Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pakistan Outrage

Musharraf initially made a commitment to the world in 1999 then in 2001 and again in 2004 that he will resign from his military position and bring back democracy to Pakistan, but each time he found an excuse to continue his military rule.

Sensing an increasingly independent judiciary he sacked Pakistan's Chief Justice in March this year - a power not bestowed upon him by the constitution. The Supreme Court overruled him reinstating the Chief Justice.

More recently his bogus election as President was about to be over turned by the Supreme Court when he imposed emergency rule, suspended constitution, decimated the Supreme Court and arrested all senior judges. This is a disgrace and an outrage and no civilised society should have to endure it. This is a desperate act of a desperate dictator trying to cling to power.

The Laws Societies around the world, Inns of Courts and all legal and judicial bodies should condemn this action and insist that Musharraf withdraw Emergency Rule, restore Pakistan Constitution, reinstate all judges of the Supreme Court, release lawyers and others arrested since the emergency.

If Musharraf fails to do this (say) in a week, a massive media campaign should be launched against him by the law societies around the world.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Middle East Peace - Revisited

In the February 1, 2007 blog yours truly had suggested an urgent attention to Middle East Peace and especially following the plan put forward by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabai. After initial criticism the Israelis are now praising the plan as reported widely in press today and especially in this New York Times article today:


It is encouraging that Israelis and Palestinians have taken the initiative on their own. I guess finally they have realized the futility of war and conflict. It also seems that they have given up on Bush Administration brokering a peace deal and quite rightly so as this Administration seems to have no desire to achieve peace anywhere let alone the Middle East.

May be we will see peace in Middle East after all.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq - NOW

Britain and Australia are withdrawing their troops from Iraq. I guess they have finally realized the futility of this mission. The U.S. on the other hand is increasing its troop strength. There was a time when increased troops could have helped and that was immediately after the occupation of Baghdad, but now it is way too late.

The continued occupation and presence of U.S. troops is strengthening the hands of insurgents by providing them a rallying cry. It also helps them recruit angry young Iraqis who have lost a father, brother, sister or mother to this war.

Many politicians argue that withdrawal will result in chaos in Iraq. Well isn't there chaos in Iraq now? Similar concerns were expressed before withdrawing from Vietnam, but look at Vietnam now. It is a progressive country with a booming economy. In Iraq most probably things will deteriorate before getting better, but ultimately things will work out and Iraqis need to resolve their own problems. There are many a sensible people amongst the Shias, Sunnis & Kurds who will in the end prevail in bringing together a coalition government which respects the rights of all.

It is futile to expect Congress to take a lead on this. After enthusiastically supporting the war, Republicans do not know where to look now and the Democrats are guilty of doublespeak and no one really knows where they stand.

This is President Bush's war and the sooner he realizes that there is nothing he can do for Iraq, the better.

Mr. President bring the troops home from Iraq - NOW.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Scourge of Suicide Bombing

It is insane that young people give their lives through suicide bombings because some extremists whip up their emotions to a frenzy. Suicide bombing is a relatively recent phenomena.

In recent history, the first suicide bombing that I can recall was in 1991 when the handsome ex-Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi had his life snuffed out by a young Sri Lankan woman who blew herself up and him with her. Gandhi at the time was only 47 years old and apparently had a long political life ahead of him.

This craze then caught on with the young Palestinians and of late with not so young ones when a 64 year old grandmother blew herself up. Since then, this craze has spread to Iraq killing thousands of people and then to Afghanistan and now more recently to Pakistan.

Islam & the Koran explicitly forbid suicide in so much as it says that anyone committing suicide or taking the life of innocent people is destined to hell. The question for the Muslim world then is why are so many Muslims involved in suicide bombings? Mostly Muslims are killing Muslims. It is time for the Islamic scholars to come out openly and vocally against suicide bombings so that young impressionable men and women who are being used by the extremists are discouraged from these horrendous acts.

Unfortunately, the world seems to link terrorism with Islam. But terrorists have no religion. A terrorist is a terrorist regardless of his religion. It is time that terrorists are separated from Islam and the Muslim scholars of Al-Azhar (Egypt) and other countries stand up and have their voice heard to put an end to this scourge.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Middle East Peace

In the last six years Middle East peace has been a low priority for this Administration. In fact even Bill Clinton did not pay serious attention to it until the last few weeks of his Presidency and he ran out of time. Had he started six months earlier, he may well have been successful.

The question now is what is President Bush going to do in his last two years of Presidency? The Iraq war is likely to be over before the end of 2008 and from where things stand today, historians will not paint a pretty picture of this adventure. President Bush can leave a legacy that will be remembered for years to come. He can do that by making a major push for Middle East peace.

The peace plan presented by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is a reasonable one. Israelis scoffed at it initially but after the Lebanon debacle they are showing willingness to consider it. In the words of an Israeli Minister "it is a starting point". If this plan can be implemented, doors of all Muslim countries will open up to Israel for trade and diplomacy. Also the forever vilification of U.S. will come to an end.

The plan calls for Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem and two states of equal status side by side living in peace with no further claims on each other's territory. Those Palestinians who have claims to return to Israel can be be housed in the settlements Israel vacates in the West Bank.

This requires a bigger sacrifice from Israel as they took over these territories in the 1967 Six Day War started rather stupidly by President Nasser of Egypt and other Arab states with an intent to push Israel into the sea, but resulted in them losing this territory. What Israel would get in the bargain is a chance for peaceful co-existence with neighbouring states and an end to this non-ending war.

President Bush should seek the help of his father as this is way beyond Condi Rice and other Administration officials. Bush Sr. is well respected in the Middle East and has close personal relations with the Saudi King. A peace dialogue can be hosted in Saudi Arabia or Jordan and must also include Hamas which is a legitimately elected Palestinian Government. If the U.S. is not comfortable talking to Hamas let Saudis do that. History shows us that peace is never achieved by excluding extremists as moderates alone cannot not sell a plan to the majority. Remember Menachem Begun, he was declared a terrorist once and went on to become Prime Minister of Israel and made peace with Egypt & Jordan and U.S. had no qualms about talking to him!

Enough human blood has been shed over the last 60 years. Too much despair is in the air and the world owes this region peace so that States and people opt for human and economic development rather than latest methods of killing.

President Bush has the time, the opportunity and a chance to leave an ever lasting legacy. If he can accomplish this, Iraq war will not even show up on history's radar screen.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

State of the Union

A less than impressive 49 minute speech with only a polite applause from the Democrats. Nancy Polosi looked rather uncomfortable except when he talked about health care when all Democrats rose in applause - but Dick Cheney stayed glued to his chair. The Democrats also cheered the President enthusiastically when he talked about immigration reform. Throughout the speech Bush seemed uptight, uncomfortable and less than convincing. He talked about Iraq with not much conviction, an issue that is most important to most Americans.

The strange thing was that Vice President Cheney sat and smirked through most of the speech and Codolozea Rice seemed to be on another planet.

This State of the Union address did not help Republicans any. If the President continues this course the Republicans are in danger of losing more seats in the House and Senate in 2008. With already the possibility of a Democratic President in 2008, checks and balances will be out of the window.

The Republican lawmakers may need to chart their own course to keep their seats and the balance of power which was so cherished by America's forefathers.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Should Bush be Impeached?

Consider this hypothetically. President Bush's surge in Iraq does not work and fatalities rise. Democratic & some Republican politicians make a lot of noise and impeach Bush. Then what?

Dick Cheney takes over as President, but isn't he the guy who promised rose petals for American soldiers in Iraq, so the Congress impeaches him too. Then what?

The next in line, Speaker of the House - Nancy Polosi takes over as President and America has a woman President after all. Then what? After a year or so in the job, she says she likes it and decides to run for President in 2008.

The question is, do Senators Clinton, Obama and Biden on the Democratic side and Hagel, Brownback & McCain on the Republican side want to coronate Nancy Polosi as President, only to taker her on in 2008? I think not. President Bush has nothing to fear.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

So Who will be the Democratic Nominee for President?

Hillary Clinton has been in the lead for Democratic nominee for President. She has four years of Senatorial experience, but more importantly has that formidable machine behind her called Bill Clinton. He is not only experienced, shrewed and Soave but he also relates to people in a very positive way. But he is not running for President, Hillary is and at the end of the day she will have to prove that she can win the Presidential race. Also her initial support for the Iraq war and subsequent silence may come back to haunt her. Republican long knives are already out for her. So they will malign her every which way that only Republicans know how to.

Barrack Obama has thrown his hat in the ring. He is fresh, is a terrific orator and brings excitement to the race. He is also very bright and intelligent, has not voted for the war (as he was not a Senator then) so unlike Clinton he does not have to defend his position. He is already generating tremendous excitement and could create a new wave of voters who are fed up with more of the same hypocritical Washington politics. But it is too soon to say if he will conquer the deep seated prejudices that exist in some states to this day. It will all depend on how the South views him and if they are buying then he will be a formiddable candidate.

But what about John Edwards, the Vice Presidential candidate in the 2004 He is young, smart, experienced and has that captivating boyish smile. He could have been more effective in the 2004 race had Kerry's handlers not pushed him into the background for fear of overshadowing their candidate. Edwards has that Kennedyesque charm, friendly demeanor and an approachable personality. He is already setting the agenda for the campaign which may force other candidates to respond to. He charms the North while he is from the South and that is a valuable combination. So while Clinton and Obama may slug it out with each other, will the man with boyish smile steal the candidacy?

Then there is also Jo Biden. He may not be making much noise right now, but he will get a lot of TV time in the next few months in his capacity as Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The committee will shortly start hearings on Iraq war and many an Administration officials are likely to be on the mat. Joe Biden is a class act on his own and may not wish to run a gruelling race. But he is likely to play an important role in a Democratic Administration. He will make an excellent Secretary of State.

Whoever wins the nomination (and barring any unforeseen circumstances - skeletons in the closet etc.) it seems that at least two of the first three names are likely to be on the Democratic ticket in 2008.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

More Troops to Iraq

So President Bush marches on. Another 20,000 troops to Iraq to implement his agenda. Secretary Gates says no one knows how long these troops will stay in Iraq. Perhaps the problem is not the number of troops but the Agenda itself.

President Bush Sr. had a good reason to attack Iraq and dislodge Saddam Hussain during Gulf War 1. He could have gone all the way to Baghdad and he would have supported by the whole world. But he did not, even though his then Defence Secretary Cheney and the author of current war, Wolfowitz egged him on. Bush Sr. was smart to know that entering Iraq is easy but leaving would be difficult.

Enter George Bush Jr. as the President, Cheney as Vice President and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz in charge of Defense. The stage was all but set for an Iraqi invasion, no matter what. After four year of disastrous war when Baker-Hamilton commission suggest a way out, the President just shoved their reccomendations aside.

It seems that President Bush fails to comprehend realities on the ground. The current Iraqi Government of Al-Maliki is a proxy for Muqtada Al Sadr whose militias are wreaking havoc in Iraq through revenge killings. Many of Sadr's men have penetrated the police force and are killing opponents under the cover of police uniform.

Providing more troops to support this Iraqi government will only increase violence. If anything, President Bush should have threatened to withdraw troops unless the Iraqi Government made good on its committment to broaden the base by including all stakeholders, established an oil revenue sharing formula and disarmed all militias.

The Vietnam war ended because the Congress cut off finances. It seems the time has come for Congress to act again.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

The Holocaust, Germany & Palestine

The Holocaust conference in Iran was in poor taste. Most Muslim countries felt a great deal of unease about this event. We all know that a large number of European Jews were slaughtered in Nazi camps during World War II so why bring it up again.

In my view numbers are irrelevant. It would not have been any less despicable had only half a million died. The fact that this horrific event happened is shameful and a blot on western civilization. I was travelling through Poland by train a few years ago. The train stopped at Aushwitz and while the Poles calmly went about their business I felt sick to my stomach thinking about the killings in Nazi camps. If as a Muslim I am so horrified, I can imagine the pain Jews feel when the name Aushwitz comes up.

Interestingly, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor was most vociferous in denouncing the Tehran conference. I guess memories are short. Was it not Germany that did this to the Jews in the first place? Those German actions are causing havoc in the world especially the Middle East to this day. Creation of State of Israel and the resultant conflict in the Middle East is a direct consequence of that. Millions of Palestinians have lost their land, property, freedom and dignity.

If Germany really wants to hold its head up high then perhaps Frau Merkel should step up to the plate and offer substantial aid to the Palestinians (say) $100 billion. So that their youth, instead of blowing themselves up can get a good education, the Palestinian Entrepreneurs can set up factories to create jobs and Palestinians can live a normal life. This will surely reduce the violence and help Israel and Palestine live side by side in peace.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Breaking the Marble Ceiling

So Nancy Polosi has finally broken the marble ceiling. Congratulations Mrs. Polosi, I am sure a position well deserved. But it begs the question, why has it taken so long for a woman to enter one of the top four offices in the United States?.

While England is the birth place of democracy, United States has no doubt promoted it in its present form over the last 200 years. No other country has gone through the democratic process in the way the U.S. has, starting from creating a most marvellous constitution (largely preserved in its original form to this day) to a fair and a just society for all. Then why is it that this great country has not allowed a woman or an African American to become President, Vice President, Speaker of the House or Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?

India had a Muslim woman ruler in 1236 - yes a Muslim woman ruler by the name of Razia Sultana who ruled successfully and brought reforms to that vast land. In more recent times, women Prime Ministers have ruled in all the countries of Indian sub-continent i.e. Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Bagladesh. So why is it that the marble ceiling is only being broken in the U.S. now? Could it be that hypocrisy has prevented women and African Americans from exploiting their potential for such high offices and the Male folks been saying one thing but meant another?

Well, the proof is in the pudding. It would be interesting to watch the 2008 Presidential election to see if the person elected to the office of President is for his/her qualifications and capability rather than gender or colour of his/her skin.

Hopefully Mrs. Polosi has broken that marble ceiling once and for all and the best candidate will win the next Presidential election.