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Decline of Anti-Modi Protests

Anti-ModiIndian Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to make waves in world capitals with his charm offensive. In his recent and historic visit to Israel, the first by an Indian Prime Minister, he was given an unprecedented welcome.  Israel has officially designated him as a world leader and accorded appropriate diplomatic protocol. He has been treated on par with the United States President and the Pope. This is a great honor for India and to PM Modi. All these indicate the slow but sure rise of Modi on the world scene.

The rise of India in the eyes of the world is something every Indian should be proud of. But many have not forgotten that India and Indian leaders were never considered to ever significantly impact global affairs. PM Modi, in particular, only attracted scorn and street protests during state visits. He was and continues to be hounded by established global media houses with their acerbic op-eds.

But the recent state visits of PM Modi – particularly to meet President Trump and then to Israel have been remarkable for a different reason. Unlike his previous visits to UK or the US, this time around, there were only symbolic protests in Washington DC and none in Israel. The almost total absence of street protest seems too obvious to ignore. Even the Arab countries did not seem to mind his visit to Israel.

The growing popularity of Modi as a world leader is only partially responsible for the dwindling protests. The sheer number of people at his venues to meet him have been legendary – the Madison Square Garden event is still fresh in memory. The overwhelming support he is able to generate at every venue and the credibility it has spawned, seems to have had an impact on the anti-Modi protesters. But as mentioned, that is only part of the reasons. It is worthwhile to examine some of the other key reasons that have led to a decline in the protest against Modi.

India is an economic power house today. Many nations including the US and the European Union are keen to foster trade and economic ties with India like never before. The global economic scene is at best dismal. China is leading the large economies in one of the darkest recessions the world is likely to witness. The Arab nations, with oil prices tanking to lowest levels in recent memory, are not far behind in riding the misery train to recession. In this scenario, India chugging along at 7% GDP growth rate is a sure savior and the world seems to be eager ally with India.

The Trump administration in the US is surely breaking away from the past and redefining international relations and is determined to create new diplomatic and trade alliances with friends and allies alike. The bedrock of the relationships is unadulterated economic and trade benefits for the US. President Trump is sincere in bringing home jobs for his people. In that context, India is seen as a unique player that could help re-ignite the US economy. It is fully plausible that for its purely selfish reasons the American administration has put a tight leash on the deep state and its notorious non-governmental organizations or NGOs that have been fronts for their agencies to create trouble for recalcitrant world leaders.

Pakistan based agencies that have been central to instigating and funding terror activities as well as protest against Modi have been effectively corralled. It is well known that Pakistani agencies use hawala transactions to move funds for their sinister operations against India. Like Modi’s killer media strategy, the Indian intelligence agencies and diplomatic establishment deserve full credit for quietly working behind the scenes to identify and track these activities. India is reported to developed a comprehensive financial crimes database using state-of-art computer technologies like big data – similar to the one that the US has in place. Any illegal financial / hawala transaction now runs the risk of being viewed as a potential terror funding transaction and could be shared worldwide. Even local politicians using hawala transactions will now be on their radar.

The demonetization in December of last year has had a tremendous impact on hawala transactions that fueled these protests. Not only has this killed the domestic hawala industry, but also provided sophisticated tracking of these transactions originating from key financial centers like Dubai and Singapore.  Unfortunately, the Indian media, in their eagerness to shame Modi, seem to have missed the real story. Instead, they are barking up the wrong tree, trying hard to prove why the demonetization was a big disaster and economic blow to India.

Further the sharing of this database with the US and other Western powers means that a hawala transaction originating in Pakistan or Dubai with recipients in India or the US may automatically invite the simultaneous scrutiny of several intelligence agencies across the world.  Data mining technologies now help agencies to locate problem zones and offending outlets in advance. This has been a big deterrent to hawala operations and the funding for protests is one important collateral damage.

The increasing terror strikes in Europe, specially the UK, has also in a sense been a blessing since these countries are now eager to co-operate with India.

In the last two years India has successfully stitched up good diplomatic relations with Middle east and Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia and UAE. The new understanding provides for combating terrorism, regular sharing of intelligence and agreements to extradite prisoners and criminals who have specifically violated foreign exchange regulations. This diplomatic offensive has also brought down the funding for street protests elsewhere in the world.

Further, the political situation in the Middle East is fluid and the emergence of severe tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran has forced a change in their focus. This is evidenced by lack of even symbolic protests from the Arab world to Modi’s historic visit to Israel. With years of tanking oil prices, surplus petro-dollars seem to have vanished. This has greatly impacted the nefarious activities originating from Pakistan.

The anti-Modi protests have been orchestrated by several forces. For now, they seem to be at a disadvantage and are hence lying low. But the acerbic op-eds and distorted reporting by global media houses and their Indian cousins will continue as business as usual. On its part, India has to be vigilant and not let its guard down. There are vital lessons to be learnt in weaving together a diplomatic canvas, aided by technology, to combat illegal terror funding. Sometimes, the collateral benefits are the drying up of street protests against an emerging world leader.

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Posted by on July 6, 2017 in India, Modi, Pakistan, Terrorism

 

L’affiare Khizr Khan

The Clinton campaign takes the cake for creative and often ingenious campaign strategies as well as public relations management. The Khizr Khan episode is one such creative genius that the strategists crafted to influence voters decisively in favor of Clinton. Only this time the strategy backfired. khizr

Khizr Khan is the father of Humayun Mauzzam Khan, the 27-year-old US Army Captain and Purple Heart awardee who was killed while deployed in Iraq in 2004. In a dream moment for the Clinton campaign, Khizr Khan pulled out a copy of the US constitution from his breast pocket and taunted Donald Trump to read it – an act that mesmerized viewers into a speechless awe. It will probably be remembered in the annals of election conventions in the US for a long time to come –  for multiple reasons.

As if on a cue, the cable networks, radio and print media went berserk and gushed at the powerful impact Khizr had created. Clinton’s campaign had pulled off a major coup and seemed to have almost stalled Trump’s campaign on its tracks.

If Team Clinton thought it had executed a coup de main, the revelations on Khizr Khan that followed held nasty surprise. It boomeranged and the campaign appeared to nosedive. Clinton quickly lost an 8 percentage point lead over Trump after the convention, to just a 3-point lead per the much respected Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll published on Friday, August 5th 2016. Surprisingly, at this late stage in the campaign cycle, Clinton has failed to establish a clear lead over Trump.

That bore testimony of a highly and evenly polarized electorate. But as the media uncovered more about Khizr Khan’s background, the unease amongst many Americans only grew and escalated the war of words between the two campaigns.

First, Khizr Khan’s past intellectual leanings were discomforting. His published writings showed his strong support for Islamic Law or Sharia, an anathema for Americans. Through his writings, he claimed the supremacy of Sharia and asserted that it was above the constitution or the law of the land since it was God given.

Secondly Khizr Khan seemed to have been inspired by Said Ramadan of the Muslim Brotherhood fame. Many are familiar with the violent past of the brotherhood. There have been calls by the US Congress to designate it as a terrorist organization. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates too have made similar demands. Khizr’s purported connections to the Muslim Brotherhood has not helped Clinton in anyway.

Thirdly, Khizr seemed to have connections to religious extremist elements in Pakistan, specifically to Allah K Brohi. Brohi, who was a former Minister and advisor to Gen Zia ul Haq, the former dictator of Pakistan, had helped create hundreds of madrassas and restore Sharia punishments in that country.

Fourthly, in a subsequent interview with a Pakistani TV network Khan’s praise for the sacrifices of the Pakistani soldiers – who have often been at loggerheads with US forces in Afghanistan- has only reinforced this hardline image of Khan as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Lastly, came the exposé in some sections of the media that the Clinton campaign had transferred $375,000 – no small amount – to Khan in early August, although the quid pro quo was not a surprise.

The Khan episode had its share of critical and adverse consequences, albeit unintended. Many Americans, particularly veterans, have been angered that the supreme sacrifice of a Purple Heart soldier was being politicized and have protested it.

Khan, in the meantime, had taken full advantage of his new found but short-lived popularity on prime time television. He appeared in almost every major cable network channel to denounce Trump. But sensing the unease his writings on Sharia had generated among Americans, he quickly made a ‘U’ turn. In the AC 360 show on CNN when asked about his writings on Sharia he said there was ‘no such thing as Sharia’.

Khan went on further to say that the Sharia was nothing but a hodge-podge of British, French and Portuguese laws and could never be implemented in the US. His about turn was complete. But the damage had already been done and there was no winning back the confidence of many Americans – particularly the baby-boomers and large sections of the veterans.

Notwithstanding his denials, Khan’s resume had all the career highlights of a Muslim with strong and yet secret ties to radical Islam. In fact, his denials had only accentuated the problem for Clinton. It is true that none of the intelligence agencies have publicly come out with a possible connection between Khan and the brotherhood or radical Islam. But the Trump campaign has exploited this to the full. Khizr Khan has since refused to meet with the television networks or the media.

The ground reality is that the campaigns face a nervous and a highly polarized America. This nervousness has spawned irrational fears all over. The Clinton campaign is obviously nervous about its inability to prevail over Trump as elections get closer. Hence we are witness to a serving President – a first ever – who is actively on the campaign circuit. While many may see this as inappropriate and a minor breach of ‘Presidential’ conduct at best, it has largely been ignored it in the distractions of a vituperative drama of a highly spirited election.

The Trump campaign on the other hand has been unable to fully exploit Clinton’s gaffes and missteps to its advantage. Americans have been equally appalled by some of his blunt and uninformed remarks – ranging from nukes to NATO.

The Khizr Khan fiasco has some important lessons for both the campaigns. Europe, smarting under repeated terror attacks from radical Islam, has created a society that is ultra-allergic and ultra-sensitive to anything Islam.

Europeans in general and France in particular have been known for the liberal traditions and until recently, had preached to the world the virtues of immigrants – specially Muslims immigrant in creating a diverse society. For decades they have counseled third world countries like India and others about the wisdom and the need to absorb and coexist with Muslim immigrants.

But almost overnight, this allergen of Islamic terror, has drained Europe of any pretense to this liberal embrace of immigrants, especially Muslims. It has resulted in multiple optics –“Brexit”, “Nationalism” and rise of “Right wing” in Germany etc. But the transformation has been quick and complete and there will be no going back. Europe ain’t liberal anymore and the Americans aren’t far behind.

The US has joined the party late and is now fermenting. Clinton’s cynical deploy of Khizr Khan to gain votes oblivious of this fermenting undercurrent has backfired on her and will continue to hurt.  A nervous America can be unpredictable and the even polarization will only make the race to the White House all the more difficult.

 

Pathankot -Quelling the terror from across the border

The recent attack on the air force base at Pathankot has come as a shocker. That the terrorists were neutralized before they could cause mayhem and destroy air force assets is no consolation. Fact remains that a strategic and offensive forward airbase was brought to its knees by handful of terrorists is a shame for India. pathankot

Prime Minister Modi spoke for millions of Indians when he repeatedly expressed surprise over how a small band of terrorists could even breach the security at a strategic forward air force base.

As if this was not enough, there was legitimate angst over rushing NSG forces from far away Delhi when more than sufficient battle ready army special forces units were on hand in Pathankot itself to neutralize the terrorists.

The attack only followed a familiar and predictable pattern. Every time India has reached out to Pakistan and an overly eager Indian leader visited Pakistan, the response has been a high profile attack on India.

All this have only raised doubts over India’s operational capabilities and spawned a sense of temporary disbelief in its ability to fight terror. The questions in minds of millions of Indians seems to be – Will we ever learn? Can we ever put an end to this cross border terror?

In one sense, the Pathankot attack has forced India once again to revamp its counter terror strategy and put in place new deterrents that will keep Pakistan at bay forever.

Economically, Pakistan is a basket case and has no hope in hell for several generations to come to provide for its hungry millions. Hence it has willingly become a front client state and an errand boy for western powers and other paymasters in their global strategic designs and power projections. More importantly, it has played the convenient role of a proxy to these powers in their covert operations.

Pakistan has been immensely rewarded for this –financially, militarily and politically by these powers. Most importantly they have turned a blind eye towards its terror strategies directed at India. It had also repeatedly earned the mileage with the West to admonish India periodically and pressured it to start talks with Pakistan.

But the unfolding strategic realignment in Middle East is an important development that India should carefully exploit. The lifting of sanctions on Iran and the Russian pounding of Saudi proxies in Syria have contributed to souring US-Saudi relations. Further the fall in oil prices and continued budgetary deficits have not only enervated Saudi Arabia but have reduced its ability to fund and reward its friends and allies including Pakistan.

It is important for India to note that the US has successfully sidestepped powerful diplomatic lobbies – Israel, Saudi Arabia and internal lobbies – and has negotiated a deal with Iran. This is a very significant, yet understated, strategic development with long term consequences that will definitely impact the world including India.

While only time can tell what US intentions are, many observers feel the Iranian deal is more to usher a ‘balance’ in the Middle East region. If a long term ally Saudi Arabia can be sidelined, Pakistan may not be far down in the list, given that it has far outlived its utility in helping the US war in Afghanistan. The lesson for India is that US can jettison decades long relationships to take care of its interests. In this context, President Obama’s pointed reference to terror camps in his last State of the Union address should be a source of serious concern for Pakistan.

India should step up its diplomatic offensive to exploit this “new balance”. India surely understands these ground realities and the broader context of the very survival of Pakistan as a sovereign state in the long term. For over six decades unfavorable headwinds had tied its hands in using its superior armed forces and punishing Pakistan for its wanton acts of terror. However, there may be a window of opportunity now for India as we see a broader strategic realignment of US foreign policy in Middle east.

But India has to step up rapidly and prepare the ground for a new strategy to counter terror. India’s new policy should strengthen three key pillars – economic sanctions, covert operations and revamping internal security apparatus to make it leak proof. Needless to say the operational efficiency of its multifarious forces and agencies have to be reviewed and stepped up.

Firstly, as mentioned the aforementioned strategic realignment provides new opportunity for India to impose a de facto regional economic sanctions regime against Pakistan. There cannot be trade with a neighbor that uses terror as a state policy. Period. India must fully and forcefully exercise its options to impose economic & trade sanctions.

Economic sanctions against Pakistan have never been taken seriously by India. On the other hand, the subcontinent is witness to churlish and even puerile efforts to grant a MFN trade status to Pakistan. India must take a clear and resolute stand that it does not support the economic revival of Pakistan. It is plain naiveté to support and foster an economy that ultimately seeks to wound India.

Economic sanctions cannot be administered if the required investment and infrastructure are not in place.India must invest money and relevant resources to build the infrastructure to administer and monitor such sanctions. Like the border fence this will be an invaluable investment and will be a forceful deterrent against terror from Pakistan.

India, which is a water starved country, has been more than generous in sharing the waters of its rivers in the Himalayas with Pakistan. Playing Cricket with India brings in huge financial benefits to Pakistan. India must stop playing cricket with Pakistan until every terror camp is closed. Water, trade, Bollywood films and cricket must be brought under the purview of economic sanctions.

The second pillar of the strategy is covert operations. There is no need to elaborate on what India should do. It has the wherewithal – resources and logistics to make this happen. The political leadership has to make this leap.

The third pillar of the policy is operational efficiency. Much has been already said about gearing up the security agencies. Post Pathankot, India is already working on this and needs no elaboration.

Pathankot attack may have been an embarrassment for India, but the evolving international political scenario provides the Modi administration a new window of opportunity to contain Pakistan. Defense Minister Parikkar has to be lauded for taking a forceful stand. Prime Minister Modi has to be given credit for building diplomatic relations with countries India can count on.

However, it is time the political leadership changed its mindset and gave the professionals the go ahead to quell the terror from across the border. In the interim, talks with Pakistan must continue, but no concessions should be given on anything.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2016 in India, Indian Army, Indian Economy, Terrorism

 

Parliament Attack : The Clemency Chaos

India has been and continues to be a victim of terrorism. It has lost more than 45,000 lives in Kashmir and elsewhere. Some reports suggest that closer to 60,000 lives have been lost in the last decade or so. One would imagine that such huge loss of life and property due to terrorism would engender alertness and a no-nonsense approach to tackle this scourge. But I was disappointed at the recent turn of events in India.

The courts have awarded death sentence to a terrorist who attacked Parliament. While this verdict has been widely welcomed, the nation was witness to the ignominy of the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir seeking clemency for the terrorist. Senior politicians in the valley too wanted the terrorist to be pardoned. They were apparently concerned about “street protest against the death sentence”. A band of so called intellectuals have joined the chorus seeking clemency. The UPA government for its part maintained a studied silence that has only befuddled Indians.

India’s fight against terrorism is a long and lonely fight , often fraught with failures largely due to the conspicuous absence of a political will. Jehadi terror elements now have widespread support and sanctuary in Nepal and Bangladesh. Pakistan has established deep networks of sleeper cells throughout the country and even in administrations at state and central governments. A former intelligence officer has also written about senior politicians on ISI’s payroll. In other words, India has been watching and twiddling its thumbs while an elaborate network to destabilize the country has been built. This has now reached a new high and poses a grave threat to the very existence of India.

It must be said that the police and intelligence agencies have performed their duties diligently in spite of meager resources. Often they have to contend with the enemy within – political interference from the likes of Gulam Nabi Azad. The 7/11 Mumbai blast investigations is a case in point. Sheer hard work by the ATS and related agencies has unraveled the terror network in India. It is irresponsible for the government or a chief minister, given the gravity of terror threats to India, to play politics with the award of death sentence to a terrorist. Seeking clemency will negate the work of the judiciary and the police. Above all, it will demoralize the people, who in the final analysis face the ghastly consequences of terror.

But what are these people protesting against? Is it that the judicial process was unfair? Or was it inept police investigations? Or is it that the killing of innocents is not a crime? Or is it that these perpetrators are not “terrorists” but “misguided youngsters” as our pseudo secular politicians would have us believe? They are in effect protesting against a unified India that is trying to fight the scourge of terrorism. Where were these voices when more than 180 people were killed in the train blasts in Mumbai in July? Where was Gulam, Nabi Azad when Varanasi, Bangalore and other places were bombed? Where were these voices when Kamlesh Kumari and other brave police officers lost their lives on 13th December 2001 when Parliament was attacked? Five years since, Kamlesh Kumari’s husband and two children have not received the four lakh rupees promised by Delhi Government? What did Gulam Nabi Azad do in Delhi to help Kamlesh Kumari’s family? I am not sure if Gulam Nabi Azad himself was inside Parliament building when these brave police officers laid down their lives. As George Bush would like to ask, Gulam Nabi Azad needs to tell us if he is with us or with the enemy.

Also some well knew India-baiters have taken to the streets demanding clemency. I am talking about Arundhati Roy. Remember she was protesting when India tested its nuclear weapons in 1998? Also, she was against the Narmada dam. She was held for contempt of the Supreme Court of India. This person has no respect or regard for India or its laws and its judiciary. Not to forget our anti-national Left parties who have the inglorious reputation of welcoming the Chinese invasion in 1962! These malcontents have one objective – undo India and its pluralistic civilization. And the death sentence to a terrorist is yet another opportunity for them to whine.

As a Chief Minister, Gulam Nabi Azad has publicly sworn to protect the constitution of India. By joining hands with other malcontents, he has disgraced a high political office. After all, like Manmohan Singh, Gulam too was nominated for the post by Sonia Gandhi. He too holds office at the pleasure of Sonia, not the people of Kashmir or the people of India. Given his public cry for clemency for a terrorist who waged war against India, we may not know if he is with us or with the enemy. Nor do I care. But I do know that the people of India are not with Gulam Nabi Azad and they want the terrorist hanged. Nor will I be surprised if these India-baiters call for clemency again for those who await the death sentence in the Bombay blasts of 1993. Again, India will not be with them.

Jai Hind.

October 8, 2006

 

Article also posted at

Boloji.com              Indiacause.com 

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2007 in Terrorism

 
 
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