Monthly Archives: December 2013

IP pipeline: A pipedream!


Iran, losing patience with Pakistan has finally snapped the gas umbilical cord annulling the gas supply contract entered upon with Pakistan. Not that Pakistan did much once the understanding was reached. Dragging its feet, Pakistan was happy to just rest on its haunches, pleased at having reached the understanding at all. No further effort was seen forthcoming to convert this understanding into a reality. No monies were seen to be reserved for the project in the current budget in spite of increasing gas shortages. This, in spite of the government being forced to stop gas supply for winters not only to CNG pumps but also to the fertilizer plants and other industries in Punjab.
There could have been many reasons for Pakistan playing coy on the project; or maybe a mix of reasons. First, Pakistan may have dilly dallied owing to the rates at which it would have had to import the gas from Iran even after the project was completed. The rates would have been high. Much higher than the ability of the average domestic consumer to afford. According to a report by a local newspaper, “Iran itself imports gas from Turkmenistan at USD 4/MMBtu while the price at which it would export to Pakistan is an exorbitant figure of USD 14/MMBtu.” (Published 2013-11-09) Added to this is the fact that Iran herself imports gas; seasonal increases in the demand in winter makes it difficult for Iran to supply gas to Turkey as per their needs. “On October 1, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh himself raised concern about Iran facing serious gas shortage because of slow progress in raising levels of production from South Pars – the field that is supposed to fill the IP pipeline. If such factors were seriously taken into account, the pipeline agreement would likely have never been signed at the first place.” (Published 2013-11-09)
Now I am no economist God knows, just had economics as a major when I graduated college, but I am sure our government has a wide range of economists to choose from. As they can choose other experts from different fields as and when needed. Unfortunately, on the face of it, all pros and cons were maybe not evaluated maturely as they should have been. This lack of ability to make long term and short term plans in light of economic ground realities and furthermore, inconsistency of approach and strategies by different incoming governments has not allowed Pakistan to make headway on a sustained, long term basis.
The decision to convert cars from petrol/diesel to gas was a deliciously idiotic one and in complete disregard of the basic principle of supply and demand of economics. Many were happy when it was taken. Here they were, using an expensive option; now suddenly their needs could be met by gas! But the bubble did not last. The principle of limited supply verses increasing demand asserted itself and people with CNG cars et al were first reduced to standing for hours in line after the CNG stations reopened after days of closure to have the tanks filled to a time where supply of gas is stopped altogether for winter season.
USA was dead opposed to Pakistan entering into a gas deal with Iran. This may probably have weighed heavily with the government not having made headway on this front. Instead, US has pushed Pakistan to negotiate a deal with India. The joint statement released upon Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to US not long ago says, “welcomed progress on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project, and tasked the Energy Working Group to explore possible further US support for the Central Asia-South Asia electricity line, CASA-1000, in close collaboration with the World Bank.” (India Today October 24, 2013) No one can deny the advantages accruing from India-Pakistan good terms; yet neither can one deny the ground realities. These issues have created a trust deficit and cannot be easily overlooked. Pakistan will find it difficult to engage with India on the crucial gas needs. There will always be a valid concern of this being used against Pakistan for political and economic leverage. On the bigger canvas, it can be seen as a policy approach by US –India towards the region and Pakistan in particular. Focusing on one issue only; Times of India reports that Pakistan has accused India of violating the Indus Water Treaty 1960.In an editorial, titled ‘Games They Play? India’s Water Infringement’, claims that India is in the process of building as many as 67 dams on Pakistani rivers in violation of Indus Water Treaty (IWT). India has built and is in process to construct big and small dams, hydropower projects and reservoirs, numbering as many as 67, on the principal rivers – Indus, Jehlum and Chenab – that were allotted to Pakistan under the IWT.” (Published September 24, 2013) This is only one example.
Also, India, like Iran, imports gas. India’s power ministry had made a proposal as recent as September 2013 to mix imported gas with the locally produced one and supply the same to electricity producers. As per Wall Street Journal, “A shortage in the supply of coal and gas has led power producers to idle plants and suspend capacity expansion.” How then, can India sustain a continuous supply to Pakistan at reasonable rates?
What options does this leave Pakistan with? Some suggest Pakistan should look within in order to develop sources for alternate energy. They suggest gas production from shale, a revolution introduced by US. However, Maria van der Hoeven, executive director at the Paris-based International Energy Agency says about hydraulic fracturing of shale, “It’s likely there will be a revolution. But not everywhere at the same time. And you just can’t copy the U.S. experience.” (Bloomberg November 15, 2013) Report by a local newspaper carried on August 28, 2013 states, “The EIA also estimated risked shale oil in place for India/Pakistan of 314 billion barrels, with 87 billion barrels in India and 227 billion barrels in Pakistan. “The risked, technically recoverable shale oil resource is estimated at 12.9 billion barrels for those two countries, with 3.8 billion barrels for India and 9.1 billion barrels for Pakistan.” These amounts are contradicted by another report by another newspaper (local) dated August 31, 2013, “In Pakistan’s case, the EIA projection is based on scanty data from an article published in 1986 by Viqarun Nisa Quadri and Shuaib, SM, in the AAPG Bulletin, volume 70. “The article focuses on the overall petroleum potential of the Southern Indus rather than shale gas and oil, a resource which was not known at that time,” says a leading geoscientist associated with a public-sector petroleum explorer.” The bottom line seems to be a lack of focused, concentrated study aimed to bring out exact facts.
At the moment Pakistan has few options. Exploring the natural resources within and converting it into useable gas is going to take time. This however, does not mean, this should be overlooked. Not by any long shot. What it does mean is that the government should start working on this for a long term basis, however, in the short term, in order to offset the shortfall in supply, to focus on importing gas as energy mix with the existing reserves. It is here that the Iran gas pipeline would have aided Pakistan overcome the shortage presently being faced by the economy which in turn has a cascading effect on the output of industries and so on.
Whatever decision the Pakistan government decides to take, must be based on ground realities, existing geo-political situation and in favor of national interest.

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws  in Pakistan.


Tweets at:@yasmeen_9



The Myth of Bengali Nationalism

A Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By: Naveed Tajammal

BDStudy of Historical Geography if pursued lays bare a lot of fallacious myth’s, Hindu Pundit’s have always been first to, distort any history which does not confirm with their myth’s, The fate of ‘Gaur’ too came under their knife, as it, reflected the Buddhist Past of this region, which later came to be termed as Bengal.
The Hindu- Brahman stresses purely on a conjecture that, according to their own records, ‘Bengal’ is the abode of one their umpteen gods,’Banga’,and where this abode actually is located will be explained later in this article, I quote from the first translation of Ayeen e Akbari, by Francis Galdwin 1783 edition page 300,it is written,that,’Bungaleh,originally was called Bung; it derived the additional AL, from that being the name given to the mounds of earth which ancient kings caused to be raised in the low lands :their breadth was usually twenty cubits,and height ten cubits’.,as per narration given,’Bungal’ means,land of ,Cause-ways,dykes & embankments,to contain floods,from the rivers and numerous creeks and tributaries which criss-crossed the landscape.
The first Muslim writer giving specific notice of the capital city of Gaur,from which through-out the past ages this region is termed,and called as such, as long as,’ Gaur’ was
dominated it controlled the whole later Bengal, during the long Buddhist rule,even testified by Fa-Hien who travelled all over,and visited this region in his quest to collect Budhhist Scriptures between 399-412 AD,had found only Buddhism as the sole religion in full bloom,later,came Hwen Ts’ang in the 7th Century,followed by Khi-Nie and his group of Buddhist monks 964-976 AD all in quest of scriptures,& he too reported of Buddhism flourishing as the main religion in the region under study.Meaning there was No Brahmanism or Hinduism as it is termed these days.
Reverting now to Minhaj-Usman the author of famed ,’Tabaqat i Nasiri’ completed in 1260 AD,who visited Lakhnaoti,in 1243 AD,according,to his book’s best translation done by Major.H.G.Raverty in 1881 AD,Vol l, page-559 foot-note 2,he gives copious references, in crux, he states,’…that the ancient name of the city was ‘Gaur’ afterwards it changed to ‘Lakhanawati’,subsequently reverted back to Gaur again.”
Emperor Humayun named it ‘Bakht-abad’….”.However in Ayeen Akbari, as translated by francis galdwin and quoted earlier,page-303,states,’Jenutabad is a very ancient city,and was once the capital of Bengal,Formerly it was called Lucknowty,and before that Gaur,…..’’
Minhaj-Usman was amazed by the layout of this mega-city of its times [ref : pages-112-116,vol x,9th edition encyclopaedia britannica]and giving the layout of the city states, that Ghiyas uddin’- Iwaz the 4th Muslim ruler of Lakhanawati’ had made embanked roads across the low,country east and west of the city for a space of a ten days journey and also were seen embankments,running through the suburbs and,extending in directions 30-40 miles.Going in further details of this magnificent city,which remained capital and region so called because of it,during the Archaeological surveys done,in the early British Era’s in quest of hidden treasures that being the sole agenda, various references are found,that it was very large,”oblong’ city, within,its walls from North to South seven and half miles and with a breadth varying from one and a half to two miles,and was on the eastern bank of a former bed of Ganges River,the city had massive fortresses on North and South,the West in any case had Ganges with very high embankments,on the Eastern there were double,embankments,with two deep ditches of immense width,for protection against,floods-as river mahananda flowed in the east.The royal palace stood on the south end of the city,and further south were a chain of suburbs,thus from north to south the whole extent of ground gave the bearing & indications of urban occupancy 20 miles in extent.
The Fate of this ancient Buddhist city was no different to that of others,it too became a quarry of building materials, the old capital which had given its,name to the region,later to be called Bangal,was robbed to build Pandua city and Rajmahl,while in later periods the bricks and stones of Gaur’ were transported as merchandise to Malda,Murshidabad,Hoogly,Rangpur,and the more valuable stones to Calcutta. Which is all substantiated, by the East India Company revenue records returns, Later when Bungal was transferred  to the company one finds entry of an annual levy of RS.8000/-,as the ‘Gaur-brick royalty’,from the landlords in the neighbourhood of ‘GAUR’ who retained exclusive right of dismantling, it’s remaining bricks & stones.
Beside Minhaj-Usman we find that the Venetian Nicolo Conti was also in this city in the 14th century,a much more detailed account is that given by,De Barros who while in the company other Portuguese adventurers visited the city in 1537-38 AD,according to him along the embankments of the river were Villa’s ,Orchards,Gardens,and the city had 200,000 inhabitants, the streets were wide and straight with trees planted providing shade to the travellers.The last great inquiry of Gaur city was done by J.A.Ravenshaw in the 19th century,he was from the Bengal Civil Service and wrote a book,’Gaur : It’s ruins & inscriptions’.with photographs and foot-notes.
Even should you read ‘The Geographical Dictionary Of Ancient And Mediaeval India’ by Nundoo Lal Day.Published in 1927.He too agrees that,The Whole of later Bengal was ‘Denominated’ as Gaur//Gauda from its capital of the same name,The point stressed by above short detail of the historical geography of the region but testifies that old name of Bengal was Gaur//Gauda.
Leaving aside now the geography part,we can now focus on who actually can be pinpointed,as the architect,of this myth of Bengali language being old,and having within it, its own social mores and culture,so much stressed by its apologists. It was a Dr.M.Shahidullah born in Peyara,in the Chobbise [24] Pargana district of British Bengal [1885-1969] who took onto himself the task of distorting the already distorted new Bengali as will be explained subsequently,He did his B.A [Hons] in Sanskrit language in 1910 from City College Calcutta and a M.A in 1921 in comparative philology,again from City College Calcutta,Shahidullah was totally mesmerized by the aura and writings of Rabindarnath Tagore.In 1925 he started his thesis that Bengali originated from Magadhi rustic dialect,in 1926 he went to Paris university to study Vedic sanskrit,as well the ancient sanskrit,he spent time in Freiburg university Germany doing more research in his subject,and eventually received his Doctorate from Sorbonne university Paris in 1928.He later was the moving spirit behind the agitation of the new bengali as it emerged under the patronage of Tagore he was made the secretary of East Bengal literary society from 1936-1940.He was the man behind the ensuing the linguistic riots in East Bengal as it was only in 1956,that East Bengal became East Pakistan,His identity was never disclosed to any of the agencies,so undetected ,he ensured that even after independence from the British and Hindu Yoke no past records emerge which could negate his stance and thesis,for that he became,one of the leading founding father’s  of The Asiatic Society of Pakistan based at Dacca in 1952.,in the later publications of the ‘Journal of the Asiatic society of Pakistan’ to quote as an example Vol.vii june 1963,we find him as the president of the council of the Asiatic Society Pakistan,with emergence of Bangladesh it was made into,Asiatic Society of Bangladesh but shahdidullah had died in 1969 having done his job of distorting facts and causing the,later subsequent mayhem & For providing the wrong intellectual fire to the Mukhti-Bhani /Awami league, However as we see, he was later well rewarded, as he was given  posthumously in 1980 ‘The Swadhinto Padak’,the highest state award introduced by the BD Government in 1977.
The British under a hindu dominated class of teachers had established the Dacca college in 1841,Chittagong College 1869,Rajshahi college 1873,Comilla Victoria college 1899,Ananda Mohan college Mymensingh 1901,Brajalal College Khulna 1902,and the University of Dacca in 1921.
To further substantiate my argument now i take my reader to a book-reference ;’Handbook of Kaithi Character’ by George.A.Grierson Phd,of Her majesty’s Indian Civil Service’ published by Thacker,Spink & the Introduction on page 1 he states, ”By a recent order in 1880,of the Bengal Government ,the Urdu character has been abolished from all official documents, the Deva-Nagri character being substituted for it in printing, and the Kaithi character in papers written by hand’’. Thus this was the death blow to the old Gauri/Bengali- literature written in the Perso-Arabic script which had existed from the early 12th Century AD, from which it has never  recovered and the clueless gullible. Bengali Nationalist does Not, even know these facts, as people like Dr.M.Shahidullah ensured that, such facts never saw the light.[I have the original book quoted above].
Reverting back to the term Bengal,the ever fertile brahman says,that according to his fallacious geography ancient king named Banga ’formed one of the five outlying kings of Vedic Aryan India and his fabled city now washed away was located near present Chittagong,so if this extreme south eastern side was Bangla well what of those regions further north ? according to the 11th edition of encyclopaedia Brittanica,published in 1911,’’with a passage of time and expansion of east india company all its north-eastern factories,from Balasore on the Orissa coast to Patna,in the heart of Bihar,belonged to the ‘Bengal establishment,and as the British conquests crept higher up the rivers,the term came to be applied to the whole of Northern India,i.e The Presidency of Bengal,in contradistinction to those of Madras and Bombay, It even,eventually included all the British territories North of the Central Provinces,from the mouth of Ganges and Brahamaputra to the Himalaya’s,and the Punjab,It was only in 1831 that the geographic entity of North-Western Provinces was created ,which included Oudh & the united provinces [U.P],by 1911,the northern british india was divided into 4 Lieutant-Governorships,of the Punjab,The U.P,Bengal and Eastern Bengal & Assam,while NWFP remained under a commissioner.In the post 1911 period,Lieutant-Governorship of Bengal had namely : Bengal proper,Bihar,Orissa & Chota Nagpur,whereas in physical geography,Chota Nagpur separated the Bengal region from the central indian plateau-Orissa embraced the rich delta’s of the river Mahanadi and the neighbouring rivers,bounded by the bay of Bengal on the south-east,the sub-province of Bengal proper had comprised the higher valley of the Ganges from the spot where it issues from the lower confines of united-provinces boundary-line,between Bihar and Orissa was Chota-Nagpur,a portion of which in 1905 was given to central provinces,The valley of Ganges which was divided between West and East Bengal and Assam remained one of the most fertile and densely populated tracts of the British Empire,In this fertile tract of land, teemed with every product of the nature,Tea,Indigo,Turmeric,Lac,Opium,Wheat,Rice,all kind of Grains & pulses,pepper,ginger,betel-nut,quinine,beside costly spicies & drug related herbs and plants,oil-seeds,cotton,silk-worm mulberry,jute and other fibres,timber,and all kinds of Bamboo,coroneted palm ,in short-every vegetable product which could feed and cloth a people, and, the coal reserves were aside, for the Hindu Merchant or the English traders it was the ultimate heaven, of cheap labour and resources which could be taxed and exploited to the maximum.
Reverting back to the Language,before the british and hindu intellectual jumped in to create a new language,as seen in Bangla-Desh,before the 19th century,Bengal had four different mother-languages spoken within its Bengal proper entity,Aryan-Dravidian,Munda & Tibeto-Burman,This mythical Banga city mentioned above may or may not have existed as most fail to understand that all low lands where come the yearly sea floods ,and even those which are slightly higher were formed due to massive silt brought down by the criss-crossing rivers,and so the delta was formed,the sea-coast was much higher before,even the Vedic invasion cannot go beyond 1750 BC,the World had existed much before,so had the people of this Bengal even the people who did the Zoological Survey of India,between 19th and early 20th Century agree that Natives of Bengal are pre-Aryan.It is a fact that,Bengal remained the centre of Buddhist mystique,till the Muslim Invasion,and was converted subsequently to the Muslim Faith,Hinduism trickles in here more in the Mughal era,and floodgates open with British arrival who re-soughted, to the Time honoured Mass transportation to create their balance of power,with these new immigrants came their new faith, that of umpteen gods and black magical rites, and human sacrifices and Temple prostitutes, and the rigid caste system under the watchful eyes of their mentors the British who had their eyes but on the fertile lands above breifly explained.
The new Bengali language as we see  emerged in the 19th century was heavily laced with Sanskrit which again has been a artificial Language,a fact known as such to all philologist as such,the result was it could not be understood by any native of Bengal who had not received special instructions in it,late19th century and early 20th century saw two languages in Bengal; one was the Literary speech and other the old vernacular, the literary speech remained unintelligible to the common masses, even to people of West-Bengal what to say of East Bengal ,the  sanskritic drunk intellectuals of this new Bengali,even themselves failed to understand the old archaic words of  Sanskrit or those conjured, and passed by the pseudo-Bengali Intellectuals, whose meanings only they knew, the others not to be taken as ignorant accepted them, The reason was simple no average Bengali could read this new literature unless well versed in Vedic literature, by expunging the old Perso-Arabic loan words in the vocabulary and dictionary, as well the old script and burning the old literature, which was akin to their old social mores, the Bengali was left clueless of his past or his glory.
The sad part was even though the proponents of this new language thrust it down the Bengali’s throat these new words, his vocal organs were such that he was incapable of uttering these sounds, even the highly educated Bengali would read the Sanskrit word.’Laksmi ’but utter it as ‘Lakkhi’,the result only proved that it was not in anyway  a indigenous language, by any margin, end result only proved that the new Bengali words given in the new literature rarely represented those  spoken, this especially is seen in the case of muslim educated in the Mektab & madrsah used to old Bengali literature now destroyed [extracts : from page-733-Language-11th edition encyclopaedia brittanica].
The new modern Bengali emerged from Fort.William.Calcutta, in the 19th century AD as a child of the revival of Sanskrit learning’s.The old vernacular Bengali died by the following each decade,as this new Bengali language became a slave of Sanskrit, these new fetters imposed upon by this alien language, with its equally strange vocabulary, killed the old Bengali language, which now awaits the birth of a ‘True Nationalist’- Bengali, genius who alone can purge this new language of its pseudo-classical Sanskrit loan words.
Lastly what this foolish female,The one and only,Hasina Wajid fails to comprehend is,that,It is this  ancient-Magadhi, now infested with Sanskrit,which is the root of her, new Bengali,The actual Language of the very Bihari whom they detest and kill,on which Dr,M. Shahidullah spent his life reviving and polishing and injecting in the new Bengali-Dictionary.

Revisiting 1971 war crimes and Molla


Media reported the hanging of Abdul Quader Molla in Bangladesh, a leading Jamaat-i-Islami leader; the first person to go to gallows for the alleged massacre of 1971. A leading newspaper reported, “Molla’s lawyers had protested the original order, saying the death penalty was awarded based on evidence given by only one prosecution witness, who had also earlier given two different versions of the same event… UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay wrote to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina seeking a stay of the execution, saying the trial did not meet stringent international standards for the death penalty.” (12, 12, 2013)
A brief revisit to the 1971 genocide is in order. The facts are well detailed in a book Blood and Tears (Published 1974) by historian Qutubuddin Aziz. It details 170 eye witness accounts of atrocities on non-Bengalis and pro Pakistan Bengalis by Awami League militants and other rebels in 55 towns of then East Pakistan between March-April 1971 with photographs. Another interesting book by B Raman; “The Kaoboys of RAW: Down Memory Lane”’ talks about the role of Israel and Indian intelligence agencies in creation of Bangladesh in 1971. Raman has headed the counter-terrorism branch of India’s intelligence Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
The Indian Express in a piece by Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay, “Didn’t fight on front, yet proud to have helped Mukti Bahini’ writes, ““Kartik Kumar Ganguly, then a Major, was assigned to help a motley group of people from then East Pakistan — some deserters from the Pakistan Army but largely students, other young civilians, factory laborers and farmers — who formed the Mukti Bahini. His task, he says, was to take care of their various needs and give them courage… Ganguly, one of a number of Indian Army officers who interacted with the mukti joddhas, found them lacking in training but not in enthusiasm…”(Published December 16, 2011) Borrowing research from a treatise by Lt. Gen [R] Kamal Matinuddin ,“Tragedy of Errors; East Pakistan Crisis 1968-1971” states that the hard core team leaders of Mukhti-Bahini were the deserters, from the Bengali element [officers, junior-commissioned, non-commissioned, and other ranks] composed in the following Army and para-military formations:. Six battalions of East Bengal Regiment 5,000, East Pakistan Rifles [like our Rangers in West Pakistan] 16,000, Razakars 50,000, Bengali in East Pakistan police and allied services 45,000. This is a total of 116,000 forces. By 3rd March 1971 a de facto Bangladesh Government was in place. It was after the March 1971 crackdown by the Pakistan Army in Dacca and later all over East Pakistan that the 6 battalions of East Bengal Regiment as well as the forces above cited deserted and went over to the Indian Army. Colonel [retired] Osmani; the first commanding Officer 1st East Bengal Regiment in 1952 and later been made the Commandant of East Bengal Regimental Centre at Chittagong having retired from Pakistan Army in 1966 organized, with the help of the Indian Army; a militant wing of Awami League in July 1970. It was he who led the march past of the militant Awami League on 23rd March 1971,in front of Shiekh Mujib’s house. On 17April 1971 the Acting President of the defacto Bangladesh Government made him the Commander in Chief of the ‘Bengal Liberation Army’ with a rank of a ‘General.’
Although Pakistan Army had by end of April 1971 regained all border posts in East Pakistan and Bengal Liberation Army had suffered defeat, it was then that the Indian Army moved in. It set up 6 training centers and unlimited cash flow to induce younger student element from East Pakistan to join and be trained. All of these 6 training centers which encircled East Pakistan on the Indian side of the borders were under Brigadiers of Indian Army. Soon after another 70,000 young Bengali students inspired by Bengali patriotism joined these camps for a three week crash course including use of mortars, mines, machine-gun handling as well as use of PRC 25 wireless sets for communication. Selected 600 became the naval wing of Mukhti-Bahini; trained by Indian special forces as ‘Frogmen’ to plant explosives under the ships and take over boats, barrages and launches plying in the rivers of East Pakistan. Other radical elements arose as well from the men trained in the 6 Indian training centers .They were a force of 20,000 under the two sons of Sheikh Mujib namely Moin & Kamal and three other i.e. Rafiq, Siraj- ul- Islam & Tofail Ahmed. Yet another set of special forces were led by Major Zia-ur-Rehman [later President of BD] called ‘ZED FORCE’ another was ‘Kay force under Major Khalid Musharaff. Yet another was the ‘S’ force under Major Saifullah, another large force; the ‘Kader Bahini’ was under Abdul Kader Siddiqui who styled himself as the ‘Tiger of Tangail’ and had 20,000 men under him. (Reference ‘Dismemberment of Pakistan’ by Brig. Jagder Singh 1988) General Osmani divided his Mukhti-Bahini force of 1,0000 in ten sectors, each under a former officer of East Bengal Regiment . (Reference ‘ Bangladesh at War’ by Major General Saifullah 1989-page 149) Beside the various Bengali Liberation Army outfits the Indian Army had encircled East Pakistan with a total effective strength of 400,000 men. (Seepages -408,411-418, ‘Roots of Tragedy’ by Brig. Asif Haroon 2005)
Now comes the icing on the cake; the total strength of Pakistan Army was just 45,000 out which the actual fighting arm the infantry had 23,000 men, and 11,000 were men from armour, artillery, engineers, signals and ancillary units. A total of 34,000 men. .The other 11,000 were from civil armed forces like the police and other armed, yet non-combatants outfits who were West Pakistani personnel serving in East Pakistan.[page 52-The Betrayal of East Pakistan’ by Lt. Gen. A.K Niazi, Oxford Press.1998]
Martin Woollacott in a brilliant book review of “Dead Reckoning” by Sarmila Bose says, “Bose’s case-by-case arithmetic leads her in the end to estimate that between 50,000 and 100,000 people died in 1971.” He goes on to state, “The wider revision of the conflict’s history she implies exonerates the Pakistani government of any plot to rule the east by force, suggests that the Bengali leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman let the genie of nationalism out of the bottle but could not control it, and insists that the conflict was a civil war within East Pakistan…Yet when she underlines how stretched the Pakistani forces were, how unready they were for the role of suppression that was thrust on them, and how perplexed they were in the face of a Bengali hostility that seemed to them so disproportionate, what she writes rings very true. The killings by Bengalis of non-Bengali minorities, of Bengalis who stuck with the idea of a united Pakistan, and even of some Hindu Bengalis – all of whose deaths were attributed at the time to the Pakistani army – needs to be reckoned in any fair balance.” (The Guardian July 1, 2011)
Who was outnumbered, who committed atrocities upon who is now clear. Lack of research leads to formation of uneducated opinion. It was under these odds that men of Jamiat-e-Islami in counter outfits like Al Badar and Al Shams fought those who wanted to break Pakistan.
Reports announce death of three protesters and two activists from Awami League. These riots were to be expected in light of a very public execution of Molla. The headline of Wall Street Journal tellingly announced, “Bangladesh Executes Opposition Leader.” The hanging of Molla is likely to lead to polarization within the Bengali society. A friend wrote, “The hanging of the JI leader by Bangladesh was nothing but a witch hunt and a state sponsored atrocity!!”

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.

Tweets at:@yasmeen_9

America’s Iranian kitchen!


A cross post from:

Question: will an understanding between P5+1 and Iran that eased off restrictions on Iran resulting from an interim deal signed in Geneva in which Iran decided to accept restrictions on its nuclear development programme, bring peace to the region and a slacking off of the proxy wars? According to The Guardian Iran agreed to; “To stop enriching uranium above 5% reactor-grade, and dilute its stock of 20%-enriched uranium – a major proliferation concern. Not to increase its stockpile of low-enriched uranium. To freeze its enrichment capacity by not installing any more centrifuges, leaving more than half of its existing 16,000 centrifuges inoperable. Not to fuel or to commission the heavy-water reactor it is building in Arak or build a reprocessing plant that could produce plutonium from the spent fuel. To accept more intrusive nuclear inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, including daily visits to some facilities. (Published November 25, 2013) The foreign ministers who wrapped up the deal were those from the US, UK, Germany, China France and Russia.

Satellite pictures immediately outside of the city of Qom revealed that it was possibly a nuclear facility to produce nuclear fuel. Gay Samore, Obama’s coordinator for arms control and nonproliferation at the National Security Council believed that “if Iran manages to build a nuclear weapon, Obama’s goal of moving towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, would be set back by years, if not wiped out altogether.”(David E. Sanger pg 169:Confront and Conceal)
“The combination of continuous threats and increasing sanctions affected the Iranian economy. In the fall of 2010 the value of Iran’s currency fluctuated wildly. The fluctuation was clearly a manifestation of uncertainty, speculation and fear that were mostly caused by the cumulative effect of sanctions. The sanctions were also exacerbating the rate of inflation in Iran and reducing the rate of growth of the economy. For example, while the rate of growth in Iran’s real GDP in 2007 was 7.8%, the rate for 2010, according to the April 2011 report of the International Monetary Fund, was only 1.0%. The same report forecasted the rate of growth in Iran’s real GDP for 2011 to be 0%.” (SasanFayazmanesh for Iran Review December1, 2013)
The deal places the onus on Iran to take confidence building steps to assure the powers of their honorable intentions to follow the agreement through. Offering breathing space; this interim agreement signed in Geneva will offer Iran sanctions relief of $7bn over the next six months. Despite the deal USA will deploy 35, 000-strong force in the Gulf region, as well as an armada of ships and warplanes.
Then there are the religious-geographic dynamics that cannot be overlooked. Hezbollah & Iran in hands with Alawites of Syria have been aiming at reviving the Greater Iran, keeping in view their own schismatic ideology, the effects of which reflect in the current proxy war in Pakistan. The geographic link formed is Hezbollah on one end, Syria and Iraq forming the center with Iran at the other end converging to solidify a unified religious school of thought.
America has failed in containing Sunni radicalism over the years. Al-Qaeda, Taliban – the pot is boiling. Strategy to take on these outfits has no doubt decapitated them to a certain degree, but their base has also broadened from Al-Shabab to Hamas to Abu Nidal Organization to so many others who are anti-west.
America, besides containing Iran on the nuclear front will be intelligent to use this new alliance to her advantage. First, investing in Iranian economy will yield ingress within Iran; second, it will help use this alliance for a better balance against the Sunni states. USA had boxed herself in the corner by deeply engaging herself with Sunni states. India having the second largest Shia population after Iran stands to benefit from the alliance. Lest we forget; in 1995 the first Tripartite Agreement was signed between India, Iran and Russia, when Iranian President Rafsanjani visited India focused on the opening of Bandar Abbas port for the Indian goods and trade, linking with Russia and later Eastern Europe. This was followed by 2003 Tripartite Defense and Trade Agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan.The details of the agreement under discussion are the brainchild of Puneet Talwar who is an Indian-American and works as Special Assistant to the President and national Security Council Senior Director for Iran, Iraq, and the Gulf states reports The Times of India.(November 26, 2013)
Going back in the not-so-long-ago history of US-Iran relationship; Iran was the biggest arms purchaser from US in late the 1960’s. Iran was known to be America’s “Regional Policeman,” Iran being pre-dominantly Shia Muslim country, a strong, US-supported Iran was a threat to the pre-dominantly Sunni based Muslim neighbors- all but to India. Removal of the Shah in 1978-1979 by the Iranians themselves by a strongly pro-Islamist and anti-west regime put an end to the relationship. Now, with the present Iran policy showing flexibility and being in an agreeable frame of mind to play the US game-once again; the regional dynamics are changing all over again and may in all probability; accelerate the proxy wars, also within Pakistan. So the political pundits who claim surprise and shock over a possible US-Iran strategic partnership need to realize it’s a relationship going back to history.
On November 26, 2013 a leading local daily reported a rocket was fired ‘from Iran’ killing a girl and causing injury to six others as it hit three houses in Tump town of Kech district. According to the report, “An official of Kech administration said that one of the houses belonged to Mullah Omer, believed to be a commander of an Iran-based religious outfit, Jaish-ul-Adl. The two other houses were of Mullah Omer’s brother Abbas and his close relative Mohammad Arif Jaish-ul-Adl surfaced about two months ago and claimed killing 15 Iranian Pasdaran (border guards) whose bodies were found in an Iranian border area.” This incident supports my reading of the situation; Pakistan stands to lose from the alliance. Balochistan Chief Minister is said to have informed the Federal Government and requested the Interior Minister to take up this violation of respecting the border with Iranian officials. Whether or not this was undertaken is not clear. Not defending such elements; the territorial sovereignty of Pakistan is turning into a joke.
I have always maintained that there are no “friends” in international relations. There are strategic partnerships. This is the way the world works. In a world where different powers want to increase their areas of influence and achieve greater space to operate, the friends of today can become opposing forces of tomorrow and the opposing forces of today can become the friends of tomorrow. A hundred per cent pro-Iranian policy by the US is not on the cards. US will have to maintain a strong balance between Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel. The US and Israel have been at odds for long on the issue of dealing with the “Iranian bomb.” Whereas US did not contemplate a direct attack on Iran, however,” Israel did attack six of Iran’s nuclear facilities” states David E Sanger. He goes on to say that this was without the knowledge of United States in 2009. Calling all sides to restrain from further escalation, “it deployed more Patriot anti-missile batteries and Aegis cruisers around the region as a warning to Iran not to retaliate.”(Confront and Conceal)
“The forces of a powerful ally can be useful and good to those who have recourse to them… but are perilous to those who become dependent on them. (“Niccolo Machiavelli, “The Prince”)

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.


Tweets at:@yasmeen_9

Hilli-Bogra Sector: 205 Brigade: East Pakistan 1971 War

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By: Naveed Tajammal

AbbujanThis short article is dedicated to the everlasting memory of the men of 205 Brigade[ Hilli-Bogra Sector] Pakistan Army, who fought & fell fighting the Indians in East Pakistan, in the 1971 war.
Of late much has been written on the subject of the fall of Dacca,a grave misconception exists that Pakistan Army buckled under the Indian Invasion without putting up a fight,Hence it is to clear this, that this article has been written.
My father after remaining in Command of 54 Brigade in Sialkot for two years was in October 1971 posted to GHQ as the Director Staff Duties, a much coveted post in those days,In early November 1971 the War was imminent,new units were being raised and hectic preparations had started for an all out War with India,my father was never a chair-borne soldier and hated the uniformed babu’s,so he requested the CGS [Chief of General Staff] that he be given a command of a Brigade,in view of the looming war,CGS showed his helplessness,and said, that it was beyond his powers to do so,however the Chief of Staff could, should he so wished too,my father put in a request to seek a personal interview,which was arranged.General Hamid told my father that there was No vacancy on the Western Front however should he volunteer to go to East Pakistan,it was possible,as most of the officers being posted to East Pakistan were reporting sick or using their contacts to get their postings cancelled,and there was a queue of officers in East Pakistan awaiting to be sent back to West Pakistan,my father without any hesitation said he would like to volunteer to go to East Pakistan,shortly after the interview my father received a call from the staff officer to the Military Secretary [MS] that he was being posted to East Pakistan on his request,and his formal posting orders were being typed.
On 17th November 1971,my father reached Dacca,on 18th Nov,General Nazar hussain his new GOC [General Officer Commanding] 16 Division who was visiting the Corps HQ at Dacca took him to Bogra in his helicopter,soon after the same day General Niazi too arrived in Bogra as he was visiting all the new units which had been flown in from West Pakistan,and given their new locations,and met my father,who was to take over the 205 brigade,on 19th November my father started his first official visit of the units under his new command,but by mid-day orders from Corps HQ had been received that a helicopter was on its way to collect my father back to Dacca,he reached late in evening and met the COS eastern command Brig.Baqar Siddique and inquired the reason of his recall,who informed him that Commander Eastern Command,Would like to see him urgently,as he had some other task in mind which he wanted to entrust my father with.So my father went over to the Flag Staff House and met General Niazi,and asked him,why he had been called back,General Niazi told my father that they had intelligence reports that India was launching its offensive Tomorrow i.e 20th November,and so i have called you back to remain in reserve for some other operational task,my father told him,’Sir after having an interview with the Chief of Staff I have come as a volunteer to Command a fighting brigade and if Not required I be sent back forthwith to West Pakistan or be allowed to take command of the Brigade allotted to myself.General Niazi in his usual style remarked ‘Shera,I know you well, I wanted you for some other important Task,but If india does not attack tonight you can go back to Bogra and take over your command tomorrow morning,next day my father met General Niazi and reminded him of his words,so immediately a helicopter was put at my fathers disposal to take him to Bogra,it was around Mid-Day 20th November 1971 that my father took command of his 205 Brigade officially.The purpose of these dates and conversations given above was inform the reader that,what a short time my father had to prepare his units and plan his defences,on the same day he visited 4 FF forward defences ,at Hilli ,and subsequently other units of his command i.e  8 Balluch and 13 FF.
On the night 23/24 November 1971,20 Mountain Indian Division launched its first attack on my fathers Brigade positions.
It would be pertinent to note that under the command of Major-General.Lachhman Singh,who was the opposing Commander,fighting my fathers 205 Brigade,had Four indian Infantry Brigades 202,165,66 &340,one armoured brigade [3rd armour brigade] one engineer Brigade[471] and the 20 Mountain Division artillery augmented by 33 Corps reserves beside the  6 BSF[Indian border security forces] and Mukhti-Bahini battalions.
The ratio of manpower needs no further elaboration,General.Lachhman Singh writes in his book ‘Indian Sword Strikes in East Pakistan’-page 34,”On the other hand most of the senior officers took no risk and surrendered as soon as a threat developed to their Head Quarters or to their lives.Brigadier Tajammul was the sole exception,He showed fanatical will to fight,even at the cost of his life…..on page 143 of his book,General Lachhman states,..”by about 0830 hrs 16 December 1971,Commanding Officer 80 Field Regiment ,Brigade-Major 205 Brigade,GSO-3,and 50 jawans of the Brigade Head Quarter surrendered to our troops.The Brigade Major gave information that their Brigade Commander with his Orderly and a couple of Officers had decided to break out of encircled Bogra fortress,and join one of their Brigade units at Naogoan’.However He was caught by mukhti-Bahini a few kilo-meters  outside Bogra….He was in uniform with his badges of ranks and mukhti-bahini realized that he was a important man-He was badly beaten with his wrists broken along with fingers and his head was bandaged,when on 17 December 1971 he was brought before me.”
General Sukhwant Singh commenting on the performance of 205 Brigade wrote in his book,”The Liberation of Bangladesh” new dehli 1979.”It was the only battle Indian Army fought to reduce the Pakistani fortress in the entire Bangladesh operation,This operation demonstrated to the indians the futility of attacking Pakistani Fortresses…”
General Niazi commenting on the performance of 205 Brigade,has this to say in his book,’The Betrayal Of East Pakistan’ oxford press.1998-page 140;”…One Pakistani Brigade crippled 20 Mountain Division which was backed by tremendous Artillery and Air fire power,20 Division consisted of 5 brigades and one tank brigade,six BSF and the mukhti-bahini forces,they were supported by  divisional and corps artillery,and they had complete Air Supremacy,with No Pakistani aircraft to counter them,our positions were attacked by indian aircraft several times a day,Indian General Sukhwant singh admits that five of Lieut-General Thapan’s brigades were laying Siege to the Hilli Fortress”.
And lastly General Niazi adds in his book,page-145,with reference to the war performance of my father,that,”Brigadier.Tajammal Hussain Malik,had volunteered to fight in East Pakistan,I wanted to keep him for the Defence of Dacca,but he insisted on going to a front-line brigade.He was sent to 205 brigade under General Nazar.I had full faith in him as a good commander and a brave leader.He had proved his mettle in the 1965 War.He displayed the qualities of a true soldier of Islam and gave the toughest battle to the Indians.I Recommended him for the award of ,”Nishan e Haider”,but GHQ ignored him and his Heroic deeds as many chair-bound soldiers and sycophants had to be catered for.I insisted on his promotion to Major-General as some people were afraid of him,because of his unflinching faith in Islam.He was promoted and became the only Brigadier from East Pakistan to attain this rank’.

Iran-Persia : A Historical Perspective Part II

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

To read Part I please click:

(Part II)

Naveed PicNaveed Tajammal

In 1853 The British forced the Persian Government to sign yet another treaty with them,the focus now was ‘Herat’,the eventual cause,which had led to the First Afghan War,a background to which is a must,before proceeding further,in the early 19th century the Russian threat to British Indian Possessions,was foremost,it should be remembered that till 1838,the Russian boundary in Asia ran from the North-East corner of the sea of khazar’s [caspian sea] up the Ural river to Orenburg and so eastwards.The British on the other hand were still Cis-Sutlej,Ranjit Singh’s state had to be annexed.Persia keeping in view her geographic location was very vital for the future forward policies,of the British Indian Empire-earlier too in 1805 when Napoleon had declared war on Russia,the French who were always a arch enemy of British, had sent their envoy to Tehran,with an offer to restore the lost province of Georgia’ back to Persians by means of a French Army-If the Shah of Persia revoked his British alliance and joined the French in a invasion of British India across Khorassan [Afghanistan] Fateh Ali Shah feared the French as he saw in them a people who had only recently executed their monarch & most of their Aristocracy in the French Revolution,and so looked to British for a better offer,The Parleys between Persia-Calcutta-Whitehall [London] took their own Time and the French envoy kept the full pressure on the Shah,who gave in to the French Demand of being part of a joint invasion of British India,via Herat & Kandhar,Napoleon meanwhile signed a treaty with Czar of Russia at Tilsit,in which no mention was made of restoration of Georgia to Persians,The Shah of Persia did a U-turn and returned back in the fold of British.
In 1853,the treaty signed between Britian and Persia was very clear about ”Herat’,The words drafted were very clear ;”That the Persian Government never had,nor will ever have,any idea of taking possession,assuming the sovereignty,or governing either Herat’ or the Herat’ territory,or its people,and will not interfere in any manner whatsoever in the internal affairs of Herat’,so that they may remain independent in their own country and manage their own affairs,without interference of anyone………..”.
The British by this treaty created yet another forward buffer state,against Russia,by granting independence to Herat,however in March 1857,a need arose for a fresh treaty,again focused on Herat affairs,as per article 6 of this Treaty-The Shah of Persia relinquished all claims  to the territory & City of Herat & countries around it..Article 11-Covered all ”Pecuniary Claims of all British subjects upon the Government of Persia-to be paid within a year’.
Herat later was taken over by the Amir of Kabul on 27 May 1863,and thereafter annexed with Kabul.
The invention of Telegraph,was another reason why British were keen to maintain good relations with the Shah of Persia,from 1861,onward a series of Treaties were signed between Persia and British,so that the Telegraph line passing along the coast line of Persian Gulf was well guarded,The Russains had another rival multi-national company in the same business,i.e Messers.Siemens [The Indo-European Telegraph Company] which till the end of Czars rule in Russia operated under Russian Protection,only after soviets took over did they change sides and moved under the British Protection,So we see the emergence of multi-national mother companies,once again in 19th century [old multi-national trading companies like the East India Company,having been taken over by their states],however it was the Telegraph Convention signed with King of Persia and Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain, in 1865,which brought the British as the Guardians of the Persian Gulf,along with the land line,a submarine cable was as well laid along the Persian Gulf Coast line.
The Russians seem to emerge masters of manipulation they never let a opportunity lapse to create problems for the British,the best example can of the incident of Ayub Khan son of Sher Ali & one time king of Afghanistan[Oct 1879-May 1880],who had taken refuge in Persia in October 1881,and was kept interned in Tehran under an agreement concluded on 17 April 1884,between Britain &Persia with a hefty pension of £8000/- per annum to be paid by the crown ,Ayub Khan on prompting of Russains and with the help of Yahya Khan,The Persian Minister for foreign affairs,escaped from Tehran with a aim to return back to Afghanistan and raise a revolt against Amir Abdur Rehman,with the help of Russians,as well keep the old interests of Persians in view focused on Herat,Ayub Khan’s futile attempt failed,and he returned back to Meshad,and surrendered himself to the British Consul-General at Meshad,in November 1884, to keep a close watch on him,as well remove him from the orbit  of the Russians,Ayub Khan was first sent to the Turkish Frontier and later via Baghdad sent to British India.
Even in the late 19th Century the Russians & British had a very strong grip in the internal affairs of Persia,The Shah of Persia as is seen,all along, had No Will of his own,if he went Against British it was on the behest of Russians or vice versa,After the Assassination of Nassir ud din,who had ruled for almost 50 years,his son Muzzfar ud din who was Governor of Azerbiajan,and resided in Tabriz ,came to Tehran accompanied,by Russian & British Counsels to be enthroned on Tehran Throne on 1st May 1896,so we see the Position,Power & Prestige of Persian monarch,was that of a Puppet.The new Shah of Persia was bankrupt the state of Persia even did Not have a Million pounds to pay salaries to its Army or thousands of state functionaries,the shah of Persia had requested London Capitalists for a loan to run his state,these vultures were always every ready provided the returns were ensured,so they agreed in principle to lend him £1,250,000 /- @ 5% on a guarantee that,the custom houses of Fars province [actual Persia]as well of all ports on the Persian gulf be handed over to the London investors,however they would deduct from this loan a sum of £225,000 /-,as first payment due,and give a loan of £ 1,025,000 /-The affairs of the state of Persia were so poor that the Persian’s agreed,However the contract could not be signed,the Russians came up with a better offer,and gave them 22.5 million roubles loan [ £ 2,400,000] @ 5% and placed their own agents as cashiers,on the custom posts, throughout Persia,but for those in Fars and along the gulf,as they were with London investors who had meanwhile earlier given Persian’s a loan of just £50,000/-@6% .
The Shah of Persia in 1902 was awarded the ‘Order of Garter by King Edward 7th,through a mission sent to Tehran headed by Viscount Downe, and the ceremony took place on 2nd February 1903. But here we must pause and study what this Order of Garter is ?

The Order of Garter” meaning thereby, “the prime order of Christendom “ was awarded to the following five: The Prelate, or the Bishop of Winchester: The Chancellor, the Registrar, the King of Arms, or the Chief Herald (servant) at Windsor, the seat of the British Monarch, and lastly to the Usher, the man in charge of the “black rod:”An ebony stick which had a gold top of lion, the symbol of British Monarchy. The Usher was the Sergeant at Arms of the monarch in the House of Lords.One need not add here more as to position in which British held The Shah of Persia.
A week later after this award,a new Commercial Treaty between Britain & Persia was signed by virtue of which reforms in the customs were secured meaning raise in taxes,and Persians were placed in the category,of ”Most -Favoured-Nation’.
In 1903 the British started the survey of interior Persia to see the potential of its future investments,This was done by the British Board of Trade,and a similar mission was sent to Southern Persia under the wings of the ‘Upper India Chamber of Commerce’,The Bengal Chamber & The Indian Tea-Cess Company,the conclusion reached was that the best policy to earn maximum on investments in the future trade,could only be done under Russo-British Convention by dividing Persia into ‘Spheres of Influence’.This Convention was signed on 31st August 1907,the salient features of this accord were that lines were drawn on the Map of Persia dividing it in the Spheres earlier mentioned with a buffer or neutral zone.
Which Technically mean’t the Sovereignty of Persia ceased to Exist.
The Persian Government was very liberal in her Foreign Concessions,that of the whole Caspian sea fisheries netting was granted to a Russian, M.Lainozon,which continued till 1919,however even the soviets took further concessions and it was only in 1927,a joint Russo-Persian association emerged,Baron Reuter had got a concession grant of 60 years of the Imperial Bank of Persia,which was established under a British Royal Charter in 1889,among other concessions were the issue of bank notes which should be a legal tender;the service of the treasury;and the rights of mining,iron,copper,lead,mercury etc in all Persia.
The Railway lines too awarded with the consent of Russian & British Governments in 1891,the same was the case of Carriage Roads,which were likewise awarded with consent of both Governments mentioned above,in 1890 Jacques Poliakoff of St.Petersburg obtained a concession for a loan Bank,which was in reality a agency of the Russian, State Bank.In 1895,the French Government obtained a jackpot concession from the Persian Government,which granted them in perpetuity the exclusive right of searching for objects of antiquarian interests in Persia.In 1901 Mr.William Knox D’Arcy secured an exclusive concession for exploitation of natural gas,petroleum,asphalt and ozokerite throughout the Persian state territories..with exception of five provinces of Gilan,Mazandran,Khorassan,Astrabad and Azerbaijan,this concession was for 60 years and covered a area of 500,000 Square miles,in 1909 a company known as Anglo-Persian Oil Company was formed to take over and operate this concession.
Lastly it would be pertinent to note,that  Persia since its rise under Safavid & as we see till now early 20th Century survived purely as a Buffer state,indeed by this time it had 636,000 square miles of Territory,the effective army was just 30,000, to defend it,and the Navy had only three streamers ‘Persepolis’  600 tons with one 8.5 mm and three 7.5 mm steel Krupp guns which remained stationed on the Gulf coast,other was ‘Sussa’ 36 Tons stationed on River Karun,and lastly was a yatch’ presented by The Czar of Russia , 120 Tons and remained stationed on the port of Resht,Caspian Sea.
[to be continued…]

Rohingya: The rejected people!


Black DPIf you wish to know how it feels to be disowned by the country of your birth and the birth of your forefathers in the most literal sense one can be disowned; the right people to ask would be the Rohingya of Mynmar, once Burma.
Their status is officially of being “stateless” courtesy the 1982 (Citizenship) Law. The term “citizen” used within means a Burma citizen. Clause 3 of the Act states as follows: “Nationals such as the Kachin, Kayah, Karen, Chin, Burman, Mon, Rakhine or Shan and ethnic groups as have settled in any of the territories included within the State as their permanent home from a period anterior to 1185 B.E., 1823 A.D. are Burma citizens.” With the stroke of a pen, all those whose ancestors settled to Mynmar post 1823 have no citizenship, no claim to any rights, their presence is undocumented and they are immigrants for all practical purposes. The law states the ethnic races by name whose settlement is ‘legal’, excluding those not named even anterior to 1823. In educated western democracies like U.S, citizenship requires patient steps – not a generation after generation of denial in spite on grounds of ethnicity. Originally from North Rakhine in Mynmar, many Rohingyas left for Bangladesh to avoid the crackdown of 1978. Under pressure internationally; Burma was pushed into a repatriation agreement with Bangladesh. In a sly move, within a period of three years of this acceptance, the Burmese government enacted the 1982 citizenship law.
This poses an interesting question: can a law have a retrospective effect so to take away the existing citizenship, relegating them to “stateless” individuals? If the government found it imperative to enact a law, it must not completely overturn the rights and duties existing as in the case under question. This is reflected clearly in the concept of ‘Principle of Legality.’ The rationale is to ensure that all actions are based on well thought out legal reasoning and are not politically motivated. The absurdity of laws having retrospective effects is laid out in many international laws and spelled out in international treatiesie1949 Geneva Convention III (Article 99, first paragraph): “No prisoner of war may be tried or sentenced for an act which is not forbidden by the law of the Detaining Power or by international law, in force at the time the said act was committed.” Therefore, there is an estoppel that does not offer a carte blanche to institute laws having retrospective effect.
Not being awarded a citizenship status has other serious ramifications. A Muslim ethnic minority, without a “Citizen Certificate” awarded to legal citizens under the law; these ‘non-citizens’ must possess special permits from the authorities according to “IRIN humanitarian news and analysis,” (applicable since 1994) to marry. Rohinga couples are not permitted under law to have more than two offsprings, this restriction apparently does not apply to any other ethnic race residing in Mynmar, and they must also inform the authorities if leaving their village. Effectively what this law has done is to create a permanent class of people without any legal rights and open to persecution of sorts. By so doing, does not the given law ethnically discriminate? Hate speech against racial and ethnic groups is a well-established and recognized limitation on right to freedom of expression and speech. What then is this law if not a manifestation of the same?
All civilized nations form laws for all its citizens – not to victimize a group within. An example of this is the text of Executive Order No 11246 of the United States Labor Department that deals with Ethnic/National origin, Color, Race, Religion & Sex Discrimination. It states, “Executive Order 11246 prohibits covered federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, and requires affirmative action to ensure equal employment opportunity without regard to those factors.”
Luke Hunt reporting on November 23, 2013 for The Diplomat states that the Myanmar government rejected an appeal by the United Nations to grant citizenship to its Muslim Rohingya, “Who the government insists are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.”There are by a rough estimate more than 200,000 Rohingya who have been displaced mainly due to discrimination. IRIN report shares this number is excluding those displaced in June 2012 violence against them. These clashes led to complete destruction of Rohingya homes. (Published November 16, 2012) The violence that erupted was the result of tensions between the Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine. This was followed by an allegation leveled against some Rohingya men of having raped a Rakhine woman. This led to a further displacement of 75,000, most of whom are Rohingya, says IRIN. These ill-fated people still languish in Sittwe Township housing refugee camps. The camp life in Mynmar is miserable. Reports claim it’s extremely difficult to get aid to the IDPs in the Sittwe Township refugee camps. Medical services are almost non-existent – the medical workers having received death threats.
According to a Human Rights Watch report “Burmese authorities and members of Arakanese groups have committed crimes against humanity in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in Arakan State since June 2012,” (Published April 22, 2013) it tells anyone interested in knowing of the 153 page report available ; of the “role of the Burmese government and local authorities in the forcible displacement of more than 125,000 Rohingya and other Muslims and the ongoing humanitarian crisis.” Rohingya have been “doubly” discriminated against, if such a term exists. First, by denial of citizenship, second by the current surge of violence against them.
The question that emerges here is as to why Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San SuuKyi silent on this humanitarian issue? Her party bagged majority seats in lower parliament in 2012 elections. Sources say she plans to run for President, come 2015. Aung San SuuKyi’s silence is also being seen by some political pundits as a tactic to win support of the pre-dominant Buddhist majority who comprise a major chunk of the “citizens” in Mynmar. It is an effort to garner political support for an ambitious future, speaking up for “non-citizen” Rohingya may result in damaging her popularity with the local Buddhists and Buddhists monks who seem to have been sucked into this vortex of hatred. To Ms Aung San SuuKyi I want to say; history will judge you. Judge you it will. You have a choice. You can either turn your back on the plight of those deserving of the attention of a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Or, you can go ahead and win the Presidential elections in 2015. If you win the Rohingy as their citizenship, you will still go on to become the President since you will return them; their honor. And with this you will win the respect of every person in the world. This genre of respect that does not come with winning of awards. The choice is yours.
To the Buddhists around the world; followers of a religion of peace, love and meditation, I say; do not let the image of your religion be tarnished because of petty local politics in one country. You must join hands and let the world see that fairness and love has the power to be above local politics. This blatant unfairness must be bought to an end.
To the UN I beseech; pass a resolution against these atrocities and ensure citizenship for the local Rohingya. The bloody atrocities against them are a clear case of ethnic discrimination. UN must play the role of a strong international organ.
I hope someone out there is listening!

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.



tweets at: @yasmeen_9

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