Posts Tagged ‘Kaschmir’

Kaschmir: Landminen-Opfer

Donnerstag, August 8th, 2013

“The Wounded Women Of Kashmir

Largely ignored in post-conflict reconstruction efforts in Jammu and Kashmir by the government, many women severely affected by conflict have been fighting a tough battle for existence

By Ashutosh Sharma | 08 August, 2013

The life out of her village does not exist for Parveen Akhtar —who lives in a mud house perched atop a hillock, nestled in an undulating forest area of Banmat, a small village tucked away in the mountainous border district Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir—for about 8 years.

On a usual afternoon, Parveen (38) was busy collecting firewood in the forest nearby. She unwittingly footed a hidden anti-personnel mine and within no time lost her leg in a powerful explosion. Since then she has not been able to move as freely as she used to.

There are many such survivors including Gulaab Jaan from Shahpur, Razia Bi from Qasba, Hakim Bi from Salotri and Kanta Devi from Haveli in the border villages of Poonch—where horror of stray landmines and unexploded ordnance stalks the villagers. All of them have been endlessly waiting for compensation amount from the government hoping that the token money might solve some of their problems.

After losing a limb, the normal work routine did not change for these women, though surely their miseries have multiplied. They tend to children, assist in fields and look after cattle. And worst, they consider themselves ‘a burden’ on their families—an inevitable psychological ghost that stays with them after losing limbs.

Those who don’t have any alternative sustainable source of income have been compelled into beggary. One such victim, Fatima Jaan (40) from Guntrian, a village located at the Line of Control (LoC), heads out to district headquarter Poonch for begging on routine basis. She treks for nearly four kilometres and then boards a bus to reach her work station after feeding her children and sending them to school.

Fatima was grazing her cow near the house when she unknowingly triggered a landmine. She does not recall the year of the incident but says with certainty that “it happened some years after my marriage”.

A few years after losing her leg she lost her husband also. “My husband, Noor Mohammad, went missing after he was taken by some Army personnel in 1998. No one ever saw or heard of him after that time.”

“A year after my husband disappeared, I started begging here. It has been 13 years now,” she says. Then, as she looks at her amputated leg, she breaks down into loud sobs. Asked why she comes so far to beg and she replies, “If I beg in my area it is likely to bring disrepute to the family’s name. In a few years I will also have to arrange for the marriage of my daughters.”

Her case was taken up with the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) by a noted local activist, Kamaljeet Singh. Taking cognisance of her difficult situation, the SHRC in its final judgment of April 2011, recommended that the government provide suitable financial assistance to her without delay. This recommendation has not been followed up.

After being maimed, widowed or affected by conflict in some other unfortunate way, these women have not been able to access health care or benefits of government schemes. Their life is miserable in the absence of state protection.

In the border village of Pukharni in Nowshera sector in Rajouri, another amputee Safia Begum (35) is battling her disability. Under a cloudless and shimmering sky, in the dusty courtyard of her mud house, she is busy working in the makeshift kitchen. She kneads dough and then expertly makes rotis on an earthen ‘chulha’ (stove) – and she does it all, literally, single handedly. Safia lost her left hand to a landmine blast when she was just six. The same tragedy revisited her in 2011 when her eight year old son also lost a hand to landmine explosion near home.

“Besides a little bit of farming, my husband and I do various menial jobs to sustain the family,” she says. In the same village, there are women like Naseem Akhtar, 23, and Sharifa Begum, 22, both of whom lost one of their legs as children in separate landmine blasts near their homes. They now stitch clothes for survival and are worried about the future.

Gulkhar, a widow and mother of six daughters, lost three buffaloes – the only family asset and source of income – when the cattle wandered over to a landmined pasture in a village near the LoC in the Bala Kote area of Poonch district last October.

“Despite reporting the matter to the local administration, I haven’t got any relief yet,” complains Gulkhar, whose family ironically is categorised as Above Poverty Line (APL), as a result of which she does not get a widow’s pension. Normally, widows get a monthly pension of Rs 200 whereas those who are above 64 years or fall in the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category are given a monthly pension of Rs 400 by the government.

“Most of our land is infested with mines; the rest is rocky and arid. Only a small portion is cultivable,” she says. These days, there is one question that keeps haunting her: “How will I marry my daughters? After losing our livestock we don’t have any source of income.”

Gulkhar also talks about Razia Bi, 65, and Sakina Bi, 65, who are her neighbours in the village. “Razia and Sakina lost their husbands to shelling from across the border. Neither of them received any financial assistance from the government. Their families are also facing severe economic hardships,” she reveals.

Monetary compensation to landmine victims, provided by the Ministry of Defence, is given only after the cases are processed on the recommendation of the District Development Commissioner. But the process of compensation is believed to be too complicated to give timely and required benefit to the victims.

A disabled person normally gets a monthly pension of Rs 400 from the state’s social welfare department—in many cases even this paltry amount is not grated to them for various reasons.

Despite their lives being entwined with stigma, discrimination and isolation, these women have been courageously struggling to put their life together yet it remains to be seen how long the government takes in fulfilling its obligations towards them!

(The writer is a media fellow with National Foundation for India and can be reached at bulawaa@gmail.com) “

 

(Quelle: Countercurrents.org)

Indien/Pakistan: 65 Jahre Kaschmirkonflikt

Samstag, November 24th, 2012

“Das verlorene Paradies

von Edgar Benkwitz

Das Blättchen | 15. Jahrgang | Nummer 23 | 12. November 2012

„Wenn es ein Paradies auf Erden gibt, dann ist es hier, dann ist es hier …“. So sang einst ein persischer Dichter. Sein Vers ziert einen Pavillon im Shalimar Bagh, dem berühmten Moghulgarten in Srinagar, der Hauptstadt Kaschmirs. Er drückt das Lebensgefühl der grossen Moghul-Herrscher Indiens aus, die das Kaschmirtal für sich entdeckten und es als ein Zentrum ihrer Macht nutzten. Und in der Tat rechtfertigten die Schönheit der Landschaft, die blühende Kultur, die uralten innerasiatischen Handelswege, aber vor allem das Zusammenleben verschiedener Volksgruppen mit drei Weltreligionen – Buddhismus, Hinduismus, Islam – viele Jahrhunderte diesen Anspruch. Eine Ironie der Geschichte ist es, dass ausgerechnet zu dem Zeitpunkt, wo der indische Subkontinent endgültig die koloniale Herrschaft der Briten abschüttelte, der Niedergang dieser Region begann. Denn mit der Teilung Britisch-Indiens in Indien und Pakistans 1947 entstand der Streit um Kaschmir. Mehrere Kriege wurden geführt, zehntausende von Menschenleben geopfert, Ressourcen der beiden armen Länder vernichtet. Heute stehen sich an einer Waffenstillstandslinie, die durch Kaschmir verläuft, zwei hochgerüstete Armeen gegenüber. Trotz gelegentlicher Entspannungsphasen ist der Konflikt weit von einer Lösung entfernt, seine Gefährlichkeit hat sich noch verschärft: Beide Staaten verfügen über Atomwaffen (siehe Wolfgang Schwarz in: Das Blättchen, Sonderausgabe 4/2012), und der internationale islamistische Terrorismus hat sich in Kaschmir festgesetzt.

Kaschmir, das Hochtal im Norden des indischen Subkontinents ist mit seinen angrenzenden Territorien im Himalaya mehr als 220.000 Quadratkilometer gross. Es war bis 1947 ein selbständiges Fürstentum, erkannte aber die Oberhoheit der Briten an. Der Maharadscha hatte die Wahl, sich entweder für die gerade entstehenden Staaten Indien oder Pakistan zu entscheiden oder selbständig zu bleiben. Maharadscha Hari Singh, ein Hindu-Fürst mit grösstenteils muslimischer Bevölkerung, legte sich jedoch nicht fest und weckte damit die Begehrlichkeiten seiner beiden neuen Nachbarn. Pakistan beanspruchte schon vor seiner Entstehung mehrheitlich muslimische Gebiete des kolonialen Indien. Indien hingegen betonte, dass solche Gebiete in seinem säkularen Staatenverbund am besten aufgehoben seien. Die Unentschlossenheit des Maharadschas führte schon wenige Wochen später zu einer Invasion muslimischer Stammeskrieger (Paschtunen) in das Kaschmirtal, die die Zugehörigkeit zu Pakistan erzwingen wollten. Neu Delhi, um Hilfe gebeten, beharrte zuvor auf einen Beitritt Kaschmirs zu Indien. Als das geschehen war, begannen indische Luftlandetruppen im Kaschmirtal die Eindringlinge zu vertreiben. Im Gegenzug setzte Pakistan offiziell seine Truppen ein, der erste indisch-pakistanische Krieg hatte begonnen. Die UNO erreichte 1949 einen Waffenstillstand, die Waffenstillstandslinie gilt bis heute. Und bis heute gibt es eine Dreiteilung des umstrittenen Gebietes. Indien kontrolliert 60 Prozent dieses Territoriums (die Regionen Jammu, Kaschmirtal, Ladakh), Pakistan kontrolliert 30 Prozent (die Regionen Gilgit-Ballistan, Azad-Kaschmir) und schliesslich hat China seit 1962 einen Teil von Ladakh unter Kontrolle (Aksai Chin) – das sind zehn Prozent.
Diese Proportionen zu verändern und letztendlich Kaschmir an Pakistan anzuschließen ist das Ziel pakistanischer Politik. Dafür hat es in der Vergangenheit alle Mittel eingesetzt, die von der Organisierung internationalen Drucks auf Indien, der Auslösung militärischer Konflikte bis zum Einsatz von Insurgenten und Terroristen reichen. Bereits 1948 legte die UNO ein Referendum fest, wonach die Kaschmiris über ihre Zukunft selbst bestimmen sollten. Es tauchte zwar immer wieder auf der politischen Bühne auf, hatte aber nie eine Chance auf Realisierung. Nur wenig später wurde Pakistan Mitglied der westlichen Militärbündnisse SEATO und CENTO, mit China wurde eine militärische Zusammenarbeit vereinbart. Indien hingegen blieb nichtpaktgebunden, lehnte sich aber stärker an die Sowjetunion an, bei der es sich politisch rückversicherte (Vertrag über Frieden, Freundschaft und Zusammenarbeit). 1965 und 1971 kam es erneut zu Kriegen zwischen Indien und Pakistan. Letzteres, inzwischen militärisch aufgerüstet, konnte 1965 trotz aller Anstrengungen den status quo nicht ändern. Im Abkommen von Taschkent musste es friedlichen Lösungen zustimmen. 1971 war Ostpakistan der Schauplatz des Krieges, in dessen Ergebnis die pakistanische Armee kapitulieren musste. Pakistan verlor seine östliche Provinz, mit Bangladesh entstand ein neuer Staat. Pakistan wurde enorm geschwächt; auch sein Gründungsmythos, Heimat aller Muslime zu sein, schwer beschädigt, da Bangladesh ebenfalls eine muslimische Bevölkerung hat. Indien hatte bereits 1957 das von ihm kontrollierte Gebiet in den Bundesstaat Jammu und Kaschmir umgewandelt und bestehende Autonomieprivilegien weitgehend abgeschafft. Diese Integration des größten Teils des umstrittenen Kaschmirgebietes in die Indische Union stieß auf erbitterten Widerstand Pakistans. Doch auch im Kaschmirtal regte sich Widerstand. Die muslimische Bevölkerung protestierte 1987/88 gegen Wahlfälschungen und polizeiliche Willkür, sie verlangte zudem eine Verbesserung ihrer sozialen Lage. Zunächst friedliche Demonstrationen schlugen in Gewalt um, wobei viele der Gewalttäter von Pakistan infiltriert waren. Ihnen folgten aus Ausbildungslagern von jenseits der Grenze die gefürchteten Mujaheddins mit Kämpfern aus der internationalen Terrorszene. Vertreter indischer Behörden wurden ermordet, aber auch gemäßigte Muslime nicht verschont. Indien versuchte dem mit der Verstärkung seiner Sicherheitskräfte zu begegnen. Sie wurden auf 200.000 Mann aufgestockt und mit Sonderrechten ausgestattet. Mittlerweile hat sich eine Lage entwickelt, in der die indischen Truppen als Okkupationsarmee angesehen werden. Schätzungen zufolge beträgt die Zahl der Opfer durch Terror und Verfolgungen seit 1988 allein im Kaschmirtal über 50.000.
Aber auch an der Waffenstillstandslinie gibt es immer wieder Zwischenfälle. Der schwerste ereignete sich im Sommer 1999 im Kargil-Gebiet, im Karakorum, wo auf 5.000 Meter Höhe um einen 160-Kilometer-Abschnitt der Waffenstillstandslinie gekämpft wurde. Tausenden indischen Soldaten gelang es erst nach Wochen, im Winter vorgerückte Pakistanis zurückzudrängen. Zum „höchstgelegenen Kriegsschauplatz der Welt“ entwickelte sich dann der Siacheng-Gletscher, wo in unvorstellbaren Höhen bis zu 6.700 Meter ein ständiger Kleinkrieg stattfand. Hier sollen sich 3.000 pakistanische und 5.000 indische Soldaten aufhalten. Im April dieses Jahres wurde der Wahnsinn der Aktionen nochmals deutlich, als eine Lawine in 4.500 Meter Höhe ein Bataillonshauptquartier der pakistanischen Armee wegriss und 139 Opfer unter einer 70 Meter hohen Schneedecke begrub.
Der Kaschmirkonflikt hat während seines fünfundsechzigjährigen Bestehens längst jeglichen Anspruch auf irgendeine Rechtmäßigkeit verloren. Kaschmir, einst blühende Region, wurde systematisch verwüstet. Salman Rushdie, dessen familiäre Wurzeln sich in Kaschmir befinden, nennt es resignierend „das verlorene Paradies“. In einem kürzlichen Interview plädiert er für die Wiederherstellung des Status von 1947, Kaschmir als selbständiger Staat, dessen Grenzen Indien und Pakistan garantieren sollten. Doch das ist illusorisch. Denkbar wäre vielmehr die völkerrechtliche Festschreibung des jetzigen status quo, wie sie des Öfteren im Gespräch ist. Doch das setzt eine Abkehr von alten Denkmustern, vor allem in Pakistan voraus. Vorbedingung wäre die Zurückdrängung des Terrorismus und die Einstellung seiner Unterstützung durch pakistanische Organe. Damit könnte eine Befriedung des Gebiets erreicht und der Konfliktherd entschärft werden. Für die leidgeprüften Bewohner wäre allein das – verglichen mit der gegenwärtigen Lage – ein paradiesischer Zustand.”

 

(Quelle: Das Blättchen.)

Nachrichten-Überblick 22.07.2010

Donnerstag, Juli 22nd, 2010

[22.07.2010 – 09:59]

 

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* COSTA RICA: Die USA bringen sich in ihrem “Hinterhof” in Stellung

With votes secured from the official National Liberation Party (PLN), the Libertarian Movement, and Justo Orozco, the evangelical congressman from the Costa Rican Renovation party, on July 1st, the Costa Rican Congress authorized the entry into that country of 46 warships from the U.S. Navy, 200 helicopters and combat aircraft and 7,000 Marines.

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* MALAYSIA: Indigene Frauen Vergewaltigungsopfer der Holfäller-Mafia

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* MONGOLEI: Ist die Kultur der NomadInnen am Ende?

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* NIGERIA: Ölquelle von ExxonMobil leck…

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* KANADA: Regierung verabschiedet sich leise von der Biodiversitäts-Konvention

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[Update: 12:14]

* BURKINA FASO / NIGER: Grenzfrage soll friedlich entschieden werden

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Weiterlesen… (PDF)

* KASCHMIR: Brutale Gewalt durch indische Truppen

Indian troops and police have killed fifteen people in Kashmir since June, sparking widespread protests. The Indian government has imposed a strict military curfew in the area as well as a media gag order on local journalists. The international community has remained silent on the human rights abuses in Kashmir.

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* GLOBAL: Krieg gegen die Erde

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* USA: Krieg gegen den Terror kostet bislang 1 Billion US-Dollar

A Congressional Research Service report on the costs of America’s assorted wars has put the global war on terror since September 11, 2001 at over $1 trillion, making it the second most expensive military action in American history, adjusting for inflation.

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* BRD: Gegen höhere Schutzstandards beim Asylrecht

Deutschland blockiert aus Sorge vor einer vermeintlichen «Sogwirkung» den Aufbau eines europäischen Asylsystems. Dies machte Innenstaatssekretär Ole Schröder am Donnerstag auf einem EU-Justiz- und Innenministertreffens in Brüssel klar. (…) Die von der EU-Kommission vorgeschlagenen höheren Rechtsschutzstandards würden die deutsche Praxis der Schnellabschiebungen an Flughäfen aber «aushöhlen», sagte der CDU-Politiker.

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* JORDANIEN: Stimmungsmache gegen PalästinenserInnen

Robert Fisk: Why Jordan is occupied by Palestinians
A powerful group of ex-army leaders say their country is being overrun – and they blame King Abdullah.

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* GLOBAL: Menschen hungern, weil zu wenig Nahrung produziert wird! – Ach, wirklich?

2008, the world witnessed an unprecedented food crisis. Food prices skyrocketed, and staple food disappeared from the market shelves. The resulting tremors were felt across the globe, with some 37 countries facing food riots.
Was the food crisis an outcome of the drought in Australia? Or was it because wheat production had fallen? Or was it because quite a sizable area under foodgrains had been diverted for biofuel production? The world had debated these options, but what emerged clearly was that much of it was triggered because of speculation in the futures trade. In fact, it was much worse than what was earlier anticipated.

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* NAHER / MITTLERER OSTEN: Run auf die Atomkraft (und damit auf Atomwaffen)

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* KAMBODSCHA: SexarbeiterInnen werden illegal festgenommen und inhaftiert

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* BRD: Schützenhilfe für die Atomindustrie

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* LIBANON: Frauen-Hilfsschiff will Gaza-Blockade durchbrechen

The ‘Maryam’, an all-female Lebanese aid ship, currently docked in the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli, is getting ready to set sail for Gaza in the next few days. The ship, which aims to break Israel’s siege on the Palestinian territory, will carry about 50 aid workers, including some U.S. nuns keen to deliver aid to the long-suffering women and children of Gaza.

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[Update: 14:17]

* AFGHANISTAN: Kein Zutrauen ins Parlament

Afghans Disillusioned with Candidate Choice. Most current parliamentarians plan to stand again, despite widespread public mistrust and disappointment.

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* GLOBAL: Funktioniert das Wirtschaftssystem ohne Wachstum?

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* ECUADOR:: Regierungskritische Positionen der Indigenen Völker

On July 5, I sat down with Marlon Santi, President of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), in his office in Quito. We discussed the increasing contradictions between the demands of the indigenous movement, on the one hand, around water rights and anti-mining resistance, and the positions of the government of Rafael Correa, on the other, which has labelled indigenous resistance to large-scale mining and oil exploitation as “terrorism and sabotage.”

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* DACH: Antimuslimische Ressentiments

Die westliche Zivilisation wird in deutschsprachigen Zeitungen von Leuten wie Broder und Sarazin verteidigt, als ob SIE wieder vor Wien ständen. Die barbarischen Seiten des Westens werden beim Islam-Bashing gerne und schnell unter den Teppich gekehrt. Die deutsche Integrationspolitik schrumpft über die Symbolpolitik à la Islamkonferenz auf religiöse Fragen zusammen, Aspekte von sozialer Ungleichheit werden ausgeklammert.

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* USA: Kritik an Obamas Gesetz zur Finanzmarktreform

“In den USA ist die größte Finanzmarktreform seit der Weltwirtschaftskrise in den 30er Jahren beschlossen worden”, schreibt die taz. Klingt groß, heißt wenig: die US-Finanz-Gesetzgebung ist seit Ende der 1960er Jahre eine Geschichte der De-Regulierung. Selbst diesmal konnte die Finanzlobby wichtige Regeln abschwächen – wie die taz an anderer Stelle kritisch berichtet.
Die US-Reform wird häufig als Erfolg der Politik bewertet – aber selbst angesichts der dramatischen Krise konnte die Finanzbranche durch massive Lobbyarbeit das “Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Bill” an wichtigen Stellen verwässern. So gibt es zahlreiche kritische Einschätzungen.

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* INDONESIEN: Weltbank finanziert zerstörerische Nickel-Mine

An international civil society coalition today condemned the World Bank for approving support for a destructive nickel mine that would displace Indigenous Peoples, destroy vast areas of intact tropical forest, and threaten rivers and the ocean with sediment and toxic chemicals.

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* USA: Historiker warnt vor dem plötzlichen Zusammenbruch des “US-Imperiums”

Der Harvard-Professor und erfolgreiche Autor Niall Ferguson eröffnete am Montag das Festival der Ideen 2010 des Aspen-Institutes mit der ernst gemeinten Warnung, wegen seiner ständig steigenden Verschuldung werde ein plötzlicher Zusammenbruch des “US-Imperiums” immer wahrscheinlicher.
“Ich denke, dass dieses Problem sehr bald eintritt,” sagte Ferguson. “Damit meine ich innerhalb der
nächsten zwei Jahre, weil sich die Situation finanziell und in anderer Hinsicht immer mehr dem Chaos nähert. Wir haben gerade in Griechenland erlebt, was geschieht, wenn der Kapitalmarkt das Vertrauen in die Finanzpolitik eines Landes verliert.” Ferguson erinnerte daran, dass Imperien – wie die ehemalige Sowjetunion und das römische Reich – ganz schnell kollabieren können und der Wendepunkt häufig dann eintritt, wenn die Zinsen für die Schulden eines Imperiums höher werden als seine Verteidigungsausgaben.

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* INDIEN: Diplomatische Verrenkungen beim Atomwaffensprerrvertrag

The recently concluded Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference (RevCon) has renewed the call for the universalisation of the treaty. The NPT RevCon has asked India along with Pakistan and Israel – the three non-signatory states to the NPT- to unilaterally disarm and join the treaty as Non-Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS). However, India possesses nuclear weapons.

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* RUSSLAND: Umweltschützer verhindern Wald-Rodung

Die russischen UmweltschützerInnen, die zu Dutzenden, teilweise sogar mit 300 Personen die Rodungsarbeiten in der Nähe des Moskauer Flughafens Scheremetjewo behindert haben, haben die Rodungen – vorerst – verhindert.

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* GUATEMALA: Königsgrab der Maya entdeckt

Luftdicht verschlossene Grabkammer konservierte prächtige Grabbeigaben und Knochen. Ein bisher unbekanntes Königsgrab der Maya haben ArchäologInnen in der Maya-Stadt El Zotz im Dschungel Guatemalas entdeckt. Es enthielt ungewöhnlich gut erhaltene, 1.600 Jahre alte Schnitzereien, Keramiken und Stoffe sowie die Knochen von einem Erwachsenen und sechs möglicherweise geopferten Kindern. Das prächtig ausgestattete Grab gehört wahrscheinlich einem Herrscher, möglicherweise dem Gründer einer Dynastie der präklassischen Maya.

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* GROSSBRITANNIEN: Kriegsdienstverweigernder Soldat aus Haft entlassen

Joe Glenton, the soldier who refused to return to fight in Afghanistan and who spoke out against the war, was released from military prison.

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* VIETNAM: Einbürgerung von Flüchtlingen aus Kambodscha

Ho-Chi-Minh-Stadt – Mit einem Festakt hat die vietnamesische Regierung 287 ehemalige Flüchtlinge aus Kambodscha eingebürgert. UNHCR begrüßt diesen Schritt außerordentlich. Vietnam gibt dadurch ein wichtiges Signal, die Staatenlosigkeit für insgesamt mehr als 2.300 ehemalige Flüchtlinge aus Kambodscha endgültig ad acta zu legen. Die meisten Kambodschaner waren 1975 vor Pol Pots blutigem Regime nach Vietnam geflohen.

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* KIRGISIEN: “Millionär werden, das ist Demokratie!”

In Kirgistan trägt die Marktwirtschaft ganz eigene Züge: Nach dem Ende der “Sozialistischen Sowjetrepublik” wurden Fettschwanzschafe, Wallnussbäume und Spitzmorcheln privatisiert. Seitdem greifen viele Kirgisen uralte Nomadentraditionen wieder auf: Sie pendeln auf dem Pferd zwischen Wäldern, Wiesen und Hochalmen und leben im Sommer in Jurten. Das klingt romantisch, doch die meisten Kirgisen müssen heute ums Überleben kämpfen oder erinnern sich wehmütig an die Sowjetzeit mit ihren großen Betrieben und festen Arbeitsplätzen. Andere sind weniger nostalgisch: „Jetzt kann jeder Millionär werden, das ist Demokratie“, lobt ausgerechnet die bettelarme Gulnara, deren Familie allein vom Erlös gesammelter Nüsse lebt.

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* AFGHANISTAN: Unendliche Besatzung?

The international foreign ministers conference held in Kabul Tuesday formally endorsed President Hamid Karzai’s proposed 2014 target for Afghan forces to assume the lead responsibility for the country’s security, while acknowledging that the foreign occupation will continue indefinitely.

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* BRD: Niebels Zaudern im Kampf gegen AIDS

Der Entwicklungshilfeminister gefährdet die internationale Aids-Hilfe. Deutschland könnte als drittgrößter Geldgeber bald ausfallen. Ein fatales Signal, meint H. Albrecht.

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* ZENTRALAFRIKANISCHE REPUBLIK: Friedensprozess gerät ins Stocken

A Sudanese led rebel faction in the Central African Republic has engaged the armies of the Central African Republic (CAR) over a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process- under a peace agreement signed ahead of national elections in CAR, military and rebel sources said.

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* USA: Die Wiederkehr der Sklaverei

For the first time, the U.S. government acknowledges modern-day slavery in the United States.
One-hundred-and-fifty years after the abolition of slavery, the State Department has acknowledged that people in the United States continue to be bought and sold as property. The department’s 2010 “Trafficking in Persons” (TIP) report, a global review of human trafficking and civic and legal responses to it, lists the United States for the first time among the nations that harbor modern-day slavery.

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Kaschmir: Flucht in die Drogen als Flucht vor dem Krieg

Freitag, Juni 18th, 2010

“Kashmir Valley’s Spiraling Drug Abuse

By Dilnaz Boga

The dizzying epidemic of drugs in the backdrop of militarization and violence in Kashmir, reports Dilnaz Boga

Inam Rashid (name changed) was among the many unfortunate ones who was picked up and interrogated by state agencies on the pretext of having links with militancy. For five days he was put under extreme interrogation and was subsequently released without being charged. The mental scars of this ordeal refused to heal. As if this was not enough this 35-year-old lost 12 members of his family to the massive earthquake of 2005 in Uri. This was more than Rashid could bear. He sought a grim refuge in multiple addictive substances ‘to erase the memories of his extended sufferings’. He turned to cannabis, nicotine, opium, ethanol and benzodiazepine in search of relief.

Another addict explains the reason for drug abuse saying that he felt no peace, only blood in the air. This resonates with a common perception that the thousands who died violent deaths in Kashmir weigh heavy in the air in Kashmir.

A young addict recalls the desperation of his friend, who during a strike in the city, was forced to pay Rs 5,000 for three bottles of Codeine. ‘He was in such a bad state. He needed it badly. So he shelled out the money and bought the bottles on the black market.’

A patient’s mother who is waiting for the doctors to discharge her son from a de-addiction center says, ‘Why is the drug problem of this magnitude? Why are the authorities not doing anything about it?’

With hardly any mental healthcare facilities or de-addiction centres in the Valley, Kashmiris have been left to fend for themselves in their attempt to deal with the emotional scars which have resulted from the brutal effects of a conflict raging for a little over two decades now.

This 26th June, the Valley has little to show for, as the world observes International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Several studies carried out on addiction in the Valley reveal a strong correlation between conflict and drug abuse. The studies show that in Kashmir, drugs are not used for recreational purposes but as a coping mechanism to deal with the stresses of conflict in the most militarized region in the world.

The stark contrast

Apart from the immediate damage to drug abusers, the medium and long term corrosion to the very fabric of the society by the use of prescription drugs and banned narcotics has been well established in many other places in the world.

Reliable statistics on addiction are notoriously difficult to come by in Kashmir. According to a study conducted by the United Nations Drug Control Programme in 2008, there are 60,000 substance abusers in the Valley. Dr Mushtaq Margoob’s book, Menace of Drug Abuse in Kashmir, published in 2008, states that the Valley has 2.11 lakh drug abusers. The difference in figures can be attributed either to the stigma around addiction or other factors, for instance addicts themselves tend to exaggerate, while their families try to downplay the problem. Any figures therefore should not be treated as absolutely conclusive but an approximation.

In a study done at the Government Psychiatric Diseases Hospital (GPDH) in 2002, doctors compared drug trends from 1980-88 and 2002 in patients – before the armed conflict erupted and after. The figures not only show a shocking state of affairs, but also indicate how deep-rooted the scourge of addiction is. An alarming increase of over sixty percent was reported in the use of opioid-based preparations (9.5 per cent to 73.61 per cent), and an over twenty five percent increase in multiple substance-abuse (15.8 per cent to 41.6 per cent), from the 1980s to 2002.

In another study conducted by GPDH, with help from the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2006, out of the 561 substance-use disorder patients, it was discovered that 63.85 per cent of patients had either experienced or witnessed multiple traumatic events, qualifying for the diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) compared to 36.14 per cent patients who had exposure to one traumatic event.

This startling connection establishes the link between violence, PTSD and recourse to addiction, where PTSD is a primary disorder and subsequent substances abuse is used to self medicate symptoms of the disorder.

Currently, in Kashmir, 80 per cent drug-users comprise those who consume prescription medicines. Easy availability of pharmaceuticals across the counter has contributed to the enormity of the malady. Drugs containing opioids, such as Corex and Codeine are consumed by most addicts. Benzodiazepines like Diazepam, Alprazolam and cannabis derivatives like hashish, marijuana and alcohol are also responsible for the steady surge in addiction. For many school students including girls, items of common use like polish and glue double up as inhalants. The use of nicotine, Iodex, diluters, sleeping pills and inhalants like boot polish, fevicol and ink-removers has been observed in female addicts who might not have the means to obtain other not-so-easily available substances.

Toothless law or complacent state?

In Kashmir the problem has metastasized for several reasons. To begin with, the role of the drug monitoring agencies in controlling the menace in the Valley is zero, emphasizes a doctor. In fact, the law chooses to look the other way. Any person booked under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act can be released on bail; whereas, the act is non-bailable in any other state. The police are not authorised to act against the chemists under the NDPS Act, for misuse of prescription drugs.

It is difficult to break the nexus between the chemists, the peddlers and the police, admits a high-ranking police official. As per his estimation, Sopore and South Kashmir are the worst hit in the Valley. ‘There is a problem of denial in Kashmir. As long as that persists, it is impossible to resolve this problem.’ The official adds, a lack of awareness compounds the problem. In rural Kashmir, families are unaware if a drug is being abused in their midst. ‘The womenfolk don’t know that the man of the house is an addict. They think he’s taking medicines. In that case, how can they help him?’ he asks.

He also feels the current laws are inadequate, ‘The laws that exist are not implemented.’

The past

A study titled, ‘Deviance among adolescents’ conducted on 300 boys and 400 girls in 2005, reveals that youth are the most vulnerable to drugs. College students in Srinagar and Kupwara, both male and female, were observed using drugs and alcohol.

The objective of the study was to research deviant behaviour of adolescent boys and girls under conditions of armed conflict. The report states that a total of 20 per cent boys and 14 per cent girls were involved in drug abuse, and 34 per cent cases were at the risk of potential suicide. Interestingly, boys and girls from middle class families constituted 70 per cent of drug-abusers.

‘A big reason of students taking to drugs and alcoholism is poor performance in academics, insecurities and peer pressure,’ said Professor A G Madhosh, who was the lead researcher for the study. He says, ‘By 2010, there has been a 15 per cent rise in addiction.’

Operation Drug ‘Em All?

The connection between the intensity of internal conflict and prevalence of drug abuse is not incidental. The conflict in the North East of India, especially Manipur, saw a marked decline and success in containment by the state in the past decade or so. This was in great measure due to several reasons – one of them being the easy availability of drugs during this period and its direct link to intravenous drug use and HIV, which swept through the entire population like a raging wildfire, consuming an entire generation of young people with it. Some 1,00,000 people live with HIV and AIDS in the North East, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) states.

Kashmir too, is on its way if the situation remains unchecked.

Four studies have been commissioned by the Government of India, undertaken by specialists here, titled ‘Women and children under armed conflict’. Professor Madhosh says the studies are complete but he is unable to comment on them any further. But sources related to the study revealed, ‘In highly militarised regions of North Kashmir such as Kupwara, we found the highest concentration of addicts. It is an alarming situation as there is free access to drugs and alcohol due to army presence.’

A doctor from Srinagar confirmed this connection after he came across a patient who used to source his prescription drugs from an army camp. Not only have the armed forces encouraged addiction openly, but in instances they have also come down heavily on locals who have resisted this.

A journalist remembers an incident in North Kashmir where after several fruitless attempts to get the police to act upon a group of addicts who would routinely gather at a bus terminal, some youth and elders of the village joined hands to deal with the nuisance. Violence ensued after the group of addicts refused to budge from the spot. The following day, the same villagers were assaulted by personnel from a local army camp, recalls the source. ‘The villagers were assaulted brutally, and were categorically warned by the army to leave the addicts alone.’ A police official agrees to the fact that the army was involved and elaborates on how it all started and why. He recalls how in the nineties, drugs were used by the security forces as a strategy in seeking information on militants.

‘In the 1990s, when militancy was at its peak, the security forces used to exchange drugs for information provided by ex-militants. The situation is different now – militancy is almost eliminated, but the drug issue has become worse with the years.’

The present: Scale of the epidemic

Dr Arshad Hussain, a psychiatrist at the GPDH, recounts that historically, Kashmir used to be a low drug addiction zone. In the 1980s, when the entire sub-continent, a part of Golden Triangle, was witnessing an opioid boom, Kashmir had resisted. Not anymore.

The situation has taken a drastic turn. Just the statistics are alarming, as per the GPDH figures – 90 per cent abusers belong to the age group of 17-35, with a lifetime prevalence of drug addiction. This is a very conservative estimate, experts say. Many deaths have been reported in young men because of opioid use. Epidemiologists categorically state that this indicates an ongoing epidemic. Dr Abdul Maajid of the Psychiatry Department of the SKIMS Medical College, Bemina, informs about the deaths of three drug abusers in rural areas in North Kashmir in the last three months alone – two persons, who died of drug over-dose, and one died in a road accident because he was high on drugs.

What is more alarming is the fact that the first time user belongs to the much younger age group. Steadily, Kashmir is losing the most productive age group to drugs, with manifold repercussions on social and occupational function, affecting both society and economy.

The social and economic implications of substance abuse are worrisome. Increased absenteeism and deterioration in quality and quantity of work output are also witnessed in substance abuse cases. These youngsters who should be at the prime of their abilities become dysfunctional entities within society in the long term.

The effects of drug abuse are long-term and limitless, as they percolate through all the aspects of life. Dr Arshid Hussain says, ‘There is an increase in the crime rate, road accidents, suicides and suicidal attempts, deaths due to overdose, psychiatric disorders and high cost on general health issues due to chronic drug abuse like liver disorders, gastritis, accidental injuries and an increased risk for HIV infections due to Intravenous Drug Use (IDU).’

Not to mention the toll it takes on a family. The emotional trauma, shame, and grief resulting from abuse and the frequent threat of violence and subsequent separation cause irreparable damage to the family structure. Addiction impacts children’s lives too, often leaving them to bear its consequences till late adulthood.

‘Lost: one generation to gun, next to drugs’

A study by the Sociology Department of Kashmir University reveals that 35 per cent of youth between 15 to 25 years of age have taken to drugs. Sociologist Dr B A Dabla says, ‘We lost one generation to the gun and we are going to lose the next to drugs.’ The number of girls involved is also high, even school girls are addicts, he adds. The solution, explains Dr Dabla, lies in providing solid economic, religious and psychological remedies.

There have been efforts towards this, in the year 2004 the Department of Psychiatry of Government Medical College conducted awareness and intervention programmes in Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla. A record number of 2,500 patients were identified and a treatment plan was formulated. Many underwent detoxification and a lesser number continued treatment because of the absence of proper de-addiction facilities.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), an international humanitarian aid organisation also works to address this burgeoning situation in the Valley. MSF tries to help clients through weekly counseling sessions. A team member informs that awareness is a big part of trying to form a solution, ‘Psycho-educating them and their families about the problem, the nature of the drug-disorder, the necessary treatment and on the manner in which to deal with the person is a very important part of this work.’

In Kashmir’s case, he adds, ‘The emphasis should be laid on judicious and appropriate prescription of psychotropic drugs. For example, prescription of benzodiazepines and the duration they should be prescribed for.’

Obstacles: Stigma and poor rehab facilities

The Department of Psychiatry is treating at least 2,000 patients a year with drug related problems. Experts say that 90 per cent of patients are between 17 to 35 years of age. Almost all of them were abusing one of the following drugs – opioids, benzodiazepines, cannabinoids and solvents. In a departure from standard practice, these patients are being treated along side with mentally-ill patients with no separate OPD or IPD or rehabilitation facilities because of lack of professional staff.

The youngest victim, in Srinagar’s Police Control Room’s seven-bed de-addiction facility in Batamaloo, was a 13-year-old heroin addict. Despite the social stigma attached to being treated by the police, this facility sees two to three fresh cases a day, doctors say. ‘If this centre was located outside these premises, we’d get thousands of cases,’ opines a doctor. After grappling with the difficulty of talking patients into getting treatment, the families bring them to the centre, only to have the doctors turn them away for lack of beds.

‘So many patients come from faraway villages, but we can’t treat them as we lack the infrastructure in dealing with such huge numbers. It’s heartbreaking but we have no choice,’ explains a doctor. The centre currently has 28 patients on its waiting list from different parts of the Valley. Three patients died after they were turned away due to unavailability of beds. A psychiatrist states: ‘Two patients died of over-dose and one committed suicide.’ Explaining this, Dr Arshid Hussain says that the addicts have a high dependence level on prescription drugs that is facilitated by easy availability.

Tip of the ice-berg

This is only the tip of the ice-berg. Dr Hussain adds that out of the addiction cases that are reported at the hospital, school-going children comprise 15 to 20 per cent of that population; and of this two to three per cent are those who abuse solvents like polish and glue. He says it all started in the nineties with the population turning to drugs like Corex cough syrup, injectable Pentazocine, Benzodiazepines and Spasmo Proxyvon. The result of the damage done then is surfacing now.

Experts say that the Kashmir situation is quite different from any other part of the world. Here, addicts avoid alcohol due to religious reasons and also because it is traceable (it has a strong smell); injectables also leave marks, so they stick to benzodiazepines, codeine phosphate and opiates, which are easily available and can only be traced during the middle and the severe phases of addiction.

Dr Wiqar Bashir of the Batamaloo Drug De-addiction Centre (DDC) blames the gravity of the situation on agencies that monitor drug control, ‘Almost 50 per cent of medical shops in the Valley are unlicensed.’ Easy availability of the drugs is a huge contributing factor to addiction, he believes.

Dr Bashir has also noticed similarities in the cases that he has treated – a close-knit relationship exists between domestic violence, children from broken homes and drug addiction. ‘It leads to destruction in all areas of life.’

Sources in the peddling business reveal that the valley consumes 6000 bottles of Codeine per day, and out of this Sopore alone consumes over 3,000 bottles. ‘If you visit the Degree College in Sopore, you will find that 80 per cent of the boys are on Codeine,’ say ex-addicts who shared this information with doctors. The foregoing scenario shows clearly that the situation is turning for the worse and is deteriorating at a rapid pace. If a large-scale intervention is not initiated by the state at multiple levels, Kashmir will continue to sink in an abyss.

Dr Bashir explains the extent of deterioration, ‘Three years ago, initiation age for addicts was 16 years, now it is 11 to 12 years. In Kashmir, drugs are used as a coping mechanism for stress and depression.’ Almost 50 to 75 per cent addicts, doctors at the DAC have found, use drugs to overcome depression, PTSD and anxiety. The DDC has been getting telephonic queries from girls who are addicted to sleeping pills. ‘We cannot admit them here as we don’t have a female ward,’ Dr Bashir admits. Expansion plans are underway at the Batamaloo facility, but they do not encompass a separate ward for females.

Social worker Yasir Zahgeer who has been helping addicts recover for the last eight years, shares his insight on the causes of the sky-rocketing levels of abuse. He reveals that almost 50 per cent of drug abuse cases he has come across are directly related to violence. ‘Patients who are unable to deal with the after effects of torture and violence, those who have been witness to blasts and shoot-outs finally seek refuge in drugs.’

Due to the lucrative nature of drug peddling, he adds, locals hoard these medicines and sell them at higher prices to the addicts.

According to him, increasing the number of doctors is not the answer to this problem which is spiraling out of control. Even if the existing de-addiction facilities are expanded, there will be a shortage of counselors who are a crucial input in preventing relapse. Zahgeer explains, ‘Initially, when the addict is admitted to our centre, doctors play 70 per cent of the role until the withdrawal symptoms disappear, and the counselors play 30 per cent of role in the first week. After that, the ratio is reversed. We need counselors in the long-term to teach them how to resist going back to drugs and to develop new techniques in coping with everyday stress factors.’

Future tense: Genotype altered

Unless there are immediate measures taken from all quarters of society, and a long term effort is made to re-integrate this population into the mainstream, this youth of Kashmir will pass on this disease to their next generation, warns Dr Maajid.

‘It is scientifically proven that chronic stress alters the genotype of the individual. Children will imbibe the behaviour of the parents if they are suffering from PTSD. Stress will lead to drug abuse. The next generation will be genetically pre-disposed to using drugs and this will exacerbate the problem.’

Instead of alienating addicts, or ‘hanging them from Lal Chowk’, as a community leader puts it, the need of the hour is that society supports him or her through de-toxification and counseling thereafter. Societal and familial support can play a major role in the recovery of the individual. They also must ensure that they exert pressure on the authorities to crack down on suppliers, and expose the entrenched nexus that protects drug peddlers.
Dilnaz Boga is a 33-year-old journalist from Mumbai. She was working for a newspaper, Mumbai Mirror as a senior copy-editor. Previously, she has also worked for a city-based newspaper, writing on issues like health, human interest, civic, education and crime. She has also covered conflicts in Kashmir, the North-East and Gadchirolli for several publications in Mumbai. She completed her BA in English and Psychology from Sophia College, Mumbai University and her MA in English literature from Mumbai University. In July 2004, she completed her MA in Peace and Conflict Studies with a distinction on her dissertation ‘Cycles of violence: The impact of human rights violations on the children in Kashmir’ from the University of Sydney in Australia.”

 

(Quelle: Countercurrents.)

China und Indien auf “Schmusekurs”

Donnerstag, Juni 10th, 2010

“A ‘zhengyou’ relationship with China

During Pratibha Patil’s recent visit to China, both sides celebrated the Copenhagen spirit and affirmed to take the relationship beyond bilateral to global cooperation

By VIDYA SUBRAHMANIAM

At the Asia Hotel in Beijing, Ma Jisheng, an official with the information department of the Foreign Ministry, was declaiming on millennia-old India-China relations. Suddenly he flung aside the prepared text and announced that he would speak straight from the heart: ‘Would the media on both sides please give India and China a chance to develop normal relations?’

The official’s point was simple. Attitudes hardened when the media sensationalised issues, and the events of 2009, when bilateral relations reached a precipitous low following media frenzy and scare-mongering, proved as much. ‘This constant harping on border, visa and other things, is it not like eating the same food everyday?’ Mr. Ma asked plaintively, adding, ‘I cannot help but think sometimes that China and India would solve their problems if only the media kept quiet a bit.’

The Indian media delegation accompanying President Pratibha Patil had looked upon the Asia Hotel lunch as little more than an interlude in an itinerary packed with ceremonial welcomes, meetings, inaugurations, receptions and so forth. Ornamental phraseology and practised rhetoric are the stuff of such visits, and we were naturally taken aback by Mr. Ma’s plain speaking. Perhaps he was being free and frank because we were not officials but the media?

Yet as the tour — organised to coincide with the landmark 60th anniversary of the establishment of India-China diplomatic relations — progressed, it was evident that even at the highest level of the Chinese leadership there was a degree of candour and responsiveness that took the Indian side by surprise. As the presidential outing drew to a close, both sides seemed to concur that Ms Patil’s visit had gone beyond the perimeter of goodwill ambassadorship to generate tangible positives for the future. A highly placed Indian official told The Hindu: ‘I read the visit as a clear Chinese signal to have better relations with us.’

It certainly helped that Ms Patil arrived in Beijing at a time when India-China relations were seen to be on the mend after a difficult year characterised by intense mistrust on both sides. The irritants seemed daunting enough on their own: China’s angst over the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, and the Indian unhappiness at stapled visas, not to mention apprehensions over Chinese-assisted construction in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). But aided by irresponsible speculation on an upcoming war, they began to look insurmountable. In July 2009, the editor of an Indian defence magazine prophesied that China would attack India by 2012. A month later, a so-called Chinese strategist posted a web article that argued that China with some effort could indeed balkanise India.

Neither of the articles was officially authorised. Yet, together, they assumed a life of their own with commentators in India hyperventilating about China’s hidden agenda, and the Chinese media and think tanks contributing their bit to the rising hysteria.

While it may be difficult to locate the precise point when tensions began to ease up, analysts on both sides agree that India and China were well served by the ‘Copenhagen spirit.’ This is a euphemism for the exemplary cooperation witnessed in the Danish capital during the December 2009 Climate Change summit. India and China so finely coordinated their negotiating positions at the talks that the online edition of the German magazine, Der Spiegel, was provoked to put out an article, ‘How India and China sabotaged the UN Climate Summit.’

The summit revealed the humongous potential of India-China cooperation on international platforms. Given the size of either country’s population and economy, India and China are intimidating enough individually. Together their might could be staggering. Not surprisingly, Copenhagen became a metaphor for forward movement at the 2010 India-China Beijing talks. Ms Patil and President Hu Jintao agreed that the Asian neighbours were now ready to move beyond bilateral engagement to consider cooperation at international groupings and venues, among them G-20, Doha and BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China).

The enlarged scope of cooperation was brought up again on the last day of talks by Vice-President Xi Jinping, who made several significant points. First, he declared that India and China were ripe for a ‘new start.’ Second, he reiterated the prospects for global cooperation between the Asian neighbours. Third, he pointed out that between them China and India boasted a combined population of 2.6 billion. The imagery would overawe anyone: Two fastest growing economies with close to 40 per cent of the global population acting in tandem. That Mr. Xi followed this up by attending the 60th anniversary celebrations of India-China relations held at a local hotel was not missed by the Indian side. Mr. Xi is not just any Vice-President. Though currently fifth in the Chinese leadership hierarchy, he is widely tipped to succeed Mr. Hu, which invests his words with weight and value. Mr. Xi’s presence at the reception was noteworthy because the usual practice is to send Ministers to such functions.

Indian Foreign Ministry officials counted other factors which lent that special touch to the presidential visit. Ms Patil had an audience with each member of the leadership hierarchy — besides Mr. Hu and Mr. Xi, she met Chairman of the National People’s Congress Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao and Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Jia Qinglin. This is considered a rare honour for a visiting head of state.

Through the visit, the two sides seemed to have firmed up a formula, slowly evolving over meetings between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Chinese leadership, and now held up as the way forward: Manage the areas of conflict so that the relationship, rather than being held hostage to ‘one or two persisting issues,’ could move forward to explore areas of global and bilateral cooperation.

Inevitably India’s growing trade with China — China is India’s largest trading partner with volumes targeted to reach $ 60 billion this year — figured prominently in the talks as did the fact that it was adversely balanced against India. President Patil missed no opportunity to speak for wider Indian access to Chinese markets. India’s exports are currently restricted to primary and resource-based products such as iron ore and copper, with little opening available to core competence sectors like IT, pharma and engineering. In her speeches, Ms Patil stressed these as thrust areas for market development, and according to Indian officials, the Chinese team agreed that the trade imbalance was not sustainable. Said an Indian official: ‘The Chinese are minimal with their promises because they see them as commitment. The fact that at almost every forum they agreed to import more from us shows that they are very serious about trade.’

Yet with all the positives, the tour also showed how delicately poised the relationship is and how easily views can be shaped for or against China. So far, the Indian public opinion has alternated between exultation over Chindia and paranoia over imagined war threats. Chindia is an inappropriate coupling notwithstanding the growing prospects for India-China global joint action. China is far ahead of us on all indicators. On infrastructure and organising capacity, we must abandon all hopes of catching up — a truth that hit home when we saw the woefully inadequate Indian pavilion at the Shanghai expo.

As the presidential entourage flew into Beijing, the media mood was set by a report in the Guardian indicating huge Chinese diversion projects on the Brahmaputra. But thanks to excellent background briefing by the Indian side, which pointed to lack of evidence for the report, the accompanying media were prevented from blowing it up into ‘yet another Chinese threat.’

As against this, the media mood swing was overly positive on India’s aspirations for a United Nations Security Council seat. Ms Patil did seek China’s backing for it during her summit meeting with President Hu, and China did broadly indicate its support but the phraseology was far more nuanced than understood by the Indian media which drummed it up as ‘China backs India on UNSC seat.’ Indeed, the omission of the ‘promised’ UNSC seat from the Chinese Foreign Ministry statement issued the same day underscored the pitfalls of overinterpreting what Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao described as ‘a gradually developing relationship.’ What official sources did convey later was that on the UNSC seat, ‘the Chinese were far more positive than they have been so far.’

Tibet provided some more media excitement on the last day of talks. Ms Rao and Ambassador S. Jaishankar were bombarded with questions: Did China raise Tibet? Just when we thought things were going fine, they brought up this irritant. Is this not unfair to us? MP Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, who was on the tour, added to the panic: ‘Heard they are singing the Tibet tune.’ Tempers cooled down only after the Indian side explained that Tibet was on a checklist of queries China always raised in talks with India. The Indian side had a checklist too, and it was routine for both countries to go through the motions and allay each other’s fears.

A top member of the Indian official delegation summed up India-China relations in terms of ‘pengyou’ and ‘zhengyou.’ ‘Pengyou’ is a superficial friend. ‘Zhengyou’ is a serious, real friend who will frankly admit to problems and work at overcoming them: ‘We have a zhengyou relationship with China.’”

(Quelle: The Hindu.)

Die Kaschmir-Karte

Freitag, Mai 28th, 2010

“Kashmir card

Kashmir serves as jackboot to kick civilian rulers every time they dare assert their control over Pakistan’s foreign policy

By Farooq Sulehria

A report highlighted by Indian daily, The Hindu, informs about an increase in ’infiltration’ at the Line of Control (LoC). If one goes by the report, the year 2009 ‘’saw a year-on-year increase in infiltration for the first time since 2002, with an estimated 106 terrorists crossing over in 433 recorded attempts’’. According to the newspaper, ‘’there were 342 reported infiltration attempts in 2008’’. It must be a fantastic coincidence that increased infiltration coincides with public rallies and conferences by proscribed militant outfits. One such public show, on February 4, was organised in Muzafarabad under the auspices of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), a re-named Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). A dozen militant groups, besides General Hameed Gul, attended this moot (Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, or JKLF, strongly objected to a Jihadi conference in Muzafarabad). Next day on February 5, Jamaat-ud-Dawa staged a rally in the heart of Lahore.

That the infiltration has increased or Jihadi outfits are crying extra hoarse under a democratic ally elected government indicates a sinister pattern visible since General Zia-ul-Haq’s not-so-accidental death. Every time an elected civilian set up begins to take shape in Pakistan, the Kashmir issue is assigned a catbird’s seat by the powers that be. For instance, Benazir Bhutto invited her Indian counterpart, Rajiv Gandhi, during her first stint in power (1988-90) in an endeavour to improve relations with India. During this visit, Rajiv’s entourage was supposed to pass by Kashmir House in Islamabad. The road-side signboard indicating the location of Kashmir House, was mysteriously removed ahead of entourage’s arrival. The signboard was removed, according to propaganda commissars, ‘lest it should embarrass Rajiv’. This minor incident triggered a media uproar and oppositional agitation. Also, this trifle helped stigmatise Benazir Bhutto as the so-called ‘security risk’. Ironically, oppositional campaign was spearheaded by the then Punjab chief minister, Nawaz Sharif. Ten years on, Nawaz Sharif as prime minster, attempted to normalise relations with India. He invited his Indian counterpart, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, to Lahore. A violent protest in Lahore by Jamaat-e-Islami on Vajpayee’s arrival, to stall the peace process, was perhaps a knee jerk response. A more calculated answer to Nawaz Sharif’s peace bid was Kargil conflagration. Paradoxically enough, when the architect of Kargil misadventure, General Musharraf, forcibly replaced Nawaz Sharif at the helm of affairs, Kashmir’s touchy issue was conveniently consigned to the back burner. Thus Kashmir serves as the jackboot to kick the civilian rulers every time they dare assert their control over country’s foreign policy. To boot, myopic politicians complicate situation for themselves. Whenever a civilian ruler is besieged or attempts to establish patriotic credentials, s/he shots out a hawkish statement on Kashmir. It is like Arab world where every tyrant outdoes other autocrats in championing the Palestine cause.

Latest attempt to champion Kashmir question was made by President Zardari. Talking to the members of Azad Kashmir’s Legislative Assembly, earlier this year, he vowed to honour his father-in-law’s pledge to wage ‘a thousand year war’ to seize from India the territory claimed by Pakistan. Similarly, it was Nawaz Sharif who declared February 5 a national holiday as a gesture of solidarity with Kashmir’s Muslim brethren. As if to prove that champions of Kashmir cause give a damn to Muslim brethren close at home, the same industrialist Nawaz Sharif, during his second tenure as prime minister, annulled the workers’ holiday on May Day!

By being hawkish, the elected leaders fail to understand, they undermine their own position. To strengthen democracy, parliamentary forces need to reclaim foreign policy. Militarisation of foreign policy would only serve anti-democratic forces and their Jiahdi proxies. Definitely not a good omen either for democracy or for peace in the region.


* Farooq Sulehria is working with Stockholm-based Weekly Internationalen (www.internationalen.se). Before joining Internationalen, he worked for one year,2006-07 at daily The News, Rawalpindi. Also, in Pakistan, he has worked with Lahore-based dailies, The Nation, The Frontier Post and Pakistan. He has MA in Mass Communication from Punjab University, Lahore. He also contributes for Znet and various left publications in Europe and Australia.”

(Quelle: Viewpoint.)