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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Upcoming posts

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War and Geopolitics have always interested me. Perhaps this is evident from the number of posts on these topics. Since last one week, almost all news channels are flooding with commemorating the Kargil Martyrs. Barkha Dutt revisits Kargil in her melodramatic way. Similar show are there on every other channel.

But what I fail to understand is why just remember Kargil, what about those killed in the earlier wars. I have rarely seen any similar shows and documetries on the previous wars that India has fought. I have decided to take up this task upon myself. My upcoming posts would be dedicated to the 1965 and 1971 wars. I will try to come up with a similar post on the 1962 war, but I have rarely come across good articles on that war. Perhaps, Indian govt. has suppressed most of the information.

I promise that I will try my very best to finish both these articles within the next 15 days. Thats one article a week. I think I should be able to manage that from my present busy job.

Kashmir predicament: Who really started it?

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India and Pakistan, the two nations that were divided on religious lines have been at loggerheads from the very beginning onwards. Of the many issues on which the two sides confront each other, Kashmir remains to be the central and core issue. But today, it has become an extremely complicated issue and no real solutions have come up that would satisfy the two sides.

So what really started the conflict?
All princely states were given an option to either accede with India or Pakistan, or remain independent. Though the third option of remaining independent was given, it was made clear that the princely states could hardly survive on their own. This was true for the landlocked state of Kashmir as well, as it would have to necessarily depend on either on India or Pakistan for trade.

However, the Hindu ruler of largely Muslim dominated Kashmir, Hari Singh chose to remain independent. In October 1947, Pakistan invaded Kashmir. Hari Singh now chose to accede with India. Subsequently India sent its armed forces to recapture Kashmir. It must be noted that this was took place immediately after partition and India had much larger millitary as compared to Pakistan at that time.

After India had captured two-third of the state, Pandit Nehru against the wishes of his home minister, Sardar Patel went to the UN Security Council. He intentions were pure but he was an idealist and not a realist. UN Security Council passed Resolution 47 on April 21, 1948. The resolution imposed that an immediate cease-fire take place and said that Pakistan should withdraw all presence and had no say in Jammu and Kashmir politics. It stated that India should retain a minimum military presence and stated "that the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations.

However, Nehru soon realised that it was a grave mistake to take the matter to the Security Council. By 1948, the Cold war had began to start and the world politics was dominated and dictated by the big powers (US and USSR), who wanted to spread their influence with the Capitalist and Socialist blocs competing against each other. Pakistan never withdrew its troops from Azad Kashmir and thus the Kashmir dispute remained unsolved.

Other similar conflict
Kashmir isn't the only victim in the world of the selfish interests of the big powers. They created many other similar problems all over the world. Korea, Vietnam and Germany are some of glaring examples. While Germany's re-unification was peaceful, Vietnam had to fight a massive war. While USSR supported the communist North Vietnam, the US supported the capitalist South Vietnam. The Korea issue is yet to be solved and has now assumed dangerous proportions with the North Korea acquiring the nuclear capability.

If we look at all such conflicts, the two big powers rarely followed any ethics. For instance, during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, the US ignored the massive genocide that was going on in East Pakistan and threatened to intervene in the war.
The Nixon administration also ignored reports it received of the 'genocidal' activities of the Pakistani Army in East Pakistan, most notably the Blood telegram. When Pakistan's defeat in the eastern sector seemed certain, Nixon sent the USS Enterprise to the Bay of Bengal, a move which was a nuclear threat. The Enterprise arrived on station on December 11, 1971. On 6 December and 13 December, the Soviet Navy dispatched two groups of ships, armed with nuclear missiles, from Vladivostok; they trailed U.S. Task Force 74 into the Indian Ocean from 18 December 1971 until 7 January 1972. The Soviets also sent a nuclear submarine to ward off the threat posed by USS Enterprise in the Indian Ocean. As the United States were not ready to risk open nuclear warfare with the Soviets the Enterprise simply turned around and sailed back to the US. (Source)
This strategy of US didn't stop and it supported General Musharraf as the dictator of Pakistan until he was finally removed.

A lot many people in India blame Nehru for trying to be too idealistic. But it is the two big powers that must have to share the larger of the blame of creating the Kashmir issue, thus endangering nearly 1.5 billion people of the sub-continent. Subsequently, India has maintained that Kashmir is a bilateral issue while Pakistan has continuously tried to internationalize it.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The mystery behind Balochistan

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I am pretty sure that except for a few inquisitive people, not many Indians would have ever heard about Balochistan before the ho-halla over the joint declaration in Egypt recently. In this article, I would try to disseminate whatever knowledge I have gathered on this topic over a period of time (through various sources).

Balochistan, an immense desert comprising almost 48% of Pakistan's area, rich in uranium and copper, potentially very rich in oil, and producing more than one-third of Pakistan's natural gas, it accounts for less than 4% of Pakistan's 173 million citizens. Strategically, Balochistan is mouth-watering: east of Iran, south of Afghanistan, and boasting three Arabian sea ports, including Gwadar, practically at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz. (Source). Balochis are largely tribal and consider themselves much closer to the Afghans than the rest of Pakistanis.

When India and Pakistan eventually gained independence from the British in August 1947, provinces were given the choice of either joining Pakistan or India or being independent. Khan of Kalat, Mir Ahmed Yar Khan declared Kalat's independence. The Governor General Lord Mountbatten of Burma decided that the province would not survive as an independent entity and that offer was taken off the table.(Source)

As claimed by Baloch nationalists, "Baloch nation has gone through a lot since March 23, 1948, when the Pakistan army moved in and occupied Kalat, the capital of the free Balochistan. After experiencing only 227 days of freedom in which we elected our representative assembly and wrote a constitution as a free nation of this global village. Pakistan's army trampled every thing under their boots - Baloch nation's pride, freedom, representative assembly, constitution and mostly our mother land and declared it a part of Pakistan." (Source)

There have been several conflicts between the Baloch separatists and the Pakistan army:
  1. First conflict 1948 (led by Mir Ahmad Yar Khan)
  2. Second conflict (1958-59 led by Nawab Nowroz Khan)
  3. Third conflict 1963-69 (led by Sher Mohammad Bijarani Marri)
  4. Fourth conflict 1973-77 (led by Nawab Khair Baksh Marri)
  5. Fifth conflict 2004-to date (lead by Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and Mir Balach Marri)
The Pakistani response to the demands of the separatists has often been brutal. Particularly in the mid-1970's, when Pakistani Army brutally crushed the Baloch struggle. Perhaps it came in the backdrop of recently lost war to India which had led to the creation of Bangladesh and Pakistan could not afford to loose another major province. In August 2006, Pakistani army killed Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, 79 years old, a very respected leader of the Baloch struggle.

The Grievances
The Baloch struggle and their demands are not entirely unjustified. The local grievances have seldom been taken seriously. Islamabad pays a pittance in royalties for the Balochis for exploiting its natural resources, and development aid is negligible; Balochistan is treated as a backwater and the Balochis remain largely poor and illiterate.

Moreover, Pakistan has essentially been ruled by its millitary for most of its 60 years of independence. Even when under civilian rule, millitary has flexed its muscles and indirectly controlled the govt. Pakistani millitary has traditionally been dominated by Punjabis (Punjab constitutes 60% of the population of Pakistan). It is this domination by just one selected group that has aggravated the problem as millitary plays a major role in Pakistan in shaping the policies. It must also be noted that in the undivided Pakistan, the Bengalis were hardly given any representation either in the millitary or in the civil services and there a complete domination of Punjabis. This was a major (Source)

The Indo-Pak joint statement
This certainly isn't the first instance when Pakistan has accused India of fomenting trouble in Balochistan, nor is it the last such instance. It must be noted that India does not share any border with Balochistan and hence it cannot support the Baloch struggle (if at all it wants to) in the same way as the state of Pakistan does to the Kashmiri struggle.

Pakistan has also accussed that India is using Afghanistan's territory to launch attacks in Balochistan and is training Balochis. Ofcourse it is difficult to ascertain the truth since just like Pakistan has never accepted the alleged role of its Army and ISI for the terrorism in India, India is unlikely to ever accept such a charge.

But the problem now is that Pakistan has been successful in equating terrorism in India to terrorism in Balochistan. The two can hardly be equated.
  1. As already mentioned, India does not shares a border with Balochistan.
  2. Terrorist groups in Pakistan like LeT have launched daring attacks on the Indian establishment like the attack on Indian Parliament or the Mumbai attacks. On the other hand, Balochi attacks have been of a much smaller scale.
  3. The Baloch struggle existed even before the 2001, when the Afghanistan was ruled by the Pak-friendly Taliban. On the other hand, Kashmir struggle has almost from the very beginning, involved a Pakistani hand. This is true even in 1947-48 when Pakistani sent its armed forces under the cover of the tribals. This strategy continued in subsequent war of 1965 and Kargil war of 1999.
  4. The Baloch struggle is hardly given any coverage in the Pak-media as compared to the Taliban struggle. Clearly, Taliban is a far bigger threat to Pakistan.
  5. Soon after the attack on Sri Lankan team, Pakistani govt. denied any Indian involvement and instead pointed towards Taliban. However, now it wants to paint the Baloch threat to be much graver so that it can be equated to the terrorism that India is facing, and thus countering the advantage that India holds with respect to the world opinion.
Can Baloch struggle ever reach the same level as that of Kashmir?
In the 1971 war, India defeated Pakistan and helped in creation of Bangladesh. In that case, India was able to use the unrest in Bangladesh against the Pakistani rule to its advantage. Even if the Indian state today wanted to use Baloch struggle to further balkanize Pakistan, it would be extremely difficult, almost impossible.

As already mentioned, Baloch population constitutes just 4% of the total population of Pakistan. In such small numbers, they hardly can hope to win against the Pakistani state without external help. Moreover, India does not shares any borders with Balochistan. Lastly, Pakistani today has nuclear weapons and hence it is unlikely that there would be a full fledged war.

Therefore, Baloch struggle can never really threaten the Pakistani state. Perhaps thats the reason no govt. has been serious enough to look into their greviances. Balochistan is a tool to counter India, something that Pakistan has successfully used very skillfully.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ask the Pinkizzzzzzzzzzzzzzz?

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If you are 26 years old, happen to live in India manage earn decent and still single, my one and only advice is, create your “Ask the Pinkizzzzzzz” list. Yes I know, you have been avoiding this for the last 1-2 years, but now your parents are pushing too hard. So ok, you can to may be go on an on-site assignment for 2 or 3 years. Great dude, you are AWESOME ( Barney Stinson’s style).

You idiot, how did you forget about the recession and how your dear government has just in is budget done what it always does best, “Do nothing”? So dear, it’s time to prepare your “Ask the Pinkizzzzzzz” list. Because you never know when that moment may arrive. You could be blindfolded straight out of your bed while you are in your sleep and when you open your eyes, you may find yourself on a restaurant table sitting next to a sweet and beautiful women(yaa, god has spent dispprotionate time in making each one of them like that, and then they become wives :((((((), with you looking completely dumbfounded, petrified, terrified, horrified (the Thesaurus has many more of those synonyms). Dude, without the list, what are you going to ask this girl? So it’s time to you take my advice, make the list.

And like all brave Indian men, I am not nervous at all, I am only dumbfounded, petrified, terrified, horrified (please refer the Thesaurus). So guyz and gals, enough of my advice, its time you all give me back some advice.

So people, let me lay down some basic ground rules. You gender does not matter. You are eligible only if you have a have a past experience. Criteria two, you are ineligible if you are too experienced, generation gap matters. I am sorry if some of you fail to meet to either of the criteria’s, but you can still invite your eligible friends to join the discussion.

So people, get the discussion started. Your task is simple, help me create the list.

A true incident
Kindly note that much of my fear built up after I heard what happened to a friend of mine. He went along with his parents to meet an old friend(thats wat he was told). But slowly he began to realize that it was something else. A girl came out all dressed up with a cup of tea. He was dumbfounded too. He whispered into his mother's ear asking "what is going on?". She instantly ordered him to sit down quietly.

But it all ended well. My friend is now engaged to that very girl.