Friday, January 30, 2015

Skip Navigation Links
SUPPLEMENT

Visitor Login










Pentagonal dimension of Obama’s Delhi visit

Sadeq Khan

US President Obama’s trip to India has spurred triangle chatter by and between China, US and India. On India’s Republic Day in which Obama was the chief guest, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing: China hopes that the development of US-India relations will help promote mutual trust and cooperation among countries in the region, and safeguard peace, stability and prosperity of the region as well.

Full Story

Sadeq Khan

US President Obama’s trip to India has spurred triangle chatter by and between China, US and India. On India’s Republic Day in which Obama was the chief guest, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing: China hopes that the development of US-India relations will help promote mutual trust and cooperation among countries in the region, and safeguard peace, stability and prosperity of the region as well.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang sent congratulatory messages on the occasion of the 66th India Republic Day to their Indian counterparts, President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Xi and Li pledged that China is willing to work with India to deepen their mutually beneficial cooperation, build closer partnership in development and elevate the bilateral strategic cooperation partnership to a higher level.
In New Delhi on the same day, US Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters: “I think the way in which the United States and India approach the issue in the Asia Pacific is very similar in the sense that nobody is aiming for confrontation with China or even to contain China. Both the United States and India have very close relations with China in many different fields.”

China, India’s largest trading partner
Earlier Xi made a landmark visit to India last September when the two largest and most populous developing countries agreed to further cooperation in a wide range of areas. Despite news media hype of a lingering border dispute between China and India, China became India’s largest trading partner for the first time last year, edging the United Arab Emirates, which dropped to the third place, trailing the US.
In his press briefing, however, Rhodes did not forget to add that the US and India are committed to a rules-based order in the world, clearly implying US criticism of China’s behavior in the South and East China seas, cyber space and trade areas. The media in China have regarded the US as biased in favor of its treaty allies, especially Japan and the Philippines, in their maritime territorial disputes with China, including Japan’s dramatic move to nationalize the Diaoyu Islands in late 2012, which caused the fresh tensions between the two East Asian neighbors.
Despite tensions, China and Japan are also each other’s major trade partners. Many, both inside and outside of China, are also deeply suspicious that under the so-called pivot to Asia Pacific policy, the US has been trying to rally its allies against China, a country that follows a foreign policy of no alliance. In a comment on the US-India relationship and China for Obama’s trip to India, Tanvi Madan, a foreign policy program fellow at the Brookings Institution, described India and US relationships with China as both having elements of cooperation, competition and, potentially, conflict, though in different degrees. Writing in China Daily on Monday, Swaran Singh, a professor at School of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, said although India’s DNA will never allow it to become a close ally of the US and its leadership can never be imprudent enough to adopt a policy of containing China, there is no doubt that China’s continuous rise has become a matter of concern for New Delhi. Whether or not this concern was converted into a mutual concern of Indo-US entente, a pentagonal dimension appears to have moderated the geo-political thrust of that visit.

Mutual use of military facilities
Before Modi and Obama first met in Washington, the New Delhi visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping was followed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in December. India remains wary of China’s maneuvers in the Indian Ocean region, even as it remains mindful of the fact that Russia, its long-time friend, has of late warmed up to Pakistan, having signed a defenne agreement with the latter. Moscow is reportedly also miffed with India over its growing dependence on the U.S. for its military purchases, even as a majority of India’s arsenal continues to be of Russian origin. But, for the foreseeable future, India will continue to depend more on Russia than the U.S. The government-funded Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis notes that even if no new weapons are purchased, India will continue to need spare parts for the weaponry of Soviet/Russian origin and also depend on Russia for their upgrades and modernization.  
And ever since U.S. companies Boeing and Lockheed Martin were edged out of the race by their European rivals for a multi-billion dollar fighter jet deal, the U.S. has been pushing India to close at least half a dozen others that have been in the works for the last few years. These include deals on helicopters, reconnaissance planes and anti-tank missiles. In November last year, the Indian defence ministry cleared one of these, ­a $2.5 billion deal to buy M777 howitzer guns from the U.S. But, other potential deals have languished. The new Indo-US defence pact signed during Obama visit has certainly expanded the scope of their defence engagement, in particular by allowing each other to use their military facilities.

Mutual trust in short supply
Yet, despite the positive overtures, mutual trust has often been in short supply in the U.S.-India dynamic. In February 2013, for instance, Chuck Hagel, the current U.S. defence secretary, had said that India had “financed problems” for Pakistan, in Afghanistan: “India for some time has always used Afghanistan as a second front, and India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side of the border. And you can carry that into many dimensions, the point being [that] the tense, fragmented relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been there for many, many years.” He drew sharp criticism from India.
China is also getting involved in Afghanistan. And India, fearing that a politically unstable Afghanistan could become a breeding ground for jihadists, would want the U.S. to stay on in that country for much longer and in good numbers. Chuck Hagel has now told Pentagon that the US President’s Delhi visit has produced “some very tangible and positive results.”
Yet, as observers noted, each time India and the U.S. sit down to discuss defence and security, there are two proverbial elephants in the room­ Pakistan and China. The New York Times reported on January 26: “When President Obama landed New Delhi for a three-day visit, he brought a long list of issues to discuss, like energy and trade. But when he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India sat down to talk, the first 45 minutes were dominated by just one: China. Mr. Obama and his aides discovered to their surprise that Mr. Modi’s assessment of China’s rise and its impact on the greater strategic situation in East Asia was closely aligned with their own. Just as they did, Mr. Modi seemed increasingly uneasy about China’s efforts to extend its influence around the region and interested in a united approach to counter them. He agreed to sign a joint statement with Mr. Obama chiding Beijing for provoking conflict with neighbours over control of the South China Sea. He suggested reviving a loose security network involving the United States, India, Japan and Australia. And he expressed interest in playing a greater role in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, where India could help balance China’s influence.”

How far will it lead to?
K. Shankar Bajpai, a former Indian ambassador to the United States and China observed: “There has been a lot of ambivalence in India about China, just as there has been in the United States. Now, both sides are clearer about their own interests and better understand that those interests are similar.” How far will that meeting of minds lead? The NYT correspondent commented with an if: If that proves enduring, it could signal a shift more consequential than any specific deals or statements signed during Mr. Obama’s stay here. In effect, American officials hope the two powers can do much more together than the United States could do alone to restrain China and preserve the postwar order in the region.
In supporting thing strategic relations with economic underpinning, Obama  underscored “untapped potential” of Indo-US trade: “Of all US imports, just 2 per cent come from India and of all US exports, about 1 per cent go to India ­ that’s 1 per cent to a billion people... US trade with India is $100 billion as compared to $560 billion with China.” Both leaders promised to expand bilateral trade fivefold in a decade. To shore up bilateral trade, Mr Obama announced $4 billion in government-backed investments and lending to India.
But even as he goaded Delhi in this manner, Mr Obama had already annoyed Beijing and Moscow with his utterances in Delhi. While his criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine policy was largely ignored by his quarries, his plans to involve India in the South China Sea imbroglio drew a sharp response from Beijing. China critiqued the India-US joint statement referring to the disputes in the South China Sea, saying “We have made our position clear on this issue many times. China is staunch supporter promoter and contributor to regional peace and stability. We believe relevant disputes should be resolved by parties directly concerned through peaceful talks and consultation.”

A ‘superficial rapprochement’
A commentary in Xinhua, the official Chinese state news agency, dismissed what it called a “superficial rapprochement.” The Xinhua report went on to say that the visit “is more symbolic than pragmatic, given the longstanding division between the two giants, which may be as huge as the distance between them. The state-run Chinese newspaper Global Times, warned that the United States was setting a trap for India: “This fixed pattern of thinking was created and hyped up by the West, which, with ulterior motives, regards the ‘Chinese dragon’ and the ‘Indian elephant’ as natural rivals.”
While U.S. President Barack Obama watched India’s Republic Day parade as the chief guest, China incidentally welcomed Pakistan’s army chief, General Raheel Sharif, to Beijing for talks. Sharif and his Chinese counterparts decided to enhance long-term defence collaboration, security and counter-terrorism cooperation, intelligence sharing, and training exchanges. China emphasized the close, lasting friendship between China and Pakistan, with officials employing the usual rhetoric that the two countries are “iron brothers” and “all-weather friends.”
And while the US President agreed with the Indian leader that “safe havens within Pakistan are not acceptable,” he also made it clear that the United States has to work with Pakistan to meet the threat of terrorism.
On January 27 in his ‘wrapping up’ speech, US President Barack Obama said the United States could be India’s “best partner”. In an editorial the same day, the New York Times opined: With their talk of an “enduring commitment,” Mr. Obama and Mr. Modi have raised expectations and set a firm basis for moving forward. Even so, the countries have no obvious plans to deal with Pakistan or the India-Pakistan nuclear competition that threatens the region, and it cannot be assumed that all past differences will fade. Building a true partnership will take sustained efforts over many decades.


Login to post comments


(0)



Scepticism over Law Minister’s visits to ICC HQ

Faruque Ahmed

Law Minister Anisul Haque visited International Criminal Court (ICC) last week in the Hague accompanied by Bangladesh ambassador to The Netherlands and exchanged views with court’s president Sang Hyun Song, prosecutor Fatou Besouda and others on Bangladesh government commitment to the rule of law.

Full Story

Faruque Ahmed

Law Minister Anisul Haque visited International Criminal Court (ICC) last week in the Hague accompanied by Bangladesh ambassador to The Netherlands and exchanged views with court’s president Sang Hyun Song, prosecutor Fatou Besouda and others on Bangladesh government commitment to the rule of law.

But the visit came at a time when political violence, death of innocent people on the streets and extrajudicial killing of political leaders and workers are dangerously at the peak. The UN High Commission for Human Rights (UNHCR) warned against ‘destructive brinkmanship’ in a statement on January 16 asking the political leaders to save the people and the country from falling into further chaos.
Meanwhile, the Asian Human Rights Commission in separate statement recently on Bangladesh’s violent political situation similarly warned the parties to stop chaos and especially the government to stop attacks on opposition leaders and workers and open neutral and effective investigation of attacks on BNP leader Reaz Rahman and scores of such other victims of political repression.
The Commission held the view that police and investigative agencies in Bangladesh have lost credibility of running free and fair investigation and if the international community wants to stand by the aggrieved people of Bangladesh, it must activate international judicial mechanism to find out the real culprits and stand them to trial.
One may recall that former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay had also warned the country’s political leaderships during last year’s pre-election violence which saw killing of scores of innocent people in blazing vehicles and police firing, repressive arrest of opposition people and indiscriminate destruction of public and private properties. She hinted at the point that some of these offences may fit to the charges of crimes against humanity which the ICC now deals at global level while reminding leaders of some African countries are now facing similar trial on similar charges.   

Focus on minister’s visit
The foreign office in Dhaka broke the news of the law minister’s visit to the ICC headquarters in a press release last week although it did not receive enough media focus to create public interest. The foreign ministry in the statement said the ICC officials were highly appreciative of the Bangladesh government efforts to ‘uphold the rule of law’ and the law minister used the occasion to discuss on building further collaboration with the court in the future.
The minister also reiterated Dhaka’s unequivocal commitment to the court and the purpose for which it has been set up under the Rome statue to which Bangladesh is a member signatory. 
The court has therefore the jurisdiction to prosecute leaders and individuals for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The law minister also explained to the ICC functionaries how Dhaka is determined to bring an end to the impunity of war crimes globally.
This is what is really expected of the minister to talk about when he is visiting the ICC headquarter in the Hague. But question arises as to why the minister went on a visit at a time when the UNHCR and other watch bodies have warned of halting the destructive brinkmanship in Bangladesh urging restraint from all parties.
This is a time Bangladesh is witnessing widespread violence, arson, destruction and death and indiscriminate arrest of opposition leaders basically out of clashes centering the opposition demand for a fresh election to replace the incumbent Awami League government now in power.
The government is using excessive fire power and unnecessary force on the opposition while joint operation forces are destroying homes and business of their workers and supporters in the countryside to break the nationwide blockade now in force from early January on call of the major opposition BNP and its allies.

Dissenting voices being muzzled
The opposition alliance have imposed the shutdown as the government refused them permission to hold a public rally in the capital on January 5 – the day the government held a stage managed election last year keeping the opposition out of the electoral race.
The political violence in Bangladesh is already in global media headlines and given the level of destruction and human sufferings the UN Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, Asian Human Rights Commission and International Jurists’ Commission among many others have already asked all parties and especially the government to talk out the crisis peacefully by holding dialogue and arranging new election.
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has also urged the parties to end the violence and sit in dialogue to sort out the issue politically although his emissary had failed last year visiting Bangladesh twice to break the impasse. 
The government appears quite defiant this time too in giving the opposition any space including the right to hold public rallies and demonstrations, least the freedom to air out their political views in the media. Media leaders have already been warned about it. 
The UNHCR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani in the recent statement released from Geneva said ‘the rising levels of political violence rippling across Bangladesh amid fears of a return to a state of ‘destructive brinkmanship’ which was seen in the run up to the country’s 2014 elections. The word brinkmanship is common now in explaining Bangladesh situation.
The deepening political violence in Bangladesh…..is very disturbing causing deaths, injury and disruption at spiraling level, UNHRC statement said. It said the country witnessed similar situation in late 2013 when Bangladesh was on the road to a farcical election that led to political clash with each other and with security forces, leaving scores of people dead, hundreds injured, and causing extensive damage to property. She said in the statement.

HR violations peaking
Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay last year also
had urged political parties to set their differences aside and to immediately halt the destructive brinkmanship. Had it been done, the crisis would not appear again. 
During the current crisis rampant use of arson attacks on vehicles was particularly disturbing, the UNHCR statement said pointing to vehicles being set ablaze and killing innocent passengers on roads and highways. 
This is a situation where no rule of law is at work in the country and people are losing life in conflicts which can only be resolved taking parties on the table.  Meanwhile, trade and commerce is on the brink, economy is on the nosedive.
The UN human rights agency apparently holds the government responsible for the violence by denying the opposition its democratic rights of holding public meetings and demonstration in the streets.
In fact the government wants to suppress the opposition now using force. The UNHRC has therefore demanded that arrests must “not arbitrary,” and that all measures taken to restore law and order are “conducted in line with the parameters set by international human rights law, including respect for the freedoms of peaceful assembly, movement and speech.”
It appears that the law minister visited the ICC at a time when flagrant violation of human rights and such other serious crimes are taking place in Bangladesh which are attacking global notice. Skeptics fear the minister’s visit may be a pre-emptive attempt to reach out the court and give it a good impression about Bangladesh.
This is contrary to Navi Pillay’s last year’s warning. She had pointed out at that time that Bangladesh is a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. She then said “In other situations, we have seen cases of political or election related violence where the perpetrators of such acts - including political leadership — have faced prosecution.”


Login to post comments


(0)



Spectre of fear and power struggle haunts the country

Abu Hena

A spectre is haunting Bangladesh – a spectre of fear, panic and power struggles. Dirty politics has pitifully torn asunder the age - old social ties that bound us for centuries and has left no other nexus between man and man than naked self- interest and wanton disregard for the life of the daily wage earner.

Full Story

Abu Hena

A spectre is haunting Bangladesh – a spectre of fear, panic and power struggles. Dirty politics has pitifully torn asunder the age - old social ties that bound us for centuries and has left no other nexus between man and man than naked self- interest and wanton disregard for the life of the daily wage earner.

Veiled by political illusions, it has substituted brutal and mindless murder of the ordinary and the innocent. In the name of democracy the power brokers have caused still more death, misery, degradation and despair. Lust for money, wealth and power has reduced men and women into easy target of violence, vandalism, arson and petrol bomb.
Our politics and economy stand on the precipice, making it inevitable for a steep downward slope into the horrors of the past. The politicians fail to grasp how bad things are. They don’t understand how fast things are deteriorating.

The clock has stopped
The clock has stopped and we are not free any more. This is a dangerous moment in our nation’s history when we feel totally unsafe and helplessly insecure. Men, women and children are traumatized by rampant attacks on buses, trains and public places. The mood of failure and paralysis in law and order is widespread. The atmosphere has been heightened by the growing distrust between the leaders at the top who matter most. The events envision a broken country policed by a peacekeeping force after a civil war.
The impertinence and presumption in public servants including ministers has caused draining of money from the pockets of the people. They are always, and without exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society. Their extravagance, prodigality and misconduct have ruined the state. Almost the whole public revenue is employed in maintaining these unproductive hands who in times of peace produce nothing and in times of war acquire nothing which can compensate the expense of maintaining them. Such people, as they produce nothing, are all maintained by the products of other men’s labour. Their insensitivity is so acute that when the air is thick with tears, the top civil servants of the country are busy doubling their pay, perks and allowances.
With the bulk of the electricity generated from the oil-fired power plants and the international price of oil plummeting to a new low, the Energy Regulatory Authority has proposed an 18 percent price hike for bulk consumers and nearly 21.5 percent for retail consumers. According to Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), the economy lost 36. 46 billion taka in the first 16 days of political unrest which began on 5 January. The figure is equivalent to 2.69 percent of the GDP.

The lucky loan defaulters
Manufacturing units are running out of inputs and job cuts are feared if blockade continues causing industrial and social unrest. The blockades and strikes are costing the country’s vital RMG industry millions of dollars. Each day the crisis continues, the livelihood of more and more workers are being put at risk. The four state-owned banks wrote off Tk 15,228 crore bad loans between 2002 and 2014 while Tk 15,667 crore still remains outstanding. The government in its boundless generosity has now decided to bail out the big defaulters by rescheduling their loans for further extended period.
The government’s new debt strategy based on costly foreign loans will also increase the current 45 percent share of foreign borrowing to 60 percent. There will be a decrease in concessional foreign loans to be received during the period from current 75 percent to 60 percent and an increase in the country’s commercial or semi- concessional loans from the current 6.1 percent to 14 percent plus by 2017.
According to Global Financial Integrity, a Washington based research institute, more than $16 billion was illegally siphoned off out of Bangladesh between 2002 and 2011. More than 14 lakh SSC examinees, their guardians and teachers are now faced with uncertainty over the exams scheduled to begin on Feb 2 as blockade continues.

Culture of victimhood
At the moment the essential daily predicament of all Bangladeshis is this: there is no margin for error anymore. This is not unconnected to the predicament that just as we earned our independence, a huge revolution was beginning to shape our lives — the expectation of freedom and happiness. Today it is most embarrassing to live in a free country and not be happy, safe and secure.
We have lost, somehow, a sense of mystery about us, our purpose, our meaning, our role. Today we teach our children not the principles that made our country, the moral force that led us to endure nine months of horrors to free our nation. We do not teach our children our glorious past history. We teach them the culture of resentment, of hatred, of grievance, of victimization.
It’s clear now that present politics is a dirty, boring and abominable business. It’s time we rise against it, fight the devil and come out of this existential despair, the stage of anxiety and uncertainty. If we are honest and well intentioned, all our conflicts will disappear into consensus and all our pains, sufferings, trauma and resistance to change will end.
The writer is a former MP, columnist and author


Login to post comments


(0)



Koko’s funeral: Millions gather throughout the country

Mohammad Ali Sattar

It reminds me of the largest funeral that we witnessed in Bangladesh. It was that of late President Ziaur Rahman, who was killed in Chittagong on May 31, 1981. When his remains were flown in to Dhaka from Chittagong, the capital city turned into a sea of humans mourning the death of a popular leader and President.

Now it was the interment of Arafat Rahman Koko, the late president Ziaur Rahman’s youngest so. The quiet individual, who lived in solitary home in a foreign land with his family, passed away even more quietly, without offering any opportunity to anyone to see him during his final hours.
The news of his death spread like wild fire. The dreadful news reached his confined mother in no time. The rest is a heartrending tale of a shattered mother, a young confounded widow and two orphan daughters.
Koko was a non-political figure. He was put on trial, sentenced and fined by a court in Dhaka. His failing health forced him to leave the country for treatment seriously ill in confinement.

Full Story

Mohammad Ali Sattar

It reminds me of the largest funeral that we witnessed in Bangladesh. It was that of late President Ziaur Rahman, who was killed in Chittagong on May 31, 1981. When his remains were flown in to Dhaka from Chittagong, the capital city turned into a sea of humans mourning the death of a popular leader and President.

Now it was the interment of Arafat Rahman Koko, the late president Ziaur Rahman’s youngest so. The quiet individual, who lived in solitary home in a foreign land with his family, passed away even more quietly, without offering any opportunity to anyone to see him during his final hours.
The news of his death spread like wild fire. The dreadful news reached his confined mother in no time. The rest is a heartrending tale of a shattered mother, a young confounded widow and two orphan daughters.
Koko was a non-political figure. He was put on trial, sentenced and fined by a court in Dhaka. His failing health forced him to leave the country for treatment seriously ill in confinement.

Coco died in Malaysia
From Thailand he moved on to Malaysia with his family. Since May 2008 he has been out of the country. He lived an ordinary life, keeping himself and his family away from all political maneuverings.
Even his life in Dhaka has not been political. His involvement with sporting arena had been his pastime. Bangladesh Cricket Board expressed its gratitude for his contribution towards development of the game in Bangladesh. He also spent his time with a local sporting club.
His death comes at a time when the country and his mother’s party (BNP) is going through rough patches. The ongoing battle between the 20 party alliance led by BNP and the Awami League led government has reached a dangerous point.
Begum Zia is fighting for the demands she and her allies put up for the government to consider. Her challenges for a caretaker government for fair polls have been dashed in the last national election.
Her alliance did not take part in the ballot that was held under Awami League-led government. It was a sham election. Over 153 MPs were elected unopposed while only a few voted for the rest. Her rejection of the polls and continued appeals for dialogues with the government fell in deaf ears.
The recent spate of violence that engulfed the country has reached a point from where there seems to be no route to return.
Her confinement in Gulshan office and the mass arrests of the opposition leaders has also been telling on her health. Amidst this crisis the sky falls - the sudden demise of her younger son in a distant land, tears her apart. 
We saw the repetition of the 1981 tragedy as Koko’s coffin was laid open in front of a grieving mother. The nation witnessed the tragic picture that words fail to describe. How can you situate words and phrases to illustrate a feeling that tormented the grieving ones, specially the mother?

Gayabana Janaza held everywhere
Out in the streets across the country, millions gathered to pray for the departed soul, who was neither their political leader nor their mentor.
Forget not, there has been congregations and prayers (gayebana janaza) all over the country.
In Dhaka, people thronged the streets everywhere. The national mosque, where his body was brought for the final prayer, could not accommodate thousands who gathered.
The whole vicinity from shapla, to paltan to press club and in extension to other nearby areas – were taken over by the common men. They prayed in unison for the departed soul. They sought forgiveness for him; they shed tears for this man who was in no way related to them.
This huge turnout could hold only one reason – he was the son of illustrious parents who enjoy an enormous popularity in this land of discord.


Login to post comments


(0)



China’s growing military might draws India closer to US

Shamsuddin Ahmed

Plainly speaking, it is China’s growing military might and economic strength that brought the United States and India closer in a bid to halt its advance. President Barak Obama flew to India to the warm embrace of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attended as chief guest in the Indian Republic Day celebrations on January 26. This demonstrated a stronger military and economic cooperation between the two countries.

Full Story

Shamsuddin Ahmed

Plainly speaking, it is China’s growing military might and economic strength that brought the United States and India closer in a bid to halt its advance. President Barak Obama flew to India to the warm embrace of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attended as chief guest in the Indian Republic Day celebrations on January 26. This demonstrated a stronger military and economic cooperation between the two countries.

India, one of the founders of the Non-aligned Movement moved away from NAM, entered into defence pact with the Soviet Union prior to 1971 war with Pakistan. And now it entered into nuclear deal and defence pact with the United States of America to deal with increasingly assertive China to the discomfort more of India than USA.
In cold war days, US leaders used to loath Indians. “We really slobbered over the old witch,” President Nixon had told his national security adviser Henry Kissinger after meeting with Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in Washington before the 1971 war. “They (Indians) are slippery and treacherous,” added Nixon. Since then the world has undergone a sea change.

$4 billion loans, defence projects
President Obama during his three-day visit to Delhi committed $4 billion in terms of investment and loans and agreed to extend the 10-year defence pact with the hope India will be able to overcome hurdles that have  long constrained its economy and prevented it from becoming an effective strategic counterweight to China. Extension of defence pact would allow deeper military to military engagement and increase maritime cooperation. It is also hoped that the defence partnership between the two countries will help forge security and stability in Asia and across the globe. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said they would explore joint projects on aircraft-carrier technology as well as jet engines.
Reciprocating President Obama’s gesture Narendra Modi said, “We are prepared to step forward firmly to accept the responsibility of the global partnership for our two countries and toward shaping the character for this century.”
His national security chief  Shyam Saran said, “Neither India nor the U.S. would like to see a security landscape in Asia that’s dominated by China…This hhas become a very important relationship for India.”
Analyst Rahul Bedi viewed India’s goal is to develop military capabilities within the next two decades that would enable them to take on China. “India cannot do that on its own. So, we need somebody like America to hold our hand.”
In a commentary Chinese News Agency Xinhua said Mr. Obama’s visit to India “is more symbolic than pragmatic, given the long-standing division between the giants, which may be as huge as the distance between them.”
India, which lags behind China in terms of wealth, manufacturing sophistication and military technology, is deeply distrustful of Beijing, with which it has competing territorial claims. Delhi resents China’s aid-driven influence among its South Asian neighbors and its rising naval presence in the Indian Ocean.

Sino-Indian security issues
Last year Chinese soldiers entered two kilometers deep into Indian side of LOC in Ladhak border and stayed for weeks. It was the biggest and most serious of such confrontation in decades raising apprehension of repetition of 1962 war when India was badly bruised. Alarm bells also rang in Delhi after a Chinese navy attack submarine last year made a call at the port of Sri Lanka, the recipient of billions of dollars in Chinese loans for infrastructure construction projects. India is particularly concerned about China’s quiet quest for greater influence in the Indian Ocean, which has long been Delhi’s domain. The tankers that move through the Indian Ocean are critical for India’s oil supply. Any slowdown in the tanker traffic could cripple its economy.
The moot question is can India step up with assistance from USA as claimed by Narendra Modi. “If the Indian economy can’t get more traction, it will be hard for the country to have a more important role in the region or the world,” doubt US officials. This is a moment and everyone is looking for action.
India is struggling to revive its economy after a period of relatively low growth. Modi was elected last year after promising the country’s frustrated voters that he would go for development and industrialization to catch up with its neighbors in East Asia. But India’s capital Delhi still suffers from frequent disruptions in power supply. The country has few facilities capable of precision manufacturing and its thicket of bureaucratic red tape and rickety roads, railways and ports have discouraged investment.

HRs, Maoists, other problems
Obama ended the India visit with notably a sharp speech but in friendly language in front a gathering of young people. He asked the Indian leadership to address sectarian discrimination and conflict, human right violations, forced labour and abuse of women. Obama carefully avoided mentioning incidents of frequent anti-Muslim riots. 
Modi was accused of killing of more than 1200 people, mostly Muslims, in Gujarat riot when he was the chief minister of the state, and for which he was denied US visa in 2005. Violations of human right are flagrant. Glaring example is Irom Sharmila of Manipur who is on fast unto death for more than 14 years. In custody she is kept alive by force feeding through the nose. Her non-violent protest was against killing of innocent people by the army in brutal suppression of militants fighting for independence from India.
Millions of deprived, neglected adivasis and low caste Hindus (untouchable) are subjected to sectarian discrimination in caste ridden Hindu society. This gave rise to Maoist armed struggle in 22 out of 29 states of India posing the gravest threat to the country’s internal security. All this are not unknown to the Americans. Obama’s advice for improving the situation will not go well with Modi’s Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. Since it came to power last year Hindu groups have converted a number of Muslims. They accepted Hinduism under threat.


Login to post comments


(0)



Whither Sri Lanka?

Dr. A R Colachal in New Delhi

This question puzzles everyone - both analyst and layman. It is because these days governments behave alike and prefer to pursue similar policies though generally new governments come on anti-incumbency wave.
On January 8, the Sri Lankan electorate practically achieved the impossible by voting President Mahindra Rajapaksa out of office - something inconceivable just a couple of months ago when he as a dictator appeared too strong to be ousted.

Full Story

Dr. A R Colachal in New Delhi

This question puzzles everyone - both analyst and layman. It is because these days governments behave alike and prefer to pursue similar policies though generally new governments come on anti-incumbency wave.
On January 8, the Sri Lankan electorate practically achieved the impossible by voting President Mahindra Rajapaksa out of office - something inconceivable just a couple of months ago when he as a dictator appeared too strong to be ousted.

Unlike other countries that have had to oust dictators through bloody violence or street protests, Sri Lankan voters ended Rajapaksa’s decade-long, increasingly authoritarian rule via democratic means, the ballot box.
The January poll made Maithripala Sirisena the new president of Sri Lanka and people in the country and observers worldwide expect a sea change in the Lankan policies and politics.

A shift towards India, US?
New President Sirisena appointed Wickremesinghe, leader of pro-US United National Party (UNP), as prime minister after forming a new ruling coalition, the National Democratic Front NDF), which includes a number of right-wing parties. Wickremesinghe declared last week that his government would implement the 13th amendment to the country’s constitution. After nearly three decades, the amendment, which provided for the limited devolution of powers to the Tamil elite on a provincial level in the island’s north and east, has never been carried out fully. More fundamentally, however, it underscores the shift in foreign policy toward the US and India that was ushered in by Sirisena’s election.
India, supported by the US, has repeatedly demanded the amendment’s implementation as part of a “political solution” to the Tamil problem. The 13th amendment was introduced in November 1987 under the Indo-Lanka Accord, which provided for Indian “peacekeeping” troops to occupy the island’s north and disarm the LTTE.
Sri Lankan civil war ended with the defeat of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009. Rajapaksa became Sri Lanka’s president first in 2005. In May 2009, his government inflicted a crushing military defeat on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), ending the 25-year-long civil war. As a wave of Sinhala-Buddhist triumphalism swept the island in the wake of the war victory, Rajapaksa assumed demi-god status among the Sinhalese-Buddhists. His popularity swept him into a second term in 2010 and his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP)-led United People’s Freedom Alliance’s (UPFA) won a string of elections to parliament, provincial councils and local bodies.

Colombo in crossroads
Rajapksha took shelter behind the rich and corporate lords like the leaders in other countries, like India. After the defeat of Tamil, in fact common people including the poor among the Singhalese majority were scared of the regime and suffered. During the presidential election, the Socialist Equality Party was the only party to fight for the unity of common people—Tamil, Sinhala and Muslim—in a common struggle to oppose the US war drive and secure basic democratic and social rights by abolishing capitalism.
According to his election manifesto, Sirisena wants to wean Sri Lanka off its dependence on China, a move praised by Indian and   Western commentators alike. New Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said before the election that he would stop the $1.5 billion China-financed Colombo Port City project.
India welcomed Sirisena’s election as it was reportedly working against Rajapaksa’s election because he rejected India and chose China instead to grant huge projects. New Delhi is hoping that the new government will enable India to strengthen its position in Colombo at the expense its arch rival China.
The Modi government is also hoping that the implementation of the amendment will deflect opposition among common people in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu to the treatment of Sri Lankan Tamils. The protracted civil war in Sri Lanka and continuing repression and discrimination against Tamils has generated political instability in Tamilnadu in India.
Washington was hostile to Rajapakse’s ties with Beijing in conditions where it is seeking to strategically encircle China as part of the US “pivot to Asia.” Sri Lanka may now return to its traditional non-aligned foreign policy maintaining friendly relations with its Asian neighbors that are linked through geo-politics, history and culture.

A new centre of gravity
Asia is the new centre of gravity in global political and economic relations and Sri Lanka can develop her economic potential with even-handed and mutually beneficial ties with China, Pakistan, India, Japan and the Asia pacific, using its strategic location. At the same time important economic partners in trade, investment and tourism remain in the West with whom Sri Lanka has had longstanding ties thorough the Commonwealth, the United Nations and other multilateral organisations working together for international peace and security.
The values of good governance, democracy, the rule of law and human rights will be upheld in domestic and foreign policy ensuring that the ethnic and religious diversity of the country is respected and protected.
Allegations of war crimes and crimes against Rajapaksa’s government — in which Sirisena served as defene minister— have resulted in demands for an investigation within Sri Lanka. But Rajapaksa has persistently refused to do so. As a result, the UN Human Rights Council is demanding an international investigation. The investigating body is expected to present a report at the next Human Rights Council meeting, in March, but Sirisena has categorically rejected calls to give the former president up for trial.
Lankans want a different type of government now. If Sri Lanka is to enjoy rule of law and media freedom, Sirisena must institute constitutional amendments restoring good governance and rule of law. He has promised that within his government’s first 100 days in office, he will transform Sri Lanka from a near autocracy into a democracy, one in which the president will share power with Parliament. Second, Sirisena wants to establish independent commissions to ensure that the police, judiciary, elections committee, and the offices of the auditor and attorney general are impartial.
Neither presidential nor parliamentary forms of government — invariably dominated by the Sinhalese, who make up roughly 74 percent of the country’s 21 million people — is satisfactory to the Tamils and Muslims. Instead, they demand greater autonomy in the north and the east. But Sirisena’s election manifesto is completely silent on the matter.


Login to post comments


(0)



METROPOLITAN
EDITORIAL
COMMENTS
INTERNATIONAL
BUSINESS
INFOTECH
CULTURE
MISCELLANY
AVIATOUR
LETTERS
LAST WORD
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation
OIC Diary, December 2014 Smear campaign against Qatar
OIC Diary, December 2014 Confronting Hate Rhetoric against Islam 10th Session of Islamic Information Ministers’ Conference in Tehran
Boosting collective Islamic action in global media, OIC Member States OIC Secretary General in bilateral talks with OIC Information Ministers
OIC Diary, December 2014 Recognition of Palestinian State by the French Parliament
OIC Diary, December 2014 OIC-LAS Joint High-level Committee Meeting
OIC Diary, December 2014 Irish Parliament resolution recognizing of the State of Palestine
OIC Diary, December 2014 Assassination of Palestinian Minister Ziad Abu Ein condemned
OIC Diary, December 2014 Saudi King’s $35 Million Grant for Ebola Fight
OIC Diary, December 2014 Portuguese parliament resolution for recognition of Palestinian state
OIC Diary, December 2014 Massacre of school children in Peshawar
OIC Diary, December 2014 European Parliament Resolution on Recognition of statehood of Palestine
OIC Diary, December 2014 UNSC resolution setting a timeline to end Israeli occupation
OIC Diary, December 2014 Higher Education Confab in Morocco
OIC Diary, December 2014 OIC Participates in 1st Nouakchott Process Summit
OIC Diary, December 2014 OIC Agenda at a glance (18-31 December 2014)
OIC Diary, December 2014 Condolence of victims of the Peshawar massacre
OIC Diary, December 2014 Solidarity against terrorism
OIC Diary, December 2014 Parliamentary elections in Uzbekistan
OIC Diary, December 2014 Saudi King’s initiative for Egypt-Qatar reconciliation
OIC Diary, December 2014 Presidential Elections in Tunisia
OIC Diary, December 2014 OIC Secretary General in Sudan
OIC Diary, December 2014 Media Event on EXPO 2017 of Kazakhstan
OIC Diary, December 2014 Sudan President and OIC Secretary General on joint Islamic action
 OIC Diary, December 2014 OIC Conference on Darfur Development Bank
 OIC Diary, December 2014 Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories
MEDIA CONVERGENCE FOR PEACE AND CALM IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD Tehran Declaration 10th Session of the Islamic Conference of Information Ministers Tehran, 3-4 December-2014
Resolutions of ICIM-10,  2014 (abridged)
FOUNDING EDITOR: ENAYETULLAH KHAN; EDITOR: SAYED KAMALUDDIN
Contents Copyrighted © by Holiday Publication Limited
Mailing address 30, Tejgaon Industrial Area, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh.
Phone 880-2-8170462, 8170463, 8170464 Fax 880-2-9127927 Email holiday@bangla.net
Site Managed By: Southtech Limited
Southtech Limited does not take any responsibility for any news content of this site