Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Questions about Afghanistan War - Why is the U.S. failing?

Ten years after the launch of Afghan war, why is the U.S. on verge of losing this war? This is a question that haunts many a military strategists and U.S. citizens who have scarified life and treasure.

Ten years after the launch of this war, there has been no comprehensive analysis of why this war is still going on and why things have gone so wrong? Each time a new military commander is sent to Afghanistan, hope rises but then it fades again. By now, serious questions should have been raised by the intelligentsia in the U.S. They should have challenged successive U.S. Administrations and their analysis of this war. Also, the question needs to be asked of the Administration - when will this war end?

In the first year of war, Taliban had all but surrendered - not in the military sense, but they gave up fighting and went back to their fields to their day to day lives. Why did the war not end then? Why were public development projects not started at that time for upliftment of Afghan society? An investment of $20 billion could have revolutionized Afghan cities, provinces and the Country as whole. In whose interest was it to continue the war and spend several hundred billion dollars bankrupting America?

Osama bin Ladin and Al-Qaeda were on the run and some former U.S. intelligence officials suspect, he was allowed to escape from Tora Bora. If that is true, then why did that happen and why have no serious questions been asked in the U.S. by politicians or the media.

Many believe that suffering from a serious kidney ailment, Osama bin Ladin died several years ago. If that is the case, then why are successive Administrations not telling the truth? If the intelligence community does not know whether he is dead or alive, then what kind of intelligence work are they doing? If they are not sure whether he is dead or alive, then who are they chasing?

Through lack of country knowledge and perhaps naivete, U.S. allowed minority Tajiks & Uzbeks to dominate majority Pashtuns in running the affairs of Afghanistan in earlier years. As Taliban were Pashtun, some simple minds probably thought that all Pashtuns were Taliban. This was far from the truth as a majority of Pashtuns were also sick and tired of Taliban's extreme views. Uzbek warlord Rashid Dostum's murderous gangs killed most of Pashtun POWs. The Tajiks were equally vicious. Pashtun prisoners were locked up in 40 foot freight containers without water, food or sanitation, most died before the containers were opened weeks later. Many were simply lined up and shot and all this under the U.S. watch!

Persecuted, the Pashtuns started to support the Taliban (by now almost extinct) once again, even those who had never supported them before. Sympathy and cash revived them into a more potent force than at the outset of war. Some brilliant minds in the U.S. thought that allowing Afghans to grow poppy once again (completely banished under Taliban rule) will probably make them happy. Indeed it did and it also started a multi-billion dollar drug trade. Some of the poppy proceeds started to flow to Taliban. As a result, they have become a formidable force today.

So Mr. Obama, you said this is a war of necessity, then why have things gone so wrong and why is the U.S. on the verge of losing it? After hundreds of billions of dollars and many lives lost (U.S., Afghan and Pakistan), what has been accomplished so far?

More importantly, Mr. Obama, when will this war end?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bollywood Comes to Toronto for Internation Indian Flim Academy Awards (IIFA) 2011

Bollywood brings it star studded spectacle of annual film awards (the Indian Oscars) to Toronto, Canada this year. The event takes place on June 25, 2011 at Rogers Centre (formerly and still better known as the Skydome), which has a seating capacity in excess of 50,000.

Toronto is waiting for this event with baited breath as it will bring a number of Bollywood stars to the city. Amongst those nominated for best actor and actress are Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Ashwaria Rai & Vidya Balan. It is an exciting time for three hundred thousand plus South Asian community living in Greater Toronto Area. The event will also bring much needed revenue to city's hospitality industry.

It is understood that Ontario Government has been very generous in allocating a few million dollars to support the event. However, in spite of Ontario tax payers contribution, not a single ticket is available in the market except through unscrupulous scalpers at exorbitant prices. Hopefully, before parting with the funds, Ontario Government will insist on tickets being made available through regular ticket outlets.

The event will be one of the most spectacular stage shows. More importantly, it will promote Toronto as one of the best cities in the world and millions watching on their TV screens thousands of miles away will hopefully be tempted to visit this cosmopolitan and most multi-cultural city.

Below is one of the entries nominated for best female vocals:

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cricket World Cup 2015

The third most watched sporting event in the world - Cricket World Cup concluded successfully on April 2 in Mumbai with India winning the cup and quite deservedly so. Financially, this was the most successful world cup ever. Rumor has it that Corporate Hospitality Boxes in Mumbai were going for as much as Rs.5 Crore (US$1.1m).

For world's greatest batsman Sachin Tendulkar, this was the crowning moment of his long and successful career. He is one of the finest batsmen ever produced by the game of cricket, a true gentleman and a fine example for young cricketers to follow.

Cricket is becoming a popular sport around the world. In US & Canada alone, there are several thousand cricket teams at school and local levels. The game is just waiting to break out in a big way in North America.

In the 2011 world cup fourteen teams competed. However, in its infinite wisdom, the cricket governing body - ICC has decided to restrict number of teams to ten in Cricket World Cup 2015. This is a blow to young and aspiring cricketing nations like Canada, Ireland, Kenya etc. However, these teams will be able to compete in the World Twenty20 competition.

The need is to popularize cricket and not restrict it. By excluding these teams from 2015 World Cup, ICC is doing injustice to new and upcoming cricketing nations. Hopefully, ICC will review its decision before long.

West, Get out of Libya. UN Resolution 1973 was to protect Libyans, not kill them.

The UN Resolution 1973 was passed in an emergency situation as Gaddafi forces were about to recapture Ben Ghazi from rebel forces and a mass killing was likely. Essentially, the resolution was to protect Libyan citizens. Instead, U.S., France, Britain and other wetern countries have launched air attacks on Libyan cities and towns, killing a large number of citizens of that country.

The gung ho wetsern powers it seems were hell bent on raiding Libya no matter what. Their actions are illegal and beyond the scope of UN resolution.

It is shameful that UN Secretary, General Ban ki Moon has played in the hands of western powers. Instead of bringing peace, he has brought death and destruction to Libya. UN's mandate is to make peace not war. He should have made his best efforts to bring warring tribes to the table to accomplish peace. Also, UN should have sent in peacekeeping forces to protect Ben Ghazi and other cities, not send in western troops to kill Libyan citizens through air and missile attacks. Ban ki Man has lost his mandate and should resign immediately.

The world has not forgotten France and Italy's reputation as colonial powers. Under their respective occupation of Algeria and Libya, tens of thousands of people were tortured to death. The killings in Algeria were so grotesque that a large number of French citizens staged massive rallies in Paris and called for an end to French occupation. How can the UN mandate these same countries to bomb and kill more citizens of their previous colonies?

US's role in all this also very dubious. While Obama campaigned against war, he seemed only too eagre to start an uncalled for war and bomb Libyan cities. According to General Wesley Clarke (no conspiray theorist), plans were finalized to invade Libya immediately after 9/11 (watch the entire interview below).

UN should call for an immediate cease fire in Libya, ground all NATO aircraft and replace bombings with peacekeeping troops and at the same time help negotiate a truce between the warring tribes. This is not West's fight, it is Libya's internal tribal fight.