Wednesday, February 29, 2012

India biggest heroin consumer in S Asia: UN report

Contrary to the impression that India is being used as a transit point by international traffickers to smuggle Afghan heroin to both Europe and the US, the United Nations drug report, 2011, has said that India is the biggest consumer of heroin, reports Times of India. 

Of the 40 tonnes produced in south Asia, nearly 17 tonnes are consumed in India, the biggest consumer in the region with the trade valued at $1.4 billion, the newspaper report said. 

Besides its own consumption, India is the source for all supplies of heroin to Bangladesh and Nepal, at least half of what is consumed in Sri Lanka, and the rest is smuggled to the Island nation via Pakistan, the Times of India said. 

While speaking at the release of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) annual drug report for 2011, Narcotics Control Bureau director general O P S Malik said the rising student population in some cities in south and western India has been the biggest consumer of drugs. 

Besides heroin and designer drugs use, the upwardly mobile population in metros have also been reason for India's rising demand for cocaine. More than 23 kg of cocaine was seized in Mumbai last year, a small percentage of the total consumption, the newspaper added. 

INCB, a UN agency, reports that only 15 out of 40 tonnnes of heroin produced in the region was trafficked towards south-east Asia, Africa, North America, China and Europe. The rest all was consumed in the region, and majority of them is in India, the newspaper said. 

The report estimates nearly three million opiate users in India, half of them being synthetic opiates. And of the 17 tonnes of pure heroin used, eight tonnes are of Afghan origin and nine tonnes are indigenously manufactured. 

The report expresses concern for the rising illicit cultivation of opium across India. "In India, the total area under illicit opium cultivation is estimated to be at least 7,500 hectares," it said. In 2010, a total of 1,022 hectares of illicitly cultivated opium poppy were eradicated by anti-narcotics agencies. The UN Office of Drugs and Crime has said that there has been some diversion from the licit opium cultivation too. 

It also points out rising trend of prescription drug abuse. India has been blamed for smuggling of these drugs to both its neighbours and western nations. In India, Buprenorphine, pentazocine and sedatives such as diazepam, promethazine and pheniramine are widely abused.


Monday, February 27, 2012

China to overtake India as world's biggest gold market

China is poised to overtake India to become the world's biggest market for gold this year thanks to soaring investment purchases of bullion and steadily rising jewellery sales, according to the World Gold Council's annual report. In 2011, gold sales to China shot up 20 per cent on the previous year to 769.8 tonnes, the WGC said in its Gold Demand Trends report. The fastest growth was in sales of gold bars and coins for investment: total investment purchases rose 69 per cent in 2011 to 258.9 tonnes, worth 84.5bn RMB.

The data suggests China's new rich are turning to gold to protect their wealth as the government seeks to tame the country's giddy property prices.

"It is likely that China will emerge as the largest gold market in the world for the first time in 2012," said Marcus Grubb, the WGC's managing director for investment.

China's demand for jewellery increased every quarter of last year until it jumped into first place as the largest single jewellery market worldwide for the second half of 2011, the WGC said.

India remained the world's biggest market for gold last year though demand fell 7 per cent to 933.4 tonnes. 

Gold jewellery accounted for the lion's share of purchases, at over 500 tonnes. Investment purchases were 366 tonnes in India, or one quarter of worldwide demand for gold bars and coins.

"India and China continue to believe in both the intrinsic and emotional value of gold jewellery," the WGC said.

Worldwide, weak property prices and volatile stock markets have sent investors hurrying to buy gold as a safe haven, pushing gold prices to a record $1,895 an ounce on the London PM fix on 5 September 2011.

Global gold sales were 4,067.1 tonnes in 2011, worth an estimated $205.5bn. The WGC said it was the first time global demand had exceeded $200bn and the highest tonnage level since 1997, according to the report.

Confirmation of China's growing appetite for gold comes as the country's central bank made its latest move in a delicate balancing act between maintaining growth and curbing stubbornly high inflation, by easing controls on bank lending.

The People's Bank of China (PBOC) announced on Saturday it would allow a 0.5 per cent cut in banks' reserve requirement ratios - to 20.5 per cent in most cases - from 24 February. The ratio caps the amount of their deposits that banks can lend. Easing it means more loans can flow into the economy.

The ratio is widely viewed as more an effective form of corporate credit control than interest rates in China, where state firms can readily obtain loans on favourable conditions thanks to local political connections.

The PBOC tightened it six times last year. This is the second time it has been eased since November, suggesting the bank is more worried about preserving growth than cooling inflation.

China's economy grew 9.2 per cent in 2011, cooling to 8.9 per cent in the final three months of the year. 

Meanwhile, inflation has dropped from a peak of 6.5 per cent last summer to 4.1 per cent in December, though an upward blip to 4.5 per cent in January suggests it is not fully under control.

For China's wealthy, property has long been a reliable source of investment. However, the government has tightened up on housing loans and second homes to bring down house prices.

Gently deflating China's property bubble without crashing the cement, steel and construction and retail sectors remains central to its efforts to produce an economic soft landing and ease middle-class angst.

Fan Jianping, director of the State Information Centre's economic forecasting department, told the Financial Times he estimated real estate prices would drop 18 per cent in 2012, after falling 27.9 per cent in 2011.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pilkhana massacre collaborator mixes in the crowd

When the entire nation is mourning the tragic anniversary of the Pilkhana Massacre, that took place during February 25-26 in 2009 killing 73 army officers and humiliation of the members of their families, I would like to expose an untold truth about the dubious role of an army officer named Lt. Col. Mukim, who later was "rescued" from the massacre stricken headquarters of the of Bangladesh Riffles [BDR] at Pilkhana in Dhaka, and he continued to give statements giving details of how he survived the entire period of massive brutalities of the members of the border regiment. According to documentary evidence, available with me, this Lt. Col. Mukim [BA 3015] sent fax messages to various individuals from the headquarters of Bangladesh Riffles on February 24, 2009 using the fax number 8340009. One such fax was sent to a senior journalist from 23:52 to 23:53 hours. In this fax message, the sender has put his signature at the bottom of it, and the entire message is written in his own handwriting. This particular document could be one of the most important evidences, which would surely expose the untold truth of the massacre.

In this message, Lt. Col Mukim wrote accused Maj. Gen. Shakil Ahmed Chowdhury [who was brutally murdered along with his wife] of corruption as well as mis-behavior with the members of Bangladesh Riffles. He also blamed Bangladesh Army for murdering two former Presidents of the country [Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman] and said, the soldiers of Bangladesh Riffles were rightly pressing their demand. He also suggested that no army offensives should take place at the Pilkhana headquarters of Bangladesh Riffles and said, "in case of any operations by Bangladesh Army, civilian lives will also be lost."

It is also learnt that Lt. Col. Mukim continued to contact with a large number of senior journalists in Bangladesh on the night of February 24, 2009, while most of his colleagues were already murdered and family members of many were being ruthlessly humiliated by the renegade soldiers of Bangladesh Riffles. Being curious at such over-enthusiasm of this army officer, I have personally investigated the background of Lt. Col. Mukim as it is clearly understood that he was one of the masterminds of the massacre inside Bangladesh Riffles, and though the soldiers of Bangladesh Riffles started the mutiny against the on deputation officers of Bangladesh Army, it is curious enough to observe that a mid-level officer of Bangladesh Army was playing active role behind this tragic and barbaric actions.

Lt. Col. Mukim's family is veteran Awami Leaguers and during college life, he was an active member of Bangladesh Chhatra League. Though he joined army during the last tale of Ershad's rule, he was given quick two promotions during the five year tenure of the Bangladesh Awami League during 1996-2001. It is also learnt that during the tenure of military controlled interim government, Lt. Col. Mukim was one of the "best confident" man of General Moeen u Ahmed, and he was keeping secret liaison with top leadership of Bangladesh Awami League since he joined the Bangladesh Army and especially during the two-year misrule of the military controlled interim regime.

Following the bloody massacre at Pilkhana, though the issue of Lt. Col. Mukit's dubious role and his sending of fax messages to various individual from the BDR headquarters were already known to many along with the top intelligence agencies in the country, no action had ever been taken against him, nor he was arrested and charged of such criminal actions. Experts believe interrogation of Lt. Col. Mukit is very important in exposing lots of untold and unknown facts about this bloodiest mutiny in the history of Bangladesh.

It may be mentioned here that, on February 25, 2009 just a month after Bangladesh Awami League formed government, anti-army revolt broke out inside the Head Quarters of Bangladesh Riffles [now Bangladesh Border Guards]. At least 73 army officers were brutally murdered during this mutiny, while a large number of family members of the army officers were humiliated, assaulted and violated by the renegades. Right after the incident, a number of officers expressed their anger in presence of the Prime Minister at the Sena Kunja meeting. They demanded neutral and prompt investigation as well punishment of the culprits.

Government did not allow the members of armed forces and other law enforcing agencies to storm into the Bangladesh Riffles headquarters to rescue the army officers and their family members who were made hostage inside the headquarters of the border security guard by the 'renegade' troops. Instead of allowing army crackdown, the government opted for 'political settlement' of the situation and sent two of the junior leaders of the ruling party to negotiate with the mutineers. In the name of political negotiation, these junior leaders and later many other figures in the government spent almost 32 hours, thus giving opportunity to the mutineers in killing almost all the army officers who were held hostage inside the headquarters of the border security force and violated large number of female members of their families who were also held inside the BDR headquarters.

Right after the bloody massacre at Bangladesh Riffles headquarters in Dhaka, a number of responsible ministers and leaders of the present government started making wild comments on anticipation terming Islamists as well as other elements liable for this tragic incident. But, champion of all in making statements were none but the one and only FARUK KHAN, the grand gala flop minister in the present government in Bangladesh. It is even rumoured that, Faruk manages to continue as the minister despite series of failures because of his extra ordinary connection with someone in Florida. Whatever the fact may be, Faruk Khan made series of comments on the Pilkhana Massacre as well as probe report. It was even reported in the press that he was chosen as the top man to coordinate the 3 probe committees.

Many believe that the Pilkhana Massacre was pre set by anti-Bangladesh elements with a blue print of damaging Bangladesh's border security forces, with the aim of turning Bangladesh ultimately into a sub-servient like some small nations in the region.

Though two years have almost passed since the bloody revolt inside the headquarters of Bangladesh Border Guards, there is no move from the government yet in according homes for the family members of the martyred officers. While the ministers, MPs and political touts of the current government are busy in getting a piece of land for themselves in Dhaka, it is very unfortunate that none of them are even caring to bring the issue of providing houses to the members of martyred army officers. There is also no sign of erecting a monument in the memory of those brave children of Bangladesh, who sacrificed their lives inside the BDR headquarters during February 25-26. It was also reported in the media that, former army chief, General Moeen U Ahmed was reluctant in moving army towards the spot of massacre, by unnecessarily killing time. If this is a fact, surely, General [Retired] Moeen should be immediately brought under Court Martial. Not only Moeen, but anyone, be it a military man or a politician or a mighty members of any 'Untouchable Family' in Bangladesh, none should be spared, who might have minimum hands behind the tragic massacre, and subsequent brutal murder of the army officers.

BY : Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Orwellian shades in Pakistan

Shades of 'doublethink' can now be seen among Pakistan's citizenry.  Even ‘educated’ people would understate the genocide against East Pakistanis and ignore the ongoing atrocities in Balochistan.

Criticism of the establishment of Pakistan is now often seen as a betrayal of Pakistan itself, as was observed with the 'Memogate' affair.  While Mr. Haqqani’s methods were certainly questionable, supporters of the military establishment generally construe any criticism of the Pakistan Army, no matter how plausible, as treason.   The military establishment appeared to favor and perpetuate the view that Mr. Haqqani’s actions were in the vicinity of treasonous conduct, while warning the government of 'grievous consequences' for exercising its constitutional powers.

The struggle between the military establishment and civilian rulers began shortly after the creation of the first republic in 1947 and continued until its death in 1971.  Had the war criminals of 1971 been made to face justice, the military establishment’s interventions in the second republic could perhaps have been averted.  But the military establishment argued against the cause of justice in order to avoid deleterious effects on the Army morale, notwithstanding the effects on the morale of the remaining Pakistani nation.  Subsequently, the military establishment has also sought to keep the second republic under its control, through overt military coups and covert manipulation of political affairs by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).  The military establishment has determined that it is the best arbiter for the future of the country even if that means complete subversion of the republic’s constitution.

The republic has paid dearly for this, with the loss of more than half of the population in 1971, the alienation of Balochistan and the guns and drug culture brought in during General Zia-ul-Haq’s era.  Lack of continued democracy has also meant that a sense of nationhood has not developed, with provincialism, whether based on religious or ethnic identities, increasingly taking precedence over the Pakistani national identity.  As it is, the concept of Pakistani nationhood emerged as a reaction to fears of Hindu domination, and not because Muslims of the subcontinent shared any bond that could define them as a nation.  And once this fear was alleviated with the creation of the first republic, there was little to unite them as was obvious in West Pakistan’s chauvinism against East Pakistan.  Still, a nation could have been forged if the people had been allowed to elect their governments in successive elections which would have brought about a sense of ownership in the country.

This is criticism of the state of Pakistan and its military establishment, which is not the same as the criticism of Pakistani people who are talented and hardworking people.  But one aspect of the military establishment’s agenda has been to engender resistance to any criticism directed against it among the population, with rewrites of history and jingoistic rhetoric having taken their effect over the decades.

One does not need to be connected to the military in any way to know that it is Pakistan Army that matters in Pakistan, not the Pakistan Air Force or Pakistan Navy.  When the Pakistan Army launched Operation Gibraltar and sent in covert troops into Indian-occupied Kashmir in the summer of 1965, not even the heads of Pakistan Air Force at the time knew about it.  The military establishment then blundered its way through the 1965 war with mid-battle command changes, delayed decisions and overall command confusions.  There was reason behind General Ayub Khan’s signing of the Tashkent Accord despite the territorial gains claimed by the Pakistan Army:  the much larger Indian Army was parked outside Lahore ready to move in.

This was followed by the East Pakistan debacle, where the military establishment participated in genocide with casualty estimates as high as three million.  The top military brass was well aware of the mass killings, the deliberate wipeout of the intelligentsia and the random rapes of East Pakistani women, and yet did not call an end to hostilities until surrender was forced upon the genocidal generals of Pakistan by the Indian Army.  The Indian Army played a role in the Dhaka debacle, but the decision to apply the Nazi type of “final solution” on the population was taken by the senior Pakistani generals alone.

The 1965 and 1971 wars should have invited criticisms of the military establishment's role among the populace, but over the years the military establishment has become adept at the Orwellian concept of 'reality control'.  The government-controlled media assured the population that the 1965 war had been won, and September 6 is celebrated as the 'Defense Day' every year to reinforce the lies that should not be set right.

Similarly, no general was ever brought to trial for the war crimes of 1971, despite the preponderance of evidence, with official Pakistani history silent on the murder, torture and rape of the Pakistani population.  War criminals of the Axis forces were convicted and executed for lesser crimes and with less evidence following World War II, but the war criminals of Pakistan’s military establishment escaped without much scrutiny and with limited consequences.

The more recent debacle was at Kargil Heights, where General Musharraf took a ‘brilliant’ tactical step without considering the longer-term consequences.  History has it that even General Zia-ul-Haq, the myopic military dictator credited with destroying the very fabric of Pakistani society, was cognizant of the fact that occupying Kargil Heights would invite consequences that Pakistan would not be able to withstand.  That Pakistani soldiers lost their lives, with thousands of widows and orphans created, for another ill-thought out adventure is another question that will never be addressed in Pakistan’s history books.

Apart from keeping up the morale of the Pakistan Army, this rewrite of history is also essential to ensure continued patriotic fervor among the general population.  And patriotic fervor is necessary to keep the population from asking for its rights as envisaged in the republic's constitution.  If it were not for this patriotic fervor which convinces the citizenry that the Kashmir cause is more important than the well-being of Pakistan itself, that the Islamic Jihads westward in Afghanistan and eastward against India are crucial, the citizenry might come to realize that it deserves better healthcare, education, infrastructure, security and overall a better life than is afforded to them by a dominant and extravagant military.

Endless confrontation with India is required to continue justifying the military budget, which at present means an annual spend in the region US$ 6 to 7 billion on 'defense' while leaving a fraction of that for education and health.  The military establishment supplements its resources through its commercial activities and through appropriations of vast amounts of real estate.  'Field Marshal' General Ayub Khan was known to have compared Pakistan Army to the Prussian Army of the nineteenth century, ignoring the crucial difference that Prussian Army expanded its territory to meet its growing expenditure requirements, while the Pakistan Army could only live off Pakistan.  Of course, the central figures in the military establishment lead lives which are the envy of their counterparts in other countries' military outfits.

Shades of 'doublethink' can now be seen among Pakistan's citizenry, where two opposing views are held and sincerely believed simultaneously.  Even ‘educated’ people would understate the genocide against East Pakistanis and ignore the ongoing atrocities in Balochistan, while completely aware that such practices are reprehensibly cruel.  This doublethink further entails arguments that the military establishment must be right, and is sincere and virtuous and knows best, and that it must not be questioned and its rule accepted as unblemished and free from corruption, its crimes against humanity considered acts of patriotism.

There was a short-lived outrage of sorts directed at the military establishment following the events of May 2011, when one of the best-equipped military forces in the world could not detect helicopter landings and a commando operation less than a mile away from its finest training academy.  This called into question the credibility of the military establishment and its capabilities despite the dollar amount spent on it every year by this indigent country.

This was followed by the torture and murder of Syed Saleem Shahzad, ostensibly by Pakistan's security establishment.  Mr. Shahzad, an investigative journalist, had published write-ups that the military establishment considered damaging to "Pakistan's" interests.  The overall theme of the military establishment's nexus with terrorist networks was not news, but the level of detail that Mr. Shahzad provided was not to be tolerated.

Unfortunately for the military establishment, information about the US operation in Abottabad and Mr. Shahzad's revelations have already been made public and cannot be taken back.  The global news media, unlike the fabricated history in Pakistan's schoolbooks, cannot be rewritten to suit the patriotic requirements of our protectors.

Returning to the issue of the ‘Memogate’ the same source which made public the existence of Mr. Haqqani’s memo also revealed that the ISI’s General Shuja Pasha visited several Gulf states seeking their assent to yet again subvert the republic.  If General Pasha indeed sought blessings from external forces to carry out unconstitutional activities against the republic, then his actions are as close to treason as Mr. Haqqani’s memo which also sought foreign intervention in the affairs of the republic.  And yet there was much more furor about the memo to US government than General Pasha’ efforts to again disenfranchise the Pakistani people.  This is further credit to the extent to which the military establishment exercises control over media and opinions in Pakistan.  However, history eventually will put these actions into perspective much as it did with 1965 and 1971 wars. The citizenry also has to move towards breaking free of 'doublethink' and 'blackwhite' propaganda and to support the democratic process.

To continue with the present government and political leadership or to remove them is the prerogative of the Pakistani people and not of the military establishment; constitutional avenues are available to bring about changes in government.  For the first time in the history of this country, no political party wants to derail the political system and no one is looking to the military establishment for intervention.  That is the silver lining in the dark clouds.  Our ‘Big Brother’ had better take heed.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

ISLAMABAD LEARNS NO LESSON FROM 1971 : What next in Pakistan? Pashtun Genocide?

The leadership of Pakistan seems to have lost their sense of correct direction; that is why they are still running on the wrong track. As such, the tragic events of their massacre of innocent people, men, women and children of what is now Bangladesh, was just loss of another ‘wicket’for the them. Another loss of wicket is not far off, unless their ‘batsmen’ gird up their loins.

Now, the young rising politician, a former legend of Pakistan cricket, Imran Khan, has appeared on the shatterred political scenerio of Pakistan, to bodly expose the wrong way the present leadership of Pakistan has been playing their ‘game’. In a recent interview with a British magazine, Imran Khan couldn’t control his emotion when he spoke about the ‘genocide’ committed in 1971 on the Bengalis of former East Pakistan and what is now being repeated on the “Pashtuns” of the North-Western territories of Pakistan, particularly, in Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan. Even the Pashtuns who live in Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi, are not spared. Often they are “picked up and thrown into jail”, because they are Pashtuns. “This is a sad legacy”, Imran said.

1971 ‘genocide’ being repeated on Pashtuns
Recalling the “genocide” committed by the Pakistan government and the army in March, 1971 on the innocent Bengalis in former East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, Imran Khan said that if “the offenders of 1971 had been punished, then the Pashtuns would not be harassed in Pakistan today”, adding, that “the present scenerio in Pakistan would have been different.”

According to media reports, about 30 to 35 million Pashtuns, living in Pakistan and Afghanistan, “are the direct victims” of the ‘war on terror’, let loose by former US President George Bush, taking Pakistan as its “key ally” in his war against the Talibans. But instead of gaining any tangible results out of the decade-long anti-Taliban fight, both America and its ‘key ally’ are now enjoying the ‘boomerang fire’ from the battlefiled. Now it has been realised that the Pashtuns are determined to oust the US forces from Afghanistan and to put an end to Pakistan anti-Taliban policy being implemented under the diktat of its “friends, not masters.”

‘Memogate’ and shape of things
So Pakistan is now passing through a threatening situation in the North-West Pakistan territories, particularly in Waziristan and Pashtun-inhabited areas adjacent to Afghan border. In fact, there is no such thing as ‘border restrictions’ for the Pashtuns of Pakistan and Afghanistan, with the possibility of secession from Pakistan the Pashtun-dominated areas adjacent to Afghan border. What shape of things is in the offing, only time will show.

 However, to worsen the already shaky situation for the government, headed by Asif Ali Zardari, comes the report of an internal crisis for the government centering the so-called ‘Memogate’ which had alleged that Zardari had sent an unsigned note to the US Administration to save his government from the Army ‘plot’ to take over the government through a coup. But Zardari has denied the allegation. And to add fuel to fire, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has now brought charges of contempt of court against Prime Minister Gilani for not implementing court orders, since December, 2009, of reopening of cases of alleged money-laundering against Zardari.

The ruling party PPP, leadership, headed by Gilani, had tried to escape the court orders on the plea that Zardari, being the Head of the State, is “immune” from any such prosecution. However, ‘Gilani had been asked by the High Court to appear before it on 19 January which he did and got a new date some time in February for hearing of his application. Although much depends on the court verdict about the future of Gilani government, the Parliament has come forward with a majority vote of confidence in Gilani’s government. But this is one side of the coin. The other side is also not so bright.

Pakistan’s nuclear power threatened
In fact, Pakistan has become a target of its powerful first Asian nuclear neighbour, India, and an ‘undeclared’ nuclear power Israel, dominating the Mid-East region. They must be playing their ‘game’ from behind the scene to cripple the only Muslim nuclear country in the world. In such a situation, instead of guarding itself against the coming ‘tsunami’ to blow them out, the Pakistan leadership is busy in digging their own graves.

Now the Pakistan leadership is busy in safe-guarding their seat of power, playing the rediculous role of a ‘golf boy’, serving their master players in the political field.

And to achieve their mission, President Zardari is said to be daily sacrificing a ‘black goat’ as ‘sadkah’ to save himself from an ‘evil eye’! Pakistan is now directly in the grab of the US-led Western powers and their two close allies—-India and Israel—-who are keen to get control over Pakistan’s nuclear plants on the plea of security in the region. It became more obvious when a high US official, like the Chairman of the US Joint Chief of Staff, Admiral Mullen, had expressed in April last year his concern over the safety of the Pakistan nuclear plants, when he said that “Pakistan may implode with nuclear weapons in near future and may also use them.” But what had prompted Admiral Mullen to make such a fantastic forecast has never been explained. However, within a week or so of his ‘forecast’, the Admiral came down to ‘assure’ all with ‘full confidence’ that he was “glad to learn that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons were safe.” What a relief! (But it was not clear, nor he disclosed as to ‘safe’ in whose hand’s?) However, it would serve as ‘big kudos’ for Zardari and Gilani government. Let us hope for the best for the region.

BY :  A M M Shahabuddin. 

Indian bid to use Bangladesh as corridor is illegal

Curving out an access through the sovereign turf of another country without any ‘codified’ legal instrument is prohibited by customary international law. As a legal tangle is set to turn much of what is being done with respect to Indian connectivity through Bangladesh worthless and illegal, the two governments should focus into fashioning the requisite bilateral deals to avoid being hounded and implicated in the future. 
The decision following the February 12-13 meeting in Dhaka of the officials from the two countries to set up a joint committee to look into the possibility of transhipment of Indian goods at ‘any point’ in Bangladesh offered a new window of opportunity to give a second thought to this complicated matter.
Lack of legality
First, as it is, there is no existential legal instrument to cover the allowing of Indian vessels in ‘any port’ of Bangladesh unless a new agreement/protocol is signed and ratified by concerned authorities.
Second, many other de facto mandates, accorded to India, to turn Bangladesh into an Indian corridor do not have legal basis either, and stems largely from a combination of verbal directives, declaration made in the joint communiqué, or, from Memorandum of Understanding (MoU); all of which are in collision with the 1972 and 1980 bilateral agreements, which are the core instruments of customary international law governing such thorny bilateral matters. 
Customary international laws are drawn from the pool of consistent conduct of nations acting in the belief that the laws require them to act that way. Actions of states not in conformity with such principles are often deemed as arbitrary and illegal and may be susceptible to non-compliance by one or both the signatories. The Statute of the International Court of Justice acknowledges the existence of customary international law in Article 38(1)(b), and, its tenets are incorporated into Article 92 of the UN Charter. 
Misuse of power
Yet, there is evidence that some high officials and advisers in Bangladesh are acting in extreme secrecy to allow India many opportunities not backed by the required legal instruments. A recent declaration by Tripura’s Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Manik Dey, added to such concerns further and proved how authoritative power is being misused in Bangladesh. 
Dey told reporters on February 11 that, “After getting the green signal from Dhaka, FCI (Food Corporation of India) has initiated the process to transport food grains and essentials for the (Indian) north eastern states using Bangladeshi port Ashuganj and roadways connected to the NE.” 
Who in Bangladesh gave such a green signal is unknown, but these are disturbing signs with far-reaching implications for Bangladesh’s sovereignty and national security. 
No legal basis
The legal basis of trade connectivity between the two countries ought to be governed by the Bilateral Trade Agreements of March 1972 and October 1980, which has been abandoned. The water transit protocol, signed in November 1972, is embodied in Article V111 of the 1972 agreement, and allows flying, docking and movement of some Indian vessels across the Bangladesh water at specific ‘ports of call.’ 
The protocol is operable subject to renewal in every two years. As the current duration of it ends on March 31, 2012, the Indian delegation is desperate to have five-year duration for the protocol.
This too is illegal. The demand to extend the protocol for five years cannot be fulfilled due to the protocol itself being an integral part of the 1972 and 1980 trade agreements and renewable in every two year period. 
To change the protocol’s duration, the agreement(s) must be amended first. The 1972 agreement - and by implications the 1980 agreement too – having the status of a treaty, it will involve an act of the parliament to bring about the required amendments. 
Wrong advice
Also evident is the fact that the government is ill advised. Dr. Gowher Rizvi, an adviser to the Prime Minister on international affairs, told the Hindu newspaper of India on September 6, 2011 that the land connectivity – and the transit – stems from the 1974 Indira-Mujib agreement. A focused review of the 1974 agreement, however, reveals that, none of the five articles of the agreement is remotely related to the transit issue. 
Solely related to resolving the boundary dispute, the status of the 1974 agreement was filliped into a treaty in Bangladesh due to Dhaka’s expeditious ratification of it, and, the amendment brought to the Constitution in order to offer to India the Berubari enclave so that the Tin Bihga corridor could be regained by Bangladesh to ameliorate the sufferings of the stranded Chhit Mahal inhabitants. India never ratified the treaty. 
That notwithstanding, in all probability, Dr. Rizvi must have referred to the Bilateral Trade Agreement of 1972.
  Signed on March 28, 1972, the comprehensive Trade Agreement had one year of initial duration, with a commitment for periodical renewal. Article V of the Agreement states: “The two governments agree to make mutually beneficial arrangements for the use of waterways, railways and roadways for the two countries and for passage of goods between two places in one country through the territory of the other.”
That may sound like agreeing to allow corridor to India, but the 1972 agreement has subsequently been supplanted by a new Trade Agreement signed on October 4, 1980, which must have bypassed the adviser’s attention. 
Although the new agreement replaced with Article VIII the exact language used in Article V of the 1972 agreement, yet, in order to insure legal correctness, a new Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade was signed on November 8, 1983. 
That precedent being so handy, why then the Bangladesh government is cruising ahead with a multi-modal connectivity scheme without signing any new protocol? The only basis seems to be the commitment made by the Prime Minister during her visit to India in 2010. In specificity, paragraph 22 of the joint communiqué promised to add Ashuganj-Silghat (India) as new ports of call. 
From a legal standpoint, the PM’s commitment cannot be sustained and fulfilled unless a new protocol is signed, for, the parent protocol does not have those two destinations as ports of call.
These legal prerequisites aside, a high-powered committee formed by the Bangladesh government to examine in details the transit-related issues reported on December 2, 2010, that, ‘Bangladesh currently lacked the infrastructure for transit with India, Nepal and Bhutan and would need at least three years to have an adequate infrastructure in place.’ 
Political stunt
The formation of the committee, as is evident now, was a political stunt for public consumption. Disregarding its recommendations, the government had already allowed India the first regular transit transport to pass on October 18, 2011 from Akhaura to Agartala. Routine movement of Indian goods on the same route continued ever since. 
For instance, during the first week of what the Bangladesh government touted as the ‘trial run’ for Indian transiting, the Indian Ship  ‘Homibaba’ carried 305 tons of steel from Kolkata Port to Ashuganj, from where they were ferried by road to Agartala. Another ship carried 621 tons of iron sheets three days later. 
Between October 12-15, 2011 alone, 9 oversized trucks, each loaded with 17 and half tons of iron sheets, ferried to and from Ashuganj and Agartala and mauled the feeble infrastructure in their path. The anger in the disaffected community is too conspicuous to bypass attention.
These actions not only constitute an infringement of customary international laws, they are perilously detrimental to Bangladesh’s national security and sovereign integrity.
BY :  M. Shahidul Islam.

Indian BSF cocktail party on Pilkhana Massacre Day!

On February 25-26, when Bangladesh will mourn the third anniversary of the tragic Pilkhana Massacre, which took place during February 25-26 in 2009, weeks after Bangladesh Awami League formed government, India's Border Security Forces [BSF] has organized a cocktail party following by cultural performance. Family members of those Indian BSF members, who were killed at Padua during exchange of fire with members of Bangladesh Riffles [now Bangladesh Border Guard], are also expected to attend this "celebration" by BSF officers and jawans. According to information, more than twelve hundred people will attend this night-long cocktail party, which starts at 12 midnight on Friday [February 24]. Though reason behind holding of this cocktail party is still unclear, several sources indicate that the Indian BSF officers and soldiers will be holding this cocktail party in celebration of a "proper revenge" to Padua incident, where a few of BSF members were killed.

February 25 is just a week ahead! On this day in 2009, just a month after Bangladesh Awami League formed government, anti-army revolt broke out inside the Head Quarters of Bangladesh Riffles [now Bangladesh Border Guards]. At least 73 army officers were brutally murdered during this mutiny, while a large number of family members of the army officers were humiliated, assaulted and violated by the renegades. Right after the incident, a number of officers expressed their anger in presence of the Prime Minister at the Sena Kunja meeting. They demanded neutral and prompt investigation as well punishment of the culprits.

Government did not allow the members of armed forces and other law enforcing agencies to storm into the Bangladesh Riffles headquarters to rescue the army officers and their family members who were made hostage inside the headquarters of the border security guard by the 'renegade' troops. Instead of allowing army crackdown, the government opted for 'political settlement' of the situation and sent two of the junior leaders of the ruling party to negotiate with the mutineers. In the name of political negotiation, these junior leaders and later many other figures in the government spent almost 32 hours, thus giving opportunity to the mutineers in killing almost all the army officers who were held hostage inside the headquarters of the border security force and violated large number of female members of their families who were also held inside the BDR headquarters.

Many believe that the Pilkhana Massacre was pre set by anti-Bangladesh elements with a blue print of destabilizing Bangladesh's border security forces as well as decade-old glory of Bangladesh Riffles, with the aim of turning Bangladesh ultimately into a sub-servient like some small nations in the region. It is also apprehended that, anti-Bangladesh elements had hands behind the Pilkhana Massacre.

Commenting on the news of BSF's cocktail party on the Pilkhana Massacre Day, a retired senior officer of Bangladesh Army expressed annoyance at such "audacity" of the Indian border guards. He said, "such celebration categorically expose the nasty faces of the conspirators behind the murders of our army officers and humiliation of their family members at Pilkhana in 2009."


Friday, February 17, 2012

INDIAN MEDIA SAY : Dhaka hackers win cyber war against Delhi

Indian Hackers group, Ashell announced Cyberwar against Bangladesh. All Indian hackers have joined together to launch cyberwar against Bangaldesh websites.

Earlier Indian Hackers group send friendly request to Bangladeshi Hackers to stop defacing Indian sites. It seems to be that they haven’t accept the request, they keep defacing the Indian sites. So Indian hackers retaliate by defacing the Bangladeshi websites.

Following this incident, Bangladeshi hackers group bbhh also said that they are ready for the game. They published a video on youtube and named the operation as #Op-India. It seems to be that they steal the anonymous video and modified it.

Computer hacking is broadly defined as any action that results in unauthorized interference with a computer, computer system or network. Computer hacking includes breaking into a computer with the intent to steal, damage, modify or monitor data or settings within the system.

India has so far hacked six Bangladeshi sites against 20,000 Indian websites hacked by Bangladeshi IT talents. Bangladesh has got a victory over the cyber warfare against India as hackers could inactivate most of the major Indian websites including the border security Force (BSF), reports the Deccan Chronicle of India on Tuesday.

The group based in Bangladesh posted in their community page that their action was in response to the killings by BSF personnel in the border. BSF’s website was completely damaged in the process.

One hacker belonging to the Black hat Hackers posted in the Facebook fan page of the group: “We don’t have any personal issues with the Indians. But the brutality of BSF as well as Indian Government has forced us to do this.”

While another posted, “India supported us in 1971, now they r killing us!!!! An open enemy is better than a false friend.

“I don’t care even if death comes... I’ll keep fighting for my motherland until we get victory...!!!’ reads another post.

The group also hacked website a popular Stock Tips, Stock News website of India.

The hackers after defacing many websites posted: Indian Border Security Force (BSF), Stop killing Bangladeshis at border. Bangladeshi Hackers group named 3xp1r3 Cyber Army also has hacked into more than 700 other Indian websites.

After hacking 20,000 Indian sites the Black Hat posted on internet celebrating their hacking episode. It claimed that hundreds of new cyber friends are joining them to sharpen the attack against Indian websites and many private internet users are helping them voluntarily.

Ashell India has left the Cyber World because of fear. So it can be said that India has lost in this Cyber War. The hackers also posted the videos of alleged brutality of the BSF personnel at the border, the report added.

Close on the heels, China and Pakistan persistently hacking Indian Central Government and corporate websites, Bangladeshi hackers have joined the club through cyber attacks on India — targeting the Border Security Force (BSF) in particular against which it carries a grouse for perceived atrocities on Bangla nationals, reports The Pioneer from Delhi on Thursday.

China and Pakistan have been carrying out cyber offensives in the past and the Indian hackers have also been retaliating to such attacks.

Cyber security expert Dhruv Soi said, “With Bangladeshi hackers joining the cyber offensives against India, the Government of India must adopt better mechanisms to safeguard cyber space.”

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Pakistani Conundrum

After having fairly successfully defied the Army over the so-called Memogate affair, the elected Pakistani Executive headed by President Asif Ali Zardari has now chosen to defy the judiciary on the question of its refusal to write to the Swiss Government requesting it to re-open the investigation into some Swiss bank accounts allegedly belonging to Zardari and the late Benazir Bhutto.

2. The directive to write to the Swiss Government came from the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury. The Executive could have easily written to the Swiss Government and avoided a confrontation with the judiciary. It was very unlikely that the Swiss Government would have re-opened the investigation. Once the Executive wrote this letter, there would have been no more grounds for the court to proceed against Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani on a charge of contempt of court.

3. Instead of choosing this easier option, the Executive has chosen the more difficult and complex option of refusing to write to the Swiss Government on the ground that Zardari as the President enjoyed immunity from investigation and prosecution.

4. Faced with a defiant Executive, a seven-member bench of the court, headed by the Chief Justice, has framed an indictment ( US expression ) or a charge-sheet ( a sub-continental expression inherited from the British) against Gilani on February 13,2012.What this means is that from being a man under investigation as he was till now, he has become an accused in a criminal prosecution, but he is not yet a convict. The question of his resignation from office and arrest would arise only if after the trial, the charge of contempt of court against him is held to have been proved and he is convicted.

5. At the pre-trial stage of framing of the charge-sheet, there was no scope for a compromise or flexibility in the judiciary’s handling of the case. The court had no other alternative but to charge-sheet and Gilani has no other alternative but to stand trial. The question of a possible Presidential pardon would arise only after conviction and not in the pre-conviction stage

6. The intriguing question is what accounts for the apparent confidence of the Executive that it can defy the Judiciary and still escape negative consequences. There are three plus points for the Executive— firstly, the solidarity between Zardari and Gilani continues; secondly, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and its coalition allies remain united behind the Zardari-Gilani combine; and thirdly, there has been no public reaction against the Executive for defying the judiciary similar to what one saw against Pervez Musharraf when he defied the judiciary and had Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury dismissed.

7. Another important plus point is that Aitzaz  Ahsan, the celebrated lawyer belonging to the PPP, who was in the forefront of the “Back Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury” movement formed by the public and the lawyers community, is now supporting the Executive against the judiciary and defending Gilani. He seems to have lost his influence with the Chief Justice, but it is likely that he still has a good equation with some other judges of the bench that would try Gilani.

8.If the trial goes ahead as expected, three alternative scenarios are possible:

(a). Scenario 1: A split develops in the Bench and a majority verdict convicting Gilani eludes it, thereby forcing a compromise.

(b). Scenario 2: The Bench remains united and reaches a majority, if not unanimous, verdict convicting Gilani who is then pardoned by Zardari.

(c). Scenario 3: Gilani is convicted  and chooses to resign and go to jail in order to highlight excessive judicial activism.

9. If Zardari does not exercise the right of presidential pardon and if Gilani chooses to go to jail, there will be a new phase of aggravated political uncertainty in Pakistan.

BY :  B. Raman.

ISI Network in Bangladesh

Soon after murder of the architect of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975, Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI jumped into the fray to expand its network across Bangladesh. During more than two decades since his murder, when pro-Pak and Islamist forces ruled the country (1975 to 1996), Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka became the nerve center of ISI activities. ISI also utilized this long period to divert its anti-India operations through Bangladesh in order to ward off international outcry over its involvement in Kashmir for encouraging secessionist forces to destabilize India. Since then, with cooperation and help of the ruling pro-Pak and Islamist clique in the country, ISI opened a new anti-India terror front in Bangladesh to destabilize North East India by patronizing and providing logistic support including funds to the North East based Indian Insurgent Groups (IIGs). ISI has established a multi-pronged terror network in Bangladesh which includes Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI), BNP and IIGs.

Computer hard discs seized from the recently arrested Jamiatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) activists revealed that a JEI member Siddiqul Islam Reza who was a cashier in Islami Bank Chittagong branch was the Acting Liaison Officer of ISI in Chittagong zone. It was also revealed that a meeting was held on May 23, 2006 at a Government quarter in Pahartali, Chittagong, that was presided over by Mohammad Jamil Khan, Regional Director of ISI in Chittagong. The meeting reviewed the need to identify new safe routes to smuggle in arms, as on two previous occasions arms consignments were detected and confiscated by the police. It may be mentioned in this connection that large consignment of arms seized in Bogra in 2003 and Chittaging in 2004 were smuggled in by ISI with help from Bangladesh intelligence agencies for the IIGs.

The ISI representative in Sylhet region has been identified as JEI leader Maulana Habibur Rahman who is currently assisting IIGs including ULFA, NLFT and NSCN (IM). Habibur  Rahman is also one of the operational commanders of the banned  Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami Bangladesh (HUJI-BD) and had earlier paid a high profile visit to Afghanistan and met Osama bin Laden in 1998. Maulana Izzat Ali, another JEI leader as well as ISI operative, is presently reorganizing HUJI-BD, JMB and other militant Islamic groups under the umbrella of Ahle Hadis Andolan Bangladesh (AHAB) into one cohesive group.

A report in vernacular daily Protham Alo published in 2009 gives an insight into the intricacies of ISI’s modus operandi in Bangladesh. The report reveals that Dubai based ARY group involved in Chittagong arms haul in 2004, was the financier of 10 truckloads of arms, which were smuggled in for the North East India based secessionist group ULFA. ARY group is also known to be an associate of international terrorist organizations including Al Qaeda and Taliban. ARY was also an accused in the bombing of US Mission in Nairobi, Kenya in 1998 as an accomplice of Al Qaeda. The proprietor of this Dubai based ARY group is a Pakistani national Abdur Razzak Yakub. This group is engaged in gold, jewellery and housing business apart from owning eight television channels operated from the UK, Dubai and Pakistan. All these TV channels are known as Pakistani Channels.

According to a report which appeared in Washington Post, (February 17, 2002) ARY group, with collaboration of ISI, smuggled out a large quantity of gold and American dollars from Afghanistan to Dubai before fall of the Taliban regime. A Columbia District Court record reveals that Abdur Razzak Yaqub is Chairman of Dubai based World Memon Organisation (WMO), a charitable organization very close to the Pakistan Government. WMO maintains linkages with other Islamic charitable organizations, Al Qaeda and Assembly of Muslim World. All these organizations were involved in bombing the US Mission in Kenya in 1998. A report in Asia Times online reveals that Abdur Razzak Yakub is close to Iqbal Mirsi who is the right hand of international mafia don Dawood Ibrahim.

Wg Cdr (Retd) Sahabuddin Ahmed, former Director of National Security Intelligence (NSI), prime intelligence organization of Bangladesh, who was arrested in connection with the Chittagong arms haul case, has revealed that two officials of ARY visited Dhaka and held meetings with the then DG NSI Abdur Rahim prior to seizure of ten truck loads of arms in Chittagong in 2004. Sahabuddin Ahmed also revealed that after return of the two ARY officials to Dubai, the then DG NSI Abdur Rahim went to Dubai and held meetings with the ARY group.

Sahabuddin Ahmad disclosed ARY’s links with the Indian insurgent group ULFA in collaboration with ISI. He disclosed that senior ARY official Salman held a meeting with the then DG NSI in Dhaka in 2003. Those who attended the meeting also included ULFA commander Paresh Barua, the then Pakistani High Commissioner Manzar Shafiq and  Pakistani Defence Advisor Col Shaheed Mahmud, an ISI officer posted in Dhaka.

The huge quantity of arms and ammunition seized in Chittagong in 2004 was meant to be handed over  to ULFA to equip the insurgent group in its fight against the Indian government. Bangladesh’s main intelligence agencies including the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) and NSI had started supplying arms to the ULFA from 2001 when the BNP-JEI government came to power. Several ministers and MPs were also involved, as interrogations reveal. Even the ship reportedly used to carry the smuggled arms belonged to BNP leader Salauddin Qader Chowdhury who is close to BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and Pak ISI.

Assam based ULFA, Nagaland based NSCN (I/M) and some other North East India based IIGs were given a free run in Bangladesh at the behest of ISI. ULFA’s chief commander Paresh Barua set up his command headquarters in Dhaka and ran a flourishing business under the protection of Bangladeshi intelligence agencies as well as ISI. Due to ISI’s insistence, Barua and NSCN leaders including Muivah have been provided with Bangladeshi passports with which they frequently travel to Pakistan and China for procurement of arms and communication equipment.

In his confessional statement, Shahabuddin Ahmed has given details of ISI operations in Bangladesh including his meeting with DG ISI in Dubai and London, various meetings with the international mafia don Dawood Ibrahim, ISI officers posted in Bangladesh and abroad and the ARY which acted on behalf of the ISI for procurement of arms for the ULFA. He also disclosed names of two ISI officers posted in Dhaka, Brig Mogisuddin and Col. Shaheed Mahmud and added that the then Pak high commissioner in Dhaka, Manzar Shafiq was closely associated with the ISI operations including meetings with Paresh Barua.

Recently the news about arrest of Abdur Rouf @ Daud Merchant, a close associate of the international mafia don Dawood Ibrahim, hit the headlines of Bangladesh media. Daud Merchant, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment for killing the Indian music Mogul Gulshan Kumar in 1995, disappeared from jail in Aurangabad, Maharashtra and surfaced in Bangladesh. His associate, Zahid Sheikh was also arrested along with him. Both Merchant and Zahid were sent to Bangladesh by Dawood Ibrahim’s second in command Chhota Shakeel with the mission of establishing links with local underworld and integrate it with ‘D’ Company network and ISI.

‘D’Company terror network was established in Bangladesh with the help of ISI in 1995 during the first BNP regime of Khaleda Zia. This network started widening and gaining in strength during the subsequent BNP-JEI rule (2001-06) , thanks to patronage by a powerful lobby within the administration. ‘D’ Company has been noticed to make efforts for strengthening its base in Bangladesh in order to carry out its underworld activities and use Bangladesh territory to promote ISI’s as well as its own interests.

‘D’ Company has already formed bases at places such as Banani and Nawabpur Road in Dhaka. Chhota Shakeel asked his associates in Dhaka to hire more accommodation for their associates based in Bangladesh. Arrangements were also being made to legalize their stay in Bangladesh by delivering them legal documents. Media reports confirm that Khaleda Zia’s son and BNP leader Tareque Rahman held meetings with the underworld don in Dubai in 2004. Even the then State Home Minister Lutfozzaman Babar was present in those meetings. These meetings with the mafia don assume significance as D Company activists are also known as mercenary killers.

Merchant, while admitting his involvement in killing of the Mumbai music baron, said that Mumbai would soon witness repeat of ‘Nov 2008.’ He also said that many of Dawood Ibrahim’s accomplices were hiding in India and Bangladesh to strengthen the ‘D’ Company network. Merchant had regular contact with both Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakeel. Merchant obtained a Bangladeshi passport (No 01917000) in the name of Sk Abdur Rahman. He visited India by using this passport several times. He confessed that he was under instructions to kill a number of Indian leaders and VIPs including the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and some Mumbai based Shiv Sena leaders. He also revealed that he was sent to Bangladesh to kill Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Even though ISI has now shown willingness to do business with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to protect its elaborate support structures in Bangladesh, Awami League and Sheikh Hasina are viewed as an anathema and also as enemies of Two Nation theory propounded by Pakistan. Pakistan has not been able to reconcile with the break-up of Pakistan and emergence of Bangladesh in 1971 and continues to blame India for this. This was evident from the former Pak President Musharraf’s statement at the recent India Today conclave in New Delhi.

Based on Merchant’s disclosures the police arrested a notorious Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) leader Mufti Obaidullah, a LeT activist who has been hiding in Bangladesh since 1995. Obaidullah has admitted that LeT has been active in Bangladesh for 14 years and that LeT is also linked to the terror network of Dawood Ibrahim and ISI. Obaidullah took active part in Afghan war. He disclosed having collaborated with Islamist militants of Kashmir, Varanasi, Delhi and Hyderabad. He also said that he was well trained in operating a wide range of light and heavy weapons like machine gun, anti aircraft gun, rocket launcher and mortar.

Merchant’s disclosures also led to arrest of another LeT leader Maulana Mohd. Mansur Ali who was an organizer of Asif Reza Commando Force (ARCF), the terrorist outfit responsible for the attack on American Center in Kolkata on Jan 22, 2002. ARCF was also responsible for kidnapping a Kolkata based businessman who was subsequently released on payment of a huge ransom a portion of which found its way to Omar Sheikh, a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) activist responsible for killing of the American journalist Daniel Pearl. Remaining portion of this fund was sent to Md Atta who carried out attacks on the Twin Towers in New York.

LeT has long been providing logistic and financial support to HUJI-BD. LeT had supplied the grenades to HUJI-BD for carrying out the attacks on Awami League rally on August 21, 2004 in which Sheikh Hasina had a narrow escape with permanent damage in one ear.. The main attacker on the Awami League rally in 2004 Mufti Hannan was enjoying protection from the BNP-JEI government. The Chittagong arms seizure, the August 21, 2004 grenade attacks on AL rally, arrest of the Dawood gang members and LeT activists – all these are not incidents that stand in isolation. These are all inter-linked and bear testimony to the intricate anti-India terror structures created by Pakistan in Bangladesh.

BY : Rajeev Sharma.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bangladesh group claims hacking 20,000 Indian websites

Bangladeshi hacker group Tuesday claimed to have attacked 20,000 Indian websites, including that of the Border Security Force (BSF), after the alleged killing of Bangladeshis by Indian border guards.

The group calling itself 'Bangladesh Black HAT Hackers' wrote on its Facebook fan page: "India hacked our 400 sites in total, we hacked 20,000 sites in total since the war started."

According to Xinhua, the group claimed the BSF website was damaged after being hacked.

Last week, a group of hackers named " Indian Cyber Army" attacked the websites of five ministries in Bangladesh and that of a trade organisation.

The Bangladeshi hackers said their action was in response to the alleged killings by BSF along the more than 4,000-km-long Indo-Bangladesh border.

"We don't have any personal issues with Indians. But the brutality of BSF as well as Indian government has forced us to do this," the hackers wrote on Facebook.

Odhikar, a Dhaka-based human rights group, said the BSF has killed 31 Bangladeshis last year. 

LINK :  Youtube.

Unfriendly acts of a ‘friendly’ neighbour

BANGLADESH is almost entirely encircled by India via a land border of 2,979 kilometres and a riverine boundary of 1,116 kilometres. These two neighbours share 57 trans-boundary rivers. In this regard, border securities, land occupancy, water sharing and trade promotion are the broader issues for Bangladesh and India. The paradox, however, is that despite a fairly harmonious relationship that dates to the birth of Bangladesh some 40 years ago, questions have been raised at home and abroad on the costs of disputes between two countries.

Two countries have so far agreed on many bilateral agreements, including the 25-years Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Peace of 1972, the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade of 1972, the Land Demarcation Agreement of 1974, the Bilateral Trade Agreement of 1980, the 30 years Water-sharing Agreement for the Ganges of 1996, the Lease Agreement of Teen Bigha Corridor (a corridor for movement of enclave’s people) of 1992 and the Protocol on Border Demarcation and Swap of Enclaves 2011.

 However, the question is why the negotiations and agreements done so far were not effective to end with a positive sum game between two countries.

There was a honeymoon period of friendship and neighbourly relation between the two countries during and immediately after Bangladesh’s war of independence. India helped Bangladesh with enviable political, military and humanitarian supports at initial stage. In this regard, a friendship treaty was signed in 1972 in the spirit of cooperation and peace. Much discussed issue related to Ganges water got momentum prior to completion of construction of the Farakka Barrage and accordingly a joint river commission was formed in 1972.

In addition, the border security got priority for cordial bilateral relations. In this regard, a treaty was also signed in 1974 to solve the problems with non-demarcated boundary of 6.5 kilometres and 162 enclaves. Bangladesh will be surrendering 111 enclaves being India’s inside Bangladesh and India to surrender 51 enclaves being Bangladesh’s inside India. For this exchange, Bangladesh might gain 31 square kilometres of land but it will solve a long-standing problem.

Subsequently, illegal withdrawal of Ganges water led to a water crisis in the dry season in Bangladesh in 1976. Though India was obligated to negotiate prior to operation of such a gigantic dam in the upper riparian as per the riparian doctrine, but did not. In 1976, Bangladesh lodged a formal protest with the UN General Assembly, which adopted a consensus statement. Subsequent talks between the two countries resulted in a five-year water-sharing treaty in 1977. Then, another memorandum of understanding was signed for a five-year renewal. The agreement lapsed in 1988 as the countries failed to come into a consensus. However, international law could not deter India from diversion of water because weak implementation of environmental regulations.

Meanwhile, the waterway-transit facility provided to India in 1972 has remained operational. Ratifying the 1974 agreement now might be a mistake for Bangladesh against which it handed over the South Berubari enclave of 7.4 square kilometres to India. On the other hand, India could not hand over the Tin-Bigha corridor of only 178 x 85 metres. For continuing such tensions, the political events led the negotiations to misunderstanding, mistrust and misapply. Even after major issues being unsolved, the expansion of capitalism opened a window of negotiations, which resulted in a trade agreement in 1980. In the late 1980s, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation was formed to promote inter-regional trade and to strengthen mutual cooperation. Indeed, lack of enthusiasm to solve so many disputes kept countries apart from trade promotion. It might be a reason for which India opened the window of negotiations, which resulted in agreements on sharing water of Ganges River and on lease of Tin Bigha Corridor in 1992. But it was hardly materialised and contributed to fuelling the anti-India attitude.

Bilateral relations got a new dimension when the Awami League retained power. The outcome of subsequent negotiations was a 30-year water sharing agreement of the Ganges in 1996. However, India asked for transit facility in the mid-1990s, which created instant reactions in Bangladesh. On the other hand, non-implementation of the water-sharing treaty by India endorsed a death mark for the river Padma, the part of the Ganges in Bangladesh. Moreover, India steadily embarked on constructing dams or diverting water from many trans-boundary rivers such as Teesta, Gumti, Khowai, Dharla, Dudkumar, etc. All such incidents made the dispute basket larger though all agreements came through a process of negotiations that also continued even at the implementation stages.

However, following the wave of regional economic integrations in the world, the South Asian Free Trade Agreement was signed in 2004 aiming to promote trade and to provide transit facilities in all modes of transports, even though the SAARC member countries had border insecurities and other disputes. 

Subsequently, many negotiations went on trade promotion and economic cooperation under the umbrella of the SAARC. Regrettably, the ground realities in 2010 showed that over 15 per cent of Bangladeshi import was from India while India’s import was less than one per cent from Bangladesh. In addition, the illegal trade and smuggling, which are fairly old practice across the border, have become ever serious because of wide participations of local people allegedly in liaison with anti-smuggling enforcement agencies.

Recent talks on the pending issues resumed after the Awami League came to power in 2009. During the recent visit of India’s prime minister in 2011, a protocol was signed in support of executing the 1974 agreement for border security and exchange of enclaves. However, without a specific timeframe, question marks remain on the fate of the exchange. Moreover, the water-sharing deal for the Teesta was not signed. Rather, the construction of Tipaimukh dam on the Barak could not be stopped. Experts and analysts expressed their anxiety that the dam could lead to drying up of the rivers Surma and Kushiyara, and desertification of northeast Bangladesh. The subsequent anxiety is what the fate of Bangladesh will be if India builds 101 dams and barrages under the proposed river-linking mega project to generate about 30,000 megawatts of electricity.

Now the question is how much Bangladesh can hand down to the giant neighbour, whose economy is twenty times larger compared to it. Indeed, trade promotion is no more an insignificant issue for India because of mass illegal penetrations of both its legal and illegal products into Bangladesh. What is important for India is transit, about which internal political dialogues in Bangladesh says ‘no water no transit’ or ‘transit with fee’. However, what is the related standing of India’s hydro-politics? If India provides transit fee but stops water, what will be the fate of our agriculture?

Who could have imagined looking back at 1971 that India would shoot down Bangladeshi across the boarder? The situation has become so that all negotiations end with a zero-sum game favouring India where the giant neighbour seeks undue advantages from the weak bargaining capacity of the small neighbour.

BY :  Aminul Islam Akanda.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Indian border guard chief remark outrage Bangladesh

BANGLADESH GOVERNMENT, as well as the rights groups are outraged after the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) chief said that it is not possible to stop border firing completely.

The BSF director general U.K. Bansal told the BBC on Tuesday that it is not possible to stop border firing completely and his Bangladesh counterpart Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) chief Maj.Gen. Anwar Hossain disagrees and said on Thursday that killing at the border under any circumstances is not acceptable.

The remark is contrary to Indian government’s agreed policy and continues to maintain a shoot-at-sight policy for any Bangladeshi illegally crossing the international divide, foreign minister Dipu Moni told reporters on Thursday.

Last July, the Indian home affairs minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said the Indian guards will no longer shoot people crossing the porous border from Bangladesh. Instead the guards will use rubber bullets after warnings.

Two days after the anger is still being raged, two more Bangladeshi citizens on Thursday have been shot and wounded by BSF at Satkhira in south-east, lieutenant colonel Abu Bashir confirmed with the private wire service

Bangladesh Human Rights Commission chief Prof. Mizanur Rahman on Wednesday threatened to raise the issue at the United Nations Human Rights Council, unless BSF stops killing and torture of innocent Bangladeshis.

In December 2010, New York based Human Rights Watch in a report described the Indian border guards as "Trigger Happy" force and documented hundreds of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, torture, and ill-treatment by the BSF.

In January 18, 2012, Indian news channel NDTV showed a disturbing video of what appears to be a group of BSF guards in uniform beating up a young Bangladeshi man ruthlessly near the Bangladesh border after he allegedly refused to give them a bribe. BSF top officers acknowledged that this incident took place and the perpetrators were fired.

The rights groups Odikhar and Ain Shalish Kendra (ASK) documents the killings on the border have denounced the border killings as extrajudicial murders.

The NGO’s stated that it is one of the most dangerous international borders, where an estimated 350 Bangladeshis and 165 Indians have been killed by Indian forces since 2006, since India began to fence the borders.

India in the east, shares 2,544 miles of porous and soft border with Bangladesh and have constructed walls with barbed wire, roughly 70 percent border with Bangladesh to stop illegal border crossing. The rest of the border is running across the delta's shifting rivers, which are unfenceable, but patrolled.

Livestock, food stuffs, gun-running and drug trade are regularly brought from India into Bangladesh. Illegal immigrants from Bangladesh cross into India to find jobs.

However, Gen. Hossain said on Thursday that the incident of killing at the border is on the decline in the last two months.