SACW | 30 Sept. 2003
aiindex at mnet.fr
Tue Sep 30 05:34:16 CDT 2003
South Asia Citizens Wire | 30 September, 2003
 Now That All Is Said and Done (Achin Vanaik)
 Islamist Cowboys rule Pakistan's wild west (Martin Regg Cohn)
 India, Pakistan Back to Sabre Rattling (Praful Bidwai)
 Arundhati Roy talks about 'The War That Never Ends' (Anthony Arnow)
 Ammu Abraham a Bombay feminist speaks out
against death penalty ... in light of Dara
 Blocking of Yahoo groups content still
continues in India . . . [Update : morning of 30
Resist Scandalous Internet Censorship In India
Now: A Plea to Users and Citizens (Harsh Kapoor)
+ Addresses and News Resources
The Telegraph, September 30, 2003
NOW THAT ALL IS SAID AND DONE
Achin Vanaik argues that no one was more
effective in arguing for the Palestinian cause
nor more accurate in his criticism of US and
Israeli iniquities than Edward Said
[The author is a political scientist and has
recently published the book, Communalism
Contested: Religion, Modernity and Secularization]
In the Indian media, Edward Said's demise has
brought forth deserved encomiums for a remarkable
Renaissance-like personality of multiple talents
who was also one of the world's outstanding
public intellectuals, never afraid of speaking
the truth and exposing the lies, deceits and
hypocrisies of the powerful and their hangers-on.
Of course, given the times we live in, we can
fully expect some pro-Hindutva and pro-Zionist
voices to express their veiled or not-so-veiled
contempt for Said.
This article will not aim to add to the encomiums
that have already covered all facets of Said's
life. I will only seek to elucidate Edward Said's
vision of the Palestinian struggle, its goal, its
strategy, its prospects. He was, without doubt,
the single most important spokesperson (outside
of the formal political leadership) for the
Palestinian cause. No one was more effective in
expounding the justice of this struggle nor
anyone more accurate and penetrating in their
criticism of the iniquitous behaviour of the
United States of America and Israeli governments
towards Palestinians and their attempts (abetted
by house intellectuals and a largely supine
Western media) to cover this up.
The loss from Said's death is simply inestimable.
From the Seventies, his tireless efforts in
print, speech or through television appearances
and documentary-making made him such a
pre-eminent public pedagogue and spokesperson.
After 1994, he had the courage (virtually alone
at the beginning) to stand up and oppose the Oslo
and then the Wye Accords and to expose them for
what they always were - a sham and a disgrace to
any genuine process of seeking a truly just and
fair peace settlement. The Indian government, the
overwhelming majority of Indian media
commentators, and almost the whole of the
strategic establishment still wish for the
Palestinian issue to somehow go away.
Any peace settlement, as long as it lasts, is
good enough. Hence the earlier refrain about the
unfortunate collapse of the Oslo accords and
today's constant clamour about salvaging the
utterly fraudulent US-backed "roadmap to peace".
Said did more than simply demolish the case for
the accords through his systematic and detailed
analysis of their deceitful terms and
extraordinarily limited concessions, and his
descriptions of what the everyday brutal reality
of occupation during the "peace process" meant to
ordinary Palestinians. He also highlighted the
disastrous strategic-political mistake made by
Yasser Arafat in deciding that after the collapse
of the Soviet Union and the Kuwait War, the only
chance of getting a reasonably fair two-state
settlement was by relying on the US to play the
role of an honest broker willing to persuade the
Israeli government to accept this "final
Instead, as Said was the first to point out, this
farcical "peace process", controlled by a US
government that was never interested in playing
fair, was meant to impose a final Bantustan-type
solution. That is to say, effectively allowing
substantial and formally sanctified usurpation by
Israel of a great part of even the occupied
territories, as well as ensuring through such a
final settlement the permanently
institutionalized military, strategic, economic
and political subordination of Palestine
("limited sovereignty" dressed up as independent
statehood) to Israel. Arafat cannot bring himself
to acknowledge his fatal strategic mistake. Hence
his continued attempts to restore the peace
process with US help. Arafat could also never
bring himself to fully betray the Palestinian
cause when he realized that the only settlement
on offer would have meant precisely this. That is
why today, both the US and Israel have turned
against him and sought an even more pliant
Palestinian leadership. While Tel Aviv discusses
whether it should assassinate Arafat, Washington
asks it to avoid such talk publicly and merely
Said not only criticized Arafat (while always
respecting his earlier historic role as leader or
symbol of Palestinians), he provided his own
distinctive strategic vision. His own long-term
goal had shifted from advocating the two-state
solution to that of a bi-national unified
territorial state with full and equal rights for
both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs - the end
of Zionism rather than co-existence with it. What
was more important was Said's prescription for
how either of these two goals could be achieved.
To those who argued in the name of a so-called
realism that the only alternative available was
abandoning the search for either a two-state or
bi-national type, and accepting a Bantustan in
all but name, he presented a firm no. The final
goal of a just peace must never be compromised
upon, though the means to achieving it could
certainly involve compromises.
Behind this insistence lay a deep understanding
of the real meaning of political struggle far
removed from the understandings of most strategic
experts for whom politics is, above all,
statecraft that must obey the golden rule of
respecting the existing "relationship of forces"
between various contenders. For Said, political
struggle was ultimately a clash of wills not of
arms or of economic strength in which one side
seeks to impose its will on the other. If
Palestinians retained the will to insist on a
just peace then, in the long run, Israel (and the
US) could be politically defeated as the
experiences of Vietnam and the end of apartheid
in South Africa showed.
What was required then was a different
political-strategic perspective that no longer
relied on either Israeli or US good intentions or
behaviour but prioritized the building of a new,
much more democratic and non-corrupt Palestinian
leadership, not the mafia led by Arafat and
others. To be truly democratic, such a leadership
would have to establish political structures
giving voice to representatives of the four
million strong Palestinian diaspora outside the
occupied territories. Second, it would have to
give up the morally untenable and strategically
counter-productive path of attacking Israeli
civilians and even military confrontation, though
the Israeli government would certainly continue
with its institutionalized brutality, murder and
violence against ordinary Palestinians since that
was the only way to sustain its occupation.
Three, while engagement with the US, Israeli,
European and other governments was tactically
necessarily, strategically the focus had to be on
engaging, in a much more determined and
sophisticated manner, the broader public in civil
societies everywhere, but especially in the US,
by playing the Palestinians' greatest trump card.
This has always been the moral strength and
integrity of their case against the dishonest and
increasingly threadbare pretence of Zionism that
Israelis, not Palestinians, are the real victims.
Finally, this leadership's main focus has to be
on sustaining the morale and determination of
Palestinians to continue resisting non-violently
(and all the more effective for being peaceful)
by building precisely those links that promote
grassroots democracy, welfare and development for
ordinary Palestinians everywhere.
The greatest tribute to Edward Said would be to
recognize his wisdom by endorsing his
concentration on the development of the internal
moral-political resources of the Palestinians and
simultaneously expanding international solidarity
with Palestinians as the best way to change
decisively the overall "relationship of forces"
in their favour. For theirs is the last and
longest running anti-colonial struggle of modern
history. History is not on the side of the US and
Israel. By internalizing this profound insight,
the Palestinian leadership can be strongly
optimistic of making history happen.
Toronto Star September 28, 2003
ISLAMIC LAW RULES PAKISTAN'S WILD WEST
Elected clerics defy Musharraf in Frontier state
'Step by step, we are becoming Talibanized'
by MARTIN REGG COHN
PESHAWAR, Pakistan-First they tore down the Pepsi
billboard, because it showed a woman drinking
cola with a man.
Next, a rooftop ad was blacked out because it
featured a glamorous beauty selling ceiling fans.
Now, female ultrasound scans by male doctors are
banned, to stop titillation of the opposite sex.
Islamic law has come to the wild west of Northwest Frontier Province.
Here in the heart of the tribal belt, along the
Afghanistan border, voters sent shock waves
across Pakistan by installing a fundamentalist
coalition in power a year ago. After three years
of military dictatorship, the Frontier opted for
religious rule. Emboldened by their electoral
success, the province's
preachers-turned-politicians have decided to
impose sharia - or Islamic religious law - over
the objections of the central government led by
President Pervez Musharraf.
The differences in their political agendas are
symbolized by their competing travel itineraries
last week: While Musharraf was feted in Canada as
a bulwark against extremism, a delegation of
fundamentalists from Frontier province was being
warmly received in Iran to study implementation
In the colonial-era provincial assembly where
they hold a majority of seats, the elected
clerics are plotting their next move: How to
segregate female patients from male physicians
who perform electrocardiograms and ultrasounds.
"We think that men could derive sexual pleasure
from women's bodies while conducting ECG or
ultrasound," proclaimed Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan,
provincial secretary of the governing Islamist
coalition known as the MMA.
"Some women could lure men under the ECG or
ultrasound cover. In both cases, perversion could
prevail in society. Therefore, to save the
supreme values of Islam and the message of the
Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, the MMA has
decided to impose the ban."
Protecting women from the prying eyes of suspect
physicians is only the latest measure imposed by
the ruling Muttahihda Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), an
alliance of six pro-Taliban parties that swept to
power after Musharraf's military government
emasculated the old-line secular parties last
year. The centrepiece is sharia, which would
reform the legal code and modify social measures
to conform with the mullahs' interpretation of
The veil for women is now de rigueur under the
new regime, male students must wear the
traditional shalwar kameez uniform, and the sexes
are segregated. Prayers are mandatory for public
servants, and the provincial government has just
announced a ban on musical performances in
designated public venues to protect people from
disco and other deviant forms of entertainment.
Next on the agenda is a religious police force,
pioneered by the Taliban when they ruled
Afghanistan, dubbed the Department for the
Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
The morality measures have sparked an outcry
among women who must now travel 150 kilometres
east to the national capital, Islamabad, for
"The ruling party is only concerned with the
female anatomy," fumes Dr. Umar Ayub Khan, an
orthopedic surgeon at the local Police and
Services Hospital who is also president of the
Pakistan Medical Association. "I think this
obsession is not what Islam is about. I would
call them obscurantists who are trying to make
Northwest Frontier Province a theocracy."
Local hoteliers, already hurting because of the
menace of terrorism here, warn that the music ban
will push them into bankruptcy if guests can no
longer enjoy entertainment when they visit.
"Slowly, slowly, step by step, we are becoming
Talibanized," complains Bashir Ahmed, manager of
the Khan Klub hotel in Peshawar's old city.
Ahmed says that next week he will close the doors
of his luxury hotel - a restored mansion
recalling Peshawar's glory days as a trading
centre in the British Empire - because foreigners
are frightened of the fundamentalist tide.
The provincial government makes no apologies for
carrying out its campaign promises. In fact, it
claims a clear mandate from voters to give the
Frontier an Islamic look.
And that's not fanaticism. That's fundamentalist
democracy, according to one of the movement's
most influential thinkers.
"We have promised the people, and that (sharia)
was our manifesto," insists Mohammed Ibrahim
Khan, a religious scholar turned politician who
sits on the province's new sharia council.
In his second-floor office overlooking the
sprawling headquarters of the powerful
Jamaat-e-Islami party, flanked by leather-bound
religious books in a glass bookcase and Qur'anic
inscriptions on his walls, Khan stresses that he
is the face of moderation. The Frontier province
will avoid the excesses of the Taliban regime
that ruled Afghanistan until it was toppled by
the Americans after 9/11.
"There were many things in the Taliban regime
that we agree with," muses Khan, 48. "They
established peace within Afghanistan, and they
said whatever was in their hearts."
But Khan insists the Frontier Islamists offer a
kinder, gentler fundamentalism. "We can succeed
where they failed," he boasts. "Statecraft is a
difficult task, but we are learning."
Unlike the Taliban, which barred girls from
schools in Afghanistan, everyone gets an
education in the Frontier. And while the bearded
scholar backs the Taliban view Muslim men should
not trim their facial hair, he insists no one
will be beaten or imprisoned for shaving.
The veil will be voluntary, and prayer caps will not be imposed.
"This can be done through propaganda," Khan says.
"Those women who are without veils can be
persuaded by the propagation of virtue."
Where the Taliban's religious police used whips
to enforce order, the Frontier will use words,
according to the government's soft-spoken
minister of law, Zafar Azam. As the man charged
with enforcing sharia and setting up the
sinister-sounding virtue and vice squad, Azam is
the new sharia sheriff in town.
`We are not the Taliban, we are democrats.'
Frontier Law Minister Zafar Azam
But he is an unlikely enforcer. Azam is
clean-shaven, boasts that he holds an American
green card, and loves Michael Jackson tunes. So
why can he watch Thriller with his kids in
America, but teenagers here cannot? Azam frets
that rock videos with suggestive lyrics could
overwhelm impressionable young people in the
"Here it is an illiterate society, they need
education about that," Azam explains over chilled
soft drinks at the government officers' club.
"Look, personally I like Michael Jackson very
much, and I have lots of his songs, but for the
young generation it is not good for developing
their morals and values.
"Because of this music, teenagers are thinking too much about sex."
For the law minister, sharia is not merely a
matter of morality, but offers greater efficiency
for clogged courts. "Sharia works because it is a
quick procedure," Azam explains. "In Islam, the
first thing is virtue and vice. This is the main
guideline for sharia, to prevent bad things."
As for segregation of the sexes in hospitals and
clinics, Azam makes no apologies.
"We have some customs for the ladies, the purdah
(seclusion) system. For conditions like
pregnancy, it's very bad in our tradition for the
lady to have the delivery by a male doctor."
But Azam expresses contrition about the
heavy-handed tactics of Islamist vigilantes who
tore down the billboard showing a man and woman
flirting over a Pepsi. There was no need for
these fundamentalists to destroy property,
because the government had already pressured the
bottler to remove the ads.
"This picture was not good," Azam explains. "I
talked to the Pepsi multinational and they agreed
to replace it."
But before Pepsi could make good on its promise,
the hardliners struck. Azam says he disciplined
the local police for negligence in giving the
fundamentalists a free hand.
More than 100 activists used stones and iron rods
to destroy the billboards while police looked on,
there have been bonfires for videos showing music
and dancing, and vigilantes have threatened
cinemas and cable TV operators for showing
similarly unsuitable fare.
"That damaged our image," Azam frets. "We are not
the Taliban, we are democrats."
Azam has a point. In fact, many in the cabinet
are veteran politicians who only embraced Islamic
fundamentalism on the eve of the last elections
as a way to win votes.
Like, for example, the province's chief minister,
Akram Khan Durrani, who grew a beard only under
pressure from his religious coalition partners.
Before playing the Islamist card, he was known as
a secular politician.
Most analysts fault President Musharraf for
creating the conditions that allowed the
Islamists to make a breakthrough in the
Previously, religious parties were considered a
fringe movement, capable of massing extremists
for street protests, but never capturing more
than 10 or 15 per cent of the vote. That changed
when Musharraf sidelined the major secular
parties, banning the candidacies of his two main
rivals in exile, Pakistan People's Party leader
Benazir Bhutto, and Pakistan Muslim League chief
Nawaz Sharif (whom he ousted in a military coup
four years ago).
Encouraged by the military, the various religious
parties agreed not to run candidates against one
another in the same constituencies. By avoiding a
split in the vote, and exploiting local
resentment against America's war on the Taliban,
the new coalition won a two-thirds majority of
Foreign diplomats and local analysts say
Musharraf has opened a Pandora's box in Pakistani
politics. The religious parties that the army had
expected to be compliant are confronting him with
their sharia strategy.
"The president was so hellbent on destroying the
two (mainline) parties that he didn't realize the
consequences of fragmenting the secular vote,"
says Aamer Ahmed Khan, editor of The Herald
Now, Musharraf is vowing to block the province's
plans for sharia if they impinge on federal
jurisdiction. But the mullahs are not intimidated.
Khan, of the Jamaat-e-Islami party that dominates
the Frontier coalition, points out that Musharraf
has backed down from his earlier pledge to
regulate Pakistan's controversial religious
seminaries, known as madrassas. Singled out as a
breeding ground for extremism, most of the 10,000
madrassas have ignored the government's authority
"The government has retreated and the madrassas
have won," Khan asserts. "There is rage in the
madrassas against Pervez Musharraf, and he felt
the power of the madrassas."
But if the fundamentalists won power through
political expediency and military manipulation,
they may ultimately alienate their electoral base
by misgoverning, local analysts predict. The
appeal of their religious garb is wearing thin
amidst the mundane realities of politics.
"After one year in power people are noticing that
the mullahs who used to ride on bicycles are now
driving around in fancy cars," says Shamim
Shahid, Peshawar bureau chief of The Nation
daily. "Unemployment is high, and povery is
The Frontier's flirtation with fundamentalism
could be short-lived if the mullahs fail to
revive a moribund economy, tempering the popular
appetite for religious radicalism.
"People are fed up because they are not
delivering," says Afrasiab Khattak, a long-time
human rights activist who predicts his secular
Awami National Party will make a comeback when
people tire of religious obsessions.
"The mullahs are discrediting themselves with
fundamentalism, because people want education,
jobs and economic development .... This is an
infantile disorder that I hope we can get over."
RIAZ KHAN/AP PHOTO
A police officer directs a man to smear away the
faces of actresses on a movie poster in Peshawar,
Pakistan earlier this month. The provincial
government, dominated by religious hardliners,
has brought its brand of Islamic law to the
country's Northwest Frontier.
Inter Press Service
September 27, 2003
India, Pakistan Back to Sabre Rattling
Commentary - By Praful Bidwai
NEW DELHI, Sep 26 (IPS) - South Asian nuclear
rivals India and Pakistan have again crossed
swords and revived their barely-suppressed mutual
hostility through verbal duels between Prime
Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and President Gen
The only difference is that, this time around,
the duelling venue is the United Nations in New
York and events on the sidelines of the General
Assembly session, which both leaders have
addressed in recent days. The two states have
also moved closer toward deploying their nuclear
weapons and missiles. This highlights the
heightened danger from any new confrontation that
may begin between India and Pakistan. Barely five
months ago, Vajpayee held out ''the hand of
friendship'' to Pakistan from Srinagar in the
Kashmir Valley. He invited Pakistan to walk the
path of peace and reconciliation. Musharraf and
other Pakistani leaders responded warmly to the
offer, the first after their 10 months-long
confrontation - consisting of the deployment of
one million soldiers between them -- ended 11
months ago. However, this Wednesday, Musharraf at
the United Nations tore into India's position on
Kashmir and attacked New Delhi for its ''brutal
suppression of the Kashmiris' demand for
self-determination and freedom from Indian
occupation'' while urging the United Nations and
the major powers to intervene to resolve the
''dangerous'' dispute. In a tat-for-tat reply the
next day, Vajpayee assailed Pakistan for
supporting and using ''cross-border terrorism''
as ''a tool of blackmail''.
He also accused Musharraf of having made ''a
public admission for the first time that Pakistan
is sponsoring terrorism in à Kashmir. After
claiming that there is an indigenous struggle in
Kashmir, he has offered to encourage a general
cessation of violence à in return for 'reciprocal
obligations and restraints'.'' Musharraf
demanded, without naming India, that ''states
which occupy and suppress other peoples, and defy
the resolutions of the (Security) Council, have
no credentials to aspire for (its) permanent
Indian leaders dismissed these remarks as
''rubbish'' and the result of Pakistan's ''annual
itch'' on Kashmir.
Vajpayee countered: ''Most U.N. members today
recognise the need for an enlarged and
restructured Security Council, with more
developing countries as à members''. This
vocalised India's aspiration for a permanent
Security Council seat. How has this degeneration
into mutually hostile rhetoric come about?
Broadly, it has involved three processes playing
themselves out over the past five months. First,
India and Pakistan have consciously tried to
throttle growing and exuberant people-to-people
or civil society contacts between their two
countries. Ever since the Lahore-Delhi bus route,
suspended in January last year, was recently
resumed, there have been a large number of visits
of friendly citizens' delegations, businessmen,
schoolchildren's groups, and journalists'
organisations as well as parliamentarians'
These were many steps ahead of the extremely
slow-paced, reluctant and very guarded
official-level exchanges. Now both countries,
especially Pakistan, have clamped down on such
visits through the simple expedient of denying
visas to each other's citizens. The worst cases
of such denial are the cancellation of a jurists'
and lawyers' delegation, and a high-powered visit
by Indian businessmen. Secondly, the two
governments have quibbled over the sequence and
content of the steps to be taken for normalising
bilateral relations. They restored
ambassador-level contacts and restarted the bus
service. But they failed to reach an agreement on
the resumption of severed air and rail links or
trade. India made the restoration of rail links
conditional upon the resumption of flights
between the two countries' cities as well as free
passage through their airspace.
Pakistan, in turn, insisted that air links could
not be resumed unless India assured it that it
would not unilaterally suspend overflights, as it
did last year, and earlier, in the 1971
Bangladesh war. The talks held late month
collapsed. But the third, and most important,
process involved a bloody-minded refusal by both
establishments to make sincere attempts to remove
mutual misunderstanding, build confidence and
take such unconditional steps as they could
without compromising their positions.
It is as if both had vowed to ensure that the
tentative peace initiative begun in mid-April
would collapse. They increasingly made
self-fulfilling prophesies of doom and laid down
conditions that were destined not to be realised.
Thus, India has over the past few weeks hardened
its insistence that there could be no meaningful
dialogue with Pakistan until ''cross-border
terrorism'' is completely ended.
Pakistan in turn has questioned India's
willingness to discuss the Kashmir issue and
hinted that terrorist activity across the border
would not stop until India's repression in
Kashmir ends. Islamabad claims that the
separatist militancy in Kashmir is fully
indigenous and that it only lends it ''moral and
political support''. But its general credibility
on this issue is low. Islamabad made an identical
claim in respect of the Taliban too, although it
virtually created it, trained it and infiltrated
it into Afghanistan in the early 1990s.
There is pretty strong evidence that Islamabad's
secret service cut off support to Kashmiri
militants some months ago. But India claims that
this was revived in recent weeks. There is no
independent verification of this. Underlying the
failure to negotiate reconciliation and
normalisation is deep-seated resentment and
suspicion on both sides, compounded by domestic
India is ruled by its most right-wing government
in 56 years, led by a strongly Islamophobic
party, which often equates terrorism with
Pakistan and Islam. In Pakistan, Musharraf faces
a tough Islamist opposition that accuses him of
having sold out on Kashmir. Amid the mounting
India-Pakistan rivalry come intensified
preparations in both countries to further build
their missile programmes and fissile-material
stockpiles and to proceed toward the deployment
of nuclear-tipped missiles. On Sep. 1, India's
newly formed Nuclear Control Authority held its
first-ever meeting and reviewed the arrangements
in place for the ''strategic forces programme''.
It took ''a number of decisions on further
development of the programme'', which will
''consolidate India's nuclear deterrence''.
Exactly two days later, in a tit-for-tat
response, Pakistan too held a meeting of its
National Control Authority. This decided to make
''qualitative upgrades'' in the nuclear
programme. Since then, the Indian defence
ministry has confined that it is to
''operationalise'' the nuclear-capable
intermediate-range Agni missile and that it has
sanctioned the raising of two missile groups.
Independent international experts believe that
Pakistan is currently more advanced than India so
far as the deployment-readiness of missiles goes.
Both countries now have short and medium-range
missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads and
reaching each other's cities in less than 10
minutes. There are no worthwhile
crisis-prevention and -crisis-diffusion or
confidence-building measures in place between
India and Pakistan. They are suspicious of each
other's nuclear doctrines and have not hesitated
to resort to nuclear blackmail. During the Kargil
war of 1999, they exchanged nuclear threats no
fewer than 13 times. More recently, in their 10
month-long eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation, they
came perilously close at least twice to actual
combat. India threatened conventional surgical
strikes and a ''limited war''. Pakistan warned
that any war would escalate to the nuclear plane.
With Kashmir as the flashpoint, the threat of
Nuclear Armageddon now looms larger over South
Arundhati Roy talks about
'The War That Never Ends'
By Anthony Arnow
Arundhati Roy is the author of the award-winning novel The God of Small
Things and two books of essays, War Talk and Power Politics. Roy, who lives
in New Delhi, received the 2002 Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom.
Q. THE WAR ON IRAQ HAS BECOME AN OCCUPATION. IS IRAQ A NEW COLONY?
Yes, but it's proving to be a pretty recalcitrant one. Maybe we should
rethink the notion that Iraq has been "conquered." American soldiers are
dying every day, more now than during the war.
Q. THE U.S. GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN THREATENING IRAN, SYRIA AND NORTH KOREA. DO
YOU THINK IRAQ WAS JUST A PRELUDE?
In this particular chapter of War and Empire, the war on Afghanistan was the
real prelude. Basically "The War on Terror" is Bush's perfect war, the war
that never ends. The weapons deals that never stop. The oil fields that
never dry up.
But maybe those who supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were too
quick to declare victory. In both countries now, U.S. troops are bogged down
in a kind of quick sand. That's why the U.S. government is trying to coerce
other countries like India and Pakistan to clean up the mess it has left
If the United States now attacks Iran, Syria, or North Korea, its troops
will be further strung out across the globe. But then the physics of Empire
seems to be encrypted in some way--overreach and implode. Maybe that's what
will happen. But the downside is that the U.S. arsenal of nuclear weapons
might ensure that the American Empire is the last empire the human race will
Q. HALLIBURTON JUST ANNOUNCED INCREASED PROFITS LARGELY BECAUSE OF ITS IRAQ
OPERATIONS. WHO'S PROFITING FROM THIS WAR AND WHO ISN'T?
Halliburton is an old player in Iraq. It's not every corporation that can
boast of having the army and the entire military might of the most powerful
country on earth at its disposal, risking life and limb in order to increase
its margins of profit.
If I were a U.S. soldier, risking my life and sanity in the 100-plus-degree
deserts of Iraq, I'd be asking some pretty serious questions of the CEOs of
companies like Halliburton. How much do you earn? How much do I earn? What
do you risk? What do I risk?
Equally, if I were a student, or a school teacher, or a health worker or a
single mother in the United States, reading about the huge cuts in public
spending, I'd be asking a very simple question about this war: Who pays, who
I think what I find most insulting of all is the complete confidence with
which George Bush the Lesser and his henchmen do what they do, assuming that
American people are just plain stupid, and that public memory is fickle.
America's poor are being exploited and put on the frontlines to ensure
further profits for America's rich. It's for this reason that it's
ridiculous and self-defeating to be "anti-American." America is not one
homogenous mass of brutality.
One-fifth of the armed forces are African American. I don't imagine anywhere
close to one fifth of the profits of this war go to African American people.
Asians and Latinos are in the army, hoping to get citizenship. What a great
system. Get the Blacks, Asians, Latinos, and poor whites to fight your
boardroom battles for you
Q. IRAQ IS BEING OPENED UP FOR PRIVATIZATION IN THE NAME OF DEMOCRACY. WHAT
IS PRIVATIZATION ABOUT?
It's quite unbelievable. The kinds of things that are being done these days
in the name of "democracy" would be laughable if it weren't so savage.
Privatization is the anti-thesis of democracy. It is the process of
transferring public assets, held in trust for the public good, to private
companies to amass private profit. It is simply unacceptable.
Q. SOLDIERS AND THEIR FAMILIES ARE SPEAKING OUT AGAINST THE OCCUPATION. WILL
THIS HELP RALLY INTERNATIONAL OPPOSITION?
I think speaking out against the occupation is the bravest thing that a
soldier can do. I have always admired the U.S. soldiers who spoke out
against the Vietnam War. In fact, in places like India, when people get
randomly racist and anti-American, I always ask them: When do you last
remember Indian soldiers speaking out against a war, any war, in India?
When soldiers speak out, people really sit up and listen. I cannot think of
a better way of rallying international opposition to the occupation. To
those American soldiers who have had the courage to speak out, I send my
Q. PRESIDENT BUSH HAS ASKED INDIA TO SEND TROOPS TO HELP "CONTROL" IRAQ.
WHAT IS YOUR REACTION?
Bush probably knows that rightwing religious fundamentalists, regardless of
what religion they subscribe to, are brothers in arms. George Bush, Osama
bin Laden, Ariel Sharon, the mullahs of Pakistan and the L.K. Advani's and
Narendra Modi's of India have no trouble understanding each other.
In India, the present government is not just right wing, it is skating very
close to fascism. For the first time in the history of independent India,
the Indian government (the coalition led by the Bharatya Janata Party) is
trying hard to align itself with the U.S.-Israel axis. It is not a
coincidence that the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat, conducted with the
brazen collusion of the government and the police, took place so soon after
Sept. 11. Neither is it a coincidence that the case is closed
internationally, because killing Muslims now, after Sept. 11 is somehow seen
If Indian troops aren't sent to Iraq, the reason won't be a lack of will on
the part of the Indian government. It will be because the proposal has
caused serious outrage among Indian people, a majority of whom were also
incensed by the war in Iraq.
[ Edited version of E-mail Post forwarded to some list serves]
Re: Statement of the Evangelical Fellowship of India on Dara Singh's sentence
Date: Sat, 27 Sep 2003 15:49:16 +0530
From: Ammu Abraham (Women's Centre, Bombay)
Many of us associated with the movement to uphold
the human rights of all and to promote greater
humanism are opposed to the death penalty,
whatever the guilt. A few years back, India's
Deputy PM, L.K.Advani had promoted the idea that
the death penalty should be introduced in the
rape law of the country. (This proposal did not
first come from L.K.Advani but from a woman Rajya
Sabha member from the Congress-I). The feminists
of this country took the initiative to oppose
this move and also to register the fact that many
of us are opposed to the death penalty per se.
My heart shared the hurt of Mrs Gladys Steines,
when her family was so brutally done away with. I
felt so moved, and was pleased for once, to have
been born a Christian, when she knelt and said
with tears in her eyes that she forgives those
who did it. Genuine forgiveness does not come
easy; it takes a lot of pain and transcendence.
Unlike many activists in Mumbai, I admired Mrs.
Steines for it, because her pain and her
genuiness were both obvious. I understand that
her forgiveness is not a legal matter and I would
not agree that it should be.
The problem is that the legal system is a human
system. Its human justiceand it is capable of
error. Its the best that we could produce, but it
is still capable of error. Should a life be taken
by the state, on the basis of it? What if 5 years
after the death penalty is executed, totally
convincing new evidence should prove the executed
person innocent beyond all reasonable doubt? Can
anyone then bring that life back? Of course not.
It is for this reason that I oppose the death
penalty, never mind how 'rare' the offence.
What is the meaning of "rarest of rare" in a
country in some parts of which people are lynched
on suspicion that they took the life of cattle,
for food or for a livelihood, and the guilty then
go unpunished? Or for that matter, what is the
meaning of it in Western, Christian majority
countries, where doctors are murdered for
aborting an embryo and the govt thinks nothing of
bombing or starving to death millions of children
Let us not, in our anti-communalist fervour,
which certainly cheers me, allow anger to carry
us away. Let us all come together to write for a
Presidential cancellation of the death penalty
for Dara Singh and the other accused, and use
this opportunity to ask Parliament that the death
penalty be removed
altogether. Dear [...], you who have been so
relentlessly an anti-communalist and anti-fascist
could perhaps take the lead in this? I ask this
because I noticed your piece [...] about the
With my warm regards to all,
Ammu Abraham, Women's Centre, Bombay
o o o
Press Statement by the Evangelical Fellowship of India
Judgment of the Honble Court, Orissa awarding a
death sentence to Dara Singh and life sentence
to the accomplices
Even as the law of the land finally condemns to
death Dara Singh for the brutal killing of
Graham Stuart Staines and his two innocent
children, Philip and Timothy in Manoharpur,
Baripada, Orissa on the 23rd of January 1999, we
at the Evangelical Fellowship of India take this
moment to condemn the growing hatred and
intolerance towards the minority communities.
Seeing the law catch up with those who cut short
three innocent lives, it is hoped that this
measure will serve as a deterrent to those who
continue to persecute minorities.
In spite of this being the rarest of rare case
deserving the death penalty, the sentencing of
Dara Singh would not bring the necessary
healing, which was initiated by the forgiveness
of Mrs. Gladys Staines.
Dara Singh is a product of a systematic hate
campaign unleashed against the minority
communities by the perpetrators of the
ideologies of hatred.
Appropriate steps need to be taken by both
government and civil society that reconciliation
and healing instead of hatred flourishes which
was the mission of Graham Stuart Staines
Rev. Richard Howell
Blocking of Yahoo groups content still continues in India . . .
[Update : morning of 30 Sept. 2003]
RESIST SCANDALOUS INTERNET CENSORSHIP IN INDIA NOW
A Plea to Users and Citizens + resources and news
A growing number of internet users in India have
vigorously and actively protested against, the
blocking yahoo groups; pushing ISPs and the
govt of India to take note. VSNL one of the
biggest Internet service providers lifted the ban
on 27th September 2003, but the blocking by other
important ISPs still remains in place (i.e. till
the afternoon of 29 September 2003) for users at
It is important to keep up the pressure to rally
all our forces to force the remaining ISP's and
the govt to retreat. This is indeed a great
opportunity for us to push the govt and also the
ISP's like Dishnet who seem to have internalised
the great security mantras of the Indian State.
This whole episode, smacks of utter disregard for
people's rights as citizens and for their rights
as consumers. While the government of India
continually lectures the world about our being
some larger than life information economy
superpower, it is deeply undermining the very
basis on which the conditions for a domestic
'information driven economy' to flourish, by
regimenting, and controlling information for
consumption and leisure . . .
The past record of the Indian state of invoking
'national security' regarding internet access and
control speaks for itself, in 1999 during the
heat off the Kargil war, the leading Pakistani
daily was blocked by VSNL the then leading govt
run internet service provider.
Indian Parliament passed the draconian
Information Technology Act in May 2000 to target
'cybercrime', which it defines as unauthorised
access to electronic data. Cybercafés and homes
of Internet users can be searched at any time
without a warrant on suspicion of cybercrime and
those who set up "anti-Indian" websites can be
jailed for five years.
Bombay Police announced in May 2001 that anyone
wanting to use a cybercafé there would need to
show an ID, driving licence or student card or
for foreigners a passport or plane ticket.
POTO, the anti-terrorist law of 2001(the
Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance) was brought in
the wake of the 11 September attacks, allows the
government to monitor all kinds of electronic
communications, including personal e-mail, and
voice data without legal restriction.
You will recall how one of India's leading
independent voices in the media Tehelka.com was
shamelessly victimised following its revelations
about the corruption in defence sales. For two
years, the Tehelka was harassed and hounded, and
the web site's debts grew to a point of collapse.
Police in New Delhi arrested the journalist
Iftikhar Gilani, New Delhi bureau chief of the
Kashmir Times on charges of spying for Pakistan
on 7 September 2002 his grave crime was
downloading an article from the Internet, which
was already freely available in print in
libraries in India. Senior officials of the
Indian army testified in the courts that he had
no sensitive information.
All this has happened and concerned citizens and
rights groups have taken up these issues in part.
But somehow human rights community in India
havent gotten organised to work on issues of
Cyber rights and shrinking freedom and
restrictions with regards to electronic data
surveillance and Internet censorship.
This current crisis, is an opportunity for us to
organise a platform of Indian Internet users to
take up not only the current ban but start a
regular national fora to lobby for civil
liberties and rights campaign for internet users.
The Internet is a full fledged extension of the
public sphere and public space.
This is an invitation to rights activists in
India to take up these issues and not leave them
to techies. Its not just techies who use
computers, and computers are slowly spreading to
all levels. So do take note.
o o o
Posted below are addresses of the officials and
bodies to whom people must write to protest or to
seek their intervention re the current Internet
censorship in India.
(Minister of Communications & Information Technology & Disinvestment)
Email : ashourie at nic.in
Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad
(Minister of Information and Broadcasting)
E-Mail: ravis at sansad.nic.in
Phone: (91) 23384340, 23384782 Fax : (91) 23782118
Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In)
India's Department of Telecom
ddgir at sancharnet.in
The Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI)
NEWS REPORTS AND RESOURCES
29 September, 2003, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
Outrage over India Yahoo ban
Thousands of internet users in India have flooded
a government website calling for a ban to be
lifted on a Yahoo discussion group.
Yahoo is in a legal grey area, say experts
The ban has resulted in the blocking of all
discussion groups hosted by the internet giant in
India, inconveniencing internet users across the
The Indian Government ordered the move because of
fears the discussion group, the Kynhun forum, had
links with banned separatists.
It used new information technology laws to force
Indian internet service providers (ISPs) to block
the forum after Yahoo refused to comply.
The government says the Kynhun forum is linked to
the outlawed Hynniewtrep National Liberation
Council, a minor separatist group in the
north-eastern state of Meghalaya.
It said the discussion group "contained material
against the Government of India and the State
Government of Meghalaya".
The order was issued by the Indian Government's
Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) which
holds the power to block internet sites deemed to
be obscene or a national security threat.
Under the IT Act, Indian ISPs are liable for all third party data and content.
I publish a monthly newsletter which is
distributed free of cost to more than 1,000
subscribers worldwide. Suddenly I learn that I
can no longer have access to my data
Yahoo user Vivek Soley
Since Indian ISPs lack the technical expertise to
block a sub-group, they have responded by
blocking Kynhun's IP address, which makes no
distinction between it and other Yahoo discussion
Thousands of Indians have now flooded the
CERT-IN's discussion board asking for the ban to
Global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders
says the case highlights the danger of internet
"Blocking a few web pages can result in the
blocking of hundreds of other web pages that have
nothing to do with the banned content - this is a
recurring problem on which we must remain very
vigilant," secretary-general Robert Ménard said.
Indian cyberlaw expert, Pawan Duggal, says the
government is on very thin legal ground.
"The inherent sovereign power of the government
to block can never be denied," he told BBC News
"But the route they have taken is completely
illegal and will be struck down if challenged in
Despite the legal grey area, the ban has in
effect blocked out many Indians from the Yahoo
The government should lift this ban before it
ruins India's image as a free country
Vivek Soley lives in the central Indian town of
Indore and maintains a subscribers list on
"I publish a monthly newsletter which is
distributed free of cost to more than 1,000
"Suddenly I learn that I can no longer have access to my data.
"Several other educational and information groups
have also been blocked all because of one group,"
Naveen Rolands' eight-year-old daughter has a
Yahoo group through which she shares photos and
accounts of her travels with family and friends
who are abroad.
That site is now blocked.
"I wonder who the real terrorists are," he said.
"My daughter who uses Yahoo groups to share some
photos? Or the bunch of clowns who call
themselves politicians and [bureaucrats] who have
given free publicity to an insurgent group?"
"The government should lift this ban before it
ruins India's image as a free country."
Others point out that Kynhun had no more than about 20 subscribers.
"There are over 200 Kashmiri discussion groups
with far more volatile views," says Pawan Duggal.
"With this action the government has opened a huge Pandora's box."
o o o
[Statement by Kynhun the group on yahoo whose ban
the Indian authorities triggered the present
The Voice - Press Release
by Kyrmenlang Ryntathiang 7:58am Sat Sep 27 '03
address: Ri Hynniewtrep phone: NA <kyrmenlang at yahoo.com>
[ groups.yahoo.com/group/Kynhun ]
The Voice - Press Statement
The HNLC after having carefully examined the
notification signed by the Government of India
through the Ministry of Communications &
Information Technology, Department of
Telecommunications (LR Cell) No. 820-1/2003-LR
(Vol I) dated 10/09/2003 by Jayant Kumar to ban
"Kynhun" Yahoo Group which published the Internet
Newsletter of the HNLC "The Voice", felt that the
Government of India had not done any justice by
imposing the ban on the said news media without
assigning any reason, however to show its
superiority it had ordered the Officials of Yahoo
and the Internet Service Providers to ban the
said news media of the HNLC. Banning the site
clearly shows a cowardly act on the part of the
Government to bar off the people to read the
Newsletter published by the HNLC and from the
fact the Ban sends a message to the world that
the tall claim of the Indian Government regarding
the Freedom of Speech and Expression in the
country is unjustified. [...].
o o o
India Blocks Almost All Yahoo! Forums
India Bans Web Discussion Group, but Ends Up
Blocking Access to Popular Unrelated Yahoo Forums
The Associated Press
BANGALORE, India Sept. 29
o o o
San Diego Union Tribune (September 30, 2003)
India bans one Yahoo discussion group - and almost all are shut
o o o
Reporters Without Borders
5, rue Geoffroy Marie - 75009 Paris - France
Tel. (33) 1 44 83 84 84
E-mail : rsf at rsf.org
Asia Press Release
29 September 2003
Government ban on separatist site blocks access
to all Yahoo ! discussion groups
Reporters Without Borders today called on the
Indian authorities to rescind instructions issued
to Internet service providers to block access to
the "Kyunhun" discussion forum, which is
reportedly linked to the Hynniewtrep National
Liberation Council, a banned separatist group in
the state of Meghalaya.
The organisation questioned the need to ban this
discussion group and voiced outrage about the
measure's side-effects. The Kyunhun site is
hosted by Yahoo !, and an unintended consequence
of the ban is that Indian Internet users have
lost access to all Yahoo ! websites.
"This case highlights the danger of Internet
censorship giving rise to complex technical
problems," Reporters Without Borders
secretary-general Robert Ménard said. "Blocking a
few web pages can result in the blocking of
hundreds of other web pages that have nothing to
do with the banned content - this is a recurring
problem on which we must remain very vigilant."
o o o
The Telegraph, September 29, 2003
FREEDOM OF ABUSE
The internet has given a bizarre twist to the
story of human freedom. There seems to be no
secure line between the thrill of limitless
possibilities and the frightening sense of things
getting out of hand. What emerges is an
impossible tangle of ethical, legal and political
issues. Microsoft Network will soon be shutting
down its free chatrooms for users in the United
Kingdom, Europe, South America and parts of Asia,
including India. This is the first time that a
transnational service provider will deliberately
draw in the worldwide web. The reason given for
this is fundamentally moral, although it has been
noted that MSN makes very little money from its
international chatrooms anyway. But the problem
will have to be addressed squarely. Nothing less
than the sexual abuse of minors is the issue
here. Lurking in these chatrooms are dangerous
people, who are part of a vast, global network of
criminals, the almost unmanageable spread of
which is now being gradually revealed. Policing
this limitless cyberworld of slippery identities
and virtual anonymity is proving to be expensive
for service providers and daunting for lawkeepers
all over the world. Sexual crime and terrorism
are two very different phenomena, but they
operate within the same technological
infrastructure, and pose similar practical and
ethical problems of security.
Yet organized paedophilia confronts the
libertarian with a difficult moral absolute. Any
notion of total freedom will therefore have to be
carefully reconsidered, but keeping in mind the
pitfalls of such policing. This will always be
difficult to achieve, and sustaining it can, and
should, never be solely the task of the state. In
India the problem is double-edged. On the one
hand, child sexual abuse remains a largely
invisible phenomenon, and there is no reason to
assume that it is any less widespread than in
Europe. So awareness and prevention will have to
be stepped up relentlessly. On the other hand,
the Indian state's attitude to moral policing is
far from reassuring. Censorship - moral, cultural
and political - has often taken, and continues to
take, highly regressive forms in the hands of the
Centre. The government censors documentary films,
shuts down politically dissenting cybergroups,
intervenes regularly in sexual health programmes
and continues to regard homosexuals as criminals.
This is certainly not the best profile for the
ideal censor. The policing and censorship of
something as pervasive as the internet should
face, uncompromisingly, their toughest
challenges. But they should also remain firmly
within the public domain of discussion and debate
in the Indian democracy.
Buzz on the perils of fundamentalist politics, on
matters of peace and democratisation in South
Asia. SACW is an independent & non-profit
citizens wire service run since 1998 by South
Asia Citizens Web (www.mnet.fr/aiindex).
The complete SACW archive is available at: http://sacw.insaf.net
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.
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