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Archives for : Imran Khan

Mining probe may singe media houses

With the Karnataka government setting up an SIT to probe illegal mining, some media houses may feel the heat. Imran Khan reports

2014-02-22 , Issue 8 Volume 11

Ravaged earth Illegal mining in Bellary had huge ecological and political costsRavaged earth Illegal mining in Bellary had huge ecological and political costs, Photo: Shailendra Pandey

Former Lokayukta Santosh Hedge’s probe into the multi-crore  scam in the iron ore-rich Bellary district of  had led to the downfall of the infamous Bellary brothers — Gali Janardhana Reddy,  and Somashekara Reddy — who were ministers in the then BJP-led state government. Hegde’s final report, filed in July 2011, extensively documented the nexus of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen who colluded to defraud the state exchequer of mining revenues.

However, among the beneficiaries of the  were several individuals who did not hold any public office, and whose role, therefore, was outside the ambit of the Lokayukta probe. Now, acting on directions from the Lokayukta court, the Congress government led by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has set up a Special Investigation Team () under the Lokayukta to probe those who had managed to evade the clutches of the law.

The  probe will target those who figured in an initial report on  prepared by UV Singh, who was an investigating officer in Lokayukta Hegde’s team. Shockingly, Singh’s report, which forms part of Hegde’s final report, also names some persons associated with media organisations among the beneficiaries of .

Based on the documents seized by Income Tax officials during a raid in 2010 on the offices of Madhushree Enterprises, a firm owned by Madhukumar Varma, a close associate of Janardhana Reddy, Singh’s report shows that a hawala racket was being operated to channel money to some people associated with media organisations. While the seized documents do not clearly specify the purpose for which the money was being paid, the report states that since the money was being received from a firm involved in , it’s quite possible that it was being used for nefarious activities.

The seized documents have been included in the Lokayukta report as part of chapter 28 of Book 14 under the heading “Collapse of Administrative and Governance System”. Among those who are alleged to have received money from Madhushree Enterprises is a firm owned by Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar called Jupiter Aviation. Incidentally, Chandrasekhar also owns the Asianet media network, which runs Suvarna, a Kannada television news channel, and Kannada Prabha, a daily newspaper. An entry made on 9 August 2010 under the heading “amount given” shows that 12 lakh was given to the company, but there is no indication as to the purpose.

Similarly, Singh’s report shows that Deccan Aviation, which was set up by Captain GR Gopinath, considered a pioneer in the low-cost airline sector in India, had received Rs 25 lakh from the Reddy brothers.

The list of alleged beneficiaries from the  also includes two Bengaluru-based newspapers — Deccan Chronicle and Bangalore Mirror. While Deccan Chronicle is alleged to have received Rs 25 lakh, the Times Group-owned Bangalore Mirror allegedly received Rs 5 lakh. According to Singh’s report, in neither case has the purpose for which the money was handed over been specified.

While Jupiter Aviation and Deccan Aviation have claimed the money was for hiring choppers, Deccan Chronicle and Bangalore Mirror said it was payment for ads.

Probably, the most shocking revelation in Singh’s report is the mention of two initials — V Bhat and RB — that could refer to two stalwarts of Kannada journalism, who work in the print and electronic media. According to the seized documents, Rs 75 lakh was given to V Bhat and Rs 10 lakh to RB. Singh’s report also mentions Rs 5 lakh paid to “press club (Harish)”.

Documents recovered from Madhukumar Varma’s laptop also mention journalists being given money for a “son’s marriage” and for buying cameras. Singh noted that most of the money transactions were carried out through hawala channels. Though the amounts mentioned are not big, Singh argues that this could only be the proverbial tip of an iceberg. As a hawala network was involved, it would take a thorough investigation to establish the total amount of money that changed hands.

[email protected]

 

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Bomb blasts cast shadow over Pakistan’s milestone election

Reuters | May 11, 2013,

Bomb blasts cast shadow over Pakistan's milestone election
A woman voter holds her ballot paper and stamp while moving to a polling booth inside a polling station in Karachi on May 11, 2013.
ISLAMABAD: A string of militant attacks cast a long shadow over Pakistan‘s general election on Saturday, but millions still turned out to vote in a landmark test of the troubled country’s democracy.

The poll, in which some 86 million people are eligible to vote, will bring the first transition between civilian governments in a country ruled by the military for more than half of its turbulent history.

A bomb attack on the office of the Awami National Party (ANP) in the commercial capital, Karachi, killed 11 people and wounded 35. At least two were wounded in a pair of blasts that followed and media reported gunfire in the city.

An explosion destroyed an ANP office in the northwest. There were no immediate reports of casualties. Television channels also reported an explosion in the city of Peshawar.

Pakistan’s Taliban, who are close to al-Qaida, have killed more than 120 people in election-related violence since April. The group, which is fighting to topple the US-backed government, regards the elections as un-Islamic.

The Taliban have focused their anger on secular-leaning parties like the ruling coalition led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the ANP. Many candidates, fearful of being assassinated, avoided open campaigning before the election.

The people of Pakistan hope the polls will deliver change and ease frustrations with the Taliban, a frail economy, endemic corruption, chronic power cuts and crumbling infrastructure.

Disenchantment with the two mainstream parties appears to have brought a late surge of support for former cricket star Imran Khan, who could end up holding the balance of power.

Khan, 60, is in hospital after injuring himself in a fall at a party rally, which may also win him sympathy votes.

Results from nearly 70,000 polling stations nationwide are expected to start tricking in from around 10pm (1700 GMT).

“The problems facing the new government will be immense, and this may be the last chance that the country’s existing elites have to solve them,” said Anatol Lieven, a professor at King’s College, London, and author of a book on Pakistan.

“If the lives of ordinary Pakistanis are not significantly improved over the next five years, a return to authoritarian solutions remains a possibility,” Lieven wrote in a column in the Financial Times.

The army stayed out of politics during the five years of the last government, but it still sets the nuclear-armed country’s foreign and security policy and will steer the thorny relationship with Washington as NATO troops withdraw from neighbouring Afghanistan next year.

With no clear-cut winner, weeks of haggling to form a coalition will follow, which would raise the risk that the government is undermined by instability.

That would only make it more difficult to reverse the disgust with politicians felt among the country’s 180 million people and drive through the reforms needed to revive its near-failed economy.

Power cuts can last more than 10 hours a day in some places, crippling key industries like textiles, and a new International Monetary Fund bailout may be needed soon.

The party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif looks set to win the most seats in the one-day vote. But Khan could deprive Sharif of a majority and dash his hopes for a return to power 14 years after he was ousted in a military coup, jailed and later exiled.

Pakistan’s best-known sportsman, who led a playboy lifestyle in his younger days, Khan is seen by many as a refreshing change from the dynastic politicians who long relied on a patronage system to win votes and are often accused of corruption.

Late surge for Imran Khan

Voters will elect 272 members of the National Assembly and to win a simple majority, a party would have to take 137 seats.

However, the election is complicated by the fact that a further 70 seats, most reserved for women and members of non- Muslim minorities, are allocated to parties on the basis of their performance in the contested constituencies. To have a majority of the total of 342, a party would need 172.

Khan appeals mostly to young, urban voters because of his calls for an end to corruption, a new political landscape and a halt to US drone strikes on Pakistani soil. About one-third of the country’s population is under the age of 30.

Early opinion polls had put the share of votes for Khan’s Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) party as low as single figures. However, a survey released on Wednesday showed nearly 25 percent of voters nationally planned to vote for his party, just a whisker behind Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N).

The Herald magazine poll showed Sharif’s party remained the front-runner in Punjab, which, with the largest share of parliamentary seats, usually dictates the outcome of elections.

It also pointed to an upset for the PPP, placing it third. Pakistan’s politics have long been dominated by the PML-N and the PPP, whose most prominent figure is President Asif Ali Zardari, widower of assassinated former premier Benazir Bhutto.

“The PPP didn’t take care of the poor masses and always engages in corrupt practices whenever they come to power,” said Sher Nabi, a banker from Peshawar.

“So we’ve decided to vote for the PTI candidate this time and test Imran Khan to see if he proves as honest as he claims.”

Pakistan, which prides itself on its democratic credentials, ordered the New York Times bureau chief in Islamabad to leave the country on the eve of the polls, the daily said on Friday.

A two-sentence letter was delivered by police officers to the home of the bureau chief, Declan Walsh, it said.

“It is informed that your visa is hereby cancelled in view of your undesirable activities,” the Times quoted the letter as saying, without explaining what was undesirable. “You are therefore advised to leave the country within 72 hours.”

 

 

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Third gender and the poll vault in Pakistan

 | Apr 16, 2013, 05.17 AM IST

If, in the run-up to the general elections in Pakistan, you haven’t heard of a candidate by the name of Bindiya Rana, I won’t hold it against you. Centre-stage characters – Nawaz Sharif, Asif Zardari, and the new-ish kid on the block, Imran Khan, have devoured much of the media space. Yet, it is folks like Rana who are leading a quiet, potential cultural revolution amidst the madness of electioneering as Pakistan readies for a fresh round of timely elections.

And just who is Bindiya Rana ? She heads the Gender Interactive Alliance, an NGO that acts on behalf of the transgender community, better known in Pakistan as the Khwaja Sira community or less pleasantly to the rest of South Asia as the hijra community. Both Rana and Sanam Fakir, president of the Sanam Welfare Association in Sukkur, will be the first transgender people to be running for elections in Pakistan. Both are vying provincial assembly seats on strong anti-corruption mandates, and promise that new legislation – that has given them the power to vote, will bring in hundreds, if not thousands of new voters from their community.

The legal credit goes to the supreme court of Pakistan, which accorded the Khwaja Sira a right to a third-gender category and the ability to record-it-as-it-is in newly issued National Registration and Database Authority stamped identity cards. In November 2011, the SC ordered the election commission to collect data on the community and register them to vote.

Of course, not all is rosy in this contested space. For one thing, despite the SC order, less than a third of the country’s presumed 500,000-strong transgender community have been given ID cards. There are also a number of representative bodies that differ on how the community should be identified; in addition to the two organizations mentioned above, there are the Shemale Foundation of Pakistan and the All Pakistan Eunuch’s Association.

What’s got the entire legal apparatus working out the rights of one small community when suppression of all others seems to be the norm? Could it be fear of an impending bane or the lust for a big, badass boon?

For a healthy does of reality, we turn to Bihar. It turns out that since 2000, efficient local tax collectors discovered that hiring hijras as contract tax collectors could significantly enhance their collection rate. The idea worked – and those who would normally shut the door on the mid-level revenue official – coughed up their dues when confronted by the embarrassment of a public spectacle right outside their elite homes. For their good offices, the participating hijras received 4% of all collections.

Inspired by their South Asian brethren, the folks in the income tax offices in Pakistan found this to be a good, if not brilliant, idea. The result would have the direct benefit of extracting revenue for the state, and the side one of distracting the community from sex work. The only difference in the approaches – and an important one – is that in Pakistan, official jobs – with benefits – were created for the Khwaja Sira folks. I wonder, however, what the job position is titled. Can you apply if you’re not from the community? In any case, the tactic seems to be working from the point of view of state revenue earnings.

Normally Scroogish folks rush over to pull out 1,000 rupee notes sewn into their mattress springs in the hope that the hijra – known to have spiritual powers endorsed in the once-syncretistic traditions of this region – will dance, clap and sing showering boons over banes.

The writer is a Delhi-based Pakistani journalist

 

 

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Naveen Soorinje- ‘State is biased against Muslims, Dalits, farmers’

Most people are relieved when they walk out of prison. Naveen Soorinje, a TV journalist bailed last week after four-and-half months in jail, says his incarceration was a blessing. Soorinje, 28, made headlines in July after he videoed vigilantes of an illiberal Hindu sectarian outfit attacking young men and women at a private party in the coastal Mangalore city in Karnataka. The police, however, named him a co-accused in the case and arrested him in November. The son of a small villager farmer, Soorinje has reported extensively on communal and caste violence, police atrocities and organised crime in his ten-year career. Importantly, he has campaigned against corruption in journalism in his city in the last three years. He spoke to Tehelka’sImran Khan after his release on March 23.
Imran Khan

March 25, 2013

Naveen Soorinje. Photo: Ashok KR

How do you feel after spending nearly five months in prison?
My jailing was a gift from the police. It gave me a chance to study another face of theirs. A journalist doesn’t easily get that opportunity. I saw how deeply the communal forces have penetrated the government and the city administration.

What did you experience in the jail?
The biggest learning was that nearly 40 percent of the inmates are Muslims. Most were arrested after communal violence. Some are rotting there for years. I did not meet a single Hindu or Christian arrested for communal violence. The only non-Muslims communalists arrested are the vigilantes for their morality policing, and only those who were exposed in my video although their attacks are an everyday event in Mangalore.

What was your routine in the prison?
We would queue up at 6 am to be counted to make sure no one died overnight. But the famous prisoners didn’t need to. A quick shower and a short walk was allowed at 7.30 am and breakfast at 9.30 am. Often, other prisoners came to me thinking I could help them as a journalist. I wrote out their petitions and complaints. Many inmates had overstayed for months because they couldn’t raise even Rs. 500 to post bail. I helped them borrow money from other inmates.

Why did it take you so long to get bail?
The RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and the local administration colluded in my case and lied to the court about me. The police claimed I had absconded even though I was at work in the city. This delayed the decision on my bail.

Does your prison experience offer any lessons for journalists?
Journalists should also hear out the accused instead of just being police informers. Our moral obligation and primary duty is to be the informers of the people. It was my video footage alone that led to the vigilantes’ arrest. Journalists should also realise that the police serve their masters in power. Police officers that were secular under a Congress government turned communal when the BJP came to power in 2008. The prison showed me the state’s bias against the minorities, Dalits, farmers and adivasis.

Some 500 people in the Mangalore jail are held on mere suspicion and all are Muslims. A 15-year-old boy was picked off the street because a police officer found him suspicious. He has been in judicial custody for months. Rehman, an 80-year-old qawwali singer who can’t even walk, was arrested because he owned two SIM cards. A Dalit man is in prison for three months because he allegedly stole a bucket, worth Rs. 75, from a Brahmin. Can’t such cases be resolved at the police stations? Most of the time journalists unthinkingly accept press releases from the police and “sentence” the accused.

Are you happy with the support you received from the news media?
I didn’t expect much except from a few friends but I am overwhelmed with the support I got and I am thankful to all. I must, however, say that most journalists in Mangalore didn’t support me for various reasons, including ideological.

What next?
Continue working as a journalist. I plan to write a book based on my experiences in jail. I have many stories to tell.

 

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Karnataka: How A Government Job Spelt Doom For 37 Dalit Families

Four months after being hounded out of their village, no respite in sight for these ‘untouchables’
Imran Khan

2013-03-23 , Issue 12 Volume 10

Castaways Ostracised Dalits demand land and security

When Lakshmamma, 33, applied for a job as a cook at an anganwadi, little did she know that it would blow up into a crisis, not only for her, but for all the 37 Dalit families in her village. For nearly four months, the Dalit community of Shivanagar village in Chitradurga district, 200 km from Bengaluru, has been protesting at Freedom Park in the state capital, against their ostracisation by the upper-caste residents of Majure, a village 12 km from Shivanagar.

The upper castes are adamant they won’t allow Lakshmamma, a Dalit woman, to cook for their children at the anganwadi, and have enforced a social boycott on her community as “collective punishment” for her refusal to quit her job.

Lakshmamma had been thrilled when she saw the advertisement for the job in a local newspaper in August last year. Like most Dalits in her village, her husband Nagaraj, 43, worked as a labourer for upper- caste landowners in Majure.

The anganwadi job meant a lot to the family of five that could barely make ends meet. So when Lakshmamma finally landed the job, it could have been the beginning of a better life for her family.

But trouble started the day she joined work at the anganwadi in Majure. The upper- caste residents of the village, comprising Lingayats and Vokkaligas, refused to allow a Dalit woman to cook for their children at the anganwadi. At a hurriedly convened meeting, the upper-caste elders decided to ask Lakshmamma to sign a letter of resignation. When she refused, the elders decided to impose a social boycott on the entire Dalit community of Shivanagar.

The boycott meant the Dalits were not allowed to buy anything from the local shops, nor could they work in the fields and houses of the upper-caste landowners — their basic source of livelihood. In effect, the Dalits had been rendered jobless.

In protest, the Dalits organised a sit-in at the Hiriyur taluk office on 15 November last year. Demanding the intervention of the local police and the district administration to end their persecution, they not only protested half-naked, but six of them even went to the extreme of smearing themselves with human excreta to symbolise their intolerable plight, hoping the officials would be shocked into taking action.

The protest led to action, no doubt, but it was against the protesters. Six protesters — who had smeared themselves with human excreta — were arrested on charges of disturbing the peace. “The police torched our tents. Fearing for our lives, we went to Bengaluru and set up camp at Freedom Park,” says Bhojraj, one of those arrested. Since then, a tent at Freedom Park has been home to the 37 Dalit families of Shivanagar.

The protesters allege the police action was carried out at the behest of local MLA (Independent) D Sudhakar. When contacted by TEHELKA, the MLA flatly denied that anything of the kind happened in his constituency. “It is just a conspiracy to malign my name,” he says. “I have done enough for the Dalits.”

The dalit protesters at Freedom Park are staring at an uncertain future. Too scared to return to their village, they are worried about their children’s education and desperate for alternative avenues of employment.

“We sent petitions to the chief minister and the social welfare minister, but nothing has happened so far,” says TD Rajagiri, president of the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (B Krishnappa faction), which is supporting the agitation. “We are requesting the government to provide land and security to the Dalits. They cannot go back to work for Majure’s upper-caste landowners.”

Social Welfare Minister A Narayanaswamy told TEHELKA it’s impossible to give land to all the Dalit families at once. “We will give land to some of them this year, and to another batch, the next year. Unless and until they agree to this, nothing can move forward. But they have refused so far.”

After challenging the unwritten code of untouchability, facing persecution and protesting for nearly four months, Lakshmamma is left wondering if it was indeed a mistake to apply for that job. It remains to be seen if the state authorities can reassure her and the other protesting Dalits that their future would not be all dark.

[email protected]

 

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Pakistan’s Ashraf government makes history

Raja Pervez Ashraf (June 2012)PM Raja Pervez Ashraf is facing corruption allegations
BBC

Pakistan‘s PM has hailed as “a victory” for democracy the completion of a full term by an elected government for the first time in the country’s history.

“No-one will be able to harm democracy in future,” Raja Pervez Ashraf said.

An interim government will now be installed until the next election, which is expected to be held in May.

Since Pakistan was founded in 1947, government were often overthrown in coups, toppled by political infighting or end in assassinations or murders.

But overhanging the democratic transition is the continuing militancy and growing sectarian unrest, the BBC’s Mike Wooldridge in Islamabad says.

‘No rivers of milk and honey'”There is a long history of tussle between the democratic and undemocratic forces in Pakistan, but the democratic forces have finally achieved a victory,” Mr Ashraf said in a televised address to the nation.

He added that Pakistan had finally managed to strengthen “the foundations of democracy”.

And admitting that his governing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) may not have been “able to provide rivers of milk and honey”, the prime minister said it had tried its best to alleviate the country’s problems.

Residents walk through debris after a bombing in Quetta, Pakistan. Photo: February 2013Pakistan continues to be racked by sectarian violence and Taliban insurgency

Mr Ashraf also promised that the forthcoming elections would be free and fair, and said he hoped the parties would reach consensus “amicably” on which of the rival candidates should head the caretaker cabinet.

Pakistan’s parliament was dissolved at midnight local time (19:00) GMT, and the interim administration is expected to be installed in the next few days.

Two opposition parties – led by ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and former cricket star Imran Khan – are expected to present the greatest challenge to the PPP in the elections.

At the same time, Mr Ashraf is facing a corruption investigation over allegations that he took bribes while he was a minister.

Mr Ashraf, who became prime minister after his predecessor was forced out amid a dispute with the judiciary, has been in the job for less than a year.

 

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Khan, Taliban and the Crackpot Science

By Anas Abbas | DAWN.COM

If nothing else we Pakistani agree on one thing. Whatever little hope there appears is the last hope. A recent example of this was the invention of water as fuel for cars, which soon came crashing down. When we are too desperate for hope that is what happens. We believe it even if all evidence goes against it. But desperation is such a state that never lets a people learn. They bow down to miracles of crackpots just so that things change without their having to invest in knowledge and scientific progress.

Lately Pakistani urban youth has obsessed with another “Last Hope” who is an ideological lapdog of Hamid Gul and Jamaat-e-Islami whose looks and past athletic achievements are inversely proportional to his current ideology.

As readers might have guessed correctly, yes, its Imran Khan, the ‘playboy cricketer’-turned-politicianwho once threatened to abduct the greatest Pakistani humanitarian, Abdul Sattar Edhi and whose supporters are anxiously awaiting his triumph in upcoming polls. The demoralised and despondent youth that forms the major chunk of Pakistani population explosion feels abandoned by their government and seeks Khan as the solution to their insurmountable issues. Thanks to the gullibility of these overseas and domestic followers, Khan has earned the status of a Messiah who is expected to transform Pakistan to the ‘Norway of Europe’ in a short span of time by rooting outcorruption in 19 days, containing and eradicating terrorism in 90 days and becoming theSaudi Arabia of coal in, again 9-something days. These ludicrous claims of Khan and his party PTI have mammoth selling price at home but in reality they seem idealistic, incredulous and mostly fallacious in nature.

Take for instance, his stance on the issue of terrorism: he holds the ongoing War on Terror (started on 7th October 2001) responsible for not only the mounting polarization, extremism and terrorism in Pakistani society but also for the inception of Pakistani Taliban (TTP).

Recently his comments of Taliban fighting a jihad in Afghanistan faced severe criticism from not only the Afghan government but also from the Afghan public who protested against his comments.

Of course Khan and his brigade of trolls branded all criticism as ‘International Conspiracy’ and Khanfurther defended his comments by proposing myths that Bin Laden and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar were trained and indoctrinated by the CIA in 1980s.

However there are some pertinent questions which must be answered in order to ascertain whether or not there is any substance to Khan’s claims. The questions are:

Is the Taliban fighting a ‘Holy War’ in Afghanistan for the freedom and rights of afghan people as claimed by khan?

Is War on Terror the root-cause for the menace Pakistan has faced in the last decade?

In the above screenshot (Video courtesy Youtube, banned in Pakistan) Imran Khan addresses a gathering at Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania which was the breeding ground for the Taliban leadership and was well known for its support of Bin Laden. See also Haroon Rashid BBC Report: “The University Of Holy War”.

Even a cursory examination of history can tell us that the Taliban had nothing to do with Afghanistan and were the product of Pakistani JUI-run religious schools for Afghan refugees. Ahmed Rashid, a world renowned expert on Taliban provides a great insight on their emergence in his book “Taliban” (published in 2000). He describes the significant role of Maulana Samiul Haq andColonel Imam in the emergence of Taliban. Haq is a Pakistani religious and political leader whose madrassaDar-ul-Uloom Haqqania became a major training ground for the Taliban leadership.

Protesters led by Maulana Samiul Haq chanting slogans in support of Bin Laden. Picture courtesy: Khyber Gateway

In February 1999 Haq gave an interview to Rashid in which it was revealed that he was directly managing Taliban leader Mullah Omar in forcefully implementing puritanical brand of Sharia. He was also the chief organizer for recruiting Pakistani students to fight for the Taliban against the Northern Alliance and whenever the Taliban required reinforcements, Haq, along with the ISI provided them with the essential manpower.

The chart below shows the contribution of Pakistani and Al Qaeda militants in Afghan Taliban military force:

Graph below gives an estimation of Pakistan’s (Central Board of Revenue): The Economic loss suffered by Pakistan due to Taliban’s illegal transit trade & nexus with Pakistani transport, trade and drug mafia:

In his book Fundamentalism Reborn? Professor William Maley writes “Many Taliban carry Pakistani identity cards, as they spent years in refugee camps in Pakistan, and thousands voted in the 1997 elections in Balochistan for their favorite Pakistani party – the Jamiat-e-Ulema-i-Islam (JUI)”.

Afghans under the Taliban rule suffered some of the worst oppression in human history. It was a period of the Afghan Holocaust that witnessed ethnic cleansing campaigns, massacres, human trafficking, mass starvation and other forms of humanitarian crisis. According to a 55-page report by the United Nations, the Taliban conducted 15 colossal massacres between 1996 and 2001 in order to consolidate their brutal rule in Afghanistan. Shias were branded as “apostates” and there were organised ethnic cleansing campaigns against the Hazara community where women were raped, and thousands of people were either killed or locked in containers and left to suffocate.Women experienced a terrible form of repression where they were banned from education and employment, and were relegated to perpetually living behind the veil.

The savage Taliban, also termed as the “Holy Warriors” by Imran Khan, even closed down hospitals, and not only thwarted the efforts of aid agencies in providing relief to the Afghan people but also refused to cooperate with the UN led polio immunization campaigns for children.

Let’s look at some pictures to get a real feel of life under the Taliban regime, which the Afghans suffered:

Scenes from the Kabul soccer stadium where spectators once enjoyed watching football games now watch in awe and horror as hangings are carried out in public. – Photo courtesy RAWA

Public executions carried out against the Shiite minority in the province of Herat by the Afghan Taliban. – Photo courtesy RAWA

Tortured war prisoners’ bodies are left in the open to rot as the Taliban forbade their burial in Herat. – Photo courtesy RAWA

Paintings by children of RAWA schools and orphanages in Afghanistan depicting the obscurantist Taliban era. – Photo courtesy RAWA

Female passengers had to travel in trunks of cars like animals because the Taliban forbade taxi drivers to pick women without their close male relatives.– Photo courtesy RAWA

A well-known 90 year old poetess, Aunt Saman Boo who had to resign to begging in Herat due to Taliban aggressions. The old woman carries her published book of poetry with her while roaming the streets in search of a few Afghanis or food.– Photo courtesy RAWA

The Taliban regime proved cataclysmic especially for women who were publicly punished, often, by death. According to the Physicians for Human Rights, no other regime has inflicted such repression on half of its population.– Photo courtesy RAWA

Life under the Taliban as Afghanistan underwent the worst drought in its history.– Photo courtesy RAWA

Scenes from the Yakaolang Massacre carried out by the Taliban where relatives are trying to identify their relatives and loved ones.– Photo courtesy RAWA

Taliban phenomenon was not only confined to Afghanistan, even before 9/11 its tentacles had begun gradually spreading over and taking hold of Pakistan. This Talibanization of Pakistan was predicted in the late nineties by Olivier RoyWilliam Maley, and especially Ahmed Rashid, who documented in his book (Taliban) that by 1998, Pakistani Taliban groups were forcibly imposing their Sharia laws and consequent punishments in FATA as were implemented in Afghanistan. Similar incidents of Talibanization of Pakistan were also documented by senior journalist, Rahimullah Yousufzai in 1998.

As we have seen above that Imran Khan’s “Holy Warriors” are actually savages and beasts who have not only caused mass devastation in Afghanistan but have also become the ideological foothold of Pakistani Taliban (TTP) that has been killing thousands of Pakistanis in recent years. These Taliban were never accepted as legitimate rulers by the Afghan people and from their beginning were considered Pakistan’s proxies.

Imran also expressed great sympathy for these barbaric criminals in his recent book “Pakistan: A Personal History”.  In chapters 8 (Pakistan Since 9/11) & 9 (The Tribal Areas: Civil War? My Solution), Khan provides a grossly misleading narrative that the Taliban were willing to handover Bin Laden after 9/11 and that the American invasion of Afghanistan was motivated by “Imperial Hubris”. However the book fails to mention that America was in negotiations with Taliban on the Bin Laden issue since 1996 and had pressurized them to hand over Bin Laden through a series of UN resolutions such as 107611931214,12671333 and 1363. Nevertheless the Taliban defied this pressure as it was never in their interest to hand over Bin Laden since his fighters had played a substantial role along with Pakistani assets in their victory against the Northern Alliance and it was their turn to return the favour to their guests.

Exploring Khan’s claim that Pakistan has been wrong in fighting the American “War on Terror” since it hasonly brought destruction and disgrace to the nation, this seems another bogus assertion of his, based on highly erroneous information.

Between the years 2001 to 2006, Pakistan’s annual GDP growth was at an average of a whopping 7 per cent as compare to the 3 per cent annual growth in 1999 to 2001. This was made possible, not because Musharraf was some Stalwart, a Warren Buffet, or an economic gold medalist like Manmohan Singh,instead the boom was predominantly facilitated by incentives such as removal of all sanctions, debt rescheduling, waiving of export quota restrictions and greater market share that were offered to Pakistan for its participation in the “War on Terror”. Furthermore the relations with India improved significantly due to immense American pressure, due to which, Pakistan curtailed its support for Kashmiri insurgency.

Indeed after 9/11, Pakistan faced an enormous increase in violence which resulted in 40,000 civilian casualties and an economic cost of around $70 billion but an ample proportion of this staggering cost was also attributable to the Balochistan Conflict and ethnic violence in Karachi which had nothing to do with the War on Terror. In any case, the destruction wrecked by TTP was inevitable, even if Pakistan had not participated in the war on terror, as Pakistanis who were assisting the Afghan Taliban had started various movements even before 9/11 within FATA to implement the same rule which later evolved into the ruthless Pakistani Taliban (TTP). The chickens came home to roost for the country when it fought against terrorism and it paid a regrettable price for nurturing Islamic militants and sustaining them. In doing so, Pakistan lost 5,000 of its security forces. A similar cost was paid by the US in the form of 9/11 attacks after it conveniently left Afghanistan in a dilapidated state which later on morphed into a breeding ground for al Qaeda.

By calling Pakistan’s ‘war on terror’ a mistake, elements such as Imran Khan are an affront to the soldiers (such as Major General Faisal Alvi) who have bravely fought against Al Qaeda and laid down their lives. In fact, the correct approach is to slam the peace deals that Pakistan conducted with militants in FATA post 9/11 which were instrumental in giving militants the necessary breathing space that subsequently gave them the required strategic advantage.

One of the main architects of these deals was General Aurakzai, who not only supported the 1999 Musharraf coup but was also condemned by the UN for his pro Taliban views and by thePakistani XI Corps Commanders for his inept military operations. Aurakzai has been widely quoted by Imran Khan who is inspired by him in his defence of peace deals. However, it’s very naïve and illogical to blindly follow the narrative of a slippery character like Aurakzai who drew blame on the US for his own lack of competence in leading military operations.

Khan is an ardent promoter of these peace deals and continues to deceive the public by calling these the solution against terrorism and by linking it to the Northern Ireland peace process. He fails to understand that this process was only made possible after the successful “Decommissioning”where the IRA had to surrender its weapons. One can never expect the Taliban and al Qaeda to adopt“Decommissioning” since their ideology and struggle is religiously motivated unlike the IRA conflict. Currently the US is also striving towards similar agreements with Taliban where the latter are required to abandon their weapons and accept Afghan Constitution.

To sum it up Khan’s views on Taliban and his policy of countering terrorism is based on myths and distorted facts which promotes the conspiracy theory culture. His views remain unchallenged by a majority of the Pakistani Youth and media because they themselves are ignorant of history and are mostly the product of the TV Boom of 2003. He further misguides the public by terming the Pakistani Hazarasectarian cleansing as an international conspiracy and refrains from highlighting the link between these ethnic killings and those carried out in Afghanistan by the Afghan Taliban before 9/11. The latest example of his propagandist attitude is the drama he orchestrated about hisflight from Toronto to New York during which he was questioned. He made an issue that he was harassed and grilled due to his stance on drones only to be later confirmed by officials that the reason was that the donations he collected were illegal on the visa he was travelling.

In the end, Imran is a ‘Taliban Khan’ not because he wants his people to be slaughtered in soccer stadiums, but because he strategically supports Taliban for two main reasons:

a)    To remain in the good books of a faction of Military establishment that has always viewed Taliban as a proxy and is leading Pakistan into disaster.

b)    To exploit and fuel Anti-Americanism,  the best-selling product in Pakistan and which directly results in keeping a deafening silence on Taliban’s terrorism and instead blaming the ‘War on Terror’ for all the ills befalling Pakistan.

This strategy of Imran Khan can be further evidenced in the absurd claim he made of blaming the War on Terror for the murder of Salman Taseer while conveniently ignoring the murders of thosesuch as Justice Arif Iqbal Bhatti, who have been killed like Salman long before 9/11, only because they defended blasphemy victims.

If Imran Khan really is as daring as he purports to be, he should openly confront and condemn the Taliban leadership by name, which he does not have the courage to do. He should learn a lesson from Malala who defied the Taliban’s ban on education of women.

References:
Roy, Olivier, ‘Domestic and Regional Implications of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan’, 24 April 1999.
Syed Saleem Shahzad 2011, Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11.
Pakistan: A Personal History by Imran Khan
Roy, Olivier, Middle East Report, Winter 1997.
Yousufzai, Rahimullah, ‘Pakistani Taliban at work’, the News, 18 December 1998.
Ahmed Rashid: Descent into Chaos 2008
Ahmed Rashid: Taliban, Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia

http://www.rawa.org/murder-w.htm

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011%5C11%5C12%5Cstory_12-11-2011_pg3_4

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Pakistan_gdp_growth_rate.svg&page=1

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011%5C11%5C12%5Cstory_12-11-2011_pg3_4

The writer is an investigative Counter Terrorism Analyst. He blogs at aacounterterror.wordpress.com and tweets at @Anas_Abbas1.

 

 

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Karnataka Khap panchayat ostracises 16-year-old pregnant Dalit girl

 

Bannisorige village elders upset that she had an affair with a lower caste boy, thus “offending the family and the village”

Imran Khan 
Bengaluru

 May 2, 20120–A khap panchayat in Karnataka has ostracised a 16-year-old Dalit girl for getting pregnant by her lover. Jaya (name changed to protect identity), who works as a labourer, was slapped with a fine of Rs 10,000 by the Bannisorige village panchayat in Chamrajanagar district before banishing her. The village elders were particularly furious with Jaya for falling in love with Kumar who belongs to a caste considered lower than hers.

The incident came to light when Jaya was found begging at the Kollegal government hospital, near her village, by a local journalist. Now, seven months into her pregnancy Jaya had spent almost a month staying in the hospital compound, since she was banished from her village by the panchayat. When the matter was highlighted by the local media, the hospital authorities swung into action and admitted her as an in-patient; after nearly ignoring her for a month.

Jaya got into an intimate relationship with Kumar, who hails from the neighbouring village of Agrahara, after he promised to marry her. However, her family, who got wind of her relationship after she conceived, was furious when they realised that the boy hailed from a different caste.

The matter was reported to the village elders who held her “guilty” of “offending the family and the village” by having an affair with a boy from a lower caste. The panchayat declared her guilty and slapped a fine of Rs 10,000 and sent her out of the village.

Left to fend for herself, Jaya went to the government hospital in nearby Kollegal taluk for treatment. When the hospital authorities failed to take notice of her, Jaya started living at the corridors of the hospital and was forced to beg for food and money from the visitors at the hospital.

When contacted, the local police authorities said that despite being aware of the situation there was little they could do since no complaint had been registered. Chairperson of State Commission for Protection of Child Rights Nina P Nayak told Tehelka that the commission will investigate the matter and take further action.

Imran Khan is a Senior Correspondent with Tehelka.
[email protected]

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In Karnataka, only babus and cattle enjoy mid-day meals- children dying…….

Children are dying of malnutrition, but their supposed saviours are minting money from the ICDS scheme, reports Imran Khan in Tehelka

Food for thought 54,260 anganwadis serve mid-day meals in Karnataka

Photos: Sriram Vittalamuthy

A PROBE by the Karnataka Lokayukta into the supply of food to the Integrated Child Development Services has found that Department of Women and Child Development officials in connivance with the contractor, Christy Friedgram Industry, were siphoning off funds meant for the mid-day meal scheme. The revelation has come at a time when the state is witnessing close to two-three deaths every day due to malnutrition.

The mid-day meal scheme, which costs the state government Rs 600 crore per year, was meant to provide basic nutrition for children below the age of six. However, DWCD officials and CFI delivered sub-standard food after skimming off funds.

According to sources in the Lokayukta, DWCD Director Shyamala Iqbal used to receive Rs 20 lakh per month as bribe, while Deputy Director Usha Patwari and Assistant Director Muniraju used to get Rs 15 lakh per month from CFI for their tacit involvement. “All department officials, right from the taluk level, would collect money every month from the CFI office in Malleswaram, Bengaluru,” the sources say.

“During 2010, we received an anonymous letter detailing the racket, which was duly forwarded to the Lokayukta for investigation,” says Nina Nayak, chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR). She submitted a report to the government following complaints by gram panchayats about the sub-standard food supplied by CFI. “We received letters from parents who complained of their children falling sick after consuming the food,” she says.

The ICDS is the largest programme for promotion of maternal and child health and nutrition not only in India but the whole world. The scheme was launched in 1975 in pursuance of the National Policy for Children. The beneficiaries are children below six years, pregnant and lactating women and women in the age group of 15-44 years. In Karnataka, there are around 54,260 anganwadis, with 33 lakh children entitled to free mid-day meals.

Earlier, the government-owned Karnataka State Agro Corn Products Ltd (KSACPL), which used to manufacture and supply energy foods to anganwadis since 1973, provided mid-day meals. “The KSACPL started making losses in 2001, after the DWCD handed over 50 percent of the energy food supply contract to CFI,” says H Subbaiah, the last managing director of the company. Due to insurmountable losses, the company was shut down last month.

Concerned over reports of fraud and tardy implementation of the ICDS scheme, the Supreme Court had issued a directive in October 2004 prohibiting the use of contractors in the supply of mid-day meals under the scheme.

“This is when CFI hit upon a novel plan to counter it,” says a middle-level DWCD official, who was shunted out later. “CFI entered into a five-year contract in 2007 with a budget of Rs 600 crore for building the capacities of self-help groups.” The company then set up the Mahila Supplementary Nutrition Production and Training Centres (MSNPTCs) in 139 of the 176 taluks.

An employee working in one of the MSNPTCs later wrote to the KSCPCR explaining the way these centres were being run. A copy of the letter, which is with TEHELKA, throws light on the way the DWCD looked the other way when CFI went about doing its business.

In Raichur district, 2,689 kids died due to acute malnutrition in April-August 2011, says official data

According to the letter, “Many of the training centres were not producing the required quantity of energy food. They were procuring ready-to-eat meals directly from Tamil Nadu and dumping it in the training centres. The food was rejected by the locals and was used as fodder for the cattle. Indents given for fulfilling orders were manipulated and illiterate women were hired for the job (according to the agreement, they had to pay a small part of the profit to these women).”

“CFI had set up a parallel channel of giving bribes,” say sources in the Lokayukta. “Right from the taluk level, child development project officers would receive around 1 percent of the amount cleared.”

This year, on 10 March, Lokayukta officials raided Shyamala Iqbal’s house and found 900 grams of gold, diamonds worth Rs 4 lakh, bank deposits worth Rs 65 lakh and a Toyota Innova. They also found documents showing ownership of a commercial complex at Church Street, Bengaluru, a house in HAL 3rd Stage worth Rs 60 lakh and a site in Arkavathy Layout, also in Bengaluru. Shyamala Iqbal did not respond to queries by TEHELKA.

The whole network was managed by CFI employees Kumaraswamy and SS Mani from the state level. “Earlier, the money was given to the officials wherever they were located. After a dispute, it was centralised at CFI’s Malleswaram office,” says the officer. Interestingly, a faction of the pro-Kannada outfit, Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, was roped in for proper distribution of the bribe money. All the officers would come in the first week of every month to collect their share.

Responding to TEHELKA’s queries, CFI general manager (administration) Shivanandan said, “The matter is sub-judice and an inquiry is going on. It is too premature to comment on anything now.”

According to information obtained under RTI, more than 21 lakh children in the state are mildly malnourished and 12 lakh moderately malnourished. More than 70,000 suffer from severe malnutrition.

Even if one goes by the official data, the rate of deaths is quite alarming: almost two-three deaths per day due to child malnutrition. According to the DWCD, between April and August 2011, 2,689 children have died due to acute malnutrition in Raichur district alone.

Hunger Pangs

Rs 600 cr the annual cost of the mid-day meal scheme

33 lakh children in the state are eligible for mid-day meals

70,000 children suffer from acute malnutrition in the state

2-3 children die of malnutrition every day, on an average

THAT THE state cannot afford to be complacent on the child nutrition front is obvious from Karnataka’s 11th rank in the India State Hunger Index. According to the findings of the third National Family Health Survey (NFHS) in Karnataka, the infant mortality rate is 43 deaths per 1,000 births (before the age of one) and 55 deaths per 1,000 births (under the age of five). The NFHS study also says that infant mortality in rural areas is 28 percent higher than in urban areas. The study also reveals that more than half the women in Karnataka (52 percent) have anaemia, including 63 percent of pregnant women with mild anaemia. The recently released state Economic Survey report of 2012 reveals that poverty in Karnataka continues to be the highest among the southern states.

As the CFI battles to clear its name, the government is unlikely to renew its contract. However, it has inked a deal with mining giant Vedanta to fill in CFI’s shoes. On 10 April, Vendanta entered into an MoU with the government to provide mid-day meals to two lakh kids in four districts. Not only is this Rs 12 crore deal in violation of law (as the SC ruling of 2004 mandates no middlemen), it is being seen as part of Vedanta’s PR exercise in the wake of controversies surrounding its mining operations in Odisha and elsewhere.

R Manohar, head of programmes at South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring, says he can’t understand why the state is showing urgency in signing the deal, when there is already a PIL in the Karnataka High Court challenging the involvement of middlemen. “We have seen how CFI functioned. We don’t want another private company playing with the children’s lives,” he says.

Imran Khan is a Senior Correspondent with Tehelka.
[email protected]

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