propecia pregnancy

Geneva Security Forum

The greatest challenge to civilisation is the upsurge in terrorism in the world, this threat force-multiplied manifold since the 9/11 benchmark. Meant to contain and eliminate this menace, the war waged almost solely by govts has instead resulted in proliferation of terrorism. Annunciation of mission statement requires clarity, it is now abundantly clear that in both Afghanistan and Iraq this was ambiguous, the real objective being regime and systems change. Because the Talibaan refused to give up Osama Bin Laden, the perpetrator of 9/11, in fact seeming to condone his actions, their removal from governance of Afghanistan was justifiable. The exercise in Iraq had oil written all over it, the script to dominate the Middle East calling for the overthrow of the Syrian and Iranian regimes by peaceful political means if possible, by force if not. Once political and military aims are at cross purposes, the resulting tactical confusion affects strategic objectives.

Share

Towards A Peaceful Afghanistan

Five years after naively occupying fixed defences along conventional lines and receiving the drubbing of their lives, mainly by B-52 bombers, the Talibaan have re-grouped in the districts around their original base Kandahar and are resorting to classic hit-and-run tactics, the hallmark of guerillas everywhere. During the 80s the Afghan Mujahideen outfought the combined might of the Soviet Union and a strong Afghan Army, multiple times more men, material and helicopters than that presently deployed by NATO. The Mujahideen could then count on a constant flow of arms, equipment and other supplies from (and through) Pakistan. Every one of the nine Mujahideen factions had a Talibaan contingent. After the Soviets left in 1989, the excesses of brutal warlords, corrupt officials appointed by the Northern Alliance led by the Tajiks who controlled Kabul, the general anarchy prevailing and the emergence of a charismatic one-eyed cleric in 1993-94 made them into a unified force.

Share

The Divide Between Islam and The West

Over the last few years, the simmering discontent among the world’s Muslim community at actions taken by the West in the fight against terrorism is because of the perception that it was aimed directly against them. This has slowly as a consequence given way to unbridled anger and animosity. The tragedy of 9/11 acted as a catalyst that triggered a series of events that not only tarnished the image of Muslims but also of Islam. With almost one-fifths of the world’s population of 6.5 billion, after 9/11 Islam became projected as a radical faith whose followers were highly intolerant of all other faiths and ideologies. Muslims were branded as fanatics, an image shaped by the extreme actions of a miniscule minority that exists on the fringes of religious societies of all ilk. Neither Islam nor the muslim world is seen as it should be according to the progressive values of the faith. Islam is not a radical faith – this is patently false and erroneous. The progressive values of the faith are quite different from what the world hears today. Islam preaches tolerance, leniency, love, forgiveness and understanding etc. Muslims in general have not committed any transgressions, the sins of a handful of terrorists of Osama bin Laden’s terror network are being visited upon their Muslim brethren. Concurrently the popularity of the USA has taken a severe beating, becoming the focus of muslim anger despite being in the forefront of giving aid and lending a helping hand to the world’s deprived and the prosecuted irrespective of caste, creed, religion or any other consideration. Muslims now view the USA with suspicion and hostility because the policies being pursued by the US seem to be singularly insensitive to muslim sensitivities. Thankfully, US President Bush now seems to have taken note of the situation and is making an effort to bridge the gap.

Share

Why 9/11?

Pope Benedict’s sacrilegious remarks deeply hurt the sentiments of Muslims everywhere, underscoring why 9/11 was a catastrophe waiting to happen. The Pope gave credence to distorted beliefs based on perceptions than on facts. The conventional wisdom about 9/11 is that while a whole lot of Muslims were aggrieved at the treatment being meted out to them, particularly in the last decade or so, a virulent militant section represented by Osama Bin Laden (OBL) was bent on extracting vengeance, as well as highlighting the “cause”. A number of deadly schemes carried out (or aborted) did not get world attention over a prolonged period.

Share

The Demise of Objectivity

The fag end of the 20th century saw freedom of the Press run on a fail-safe line in many first world countries. One of the major casualties of the 21st Century is objectivity in (and of) the media. Objectivity for the most part remains an endangered species in third world countries run by authoritarian rule, raising its head as an aberration for brief periods. Paraphrasing Mark Twain, while the rumours of its demise (in the free world) are greatly exaggerated, there are increasing signs that the media torch the Viet Nam generation lit in the US in the 60s and early 70s has come a full circle. In the wake of 9/11 the conservatives who tried to muzzle the free media in the US in the 50s using the bogey of communism (McCarthyism) are now increasingly active again. In the late 20th Century, Fox TV would have gone bankrupt with its hard rightist stance, today one of Fox’s leading anchors has become the US President’s Press Secretary.

Share

Separating Fact From Fiction

As individuals we need to face upto the truth. One of the great contradictions of life is how knowing the truth we pretend it to be otherwise. Sooner or later this failure to recognize facts as they are creates problems of some magnitude. Regretfully, even academics of good knowledge and standing tend to have their judgment coloured by emotions on major issues. How can we then blame the masses for being blind to the obvious? We have a collective propensity as a nation to follow individual inclinations to look a fact in the eye and than blithely deny its existence. In the present world environment where we are held culpable for our words and deeds, particularly after 9/11, this can have dangerous consequences.

Share

Crime, War and Punishment

Even without a damning report of the UN inspectors, the US is seemingly poised to go to war to oust the Saddam regime from Iraq. The Brits are the only country firmly in support, quite a few allies are wavering publicly about their commitment. While a “smoking gun” in the form of direct evidence is still not forthcoming, the secondary reasons include the anticipated destabilization of the entire Middle East because of the backlash among the muslim populace. Purists also argue about a legal basis to initiate war. In DAVOS on Sunday Jan 26, US Secretary of State calmed the fears of the world’s elite while giving a logical explanation of present US troop deployment in the region. However, he said that if need be the US was prepared to go alone.

Share

The War Goes On

The war in Afghanistan has entered its six month, the concerted air offensive giving way to occasional airstrikes but mostly ground battles against suspected Al Qaeda/Taliban strongholds. As “Operation Anaconda” has shown, the claws may have been blunted, the sting still remains. And so it will, for some time to come.

The US ran the war according to what was their actual primary mission, to topple the Taliban from power and thus deny terrorism in the form of Osama led Al-Qaeda a firm base to operate from. For the record the war on terrorism was primarily meant to bring Osama Bin Laden (OBL) to justice, however Mullah Umar and OBL continue to evade capture. Bin Laden’s No.2 in Al-Qaeda Abu Zubayda, was hauled up recently during raids on urban hideouts in Faisalabad city. On the premise that the tougher they seem the softer they are, he should be a mine of useful information to the US, for whom every bit of knowledge about Al-Qaeda’s intention is necessary in their plans to counter-effectively in their “Homeland Defence”.

According to US military sources, a group of Al-Qaeda fighters who ultimately were estimated to be about a 1000 were spotted gathering in cave complexes east of Khost near the Pakistan border. The battle that developed forced reinforcements by more US troops into the fray than earlier anticipated, it also underscored the fact that the Al-Qaeda/Taliban were now re-grouping in small units, with the ability of coming together very rapidly when faced with an air/ground assault. “Anaconda” was a major test in the US resolve. Having had relatively an easy time evicting the Taliban from the cities of Afghanistan, the US had only the recent Tora Bora experience to go by with respect to fighting a counter-guerilla war in Afghanistan. In Tora Bora, while the fighting was intense, most of the firepower was directed from the air and quite a lot of the guerrillas had managed to escape because the mercenary militias employed by the US failed to come to grips with the enemy. During “Operation Anaconda”, a better quality of Afghan soldiery was clearly in existence with the result that greater firefights took place between combatants on the ground. The induction of a Panjsheeri Tajik armoured unit was resented in the Pashtun area but it remained a resentment only because they were not employed. US spokesmen claimed that 800 of the approximately 1000 guerilla fighters had been killed, this could not be verified as very few bodies, less than two dozen, were actually discovered. The intense air activity must have resulted in high casualties but it seems that the bulk of enemy forces slipped through the net that had been laid for them in high mountain passes and narrow valleys. Obviously the route was into Pakistan across the border where they would get shelter from sympathetic elements. However this help would only be a temporary transit permit, not as a permanent base to carry out cross-border attacks. This is an important point. While there will be sympathy for them and their grievous travails at the hands of Coalition Forces it will be far diminished than the earlier enthusiasm because of the treatment that the Pakistanis got at the hands of Afghans within Afghanistan. Even if an enemy turns up at your gate and asks for help, Pashtun honour cannot refuse that help. What Pakistan has paid in social disintegration and economic devastation thereof as a cost of such help can only be estimated.

Share

Labelling Enemies as Terrorist

At face value the brutal murder of Abdur Rahman, Afghanistan Interim Government (AIG) Minister for Aviation and Tourism, looked like a spontaneous mob reaction by Hajj-bound Afghans irate at not being provided aircraft for their pilgrimage. Actually it was a carefully planned execution deliberately carried out publicly with multiple intentions, viz (1) to eliminate a person within the regime viewed as a turncoat (2) to put the fear of God into the other leaders in the AIG for not complying with the dictates of the Punjsheeri Tajiks and (3) escape retribution by camouflaging the assassination as mob violence because of an emotional issue. Abdur Rahman belonged to Jamaat-e-Islami before a disagreement with late Ahmed Shah Masood forced him to flee to New Delhi. He later joined the Monarchists loyal to King Zahir Shah. To the Punjsheeri Tajiks Abdur Rahman was a traitor twice-over, a dead-man walking, waiting to be symbolically eliminated, a very public warning to someone who had the temerity to question the Punjsheeri Tajik-cult hero, late Ahmed Shah Masood.

Share

Back to the Future

Pakistan has lived for more than two decades under the threat of a religious Sword of Damocles, after the Talibs took over in Afghanistan in 1996 our “future” began to take name and shape, the Talibanisation of Pakistan. A very vocal, religious minority in Pakistan held a rather submissive and terrified liberal majority in virtual thrall, threatening to convert our present back to the past and to make our future bleak. While religious teaching is more than necessary it can never be a complete education by itself, given the technological advances, theology is hopelessly mired in the past. Instead of investing in more schools and colleges, we allowed Madrassahs to move into this vacuum, proportionately increasing ignorance among our school going children. An absence of basic world knowledge among our youth virtually asked to be exploited by the religiously motivated. The religious rioting in Pakistan in September/October this year had the streets brimming over with sympathy for the Taliban. The youth yelled their throats hoarse and lungs out in support of “their” heroes Osama bin Laden and Mullah Umar, a frenzied thousand or so crossing over into Afghanistan to join the ranks already fighting with the Taliban. Moulvi Sufi Mohammad of the Tehrik Shahriah Nifaz Muhammadi (TSNM) flamboyantly led them across the border on prime time TV, first in he was first out, abandoning them on the “every man for himself” basis and making it safely back across. Sales of Osama bin Laden T-shirts nose-dived when Osama took off on the age-old principle, discretion is the better part of valour. Heroes are supposed to fight and die fighting, not to slink from hole to hole in the night like common thieves.

Share