Iraq's transition from the totalitarian
society it has been to the democratic society everybody says they
want it to become then there is available a model for undertaking
that transition. It is India.
Why India, and not Bulgaria or Romania or Latvia? Because India is a
country which has successfully accomplished what Iraq would have to
accomplish. And India has done it in a comparable
socio-cultural-historical environment. Let us briefly recall how
politically India got from there to here.
At Partition, India inherited one of the most pluralistic social
worlds on earth. It was Europe with a central government, compelled
to accommodate and assimilate into an encompassing polity populations
as ethnically diverse and demographically formidable as the French,
the Germans, the Italians, the English, the Czechs, the Poles, the
Scandinavians, etc. They created the Indian nation from these diverse
cultural-linguistic building blocks by proceeding on the premise that
India must be a secular state which (a) acknowledges the sanctity of
diversity, (b) embodies diversity in a federal constitution that
assures equal rights under the law, (c) adopts the universal adult
franchise, (d) regularly holds fully free elections, and (e) governs
by political consensuses that are fashioned in one central
parliamentary body and numerous provincial parliamentary bodies, each
of which coterminates with one of the country's major
Although not identical, especially in scale, striking parallels
abound between the Iraqi and the Indian cases. An imaginative and
dedicated "transitional government" should be able to fashion a
governmental system for Iraq that follows the Indian model. Iraq can
be constructed as a loose confederation of sub-nationalities owing
allegiance to a central system that is secular, democratic and
politically flexible. Ethnically coherent provincial structures
certainly can be fashioned that confer a culturally reassuring
measure of local sovereignty on each, not unlike India's federality
and, for that matter, not unlike the USA's.
Indian specialists could be recruited to participate in Iraq's
constitution-building process. They could provide guidance and
insights into how through nearly a century of dialogue and
confrontation between Indian political groups and the British
colonial regime a process of constitutional development took place
which reflected the accommodations and consensuses needed to enable a
highly pluralized, fellow Asian society of continental proportions to
create a political structure able to keep the military out of
politics and establish a federalized political arena where diverse
identities and interests could work out their differences and govern
their country in a parliamentary fashion rather than on the
battlefield and in the torture chamber.
Yes, the task of accomplishing this will be daunting in the extreme.
But by no means impossible. Especially if the United States decides
to get serious about nation-building and is willing to spend the
time, the money and the expertise, in concert with the international
community. The greatest danger lies in that ominous record of past
failures that haunts American international statecraft. If it loses
patience and walks away, as it has repeatedly done in Afghanistan. If
it lapses into its past proclivity to take the easy way out and makes
backing military dictators the political short-cut of choice, as it
has done in Pakistan, and elsewhere. Then it will not be long before
victory on the battlefield will have been all for nought.
Harold A. Gould is a Visiting Scholar in the Center for South Asian
Studies at the University of Virginia. He can be reached at:
4, Windsor Place,
April 17, 2003
We had announced the formation of Anhad on March 20,
2003. In case the first letter/ e-mail did not reach you we are
enclosing it again.
We also wish to inform you about our immediate action plan and seek
your support in our endeavours. This is the plan mainly for Gujarat
but Anhad plans to organize similar activities in other states
beginning Rajasthan ( April), Andhra Pradesh ( April) , MP and
Chattisgarh and Kashmir in near future.
1. Between April 20-31, 2003 , Anhad held consultations with
representatives of over 300 groups/ ngos/ grass root movements and
concerned citizens in Ahmedabad, Sanand, Himmatnagar, Surendranagar,
Bharuch, Surat, Palanpur, Baroda, Godhra and Bhavnagar. The need to
intellectually equip the grass root activist against the onslaught of
the hate propaganda was expressed by majority of the people.
2. On April 10, 2003 over 50 people, mainly intellectuals,
activists and concerned citizens met in Ahmedabad for a day long
brain storming session to discuss the content and the design of the
3. Based on the need felt by the people as well as a very
positive response from most of the districts , where meetings were
held Anhad in collaboration with local organization has decided to
organize 5 day residential training camps in 10 districts of Gujarat.
Each camp would have 150-200 participants depending on the local
demand. The camps would begin from May 15, 2003.
4. The proposed dates for the workshops are: Ahmedabad (May
15-19, 2003), Palanpur ( May 16-20, 2003), Himmat Nagar ( May 17-21,
2003), Surendranagar ( May 18-22, 2003), Bhavnagar ( May 19-23,
2003), Baroda ( May 20-24, 2003), Godhra ( May 21-25, 2003), Bharuch
( May 22-26, 2003), Surat ( May 23-27, 2003), Rajkot ( dates to be
It is also proposed that a group of 15 people from each
workshop would be identified , who would then be trained in theatre,
music for another 15 days. By the end of June 10 such cultural
troupes would be ready to travel from village to village performing
and forming youth clubs.
2. People=92s Festival in Ahmedabad: The first phase of the training
camps would be over by June end. It is proposed that On July 1st,2003
a major people=92s festival should be organized in Ahmedabad. July 1st
is the death anniversary of Rajab Ali and Vasant, two young boys who
wanted to intervene and stop the riots and were killed while trying
to save the people.
3. Summer camps for children in Gujarat Villages : Anhad in
association with Navsarjan plans to organize summer camps for the
village children in Gujarat. In the first stage we will go to 50
villages identified by Navsarjan. The camps will be organized from
June 1-30, 2003.
Anhad would mobilize 100 young students (2 per village), who would
like to spend a month in a village , live with a family in the
village and play, draw, sing, dance with the children. They can end
up doing much more : building a cultural corner with local resources
and the help of the villagers, mobilizing more friends to come later
and take up some projects in the village, get involved in future
Anhad, Navsarjan activities.
We are working on different ideas to intervene in the urban
population specially students and women and would soon announce the
more activities .
For the above work we urgently need:
1. Resource material (books, pamphlets, posters, audio, video
cassettes) related to the following issues: materials on our plural
tradition, inter-community relations, secular social and cultural
practices, songs which highlights our sense togetherness.
2. Your generous contributions : cheques/ drafts to be sent to
Anhad, 4, Windsor Place, New Delhi-110001. I have committed almost
24 hrs and 365 days for the next three years to this work. I am
assuming that friends will take the responsibility of raising the
required resources for the work to continue. We do not take foreign
3. 25 Volunteers: who are ready to spend about 15 days in Gujarat.
4. Resource persons: we are in the process of approaching them
individually, but do get back to us if you want to contribute as a
We are also looking for colours/ paints/ crayons/ paper/ books for
children/ snake and ladders/ ludos/ carom boards/ chess =96please use
your imagination. We need to make 50 sets- one for each village.
Paper and colours will have to be of course in plenty.
Those students who want to volunteer should come to the Anhad Office
from Monday-Saturday 9.30am-6pm and register themselves.
PS : Anhad Gujarat Office would start functioning full time from
May 1, 2003. Address: Anhad, c/o Prashant , Near Kamdhenu Hall,
Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad . e-mail
My dates in Delhi are : approximately April 19- 29, 2003
The urgency to intervene in defense of democracy, secularism and
justice has never been more pressing than in the conditions
prevailing in the country today. There is a recognizable change in
the general tenure of public discourse; unlike in the past, it is
informed more by the communal than by secular ethos. The prejudices
against the minorities are widely shared as a result of motivated and
sustained propaganda. Those who claim to be secular are forced on the
back foot; some of them have increasingly become compromising or even
silent. In the face of social mobilization attempted by communal
organizations by invoking religious symbols and sentiments the civil
society has come under a siege. Nevertheless, it is evident from the
large number of secular democratic initiatives by political parties,
voluntary organizations and individuals that the society is seized of
the need for sustained and constructive action for strengthening
secularism and democracy and for realising justice and peace. Their
number and strength are not inconsequential. Yet, the communal
appears to be poised to conquer. It is therefore necessary to
energize the secular forces by a conscious regrouping and
co-operation. ANHAD is intended to be a modest attempt in this
ANHAD is neither a structured organization nor a movement capable of
large-scale popular mobilisation. It would, however, try to combine
the elements of both by collaborating with existing organizations and
movements and by undertaking local level activities, by instituting
small secular communities. The former would enable ANHAD to develop
creative co-operation with people=92s organizations and social
movements working in different areas of social, cultural and
political concerns, the latter would open up for secular mobilisation
the space hitherto uncolonised by communalism. There will be no
formal membership; all are welcome to participate on a voluntary
basis. The activities of ANHAD would be overseen by a working group
and would be advised by a national committee of eminent citizens.
Like any other voluntary organisation the work of ANHAD would also
evolve with experience. Yet, some areas have been identified for
initial involvement. They are cultural action, social mobilisation,
defense of civil liberties and work in the diaspora. The cultural
action is conceived as intervention in daily life practices through
popular and folk culture, syncretic and tolerance systems of faith
and the building of communities invested in pluralism, while
challenging hatred, obscurantism and superstition.
The social mobilisation would be attempted both through demonstrative
actions like jathas and constructive work organized around youth and
women=92s clubs. The defense of civil liberties would include legal
action for defending the rights of minorities, dalits, tribals and
women. The work with the diaspora, particularly creating secular
consciousness among them, assumes great importance in the light of
the sustained communal propaganda among them. In short ANHAD would
like to undertake grass root level activities, with the support and
collaboration of the existing organizations wherever possible and if
not, by initiating work on its own through volunteers. The emphasis
is on constructive and continuous activity, which would create and
sustain secular and democratic consciousness.
ANHAD would like to bring at least a major part of the country under
its umbrella, which would obviously take quite some time to achieve.
Therefore it would begin its activities in four states: Gujarat,
Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgardh. During the course of the
year Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Karnataka and
Kashmir would be added. In all these states the endeavour would be to
create a fraternity of secular activists who would through their
interaction with the local people bring into being small secular
communities for ensuring peace and social understanding. Each
locality would have its own peculiarities in cultural practices and
social relations, which would be given particular attention while
organizing the activities of ANHAD.
ANHAD means without limits. We envisage it as an inclusive
institution in which every one who stands for democracy, secularism,
justice and peace can participate.
Become a friend of Anhad, a volunteer worker, a financial
contributor, a resource person. There are a hundred ways of being a
part of Anhad, it is for you to decide your role in this effort. Just
remember one thing-now is the time to act, tomorrow may be too late.
KN Panikkar Shubha Mudgal Harsh Mander Shabnam Hashmi
SACW is an informal, independent & non-profit citizens wire service run by
South Asia Citizens Web (www.mnet.fr/aiindex).
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.