Isha khan’s Weblog

Ordeals to Have Due Share of Transboundary River Water
January 29, 2009, 9:46 am
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Ordeals to Have Due Share of Transboundary River Water

Posted by  Isha Khan


ICDDR,B’s Military Connection with Israel
January 28, 2009, 10:19 pm
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ICDDR,B’s Military Connection with Israel

By Rafiq Ahmed

On 27 December 2008, Israel launched a barbaric attack with highly sophisticated weapons, largely supplied by USA, on the civilian population of Gaza under the pretext of fighting Hamas, an organization democratically elected to the parliament by the majority of the Palestinian people. In densely populated Gaza, an all out war against Hamas is, in reality, an attack on the civilian population.

The 22-day long Israeli aggression on Gaza has resulted in the deaths of more than 1300 civilians, over a third of them being children and women. More than 5000 people have been injured, half of them being women and children. Thousands and thousands of homes and residential complexes have been demolished. In brief, Gaza is in ruins, its rebuilding cost exceeding over 2 billion US dollars.

Many actions of the Israeli army such as the indiscriminate use of the US manufactured white phosphorus on unarmed civilian population resulting in very severe and deep burn injuries, bombing of UN schools sheltering civilian population, deliberately shelling unarmed civilians after huddling them into houses, attacking UN premises to destroy food and related items for civilian use and bombing of hospitals appear to have constituted war crimes. Several organizations including the UN organization UNRWA and Amnesty International have called for independent international investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes. A coalition of 350 European and Arab civil society organizations has filed a lawsuit with the International Criminal Court against war crimes committed by the Israeli army.

ICDDR,B’s military connection with Israel

The International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) is the continuation of PAK-SEATO Cholera Research Laboratory, set up by the US government in 1960 to meet the health care needs for the US soldiers in Vietnam. It received a charter from the Government of Bangladesh in 1978 to work on diarrhoeal diseases affecting the poor people. The charter did not allow the Centre to work for military purposes. However, ICDDR,B, using the name of the poor diarrhoea suffering people of Bangladesh, collects millions and millions of dollars from several countries and organizations. The Israel Defence Force is the fourth strongest military establishment in the world and is the strongest in the Middle East. This mighty defence establishment of Israel has an extensive global network that supports its killing machine targeted towards the Palestinians and the Arabs. The Government of Bangladesh does not recognize the Zionist state of Israel.

The Swedish liaison

Collaborative activities among a group of scientists employed by the Government of Sweden, a vaccine company from Sweden (SBL-Vaccin AB), members of the Israel Defence Force and a number of the scientists from ICDDR,B have been going on for several years with a view to develop a vaccine against diarrhoea, caused by enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC), which Israel requires for its soldiers. This is documented in publications in scientific journals published from USA and UK (Infection and Immunity, USA, volume 68; pages 4492-97, year 2000; Vaccine, UK, volume 18, pages 2704-2712, year 2000). Dr. Ann-Mari Svennerholm, a female scientist from Sweden’s state-run Gothenburg University, had been working for several years with the Israel Defence Force.

The Swedish scientists Dr. Ann-Mari Svennerholm, her husband Dr. Jan Holmgren and a number of their subordinate colleagues from the University of Gothenburg have been working at ICDDR,B since 1979. Their principal contact persons during all these years at ICDDR,B had been Dr. David Sack (an American associated with the Centre since 1977 and worked as its director during 1999-2007) and Dr. Firdausi Qadri, a Bangladeshi female scientist holding a very senior position.

Dr. Ann-Mari Svennerholm was not just acting as an advisor to the Israel Defence Force. As a matter of fact, the Israel Defence Force was testing the same ETEC vaccine, which Dr. Ann-Mari Svennerholm and her ICDDR,B colleagues have been developing. The Israeli army had carried out two trials of the vaccine (ETEC/rCTB supplied by SBL-Vaccin AB) between May 22 and July 10, 1995, and between April 1 and June 18, 1997. Dr. Ann-Mari Svennerholm and her principal Bangladeshi co-worker Dr. Firdausi Qadri have also used the same lot of the ETEC vaccine (E-003, SBL-Vaccin AB) on the Bangladeshis as documented in the journal Vaccine (volume 18, pages 2704-2712, June 2000). These activities unequivocally establish the close scientific collaboration that prevails between ICDDR,B and Israel via Sweden.

The Swedish scientists Drs. Holmgren and Svennerholm are deeply associated with SBL-Vaccin AB, its current owner being Crucell N.V. of the Netherlands. SBL-Vaccin AB has also been collaborating with the Israeli army. In the share holder’s meeting on 14 April 2000, SBL-Vaccin AB’s President Mr. S. Andreasson disclosed that the company had been trying the ETEC-vaccine on a large number of Israeli soldiers (The Internet Press Release: page 7; April 14, 2000).

Tip of the iceberg

 What has been described here is probably a tiny tip of a huge iceberg as these are public documents available in the scientific literature. How much covert activities these Swedish scientists (led by Drs. Svennerholm and Holmgren ) and their ICDDR,B associates (led by Drs. Sack and Qadri) had been carrying out inside Bangladesh on behalf of the Israel Defence Force is any body’s guess.

Israeli military agent in Mirpur

Incidentally, Dr. Ann-Mari Svennerholm, the agent of the Israel Defence Force working at ICDDR,B, is also frequently seen in Mirpur of Dhaka where she carries out her “scientific tests” on the poor slum dwellers. This has been described in Sweden’s leading daily ‘Dagens Nyheter’ (5 May 2005) where she claimed Bangladesh to be her “second home”. One wonders whether this Israeli military agent has managed to procure Bangladeshi citizenship considering the fact that the Government of Bangladesh does not recognize the state of Israel and Bangladeshis are prohibited to travel to Israel.

Israeli army hands in the massacre of Bangladeshis

 The people of Bangladesh are one of the staunchest supporters of the peoples of Palestine and the Arab world opposed to Israeli expansionism. Many Bangladeshis have sacrificed their lives alongside the Palestinians in their just struggle against Israel. In September 1982, many Bangladeshis were victims of the massacre performed under the supervision of the Israeli army in the Lebanese camps of Sabra and Shatila. It is ironical that the Swedish governmental scientists collaborating with the Israeli army should be sheltered at ICDDR,B operating on the soil of Bangladesh.

 ICDDR,B’s numerous secret activities with the foreign military

 Apart from collaborating with Israel, ICDDR,B has a long history of colluding secretly with foreign military. ICDDR,B’s scientists developed AQUISTM, a performance enhancing drink for use by the US soldiers in Iraq (The New Age, Dhaka, 8 August 2006). Its scientists led by Dr. Firdausi Qadri have used Bangladeshis as experimental guinea pigs to test a cholera vaccine entitled Peru-15 developed by scientists of the U.S. army to provide better health care to the U.S. army personnel (Journal of Infectious Diseaes 192, 573-9, 2005). As reported recently in an American journal (Infection and Immunity 76, 4145-51, 2008), Dr. Firdausi Qadri collected stool samples containing cholera bacteria from Bangladeshi cholera patients and supplied them directly to a “biodefense” laboratory in the US where scientists under the supervision of Dr. Stephen Calderwood are analyzing these freshly collected stool specimens with the possibility of developing germ warfare agents. Cholera suffering poor stool providers of Bangladesh are kept completely in the dark about the secret agenda of Dr. Qadri and her American colleagues.

Earlier in 1985, ICDDR,B tested a highly controversial and expensive oral cholera vaccine of short term protective efficacy on 90, 000 poor women and children of rural Bangladesh using them as guinea pigs. Later, the vaccine was sold at a high price by SBL-Vaccin AB of Sweden to the US army engaged in war against Iraq in 1991 (Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. 371B, 1633-1640, 1995). In the 1980’s, ICDDR,B, in association with a leading western expert on biological weapons, had carried out collaborative cholera research with the minority white apartheid regime of South Africa grossly violating the foreign policy of the Government of Bangladesh (Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 21, 884-890, 1985).

National security of Bangladesh in an age of germ warfare:

We are living at a time with constant threats of biological warfare. Various pathogenic micro-organisms including cholera bacteria can be used as a tool in biological warfare. This is a serious matter for the people of Bangladesh when foreign military scientists are carrying out research with pathogenic micro-organisms at ICDDR,B. Israeli scientists had been working to develop an “ethnically targeted” biological weapon that would kill or harm the Arabs but not the Jews (The Jerusalem Post, 29 October, 1998; The Sunday Times, London, 15 November 1998).

These two Swedish scientists (Drs. Jan Holmgren and Ann-Mari Svennerholm), not trained in medical genetics, were also carrying out “genetic research” on Bangladeshi body specimens under the guise of cholera vaccine research (American journal of Epidemiology, 121, 791-796, 1985). Because of ICDDR,B’s long-term collaboration with the Swedish scientists (Drs. Jan Holmgren and Ann-Mari Svennerholm) linked to Israel, it is possible that highly pathogenic micro-organisms collected from Bangladesh have ended up in Israel via Sweden.

 It is possible that an external power might develop ethnic weapons against the Bangladeshis as foreign military scientists do possess genetic materials of the Bangladeshis. How much control do Bangladeshi authorities have over the activities and intentions of the expatriate scientists working with highly pathogenic micro-organisms at ICDDR,B? One wonders!

Rafiq Ahmed E Mail :

Posted by Isha Khan

People in Muslim Nations Conflicted About UN
December 4, 2008, 11:33 am
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People in Muslim Nations Conflicted About UN

 A poll of seven majority Muslim nations finds people conflicted about the United Nations. On one hand there is widespread support for a more active UN with much broader powers than it has today. On the other hand, there is a perception that the UN is dominated by the US and dissatisfaction with UN performance on several fronts, particularly in dealing with the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

These are the findings from a survey in Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Iran, Indonesia, the Palestinian Territories, and Azerbaijan. Muslims in Nigeria (50% of the general population) were also polled. The survey was conducted in two waves over January 12-February 18 and July 21-August 31, 2008. Margins of error range from +/-2 to 5 percent. Not all questions were asked in all countries.
“While many people in Muslim countries express disappointment with the UN, this actually masks their underlying desire for a UN that is robust and powerful,” comments Steven Kull, director of
Asked about a number of options for giving the United Nations greater powers, nearly all receive strong support. Publics in all nations polled favor the UN Security Council having its own standing peacekeeping force (on average 64%), having the authority to go into countries to investigate human rights violations (average 63%), and having the right to authorize military force to stop a country from supporting terrorist groups (average 76%), or to prevent severe human rights violations such as genocide (average 77%).

Publics in five out of the six nations asked favor giving the United Nations the power to regulate the international arms trade (average 59%) and favor the UN Security Council having the right to authorize military force to prevent a country that does not have nuclear weapons from acquiring them (average 63%), to prevent a country that does not have nuclear weapons from producing nuclear fuel (average 57%), and to restore by force a democratic government that has been overthrown (average 57%).
Further, publics in all seven nations asked endorse the controversial view that the UN has a ‘responsibility to protect’ populations from severe human rights violations, “even against the will of their own government” (on average 64%).
At the same time Muslim publics distinguish between a United Nations that they feel in principle should be a dynamic actor, and the existing UN which they tend to perceive as dominated by the United States and as achieving mixed results in its current efforts.
In all but one nation the most common view is that “the US basically controls the UN and can almost always make the UN do what the US wants” as opposed to the view that “through its veto the US can stop the UN from doing things, but the US cannot make the UN do things the US wants.” The view of the UN as controlled by the United States is endorsed by 68 percent of Egyptians, 63 percent of Palestinians, 59 percent of Jordanians, and 53 percent of Turks. In Indonesia, 43 percent agree, while 13 percent say the US can only stop the UN from doing things (44% did not answer). The only exception is Azerbaijan, where a plurality says the US can stop the UN, but cannot make it do what the US wants (49% to 36%).
Respondents were also asked to assess a variety of UN efforts, rating them on a scale with 0 meaning “not all helpful” and 10 meaning “extremely helpful.” Ratings are generally lukewarm at best.
The lowest ratings are for UN efforts in “working to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict.” The mean response is 3.7 with the lowest ratings coming from Jordanians (2.5) and Palestinians (2.6). Only Azerbaijanis are above 5 (5.3). Low ratings of UN performance on the Israel-Palestinian conflict are highly correlated with the perception that the US controls the UN.
Also very low are ratings of UN efforts to “resolve the conflict in Darfur.” The mean rating is 3.8. The lowest ratings come from the Jordanians (2.6), and the highest come from Indonesians (5.3).
The most positive ratings are for the UN performance in “providing humanitarian aid.” Ratings range from 4.5 (Palestinians) to 7.8 (Indonesians), with a mean of 5.9. Nearly as high are UN efforts in “running peacekeeping operations,” with a mean of 5.3, ranging from 3.5 (Palestinians) to 7.5 (Indonesians). UN efforts to address climate change get mixed reviews with three nations above 5, three below 5 and a mean of 4.6.
The complex mix of feelings—support for a United Nations with broader powers, perceptions of US dominance and varying assessments of UN performance—appear to contribute to highly varied responses on a number of questions.
Asked about the prospect of “the UN becoming significantly more powerful in world affairs,” consistent with their support for broader UN powers, majorities say this would be mainly positive in Iran (70%), Indonesia (53%), and Azerbaijan (51%)—as does a plurality in Turkey (43 to 26%). However in the three countries close to the hotbed of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, views are mostly negative—Palestinians (64%), Jordanians (59%), and Egyptians (57%)—perhaps because this signifies to them a United Nations dominated by the US and favoring Israel.
Respondents in different nations also have highly divergent levels of agreement with the statement, “When dealing with international problems [survey country] should be more willing to make decisions within the United Nations, even if this means that [survey country] will sometimes have to go along with a policy that is not its first choice.” More agree in Nigeria (60%), Egypt (57%), and Turkey (39% to 29%); while more disagree among the Palestinians (81%), Indonesians (50%), and Azerbaijanis (44% to 36%).

Washington is Fostering Political Divisions between India and Pakistan
December 4, 2008, 11:29 am
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India’s 9/11. Who was Behind the Mumbai Attacks? : Washington is Fostering Political Divisions between India and Pakistan

The Mumbai terror attacks were part of a carefully planned and coordinated operation involving several teams of experienced and trained gunmen. 

The operation has the fingerprints of a paramilitary-intelligence operation. According to a Russian counter terrorist expert, the Mumbai terrorists “used the same tactics that Chechen field militants employed in the Northern Caucasus attacks where entire towns were terrorized, with homes and hospitals seized”. (Russia Today, November 27, 2008). 

The Mumbai attacks are described as ” India’s 9/11″. The attacks were carried out simultaneously in several locations, within minutes of each other. 

The first target  was in the main hall of Mumbai’s Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station (CST), where the gunmen fired indiscriminately into the crowd of passengers. The gunmen ” then ran out of the station and into neighboring buildings, including Cama Hospital

Attacks by separate groups of gunmen took place at two of Mumbai’s luxury hotels – the Oberoi-Trident and the Taj Mahal Palace, located at the heart of the tourist area, within proximity of the Gateway of India. 

The gunmen also opened fire at Café Leopold, a stylish restaurant in the tourist area. The third target was Nariman House, a business center which houses Chabad Lubavitch, Mumbai’s Jewish Center. Six hostages including the Rabbi and his wife were killed. 

The domestic airport at Santa Cruz; the Metro Adlabs multiplex and the Mazgaon Dockyard were also targeted. 

“The attacks occurred at the busiest places. Besides hotels and hospitals, terrorists struck at railway stations, Crawford Market, Wadi Bunder and on the Western Express Highway near the airport. Seven places have been attacked with automatic weapons and grenades.(Times of India, 26 November 2008),


Indian troops surrounded the hotels. Indian Special  Forces commandos were sent into the two hotels to confront the terrorists.. Witnesses at the hotels said that the gunmen were singling out people with US and British passports. 

Casualties, according to reports, are in excess of 150 killed. Most of those killed were Indian nationals, many of whom died in the attack on the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway Terminus.  At least 22 foreigners were killed in the attacks. Fourteen police officers, including the chief of the anti-terror squad, were killed in the attacks.

Who was Behind the Attacks? 

A virtually unknown group called “the Deccan Mujahideen”, has according to reports, claimed responsibility for attacks. The Deccan Plateau refers to a region of central-Southern India largely centered in the State of Andhra Pradesh.  This unknown group has already been categorized, without supporting evidence, as belonging to the Al Qaeda network of terrorist organizations. 

Police reports confirm that  nine “suspected attackers” have been arrested and three of the attackers have, according to unconfirmed police sources, confessed to belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba [Lashkar-e-Tayyiba], a Pakistani Kasmiri separatist organization, covertly supported by Pakistani military intelligence (ISI). At least one of the arrested, according to the reports, is a British citizen of Pakistani descent.

In chorus, both the Western and Indian media are pointing fingers at Pakistan and its alleged support of Islamic terrorist organizations: 

“Strategic gurus and security analysts in the US and from across the world are examining Pakistan’s role in terrorism following yet another terror episode in India ending with fingers pointed at its widely-reviled neighbor. 

While initial reports from India suggested the Mumbai carnage was a localized attack by militant malcontents in India because of the “Deccan Mujahideen” decoy that was used to claim responsibility, evidence cited by Indian army and security experts based on phone intercepts, nature of weaponry, mode of entry by sea etc., has quickly focused the attention on Pakistan.” (Times of India, November 27, 2008)

The US media has centered its attention on the links between the Mumbai attacks and the “resurgent terrorist groups [which] enjoy havens in Pakistan’s tribal areas as well as alleged protection or support from elements of Pakistani intelligence.” (Washington Post, November 28, 2008). 

“Clash of Civilizations”

In Europe and North America, the Mumbai attacks by Islamic fundamentalists are perceived as part of the “Clash of Civilizations”. “Militant Islam is involved in a war against civilization”.

The dramatic loss of lives resulting from the attacks has indelibly contributed to reinforcing anti-Muslim sentiment throughout the Western World.  

The outlines of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, are becoming clear. The terrorists targeted India, the U.S. and Britain, and the Jewish people. (Market Watch, November 28, 2008)

According to the media, the enemy is Al Qaeda, the illusory “outside enemy ” which  has its operational bases in the tribal areas and North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Washington’s self-proclaimed holy mandate under the “Global War on Terrorism” is to take out bin Laden and extirpate Islamic fundamentalism. 

America’s right to intervene militarily inside Pakistan in violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty is therefore upheld. Bombing villages in the tribal areas of North West Pakistan is part of a “humanitarian endeavor”, in  response to the loss of life resulting from the Mumbai attacks:

“Before these awful raids, news from South Asia had been encouraging. The central problem remains pacifying Afghanistan, where U.S. and other NATO forces struggle to stamp out Taliban and al-Qaeda elements.” (Washington Post, November 28, 2008) 

“Washington, however, wants the Pakistani army’s cooperation in fighting terrorism. In recent weeks, U.S. officers in Afghanistan reported better results, crediting the Pakistanis with taking the offensive against the Taliban on Pakistani territory.”

Media Disinformation

US network TV has extensively covered the dramatic events in Mumbai. The attacks have served to trigger an atmosphere of fear and intimidation across America. 

The Mumbai attacks are said to be intimately related to 9/11. Official US statements and media reports have described the Mumbai attacks as part of a broader process, including the possibility of an Al Qaeda sponsored terrorist attack on US soil. 

Vice President Elect Joe Biden during the election campaign had warned America with foresight that “the people who… attacked us on 9/11, — they’ve regrouped in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan and are plotting new attacks”. (emphasis added) 

These are the same people who were behind the terror attacks in Mumbai.

These are also the same people who are planning to attack America. 

Immediately following the Mumbai attacks, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg put New York City’s subway system “on high alert” based on “an unsubstantiated report of potential terrorism here in New York. This report led the New York Police Department to take precautionary steps to protect our transit system, and we will always do whatever is necessary to keep our city safe,” Bloomberg said in a statement” (McClatchy-Tribune Business News, November 28, 2008, emphasis added).

It just so happens that one day before the Mumbai attacks, “the FBI  and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had warned that there is a ‘possible but uncorroborated’ Al -Qaeda threat against the New York transportation system.” (Ibid)

“As the attacks in Mumbai were carried out, U.S. authorities issued a warning that Al-Qaeda might have recently discussed making attacks on the New York subway system. A vague warning, to be sure. ‘We have no specific details to confirm that this plot has developed beyond aspirational planning, but we are issuing this warning out of concern that such an attack could possibly be conducted during the forthcoming holiday season,’ the FBI and Department of Homeland Security said.” (Chicago Tribune, November 29, 2008)

Pakistan’s Military Intelligence is America’s Trojan Horse 

The media reports point, in chorus, to the involvement of Pakistan’s Military Intelligence, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), without mentioning that the ISI invariably operates in close liaison with the CIA. 

The US media indelibly serves the interests of the US intelligence apparatus. What is implied by these distorted media is that: 

1. The terrorists are linked to Al Qaeda. The Mumbai attacks are a “State sponsored” operation involving Pakistan’s ISI  

2. The Mumbai gunmen have ties to terrorist groups in Pakistan’s tribal areas and North West Frontier Province.

3. The continued bombing of the tribal areas by the US Air Force in violation of Pakistan’s’ sovereignty is consequently justified as part of the “Global War on Terrorism”.

The ISI is America’s Trojan Horse, a de facto proxy of the CIA. Pakistani Intelligence has, since the early 1980s, worked in close liaison with its US and British intelligence counterparts. 

Were the ISI to have been involved in a major covert operation directed against India, the CIA would have prior knowledge regarding the precise nature and timing of the operation. The ISI does not act without the consent of its US intelligence counterpart. 

Moreover, US intelligence is known to have supported Al Qaeda from the outset of the Soviet Afghan war and throughout the post-Cold War era. (For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Al Qaeda and the War on Terrorism, Global Research, January 20, 2008) 

CIA sponsored guerilla training camps were established in Pakistan to train the Mujahideen. Historically, US intelligence has supported Al Qaeda, using Pakistan’s ISI as a go-between. 

“With CIA backing and the funneling of massive amounts of U.S. military aid, the Pakistani ISI had developed into a “parallel structure wielding enormous power over all aspects of government”. (Dipankar Banerjee, “Possible Connection of ISI With Drug Industry”, India Abroad, 2 December 1994). 

In the wake of 9/11, Pakistan’s ISI  played a key role in the October 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, in close liaison with the US and NATO military high command. Ironically, in October 2001, both US and Indian press reports quoting FBI and intelligence sources, suggested that the ISI was providing support to the alleged 9/11 terrorists.(See Michel Chossudovsky, Cover-up or Complicity of the Bush Administration, The Role of Pakistan’s Military Intelligence (ISI) in the September 11 Attacks, Global Research, November 2, 2001)

Pakistan’s Chief Spy Appointed by the CIA 

Historically, the CIA has played an unofficial role in the appointment of the director of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence  (ISI). In September, Washington pressured Islamabad, using the “war on terrorism” as a pretext to fire the ISI chief Lieutenant General Nadeem Taj. 

“Washington is understood to be exerting intense pressure on Pakistan to remove ISI boss Nadeem Taj and two of his deputies because of the key agency’s alleged “double-dealing” with the militants.( Daily Times, September 30, 2008

President Asif Ali Zardari had meetings in New York in late September with CIA Director Michael Hayden. (The Australian, September 29, 2008), Barely a few days later, a new US approved ISI chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha was appointed by the Chief of the Army, General Kayani, on behalf of Washington. 

In this regard, the pressures exerted by the Bush administration contributed to blocking a parliamentary initiative led by the PPP government to put the country’s intelligence services (ISI) under civilian authority, namely under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior. 

In other words, Washington exerts more control over the ISI than the duly elected civilian government of Pakistan.

Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha (right) next to Gen. Ashfaq Kayani on the USS Abraham Lincoln talking with Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

The U.S. Violates Pakistan’s Territorial Sovereignty

The US is currently violating Pakistan territorial sovereignty through the routine bombing of villages in the tribal areas and the North West Frontier Province. These operations are carried out using the “war on terrorism” as a pretext.  While the Pakistani government has “officially” accused the US of waging aerial bombardments on its territory, Pakistan’s military (including the ISI)  has “unofficially” endorsed the air strikes. 

In this regard, the timely appointment of Lt. General Ahmed Shuja Pasha to the helm of the ISI was intended to ensure continuity in US “counter-terrorism” operations in Pakistan. Prior to his appointment as ISI chief, Lt. General Ahmed Shuja Pasha was responsible, in close consultation with the US and NATO, for carrying out targeted attacks allegedly against the Taliban and Al Qaeda by the Pakistani military in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). 

Upon his appointment, Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha implemented a major reshuffle within the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), replacing several of the ISI regional commanders. ( Daily Times, September 30, 2008). In late October, he was in Washington, at CIA headquarters at Langley and at the Pentagon, to meet his US military and intelligence counterparts:

“Pakistan is publicly complaining about U.S. air strikes. But the country’s new chief of intelligence, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, visited Washington last week for talks with America’s top military and spy chiefs, and everyone seemed to come away smiling.” (David Ignatieff, A Quiet Deal With Pakistan, Washington Post, November 4, 2008, emphasis added).   

The Timing of the Mumbai Attacks

The US air strikes on the Tribal Areas resulting in countless civilians deaths have created a wave of anti-US sentiment throughout Pakistan. At the same token, this anti-American sentiment has also served, in the months preceding the Mumbai attacks, to promote a renewed atmosphere of cooperation between India and Pakistan. 

While US-Pakistan relations are at an all time low, there were significant efforts, in recent months, by the Islamabad and Delhi governments to foster bilateral relations. Barely a week prior to the attacks, Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari “urged opening the Kashmir issue to public debate in India and Pakistan and letting the people decide the future of IHK.”  He also called for “taking bilateral relations to a new level” as well as forging an economic union between the two countries.

Divide and Rule

What interests are served by these attacks? Washington is intent on using the Mumbai attacks to:

1) Foster divisions between Pakistan and India and shunt the process of bilateral cooperation and trade between the two countries;

2) Promote internal social, ethnic and sectarian divisions in both India and Pakistan;

3) Justify US military actions inside Pakistan including the killing of civilians in violation of the country’s territorial sovereignty;  

4) Provide a justification for extending the US led “war on terrorism” into the Indian sub-continent and South East Asia.

In 2006, the Pentagon had warned that “another [major 9/11 type terrorist] attack could create both a justification and an opportunity that is lacking today to retaliate against some known targets” (Statement by Pentagon official, leaked to the Washington Post, 23 April 2006). In the current context, the Mumbai attacks are considered “a justification” to go after “known targets” in the tribal areas of North Western Pakistan.

India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has stated that “external forces” forces carried the attacks, hinting to the possible role of Pakistan. The media reports also point in that direction, hinting that the Pakistani government is behind the attacks: 

US officials and lawmakers refrained from naming Pakistan, but their condemnation of “Islamist terrorism” left little doubt where their anxieties lay. 

.What has added potency to the latest charges against Islamabad is the Bush administration’s own assessment – leaked to the US media – that Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI was linked to the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul some weeks back that killed nearly 60 people including a much-admired Indian diplomat and a respected senior defense official.. (Times of India, November 27, 2008) 

The Attacks have Triggered Anti-Pakistani Sentiment in India 

The attacks have served to foster anti-Pakistani sentiment within India as well as sectarian divisions between Hindus and Muslims.  

Time Magazine has pointed in no uncertain terms to the insidious role of “the powerful Inter Services Intelligence organization — often accused of orchestrating terror attacks on India”, without acknowledging that the new head of the ISI was appointed at Washington’s behest. (Time online)

The Time report suggests, without evidence, that the most likely architects of the attacks are several Pakistani sponsored Islamic groups including Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure), “which is part of the ‘al-Qaeda compact'”, Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Kashmiri separatist organization belonging to Al Qaeda which claimed responsibility in the December 2001 terrorist attacks on the Union parliament in Delhi and The Students Islamic Movement of India, (SIMI). (Ibid)Both Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed are known to be supported by the ISI. 

Islamabad-Delhi Shuttle Diplomacy

Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari indicated that his government would fully collaborate with the Indian authorities. Pakistan’s newly elected civilian government has been sidetracked by its own intelligence services, which remain under the jurisdiction of the military high command.   

The Pakistan’s People’s Party government under the helm of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has no control over the military and intelligence apparatus, which continues to maintain a close rapport with its US counterparts. The Pakistani civilian government, in many regards, is not in control of its foreign policy. The Pakistani Military and its powerful intelligence arm (ISI) call the shots. 

In this context, president Asif Ali Zardari seems to be playing on both sides: collusion with the Military-Intelligence apparatus, dialogue with Washington and lip service to prime minister Gilani and the National Assembly. 

On November 28, two days following the Mumbai attacks, Islamabad announced that the recently appointed ISI chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha would be dispatched to Delhi for consultations with his Indian counterparts including National Security Advisor M K Narayanan and the heads of India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)  and the Intelligence Bureau, responsible for internal intelligence. RAW and Pakistan’s ISI are known to have been waging a covert war against one another for more than thirty years.

On the following day (November 29), Islamabad cancelled the visit of ISI chief Lt Gen Shuja Pasha to India, following Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee’s  “very aggressive tone with Pakistani officials [in a]  telephone [conversation] after the Mumbai attacks”. (Press Trust of India, November 29, 2008 quoting Geo News Pakistan). 

Tense Situation. Deterioration of India-Pakistan Relations

The Mumbai attacks have already created an extremely tense situation, which largely serves US geopolitical interests in the region. 

Islamabad is contemplating the relocation of some 100,000 military personnel from the Pakistani-Afghan border to the Indian border, “if there is an escalation in tension with India, which has hinted at the involvement of Pakistani elements in the Mumbai carnage.” (Pakistan news source quoted by PTI, op cit).

“These sources have said NATO and the US command have been told that Pakistan would not be able to concentrate on the war on terror and against militants around the Afghanistan border as defending its borders with India was far more important,” (Ibid, Geo News quoting senior Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir). 

US Interference in the Conduct of the Indian Police Investigation

Also of significance is Washington’s outright interference in the conduct of the Indian police investigation. The Times of India points to an “unprecedented intelligence cooperation involving investigating agencies and spy outfits of India, United States, United Kingdom and Israel..” 

Both the FBI and Britain’s Secret Service MI6 have liaison offices in Delhi. The FBI has dispatched police, counter-terrorism officials and forensic scientists to Mumbai “to investigate attacks that now include American victims…”  Experts from the London’s Metropolitan Police have also been dispatched to Mumbai: 

“The U.S. government’s “working assumption” that the Pakistani militant groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed are suspects in the attacks “has held up” as Indian authorities have begun their investigation, the official said. The two Kashmiri militant groups have ties to al Qaeda.” (Wall Street Journal, November 28, 2008)

The role of the US-UK-Israeli counter terrorism and police officials, is essentially to manipulate the results of the Indian police investigation. 

It is worth noting, however, that the Delhi government turned down Israel’s request to send a special forces military unit to assist the Indian commandos in freeing Jewish hostages held inside Mumbai’s Chabad Jewish Center (PTI, November 28, 2008). 

Bali 2002 versus Mumbai 2008

The Mumbai terrorist attacks bear certain similarities to the 2002 Bali attacks. In both cases, Western tourists were targets. The tourist resort of Kuta on the island of Bali, Indonesia,  was the object of two separate attacks, which targeted mainly Australian tourists. (Ibid)

The alleged terrorists in the Bali 2002 bombings were executed, following a lengthy trial period, barely a few weeks ago, on November 9, 2008. (Michel Chossudovsky, Miscarriage of Justice: Who was behind the October 2002 Bali bombings? Global Research, November 13, 2009).. The political architects of the 2002 Bali attacks were never brought to trial. 

A November 2002 report emanating from Indonesia’s top brass, pointed to the involvement of both the head of Indonesian intelligence General A. M. Hendropriyono as well as the CIA. The links of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) to the Indonesian intelligence agency (BIN) were never raised in the official Indonesian government investigation –which was guided behind the scenes by Australian intelligence and the CIA. Moreover, shortly after the bombing, Australian Prime Minister John Howard “admitted that Australian authorities were warned about possible attacks in Bali but chose not to issue a warning.” (Christchurch Press, November 22, 2002). 

With regard to the Bali 2002 bombings, the statements of two former presidents of Indonesia were casually dismissed in the trial procedures, both of which pointed to complicity of the Indonesian military and police. In 2002, president Megawati Sukarnoputri, accused the US of involvement in the attacks. In 2005, in an October 2005 interview with Australia’s SBS TV,  former president Wahid Abdurrahman stated that the Indonesian military and police played a complicit role in the 2002 Bali bombing. (quoted in Miscarriage of Justice: Who was behind the October 2002 Bali bombings?, op cit)

Two Neighbouring Muslim Presidents
November 9, 2008, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
Iranian President Ahmedinejad vs. former Pakistani President Parveez Musharaf

Defending The Idea Of India
October 30, 2008, 4:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Defending The Idea Of India

The two day national convention – Countering Fascist Forces: Defending the Idea of India, 25-26 October 2008- was attended by over 750 activists’ and intellectuals from 18 states (Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Delhi, Harayana, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Gujarat, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, J & K, Punjab, Maharashtra and Chattisgarh).


The urgency to intervene in defence of democracy, secularism and justice has never been more pressing than in the conditions prevailing in the country today.

The rise of communal fascism has emerged as a threat not only to its immediate victims but to the very long-term survival of India as a unified nation of diverse religious, linguistic and ethnic groups. The mysterious and condemnable acts of terrorism that have shaken different parts of the country have engendered a climate of fear, insecurity and fuelled the politics of communal division.

In recent months, vicious attacks have been mounted across India against religious minorities by Hindutva fascist organizations and communalism has even become the dominant tenor of public discourse. In Maharashtra the regional chauvinist forces of Bal and Raj Thackeray, both offsprings of the Hindutva politics of hate, has targeted north Indians in a bid to drive them out of the state.

The BJP, RSS and their allies in the Sangh Parivar have mounted a vicious campaign against the Christian community across India. Orissa and over 10 states have seen violent attacks on the Christian community, their institutions, religious places, property and businesses on the basis of fabricated stories and hate campaigns.

Throughout the country Muslim youth are being targeted, without any or little evidence, as responsible for the various bomb blasts taking place in the country. There is a concerted attempt by the Indian police, intelligence agencies and certain political parties to portray all members of the Muslim community as ‘terrorists and extremists’ – to be arbitrarily arrested, tortured and killed in fake encounters. Sections of the media instead of investigating the truth are blindly parroting these sensational and unsubstantiated claims.

Even more disturbingly the accused are being systematically denied their basic right to legal defence by some bar associations themselves which have threatened, expelled and even violently attacked lawyers brave enough to take up these cases. The Indian judiciary has failed to take suo moto cognizance of such attacks as being contempt of court.

All this while hard evidence available against Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other Sangh outfits of their direct involvement in terror attacks is not only being ignored but actively pushed under the carpet by the Indian state. The Hindutva terrorist groups like the Bajrang Dal are openly claiming responsibility for this communal violence against Christians and are yet being allowed to go scot-free.

There is a growing feeling among religious minority communities that the Indian state and judiciary is biased against them and unwilling to provide impartial justice even in cases such as the demolition of the Babri Masjid. No action has been taken on the recommendations of the Srikrishna Commission report following the anti-Muslim pogrom in Mumbai of 1993. On the other hand some members of the judiciary are now willing to be puppets of communal forces, a dangerous trend set by the Nanavati Commission, which has exonerated the Narendra Modi government of responsibility for the Gujarat Genocide of 2002.

Instead of confronting these fascist forces the Indian state is cracking down hard on ‘soft targets’ like human rights and social activists. The fundamental rights of life, liberty, freedom of speech, religion and dissent guaranteed to all citizens by the Indian Constitution are being shred to pieces right in front of our eyes.

Entire swathes of the Indian North-East and Kashmir are covered by the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that authorises even the lowest soldier to shoot and kill civilians on mere suspicion of their being ‘militants’. In Chhattisgarh, large numbers of citizens continue to be detained using the highly restrictive Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA). Those defending the rights of the poor, Dalit, Adivasis and other marginalised people are being falsely branded as ‘extremists’ and ‘anti-nationals’. The state sponsored, unconstitutional ‘Salwa Judum’ campaign, which has unleashed horrific violence on innocent tribal populations over the past four years in the name of countering Maoism, is being justified by none other than the National Human Rights Commission itself.

All this is happening even as the forces of imperialism led by the United States, under the pretext of the so-called Global War on Terror, are busy re-colonising entire nations from Iraq to Afghanistan and are now targeting Pakistan in the immediate neighbourhood of India. The global media is contributing to this politics of hatred by demonizing Muslims worldwide and frightening ordinary citizens into giving up their basic democratic rights everywhere.

Within the country, the pattern of elitist development has turned a vast majority of the population into second-class citizens, reinforcing with misguided policies the apartheid of the ancient and racist caste system. The ghost of the East India Company, buried long ago, is being resurrected in myriad forms and those who run the Indian state are willfully abetting the return of a neo-colonial order.

It is a state of affairs that calls upon all those who value Indian independence, democratic rights and social justice to come forward, take responsibility and resist the onslaught by fascist and imperialist forces on the foundations of our national values and existence. We also urge all anti-communal activists and secular political parties to forge alliance to defeat fascism and communalism. We, the delegates and participants of the National Convention on Countering Fascism: Defending the Idea of India in New Delhi held on 25-26 October 2008 resolve as follows to:

1) Call for the resignation of Shivraj Patil, Home Minister of India for his abject failure to prevent bomb attacks in major Indian cities; take action against Hindutva terrorists despite evidence provided to him by civil society groups; stop the Sangh Parivar’s attacks on Christian populations in Orissa, Karnataka and other parts of India; and for using fake police encounters and false evidence against Muslim youth to save his political career;

2) Call for the dismissal of M.K.Narayanan, National Security Adviser for incompetence and all the intelligence lapses leading to rise in to both terrorist and communal violence;

3) Demand prosecution of all members of the Bharatiya Janata Party and ABVP who have links with Hindutva terrorist organisations, such as the ones implicated in the Malegaon bomb blasts.

4) Condemn the UPA government for falling prey to the Hindutva agenda while paying lip service to secularism. 

5) Demand the setting up of a time-bound judicial inquiry into the Jamia Nagar ‘encounter’ headed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court;

6) Review major cases of ‘terrorist’ attacks and immediately release those against whom there is no evidence of any kind; implementation of NHRC instruction regarding independent investigation into all deaths in police custody and in police encounters over the last 5 years;

7) Call for a ban on RSS, the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad for terrorist, anti-national activities and seizure of their national and international assets; a White Paper on the terrorist activities of these organizations;

8) Demand the presentation of a White Paper on the scope of India’s “war on terrorism” and the level of its cooperation and collaboration with the US-led war on terror;

9) Enact the Communal Violence Bill after thorough revision in consultation with citizen’s bodies, human rights groups and anti-communal organisations across India;

10) Provide immediate relief and compensation to the victims of communal terrorism in Orissa and other states including reconstruction of destroyed private property and restoration of livelihood. Set up a permanent statutory body to deal with such issues in future.

11) Demand the formation of a strong statutory body like election commission (or extend the scope of the EC) to monitor pre-election conduct of political parties and their leaders which generally leads up to polarization of vote banks. Such a body should have a right to disqualify party and/or its functionaries or elected representatives in the legislature in the wake of a breach of conduct;

12) The immediate release of Human Rights Defenders, such as Dr Binayak Sen, who have been arrested for exposing police atrocities and state violence against innocent citizens.

13) Demand a White Paper on misuse of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Kashmir and the Indian North-East and the immediate withdrawal; search for a political rather than military solution to the Kashmir problem;

14) A national commission of inquiry into the misuse of special security laws by the police to arrest members of the minority community in false cases of terroris

Convention Organised by:


Academy of Public Understanding of Science, All India Christian Council, All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, All India Quami Mahaz, All India Secular Forum, Alternatives, Aman Biradari, Aman Samudaya, ANHAD, Antarik Visthapit Hak Rakshak Samiti, Anweshi, Arya Samaj, ASHA Pariwar, Ashraya Adhikar Abhiyan, Asmita Collective, Awaz e- Niswana, Bandhua Mukti Morcha, Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, Bihar Social Institute, BUILD, Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms, Centre for Youth Development and Activities, Chattisgarh Jan Vigyan Vikas Sangthan, Centre for Information, Training, Research and Action, Commission for Religious Harmony, Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights ,, Centre for Studies in Society and Secularism, Danish Publishers, Darpana Academy, Disha Social Organization , Ekta, Foundation for Educational Innovations in Asia, Global Gandhi Forum, GRAVIS, Holy Cross Convent, Human Rights Law Network, Indian Social Institute, Indian Social Action Forum ,INSAF Bulletin, Institute for Minority Women, Institute for Social Democracy, Jadugoda, Janadhikar Samuh, Jananeethi, Janvikas, JUDAV, Lok Sangharsh Morcha, Lokshakti Abhiyan, Mahatma Gandhi Foundation, MASUM, Media Action Group, Medico Friend Circle, Minorities Council, Muslim Women’s Forum, National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, National Economic Forum for Muslims, Nazareth Mahila Samiti, NCHRO, Nishan, North East Support Centre & Helpline, Orissa Development Action Forum, Orissa Seek, Save & Development Society, Oxfam India, Popular Education & Action Centre ,People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy, People’s Research Society, People’s Watch, PRASHANT, Religious Harmony Commission (CBCI), Roshan Vikas, Saheli, Sahrwaru, Sajhi Duniya, Sama, Samarpan, Sanchetana, Sandarbh, Sangat, Sarva Dharam Sansad, Shambhavi, South Asia Citizens Web, South Asians for Human Rights , SUTRA, Tamilnadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, Udayan, Urja Ghar, Vikas Adhyan Kendra, Yuv Shakti

Fear and fundamentalism in India
October 17, 2008, 7:34 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Fear and fundamentalism in India

In the Indian state of Orissa, Chris Morris finds communities in shock following a wave of anti-Christian violence, which has forced thousands to flee.


Church destroyed in the recent anti-Christian violence

Two hundred churches and prayer houses have been destroyed

They call Bhubaneshwar India’s temple city. Over two millennia, thousands of intricately carved Hindu temples have been constructed in Orissa’s state capital.

Many of them still stand testimony to the faith of the people. They are often places of serenity and calm.


But travel for five hours into the interior, into the lush green hills of central Orissa, and Hinduism takes on a new and more menacing form. In the remote district of Khandamal, fundamentalists have been at work.

Militant groups who say they speak in the name of Hinduism, have been burning Bibles and killing Christians.


Mob rule
Horror stories have emerged from the worst anti-Christian pogroms since Indian independence. At one of the many relief camps dotted around the region, I was told of a man named Parikkit Nayak, who escaped from the initial surge of violence.


Across Khandamal tens of thousands of Christians are now living in fear

Two days later as he tried to flee from his village with his wife and two children, he was caught by a local mob. They tied a rope around his neck and dragged him along the ground for 400m (1,312ft).


Bruised and battered, he was then paraded through the village like an animal and asked if he would renounce Christianity. When he said no, he was cut to pieces with knives, while his young family had to look on.


Deserted villages

Across Khandamal tens of thousands of Christians are now living in fear.

A destroyed house

For many, returning to their homes is too dangerous

Many have moved into camps set up by the government, with armed guards at the gate.


Others are living in the shadows, spending the nights hidden in the forest before venturing back to deserted villages during the day. In one such village, littered with empty, burnt-out houses, we were speaking to a nervous elderly woman, when the sound of a conch shell being blown echoed through the trees. “They’re coming,” she cried. “You must leave now.” She pushed us away, picked up the folds of her dirty blue sari, and ran for her life.


Intimidation and terror

For others, returning to their village is still too dangerous. I met a young priest named Manoj, now in temporary exile, who related the story of his father. “They came to our house and held an axe to his neck. ‘If you stay Christian’, he was told, ‘you will be killed.’ He was taken to a local temple and forced to convert.”


“To live in this world today,” Manoj’s father relates in a letter smuggled out of his village, “we have to live as Hindus.”

Hindu activists talk of retaliation for a Christian campaign to convert poor Hindu villagers

Part of this organised campaign of intimidation and terror has been the destruction of local churches and prayer houses.


More than 200 have been attacked and burnt. Some of them now have saffron Hindu flags flying above desecrated altars and broken roofs. A sign of conquest.



As we walked through one abandoned house, a Hindu couple from the neighbouring village appeared.

Religious painting covered in broken glass

Christians make up 2.5% of India’s 1.1 billion population

There was no hostility here, only a sense of regret as they looked at half-burnt photographs in broken frames – the faces of the people who used to live here.

“There’s not much we can do to help, but we never had any problem with them,” the woman said. “This was the work of extremists.” Why is it happening? As ever, it depends on who you ask. Hindu activists talk of retaliation for a Christian “campaign” to convert poor Hindu villagers.Others speak of complex caste and tribal rivalries in one of India’s most backward and isolated places.


“The cake has several layers,” says the government representative in Khandamal, Kishan Kumar. “There’s a tribal layer, and there’s a layer of economic rivalry. But the icing on top of the cake is organised religious violence. And that’s what we’ve seen here.”


Belatedly, the central government has acted against the instigators.

Map of India showing Khandamal, Mumbia and Delhi

Hundreds of people have been arrested, and there have been calls for a nationwide ban on groups such as the Bajrang Dal, the self-styled warriors of militant Hindu nationalism.








There is a strong suspicion that the brutality in Khandamal, and a series of attacks against churches elsewhere in India, is part of a deliberate political plan to stoke communal tensions before a general election next year.

The immediate trigger for the violence may have been the murder of a controversial Hindu leader, for which Maoist rebels have claimed responsibility.


But the finger of blame was pointed at the Christian community and the mobs unleashed their savage response. So Khandamal is now watching and waiting, awash with stories and people who want to tell them.


In hiding

Late at night we sat with one young woman who has been hidden for her own protection.

A Hindu woman in hiding after she was raped

Some Hindus have also been attacked if they have Christian relatives

Even though she herself is a Hindu, she was gang-raped by her grandparents’ neighbours because her uncle refused to renounce his Christian beliefs.










As a nun held her by the hand, she choked back tears and looked up.

“Why did they do this to me?” she asked. “For what?” “They’re threatening to kill all of us – me, my uncle, my brothers.” “But we won’t lie about it. Even if they throw money at our feet, we will continue to tell the truth.”

Isha Khan    bdmailer@gmail