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‘India funding Taliban’ and other stories

October 26, 2009

Today the irrepressible Pakistan interior minister Rehman Malik has said that the Taliban is being funded by India from its various consulates across the border in Afghanistan. This has amused Indians as much as it has induced a sense of revulsion from the kind of remarks those in power can throw around in gay abandon. This is what the Press Trust of India had to report:

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has once again claimed that India is fomenting unrest within Pakistan through steps such as funding Taliban fighters based along the border with Afghanistan.

Malik said he was “convinced” India is among “certain hostile agencies” that are backing the Taliban to create instability in Pakistan.

Asked during an interview to a TV news channel as to who was backing the Taliban, he said: “There are certain hostile elements against Pakistan and there are certain hostile agencies which do not want Pakistan to be (stabilised).”

In response to a question on whether India is among the hostile agencies, Malik said, “Yes, of course, I am convinced. I have no doubt about it. I was very open. I have given the full details.

This is the limit if ever there was one. We have been facing terrorism from across the border for long and those in power there have the temerity to question our credentials! Pakistan does not realize that such irresponsible statements will only dilute their own credibility. I am tempted to question the veracity of the claims by the Pakistan army as to the success of their operations in South Waziristan. While pushing the Taliban back will be in their interest, they will be damned if they finish off the Taliban, as they will come handy sometime later. In all probability the Pakistan army will give the Taliban a jolt enough that they come to the negotiating table and then they will cut a ‘deal’ as they always have. Pakistan politics is all about making deals and it will surprise no one if Pakistan government and their army cut a deal with the Taliban. They have this penchant to cut deals and they have cut deals with the US, Saudi Arabia and North Korea and China from time to time. The politicians there cut deals among themselves on various issues. Zardari is a past master at the game. Taliban will be invited to the negotiating table and a deal will be cut. It will hold till such time there is another attack and they will go over the ritual all over again.

Here in India we do not care what the Pakistani press is saying and the mindset across the border. There is one newspaper called the Daily Mail. Their correspondents have written the following about the Commonwealth Games that are going to be held in India in 2010 and the election process. I quote:

The host cities of India for the upcoming 13th Commonwealth Games are all set to hold mega prostitution extravaganza during the games, scheduled to be starting from October 3rd, 2010 and the “escort” companies and pimps have got an unofficial nod of the Indian government in this regard, reveal the findings of The Daily Mail’s investigations.

The Daily Mail’s findings indicate that the organized escort agencies, both big and small scale, from Mumbai, Pune, Goa and Bangalore, hotbeds for A-list prostitutes, are already at the drawing board, listing out the probables that will be sent to service the over one hundred thousand visitors to the 2010 Commonwealth games.

These investigations further reveal that while precise numbers cannot be ascertained, the shortfall in the number of women available in New Delhi is approximately 50 per cent, of which 25 per cent will be met by the cities named above. The other 25 per cent will be sourced from Punjab and Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the North East. The 10, 00,000, figure includes sportspersons, officials and visitors to the games.

About the Indian elections:

As much as the voter, every candidate standing for any election in India knows, his fate can be decided by the political worker. A political leader can have anywhere between 20 and 500 exclusive political workers working for him and it is just their involvement during the campaign trail that decides the leader’s success. For a month now, these political workers have been swamped by sexual favors. Sources told The Daily Mail that during every election, and this one is no different, political workers are given incentives to keep them happy by servicing them with prostitutes.

These political workers hold the key to a candidate’s success during the campaign trail, which begins approximately a month before poll day. Said Tejaswi Sevekari, who runs Saheli HIV AIDS Karyakarta Sangha, an NGO for sex workers, “A month before the elections, the demand for sex workers is huge.  A representative of the political workers scouts the red light areas and books women at least a month before the polls.”Sources added that the rendezvous is generally fixed at resorts, bungalows and farmhouses in the outskirts of Pune and that Mumbai is generally not part of the scheme of things.  The women normally spend two days with the client and they normally attend in groups of at least six, if not more. In Pune, most of the sex workers are sourced from the Budhwar Peth area, which has at least 5,000 sex workers.

How does one react to this? What does this show about our neighbors? The plain fact is that Pakistan has never hosted any games of any kind and nor can they because of the strict Islamic code. They do not have a democracy and they are rejecting the Indian elections as a farce and stooping to the lowest common denominator by trying to make the point that the whole democratic exercise in India is corrupt. I may add here that the Daily Mail that is being quoted again and again is not the famous British paper but one Daily Mail that is published from Islamabad. These are just two small examples and there could be many. I got exhausted reading these two clips and could go no further.

The response to such stupid ranting comes in the form of joint Indo-US military exercise that concluded today near Jhansi. These were the biggest joint exercise between the two militaries and it was a rewarding experience for both the armies. As one Indian officer quipped, “India and USA together are the strongest force as we have the best men and they have the best technology”. This could be true but I will not be surprised if this exercise was also seen by the American companies to showcase some of the products that India could purchase. American knack of finding a business opportunity in any and everything they do cannot be underestimated. Having said that, it is good that the two countries are looking at closer military cooperation!

I am also pretty certain that the Americans must be wondering as to how to get India to commit some of its forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. India is loath to enter any country except if they are on a UN mission. Bush tried hard to convince Manmohan Singh and the Indian establishment to join the ISAF but could not get the Indians to come around. Obama may be stonewalled too. Americans have seen the professionalism of our soldiers and the experience that our army has in counter insurgency operations having done that for close to fifty years now in the North East and in Kashmir. They also find that Indians understand and speak English well, especially the officers. They find that Indians could be easy to work with if they get down to it because there are little barriers in communication, which they face when some of the Europeans and the Far Eastern militaries are working with them. It befuddles them that India is reluctant to join in an operation that could also mean a strategic dept for India and greater role in international affairs. Indian politicians are hesitant because they look at the 12% Muslim constituency that also has the highest voting percentage as a community. It will take sometimes for India to come around. Till then Uncle Sam can go to sleep listening to the lullabies from their Pakistani friends.

Addendum: Pakistanis feel that the US has ruined their country. Anti-US feelings run high in Pakistan of today. It could be that the Americans take Pakistanis for granted. There was this one incident a few weeks ago when an American Airlines plane was flying from Al Fujairah, UAE to Bangkok and the flight path was over the Indian airspace. The plane did not give a military signal and the Indian air traffic controllers found this odd. Indian air force fighter jets were scrambled and the plane was made to force land at Mumbai. It was then found that the plane was carrying some 200 American marines along with arms and ammunition and other paraphernalia that they usually have. The plane should have given a military signal which it failed to do. The Americans were in a hurry and thought they could steamroll over the Indian authorities. Indians were in no hurry and went through the usual protocol. The Americans saw their mood and made their men check into a hotel on the outskirts of Mumbai. The plane flew off the next day. The US authorities responded by saying that they were happy that the issue had been settled amicably and speedily.

Were the Americans testing us whether we have the resolve and the systems in place to check such blatant intransigence? If they were, then I hope they have got their answer. We are no pushovers and this is not Pakistan. One thing that did bother me though was that they never showed the courtesy of apologizing for such rude behavior.  Makes me wonder whether they had been flying military aircrafts over the Indian airspace without bothering to inform the air traffic controllers earlier too.

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