SACW - 19/20 July 2018 | Afghanistan: Blackwater plan to privatise America’s war / Bangladesh: war on drugs going beserk / Pakistan: July 2018 elections - Terrifying Business / India resembles Pakistan / Nicaragua

Harsh Kapoor aiindex at
Thu Jul 19 16:09:58 EDT 2018

South Asia Citizens Wire - 19/20 July 2018 - No. 2993 
[via South Asia Citizens Web - since 1996]

1. Pakistan: upcoming July 2018 Elections - Statements and Commentary
  a) Pakistan: Attempts to maneuver polls unacceptable - statement by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)
  b) Pakistan: July 2018 elections - the certainties | Pervez Hoodbhoy
  c) Pakistan: Where Democracy Is a Terrifying Business | Ali Akbar Natiq
2. India - Pakistan: 
  - What option is there before India and Pakistan but for friendship and peace? | Sandeep Pandey
  - A Tale of Two Countries | Mohammed Ayoob
3. India: Communalism everyday
 - India: Incidents of Communal Violence - Some Data, Graphs and Statistics 2012-2017
 - Shimla based Indian Institute of Advanced Study’s proposed collaboration with US-based Hindutva group has scholars worried
4. India: Inquest Report into Thoothukudi Police Violence - Press Release
5. India - Environmental issues
  - India: Save our cities from environmental hell - Concerned citizen’s letter to the ministers for Urban Development and Environment
  - Environmental movements in India — Why they succeed or fail ? |  Sagar Dhara
6. India: Concerned citizens write to Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad about due process being followed on data protection legislation
7. Recent on Communalism Watch:
 - Condemn the Attack on Swami Agnivesh by BJP's Youth Wing
 -  Stand Up To Mobs: (edit, TOI)
 - How do we Promote Peace in India, Today? Ram Puniyani
 - Google Map on Mob Violence in India 
 - India : A detailed report on 4 years of Modi govt released
 - FIFA World Cup: Croatia Team Represents the Rot in Its Society as Much as Football Excellence | Priyansh
 - India: Google engineer latest victim of mob lynchings fueled by WhatsApp rumors
 - Rumour Republic: Weaponising mobs for political gain haunts today's India | Bharat Bhushan
 - India: By lionising lynching convicts, Jayant Sinha is strengthening Sangh’s project to legitimise hate
 - India: Letter to J&K Governor Concerning the threat to the life of Sanjay Tickoo, President Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS)
 - India: If Hate Has Been Normalised, Can WhatsApp-Triggered Lynchings Be Far Behind? Maitrayee Chaudhuri
 - India: Shekhar Gupta while criticising the film Sanju - omits role of Hindutva forces in Bombay violence
 - India: Meet Hindutva’s new warriors - All they need is sex, all they get is Twitter | Shivam Vij  
::: URLs & FULL TEXT :::
8. UK: Ian Paisley apologises over holidays funded by Sri Lanka
9. Pakistan: Qandeel Baloch - The Price of Daring? | Zehra Nabi
10. Bangladesh: Two months of war against drugs - 200 dead, over 35000 arrests … 
11. Blackwater founder's plan to privatise America’s $76bn, 17-year war in Afghanistan | Kim Sengupta
12. Anger is consuming India | Nilanjana Bhowmick
13. Market intellectuals: The vacant middle | Mukul Kesavan
14. Nicaragua is on the path to becoming the next Venezuela | Ishaan Tharoor
15. Russia's 2018 World Cup run is over, but Putin — and dictators everywhere — are still big winners at mega-sports events | Jules Boykoff

Islamabad, 16 July 2018. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) is gravely concerned over what it sees as blatant, aggressive and unabashed attempts to manipulate the outcome of the upcoming elections. While it is critical that the polls are held as scheduled, there are now ample grounds to doubt their legitimacy – with alarming implications for Pakistan’s transition to an effective democracy.

It is rare for elections to leave democracy weaker, not stronger. But this is what will happen after July 25. Whether the PML-N, headed by Shahbaz Sharif wins or, instead, the PTI and Imran Khan, is a relatively small matter. The post-election certainties are far more significant — and portentous.

The practice of democracy in the countryside is almost invisible to the television anchors and columnists and other influential urban compatriots who pay American prices for a cup of coffee in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad.

  - What option is there before India and Pakistan but for friendship and peace? | Sandeep Pandey
  - A Tale of Two Countries | Mohammed Ayoob
The India Pakistan Friendship and Peace March from Ahmedabad to Nada Bet during 19 to 29 June, 2018 concluded successfully even though Ahmedabad Police detained the marchers for about 3 hours at the beginning as soon as it started from Gandhi Ashram and Border Security Force didn’t give permission to the march at the fag end from Nadeshwari Mata Mandir to the border, a distance of 25 km. Hence the total distance of this march on foot was curtailed to about 250 km. The March was taken out to demand from the Governments of India and Pakistan to reach an agreement to stop killing each other’s soldiers on border.

o o 

It is disturbing how much India has begun to emulate Pakistan

Some statistical data resources on communal violence in India

The Indian Institute of Advanced Study in Shimla is changing and in ways some of its research fellows find troubling. In the past few months, this premier research institution in the humanities and social sciences has organised several lectures by Hindutva ideologues such as Rajiv Malhotra of the New Jersey-based Infinity Foundation and Ashok G Modak, a former Bharatiya Janata Party member of the Legislative Council in Maharashtra. Malhotra’s organisation promotes Hindutva views on Indian history and culture and counters Western academic research in those fields. The subject of Modak’s lecture was Swami Vivekanand and Veer Savarkar.

14 July, 2018. CHENNAI — Citing evidence pointing to violation of Standard Operating Procedures, a total breakdown of civilian authority and possible malafide intent and murder, a 23-member team of retired judges, senior bureaucrats and police officers, and social activists have called for a full administrative and criminal investigations into the 22 May 2018 Thoothukudi police firings and violence that resulted in the deaths of 14 people.


by Sagar Dhara
Synopsis of talk on environmental issues, 8 July 2018, Hyderabad [India]

Over 150 concerned citizens write to Cabinet Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad about the pre-legislative process being followed on data protection legislation
 - Condemn the Attack on Swami Agnivesh by BJP's Youth Wing
 - India: Eminent social activist Swami Agnivesh assaulted by BJP’s youth wing in Jharkhand |
 -  Stand Up To Mobs: SC realised gravity of lynching menace, proceeded full throttle. Government must follow (edit, TOI)
 - How do we Promote Peace in India, Today? Ram Puniyani
 - India: Swami Agnivesh assaulted by BJP workers in Jharkhand
 - Google Map on Mob Violence in India [Since Jan 2017 to-date, at least 74 such mob attacks were reported in which 36 have been killed]
 - India : A detailed report on 4 years of Modi govt released
 - India: Elderly Muslim man who survived Hapur lynching recounts the terror, seeks a fair investigation | report in
 - FIFA World Cup: Croatia Team Represents the Rot in Its Society as Much as Football Excellence | Priyansh
 - India: Google engineer latest victim of mob lynchings fueled by WhatsApp rumors
 - Rumour Republic: Weaponising mobs for political gain haunts today's India | Bharat Bhushan
 - India: By lionising lynching convicts, Jayant Sinha is strengthening Sangh’s project to legitimise hate
 - Emergency in India Different from Fascism in Germany
 - India: Letter to J&K Governor Concerning the threat to the life of Sanjay Tickoo, President Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS)
 - India: Why silence over vigilante violence is dangerous | Tabish Khair
 - India: The Hindu on governments' response to lynchings
 - India: If Hate Has Been Normalised, Can WhatsApp-Triggered Lynchings Be Far Behind? Maitrayee Chaudhuri
 - India: Shekhar Gupta while criticising the film Sanju - omits role of Hindutva forces in Bombay violence
 - India: Meet Hindutva’s new warriors - All they need is sex, all they get is Twitter | Shivam Vij 
 - India: A Senior Minister in the Modi Govt Jayant Sinha Fetes Ramgarh Lynching Convicts as They Get 
 - Hindi article-Differences between Emergency and Fasicsm
 - India: Apoorvanand on the complete banalisation of mob violence - video from a NDTV discussion on Lynchings [in Hindi]
 - Rumours Can Kill - cartoon by Hemant Morparia
 - India: Some Data, Graphs and Statistics on Incidents of Communal Violence 2012-2017

 -> available via:
::: URLs & FULL TEXT :::
The Irish Times
19 July 2018

Ian Paisley apologises over holidays funded by Sri Lanka
Emotional MP pleads with constituents to continue to have confidence in him

Denis Staunton London

DUP MP Ian Paisley made an emotional apology to the House of Commons for failing to disclose two paid family holidays to Sri Lanka. Video:

DUP MP Ian Paisley has made an emotional statement to the House of Commons, apologising for his failure to declare two luxury holidays that were paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

A parliamentary watchdog has called for the North Antrim MP to be suspended for 30 sitting days because he failed to declare the holidays, which were worth more than £50,000.

The trips also included meeting with Sri Lankan governmental figures. The threshold for registering such hospitality in 2013 was around £660. He subsequently wrote a letter to the prime minister arguing on behalf of the Sri Lankan government. Mr Paisley has faced calls to resign his seat and there is a prospect of a by-election as a consequence of the sanction.

At times struggling to maintain his composure, Mr Paisley apologised to the House, to his colleagues in the DUP and to his constituents.

“I take my duties as a Member of Parliament seriously. I believe that I conduct myself with colleagues with integrity and openness, which is why I have such remorse about the matter, as I believe it goes against the grain of who I am, especially how it is portrayed,” he said.

“It is to my constituents, who have sent me here since 2010, that I make the profoundest of all apologies. They have honoured me with unwavering support to be their voice and I hope that they will continue to have that confidence in me in the future.”


When the Daily Telegraph broke the story of Mr Paisley’s holidays in Sri Lanka, where he was accompanied by his family, he initially denied the reports and threatened to sue the newspaper.

The holidays included business-class air travel, accommodation at first-class hotels, helicopter trips and visits to tourist attractions for Mr Paisley and his family.

Mr Paisley said that mistakes made by those in public life were amplified and that they ought to be.

“That is the nature of the job that all of us do and all of us understand that. However, I believe in a politics and in politicians who can admit to human frailty, who can apologise, mean it, and move on, because that is what real life is all about,” he said.

“It is often said that it is how we respond to these challenges in our lives that defines who and what we are, and defines our character and demonstrates to us where the true source of our personal strength rests. The 8th-century prophet Isaiah said, ‘You were angry with me, that anger has turned away, you comfort me.’ I hope to learn that lesson.”

The Commons Standards Committee on Wednesday outlined the sanction for Mr Paisley, son of late DUP founder the Rev Ian Paisley, saying he had committed “serious misconduct” and his actions “were of a nature to bring the House of Commons into disrepute”.

Mr Paisley’s potential suspension would start in September if MPs approve it.

Members who are suspended from the Commons for more than 10 days are open to a recall petition. A by-election would be triggered if 10 per cent of the electorate in Mr Paisley’s North Antrim constituency sign that petition.– PA

by Zehra Nabi
Newsline, July issue 2018
July 16, 2018

The Sensational Life and Death of Qandeel Baloch
Author Sanam Maher

The Sensational Life and Death of Qandeel Baloch does not provide an exhaustively detailed account of the social media celebrity’s life. And that is, somewhat surprisingly, one of the greatest strengths of this book.

In her author’s note, Sanam Maher reveals that it was only days into investigating Qandeel’s life that she became disillusioned with the process. She describes how some of the people she interviewed seemed to offer scripted answers while others were contemptuous of the attention the slain celebrity was bringing to Shah Sadar Din, the village that Qandeel grew up in. It is in the author’s note that Maher talks about how she had to abandon her original quest to unearth the real story of Qandeel’s life. She writes: ‘It took me some time to realise that even if Qandeel had been available to me, sitting right in front of me, it would not have made a great difference to (my) understanding of her.” It’s an important confession to make in the author’s note as it signals to the reader that this is not going to be a typical biography, and certainly not one of those exploitative ones hoping to cash in on the death of a famous and controversial figure.

Instead, what Maher offers is something far more imaginative and intelligent. The Sensational Life and Death provides Qandeel’s trajectory from a child in Shah Sadar Din mimicking the pouting expressions of heroines on television to a young woman in Karachi making similar pouting expressions for hundreds of thousands of viewers on Facebook. This trajectory provides the book with its skeletal structure. But for the flesh and the skin, Maher offers a series of mini-portraits of Pakistanis associated with Qandeel (some intimately, others only very tenuously). It’s a strategy that should not work, but it does. By moving away from Qandeel and describing the lives of these others, the reader is given a more holistic view of the worlds that Qandeel traversed in her short life. To switch metaphors, Maher creates a mosaic-life effect and approximates a portrait of Qandeel by offering us smaller portraits of others. And it is a very colourful cast of others: 

There’s Adil Nizami, the reporter who not only broke the news of Qandeel’s death but also recorded a video of her dead body with his cellphone. The clip was widely circulated on the internet and later, he questions why he ever filmed it in the first place. There is Mec, the media event coordinator, who works with models that are unlikely to ever become household names. Qandeel, however, was one of the few exceptions that he had the chance to work with. There is Khushi Khan, one of these struggling models, who at 29 is already feeling ‘aged-out’ of the industry and now aspires to survive in Islamabad by becoming a personal trainer. 

There is Sabiha, the young respectable housewife from Multan who auditions for Pakistan Idol only to get rejected. She cusses out the show in front of the cameras, but her cameo is quickly eclipsed by Qandeel’s audition. There is Arshad Khan, more easily identifiable as the blue-eyed Chaiwalla who, like Qandeel, knows a thing or two about virality and overnight fame. There is Nighat Dad, the lawyer and internet activist who helped set up Pakistan’s first cybercrime hotline. There is Mufti Qavi who Qandeel famously posed with in a selfie. In one of the many memorable scenes of the book, he keeps beckoning Maher to sit closer to him during their interview. Come closer, he says, patting the floor, closer.  And there’s Qandeel’s family: the grieving parents and (lurking in the shadows of the narrative), the brother who killed her. 

People who were close to Qandeel reveal a woman who was as fearful as she was confident, who would lock herself up in her apartment in the fear of losing her life and also share herself—or at least a persona that she carefully crafted for herself – with countless strangers online. 

And those who did not know her are included to reveal the ephemerality of fame and the visceral struggle that often accompanies it. In the scene where young models coo at Mec and show him their outfits for approval, the reader can easily imagine Qandeel out-cooing the others with aplomb. When Maher, in one of my favourite sections of the book, goes to interview Arshad Khan, we see the painful process of becoming media-ready when your upbringing mainly prepared you for a life of physical labour. In this chapter, Maher describes how Arshad struggles with recording a congratulatory message for a local TV show. Despite being tutored by his manager, the words don’t come out right and he struggles with what readers of this book would find to be commonplace English words. The point of this anecdote is not to belittle Arshad’s pronunciation, but to show how alienating the world of fast fame can be. Maher observes:

“They do one take, and then another. Sometimes, Arshad forgets the name of the man he is congratulating. Other times he forgets to sound happy. He stumbles on the words ‘hundred’ and ‘episode.’ He sounds morose.”

But Arshad is not Qandeel. While fame captured him, she courted it herself. Maher describes how Qandeel would quiz a reporter about what was of interest to people lately: What is trending right now, she tries to find out. Cricket? Politics? Football? She wants to make videos on anything that people are discussing – because in this way, they will also discuss her.

This paragraph is followed by: “I act from the heart and I think from the heart. I’m not desperate for fame. Fame is chasing me. I’m not chasing it.”  

Reading the book, there are instances where the reader may wonder how Maher assembled these anecdotes and quotes from Qandeel’s life. The book offers notes at the end, but there are no footnotes or parenthetical attributions of these sources in the main body of the narrative. But this is not a criticism: it is easy to imagine the anecdotes as having been gleaned from interviews and that the quotes could be from the many Facebook posts and interviews of Qandeel that are readily available online. 

If there are criticisms of this book, they are minor. In her author’s note, Maher mentions that some names have been changed for privacy reasons, but the omission of certain details seem coyly – dare I add, irritatingly – evasive. Qandeel’s audition clip for Pakistan Idol has nearly ten million views on YouTube, and yet Maher refuses to name any of the three judges in her lengthy exegesis of it. A BBC correspondent who interviewed Qandeel is only referred to as Amber, while other journalists mentioned in the book have their full names included. The Sind Club is somewhat unnecessarily mentioned in the book, only to be obliquely referred to as the old club that once did not welcome women or dogs. These flaws, thankfully, are trivial and infrequent. 

The Sensational Life and Death often reads more like a work of fiction than non-fiction. But in the best ways possible. By avoiding false promises of delivering the real story of what happened to Qandeel, Maher allows the reader to focus on the kinds of people and places that create women like her and then destroy them. Occasionally the scenes feel too composed, too contrived, but those moments are rare. Maher’s prose is finely tuned, but does not draw attention to itself. Her observations can be critical and sympathetic, and are often both at the same time. She is the rare writer who can put together Qandeel’s story, as well as the stories of so many others, with not just skill but also faithfulness.  

Zehra Nabi is a graduate student in The Writing Seminars at the Johns Hopkins University. She previously worked at Newsline and The Express Tribune.

Deux mois de "guerre contre la drogue" au Bangladesh: 200 morts, 25.000 arrestations, et beaucoup de questions [a report in French]

37,225 arrested since May 18: Amu

by Kim Sengupta
The Independent [UK]
10 July 2018

In a rare interview, Erik Prince speaks in depth about his pitch to Trump and Pompeo to slash costs by shifting military operations to an international team of 'contractors'

​Donald Trump is expected to ask European countries at this week’s Nato summit, one of the most crucial and contentious in the history of the alliance, to step up and contribute more troops for the war in Afghanistan.

Other member states, already facing an onslaught from the US president over their shortfalls in defence spending, and facing the threat of funding cuts, are likely to acquiesce. Britain, for example, is expected to double the size of its force to just over 1,200.

But Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, probably the most well-known private security company in the world, is adamant that increasing troops in Afghanistan is the worst thing the United State’s allies can do. 

EU warns Donald Trump: 'Appreciate your allies, you don't have many'

“It will be reinforcing a strategy which is a failure – something which has not worked, will not work and needlessly cost lives,” he wanted to stress.

The billionaire, who currently heads a private equity firm, has his own plans for turning around the Afghan war – one which he described to The Independent. 

“What Mr Trump really should be saying to Nato is that there is no point in sending more troops: they should be sending money instead.

“During his election campaign, Mr Trump rightly condemned America’s wasteful wars abroad, so what is the point in keeping on adding to the numbers in Afghanistan?

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo arrives at Camp Alvarado in Kabul on Monday (Reuters)

“The US administration is spending $76bn a year in Afghanistan – that is much more, I think, than Her Majesty’s Government in the UK is spending on its entire defence budget.

“What I am proposing will cost a fraction of that. It will also save lives of armed forces personnel: American, British, Afghans and other allies.”

What Mr Prince is proposing, in essence, is privatising the war, although he would prefer to call it “rationalising and restructuring”. 

It was a strategy he put forward once before to the White House, where it received the backing of Steve Bannon, then Mr Trump’s chief strategist, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

But it was rejected by senior members of the administration, with the then national security advisor Lieutenant General HR McMaster the strongest critic, and secretary of state Rex Tillerson and defence secretary general James Mattis also not in favour.

But there have been changes, with the extraordinary churn, in the Trump administration, and the current secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and national security advisor John Bolton will be much more receptive, Mr Prince believes, to his plan.

General Mattis, he said, agreed with his analysis of the problems in Afghanistan but disagreed with his solution.

The president himself, who has railed repeatedly about the cost of the United State’s military deployed abroad, had shown interest, although Mr Prince, whose sister Betsy DeVos is Mr Trump’s education secretary, is yet to meet him to discuss the matter.

Mr Pompeo maintained in Afghanistan on Monday that Mr Trump’s current strategy was working. The Taliban, he said, can no longer rely on waiting for US forces to pull out.

One of the criticisms of the end of the combat mission by international forces in 2013 was that the decision to withdraw was telegraphed long in advance, enabling the insurgents to bide their time in their camps in Pakistan, and then move back across the border to carry out relentless attacks in a security vacuum.

The backers of the privatisation plan stress that to avoid that happening again, and to follow Mr Trump’s policy of result-based rather than time-based disengagement, leaders in the West will have to commit troops for an indefinite period.

And, in those circumstances, using private security companies will be a much more politically palatable option, avoiding scenes of bodybags coming back home for years to come.

    Something like this will raise all kinds of practical and logistical problems as well as huge legal, moral and ethical ones

Pentagon official 

Mr Prince’s and other such plans may well be assessed, say some US diplomatic sources – and some aspects, if not the whole package, could be utilised in the future.

Others, however, remain dismissive.

“This is something out of Soldier of Fortune [magazine]. Something like this will raise all kinds of practical and logistical problems, as well as huge legal, moral and ethical ones”, a Pentagon official commented.

“The military are not going to back this kind of freewheeling.”
Australian soldiers in Afghanistan’s southern province of Uruzgan (AFP/Getty)

Mr Prince, a former US Navy Seal, calls his programme “a strategic economy of force”.

His suggestion centres on small teams of armed private contractors, not “mercenaries”, largely composed of former members of Western forces, mentoring Afghan troops – living, training and going into battle with them – supported by aircraft flown by contractors with Afghan co-pilots.

“All this has been properly costed: we need 90 aircraft, attack helicopters, transport, medivac. We know about conditions there, 26 of my own helicopters had flown there. We have identified the aircraft, got the serial numbers of those we would need to buy. The DoD [Department of Defence] sent $100m fast-jets to take out $100 opium fields, we won’t be doing anything like that,” he said.

“The Afghan Air Force only began to get trained by the US as late as 2007, and there is a lot to do. In the meantime, they need to get all the support they can get.

“Under our plan, the aircraft will be flown by contractors but the targeting will be done by Afghans, so the final authority for taking action will rest with them.”

It is, nonetheless, a highly controversial proposal, made more so, in many minds, because of the record Mr Prince’s former company attracted in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The most notorious episode was in Baghdad, in 2007, in which 17 civilians were killed by Blackwater guards.

I was reporting from Iraq at the time and got caught up in the prolonged shooting in Nisour Square: it was carnage, an unnerving experience.

Defenders of Blackwater say that a few bad incidents have been used by critics to denigrate the company, ignoring valuable work carried out in highly dangerous places.

Mr Prince will make money from the Afghan project if he is associated with it, but claims the main point is that someone takes it up. Mr Prince, who has sold his interests in the comany since then, holds that figures show the obvious economic advantage of his blueprint.

At present there are 15,000 US troops and around 5,000 from other countries and also, little known, almost 30,000 private contractors in Afghanistan. That is as well as American combat aircraft,

At the height of the ‘surge’ under Barack Obama, the International Security Assistance Force reached a total of 140,000.

Mr Prince first put forward his strategy around a year ago to the White House.
A US Air Force drone in flight over southern Afghanistan (Rex)

Speaking of its strongest critic, the then national security advisor, Mr Prince said: “McMaster was a three star [general] who wanted to be a four star, and simply would not accept anything like this which was not conventional.

“I heard President Trump read about my plans in the Oval Office and told McMaster that he preferred it to his plans, so perhaps I got off on the wrong foot with McMaster. 

“But McMaster was at the time proposing sending 70,000 extra troops to Afghanistan, so obviously he would not have liked what I was suggesting.”

Mr Prince, who now works for the Chinese-owned Frontier Services Group, spoke from Spain, where he was en route to the Democratic Republic of Congo, about a more positive response from Mike Pompeo and how Mr Bolton may react.

“I have spoken to him, he was interested in what I had to say,” he said of Mr Pompeo.

“I have yet to discuss this with John Bolton but, looking at his background, he would not want, I think, to stick with a conventional strategy which is not working. I will certainly be taking this matter further in the next few months”, he said

Far fewer boots on the ground would also help to address the issue of malign interference in Afghanistan from Pakistan, where elements of the military and the secret police (ISI) have sponsored the Taliban and other insurgent groups, according to Mr Prince.

“Despite all the complaints about Pakistani support for the Taliban, and the fact they harboured Osama Bin Laden actually in their military academy, we are still being played by Pakistan.

“At the moment we have to depend on supply lines through Pakistan for 15,000 troops and 30,000 support. We would no longer need that that level of logistical support.

“Supplies can be brought in through Uzbekistan. Then the squeeze can be put on the Pakistani leadership for all the heinous support they have been giving to the Taliban, the Haqqani Network and Daesh [Isis],” he said.

Mr Prince spoke to Mr Pompeo when he was the head of the CIA, before being brought over to the State Department by Mr Trump.

And the CIA, the Mr Prince wanted to point out, along with special operations forces, had played a key part in bringing down the Taliban regime in 2001, using the same kind of warfare he is proposing.

“After 9/11, a handful of CIA and SF defeated the Taliban. The Taliban are not 10 feet tall, they can be beaten with the right tools, the right men. 

“And it won’t be just Americans. These mentors could be from Britain, Australia, Canada, South Africa, anybody with a good rugby team,” was his view.

There are other issues which may distract Mr Prince. Special counsel Robert Mueller, investigating whether Donald Trump was the Muscovite candidate for the White House, is looking at Mr Prince’s meeting with a Russian fund manager in the Seychelles.

Mr Prince, who insisted the meeting was purely by chance, said he has “no concern at all” about the probe, and has voluntarily given investigators access to his telephones and computers.

He remains, he said, focused on Afghanistan and wanted to give his project a historical context. There are British elements to that. His suggestion is that there should be a viceroy figure, as it was under the British Raj, who would command policy and budget and report directly to President Trump. This will prevent near constant changes in command and lack of continuity in policies, said Mr Prince.
A US army crew chief, on board a CH-47F Chinook helicopter, observes the successful test of flares during a training flight in Afghanistan (Reuters)

An example of the mentoring system would be the East India Company, which created its own empire in India. “The East India Company, a small Western group using local resources; the East India Company operated for 200-plus years, they deployed with a model of one mentor to 20 local troops... I am not advocating colonisation, of course, let’s leave aside the politics,” said Mr Prince.

But one cannot really leave aside the politics or history in Afghanistan, and views on the East India Company vary according to the vantage point.

It certainly made a massive amount of money for its shareholders and the British Crown but is viewed in India as a vehicle for brutal exploitation.

Its policies led to a nationwide conflict – one the British call the Indian Mutiny, and the Indian’s label as the First War of Independence, resulting in the British government taking over from the East India Company.

Robert Clive – “Clive of India” – who had vastly extended the company’s territory, was put on trial before parliament back in London for alleged abuse and corruption.

The quasi viceroy had a lonely and violent end to his life: committing suicide by stabbing himself in the throat with a penknife.

by Nilanjana Bhowmick
The Washington Post
July 5, 2018

Indians are angry.

On Sunday, five agricultural laborers were lynched by a mob of nearly 3,000 people in the Dhule district in Maharashtra. The local people were alerted by a fake WhatsApp message about child kidnappers and accused the laborers of being “child-lifters.”

Their deaths were just the latest in a series of WhatsApp-related killings in the country. In recent weeks, there has been an outpouring of shock and protests over the lynching of two men in Karbi Anglong, in the northeastern state of Assam, over suspicions of them being child kidnappers. In that episode, an unsubstantiated rumor that originated in a video that went viral on social media. And in Jharkhand last May, seven people, including two brothers, were beaten to death by mobs in two attacks over child-kidnapping rumors in areas dominated by tribal populations.

We see this rising anger in the increasing popularity of hardline Hindutva groups such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and their open-arms training in Indian cities.. The CIA recently classified the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, two Hindu-right extremist groups infamous for their Islamophobia, as “militant religious organizations.” It can be seen in the venomous posters and car stickers of the Hindu god Hanuman that has become the face of militant Hinduism. It can be seen in sword-wielding right wingers parading in broad day light claiming “India is Ours”.

We also see this anger in the vitriol that Hindutva online trolls unleash daily against minorities and women.

A report by Minority Rights Group International said that “since the 2014 election victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party under the leadership of Narendra Modi, there has been a climate of rising Hindu nationalism. This has in turn seen the promotion of an increasingly exclusionary environment, reflected in the advancement of policies and legislation . . . that discriminate against religious minorities.”

Indeed, dozens of hate crimes against Muslims have taken place around the country. At least 10 Muslim men have been lynchedand many others injured by vigilante cow-protection groups, as the government snoozed. Earlier this year, the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl sparked wide outrage in India. The girl was attacked by a group of Hindu men for days. They held her hostage in a temple, drugged and unconscious, and raped her repeatedly to teach her Muslim nomadic tribe a lesson and to force them to move out of the area. It was the pinnacle of Hindu anger against Muslims.

“Religious minority groups, particularly Muslims, faced increasing demonization by hard-line Hindu groups, pro-government media and some state officials,” an Amnesty International report on India said. “Mob violence intensified, including by vigilante cow protection groups,” the report added.

According to the report, in 2016, more than 40,000 crimes against Scheduled Castes were reported, including attacks on the lower caste Dalits by upper caste Indians. In May of that year, two Dalit men were killed, several injured, and dozens of Dalit homes torched by upper caste men in Saharanpur, in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh, following a clash between the communities. In March, mobs carried out a series of racist attacks against black African students in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh. Statistics showed that more than 338,000 crimes against women were registered in 2016.

However, the Karbi Anglong incident is testimony to a much larger and more dangerous trend.

In the Karbi Anglong incident, there was no religious or communal angle. The two Assamese men, who had been passing through Karbi Anglong had stopped to ask for directions and were mistaken for the child kidnappers that the villagers had been warned of in the WhatsApp video. They were mistaken for child kidnappers mainly on the basis of suspicion, because they did not speak the local dialect and were dressed differently; basically, they were outsiders.

What stands out in the Karbi Anglong video is unbridled, savage anger. It points to the unshakable fact that much of India has been overtaken by a sense of insecurity, fear and paranoia.

This anger is now targeted against anything that doesn’t fit our narrow definitions. The anger could be over differences in religion, caste, community, or merely way of life. In India, where no two people look the same or share the same language, unfamiliarity had always been exciting, or curiosity-provoking. Now it provokes fear and insecurity.

Maybe in India, we are all outsiders now.

Nilanjana Bhowmick is a journalist and writer in India.

Mukul Kesavan
The Telegraph
Jul 01, 2018

Pundits will tell you that a lot of them endorsed Narendra Modi (and his baggage train of violent vigilantes and drilled Golwalkarites) in 2014 because they thought he would privatize Air India. Even when once pro-Modi commentators shyly channel buyer's remorse about the prime minister, they end by writing that if Modi were to sell off Air India, he would repay their political investment in him, renew their faith in the National Democratic Alliance and refresh Modi's credentials as a modernizer or 'reformer' or whatever the latest term of art is for Davos Man.

Selling Air India is shorthand for economic rationality. Economic rationality is a mantra which, chanted loudly enough, builds a wall of noise which keeps the soundtrack of lynchings and suicides off-stage. These casualties can be waved away as acceptable collateral damage, the price India must pay for a muscular leader capable of selling the short-term pain of market rationality to the masses.

Elected sadhvis, sadhus, mahants and pant-shirt bigots tell us exactly what they think of Muslims, Christians and Dalits and what they plan to do to them; WhatsApp mobs kill people in the name of protecting cows from slaughter or children from abduction; a vigilante with a history of violent affray is elevated by the ruling party to the chief ministership of India's most populated province and still these opinion-mongers see and hear nothing. Where others hear mobs shouting 'maar', ' kaat', these high priests of the invisible hand, these pragmatic centrists, these world-weary veterans of the wars against the License Raj, cup their ears and and hear the aspiring masses chanting 'Mar-ket, mar-ket, mar-ket!'

Some of these sages can claim the virtue of consistency. One, for example, candidly admitted that he endorsed Modi in 2014 because he thought that communalism was an acceptable price to pay for economic growth. Four years down the line he said he would do it again because the lack of economic growth was due to global trends, not Modi's policies; the gau rakshasas and their lynched victims were statistically insignificant and, best of all, there had been no State-sponsored pogroms on Modi's watch.

This smooth willingness to grant Modi absolution for not delivering on his original promise, economic growth, while blandly normalizing the savagery that bloomed around this regime's footprint, is one way in which the discourse of economic reform is used: to clear a space for barbarism. It also has the advantage of deodorizing the pundit's journey to the smelly reaches of the Hindu Right.

But market rationality has other political uses beyond the whitewashing of majoritarianism. It is also a useful way of crab-walking to a centrist position. The media are crowded with commentators who didn't declare a partisan preference for Modi when he was elected but broadcast their broad-mindedness by declaring that they would judge him on his performance. This was, of course, a political position already; to deliberately set aside Modi's avowed role as the mascot of the Hindu Right while framing his report card in broadly economic terms, was a willed blindness.

When this blindness became hard to sustain in the face of the violence and public bigotry that limn this government like a sulphuric halo, this sort of pundit tries to recast himself as a reasonable critic of the State. He either becomes the chiding well-wisher trying to restore the regime to its economic senses or casts himself as the champion of political common sense, a man of the moderate centre, opposed to the knee-jerk, impractical dogmatism of (take your pick) the left or liberal left or naïve bleeding hearts.

Pundits of this sort aren't necessarily acting in bad faith. Their talent for triangulation comes with the territory; their trade is based on access which makes public even-handedness even in the face of political wickedness a necessary habit. They are, if you like, 'Jaitley journos', networked pros who know everyone, and have done for so long that they now practise knowingness not journalism. It is an article of faith with them that all politicians are basically the same, that 'the more things change, the more they remain the same.'

These pundits have their strengths. They have long memories, a near-verbatim recall of their own output, and a fluent familiarity with the great narratives of Indian journalism: Kashmir, 'liberalization', Indo-Pak and so on. Their Achilles heel is that the practiced cynicism of the embedded pro leaves them incapable of telling the difference between vileness and venality. Having, at the very least, extended the benefit of the doubt to the Modi government, they cannot forgive wet liberals and know-nothing lefties for being right about Modi Sarkar all along.

The sensible way of dealing with this would be to say, as many have done before, that even a stopped clock is right twice a day. This would both acknowledge that squishy liberals were right about Modi and his ilk and, backhandedly, put this down to dogma and prejudice, not prescience or insight. But even this casual acknowledgment of error is impossible because pundit personas organized around omniscience can't be wrong.

This is where Air India and privatization and market rationality come in handy. Instead of having to accept that buying into the NDA's promise of material progress while ignoring its feral majoritarianism was a mistake, the pundit can blame, wait for it, 'left-liberals' for pushing voters into the arms of the Bharatiya Janata Party by championing redistributive statism against the dynamism of the market. In one rhetorical move, people to the left of these professional 'centrists' are demoted from steadfast witnesses against the Beast to self-indulgent children, riding their ideological hobby horses roughshod over the aspirations of the People.

This neat piece of ju-jitsu has the additional advantage of placing the pundit in his natural home, the changeable middle. From this point of vantage, he can reproach the Modi government for disappointing him by straying from the straight and narrow of economic reforms while denouncing false liberals; first, for calling Modi into being and then by excluding true liberals (like him) from the gathering movement against the BJP. Only by gravitating towards the precisely triangulated centre where he sits, straddling a fence, bisected by balance, can liberals forge the broad coalition that might defeat Modi. There they will find our pundit, literally splitting the difference, saying all the while, "I told you so.'

by Ishaan Tharoor
Washington Post
July 19 2018

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Forces loyal to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega deepened their crackdown on the country's opposition on Wednesday, appearing to take full control of a rebel stronghold in the city of Masaya. A day earlier, heavily armed police and paramilitary fighters stormed the neighborhood of Monimbó, killing at least three people and taking 40 others into custody, according to a human rights group.

“In recent days the widespread attacks against the civilian population have intensified and grown in terms of scale and coordination, with aggressors carrying lethal weapons deployed to cities like Masaya that have come to symbolize the resistance to President Ortega’s merciless regime,” Erika Guevara-Rosas, the Americas director for Amnesty International, said in a Wednesday statement.

“This is a massacre in Monimbó,” high school teacher Álvaro Gómez said to the Wall Street Journal. “They’ve killed a bunch of youths who are resisting with homemade mortars, bombs and their anger.”

The violence there brings the death toll in Nicaragua to around 300 people — mostly civilians — since mid-April, when an unpopular pension-reform proposal sparked protests against the Ortega government. Those demonstrations escalated in the weeks that followed, with protesters setting up barricades in cities across the country.

They have been met with bloody and ruthless repression. A mass demonstration on May 30 in the capital, Managua, saw a dozen protesters gunned down by security forces. Over the weekend, pro-government militias cleared out protesting university students in the capital, driving them from their campus and forcing about 200 students to take shelter in a Catholic church.

My colleague Joshua Parlow was among them, pinned down by gunfire and trapped in the church's compound for about 16 hours, where two of the wounded died from their injuries. The paramilitaries had blocked ambulance access, and it required the intervention of senior church officials and the U.S. State Department to break the impasse and allow the eventual evacuation of the students.

'The pain is unbearable': Nicaraguan student shot in leg

A medical student was shot during a standoff between pro-government militias and university students in Managua, Nicaragua on July 13. (Joshua Partlow/The Washington Post)

July 19 happens to mark the 39th anniversary of the victory of the Sandinistas, the left-wing revolutionary movement that overthrew the brutal, U.S.-backed dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza. Now Ortega, a 72-year-old former Marxist guerrilla, increasingly resembles the tyrant he and his comrades once toppled. Masaya was once a Sandinista hotbed; now it's seen as a bastion of opposition.

“After returning to power in 2007, [Ortega] sidestepped the constitution to get himself reelected in 2011. He then completed his palace coup by assuming full control of all four branches of government, state institutions, the military, and police,” explained journalist Tim Rogers, a veteran Nicaragua hand. “He banned opposition parties, rewrote the constitution, and turned Nicaragua into his personal fiefdom, which he rules from inside the walls of his stolen compound, a concrete fortress he rarely leaves.”

Having long shed any pretense of Marxism-Leninism, Ortega maintained power by cultivating support among the clergy and the country's business community. Until recently, he also could count on the largesse of Venezuela. “But then Venezuela cut its aid, and the government’s fiscal problems were exacerbated by corruption,” noted the Economist.

Now Nicaragua faces its own Venezuelan moment, with a regime violently clinging to power in the face of vehement popular unrest. “The demands of the people are clear: justice for those who have been killed, a return to democracy and the resignation of the ruling family,” Dánae Vílchez, a Managua-based journalist, wrote for The Post's opinion section last month. “Ortega is calling for a 'peaceful constitutional solution' to the crisis, but he just wants to remain in power. His human rights violations have made him an illegitimate leader well outside of the Constitution. He needs to step down.”

Ortega, though, is showing no signs of quitting. He has tarred the opposition as “right-wing delinquents,” though many now opposed to his rule include former Sandinistas. His wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, labeled Ortega's opponents as “coup plotters, few in number, malignant, sinister, diabolical, satanic and terrorists.”

The duo, critics warn, is following the same tactics as leaders in Caracas. “Like Hugo Chávez, Ortega sought to remain in power indefinitely, but lately planned to hand the reins to his wife,” wrote Otto Reich, a former U.S. diplomat in Latin America. “In pursuing that goal, he worked from the Chávez playbook: manipulating electoral laws and eliminating checks and balances by controlling the national police; co-opting the Supreme Court and legislature; curtailing freedom of expression and repressing independent media; and harassing and hounding opposition forces and other critics.”

But while dissent may be suppressed at home, the Nicaraguan government is facing mounting criticism abroad. On Wednesday, the Organization of American States condemned the abuses carried out by Nicaraguan police and pro-government forces, calling on Ortega to adhere to a process of dialogue and eventual elections.

“Every additional victim of this violence and intimidation campaign further undermines Ortega’s legitimacy,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said this week. “Early free, fair and transparent elections are the best path back to democracy and respect for human rights in Nicaragua.”

“The appalling loss of life must stop — now,” said a spokesman for the U.N.'s human rights office. “The violence is all more horrific as armed elements loyal to the government are operating with the active or tacit support of the police and other state authorities.” U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, speaking from neighboring Costa Rica on Monday, decried the “use of force on the part of entities linked to the state.”

So far, Ortega seems unlikely to heed such warnings. But his regime's brutalization of its own people risks repeating a bloody cycle many hoped Nicaragua had left in the past. “Venezuela shows that a regime which is heedless of the human cost can survive sustained national protests and international pressure,” the Economist observed. “Nicaraguans can only hope that their country will indeed prove to be different.”

“We weren’t ready for the massacres,” Valeska Valle, a 22-year-old student leader, said to Rogers last month. “We never thought the government was going to kill us. We never thought being a university student would be a crime in Nicaragua.”

Ishaan Tharoor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. He previously was a senior editor and correspondent at Time magazine, based first in Hong Kong and later in New York.

by Jules Boykoff
July 10 2018

Events like the World Cup and the Olympics kickstart a festival of patronage and allow authoritarians to seem beloved on the world stage. Enough is enough.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend the opening ceremony before the World Cup match between Russia and Saudi Arabia on June 14, 2018.Alexei Druzhinin / Sputnik/KRE via EPA file

When Russian President Vladimir Putin stepped up to the podium at the opening match of the 2018 World Cup, he assured the world that Russia is “an open, friendly and hospitable country.” Never mind that Russia has a notorious record of racism and homophobia and that Human Rights Watch has asserted that we’re in the midst of “the worst human rights crisis in Russia since the Soviet era.” Not only was Putin brazenly prevaricating, he was also tapping into the trend among authoritarians to “sportwash”— using mega-sports events to launder their reputations and distract from their horrific human-rights records.

“Authoritarian regimes love megasports projects,” Ilya Shumanov, deputy director at anti-corruption group Transparency International, told The New York Times recently. Indeed, events like the World Cup and Olympics not only kickstart a festival of patronage, where cronies dole out big-money contracts to their friends, but they also tee up an opportunity for authoritarians to appear important and even beloved on the world stage. (Just look at what North Korean officials did in PyeongChang.)

Putin has basked in the warm international glow generated by the World Cup. On the eve of the event, he stated, without irony, that he “wanted to underline FIFA’s commitment to the principle of sports without politics.” And yet at the opening match, Putin packed his luxury box with political leaders, including dictatorial glitterati like the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman, senior North Korean official Kim Yong Nam and the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev.

Putin was also joined by Alexander Lukashenko, the longtime dictator of Belarus who surely was taking mental notes. With all eyes on the World Cup, Lukashenko is quietly orchestrating another frenzy of “sportwashing”: the European Olympics, which he will host in Minsk next summer. The games are slated to commence on June 21, 2019 and will run through the end of that month.

The European Games, a sort of mini Olympics for Europe’s athletes, is building a hideous tradition. The inaugural installation of the games took place three years ago in Azerbaijan, another human rights nightmare. Yet it’s not too late to reverse course and pluck the games from Lukashenko’s clutches. Last year, human rights groups successfully pressured the International Olympic Committee to add human rights principles to its host city contracts. If these provisions mean anything, the IOC must intervene to cancel the 2019 European Games in Minsk. This would be a bold, unprecedented act and it would also send a clear message about the Olympics’ publicly proclaimed concern for human rights.

There is no question that Belarus is a human rights disaster. U.S. President George W. Bush once dubbed Lukashenko “Europe’s last dictator.” Elected back in 1994, he has a notorious track record of repressing activists through violence, arbitrary detention and disappearance. Amnesty International noted that under Lukashenko, “the Belarusian government has cracked down on opposition leaders and movements, and abused civil rights to freedom of assembly and association.”

In March, activists rallying for “Freedom Day” — and against Lukashenko’s iron-fisted rule — were arrested and jailed. The irony became even more apparent last year when heavily armed riot police attacked “Freedom Day” protesters with batons and water cannons while the internet was shut down. More than 1,000 were arrested in those 2017 protests. This followed the questionable arrests of more than 30 authors, journalists and publishers, with many snatched by masked police at a literary festival.

Belarus is also the only country in Europe still clinging to the death penalty. Last month a UN special rapporteur described the treatment of death row inmates as torture. In 2012, Britain rejected granting Lukashenko a visa to attend the Summer Olympics in London.

One could argue that the European Olympic Committees had little choice but to team up with Belarus. Time was getting short and potential hosts were dwindling. In May 2015, the Netherlands were named host of the 2019 games, but then the Dutch government yanked its financial support leaving organizers in the lurch.

A lack of options does not mean the International Olympic Committee or European Olympic Committees should smash their newly found moral compasses.

That’s when Russian Olympic honchos stepped in, offering to host the games in Kazan and Sochi, the latter city notorious for hosting the 2014 Olympics, which cost more than all previous Winter Games combined. But after a special report from the World Anti-Doping Agency unearthed a systematic doping program in Russia, this option also became untenable.

All this points to a larger problem, however: Fewer and fewer cities are keen to host the larger Olympic Games, let alone the European Games. Still, a lack of options does not mean the International Olympic Committee or European Olympic Committees should smash their newly found moral compasses.

Making matters worse, Lukashenko and Belarussian organizers have less than a year to prepare for the European Games. And short deadlines bring out the worst of sport mega-event planning. Laws are flouted. Pet projects with Olympic tags affixed to them are prioritized. Former Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes acknowledged this convenient state of exception: “The Olympics pretext is awesome; I need to use it as an excuse for everything.”
Image: Vladimir Putin

Putin takes part in the opening of an exhibition soccer match at the World Cup Football Park on the Red Square in Moscow on June 28, 2018.Yuri Kadobnov / AFP - Getty Images file

The Russian World Cup is already almost over and as such the damage has been done. But that doesn’t mean other mistakes can’t be avoided. After all, by awarding the European Games to appalling human-rights violators, European Olympics luminaries are making a mockery of the Olympic Charter, which the European Olympic Committees claim to abide by.

Unlike the global Olympics, which has been called off only a few times in its 100-year-plus history — usually due to massive international conflicts — this is only the second iteration of the European Games. As such, there is still time to prevent Lukashenko from posing for a series of grin-and-grip photo-ops with Europe’s cosmopolitan elite. It’s not as if the event has a long and storied history that absolutely must continue for the sake of tradition. If there ever was a time to make a statement, it is now.

Of course, international observers are not holding their breadth. Ultimately, this pattern reveals a shameless penchant for selective ethics at the highest levels of the International Olympic Committee and FIFA, the world’s governing body for soccer. When sport medals trump moral mettle, we’re on a perilous path. FIFA has punted to Putin. Time for Olympic officials to show some spine: the 2019 European Games must not go on.

Jules Boykoff teaches political science at Pacific University in Oregon. He is the author of three books on politics and sports, most recently "Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics." Follow him on Twitter at @JulesBoykoff.


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