Drawdown questions

Drawdown questions

Syed Ata Hasnain  For the US to take its final decisions, it needs to also view the survivability of post-withdrawal Afghanistan. (Reuters) US withdrawal from Afghanistan may not go according to plan. ——————————————————————————————————————————————-   Recent weeks have seen a turn of events in the Middle East that is likely to have  significant effects on the strategic picture emerging in the Af-Pak region specifically and the new Great Game in general. These are being discussed in muted terms in strategic discussions in New Delhi without much clarity or consensus. The sudden upsurge of violence in Iraq, in the Fallujah and Ramadi tribal strongholds, has seen the return of al-Qaeda to seek its place in the sun in areas where it had been effectively neutralised or evicted by US and Iraqi forces. Obviously, with this message to the West about its survivability, al-Qaeda also appears to be spreading itself to gain an expanded footprint in areas beyond Syria, lest its effectiveness be questioned within its rank and file. The expanded footprint in Africa does not satisfy its ambitions and would probably be seen as just a temporary hold out. Fallujah and Ramadi in the Anbar area are symbols of radical resurgence, a message to the world about what could be expected in Afghanistan after the ISAF drawdown and eventual pull-out. How seriously should this be taken by those analysing the post-ISAF scenario in the Af-Pak region? Three aspects impinge on the events in Iraq. One, the internal Shia-Sunni discord within Islam in the Middle East is now reaching serious proportions. The rising power of the Hezbollah and the nascent improvement of US-Iran relations are possibly being viewed as the strengthening of Shia Islam. Two, the failure of the Arab Spring and the hopes it sparked creates a psychological space that needs to be filled. If liberalism could not find place, then its replacement must be the radical ideology of one of the segments of Islam. Three, declining interest of the US in the affairs of the Middle East is leaving Israel freer to pro-actively confront its foes; its power cannot be allowed to proliferate. In the light of these, has al-Qaeda acted prematurely and revealed its...

Interview with Peter Tase – American Journalist

Interview with Peter Tase – American Journalist

Peter Tase is a contributor, freelance journalist and a research scholar of Paraguayan Studies and Latin American Affairs in the United States. He’s a frequent contributor to Foreign Policy News and Eurasia Review. He talks to Adfar Shah-Who is a columnist at South Asian Idea and Analyst World besides some other prominent newspapers in the country on a few socio-economic themes in india.  Author’s Profile : Adfar Shah-who hails from India’s central Kashmir, is presently defending his doctoral dissertation on the theme “Muslim Endowments and Society in Kashmir” at the department of Sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi-India’s reputed central university. He completed his B.Ed, SET and Masters in Sociology, from the University of Kashmir, India. Adfar shuttles between New Delhi and Kashmir, writing on South Asian societies and politics for several prestigious publications like Eurasia Review, Analyst World, South Asian Idea, Countercurrents, Amazons.com, Kashmir Monitor, Kashmir Images, Point Blank 7 and other web portals and newspapers.  Currently he works as a research fellow at SNCWS, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi where he continues to understand the gender question. Besides as a freelancer his core interests are South Asian politics, Kashmir in conflict, Military sociology, Indian Military Apparatus, Af-Pak strain and Muslim identity issues. The author has about 65 academic publications and hundreds of conceptual articles to his credit. His upcoming book titled “The Indian Lens of South Asian Politics” actually his collection of articles on Kashmir, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Middle East, War on terror, etc, is under print at Dictus Publishing House, Germany. The author is of the opinion: Q. How do you envision the US – India Relations and what are the main areas of cooperation between both the countries? Ans.  India and the US have a congruence of interests – liberal democracy, secularism and tolerance for diversity – which drives their relations. The United States of America is still the second largest importer of Indian goods and its economy is linked to India through the globalized economic system. India needs US cooperation in the field of science and technology (to include disaster management, weather forecasting and agricultural research, aviation, machinery and education). India’s diaspora in the US is the largest segment of Indians outside India,...

Kashmir: Thinking Outside Control

Kashmir: Thinking Outside Control

Adfar Shah The very first strategy of a versatile leader must be to learn all the inconvenient facts of the field he is operating.  Kashmir throughout has been full of such inconvenient facts like visible and invisible oppressors who suppress(ed) the natives, shaped a bloody history and life of indignity, poverty, exploitation, leadership crisis, half-revolutions, undone changes and unfulfilled promises. The key to success in Kashmir is very simple but still not taken enough cognizance of and that is the lack of effort towards enhancing credibility and social justice and simultaneously getting rid of ambiguous and invisible control. Therefore, the approach at the moment should be thinking outside the box, by which I mean shaping up a Kashmir where the heart rules and love and peace prevail. Every action today in Kashmir has a reaction purely because of dichotomous social realities. Amid a plethora of contractors of instability and peace, there always exists a relation between the equations of peace building and forces of the sustenance of uncertainty (mason vs bulldozer). While one party does either a good thing or a bad one, the other follows quickly as its reaction in terms of hollow opposition, the inevitable blame game, labelling, propaganda, motivating the masses against even good, etc,. Therefore, to understand and solve this vicious cycle of action and reaction, there is a need for the shifting of the methodological perspectives and methods of working on contemporary Kashmir and tapping its social collective. If we want to crack this sustained chaotic phenomenon, we have to understand the idea of ‘the local’ and ‘the other’. There are a few strategies that need to be institutionalised and followed strictly, like following the strong evidence-based practices in combat operations, retaining a cool mindset, the ideology of pardon, an enhanced professionalism while handling the unrests, etc. Besides systematic research (scientific observation), developing balanced methods of public handling need to be practiced to lessen the error factor. On the social intervention front, the chief stake-holders need to see whether the target population interfaces well with the problems addressed in the programmes launched for them, or there is a sense of discredit (due to enemy perception) despite doing so much...

Blindfold in Bangladesh: Western Democracies’ Support to Islamic Forces

Blindfold in Bangladesh: Western Democracies’ Support to Islamic Forces

RAJIV KUMAR I just recently learnt about the lack of response from the majority of the Western countries to the recent electoral outcome in Bangladesh.  In a meeting with a senior Japanese diplomat, I found out that Japan had wisely decided to break the ranks of developed democracies to write a congratulatory letter to Sheikh  Hasina on her electoral victory. India had of course conveyed its support and good wishes to the prime minister immediately after the results were declared. And Pakistan for obvious reasons has not done that so far. Several ASEAN countries have acknowledged the Awami League victory but not whole heartedly supported it. The reason given for this lack of recognition of Sheikh Hasina’s electoral success is the boycott by the main opposition party, the BNP, led by Begum Khalida Zia. It is clear that the elections followed the constitutional provisions and process and BNP chose to boycott the elections at its own risk. The stand taken by the US and its European allies along with others like Pakistan is that an election boycotted by the largest opposition party does not measure up to the global democratic benchmarks. According to them, Sheikh Hasina does not command sufficient legitimacy to deserve to be congratulated on her victory. This is  a bogus stand and one which demonstrates lack of understanding of the complex realities of South Asia. To couch it in high moral rhetoric does not hide the fact that western powers completely fail to understand the dangers posed by a fundamentalist political Islam in South Asia and other parts of the world. Also it reveals dangerous inconsistency on their part as they condone and connive with the dismissal of Mohammed Morsi in Egypt while calling for a re-election in Bangladesh. This is despite the fact that Begum Zia derives her principal support from the Jamait- e Islami and other more fundamentalist Islamic groups in Bangladesh. It will do a lot of good for Americans and Europeans to realise the Sheikh Hasina has been fighting their  war against the ‘Islamisation’ of Bangladesh society. By this I do not for a minute mean that the people of Bangladesh or for that matter any other...

The Emotions of Alienation

The Emotions of Alienation

SYED ATA HASNAIN I must admit that I am a cricket buff and would miss everything else just to take in the thrills and pleasures of a hard-fought one day match involving the men in blue. In the midst of the anguish that I faced watching my favorite team lose to Pakistan in the recent Asia Cup came the nails in the coffin of defeat, delivered by the events in Meerut. A segment of 67 young students from Kashmir allegedly and admittedly cheered for Pakistan even as the negative emotions from defeat were just about eroding. On a social media discussion I initiated with a wise and mature group of people I made an opening statement. It stated that the action of the students was “akin to the famous Hindi proverb – ‘ Aa Bael Mujhe Maar’, an euphemism for harakiri. Human instinct usually ensures that when no advantage accrues to you from a certain action you desist from it. However, if you still insist on doing it then it is at the risk of your neck”. The subsequent discussion was shorn of any major emotions but one thing was clear the friends from Kashmir who were engaged in the debate displayed a surprising naivety about the reality of the situation surrounding the problem of Kashmir, the way it is viewed by people in rest of India and the emotions connected with it. I tried to explain the issue of Realism through an example. In 2011, the World Cup was approaching and the chances of Dhoni’s men lifting it were reputed to be strong. I was heading the Army in Kashmir and in the middle of an exciting experiment to change the narrative through innovative methods of outreach to the ‘Awaam’. There were daily meetings with different stake holders and suggestions were being received from all quarters. Someone suggested that cricket being a passion, a virtual ‘Diwaangi’, in Kashmir it would only be appropriate that people in way off villages and towns must get the opportunity to view the World Cup matches. In their usual innovative way the Army formations went a couple of steps beyond the normal television sets and utilized their video...

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