Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Apparently, ISI doesn't want certain secrets to get out.
Edit: Here's an editorial by international political analyst Pepe Escobar.
Monday, May 30, 2011
"Controversial Swami Agnivesh was today slapped by a Sadhu, and his
turban was thrown in air in Ahmedabad. Sadhu Nityananddas from
Vairagi akhada of central Gujarat’s Mahudha today slapped Agnivesh
protesting against his statement about Amarnath Yatra. Agnivesh had
said, “Amarnath yatra is pakhand” after he met separatist Muslim
leaders in Jammu & Kashmir."
Check out the video and article and comments Agnivesh slapped, turban removed, had to leave in police cordon
(See second video near bottom) http://deshgujarat.com/2011/05/26/swami-agnivesh-slapped-turban-thrown-in-air-had-to-leave-in-police-security/
McClatchy Washington Bureau
Posted on Wed, May. 25, 2011
WikiLeaks: Saudis often warned U.S. about oil speculators
Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — When oil prices hit a record $147 a barrel in July 2008, the Bush administration leaned on Saudi Arabia to pump more crude in hopes that a flood of new crude would drive the price down. The Saudis complied, but not before warning that oil already was plentiful and that Wall Street speculation, not a shortage of oil, was driving up prices.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al Naimi even told U.S. Ambassador Ford Fraker that the kingdom would have difficulty finding customers for the additional crude, according to an account laid out in a confidential State Department cable dated Sept. 28, 2008,
"Saudi Arabia can't just put crude out on the market," the cable quotes Naimi as saying. Instead, Naimi suggested, "speculators bore significant responsibility for the sharp increase in oil prices in the last few years," according to the cable.
What role Wall Street investors play in the high cost of oil is a hotly debated topic in Washington. Despite weak demand, the price of a barrel of crude oil surged more than 25 percent in the past year, reaching a peak of $113 May 2 before falling back to a range of $95 to $100 a barrel.
The Obama administration, the Bush administration before it and Congress have been slow to take steps to rein in speculators. On Tuesday, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a U.S. regulatory agency, charged a group of financial firms with manipulating the price of oil in 2008. But the commission hasn't enacted a proposal to limit the percentage of oil contracts a financial company can hold, while Congress remains focused primarily on big oil companies, threatening in hearings last week to eliminate their tax breaks because of the $38 billion in first-quarter profits the top six U.S. companies earned.
The Saudis, however, have struck a steady theme for years that something should be done to curb the influence of banks and hedge funds that are speculating on the price of oil, according to diplomatic cables made available to McClatchy by the WikiLeaks website.
The cables show that the subject of speculation has been raised in working group meetings between U.S. and Saudi officials, in one-on-one meetings with American diplomats and at least once with President George W. Bush himself.
The Saudi concerns about speculation have a particular sheen of credibility. Saudi Arabia is the world's largest exporter of oil, serving dozens of clients in addition to the United States. As such, it carefully tracks the trends that drive oil prices, which send it billions of additional dollars with every increase.
But in the cables, Saudi officials explain that they have two primary concerns about artificially high crude prices: that they'll dampen the long-term demand for oil and that the wide price swings typical of commodity speculation make it difficult for them to plan future oil field development. After that $147 a barrel peak in 2008, for example, prices plunged to $33 a barrel as the global financial crisis rocked the world. That was a stunning change in less than half a year.
One cable recounts how Dr. Majid al Moneef, Saudi Arabia's OPEC governor, explained what he thought was the full impact of speculation to U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., who in July 2009 was in Saudi Arabia for the first time.
According to the cable, Moneef said Saudi Arabia suspected that "speculation represented approximately $40 of the overall oil price when it was at its height."
Asked how to curb such speculation, Moneef suggested "improving transparency" — a reference to the fact that most oil trading is conducted outside regulated markets — and better communication among the world's commodity markets so that oil speculators can't hide the full extent of their trading positions.
Moneef also suggested that the U.S. consider "position limits" — restrictions on how much of the oil market a company can control — something the CFTC is considering. But the proposal to prevent any single trader from accumulating more than 10 percent of the oil contracts being traded hasn't received final approval, and the CFTC also has yet to define what it considers excessive speculation.
Saudi concerns also came up during a May 2008 meeting in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, between U.S. officials and Prince Abdulazziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, the assistant petroleum minister.
Prince Abdulazziz was "extremely worried" that high prices would destroy the demand for oil, according to the May 7, 2008, account of his meeting with embassy officials.
"Aramco is trying to sell more, but frankly there are no buyers," the cable quoted him as saying, referring to the Saudi state oil company. "We are discounting crudes."
Another confidential document from the embassy in Riyadh, dated Feb. 14, 2007, indicates that Saudi officials had concluded years ago that speculation played at least as big a role in setting oil prices as traditional issues of supply and demand did.
Recounting the presentation by Yasser Mufti, a planner for Aramco, at a conference of U.S. and Saudi officials, the cable said: "The Saudi analysis indicated a link between higher oil prices and the influx of investor funds into the oil markets."
Indeed, the cable noted, "As the oil futures markets play an increasingly large role in setting world oil prices, (Mufti) remarked his team was now obtaining better insights into prospective oil prices from banks than from those working in the real oil sector, such as refiners."
Another document, from Sept. 2, 2009, offers an eerily accurate prediction of today's high prices, made by Sadad al Husseini, Aramco's former executive vice president.
"In his view, the bearish energy analysts arguing that the oil price shocks of last summer are not likely to be repeated anytime soon are making inaccurate assumptions," the cable said, warning that the former Aramco executive saw political uncertainty and a perception of tight supplies as fuel for speculators.
The cable said that "al Husseini predicted that another oil price shock would likely hit sometime in the next year or two."
A McClatchy investigation earlier this month showed the extent to which financial institutions now influence the price of oil. Until recently, end users of oil — such as airlines, refineries and other consumer of fuel — accounted for about 70 percent of oil trading as they tried to hedge against price fluctuations.
Today, however, speculators who'll never take possession of a barrel of oil account for that 70 percent of oil futures trading, and the volume of speculative trading has grown fivefold.
That's why the Air Transport Association, in a filing March 28 to the CFTC, called for aggressive curbs on speculators. The association complained of rapidly climbing jet fuel prices, which have outpaced the rapid climb in crude prices and have reached their highest point since September 2008, right before the near-collapse of the U.S. economy.
"At the same time, according to data recently released by the commission, speculators have increased their positions in energy markets by 64 percent compared to June 2008, bringing speculation to the highest level on record," wrote David Berg, the airline group's chief lawyer.
The WikiLeaks documents also shed light on other aspects of Saudi Arabia's oil industry.
One document said that Saudi Arabia has boosted its excess capacity — the difference between the amount of oil it could produce and the amount it pumps for its clients — from 2 million barrels per day to 4 million, a margin that offers assurance that there'll be little disruption to oil supplies from political unrest in places such as Libya, where oil production has ground to a halt.
Another quotes the chief economist of Saudi investment bank Jadwa Investment as estimating in June 2008, shortly before oil prices peaked, that the kingdom earned more than $1 billion a day from oil. Another quotes Aramco's treasurer as saying the state oil company had its own Europe-based global investment fund that in April 2008 had assets worth $60 billion.
A fourth document quotes the Saudi assistant petroleum minister as expressing concern to Ambassador James Smith that Saudis could be "greened" out of the U.S. market. The minister noted in 2009 that the United States for the first time had consumed more ethanol than it did Saudi oil.
READ THE CABLES
BRIEFING ON 28 May 2011
US Secretary of State Clinton, accompanied by Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, visited Islamabad yesterday (27 May 2011) and held in-depth exchange of views with the President, the Prime Minister, Interior Minister, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, the Chief of Army Staff, Director General ISI and the Foreign Secretary. As you know, Pakistan-US relations have witnessed a period of stress for the last few months. Secretary Clinton’s visit provided a welcome opportunity to have an in-depth exchange of views on all bilateral issues as well as matters relating to stability and security in the region, notably counter-terrorism and Afghanistan. The conversation format of the talks provided an opportunity for deep-deep discussions, which were constructive, forward-looking and marked by candour. The purpose was to clear misgivings on both sides and to reach better understanding of each other’s perspectives. Secretary Clinton’s important visit was part of our ongoing contacts with the US. It was neither a beginning of the process nor a culmination. Both sides realized that there was need for a course correction. This is necessitated due to a clear realisation that we are at a point of inflexion – indeed entering a new defining phase on issues of regional security, stability, particularly in working the diplomatic process for peace in Afghanistan and eliminating terrorism from this region. This phase, which has brought to fore new challenges, also promises new hope and could open enormous opportunities for regional peace, stability and prosperity. It has been Pakistan’s consistent endeavour to work together with Afghanistan, the United States and other members of the international community to realize the tremendous development potential that our region collectively possesses. In the interest of objectivity, we must continue to bear in mind that any point of inflexion has inherent risks of misunderstanding and misperception, as operational policies at all planes undergo a process of recalibration. It is important to note that Pakistan and the United States are engaged in such an exercise, which I have described as “course correction”, with a view to having ”clarity” and strategic coherence. This is not the time to rush to make any value judgements on the status of relations. From the conversations with Secretary Clinton and Admiral Mullen, which we have evaluated positively, it was evident that the United States wishes to work together with Pakistan. They expressed their readiness to address our concerns and to take fully on board the core national interests of Pakistan. We acknowledge that President Obama, and in particular, Secretary Clinton fully understand the adverse impact on Pakistan of the developments in the region and, resulting from the long history of conflict in Afghanistan. We believe that they recognize the sacrifices made by Pakistan and are prepared to help our efforts to turn the page. Our leadership, in a forthright manner, apprised Secretary Clinton about the hopes, aspirations and expectations of the people of Pakistan. These have been amply expressed in the Resolution of the Joint Sitting of the Parliament. Secretary Clinton and Admiral Mullen categorically stated that the United States respects Pakistan’s sovereignty and expressed support for a strong, secure, stable, democratic and prosperous Pakistan. Pakistan attaches importance to its relations with the United States. Both sides have agreed to intensify their bilateral engagements as well as to recommence the preparatory work for the Strategic Dialogue Process. We also attach considerable importance to the ongoing trilateral engagement between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States on matters relating to reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan. Two meetings of the Core Group were held this month – one in Islamabad and the second in Kabul. The Core Group will meet again towards the end of June in Kabul. The Core Group, on Pakistan’s initiative, has agreed to focus on working the development track and we are happy to note that all sides are committed to working towards forging a joint vision of stability, peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region as a whole. In short Secretary of State Clinton's visit provided a welcome opportunity to press the reset button. The Significant outcome was the mutual desire to work together closely at all planes. Finally I would like to inform you that in the context of the resumed dialogue process with India, talks between the defence secretaries of the two countries will be held in New Delhi on 30-31 May 2011 to discuss the issue of Siachen. Questions – Answers Session Q: During the visit of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mike Mullen, did the US side extend any assurances to Pakistan such as about the exchange of intelligence and the undertaking of joint operations in the case of high value targets? Secondly, was the issue of drone strikes taken up by our side with the US delegation? A: Exchange of information was discussed in detail. During Senator John Kerry’s visit as well it was discussed that there will be joint operations and that there will be greater transparency and information sharing between the two countries. The question of drone attacks was also extensively discussed at the meeting yesterday. Our leadership categorically conveyed that this was unacceptable and the sense of the Resolution of the Joint Session of the Parliament was also conveyed. This is an issue where there are differences. But both sides have decided to continue to discuss this matter further. Q: With reference to the Secretary of State's visit to Pakistan, what new steps were envisaged for normalization of relations between the two countries? A: The one thing that clearly came out in the discussions as well as in the press briefing by Secretary of State Clinton was the importance of the concepts of partnership and equality. Secretary Clinton repeatedly said in her press conference that there was great appreciation for what Pakistan has done in fighting terrorism. That there was respect for what Pakistan is doing. There was the need for both countries to deepen mutual understanding through and intensified engagement on all issues in a positive and constructive manner. Q: After yesterday's visit, we are hearing that Pakistan has agreed to take several steps in the fight against terror. On the other hand, the government has been saying recently that the entire relationship will be revisited. Why is it that we find a dichotomy between your statements for domestic consumption and what you tell your foreign interlocutors and the international community? A: I don’t think there is any dichotomy in what we say for public consumption and what is said for the international community. The concerns of the people of Pakistan have been stated very clearly by our leadership, by the Prime Minister, in the meeting of the Joint Session of the Parliament as well as in meetings of the DCC. All these are in the public domain for the public consumption in Pakistan and abroad. And that’s why we say that there were very frank discussions that took place in which both sides clearly indicated their concerns and differences as well. And if you look at the text of the transcript of the Secretary of State Clinton’s press briefing she said “we underline the fact that everyone spoke honestly and clearly and with candour with each other which was very important. Any relationship that is of the importance that is between the United States and Pakistan requires clear understanding on issues. The most important thing is that misconceptions and misunderstandings are removed” And this visit by Hillary Clinton provided an opportunity for clearing some of those misconceptions and misunderstandings. There was clear appreciation by the US side, by the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and by Admiral Mullen, as they stressed in the press briefing, what Pakistan was doing and how important Pakistan was. Secretary Clinton said that “we look towards a strong Pakistan: one that is democratic; one that is prosperous Pakistan and stable, being a cornerstone for regional stability and for global security.” So there is understanding on the side of the United States of the fact that both countries have to work together to combat the common challenges; and those common challenges are countering terrorism, ensuring peace and stability in the region and in Afghanistan. These are the common areas of great similarity. Secretary of State Clinton also said that the US will continue to support Pakistan’s sovereignty, its civilian elected government and above all its people. Q: Hillary Clinton during her press briefing stated that although the top leadership of Pakistan did not know about Osama's presence in Pakistan, someone, somewhere at some level did. Was this issue raised by the Americans and what was Pakistani government's response to it? Secondly, US media has been reporting that a list of 5 most wanted terrorists has been handed over to the Pakistani side. Is that correct? A: On your first question I would again like to recall that Secretary Clinton said that the US has absolutely no reason to believe that anyone at the highest levels of Government knew about Osama and that there was an investigation being carried out to find out the facts. Obviously, everyone in Pakistan is also interested to know the answer to that question. The answer we will be through the investigation that is being carried out. Obviously, there must have been a local support group, presumably consisting of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates for Bin Laden. This is common sense. The ongoing investigations hopefully will bare the truth. On your second question, these are operational details that I will not go into at this point nor would I venture into the media speculation on it. What we need to focus on the larger picture and to ensure that the Pakistan-US relationship remains on track especially in the context of fighting terrorism and on matters of regional stability. . Q: First of all as you have mentioned that, we are moving forward in our engagement with India which is an important step, there were reports that our Interior Ministry has rejected the list of 50 allegedly wanted criminals handed over by the Indians, and has subsequently forwarded it to your office for onwards transmission. Your comments please. Secondly, Can you please elaborate as to what are those specific steps which the Secretary of state Hillary Clinton mentioned in her press briefing yesterday? A: On your first question, there has been a great deal of discussion within the media on that list. This question was raised in the last briefing as well and what I basically said was that, it is an Indian list; it is up to the Indians to decide who to put on it. Obviously anything that is given to us, we will look at it seriously. In the context of looking at any such issue seriously, we have referred to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs the request seeking clarification about the exact status of the list. On the second question, about specific steps, as I have already said, specifics relate to our common objectives of continuing to fight terrorism, sharing of intelligence information in this context, ensuring that peace and stability returns to Afghanistan and facilitating the Afghan process of peace and reconciliation. Q: US statements suggest that Pakistan has asked the Americans to cut down their troop numbers in Pakistan. What are the numbers of troops that will be withdrawn as a result of this request? Are these troops from the US Special Forces, CIA or are they Private contractors? Secondly, Hillary Clinton in her press briefing mentioned that access was given to the US authorities to Osama's compound. Are these reports correct? A: As far as your first question about any number of troops being cut down, Admiral Mullen and State Department’s Deputy Spokesperson have both referred to it as well. As far as we are concerned, it is an operational detail in which numbers increase or decrease according to operational and training requirements. Q: I would like to have your comments on the remarks made by the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying that "Pakistan has some very legitimate interests in Afghanistan". A: Absolutely. Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United Sates have decided within the trilateral process that these three countries form the Core Group working for reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan. The principle forwarded by the Core Group has also been recognized globally, i.e., that any process of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan should be an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process. And that we stand by Afghanistan to facilitate as far as possible within this process of peace and reconciliation. And as you have pointed out rightly, there is recognition within the US leadership that Pakistan has a very important, facilitating role to play in any process of reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan. We stand by the Government of Afghanistan and people of Afghanistan to continue the process that they have started. Q: Was the issue of respect for Pakistan's sovereignty raised by the leadership in their parleys with the Americans yesterday? Secondly, the Secretary of State mentioned the existence of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan that are creating trouble in Afghanistan. Do we agree with this? A: On the question of sovereignty, this was not only raised by the President and the Prime Minister but has been repeatedly referred to within the context of the concerns of Pakistani nation and in the light of the Resolution that was adopted by the Joint Sitting of the Parliament. The US is aware of the contents of this resolution. You can see a response to our concerns to some extent in the comments that were made by Admiral Mullen in the press briefing at the US Embassy yesterday. On your second question, as far as Pakistan is concerned, Pakistan has been suffering from terrorist activities and the terrorist blowback. There was recognition by Secretary of State Clinton that no other country or people have suffered more from terrorism that Pakistan and Pakistanis. And the fact that we continue to fight terrorism and suffer from the blowback of this fight on a daily basis is indicative of our commitment to eliminate terrorism and extremism. We fight Al-Qaeda that has declared war on Pakistan, as well as those individuals and groups that are fighting against the State and the People of Pakistan. Q: Indian Home Minister P. Chidambarum has said that Pakistan has become a fragile state. What is your response to this? A: As I have said repeatedly in these press briefings, we do not intend to send messages through the media. Pakistan is a strong state and Pakistanis a very resilient nation- a nation that is committed to building a bright future. Secretary Clinton in her Press remarks mentioned the resilience of the State and people of Pakistan. Q: Madam I would like to ask a few questions, first there are reports that drones have been flying over in Abbottabad, what is your response to this? Secondly, today there was a statement from Saudi Arabia saying that Afghan Taliban are in control of Pakistan and the world should assist Pakistan. Your comments please. A: On your first comment, I think the best thing is to refer this comment to ISPR, as ISPR would have operational details. On your second comment, I can only say something when I see those comments myself because I do not like to comment on things which may have been taken out of context. Someone may be reporting these comments out of context. Q: Yesterday Secretary Clinton and Admiral Mullen, reportedly pledged American support to Pakistan in counterterrorism. Also after the DCC meeting Prime Minister Gilani mentioned that Pakistan will shift its counter terrorism policy. Does this signal that Pakistan will now be more pro active in its counter terrorism policy? Secondly if Pakistan does go for a proactive policy how well is it prepared to face the back lash from these groups? A:Pakistan has over the past couple of years implemented a very proactive anti-terrorism policy and has been actively targeting those terrorists that are trying to strike at Pakistan’s interest. We shall continue this fight against terrorism. The Prime Minister stated this at the close of the DCC meeting and as well as following the adoption of the Resolution of the joint sitting of the Parliament. Pakistan is committed to eliminating terrorism. Implementation of this commitment is critical for Pakistan to remain on the track of development, peace and prosperity of its people and the people of the region. Q:Madam can you give us some more details on the Core group for reconciliation? Is this a trilateral initiative? Who are its members? What are its terms of reference? A:It was on the initiative of the United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan that the trilateral process has been established. The Senior Official of the three countries have met twice, once in Islamabad and once recently in Kabul. Pakistan’s side was led by the Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir. Deputy Foreign Minister Javid Lodin led the Afghan delegation and Ambassador Mark Grossman has been leading the US delegation. The objective of the trilateral group is to discuss, consult and cooperate on issues of reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan; and to facilitate the Afghan-led process in this regard. At the last trilateral meeting the discussion focused on the development track. This core group is of the view that for sustainability of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, it is essential to work the development track. The next meeting of the Trilateral Group would be held again in Kabul towards the end of June. Q: Secretary Clinton was initially due to visit Pakistan in April this year for the 4th round of Strategic dialogue between Pakistan and the US, but this didn’t materialize due to some constraints. Can you please tell us about the current status of the strategic dialogue? Are there any dates decided for that? Secondly, we keep on hearing from our side that the relations between Pakistan and US are based on mutual respect and mutual interest. How do we define the word mutual respect? A:On your first question, the Strategic Dialogue was to be held this month but as I already pointed out in my opening remarks, it was agreed with Secretary of State Clinton that preparatory work for the Strategic Dialogue would be geared up. And once that preparatory work is completed, the dates with regard to the holding of the dialogue will be decided. On your second question, I would only like to repeat what I have said earlier that within the discussions that were held yesterday and as well as in the context of the press briefing by Secretary of State Clinton and Admiral Mullen, two important principles were squarely underscored. These were of partnership and equality between the two countries. Q: Madam my first question is regarding Admiral Mullen's yesterday's comment that, this war is not America's war, this is Pakistan's war, this is Afghanistan's war and this is a regional war in which we all have stakes. Your comments please. Secondly, IAEA has reportedly sought details regarding the security of Pakistan's nuclear installations whether these are research facilities or power plants or enrichment plants. Will you please tell us what sort details have they sought? A: With regard to your first question I will read the entire paragraph of what he said for clarity: “It isn't America's war. This is Pakistan's war and it is Afghanistan's war. It's a regional war against a common enemy, a war in which all of us have a stake and in which all of us have certain risks.” I don't think that I need to explain this further. Admiral Mullen referred to a common enemy, each of us having a stake and each of us having certain risks. On your second question, I have to confirm the veracity of what you are referring to. But let me state that as far as the security of Pakistan's strategic assets, the Prime Minister in his statement after the last DCC meeting has clearly elaborated on it and I don’t need to say anything further. This is just to underscore that the safety and security of our strategic assets are of international standards, and that there should be no doubt about it. The speculation about safety of strategic assets is in fact not only motivated but also mischievous. Q: While we respect your comments that any judgment should not be passed on the status of relationship between Pakistan and the US, I wish to know how far misgivings have been removed between Pakistan and the US as a result of this visit. Secondly, there have been speculations in the international media that Secretary Clinton and Admiral Mullen came here with a Carrot and Stick. Did you notice any such thing? Third is there any high level visit planned in the near future between Pakistan and China? A: With regard to the first point, whether misconceptions have been cleared, as I said earlier there was an open and constructive dialogue. Candid discussions were held. All issues of interest to both countries were discussed. Such open discussions about moving forward together help to clear misconceptions. On your second question, I think we should not read too much into the media. I saw a headline today saying, Hillary Clinton received with chill in Islamabad. The fact is that she herself said that she was received with great warmth. The fact is that we had good discussions. Both sides came out of these conversations with a better understanding of each others point of view. Both expressed their desire to move forward
Date: Sun, May 29, 2011 at 4:41 PM
Subject: Historian Ramachandra Guha -- 'There was no sense of a nation or nationhood in India'
If these are the type of historians that mainstream India looks up to
.. no wonder .. general Indian masses have no pride or identity or
clue as Indians.
Historian Ramachandra Guha inteviewreviews ...
http://specials.rediff.com/india60/2007/aug/28sld2.htm 'There was no sense of a nation or nationhood in India' Q: One of the questions you raise in the book is intriguing: Why is
there an India at all? A: One of the limitations of this book is that it starts in 1947. If I
were to ask why there is an India at all, I believe there was no India
at all before the British came. There was no sense of a nation or
nationhood in India. It was the British that united the country, accidentally, and out of
commercial and political motives. So they gave it an artificial unity;
an artificial territorial and political unity. This artificial unity
was endowed with a moral purpose by Mahatma Gandhi and his national
movement. This was furthered by the Indian constitution and the first
generation of Indian nation builders.
Remarks With Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
May 27, 2011
SECRETARY CLINTON: Admiral Mullen and I have just completed a very extensive, open, frank, and constructive discussion with the leadership of Pakistan – with the president, the prime minister, the chief of staff of the army, General Kayani, the head of ISI, General Pasha, and with representatives from the foreign office and the interior ministry.
I have to begin by expressing appreciation for the warm welcome that we both received and the open dialogue that was the hallmark of our hours together. The United States and Pakistan have been friends for a very long time. We have a relationship that is rooted in mutual respect and mutual interests, so there is always a lot to talk about. But this was an especially important visit because we have reached a turning point. Usama bin Ladin is dead, but al-Qaida and its syndicate of terror remain a serious threat to us both. There is momentum toward political reconciliation in Afghanistan, but the insurgency continues to operate from safe havens here in Pakistan. And the Pakistani people are standing courageously for their democracy and their future, but the country continues to face enormous economic, political, and security challenges.
The United States has been clear and consistent about our expectations for this relationship. We have strong interests in the region and we are pursuing them vigorously. These are not uniquely American aims. We believe that Pakistanis pursue the same goals and share the same hopes. We seek to defeat violent extremism, end the conflict in Afghanistan, and ensure a secure, stable, democratic, prosperous future for Pakistan. And we expect to work closely with the government and the people of Pakistan to achieve those ends.
First, the fight against violent extremism. For the past decade, many of the world’s most vicious terrorists, including al-Qaida’s most important leaders, have been living in Pakistan. From here, they have targeted innocent people all over the world – in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and far beyond. But no nation has sacrificed more lives in this struggle against violent extremism than Pakistan has. Extremists have killed women and children, blown up mosques and markets, and shown no regard for human life or dignity.
The United States and Pakistan have worked together to kill or capture many of these terrorists here on Pakistani soil. This could not have been done without close cooperation between our governments, our militaries, and our intelligence agencies. But we both recognize there is still much more work required and it is urgent. Today, we discussed in even greater detail cooperation to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida, and to drive them from Pakistan and the region. We will do our part and we look to the Government of Pakistan to take decisive steps in the days ahead. Joint action against al-Qaida and its affiliates will make Pakistan, America, and the world safer and more secure.
But I want to underscore a point that I made in public in the last weeks and made again privately today to the president, the prime minister, and others. There is absolutely no evidence that anyone at the highest levels of the Pakistani Government knew that Usama bin Ladin was living just miles from where we are today. And we know that al-Qaida has been a source of great pain and suffering to the leadership that has been in every way attempting to eradicate the threat that is posed. But we know we have to redouble our efforts together. That is the way forward.
Second, on Afghanistan, both our nations have an interest in a safe, stable Afghanistan that is not a source of insecurity for its neighbors or others. And we need to work together to achieve that goal. As part of America’s strategy, we are supporting an Afghan-led process that seeks to split the Taliban from al-Qaida and reconcile those insurgents who will renounce violence and accept the constitution of Afghanistan. And we know that for reconciliation to succeed, Pakistan must be a part of that process. Many of the leaders of the Taliban continue to live in Pakistan, and Pakistan has very legitimate interests in the outcome of this process. And those interests need to be respected and addressed. But we also discussed that Pakistan has a responsibility to help us help Afghanistan by preventing insurgents from waging war from Pakistani territory.
Today, we discussed Pakistan’s perspective on Afghanistan and how it can support the international community’s efforts there. And we look forward to putting those words into action and seeing momentum toward a political resolution. We think that the recently held trilaterals between the United States, Afghanistan, and Pakistan – one here in Islamabad, one in Kabul – are a very important step toward the resolution in Afghanistan.
A third major area where America’s and Pakistan’s interests intersect is the future of this country itself. In recent years, the United States has tried to be a very good friend to Pakistan. We have repeatedly delivered on what we promised by providing billions of dollars in new assistance to address Pakistan’s energy and other economic challenges. We’ve expanded assistance to your security forces. And we led ongoing international relief efforts to respond to last year’s devastating floods. We’ve built the largest educational and cultural exchange program anywhere in the world as an investment in the youth of Pakistan. And we launched a Strategic Dialogue that brings our governments together to discuss the full range of common concerns. And we agreed that this work must continue. It continued today and it will continue tomorrow.
We are prepared to stand by the Pakistani people for the long haul. The United States knows that Pakistan’s future is imperatively important for us, but even more so for the people themselves, and we look toward a strong Pakistan, one that is democratic, one that is prosperous and stable, being a cornerstone for regional stability and global security. That is why the United States will continue to support Pakistan’s sovereignty, its civilian-elected government, and above all, its people.
But let me be clear, as I was today, America cannot and should not solve Pakistan’s problems. That’s up to Pakistan. But in solving its problems, Pakistan should understand that anti-Americanism and conspiracy theories will not make problems disappear. It is up to the Pakistani people to choose what kind of country they wish to live in. And it is up to the leaders of Pakistan to deliver results for the people. There is still a lot of work to be done to reduce corruption and grow the economy, to rebuild from the floods, to get electricity more readily available, to make progress in eliminating extremists and their sanctuaries.
So there are hard choices to make, and we should proceed in a spirit of openness and candor, because part of friendship is speaking honestly and telling each other our perspectives and, where necessary, even difficult truths as we see them. We have shared interests, we have common challenges, and yes, we have areas of disagreement. During Pakistan’s first winter as a young nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah said, “We are going through fire. The sunshine has yet to come.” But his confidence in the resilience and determination of the Pakistani people never wavered. And the years have vindicated his faith.
As we look ahead from this pivotal moment, that determination by the Pakistani people themselves will be more important than ever. I believe that Pakistan’s best days are ahead, and the United States wants to be there as you move into a future that realizes the promise of your beginning. And we will stand with you and support you as you make the tough decisions to have the kind of country and future that the people of Pakistan deserve.
ADMIRAL MULLEN: Thank you, Madam Secretary, and thank all of you for being here. I too wish to express my gratitude for the time afforded us by so many of Pakistan’s leaders today. Having been somewhat of a frequent flyer myself to these parts, I know and appreciate how tough it is, especially in times like this to break away from the press of events to hold these sorts of discussions.
And as the Secretary mentioned, they were very candid discussions, the kind of discussions two friends should be able to have at such a critical time. I want to associate myself with everything the Secretary said about the criticality of this relationship and about moving it forward in a positive direction. But in particular, I want to echo her comments about the shared sense of urgency. I think we all realize the challenges under which this relationship now labors, but now is not the time for retreat or for recrimination. Now is the time for action and closer coordination; for more cooperation, not less; for the friendship to get stronger, not weaker.
The killing of Usama bin Ladin has accomplished many things, many necessary things. It has removed permanently the leader of an organization that is avowed to no other end than the killing of innocent people. It has sent that organization into some disarray and most likely disrupted some of its future plans. It has called into question, indeed it has proven false, al-Qaida’s claim and confidence in itself as untouchable or omniscient, just as events throughout the Arab world prove false – prove false al-Qaida’s ideology of extremism and hate.
But bin Ladin’s death, however welcome, has not for the short term eliminated the threats we both face from terrorism. Recent attacks right here in Pakistan over the last few days serve as grim reminders of that fact, and of the sacrifices the Pakistan people – Pakistani people continue to pay at the hands of these criminals. Nor has his death meant the death of al-Qaida altogether or of the alliances that are formed between al-Qaida and elements of the Taliban. We see that collusion persist. We see the desire emerge for longevity and reorganization and perhaps even the desire for closer ties between disparate groups of extremists. To be sure, these groups are weaker, much weaker, and not just as a result of this raid, but as a result of the extraordinary efforts expended by both coalition forces and the Pakistani military over the last several years. There is a much larger struggle afoot, and I would be remiss if I did not applaud the bravery and the skill with which Pakistani troops have engaged the enemy in that struggle, losing thousands of their number in the process.
But in their weakness and in their confusion, the terrorists are lashing out, and so the fight will and must go on, and it must go on with the Pakistani military and the U.S. military acting, coordinating, and leading together. We have come too far and sacrificed too much for it to be any other way for either of us. This isn’t America’s war. This is Pakistan’s war and Afghanistan’s war. It’s a reasonable war against a common enemy, a war in which all of us share a stake and all of us must hazard certain risks.
For our part, my military took many risks going after bin Ladin, risks to the lives of our men and women in uniform, risks to civilian causalities and to collateral damage. We took the risk of being wrong about what we thought we knew of the killer’s whereabouts. And yes, in our desire to preserve secrecy, we incurred a certain risk in our relationships with other nations in the region. But this particular relationship with Pakistan is too critical, and now is too critical a time to allow whatever differences we may still have with one another impede the progress we must still make together.
I harbor no illusions about the difficulties ahead nor do I leave here misinformed about the trust which still needs to be rebuilt between our two militaries. But I do leave here with a sense that General Kayani and other Pakistani military leaders share my commitment to that task and share my desire to look for ways to advance the relationship. There’s no better time for that sort of partnership than right now. Thank you.
MODERATOR: And the first question is from Baqir (inaudible) from DAWN.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you spoke about your – you spoke about expectations, and you said this in Paris as well before coming here. After your meeting with the Pakistani leadership, what is your assessment that – is Pakistan ready to meet those expectations? And is – and how do you assess the – is Pakistan ready to move away from your – or what your military leadership thinks, exclusion at Haqqani Network and other groups that are of concern to United States and other countries?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me speak first from my perspective. I cannot speak for the Pakistani leadership with whom we met. But certainly, my conclusion is that we are both committed to this relationship. We understand its strategic importance. We have critical interests that intersect in a number of important areas, which we both have mentioned – the issue of extremism, the future of Afghanistan, the economy, long-term stability. And we also have a shared appreciation for the sacrifice that the other has been making and continues to make. When we sit down to talk together across from the leaders of your country, we represent a country that has also been victimized by extremism, that has also lost brave young men and women in uniform, who are fighting against the violent extremists. So we understand the real sense of loss that is expressed to us by the leaders and people of Pakistan about the costs of this struggle against extremism.
But we both know there can be no quarter given, that there can be no peace, no stability, no democracy, no future for Pakistan unless the violent extremists are removed, either by coming to their senses and recognizing that they should be part of a political process if they have a point of view to present and not try to inflict their ideology or their prejudices on an entire nation, or they will have to be killed or captured.
So we came today to talk about all that we have in common, and we did so. And I, for one, came away from our meeting convinced of the importance of this relationship, the significance to my country’s national security, and therefore the need to deepen our cooperation on every level between our governments, our militaries, and our intelligence and law enforcement services, but that we must, at the same time, continue to reach out to the Pakistani people, to cut through what I have talked about on my previous visits are often deliberate misunderstandings, conspiracy theories, accusations and the like which really have nothing to do with how we chart the future that we both hope to see.
So I think that I return to Washington ever more committed to doing whatever I can to make sure that the cooperation we’re seeking is forthcoming and the cooperation that we’ve been asked for by our counterparts is also occurring from our part. But let me ask the admiral to add anything he wishes to add.
ADMIRAL MULLEN: Well, from the military perspective – again, I met with General Kayani and the military leadership and did so at a time of great stress, obviously, in the relationship, which is one of the reasons that we’re here. But we had very frank and open discussions about how to move ahead and about the importance of the relationship and the challenges that we face, the shared challenges that we face. And one of the things that I try to do always is listen to those challenges from the Pakistani perspective, and because we’ve been through the difficult challenges of late, being here now, I thought, was very important.
And from my perspective, no one should doubt for a minute the long-term commitment to this relationship, to the need to rebuild on the trust that certainly was recently shaken, and that the strength of that relationship in the long term will, I think, support a more stable, peaceful, prosperous Pakistan but also a more stable, peaceful, and prosperous region.
MODERATOR: The next question is from Kim Ghattas of BBC.
QUESTION: Hi. Good afternoon. A question for both of you: You’ve both been to Pakistan several times over the last couple of years, and every time, you ask for more cooperation from the Pakistanis on a variety of issues. Did you hear anything today in your meetings that make you think that you are actually going to get exactly what you want? I mean, I have to say that the meeting – the start of the meeting looked incredibly tense. Did it continue to be tense?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I don’t think it can be characterized as tense. We were just waiting for the press to leave so we could actually – (laughter) – begin our meeting. That was the only tension that I think was in the room.
But to answer your very important question, Kim, look, you’re right; Mike and I have been coming here, and Mike has a long history of commitment to the joint efforts that we are engaged in in Pakistan. And ever since I became Secretary of State, I have tried to develop a strategic relationship that reflects the stakes which are so high between our two nations.
And I think it’s important to remember where we started, because I believe we’ve had significant cooperation, and there has been a tremendous amount of commitment shown by the Government of Pakistan toward this fight against extremism. And we heard today, for short-term cooperation, some very specific actions that Pakistan will take and that we will take together. And we reaffirmed our commitment to the medium and long-term relationship.
But I always wish that we would put into some historical context, even if the history is only two and a half years old, where our relationship was, and what was happening inside of Pakistan when President Obama took office. You had extremists who were controlling territory not very far from Islamabad. And it was a tremendous act of leadership, courageous leadership, for the Government of Pakistan to throw itself into the fight against the extremists who were threatening the Pakistani people and were, unfortunately, expanding their area of influence. That has been reversed.
Now, are there still horrific attacks? Yes, there are. And do the terrorists continue to use the cowardly tool of suicide bombers to blow up the police recruits and take out innocent lives throughout the country? Yes. But I think any fair reading of what Pakistan has accomplished just in the time that I’ve been deeply involved deserves more credit. Now we are at this turning point and we have to do even more together, and I came away convinced that we would be. And obviously, we’ll see how we both are able to implement over the next weeks and months.
MODERATOR: Shaukat Paracha of AHA TV.
QUESTION: Thank you, ma’am. (Inaudible.) Thank you very much. You talked about conspiracy theories and anti-Americanism in Pakistan. But as we see, the U.S. media and your think tank reports believe that the situation is good on the part of United States. I mean, in one incident, our 80-90 young men, they are killed by the terrorists. Even our bases, Mehran and PNS Mehran, is not safe.
But these sacrifices, they do not reflect in the United States media, their think tanks, and their opinion-making process. And sadly, the U.S. Administration cannot get its perspective reflected in the U.S. opinion-making process. Is that in the United States something that Pashtuns should be first called a bad name, then weakened, and then destabilized? What’s the policy in the United States both in the political parties and in the Administration?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you for asking that question, because I think you’ve put, as we would say, your finger on a very important concern that we both share. It is fair to say that the level of cooperation and hard work that goes on every day at the highest levels of your government and mine in pursuit of these common objectives is often either not understood or not reflected fairly in the political discourse or in the press of either of our countries.
You have a very free press in Pakistan. We have a very free press in the United States. I think it’s one of our strengths. But as a result, you don’t have either government dictating what is going to be said. And we actually talked about that this morning, because I share the concern that your question expresses. We both – both in my country and in your country, we need to do a better job. We need to do a better job of actually getting the story out. People don’t have to agree with us. Now, that’s – in a democracy, which we both are, you are free to disregard whatever position is put out.
But what is not helpful is either not knowing what we are doing on both sides or deliberating distorting what we are doing. So I think we have some work ahead to try to do a better job to just tell the truth about what we are working on together and the level of aid that the United States is providing. I mean, we provide more support than Saudi Arabia, China, and everybody else combined. But I will stand here and admit that I’m not sure many Pakistanis know that. We provided, I think, the most even after all of it came in, in the aggregate, the most aid for the floods. But I bet not many Pakistanis know that.
And on the reverse, as you rightly point out, you have suffered grievously. The loss of those young men who were training to protect their country was a tragedy, and I don’t know that enough Americans understood what that meant.
So we both have work to do. So let’s clear away the underbrush. Let’s have the kind of open, candid conversation that you and I are having now and that we had earlier today, and then let the chips fall where they may. But let’s not be misinterpreting and misrepresenting each other, because then we can never, ever find common ground.
MODERATOR: Karen DeYoung with The Washington Post.
QUESTION: Thank you. You’ve spoken, Madam Secretary, of the work that both sides need to do and you just referenced public opinion. I wonder if, in terms of specifics, you’ve talked about what you would like the Pakistanis to do in counterterrorism fight. What more does the United States need to do to strengthen this relationship beyond public images? And specifically, did you speak about the question of visas, about the presence of U.S. law enforcement, intelligence, and military officials here? Do you expect those numbers to go down?
And finally, again on specifics, Secretary Gates and others in the United States have said that, as you said, there’s no evidence that senior officials here knew of the presence of bin Ladin but that somebody knew. Was that something that you discussed today, and what’s your sense of how far the Pakistani investigations have gone on that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, we did. We discussed all of the issues that you just raised, Karen. On the last one, we discussed very frankly, and our counterparts in the government were very forthcoming in saying that somebody, somewhere was providing some kind of support. And they are carrying out an investigation. And we have certainly offered to share whatever information we come across, and we intend to be consulting closely as we go forward with them providing information they are finding and us reciprocating.
You may know that today the United States Government got access to the compound, thanks to the cooperation of the ISI and the military. And we are working to try to untangle the puzzle of bin Ladin’s presence in Abbottabad. But I want to stress again that we have absolutely no reason to believe that anyone in the highest levels of the government knew that. In fact, they were quite emotional in conveying how they would have gone after them if they had known he was there, because as the President said, there’s a lot of reason to believe al-Qaida was behind his wife’s murder. So there were common concerns about this, and we had a very forthright discussion.
With respect to visas, look, our security assistance is provided in coordination and at the request of the Pakistani Government and the Pakistani military, and we work closely with Pakistan to try to ensure that they have the training and the equipment and that we have the personnel necessary to support their counterinsurgency efforts. And the size of our presence at any time in Pakistan is a function of the amount and type of work that is needed to be done to meet the Pakistani Government’s request. And we have not noticed any official statement from the Government of Pakistan that in any way would demonstrate that they’re not going to be continuing to request the kind of assistance we provide, and we’re going to continue to offer what we believe is in our mutual best interests.
Mike, do you want to add anything?
ADMIRAL MULLEN: The only thing I’d add, Karen, is certainly I’ve talked with General Kayani and in recent really weeks and months about the level of military support. We’ve been here for some time at the invitation of the Pakistani Government and Pakistani military working a training mission, and those numbers go up and down over time. And there have been requests to reduce those numbers, and those are in considered – and going through the details of what that means and how that looks in the future is something we’re working our way through with them, literally, as we speak.
Indo US cooperation in Central Asia, Siachen dailogue resumes, Harsh Pant on Pak PM China visit, US Hypocrisy
Sherard Cowper-Coles: Our frank, frustrated man in Afghanistan
Charles Moore reviews Cables from Kabul by Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles (Harper Press)
In the 1990s, when people thought that history had come to an end, the Foreign Office became obsessed with "diversity". It wished to widen the pool of recruits – more black faces, more women, fewer old school ties. The apparently paradoxical result was more uniformity of mind. Once you launch a cultural attack upon yourself, you disable independent thinking. Diplomats became embarrassed about their role, and more inclined to watch their backs. The past, of which Britain's foreign policy experience is uniquely deep, was forgotten.
Sherard Cowper-Coles never succumbed to any of this. He sees British diplomacy in historical, even romantic terms. Being a classicist, he has studied the Roman imperium; having an old-fashioned English education, he compares that empire to our own and to the American one that succeeded it. He also has an adventurous spirit.
So when the "end of history" itself ended in the ashes of the World Trade Center, Cowper-Coles's time had come. Britain found itself with an active role in the world crisis. After serving as Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, he was translated, in 2007, to Afghanistan, where our embassy became our biggest in the East. He was playing the 21st-century version of the Great Game.
I stayed with Cowper-Coles while he was in Kabul, and I can testify to his excitement at the drama, his pleasure in the ridiculous and his engagement with the issues. I can also testify, however, to his sense of frustration. One morning, having arranged for us to call on President Karzai, he went first to a separate meeting with him. When we met Cowper-Coles at the presidential palace after it, he was looking dishevelled with rage. Karzai had discovered that one of his warlord enemies was holed up in Kabul and had demanded that American and British forces help go in to capture or kill him. When Cowper-Coles and the US Ambassador refused, the Afghan president had succumbed to paranoid ravings.
This vivid book is chiefly an account of the author's frustration, not only with the mercurial Karzai, but with the entire Afghan situation.
Because Afghanistan is a problem shared between many nations and international institutions, Kabul is infested with non-Afghans. And because the security situation is so dangerous, it is natural for those non-Afghans to spend most of their time being driven in bullet-proof vests and helmets to meetings over breakfast, dinner, lunch and tea. The place is stuffed with the multifarious operatives of the "post-conflict stabilisation industry". You could work there for years without having any real idea about what any real Afghans think. Besides, the conditions are so arduous that tours of duty are short and leave (the author is scathing about the effect of "breather-breaks") generous. Before you have time to learn much, you go home.
In these trying circumstances, those involved, particularly the military, try to sustain themselves with an optimism not necessarily supported by the facts. As Cowper-Coles says, the mantra is "We are making progress, but challenges remain". He became more struck by the challenges than by the progress.
What renders the diplomatic comings and goings even more absurd is that the only Western power which truly matters is the US. America spends about $125 billion a year on Afghanistan. It loses more men than any of its allies.
So Britain finds itself, in Cowper-Coles's phrase, "lashed to the American chariot". It was far more important for our ambassador to cultivate the American one than to deal with Karzai. Eventually, Cowper-Coles became the British special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The real purpose of the post was to try to keep up with the US equivalent, Richard Holbrooke. Some of the author's best comic passages describe his efforts to engage Holbrooke's attention when the great man is thinking of his dentist, his BlackBerry or his dinner.
Cowper-Coles admires Holbrooke (who died last year) and dedicates the book to his memory. But one of his themes is that "Americans are just too democratic, and too nice, to be very good at ruling other people".
The Cowper-Coles thesis is that allied attempts to achieve an "Afghan lead" have not worked. He gives a striking example. One day, the then Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, asked a couple of Afghan ministers how long Afghan government authorities would stay on in Helmand after Western forces left. The expected answer was "decades" or even "forever". The actual answer was "Twenty-four hours".
The author advocates a "political solution", a politer way of saying a deal with the Taliban. Although he does not state this directly, my memory is that he pushed hard for the new Obama administration to reconsider America's unconditional support for the unreliable Karzai, as part of this solution. Instead, along came General Petraeus's surge – a bad example, in Cowper-Coles's view, of the military dominating the political.
In the end, Cowper-Coles's frankness and impatience worked against him. Less adventurous colleagues secured the top jobs he wanted. He left the service earlier this year, a disappointed man. He will probably have the satisfaction, however, of seeing the policy he advocated put into practice. With bin Laden dead and US and British elections needing to be won, "moderate" Taliban will no doubt be unearthed soon and bound in to some deal.
There are several morals drawn by the author from his story, all of them interesting; but the reader may add another one. If your son or daughter is a person of talent, courage and originality, don't let them go into the Foreign Office.
From: Savarkar.org Team <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, May 28, 2011 at 5:41 AM
Subject: Savarkar's work as a social reformer
Swatantryaveer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (28 May 1883 to 26 Feb 1966) was a fearless freedom fighter, social reformer, writer, dramatist, historian, political leader and philosopher. Unfortunately, Savarkar has been a victim of malice and misinformation. Those who disagree with Savarkar's political views start with the assumption that he was an obscurantist and a reactionary bigot. As a considerable part of his literature is in Marathi, his thoughts and achievements in several spheres are largely unknown outside Maharashtra. Savarkar is largely known as a revolutionary freedom fighter and exponent of Hindutva. It is not widely known that he was also an outstanding social reformer. His contribution in the field of social reform is relevant even today. Savarkar's birth anniversary which falls on 28 May provides an excellent opportunity to dispassionately evaluate his contribution as a social reformer. Savarkar carried out a vigorous campaign for social reform through his thoughts, words and actions. Here is a summary of his work as a social reformer.
- In 1925, Savarkar organized a survey of the Maharwada in Ratnagiri and singing of bhajans there.
- In 1926, Savarkar launched an agitation for free intermingling of students of all castes and ex-untouchables in schools
- Savarkar persuaded people from so-called lower castes and ex-untouchables to send their children to schools by distributing free slates, pencils, clothes and money
- From 1927 onwards, accompanied by people of different castes, Savarkar would visit the houses of people belonging to different castes on Dassara and Makar Sankranti and distribute apta leaves and til-gul
- Savarkar organized mass haldi-kumkum programmes of women belonging to all castes. In this work, he was ably assisted by his wife Yamunabai or Mai.
- Savarkar would give free passes to ex-untouchables for the public performances of his play .Sangit Usshaap. and give them prominent places in the audience.
- Savarkar and his associates would organize free rides of the ex-untouchable Mahars in tongas around Ratnagiri port. This was to break the taboo of ex-untouchables to travel by public transport.
- Savarkar raised a musical band of ex-untouchables by taking a bank loan.
- In spite of his own meager financial resources, Savarkar raised a girl belonging to the ex-untouchable Maang community in his own house.
- Savarkar personally taught Shivu Chavan, a young boy from the ex-untouchable Bhangi (Balmiki) community to read and write and taught him the Gayatri mantra.
- Savarkar brought about the shuddhi (purification/ reconversion) of Hindus who had been lured into alien faiths. He organized the shuddhi of the Dhakras family which had embraced Christianity and even performed kanyadan of their daughter during her marriage.
- Savarkar lent public support to Dr. Ambedkar in his Mahad and Kalaram Mandir agitations.
- To demonstrate that no profession is lowly, Savarkar and his associates would personally spin cotton.
- In 1929, Savarkar started the first pan-Hindu Ganeshotsav. Programmes included public lectures by women and kirtans by persons from the Bhangi (Balmiki) community.
- In 1931, Savarkar started the Patitpavan Mandir, the first pan-Hindu temple in the whole country. The trustees included people of all castes and ex-untouchables. Savarkar distributed sacred threads to individuals from the ex-untouchable Mahar and Bhangi (Balmiki) communities. Any Hindu could become the pujari of the Patitpavan temple.
- In 1933, Savarkar started the first pan-Hindu cafe which was open to Hindus of all castes and ex-untouchables.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Positive Signs in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON -- The "fighting season" has started in Afghanistan, with deadly attacks almost every day. But at the same time, diplomats see what one calls "hopeful signs" that a regional framework for peace talks with the Taliban may slowly be emerging.
The most important development is that Germany has been mediating secret talks between the U.S. government and Tayyab Agha, a Taliban official who in the past has had close links with the group's leader, Mohammad Omar. The German-sponsored talks were disclosed Tuesday in Der Spiegel and confirmed to me by a well-informed U.S. source.
Agha is described in Der Spiegel as "Mullah Omar's personal spokesman." U.S. officials aren't certain of that, and they are trying to establish whether Agha speaks for Omar and his Quetta Shura, or for a faction of it, or whether he is a lone wolf. In any event, he could be the most credible Taliban official to surface so far in outreach efforts over the past two years by U.S., European and regional governments.
The German mediation has been guided over the past year by Michael Steiner, a veteran diplomat who is Germany's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The effort was begin by his predecessor, Bernd Mutzelburg. The Germans hope their diplomatic contacts will ripen in time for a major conference on Afghanistan scheduled for December in Bonn.
A second positive trend is that India and Pakistan are speaking in similar language about their support for an Afghan-led negotiated settlement. An important signal came from Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a May 13 speech in Kabul. He endorsed President Hamid Karzai's "process of national reconciliation" and said India "will respect the choices you make."
Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir used similar language Monday when he backed an "Afghan-led and Afghan-owned" peace process. He was echoing comments made in Kabul in April by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, the army chief. Indeed, on paper, there's little difference between the Indian, Pakistani and American positions supporting a negotiation that concludes with a Taliban agreement to renounce violence, reject al-Qaeda and support the Afghan constitution.
Friction between India and Pakistan has been a major obstacle to an Afghan settlement in the past. So it's interesting that the new diplomatic efforts come as "a dialogue process is on" between New Delhi and Islamabad, according to one Indian source. This dialogue has included recent meetings between the two nations' secretaries for foreign affairs, home affairs, commerce and water resources. Indian officials caution that Pakistan must also crack down on the Islamic militants responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attack.
Singh's speech in Kabul got relatively little attention in the Western press. But diplomats noted this passage: "We hope that Afghanistan will be able to build a framework of regional cooperation that will help its nation-building efforts." That hope is shared by Marc Grossman, the new U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, who has been pushing for a "diplomatic surge" on various fronts.
A third positive trend is on the battlefield itself. The U.S.-led coalition entered this fighting season having cleared several major Taliban strongholds in Kandahar and Helmand provinces, providing more leverage. There's some independent evidence that the Taliban is feeling the pressure.
Interviews done in April with 1,400 Afghan men by the independent International Council on Security and Development showed that respondents in nine of 14 districts surveyed believed the U.S.-led coalition is winning the war. In the southern battleground provinces of Kandahar and Helmand, 61 percent of those surveyed favored negotiations with the Taliban. ICOS surveyed a smaller sample after Osama bin Laden's death May 2, and 68 percent said it was good news, according to Norine MacDonald, head of the group.
The Afghanistan battle turns on a dirty war of night raids against Taliban leaders by U.S.-led Special Forces and a counteroffensive of Taliban fighters assassinating Afghan officials working with the U.S. It's hard to judge where the balance lies in this fight, but it's a grinding war that may make both sides more ready for a diplomatic outcome.
The death of bin Laden created an opening to resolve a conflict whose triggering personality is now gone. What's encouraging is that other positive signs are pointing in the same direction, toward an Afghan peace process that has regional support. Grossman is a quieter diplomat than his predecessor, Richard Holbrooke, but he seems to be making some progress.