Wednesday, February 18, 2009

SWAT the US & NATO out of South Asia
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Comment #20. February 18, 2009 9:35 pm

Will Afghanistan become Obama's Vietnam?

US and NATO military operations in this region have very seriously exacerbated the already longstanding regional tensions and rivalries in Afghanistan/Pakistan western border areas, of which the Swat Valley is a part.

Both the US and NATO which is in any case US-dominated, should get out now.

Q. Your US drone can spot so-called militants from the air because they are wearing T for Taliban or Q for Al Queda T shirts?
When families who already have so little, lose fathers, mothers and children to US/NATO operations there is bound to be longterm bitterness and revenge.

The US is almost certainly under-reporting civilian casualties in Swat and adjoining areas..

Let the various local fractious factions sort out their differences (which go back centuries), without the self-proclaimed superpower futilely flexing its muscle in the region.

The flow of money, weapons and equipment into the region from various sources including the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran needs to be monitored and stanched. The UN has not done any weapons monitoring and it should.

The worrying question is — who will proactively ensure that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons will not fall into the hands of the Taliban now dangerously poised within striking distance of Islamabad? Again, the UN must be proactive rather than merely reactive to US demands based on its narrow interests, in the Security Council.
Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
— Chithra KarunaKaran

Islam in India: The Secular Democratic Project of Lived Pluralism

Comment #108.
February 18, 2009 11:45 am
a version of my post below appeared on:
Islam in India: The Secular Democratic Project of Lived Pluralism
New York Times copyright
February 18th, 2009 8:37 am

Friedman's piece is both courageous and timely. These are words that must be pondered upon as much by the US State Department as by every South Asian.

People like the 17th century scholar-soldier Dara Shukoh, murdered son of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the freedom fighter Maulana Azad (Gandhi called him "my conscience keeper") and contemporary outspoken writer Salman Rushdie, who stood up to fatwa, all come out of this proud tradition of thousands of years of LIVED secular pluralism. We people of diverse faiths as well as agnostics and atheists, have lived together, grown tolerant of each other in our lush (rather than harsh) natural environment and in the process, discovered treasures in each others' culture.
In India Democracy is not some borrowed western concept. It has emerged out of a lived experience of discursive mingling of Greek, Hindu,Buddhist and absolutely YES, Islamic ideas, not to speak of Sikh, Christian, Judaic, Zoroastrian, Dalit and indigenous tribal ideas.

The Ayodhya mosque demolition and the post-Godhra pogroms are blots on India's secular plural national conscience and character. Still, a billion plus Indians have maintained restraint in the face of such provocations incited by criminal politicians who have yet to be brought to justice. We cannot rest until they are.

However religious tolerance and secular pluralism are not the same thing as developing uncompromisingly intolerant attitudes and policy about hunger, homelessness and inequality of opportunity. Indians badly need to develop that sort of intolerance.

The Indian secular democratic project of lived pluralism which translates as SOCIAL JUSTICE, has miles to go.

Chithra KarunaKaran

No Way no How not Here by Thomas Friedman
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