Archive for the ‘Afghanistan’ Category
It would be an understatement to suggest that the Tahrir Square protests in Egypt have profound implications for the theory and practice of democracy. Commitment to democracy has assumed dramatically different connotations both in terms of adherence by national governments and support of the international community. Removal of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is only the short term result of the 18 day uprising, the long term outcome including the conception and growth of democratic norms shall emerge with time. However, the apparent ‘success’ of the uprising has fired the imagination of the people not only in autocratic regimes but in functional democracies as well. One such instance is that of India. Social and mainstream media in India has suggested the possibility of emulating Egypt type uprising in India to challenge the corruption and inefficiency of the Government. Many observers have even drawn parallels between the Tahrir uprising and public protests in Srinagar in the summer of 2010. Though Egypt like uprising is unlikely in India, yearnings for such ‘revolution’ shall remain strong among the Indian populace. Click to continue…
“The sole aim of journalism should be service. The newspaper is a great power, but just as an unchained torrent of water submerges whole countryside and devastates crops, even so an uncontrolled pen serves but to destroy. If the control is from without, it proves more poisonous than want of control. It can be profitable only when exercised from within.” Mahatma Gandhi, An Autobiography of My Experiments With Truth.
The issue of control from without and within lies at the root of the recent Niira Radia tapes controversy in India.
India is getting ready for U.S. President Barak Obama’s visit to the country beginning on November 4th. Apart from the political and diplomatic dimensions of the visit, the most interesting aspect is the Indian media’s pre-visit coverage. Editorials in leading news dailies and comments by strategic observers in the run up to President Obama’s visit have a different tone this time. Visits by U.S. Presidents are usually hyped as historic, path-breaking and momentous. However, caution seems to be the more dominant sentiment this time.
India’s Home Minister P. Chidambaram during a speech at the conference of State police chiefs and Inspector-Generals of police cautioned against the emerging phenomenon of ‘saffron terror’. The Home Minister’s comments have proved controversial with the Opposition Party, Bharatiya Janata Dal (BJP) demanding an apology. Semantics apart, Home Minister Chidambaram’s comment was not frivolous.
Struggles for democracy and struggles of democracy may be different but are struggles nonetheless.
The civilian protests in the Kashmir region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir have been accompanied by a proliferation of literature on the intra-national dimension of the dispute, especially the issue of Human Rights. If you happen to read the columns by likes of Pankaj Mishra or Basharat Peer it is likely that your sympathies will lie with the people of Kashmir. Many others are of the opinion that the violent protests should stop to allow the Government to discuss the popular grievances. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has agreed that New Delhi is open to discussing the autonomy issue. Amendment of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is also under consideration. For the protestors, Prime Minister Singh’s assurance is another addition to similar pledges in the past. The Kashmiri youth demand ‘aazadi’ and refuse to be pacified by piecemeal political and economic packages. The Government fears that accepting the demands of the protestors at this juncture would legitimize violent protests as an instrument of popular pressure. Click to continue…
The street protests in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) are de javu for many locals. It is claimed that a new generation of youth in the state are turning to confrontational tactics as the state continues to define security in strictly militaristic terms. For the Indian side peace in J&K implies ensuring that separatists and militants supported by Pakistan are reined in and ‘democratic’ elections held every five years. The slogans of ‘aazadi’ echoing through the Kashmir Valley are dismissed as the voice of few misguided youth and miscreants supported by ‘foreign’ forces.
Limitations of the vocabulary of western political theory for post-colonial societies have created a dilemma for India and Pakistan. ‘Aazadi’ is interpreted as territorial sovereignty and arguments highlighting the improbability of it for J&K are promptly presented by the Indian side. Pakistan likewise claims to be supporting the Kashmiris in their struggle for self-determination. Looking at the concept of ‘aazadi’ from the perspective of J&K can connote a variety of political arrangements ranging from responsive governance and responsible administration to different degrees of devolution of political authority. The relation between the Indian Federation and its constituent units continues to remain problematic in other areas of the country as well. In the case of J&K, the struggle between the Federation and the units is subsumed in the master narrative constructed in 1947.
The recent tensions in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir have not surprised many. The nation-wide shut down on July 5th attracted more attention than curfew restrictions in parts of the Kashmir valley. However, the recent protest demonstrations do not strictly fall in the segment of terrorism related issues inflicting the state since the past two decades. A section of the Indian population dissatisfied with the Government is participating in protest demonstrations. At least 11 people have been killed in the Kashmir Valley in firing by security forces on stone-pelting mobs protesting against alleged human rights violations.
[Photo Courtesy: The Hindu]
UPDATE: With four civilians killed in the past 24 hours and 70 others injured as the police opened fire to quell demonstrations in different parts of Srinagar, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday sought the Army’s help in tamping down mass protests that have not abated despite several days of curfew.
The Government of India is referring to it as a law and order problem prompted by separatists. The incident and follow up official reaction indicates that the Government’s priorities in the state are more security oriented than conditioned by requirements of ensuring stability. Maintenance of law and order and prevalence of armed forces can ensure security. Good governance and winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of the local population warrants stability.
Matt Waldman in a recently released Paper, “The Sun is in the Sky: The relationship between Pakistan’s ISI and Afghan Insurgents”, explores the extent of the ISI’s links and support to the problem of Afghan insurgency. Though Matt accepts that hosts of endogenous factors responsible for the emergence and sustenance of the Taliban, his interviews with insurgent field commanders in and around Kabul and Kandhar provide him with evidence to claim that the ISI orchestrates, sustains and strongly influences the movement. The research concentrates on two principal groups: the core Taliban movement lead by Mullah Omar and the Haqqani network, led by Jalaluddin Haqqani. The Paper provides elaborate details of how the strategy, funding and operations of the two groups are dominated by ISI’s priorities and interests.In Matt’s analysis Pakistan’s support for the afghan insurgency can be checked by ensuring better relations between India and Pakistan.
The runoff vote for Afghan Presidential elections has been scheduled for November 7. What is expected to emerge out of this internationally sponsored democratic exercise? Is the runoff an attempt to provide the Afghan people with a truly representative government or does the international community merely want to assert its partnership with the de jure and de facto Government of Afghanistan?