Posts Tagged ‘Südasien’

USA: Drohneneinsätze und Völkerrecht

Montag, Juni 25th, 2012

“Drone strikes threaten 50 years of international law, says UN rapporteur

US policy of using drone strikes to carry out targeted killings ‘may encourage other states to flout international law’

By Owen Bowcott in Geneva, Thursday 21 June 2012 17.54 BST

The US policy of using aerial drones to carry out targeted killings presents a major challenge to the system of international law that has endured since the second world war, a United Nations investigator has said.

Christof Heyns, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, summary or arbitrary executions, told a conference in Geneva that President Obama’s attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, carried out by the CIA, would encourage other states to flout long-established human rights standards.

In his strongest critique so far of drone strikes, Heyns suggested some may even constitute “war crimes”. His comments come amid rising international unease over the surge in killings by remotely piloted unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Addressing the conference, which was organised by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a second UN rapporteur, Ben Emmerson QC, who monitors counter-terrorism, announced he would be prioritising inquiries into drone strikes.

The London-based barrister said the issue was moving rapidly up the international agenda after China and Russia this week jointly issued a statement at the UN Human Rights Council, backed by other countries, condemning drone attacks.

If the US or any other states responsible for attacks outside recognised war zones did not establish independent investigations into each killing, Emmerson emphasised, then “the UN itself should consider establishing an investigatory body”.

Also present was Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Zamir Akram, who called for international legal action to halt the “totally counterproductive attacks” by the US in his country.

Heyns, a South African law professor, told the meeting: “Are we to accept major changes to the international legal system which has been in existence since world war two and survived nuclear threats?”

Some states, he added, “find targeted killings immensely attractive. Others may do so in future … Current targeting practices weaken the rule of law. Killings may be lawful in an armed conflict [such as Afghanistan] but many targeted killings take place far from areas where it’s recognised as being an armed conflict.”

If it is true, he said, that “there have been secondary drone strikes on rescuers who are helping (the injured) after an initial drone attack, those further attacks are a war crime”.

Heyns ridiculed the US suggestion that targeted UAV strikes on al-Qaida or allied groups were a legitimate response to the 9/11 attacks. “It’s difficult to see how any killings carried out in 2012 can be justified as in response to [events] in 2001,” he said. “Some states seem to want to invent new laws to justify new practices.

“The targeting is often operated by intelligence agencies which fall outside the scope of accountability. The term ‘targeted killing’ is wrong because it suggests little violence has occurred. The collateral damage may be less than aerial bombardment, but because they eliminate the risk to soldiers they can be used more often.”

Heyns told the Guardian later that his future inquiries are likely to include the question of whether other countries, such as the UK, share intelligence with the US that could be used for selecting individuals as targets. A legal case has already been lodged in London over the UK’s alleged role in the deaths of British citizens and others as a consequence of US drone strikes in Pakistan.

Emmerson said that protection of the right to life required countries to establish independent inquiries into each drone killing. “That needs to be applied in the context of targeted killings,” he said. “It’s possible for a state to establish an independent ombudsman to inquire into every attack and there needs to be a report to justify [the killing].”

Alternatively, he said, it was “for the UN itself to consider establishing an investigatory body. Drones attacks by the US raise fundamental questions which are a direct consequence of my mandate… If they don’t [investigate] themselves, we will do it for them.”

It is time, he added, to end the “conspiracy of silence” over drone attacks and “shine the light of independent investigation” into the process. The attacks, he noted, were not only on those who had been killed but on the system of “international law itself”.

The Pakistani ambassador declared that more than a thousand civilians had been killed in his country by US drone strikes. “We find the use of drones to be totally counterproductive in terms of succeeding in the war against terror. It leads to greater levels of terror rather than reducing them,” he said.

Claims made by the US about the accuracy of drone strikes were “totally incorrect”, he added. Victims who had tried to bring compensation claims through the Pakistani courts had been blocked by US refusals to respond to legal actions.

The US has defended drone attacks as self-defence against al-Qaida and has refused to allow judicial scrutiny of the UAV programme. On Wednesday, the Obama administration issued a fresh rebuff through the US courts to an ACLU request for information about targeting policies. Such details, it insisted, must remain “classified”.

Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s national security project, said: “Something that is being debated in UN hallways and committee rooms cannot apparently be talked about in US courtrooms, according to the government. Whether the CIA is involved in targeted lethal operation is now classified. It’s an absurd fiction.”

The ACLU estimates that as many as 4,000 people have been killed in US drone strikes since 2002 in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Of those, a significant proportion were civilians. The numbers killed have escalated significantly since Obama became president.

The USA is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC) or many other international legal forums where legal action might be started. It is, however, part of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) where cases can be initiated by one state against another.

Ian Seiderman, director of the International Commission of Jurists, told the conference that “immense damage was being done to the fabric of international law”.

One of the latest UAV developments that concerns human rights groups is the way in which attacks, they allege, have moved towards targeting groups based on perceived patterns of behaviour that look suspicious from aerial surveillance, rather than relying on intelligence about specific al-Qaida activists.

In response to a report by Heyns to the UN Human Rights Council this week, the US put out a statement in Geneva saying there was “unequivocal US commitment to conducting such operations with extraordinary care and in accordance with all applicable law, including the law of war”.

It added that there was “continuing commitment to greater transparency and a sincere effort to address some of the important questions that have been raised”.


(Quelle: The Guardian.)

Siehe auch:

US drone strikes ‘raise questions’ – UN’s Navi Pillay
Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns
Obamas leise Killer

Afghanistan / Pakistan: Wer profitiert von der Kriegsökonomie?

Montag, Juni 7th, 2010

“The world cup of economic and military warfare

By Kathy Kelly and Joshua Brollier

June 2, 2010

Islamabad— ‘Our situation is like a football match. The superpower countries are the players, and we are just the ball to be kicked around.’ This sentiment, expressed by a young man from North Waziristan, has been echoed throughout many of our conversations with ordinary people here in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. Most are baffled that the United States, with the largest and most modern military in the world, can’t put a stop to a few thousand militants hiding out in the border regions between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Just about everyone we have spoken with, Pashtuns included, has little to no sympathy for the Taliban or their tactics. Many people have lost limbs, homes and loved ones to the brutal assaults of suicide bombers or the indiscriminate violence of IEDs. Yet, people expressed frustrated confusion over uncertainties regarding U.S. government goals in relation to the Taliban. Some believe that the United States might be working with the ISI (Pakistani Intelligence Services) or at least not working against them, to enable continued Taliban resistance. If there is no resistance, according to this view, a military presence in the region cannot be justified. Nor can a so-called humanitarian presence further flood the Pakistani and Afghan economies with millions of dollars in aid that most often lines the pockets of the politicians, elite bureaucrats, and United States corporations involved in construction and security.

The fact that very little aid money has reached the impoverished and war weary people who need it most has been confirmed to us by members of the Afghan and Pakistani governments, human rights organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations and several very unfortunate families forced to live as refugees. As Hyder Akbar, a Pashtun working on NGO assessments in Afghanistan, said to us, ‘If you are pouring 100 million dollars into a tiny and impoverished province like Kunar and seeing no results, you’re obviously doing something wrong.’ However, several seasoned analysts agree that money alone can’t solve problems faced by impoverished people in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Both Dr. Mubashir Hassan, former finance minister of the Peoples Party of Pakistan, and Nur Agha Akbari, from the Ministry of Agriculture in Afghanistan, strongly believe that efforts to bring people out of poverty in South Asia must be initiated, at district and village levels, through consultation with grass roots, indigenous community groups. Mr. Akbari stressed that there is still an opportunity for the United States government and people to play a positive role in Afghanistan, but that role will not be possible until the United States stops giving orders and starts listening to community groups living in Afghanistan.

It’s also time that the United States drop the facade of humanitarianism that guides our national discourse concerning Afghanistan and Pakistan. For too long, most people in the United States couldn’t find Pakistani areas such as North Waziristan or Orakzai on the map. They had no idea where Helmand or Kandahar were located. Now, with our newspapers less preoccupied by Iraq, we learn to be worried for Afghan and Pakistani women if there is a Taliban take-over in the area. This isn’t to say that the United States should not care about the rights of women in both countries or the implications of a spread in extremist ideology. But, military intervention is not curbing the growth of Islamic militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and U.S. ‘strategic interests’ in the area certainly guide most U.S. policy makers more than altruistic concern for women. For instance, the United States government seldom mentions the rights of women who are forced to live, as a result of U.S. policy, in refugee camps just outside of the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Women and children almost always have less physical and food security in refugee camps, and they are easier targets for sexual violence.

One doesn’t have to spend much time in South Asia to find many people who feel that tactics like the U.S. offensive in Kandahar, torture and indefinite detention at Bagram, and the drone strikes in Pakistan are fanning the flames of resistance and increasing the ranks of violent groups that manipulate Islam for their own purposes. Muslims in both Pakistan and Afghanistan have asked that we tell people in the United States that Islam is a religion of peace. ‘A man who uses violence has no religion,’ says Abbas, a young man from Islamabad.

Students, professors, and human rights advocates in both countries affirmed that relationships, independent of military force, could be built between the people of the U.S. and South Asia. Those who’ve told us that military force is necessary to confront extremism have invariably added that the timing and control of military action should be in the hands of those who live in the region and know the society.

The United States bears a huge responsibility to make reparations to people of Afghanistan and Pakistan after pursuing nearly 10 years of destructive warfare that has destabilized both countries. There is a looming fear that, in Afghanistan, the United States is going to abandon the country and its people, returning Afghanistan to a Taliban or pre-Taliban era. But the withdrawal of troops does not require the U.S. to abandon Afghanistan. There are models for securing development efforts, in conflict zones, that do not require hundreds of thousands of troops, networks of military bases, and the overwhelming force of aerial surveillance and bombing.

Mr. Abdul Rahman Hotaki, a lawyer and director of the the Afghan Organization of Human Rights & Environmental Protection (AOHREP), points out that, roughly, only 20 percent of the funds given the U.S. Army Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) ever reach the stage of investment in an actual project. Even when PRTs effectively build a road or a school, gaining the trust of a community is problematic because the lines between military and humanitarian work become blurred. Schools, roads and other projects are often sabotaged under the suspicion that the projects are built more to serve U.S. imperialistic interests than to help Afghans.

In Afghanistan, it’s helpful to evaluate the construction of schools by Community Development Councils (CDCs) which, from start to finish, included participation of people living in the locale where the school was being built. In the CDC model, communities start by putting put up some funds or guarantees in advance of the project and then provide their own security throughout the process. Ashraf Ghani, former finance minister of Afghanistan, initiated the setup of these CDCs under the National Solidarity Project, which was loosely based on a model proposed by Nur Agha Akbari and Ahmad Shah Massoud. Not a single school built by the CDCs has been attacked by Taliban or other forces. Hyder Akbar attributes this to the sense of ownership by the community which creates security for the schools. USAID and other international donors have lauded such models but then revoked funding before projects could get off the ground. Both Mr. Nura Agha Akbari and Mr. Abdul Rehman Hotaki expressed frustration about having been involved in extensive preparation for CDC modeled projects, only to see their communities let down when donors from the U.S. and Canada decided they had other priorities.

The Italian NGO, Emergency, provides another solid example of dedication to Afghanistan that both philosophically and practically surpasses the United States’ policy of continued warfare as a means to achieve security. Emergency’s goal is providing health care and medical treatment to civilian victims of war and poverty. And they do it well. Their involvement in Afghanistan first began in 1999 through construction of a Surgical Centre in Anabah, a village in the Panjshir Valley. Emergency has since developed three major hospitals and 28 first aid posts and medical centers, treating over 2.5 million people. They treat all sides in a conflict without discrimination and they charge nothing to their patients. Although they operate on a modest budget and can’t afford to pay the higher salaries offered by other NGOs, they attract and keep employees who admire Emergency’s work. Their employment rosters steadily show staffing that is half Afghan and half international. Most employees we met told us they are motivated by principle rather than profit. ‘Utopia? No,’ says Emergency’s founder, Dr. Gino Strada, M.D., ‘We are convinced that the abolition of war is a political project to realize, with great urgency. For this we cannot be silent in the face of war, any war. We are guilty of proposing the abolition of war.’

Altruistic principles are evidently not driving the continued presence of the defense corporations operating in Afghanistan. As Bill Quigley, legal director of New York City’s Center for Constitutional Rights points out, executives for the three largest U.S. defense corporations, Northrup Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, have received a combined 177 million dollars in personal compensation over the past three years. With profits rolling in at this rate, there is not much incentive for weapons suppliers to encourage the Obama administration to enact a speedy withdrawal of U.S. forces and their weapons from Afghanistan.

Even the NGOs and aid organizations have something to gain from a continued war economy. Peter Marsden, author of Afghanistan: Aid, Armies and Empires, worked with British NGOs in Afghanistan from 1989 to 2005. His book describes the way in which underline;”>the United States has provided money for its own NGOs instead of directing money to the Afghan government. This policy causes a flood of overpaid charity workers from all over the world, most of whom buy supplies from their own countries. Not only do they spend their money elsewhere, but these aid workers usually draw a salary as large as 150 to 300 times the average Afghan income, which sits around $200, per person, per year.

Though the United States constantly threatens and carries out drone strikes in Pakistan, the Obama Administration insists that it has goodwill towards Pakistan and that the U.S. economic and military presence in the country is intended to be mutually beneficial. In its most recent National Security Strategy outline, the White House proposes to build cooperation with its international partners through ‘governance reform of the IMF and the World Bank.’ The administration also says it is renewing U.S. leadership in the IMF, leveraging its engagement and investments, to ‘strengthen the global economy’ and ‘lift people out of poverty.’

This rhetoric falls short of reality in Pakistan where the IMF, under U.S. leadership, is pushing through an aid package of US$ 7.27 billion for the Pakistani economy. On the surface, $7.27 billion dollars sounds quite generous, but the deal will subordinate Pakistan to U.S. military and strategic interests and comes with another string attached, the Value Added Tax (VAT). Quite contrary to ‘lifting people out of poverty,’ the VAT amounts to an additional 15% sales tax on Pakistani products throughout every step of production. Practically, it amounts to a tax on the poor in a country that already has 60 million persons living below the poverty line and inflation reaching 40%. There have been demonstrations against the VAT and U.S. interference in Pakistan nearly every day throughout the past month that we have been in the country.

There is no simple answer or brilliant conspiracy theory that sums up exactly why the United States is at war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. War profiteering, energy resources, the Trans-Afghan pipeline, strategic geo-political positioning and even the narcotics trade may all play a part. But whatever the case, it is clear that the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan have become a football to be kicked about by the powerful players in world politics. If the United States truly wants to move away from this sort of selfish strategy and be appreciated as a genuine partner in the region, it should move towards an approach that values the lives and input of those most vulnerable in Afghan and Pakistani society.

Kathy Kelly ( and Josh Brollier ( are co-coordinators of Voices for Creative Nonviolence (

(Quelle: Voices for Creative Nonviolence.)

Die NATO in Afghanistan: Weltkrieg in einem Land

Samstag, Mai 29th, 2010

“Die NATO in Afghanistan: Weltkrieg in einem Land

Von RICK ROZOFF, 28. Mai 2010 –

Seit die North Atlantic Treaty Organization/NATO im Jahr 2003 den Befehl über die International Security Assistance Force/ISAF in Afghanistan übernommen hat, ist die Anzahl der Soldaten unter diesem Kommando von 5.000 auf über 100.000 angestiegen.

Wenn man die US-Soldaten mitzählt, die in der eigenständigen (US-) Operation Enduring Freedom eingesetzt sind, befinden sich insgesamt 134.000 ausländische Soldaten in dem Land; bis zum Sommer werden es 150.000 sein, und dann sollen auch die meisten der GIs unter NATO-Befehl stehen. Neben den Truppen aus den USA gibt es 47.000 Soldaten aus anderen NATO-Staaten und aus Partner-Nationen.

Bald werden mehr US-Soldaten in Afghanistan als im Irak eingesetzt sein.

Bisher wurden in diesem Krieg mehr als 1.600 Soldaten aus den USA, den anderen NATO-Staaten und aus Ländern der Koalition getötet, 520 davon allein im letzten Jahr. Die Anzahl der US-Toten hat sich von 155 im Jahr 2008 auf 318 im Jahr 2009 mehr als verdoppelt.

In diesem Jahr wurden schon mehr als 170 afghanische Zivilisten getötet; im Vergleich zum gleichen Zeitraum des Vorjahres ist das ein Anstieg um 33 Prozent. Die Streitkräfte der USA und der NATO haben (…).”


(Quelle: Hintergrund.)

USA sind die Grössten: Fast 700 Milliarden Dollar für das Militär – Weltrekord!

Samstag, Mai 29th, 2010

“U.S. vs. Global Defense Spending

by Laicie Olson

May 21, 2010

The United States remains the global leader in defense spending, surpassing the next closest country by more than eight times.

In a recent speech to the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space Exposition, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates pointed to just a few of the many extreme cases in which U.S. defense outweighs that of other countries:

The U.S. operates 11 large carriers, all nuclear powered. In terms of size and striking power, no other country has even one comparable ship.

The U.S. Navy has 10 large-deck amphibious ships that can operate as sea bases for helicopters and vertical-takeoff jets. No other navy has more than three, and all of those navies belong to pure allies or friends. Our Navy can carry twice as many aircraft at sea as all the rest of the world combined.

The U.S. has 57 nuclear-powered attack and cruise missile submarines – again, more than the rest of the world combined.

Seventy-nine Aegis-equipped combatants carry roughly 8,000 vertical-launch missile cells. In terms of total missile firepower, the U.S. arguably outmatches the next 20 largest navies.

All told, the displacement of the U.S. battle fleet – a proxy for overall fleet capabilities – exceeds, by one recent estimate, at least the next 13 navies combined, of which 11 are our allies or partners.

Those numbers focus only on the Navy, but extreme examples like these span every branch of the Department of Defense.

In 2008, the most recent year for which complete global data is available, the U.S. approved $696.3 billion in defense budget authority (fiscal 2010 dollars). This figure includes funding for the Pentagon base budget, Department of Energy-administered nuclear weapons activities, and supplemental appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan.

This number is eight times more than Russia, 15 times more than Japan, 47 times more than Israel, and nearly 73 times more than Iran.

In inflation-adjusted dollars, the total U.S. defense budget has grown from $432 billion in fiscal 2001 to $720 billion in fiscal 2011, a real increase of approximately 67 percent. The Congressional Budget Office has regularly warned that discretionary spending will come under increased pressure in the coming years. The legacy of the recent economic crisis will be a high and rising debt that must be addressed across the board.

“It is not a great mystery what needs to change,” Gates said. “What it takes is the political will and willingness, as Eisenhower possessed, to make hard choices.”

2008 Defense Expenditure (in billions of current U.S. dollars)

Country 2008 Spending
United States (including war and nuclear) 696.3
Rest of NATO 325.5
Non-NATO Europe 26.8
Russia 86.0
Middle East and North Africa 110.5
Sub-Saharan Africa 12.1
South and Central Asia 41.2
East Asia and Australasia 131.3
China 83.5
Latin America and Caribbean 58.0

Global Total: $1.57 trillion

Countries of Interest (in billions of current U.S. dollars)

Country 2008 Spending
United States (including war and nuclear) 696.3
Canada 19.8
China 83.5
Russia 86.0
United Kingdom 60.8
France 67.2
Germany 46.9
Japan 46.0
Italy 30.9
Saudi Arabia 38.2
South Korea 24.2
Israel 14.8
Taiwan 10.5
Iran 9.6
North Korea **
Pakistan 4.4
Venezuela 3.3

Table/Chart Notes: U.S. figure includes funding for wars and nuclear weapons. Data from Congressional Research Service, Office of Management and Budget, International Institute for Strategic Studies.

**North Korea

The U.S. State Department estimates North Korean military spending at as much as a quarter of GNP, with up to 20% of men ages 17-54 in the regular armed forces.

Unfortunately, any publicly available estimates on DPRK defense spending are unreliable.


Unfortunately, there is no such thing as an agreed-upon international definition for “defense expenditure.” Many countries count spending differently and, in some cases, transparency is an issue.

The analysis above uses data from The Military Balance 2010, the authoritative reference almanac produced annually by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Defense spending estimates for China and Russia, both of which regularly underreport their annual military budgets, have been reported using a methodology known as Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). The Military Balancetypically uses market exchange rates to convert countries’ defense spending figures into U.S. dollars. In the case of China and Russia, however, the market exchange rates fail to fully reflect the purchasing power of the yuan and the ruble, respectively. To compensate for this, The Military Balance 2010 uses PPP. This allows for a more balanced calculation of the numbers. All of the figures for China and Russia in the analysis above use PPP figures, which are significantly higher than both officially reported and market exchange rate figures.

The bottom line is that this analysis uses the highest possible defense spending estimates for China and Russia.

Laicie Olson 202-546-0795 ext. 2105

Laicie Olson is Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, where her work focuses on weapons proliferation, military spending and global security issues.”

(Quelle: Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.)

Indien: Aufgaben einer muslimischen Führung

Donnerstag, Mai 27th, 2010

“Muslim Leadership In India

K. Rahman Khan interviewed by Yoginder Sikand

K. Rahman Khan, MP from the Congress Party, is the Deputy Chariman of the Rajya Sabha. In this interview with Yoginder Sikand, he speaks about issues related to Muslim leadership in contemporary India.

Q: What do you think should be the priorities of the Indian Muslim leadership?

A: Two issues should be at the top of the agenda of Muslim leaders today: educational and economic empowerment of Muslims. Unfortunately, Muslim leaders or those who style themselves as such have not given these issues the priority they deserve.

No community can progress without economic and educational empowerment. Sadly, Muslim leaders have tended to neglect this question. Instead, their demands have been largely limited to the same set of issues that they have been harping on for the last sixty-odd years—emotional or emotive issues like discrimination, reservations, the status of the Aligarh Muslim University, Muslim Personal Law, Urdu and so on. These are issues that cannot be resolved overnight. They would take ages to be solved. Muslim ‘leaders’ are fully aware of this but, because of their value in garnering Muslim support, they constantly play on them. In contrast, other communities, even if they too have such identity-related concerns, have changed their priorities and are seriously working to empower themselves economically and educationally.

The contrast between the Muslim leadership, on the one hand, and the leadership of the Dalits, Adivasis and OBCs, on the other, is very instructive in this regard. Dalit, Adivasi and OBC political and religious leaders and intellectuals are working together to struggle for the educational and economic empowerment of their communities. In contrast, Muslim political and religious leaders and intellectuals are a hopelessly divided lot. Together, they have worked to keep the Muslims embroiled in controversies that shut them from the rest of the Indian society. Sometimes, they create these controversies, at other times these are imposed on them from without.

Q: You mentioned the divisions between the different sections of the Muslim leadership: religious, political and intellectual. Could you elaborate on this?

A: Barring in some places, there is no coordination at all between these sections, who represent virtually different worldviews. Thus, the ulema insist that their word must be followed, but this is opposed by Muslim intellectuals, who believe that the ulema are out of touch with contemporary realities. In turn, the ulema think that the intellectuals are wholly un-Islamic and so cannot speak for or about Muslims and Islam. Then, both the ulema and the intellectuals have nothing but scorn for the political class, which, they argue, has completely failed Muslims.

Q: A generally-heard complaint is that Muslim members of various elected bodies fail to effectively champion Muslim concerns and demands. Do you agree?

A: It is a fact that the sort of political leadership that Muslims need, one that emerges from the grassroots and is organically related to the Muslim masses, does not exist and shows no sign of emerging. This is to say, the Muslim political leadership in India is one that is imposed by various political parties. Existing Muslim political leaders are generally handpicked by various political parties and are dependent on these parties for their survival. Hence, it is these parties, and not these ‘leaders’, that ultimately determine the Muslim agenda. If a leadership emerges from the grassroots, it can be strong and vibrant and can articulate the demands and concerns of the people. However, if it is handpicked and exists at the mercy of others, it cannot be independent. Rather, it must always remain dependent on those who actually hold the levers of power and who have appointed them as ‘leaders’ or ‘representatives’ of their community. Tragically, this is the case with the Indian Muslim political leadership today. They are mostly handpicked people, chosen not on the basis of capability but, rather, their family connections, their willingness to toe the line of the party that appoints them and their capacity to garner Muslim votes.

Q: Why do you feel an independent Muslim leadership, based on organic or grassroots support, has failed to emerge in India?

A: There are many factors for this, such as the pathetic levels of education, particularly higher education, among Muslims and the lack of unanimity or at least some semblance of unity in the community. Another crucial factor is that Muslims have not learnt to properly draw the line between religion from politics. Confusion continues to abound on this issue, so that if one alim issues a fatwa that says that politics has nothing to do with religion, at once another alim will issue a counter-fatwa claiming that politics is all about religion and that the two are inseparable. Muslims tend to be very emotional and easily get worked up, and this is taken advantage of by their religious and political leaders. Ulema routinely want to interfere even in areas that are not their domain and for which they lack the knowledge and training. All this, as well as other factors, has made it very difficult for an organically-rooted political leadership with the correct priorities to emerge among the Muslims.

Q: Why is it that almost all prominent Muslim organizations are led or dominated by madrasa-educated ulema who have little or no modern education?

A: I think this is because of the failure of modern-educated Muslim intellectuals to lead the community or to even take an interest in its affairs. Then, again, I also have to say that many Muslim so-called intellectuals share the same mentality or way of thinking as the ulema, being so heavily influenced by them. The overwhelming presence of ulema in many of these Muslim organizations or tanzeem s or jamaat s is also because Muslims have so very few secular NGOs working on issues other than just providing religious education. If we had such NGOs I am sure they could have played a key role in providing more effective leadership to Muslims.

I can’t help contrast the pathetic state of affairs among Muslims with the conditions of a community from my own state of Karnataka that I am familiar with—the Lingayats. Once a rather poor and marginalized community, today the Lingayats are among the most advanced communities in Karnataka. This revolution was, in part, brought about because their enlightened and progressive religious leaders worked together with their political leaders to empower their people economically and educationally. Because the Lingayat religious gurus understood the importance of modern education they were able to convert their mutt s or monasteries into centres for educational excellence. Lamentably, Muslims cannot cite more than a few ulema across the country who are doing such work.

But it is not the fault of the ulema alone. In the Lingayat case, the religious, intellectual, political and business leaders of the community worked together for the empowerment of the community. In the Muslim case, despite the loud rhetoric of Muslim unity and brotherhood, such united efforts are few and far between. Our leaders have massive egos and are simply unwilling to work together with others—which explains the sectarian divisions and the never-ending splits in various boards, jamaat s and tanzeem s. There is simply no meaningful dialogue among Muslim religious leaders belonging to different sects and also between the ulema and Muslim intellectuals and politicians.

Q: If many Muslim ‘leaders’ are ulema from madrasas, it is obvious that madrasas exercise an influence on Muslim opinion to a far greater degree than the number of ulema or madrasa students might otherwise suggest. To enable the ulema to work for Muslim economic and educational advancement, do you feel madrasas are also in urgent need of reform?

A: I think we—by which I mean people outside the madrasa system—tend to give madrasas too much importance. In my opinion, we should ignore them and let them do their work, while we should instead concentrate on promoting modern education among Muslims. Personally, I do not believe that madrasas equip their students to effectively or properly face the contemporary world, but I also feel that by constantly talking about madrasas and the need for external intervention to ‘reform’ them we are making them more defensive, and, hence, more vocal and assertive. It is like the negative publicity they receive when some mufti issues an absurd fatwa—even this provides the madrasas and their ulema news space and helps them expand or strengthen their influence.

Q: But what about madrasa reforms? Today there is much discussion about the need for a Central Madrasa Board to reform the madrasa system, but many ulema are vehemently opposed to this proposal? What do you think is the way out? Further, why is it that when it comes to Muslim education, the media and the state tend to focus only on madrasa reforms rather than promoting modern education among Muslims?

A: I am not opposed to reforms in the madrasas. Indeed, many ulema themselves recognize the need for this. But to frame the discourse about Muslim education solely in terms of madrasas, as some policy-makers and journalists do, is, to my mind, quite misplaced. I have many times told responsible government officials that the state must not seek to play the role of reformer with regard to madrasa education. At best, it can play the role of a facilitator to promote reforms, but these reforms must not be imposed on the madrasas. Rather, they should come about as a result of a meaningful dialogue between the ulema of the madrasas and state agencies.

Continuously harping on the madrasas and madrasa reforms is bound to make the ulema more adamant in their refusal to countenance reforms. It will lead them to think that there is a hidden agenda behind all this, that in the name of ‘reform’ the state wants to destroy the madrasas or deprive the maulvis of their power and influence.

If the media or bureaucrats and politicians keep talking about or keep condemning the madrasas, it is bound to make the ulema even more opposed to change than they presently are. For instance, the completely false allegations of Indian madrasas being engaged in fanning terrorism has made them only more resistant to even internally-driven reform. It is a fact that no madrasa has been identified anywhere in the country as being engaged in promoting terrorism, but yet biased politicians and mediapersons continue to label unfair charges against them.

About the Central Madrasa Board, my own position is that it should not be imposed on the madrasas. There is no need for such a Board if the madrasas do not want it. On the other hand, if they do want such a Board, the state must set it up.

Q: To paraphrase a question that I have already asked you, why is it that it is the ulema, rather than modern-educated intellectuals, that are generally presented as Muslim ‘leaders’? It is an undeniable fact that the ulema are far more visible than non-ulema as heads of various Muslim organizations that claim to represent Muslims.

A: Our intellectuals—the few of them that exist—do not participate in any creative, grassroots work. All they do is talk and criticize. They have little or no organic links with the Muslim masses, unlike the ulema. No one has stopped them from doing practical work, such as setting up institutions for modern education for Muslims. But, yet, they won’t do that. Instead, they will criticize the ulema and Muslim politicians and place the blame for all the ills of the Muslims on their shoulders. This is quite unacceptable.

Q: You just mentioned the need for Muslims to focus on building institutions for modern education and so on. In parts of south India this is indeed happening, which is in marked contrast to the situation in the north, where the bulk of the Muslims are concentrated. What accounts for the fact that, on the whole, the Muslim leadership in south India appears more progressive than its north Indian counterpart?

A: One reason for this difference is the legacy of Partition, which the north Indian Muslims have had to deal with. That and the lingering communal problem were major challenges that they faced, which did not allow them to focus their energies on the work of internal reform and empowerment. For many north Indian Muslims, sheer survival and responding to the Hindutva offensive were their major concerns. In the south, fortunately we were spared the horrors of the Partition. Hindu-Muslim relations in south India have always been much more harmonious, even under the rule of various princes in the pre-Partition era. This enabled south Indian Muslims to work for internal reform. Also, in contrast to north India, there is a sizeable Muslim middle-class in the south, which has used its wealth, expertise and contacts to establish educational and other such institutions.

Q: The Muslim media and Muslim religio-political leaders constantly focus on what they allege is widespread anti-Muslim discrimination, seeming to blame the dominant Hindus or the state for Muslim backwardness. How do you look at this argument?

A: Minorities across the world, almost without exception, do face problems, including various forms of discrimination. India is no exception to this. However, I think Muslims have over-projected the theory of discrimination. In doing so, they have failed to learn to creatively adjust to the situation in which they find themselves. Internalizing this perception that they are widely discriminated against, many Muslims argue that there is no need for them to educate their people because, so they say, in any case they won’t get jobs or whatever.

Unfortunately, self-styled Muslim religious and political leaders and the Muslim media have been constantly drilling this thesis of discrimination into the minds of Muslims, thus further debilitating the community and making it lose confidence in the system and even in itself. And so, today we as a community have come to be characterized by negative thinking, based simply on blaming others for our ills and failures. It would not be an exaggeration to say that today we function on negativism. We simply have not trained our people to think on positive lines, which is what Muslims need if they are to survive and flourish in a competitive system.

I do not disagree with the contention that discrimination does exist, but if it was on the massive scale that Muslim ‘leaders’ allege, how is it that the richest Indian is a Muslim and so is the topper of this year’s Civil Service exams? This very clearly shows that no one can prevent Muslims from progressing except Muslims themselves.

So, my argument is that, yes, discrimination does indeed exist but we cannot afford to lose heart. It should not make us give up, nor should we use it as an excuse not to work hard. On the contrary, it should be make us work extra hard for the community.

Q: In recent years, Muslims have come to see themselves as under siege—in India and elsewhere. They are projected as terrorists, and in India scores of innocent Muslim youth have been arrested, tortured or even killed on false terror-related charges. Has all this not led, quite naturally, to a loss in Muslim confidence in the system and its supposed neutrality?

A: It is true that a number of perfectly innocent Muslims have been targeted—and wrongly so—in the name of countering terrorism. It is also true that this has led to mounting insecurity and insularity among large sections of Muslims. This is then cynically manipulated and played upon by some opportunist ‘leaders’ for their own political purposes. All this is true and is regrettable.

At the same time, my appeal to Muslims is to recognize that, as mentioned in the Quran, even the prophets faced persecution or tests. The reason the Quran talks about these is to provide us a lesson—that we, too, can or will be faced with various trials and tests, but that this should not make us halt our efforts to progress. So, while it is true that Muslims, collectively, are today faced with a number of problems, including from certain external forces, this must not stop them from working for their economic and educational advancement. It is true there are forces that are vociferously opposed to the Muslims and their progress—for instance, Hindutva forces. But if we constantly obsess about Hindutva and give it so much importance, how will we be able to use our energies for positive work, for the educational and economic empowerment of Muslims? Lamentably, Muslim ‘leaders’ have turned a completely blind eye to this.

Q: Muslims have come to be vilified through the media, and this obviously has had seriously negative implications for inter-communal relations as well as the ability of Muslims to have their voices and concerns heard by others. What do you feel should be done to address this problem?

A: Of course there are many things that could or should be done in this regard, but here I would like to mention just a few steps that Muslims could take. Firstly, we Muslims need to change our way of thinking. We need to come out of our negativity and seek to promote genuine dialogue with our fellow Indians from other communities, based on the realization that our fate is so deeply intertwined with theirs and that we have to live together in this common homeland of ours. We must also understand that the status of any community is measured by the degree that it is able to serve, or prove useful to, not just itself but to the entire society as a whole. If Muslims only keep demanding things or agitating against others or talking only of Muslim-specific issues or building institutions that serve only Muslims but fail to provide others or the wider society with anything useful, how can they expect others to respect and value them? If they are a liability on the wider society, why will others treat them properly and listen to their concerns and demands?

We must also come out of this deep-rooted tendency to blame others for our failures. There may be some truth in this charge, but it is not the entire truth. Further, this tendency can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, being used as an excuse not to do anything to extricate ourselves from the lamentable predicament we find ourselves faced with today.

In this regard, I regret to say that almost all Muslim organizations have a very narrow agenda, which is limited simply to Muslim- or Islam-specific issues. They are not at all concerned with broader issues that concern all Indians. In my view, Muslim organizations must reorder and broaden their priorities and agenda, focus on education and economic advancement, desist from stoking emotionally-driven controversies and work to empower Muslims in such a way that Muslims should get their due and, indeed, rise to a position where they can help even others, and not just themselves. For this, it is also imperative that Muslim organizations become a lot more professional, and employ more younger, modern-educated people and encourage them to take on leadership roles. Alongside this, middle-class Muslims must take a much more active role in Muslim community affairs, and set up professionally-run NGOs and institutions to work on a range of social issues other than just religious education.

Q: What do you feel about the role of the Muslim media in promoting a socially-engaged Muslim leadership?

A: I regret to say that the Muslim media has played no role whatsoever in this regard. Like our ‘leaders’, it is obsessed with negativity and with communal issues and controversies. The Muslim-owned media, which is mainly in Urdu, is read by Muslims alone—and that too not by all Muslims but mainly by some Muslims from the lower middle-class. Quite naturally, then, it caters to their demands, their worldview, their prejudices and emotions. The Muslim media is run by and for a section of Muslims alone, and has no impact whatsoever on the state or non-Muslims. Just as I would urge the non-Muslim media to understand Muslim concerns and issues more sensitively, I would also expect the Muslim media to widen its focus and understand the concerns of non-Muslims, too. Both media should also desist from sensationalizing Muslim issues.

In light of the fact of demonization of Muslims in the media, it is imperative that Muslim organizations have a proper media policy. This, however, they completely lack. They simply do not have the professionally-trained personnel for this work. Indeed, many of them simply do not understand the need for this or, even worse, are simply not interested in it even if they have the financial resources for this sort of thing.

Q: How is it that Muslim organizations tend to wholly ignore Muslim women? Or, if they do talk about Muslim women it is only in negative terms, such as arguing for restrictions that would further disempower them?

A: My personal position is that Muslim women too must be educationally and economically empowered. They must be enabled to play their role in the public sphere as well. In this regard, I agree that sometimes Muslim organizations do actively work against Muslim women’s empowerment. Thus, for instance, today they are demanding that there should be a separate quota for Muslim women in seats for elected bodies that are to be reserved for women, but at the same time you have this recent fatwa from a leading madrasa which, in practical terms, makes it virtually impossible for Muslim women to function in such roles.

In this regard, I must also state that the stereotypical image of Muslim women peddled by the media, as being fully-covered up and confined to their homes, is quite misleading. Today, in large parts of India Muslim girls are more educated than Muslim boys. In fact, among the middle-class this is becoming a major social problem in that Muslim girls are compelled, for want of suitable prospective spouses, to marry boys less educated than them. If you go to any Muslim locality, even to slums, you will be surprised to see how many young Muslim girls are now going to schools and colleges.

Q: In recent years, one hears of various schemes for minorities, including Muslims, funded by the state. Why is it that these schemes do not seem to have had much of an impact? Why have they failed?

A: Yes, these schemes have not been very successful. One reason is that in a federal system, schemes prepared and funded by the Central Government generally cannot reach people directly, but, rather, have to go through the state governments. Secondly, the absence of Muslim NGOs—other than those thousands of madrasas and maktabs that are concerned with providing religious education. Muslims simply have not set up such institutions that can access these schemes and publicise them. What we have, instead, are unrepresentative bodies that claim to be NGOs, many of them unreliable and corrupt, that do not engage in any grassroots work but simply issue statements.

To get around the problem there is no alternative to setting up professionally-run and reliable NGOs. I have also suggested that in each panchayat where Muslims live the local mosque committee could function as an NGO to access schemes and funds for both minority-specific as well as general developmental programmes of the state. Muslim and other activists could also use the Right to Information Act to make sure that allocated funds reach their intended beneficiaries. But for all this to happen Muslims have to develop a positive agenda, work together with people from other communities and encourage the emergence of a socially-engaged and relevant leadership whose principal agenda should be to promote modern education and economic empowerment.

K. Rahman Khan can be contacted on

Yoginder Sikand works with the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion at the National Law School, Bangalore.


Uganda: Hilfe aus Indien für Baumwoll-Industrie

Mittwoch, Mai 26th, 2010

“Uganda: Cotton Sector Gets India Support

Kampala — India has pledged to offer Uganda’s cotton sector technical assistance to improve the cotton value-chain and establish the country as a major apparels producer.

The deal includes training farmers in best agronomical practices, providing ginning and textile technology for small-and-medium entrepreneurs, research and development, establishing a fabric and garment training institute.

The move also aims at strengthening the coalition between developing nations to increase bargaining power in negotiations with the big trading partners at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks.

‘We are ready to help transform Uganda’s cotton sector through value-addition because we have the expertise and experience,’ Ravi Bangar, the deputy representative of India’s permanent mission at the WTO, said.

Bangar was leading an Indian team that had come to share knowledge, skills and expertise with Uganda’s agriculture and trade ministry officials. Jolly Sabune, the Cotton Development Organisation managing director, said the cooperation would help increase the income of cotton farmers.

The delegation has visited other sub-Saharan cotton growing countries that include Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Nigeria. India’s new strategy comes at a time when African countries at the WTO negotiations demand for technical assistance and cutting of subsidies the developed nations give farmers to ensure competitiveness and fair play.

‘The Doha Round Table has to have development as a central issue. ‘It must address the trade and development needs of the least developed countries,’ Bangar explained.”

(Quelle: The New Vision.)

Siehe auch:

The threads that bind: How India and China stepped in to save Africa’s cotton industry