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Posted on on July 1st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (



So, what we have here is that the UNSG, on the eve of his departure to East Asia, with a full schedule of events that day, that also took him that evening to the Japan Society – an event we reported, had also made sure that the UN Outreach Division of DPI organize an event intended to save future generations from the horrors that supposedly belong to times predating the UN. The problem is that it took 60 years to reach the point that the institution has finally decided to remember the 1939-1945 Holocaust against Jewish people, the Roma and Sinti, and the murders of others that bared for all to see the extent of the capability of the human species of being subhuman.

But this was not the end to the   sub-humanity – it is being demonstrated in continuing fashion. We know of Rwanda, Bosnia, and we try not to see now Darfur. Different people have different views on ongoing killings. Are these genocide? Let’s sit down and talk – this while the killings go on daily. Neigh, there is no UN decision to go in and stop the killings but we preach that every individual has the responsibility to do what the Governments sitting at the UN refuse to do.

Mr. Akasaka, a UN UnderSecretary-General, opened the meeting and said that fundamental human rights are the basis for the UN charter codified three years later in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He also told us that the Paris September 3-5, 2008 gathering of DPI and NGOs will deal this year with Human Rights as this is the 60th celebration of the signing of the Declaration.

Mr. Akasaka said here something very important.   The UN Charter governs relations between States – large and small; the Universal DHR guards the relations between human beings and the States – The INALIENABLE RIGHTS OF HUMAN BEINGS. And furthermore – on December 9, 1948, the day before the signing of the UDHR, The UN General Assembly adopted the Genocide Convention. Thus he continued this logic by saying that the UNSG has said that preventing genocide is a collective and Individual Responsibility and called for the entire UN system to be empowered to prevent massacres.

He Continued by saying that the panel will present stories on how individuals have helped, also how modern technology like satellite imaginary can help and that we will hear how NGOs and media have brought to the front the horror stories.

Prior to that he also said that the UN was established because of the horrors of the Holocaust and the two- the Holocaust and the UN are interrelated like cause and effect that was intended to avoid any repeat of such horrors.

Mr. Akasaka finished his introductory. left the place and Mr. Eric Felt took over.

Mr. Felt introduced   Mr. Jean-Marc Coicaud as moderator. He is the Head of the New York Office of the Tokyo based UN University. He wrote: an article   “Meaning and Value of Political Apology” that he presented on May 23, 2008, at an earlier part of this two part series of the UN DPI Outreach Programme on Genocide related issues.

DOWNLOAD: age-of-apology-jm-coicaud.pdf

That presentation was based on a chapter from “The Age of Apology: Facing Up To The Past” that was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. That book was a product of the Tokyo office of the UNU   Peace and Governance Program. So we see the UN relates Holocaust and Genocide to the future of humanity and the future of the UN – by first taking the step to recognize the wrongs of the past.

On June 26 Dr. Coicaud made reference to that first round of these meetings, and said that the first session dealt with “Can Genocide be Prevented?” and he said that the answer was not clear. WHAT WAS MISSING WAS THE OPERATIONAL ANSWER – how to achieve results in operational terms. He expressed the hope that in this second session we might come up with an answer – and that would be an achievement.

We clearly blessed on his hope, but we, honestly, do not expect such a thing from the UN – though clearly, an institution like the UN University should be allowed to point fingers and say just that – the UN does nice talk sometimes, but is short of actions most of the time. The world cannot do just with talk and demands actions – so one must think of reforming the UN so it would act when action is warranted.

Mr. Felt added to Mr. Coicaud that there is an individual as well as a collective responsibility to prevent genocide.

Now, the first presentations by the   Holocaust   Remembrance institutions. First to make the presentation was Mr. Robert Rozett, Director of Libraries at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel. He presented cases of rescue in the hope we can learn from actual happenings.

He said that we are trained to look at rescue in the form of a cavalier on a white horse, but in the Holocaust we look mostly at neighbors, at the Pope, at people as individuals.

(a) the rescue of Aron Wolff and his family by a neighbor in Carpathia at Scoll. In this case it was a man who was once helped by a loan. Swisten remembered that deed and came to help now without doing this for money. In the end of the war Swisten was killed by another neighbor because he helped a Jew.

(b) the case of Rabbi Weissmandel who tried to get the Vatican to help with the Slovak government. His argument was to create labor camps right there in Slovakia rather then send the Jews to Poland for working camps there (this as in the euphemism for the extermination camps in Poland). His idea would benefit the slovaks he said. Eventually 60,000 Jews were deported – 30,000 stayed.

August 1944, Weissmandel himself and his family were in a car to go to Auschwitz, but was allowed to stay and had to leave his family in the railroad car. He was smuggled to Switzerland to continue his rescue efforts but never forgave himself for leaving his family to go to their death.

(c) the case of a little boy saved by a dog while the farmer who knew the boy was in the dog-house never took a stand – not for the boy nor against him. The dog stood guard for the boy and not just shared his food with him, but actually let him eat first. The lesson here is about the ethics of the dog vs. the ethics of humanity {just go and tell this today to those committing genocide in Africa, Bosnia, or to the likes of Ahmedi-Nejad}.

Here, Mr. Joseph Rubagumya, now with the School of International Public Affairs of Columbia University, originally from Rwanda, told about his own experience from Africa’s wars of extermination. His family left first from Rwanda in 1960   to Congo, then to Uganda,Sierra where they worked on a coffee plantation.   He returned in June 1994 to Rwanda and everything they had was from cans sent in from donors. Eventually people from an NGo helped him get a scholarship to the US.

Further material about Rwanda was distributed at the entrance to the room. It spoke about “Never Again” and the “Responsibility to Protect: Who is responsible for protecting vulnerable peoples?” It also had a couple of pages about “Sexual Violence: A Too of War.” It extolled “Supporting Survivors” and paragraphs about the various   International Criminal Tribunals.

The third speaker was a lady with experience at many of these International Criminal Tribunals – Sierra Leone, Cambodia ….Ms. Daphna Shraga is Principal Legal Officer in the UN Office of Legal Affairs. She seems to be a top lawyer and the crispness of her presentation was in itself a demonstration how tough it is to do justice in a warped UN system.

The UN recognizes as punishable crimes of genocide if bodily and mental harm are committed and killings if it is an act by one group against another by reasons of religion or ethnicity, but excepts if harm is done because of political or cultural differences. So, the genocide convention refers only to racial, ethnic, religious differences.

Prevention and Punishment are two different notions. If punishment prevents – this is only for next cycle of violence – and obviously the violence was not committed yet – so this is something that does not come under the convention.

These strange principles were established at Nuremberg – that the individuals are responsible because states are abstract entities that do not commit crimes. The responsibility thus falls on individuals.

The genocide is about the fact that one is born into the group – this is why political and cultural reasons are not included.

In the case of Bosnia-Herzegowina – the Serbs against the Muslims – there was killing of the young only – not the whole group – the argument was that this does not constitute by definition genocide! As no other crimes come under the statute except crimes a defined genocide by that statute – these crimes were not punishable.

In 2007 the International Court of Justice made the judgement that if the individual is made responsible it is still the responsibility of the State – also because the State did not prevent or punish the crime.

Srebeniza was a special case as here there was enough evidence that genocide was committed against a whole group – basically – here all men were killed – not just young ones.

Is there an obligation of all States to prevent genocide in any State? Even though it was decided already that the obligation extends from the State were it was started – the prevention is to be obligatory to those outside that State.

{we had here a belly full of doubts about much of what was said – legalistics aside. What is culture if not a combination of ethnicity and religion? How can one exclude crimes against people because of their culture? Albeit, it is obvious that the Soviets and China had no interest in safeguarding rights of politics and culture in those dingy days of post San Francisco negotiations, but should not the UN step in and straighten this mess out today?).

Presentations four and five take us back to the Holocaust. Both presenters part of the Washington DC US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Ms. Bridget Conley-Zilkic, the director of the Committee on Conscience, who stated that there is a commitment that the memory is tied to action today – Agitation, Memorialization and Conscience are the three committees in the Museum.
The Holocaust was based on total collapse – the individual, the social, the national, and the international.

Mr. Larry Swaider, Chief Information Officer at the Museum stepped in explaining the communication technology he use at a website with 17 million uniques/year coming from 100 countries.

He uses now GoogleEarth and can see villages being burned. Looking at what happens today in the world he can see people fleeing when he picks at following a particular person.

there is today the possibility to use “World of Witness” – a Geo-blog. Also some book clubs, like Oprah’s do follow genocide.

The sixth and last presentation was by the honorable Edward C. Luck, Now on leave from his position at Columbia University, he is Director of Studies at the International Peace Academy and is and was Special Adviser to the last two UN Secretary-Generals. He was also a President of the UN Association of the US. His Focus is on the obligations that come under the Responsibility To Protect and he was involved with former UNSG Kofi Annan in getting this concept accepted by the UN. So, no wonder that his topic was about the Responsibility of the State to Protect its Citizens.

He started by saying that he is sorry Mr. Akasaka is not in the room anymore. This because he wanted to set the record straight on a very important issue. He said that the Holocaust was not mentioned in San Francisco of 1945.
Basically the idea was then to establish the institution of the UN and the hope was that once there is an institution it can then be used for all sorts of things. This was a very fast creation and then the question was posed – so what will the UN do?

The Holocaust teaches us that genocide today is not just about Africa – it is about anywhere. just think what one of the most advanced nations – Germany – did. It can thus happen in a most advanced country in Europe – it can happen anywhere.

There are now policy tools, institutions, and individuals themselves that can make a difference.

Mostly – there is now a responsibility to try. To recognize what is happening and to do something. In Darfur we see a response.

1998 – 1999, Kofi Annan, with the help of Canada worked on this and came up with the R to P idea in 2001.

Responsibility to Protect is not the enemy of Sovereignty because States were created with the responsibility to protect their citizens.

The international community has the responsibility to assist the State. Not to punish the State when they failed, but to help them solve the internal problem. When they fail – there is a responsibility to use diplomacy and help.

Here Prof. Luck brought to his help front page recent news – the Kenya case when Kofi Annan went in recently to mediate between the two warring factions.

Another not so distant case was the dilemma the US had in how do you prevent WWIII with the USSR and all those economic and social issues that came up? The US did not pay enough attention to those issues – only to the National Strategic side.

Ms. Daphna Shraga pointed out that there is this concept that the UN is immune – but it is for the member states to evoke the UN immunity in court. To this Prof Luck said that there is also something like a Court of Public Opinion.

Yad Vashem found very strong interest in China – this also because of receptivity from their own experience at Nanjing. Young audiences in China are interested in how the memory of the Holocaust is kept alive. The task is to keep good documentation of what has happened and such documentation is being organized now in China.


Posted on on June 19th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Statement by Baroness Scotland of Asthal, Attorney General of England and Wales, The UK,

At the

Security Council Open Debate On Women, Peace and Security.

19 June 2008

Thank you Madam President.   The United Kingdom welcomes the leadership shown by the United States in holding this debate during their Presidency of the Council, and your presence here today Madam President demonstrates just how important it is for us all to tackle the growing problem of sexual and gender-based violence if we are serious about resolving conflict.

And I Madam President rejoice at the sight and the fact that of the 20 representatives round this Council table, seven are women, and are here to add their voice to the wise counsel given by their male counterparts and colleagues adding substance and support to this resolution which focuses on the plight of women caught in the pernicious tentacles of conflict and may I commend too the Secretary-General for his vision and his determination to increase the number of women who will be able to make their contribution to this Council’s work and the reduction of conflict.

But before I turn to the issue of sexual violence, I would like to say a few words about Aung San Suu Kyi, who as you rightly reminded us Madam President, today spends a further Birthday under house arrest.   The Burmese people have suffered under military rule since 1962.   And it is fitting that we remember Aung San Suu Kyi as we talk about Women, Peace and Security in today’s debate and remember, too, the many ordinary women of Burma who have often borne the brunt of violence, persecution and economic deprivation imposed upon them by the military government.   We call for Aung San Suu Kyi to be released immediately, and that she should be allowed to play a full part in Burma’s political process.

Madam President, in conflict women and children suffer disproportionately.   Sexual violence is among the very worst atrocities that they face, and it is increasingly being used as a deliberate method of warfare.

Every day, we hear reports from the United Nations, from non-governmental organisations, the media and most recently from the International Criminal Court of systematic use of sexual violence to terrorise civil communities and populations, to drive forward ethnic cleansing, and to destroy communities.   And we have seen it in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the ex-genocidaires from Rwanda are primarily responsible.   And we see it in Darfur, in Somalia, and elsewhere.   In Zimbabwe, the hired thugs of Mugabe’s regime brutalise and murder the wives and children of leaders of the opposition MDC.   Only yesterday, the wife of the newly-elected Mayor of Harare was savagely beaten and killed by the so-called war veterans, in order to intimidate the opposition party in next week’s elections.

In all these places we see the physical and psychological scars of the survivors of sexual violence;   and chillingly, the silent testimony of the horribly disfigured bodies of those who did not survive.   And we see the empty burnt out villages from which the population has fled to avoid further attacks.

And that is the point.   The trauma and injuries caused by sexual violence are designed to cripple communities, trigger revenge attacks, and cause lasting bitterness.   In this way gender-based violence   feeds the fires of conflicts that this Council is dedicated to extinguishing.

But some of course will say what’s new about this?   After all, it is true that rape and sexual violence have been associated with conflict since before records began.   Three things have changed.   Firstly, sexual violence is now being used as a tool of warfare, rather than it being just a tragic by-product of conflict, and is taking place on a much larger scale than we have seen before.   Secondly, we now better understand how sexual violence damages   the prospects of post-conflict recovery.   And thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, we have the means to tackle this problem within our reach.

Security Council Resolutions 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and 1674 on Protection of Civilians have provided an important foundation.   And many nations, international organisations, and non-governmental organisations are doing valuable work to tackle sexual violence.

But sexual and gender-based violence is evolving, and this Council’s responses must also evolve.   My government believes that the Security Council should show leadership on the issue of sexual violence by firstly, recognising that widespread and systematic sexual violence can pose a threat to international peace and security;   secondly, ensuring that we provide for women’s participation in all processes relevant to conflict resolution and peacebuilding.   The proliferation of sexual violence against women is in part aimed at excluding and marginalising women’s role in society and rebuilding communities.   We have to correct that.   And thirdly, proposing practical measures that parties to armed conflict can take to prevent sexual violence, and ensure that those who commit such crimes are brought to justice.   And this includes peacekeepers as well as belligerents.   And fourthly, but not lastly, requiring regular updates about sexual violence in situations of armed conflict, so that we can better understand how to prevent it.

We are realistic.   Sexual violence will sadly not go away overnight.   But Security Council Resolution 1325 is a crucial building block to tackling this growing problem.   And the civil populations of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Darfur, Somalia, Zimbabwe and elsewhere need the Security Council’s continued efforts to tackle this growing scourge.

And the United Kingdom supports this Resolution without reservation and we thank you Madam President and all those round this table who have lent their voice to this end.

Thank you Madam President.

Hazel Foster (Miss)
Third Secretary Press
United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations
One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza
885 Second Avenue (48th Street & 2nd Avenue, 28th Floor)
New York
NY 10017
Tel:   00 1 212 745 9288
Fax:   00 1 212 745 9316
FTN:   8451 2288
E-Mail:    hazel.foster at
Blackberry:   00 1 646 932 9374 ( hazel.foster at
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Visit our blogs at


Posted on on May 23rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Burma Agrees to “All” Cyclone Aid Workers – as per Reuters – May 23, 2008.

Naypyidaw, Myanmar – Myanmar’s junta agreed on Friday to admit cyclone aid workers “regardless of nationalities” to the hardest-hit Irrawaddy Delta, a breakthrough for delivering help to survivors, U.N. officials said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on a mission to help 2.4 million left destitute by the storm that struck three weeks ago, reached the agreement with junta supremo Than Shwe in a meeting lasting more than two hours in the remote capital of Naypyidaw.

A United Nations official with Ban said foreign aid workers whose movements have been restricted since the May 2 disaster, would be given access to the delta, not just Yangon, the former capital and biggest city.

“The general said he saw no reason why that should not happen…as long as they were genuine humanitarian workers and it was clear what they were going to be doing,” the official said.

{ Now – will the general have to approve that they are “genuine humantarian workers?” }

Ban said Than Shwe had also agreed to allow the airport in Yangon to be used as a logistical hub for distribution of aid, which is still only trickling in due to the restrictions on foreign relief operations.

Asked by a reporter whether the agreement on relief experts was a breakthrough, Ban replied: “Yes, I think so, he has agreed to allow all aid workers regardless of nationalities.”

Disaster experts say that unless the generals open their doors, thousands more people in the Irrawaddy Delta could die of hunger and disease, adding to the nearly 134,000 reported killed or missing in Cyclone Nargis.

World Vision, one of the few charities operating in Yangon, said any concessions from the junta were welcome, however small. “Any positive noises are better than nothing,” spokesman James East said in the Thai capital, Bangkok. “We are cautiously optimistic. The critical thing is access to the delta.” {what a miserable State in that retro- UN family!}

Than Shwe was taking “quite a flexible position on this matter,” Ban told reporters who traveled with him, a rare concession from the reclusive junta, which is under tougher Western sanctions for cracking down on pro-democracy protests last year. {A Victory for the Dipolmat’s profession!}

Stony Silence:

At the start of the meeting, the 75-year-old Senior General’s stony-faced silence gave no clues as to whether he would overcome deep suspicions of the outside world and grant the U.N. chief his request.

He was in dark green trousers and a shirt covered with military decorations – as he was when he emerged this week from Naypyidaw, 250 miles north of Yangon, to inspect the destruction, the army relief effort and to meet survivors.

Ban saw the extent of the disaster for himself on Thursday, flying in a helicopter over flooded rice fields and destroyed homes in the delta, the former “rice bowl of Asia” that bore the brunt of the storm and its 12 foot (3.5 meter) sea surge.

Government officials told him the situation was under control, repeating a line in army-controlled media that the immediate emergency relief phase of the disaster was over and it was time to look to reconstruction.

Ban will attend a joint U.N. and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) donor-pledging conference in Yangon on Sunday.

However, ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said countries would be reluctant to commit money until they are allowed in to assess the damage for themselves.

He said the amount “depends on the level of confidence, which will require those factors – accessibility, participation, and verifiability.”

Myanmar, one of ASEAN’s 10 members, has accepted relief flights into Yangon from many countries, including the United States, its fiercest critic, but has largely kept Western disaster experts out of the delta. { Is this money for funding this dictatorship or for helping the starving poor?}
Ban’s visit was the talk of Yangon for people desperate for political change after 46 years of unbroken military rule – especially given the U.N.’s abortive attempts to mediate after September’s bloody crackdown on protests led by Buddhist monks. But people accepted his visit would not stray from its humanitarian mission.

Sunday’s conference coincides with the expiry of the latest year-long detention order imposed on opposition leader and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, under continuous house arrest for five years. Nobody expects her to be released.

Additional reporting by Ed Cropley and Rob Taylor in BANGKOK; Writing by Grant McCool; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Alex Richardson


Posted on on May 23rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Fukuda pledges full support for planned ASEAN unified market.

By REIJI YOSHIDA, The Japan Times onlline, Staff writer, Friday, May 23, 2008.

Echoing his late father’s message more than three decades ago, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said Thursday that Japan will seek closer ties with Southeast Asian countries by supporting the planned creation of a single integrated market in the region.

In his speech to a symposium in Tokyo, Fukuda reconfirmed Japan’s support for the establishment of an economic community by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations by 2015, while noting Japan’s alliance with the United States will continue to provide security in the Asia-Pacific region.

Fukuda’s father, the late Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda, is best remembered for his Fukuda Doctrine of 1977, which declared to Southeast Asian countries that Japan would build closer ties with the region and never again become a military aggressor.

“My first promise to you is that Japan will emphatically support ASEAN’s efforts to realize a community,” Fukuda told the “The Future of Asia” symposium, which was attended by several leaders from Asian nations, including Thailand, Malaysia, Laos and Indonesia. “I am determined to cooperate with the efforts of ASEAN, which is aiming to establish the ASEAN Community by 2015,” he said.

Fukuda meanwhile argued that the security situation in Asia remains unstable, singling out North Korea as one example.

The Japan-U.S. military alliance thus helps stabilize the region and “serve as the cornerstone for Asian prosperity,” he argued. “The Japan-U.S. alliance is now much more than a means for ensuring the security of Japan; rather, it also serves as an instrument for the stability of Asia and the Pacific as a whole.”

The 1977 Fukuda Doctrine was warmly welcomed and is believed to have favorably altered the sentiment of ASEAN countries toward Japan.

At that time, memories of Japan’s wartime aggression were still fresh in the region, which saw Japan’s postwar rise into an economic powerhouse as a cause for concern.

Fukuda also pledged Thursday make Japan a “peace-fostering nation.”

He cited Japan’s Indian Ocean refueling support for U.S.-led antiterrorism operations in Afghanistan, the fight against terrorism and pirates in the Strait of Malacca, as well as Japan’s contributions to regional efforts to cope with natural disasters and the spread of avian influenza.


Posted on on May 12th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (


The issue here is that business is as usual with the Myanmar leadership of Burma. While, in order to preserve their own interests – the continuation of their hold on power – they do nothing for their people and also are slow in allowing international NGOs to move in and do the work for them. But exporting rice, while others try to bring in food? This seems to be news that even some other dictatorial governments may have shrunk back from. Did the Soviets export grain while the Ukrainians were starving in the engineered Great Famine that was intended to subdue them?

Burma Exports Rice as Cyclone Victims Starve.
By Ian MacKinnon
The Observer // The guardian and posted also on truthout.

Sunday 11 May 2008

  Burma is still exporting rice even as it tries to curb the influx of international donations of food bound for the starving survivors of the cyclone that killed up to 116,000 people.

Sacks of rice destined for Bangladesh were being loaded on to a ship at the Thilawa container port at the mouth of the Yangon River at the end of last week, even though Burma’s ‘rice bowl’ region was devastated by the deadly storm a week ago.

      The Burmese regime, which has a monopoly on the country’s rice exports, said it planned to meet all its contractual commitments.

      With rice prices hitting a record high after more than doubling since January, the exports are a valuable source of foreign revenue for the junta and its allies. The fear is that with the rice-growing area in the Irrawaddy delta inundated with salt water from the huge tidal wave, Burma may need to import greater amounts of rice this year. Alarm at the prospect fuelled another spurt in rice prices during the week. The continuing rice sales looked like just another facet of the Burmese regime’s insensitivity to the suffering of its own people as it continues to block international relief to cyclone victims and pressed ahead with the constitutional referendum yesterday. The Burmese leader, General Than Shwe, has urged people to vote ‘yes’.

Critics claim the referendum is designed to cement the generals’ hold on power as it reserves 25 per cent of the seats in parliament for the military. They say it should have been postponed because of the disaster.

      Many of the cyclone’s victims have received little aid. International relief from the UN and other agencies has been blocked, and disaster management experts barred from entering even though there has been little evidence that the Burmese military is alleviating the suffering.

A spokesman for the World Food Programme (WFP) said two planes containing humanitarian supplies had ‘not been released’ by the Burmese authorities after arriving in Rangoon airport yesterday.

The planes contained ‘critically needed supplies and equipment’ provided by the WFP, UNHCR and other aid organisations. While the sacks of rice for export were being loaded on to the freighter at Thilawa last Friday, cyclone survivors from surrounding villages said they had received only hand-outs of spoiled rice from the port’s warehouse, where the storm had soaked 40 per cent of the stored rice.

The cyclone, which hit Thilawa early on Saturday morning, blasted the port so severely that one of the three enormous container cranes toppled and was left crippled. In the nearby village of Thamalone, just 15 miles from Rangoon, the only aid has come from the Free Family Funeral Association which usually provides coffins for poor families but used its trucks to deliver rice to villagers.


Burma Faces “Public Health Catastrophe,” Charity Says.
By Amy Kazmin
The Washington Post

Monday 12 May 2008

Bangkok – An estimated 1.5 million Burmese are on the brink of a “massive public health catastrophe,” the British charity Oxfam warned Sunday, as survivors of Cyclone Nargis poured out of the devastated Irrawaddy Delta into regional towns in search of water, food and other help.

Burma is facing a “perfect storm” of conditions that could lead to an outbreak of waterborne disease, said Sarah Ireland, Oxfam’s regional director.

“The ponds are full of dead bodies, the wells have saline water, and even things like a bucket are in scarce supply,” Ireland said.

She appealed for Burmese authorities, who have restricted access to the country, to allow humanitarian agencies to send in technical and health experts to help prevent outbreaks of disease.

The struggling relief efforts suffered another setback when a boat ferrying rice, drinking water, clothing and other aid sank in the delta early Sunday, apparently after hitting a submerged tree, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

Residents were able to salvage some of the supplies, meant for more than 1,000 survivors, but river water probably contaminated the food, the organization said. All of those aboard made it safely to land. The boat was carrying one of the first international aid shipments.

“This is a great loss,” said Aung Kyaw Htut, who is supervising the distribution effort. “This would have been our very first river shipment, and it will delay aid for a further day.”

The cyclone and powerful tidal sea surge ripped across the low-lying delta a week ago. The country’s ruling junta on Sunday raised its official tally of the dead to more than 28,000, though humanitarian experts say the toll could run much higher. Thousands remain missing.

The dire warnings came as Burma’s state media declared success in a referendum to secure public endorsement of a new constitution that critics say would perpetuate and legitimize military rule. Burma’s leaders say the charter will lay the foundation for a “discipline-flourishing democracy.”

With conditions in the delta increasingly desperate, survivors began besieging small towns, searching for help. In the town of Laputta, which lost 85 percent of its buildings, about 28 makeshift camps have sprung up. But supplies are limited.

U.N. agencies and international charities that were operating in Burma before the disaster have been slowly setting up aid operations. Emergency supplies are gradually arriving in the country and just beginning to reach the low-lying Irrawaddy Delta, but they are far short of what is needed.

“Time is really of the essence. Already we have seen a diarrhea outbreak in the very urban areas of [Rangoon], and with cyclones you’d usually see pneumonia soon as well, and also malaria because of the standing water,” said Naida Pasion, the Burma program director for Save the Children, which maintains a staff of 500 in the country.

The World Food Program, which on Friday accused authorities of impounding planeloads of emergency food, said cargo and materials sent since then had been released and sent to disaster zones. The International Committee of the Red Cross also sent a planeload of supplies Sunday, including body bags.

Yet a week on, most survivors have not yet received any help, because of the lack of supplies and logistical difficulties.

“Beyond the main arterial roads, it’s a massive challenge, not only because the floodwaters are still there, but also because even when they are not, it’s extremely difficult to navigate,” said Marcus Prior, a WFP spokesman.

The Burmese army insists that it can manage the massive relief operation and has rebuffed offers from the United States, its longtime critic, and countries in the region for military assistance to distribute aid.

But for years, Burma’s military has struggled to feed its own. Vegetables are often grown alongside the runways of army airfields, and chicken coops are usually kept behind barracks across the country, officially known as Myanmar. Troops in far-flung places have long been ordered to “live off the land” because the army command has been unable to reliably supply its 400,000-member force with the food it needs.

“The logistical system in Burma is so shaky that in the 1990s, they told regional commanders and bases outside Rangoon [the country’s main city] that they had to take care of their own logistics” for basic needs, said a Western analyst who has studied Burma’s military.

Military analysts warn that Burma’s army has neither adequate equipment nor training to cope with the crisis, and its insistence on going it alone – or through its own “strenuous labor” as state media call it – could cost many lives.

“Disaster relief operations, like any military operation, require training, practice and equipment,” said Robert Karniol, a regional defense writer. “Even if they were well practiced, they would have difficulties responding because of the scale.”

Humanitarian groups are reluctant to cooperate with foreign militaries in disaster response. But the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan showed how foreign militaries could use specialized transportation equipment to move large quantities of supplies to hard-to-reach areas.

The Irrawaddy Delta presents the type of logistical challenge best suited for military hardware. Vast areas remain submerged, accessible only by boat or helicopter, and the region’s ports are inaccessible to civilian ships as a result of the damage.

“The Myanmar military has certain assets, but in a response this size, you need to start using everything you’ve got,” said Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, a civil-military liaison officer with the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“In a disaster of this scale, because of the critical needs and limited infrastructure, we would certainly advocate considering the kind of specialized capacities that foreign militaries can give in reaching the people we need to reach,” he said.

Burma has allowed foreign military cargo planes to ferry supplies to the Rangoon airport but has so far refused other foreign military help.

“The regime’s hope is that they will be able to weather the storm of criticism and just get the aid in and handle it themselves,” the Western military expert said. “If that means they can’t do enough quickly and some people die, they’ll accept that.”

Yet the drama could have unforeseen repercussions for a military still shaken by a crackdown in September on Buddhist monks protesting against the government.

The military expert said a disaster-relief failure, and the unnecessary loss of many lives, could undermine the morale of an institution that is built around the notion of safeguarding the Burmese people.

“There must be a great many people in the armed forces who do genuinely care about what has happened,” he said. “If they hear that aid is being refused, or put in a [warehouse] and not being released, that does have the potential to impact troop morale and cohesion. And anything that shakes the cohesion and loyalty of the armed forces will shake the regime.”



Posted on on May 10th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Are Myanmar’s Storm Victims Suffering Needlessly? Asks The Washington DC based World Watch Institute.

by Ben Block on May 9, 2008

But the posted article did not mention the effect of climate change that seemingly can make it predictable that similar large scale disasters will become more frequent. also, though pointing out the effects of uncontrolled – so called development – and the lack of interest by the Myanmar government in the wellbeing of its citizens, does not follow up with any reference to the US experience with the recent Hurricanes that hit Louisiana. Eerily, we find similarities here even though we would not go as far as equating the government systems of the US and Myanmar, but we will nevertheless fare to equate the lack of fore-sight when watching, and sometimes even sponsoring, unsound development and removal of natural barriers against furious storms from the sea. Also the post disaster reaction may allow for some comparison.

We mention the above because we hope the Irrawaddy lesson will not be only that Burma is run by a junta, but that the world must think of how to act now so that the scale of future disasters will be less biting then it was in these two recent examples.

Photo courtesy of NASA
Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Delta is shown before (top) and after (bottom) Cyclone Nargis inundated the coast, killing thousands. The storm further destroyed mangroves that may serve as protective buffers against waves.

As the floodwaters of Cyclone Nargis began to recede from Myanmar’s low-lying Irrawaddy Delta this week, at least one regional leader was quick to note that this devastating disaster could have been partially prevented through better coastal management.

Surin Pitsuwan, secretary-general of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), mentioned in an address in Singapore that expanding coastal populations and widespread mangrove degradation played key roles in worsening the cyclone’s impact. Much of the damage from the cyclone was caused by storm surge, powerful waves whipped up by the high winds.

“The mangrove forests, which used to serve as buffer between the rising tide, between big waves and storms and the residential area… all those lands have been destroyed,” Agence France-Presse reported him saying. “Human beings are now direct victims of such natural forces.”

Mangrove forests, salt-tolerant trees and shrubs found mainly in intertidal areas of the tropics, provide critical breeding grounds and habitat for many plants and animals, including several high-value fish species. Ever since the 2005 Indian Ocean tsunami that devastated parts of Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Thailand, mangroves have received greater attention for their potential role in protecting coastlines against storm surges. But their role as coastal guardians – including in places like the Irrawaddy Delta – is still disputed within the scientific community.

Of the 100,000 people who Myanmar officials say have perished or face imminent death if they do not receive humanitarian aid in the wake of the May 2 cyclone, many had lived in areas once covered with mangrove forests. Myanmar is home to some of the largest remaining forested areas in Southeast Asia. However, the government junta often encourages citizens to convert mangrove forests into shrimp aquaculture facilities or rice fields. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that Myanmar lost about 9 percent of its mangrove forests – 48,500 hectares – between 1980 and 2005.

Mangrove roots hold together the shifting silt and other debris that flows down a delta and shapes coastal landscapes. By deterring erosion, mangroves prevent the debris from washing inland and damaging agricultural land. “It’s pretty…clear, looking around the world, that it is generally accepted that mangroves help stop erosion and protect coastland,” said Mark Spalding, a senior marine scientist with The Nature Conservancy.

Mangrove branches and roots may also reduce the surging energy of a massive storm wave as it approaches inland. “There are lots of structures that add friction to the movement of water through this fringing mangrove forest,” said Ivan Valiela, a marine biologist with Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts.

But to effectively study the role of mangroves in slowing wave action, researchers need to compare a severely damaged mangrove coast with a similar mangrove coast that was not heavily affected. This has proven to be a major limitation and has prevented scientific consensus, said Valiela, editor of the journal Estuarine, Coastal, and Shelf Science.

Finn Danielsen, a senior ecologist with the Nordic Agency for Development and Ecology who researched the protective power of mangroves during the Asian tsunami, said computer simulations have accurately measured the effect of mangroves. “There is no doubt that mangroves could have absorbed some of the energy of Hurricane Nargis,” he said. “It is true that other factors also play a role, but this does not mean that the role of coastal tree vegetation is smaller.”

Tom Smith, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, considers himself one of the world’s few researchers who challenges whether mangroves affect a wave’s forces. Data on the subject is “scant and meager,” Smith said. He considers studies that have relied upon computer simulations, satellite imagery, and field studies to be flawed.

Smith concedes that many researchers are uncomfortable with his conclusions, due to concerns that this may slow the momentum of ongoing mangrove conservation efforts. But, he said, more emphasis should instead be placed on relocating people farther inland, which would protect them from dangerous oceanic storms and also help preserve mangrove forests.

According to the United Nations, nearly half of the world’s population lives within 150 kilometers of a coast, and more are projected to move there in coming years due to population growth and tourism. Myanmar is no exception to this trend. The recent cyclone flooded the city of Yangôn, home to more than 4 million people, as well as several other cities of between 100,000 and 500,000 people. “Poorly constructed homes in low-lying, incredibly exposed areas… It’s just set-up for this sort of disaster,” Smith said.

Ben Block is a staff writer with the Worldwatch Institute who covers everything environmental for Eye on Earth. He can be reached at

UN DAILY NEWS from the
9 May, 2008 =========================================================================


The United Nations today appealed for $187 million to help provide humanitarian relief to some 1.5 million people severely affected by the recent cyclone in Myanmar for the next six months.

Launching the Flash Appeal in New York on behalf of 10 UN agencies and 9 non-governmental organizations, the UN’s top relief official emphasized that “the extent of the humanitarian catastrophe is enormous.”

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes noted that the number of those severely affected is between 1.2 and 1.9 million. But he added that “the numbers of people in need may well increase further as we come to understand better the situation on the ground.”

Cyclone Nargis, which struck the South-East Asian nation on 2 May, left a path of death and destruction across the Irrawaddy delta region and the country’s largest city, Yangon. The Government estimates that more than 22,000 people have died and over 41,000 remain missing.

Mr. Holmes noted that the number of deaths has been climbing daily and “could be anywhere between 63,000 and 100,000, or possibly even higher.”

Stressing the need to act quickly and for the Government to facilitate aid delivery, he said that “the sooner humanitarians are allowed in, and the less procedural and other obstacles we encounter, the more lives we can help save.”

He later told reporters that countries at the launch voiced strong hope that the cooperation which is necessary between the international community and the authorities in Myanmar will be “as forthcoming, as flexible, and as rapid as possible to make sure that not only material relief goods can get in but also humanitarian aid workers.”

Today’s Appeal covers 12 areas, with the largest portion of the funding sought for food, water and sanitation, logistics, health and shelter. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is seeking $56 million to provide daily food rations to 630,000 people in severely affected areas or temporary shelters.

Also, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has appealed for $10 million to assist poor farming and fishing communities devastated by Cyclone Nargis, which made landfall in the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) delta region last Friday and then moved on to Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon.

FAO said the five worst-affected areas – Ayeyarwady, Yangon and Bago Divisions, and Mon and Kayin states – are considered Myanmar’s food bowl, producing much of the country’s staple food of rice and fish, and the overall food security situation in Myanmar is “seriously threatened.”

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA), which is appealing for $3 million, said today that tens of thousands of pregnant women made homeless by the cyclone urgently need lifesaving assistance. UNFPA is working with humanitarian partners to mobilize emergency reproductive health supplies, including safe delivery kits, for those affected.

The agency added that disasters like Cyclone Nargis put expectant mothers and their babies at special risk because of the sudden loss of medical support, compounded by trauma, malnutrition and disease. Another $8.2 million is being sought by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to meet the critical needs of children and women in the wake of the tragedy.

Mr. Holmes said he will be allocating $20 million immediately from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to projects from the Flash Appeal to help ensure that the most urgent needs can be addressed quickly. Some $77 million has been pledged so far by countries, toward the Appeal and in bilateral assistance.


Echoing calls on the Myanmar authorities to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid in the wake of the deadly cyclone which has left some 1.5 million people in need, the top United Nations official in the region today urged the Government to act quickly to avert an even worse tragedy.

“The situation is getting critical and there is only a small window of opportunity if we are to avert the spread of diseases that could multiply the already tragic number of casualties,” said Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

The UN humanitarian chief has warned that the situation in Myanmar following last weekend’s cyclone has become “increasingly desperate.” The storm left a path of death and destruction across the Irrawaddy delta region and the country’s largest city, Yangon.

Both Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have voiced their disappointment at the limited progress made in gaining access to Myanmar, where some 1.5 million people are believed to be severely affected by the disaster.

Ms. Heyzer “urged again the Myanmar authorities to issue visas expeditiously, and if possible, exempt all visa requirements for all UN aid workers, so that aid can reach the people as quickly as possible.”

She also said she plans to personally go as soon as possible to Myanmar to show her solidarity with the people of the South-East Asian nation and to meet with the Government to discuss access and humanitarian assistance.

Meanwhile, UN agencies are continuing to mobilize efforts to assist those in need. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) yesterday airlifted enough high energy biscuits for 21,000 people, most of which has been delivered over the last 24 hours to the hardest-hit areas. Today, two WFP flights arrived with enough high-energy biscuits to feed 95,000 people.

The agency has decided to send in two relief flights as planned tomorrow, while discussions continue with the Government of Myanmar on the distribution of the food that was flown in today, and that has not been released to WFP, spokesperson Bettina Luescher told reporters in New York.

“We’re trying everything to resolve the situation at the airport but we are very encouraged that we were able to distribute food,” she stated.

In addition, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today it is hoping to start airlifting 57 tonnes of emergency shelter – for some 22,000 people – from its stockpile in Dubai.

The first load of 32 tonnes of aid cargo – mainly urgently needed shelter materials such as plastic sheeting, blankets and kitchen sets – is set to be transported on a WFP aircraft, with another 25 tonnes of supplies expected to be airlifted over the weekend on a joint charter flight.

The agency is also emptying its stockpile in north-western Thailand to deliver some 5,000 plastic sheets and some 200 tents to people in desperate need of shelter across the border.

“We are seeking all possible means to send urgent shelter materials and household supplies to victims of the recent cyclone in Myanmar,” UNHCR’s Jennifer Pagonis told reporters.

Now The Myanmar junta does not want to let free access to the International NGOs that come to help, as they seemingly prefer to keep the keys to their hell in their own firm hands. Posturing like the Wall Street Journal Editorial of today – calling for Myanmar’s expulsion from the UN will not help – but forcing the junta by sending in help under cover of a NATO force as suggested by some Europeans, may be a step in the right direction – even if China might say they do not like the idea of an intervention from outside. People in the inflicted area will die without this help.

And an AlterNet Editorial: The Disaster in Burma — How You Can Help
Posted May 10, 2008.

International aid groups are facing problems getting to disaster-stricken areas of Burma, but a group of monks is on the front lines right now.

Note: The following appeal was sent to members of, offering an alternative way to help with the disaster in Burma.

In the wake of a massive cyclone, tens of thousands of Burmese are dead. A million are homeless.

But what’s happening in Burma is not just a natural disaster — it’s also a catastrophe of bad leadership.

Burma’s brutal and corrupt military junta failed to warn the people, failed to evacuate any areas, and suppressed freedom of communication so that Burmese people didn’t know the storm was coming when the rest of the world did. Now the government is failing to respond to the disaster and obstructing international aid organizations.

Humanitarian relief is urgently needed, but Burma’s government could easily delay, divert or misuse any aid. The International Burmese Monks Organization, including many leaders of the democracy protests last fall, launched a new effort to provide relief through Burma’s powerful grass roots network of monasteries — the most trusted institutions in the country and currently the only source of housing and support in many devastated communities. You can help the Burmese people with a donation and see a video appeal to Avaaz from a leader of the monks.

Giving to the monks is a smart, fast way to get aid directly to Burma’s people. Governments and international aid organizations are important, but face challenges — they may not be allowed into Burma, or they may be forced to provide aid according to the junta’s rules. And most will have to spend large amounts of money just setting up operations in the country. The monks are already on the front lines of the aid effort — housing, feeding, and supporting the victims of the cyclone since the day it struck. The International Burmese Monks Organization will send money directly to each monastery through their own networks, bypassing regime controls.

Last year, more than 800,000 of us around the world stood with the Burmese people as they rose up against the military dictatorship. The government lost no time then in dispatching its armies to ruthlessly crush the nonviolent democracy movement — but now, as tens of thousands die, the junta’s response is slow and threatens to divert precious aid into the corrupt regime’s pockets.

The monks are unlikely to receive aid from governments or large humanitarian organizations, but they have a stronger presence and trust among the Burmese people than both. If we all chip in a little bit, we can help them to make a big difference.


Posted on on April 21st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Ohel Ayalah Community led by conservative Rabbi Judith Hauptman, a Professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, held this year’s Passover Seder in the Banquet Hall of the First Presbyterian Church in the Village -on Fifth Avenue at West 12t Street.       The Haggadah that was used was “The Lively Seder Haggadah” by Dr. David Arnow that combines the traditional text with a look at our world today. The real world intruded into the deliberations at this Seder more then at the UN. Participation was by tables. There were 17 tables with the full house I estimated at over 150 people.






And Just Look At a Story out of Sudan:



But, nevertheless, let us point out here that as per added material to the Arnow Haggadah, there were two pages written by Rabbi Jeff Sultar and Julia Porper, that point out that PASSOVER IS ABOUT RENEWAL OF EARTH-LIFE IN THE SPRING – something that in Hebrew is expressed as THE FESTIVAL OF SPRING – CHAG HAAVIV – as well as about the renewing of our freedom from oppression – OPPRESIVE TOP_DOWN POWER (as the insert says).



Posted on on April 8th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Contrasting responses to crackdowns in Tibet and Burma.

By BRAHMA CHELLANEY, April 9, 2008, The Japan Times online.

NEW DELHI — There are striking similarities between Tibet and Burma — both are strategically located, endowed with rich natural resources, suffering under long-standing repressive rule, resisting hard power with soft power and facing an influx of Han settlers. Yet the international response to the brutal crackdown on monk-led protests in Tibet and Burma has been a study in contrast.

When the Burmese crackdown on peaceful protesters in Yangon last September left at least 31 people dead — according to a U.N. special rapporteur’s report — it ignited international indignation and a new round of U.S.-led sanctions. More than six months later, the tepid international response to an ongoing harsh crackdown in Tibet by the Burmese junta’s closest ally, China, raises the question whether that country has accumulated such power as to escape even censure over actions that are far more repressive and extensive than what Burma witnessed.

Despite growing international appeals to Beijing to respect Tibetans’ human rights and cultural identity, and to begin dialogue with the Dalai Lama, there has been no call for any penal action, however mild, against China. Even the leverage provided by the 2008 Beijing Olympics is not being seized upon to help end the repression in the Tibetan region.

When the Burmese generals cracked down on monks and their prodemocracy supporters, the outside world watched vivid images of brutality, thanks to citizen reporters using the Internet. But China employs tens of thousands of cyberpolice to censor Web sites, patrol cybercafes, monitor text and video messages from cellular phones, and hunt down Internet activists. As a result, the outside world has yet to see a single haunting image of the Chinese use of brute force against Tibetans. The only images released by Beijing are those that seek to show Tibetans in bad light, as engaged in arson and other attacks.

The continuing arbitrary arrests of Tibetans through house-to-house searches are a cause of serious concern, given the high incidence of mock trials followed by quick executions in China. That country still executes more people every year than all other nations combined, despite its adoption of new rules requiring a review of death sentences.

The important parallels between Tibet and Burma begin with the fact that Burma’s majority citizens — the ethnic Burmans — are of Tibetan stock. It was China’s 1950 invasion of Tibet that opened a new Han entrance to Burma.

But now the Han demographic invasion of the Tibetan plateau is spilling over into Burma, with Chinese presence conspicuous in Mandalay city and the areas to the northeast.

Today, the resistance against repressive rule in both Tibet and Burma is led by iconic Nobel laureates, one living in exile and the other under house detention. In fact, the Dalai Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi received the Nobel peace prize in quick succession for the same reason: For leading a non-violent struggle.

Each is a symbol of soft power, building such moral authority as to command wide international respect and influence.

Yet another parallel is that heavy repression has failed to break the resistance to autocratic rule in both Tibet and Burma. If anything, growing authoritarianism has begun to backfire, as the popular monk-led revolts in Tibet and Burma have highlighted.

Vantage location and rich natural resources underscore the importance of Tibet and Burma. The Tibetan plateau makes up one-fourth of China’s landmass. Annexation has given China control over Tibet’s immense water resources and mineral wealth, including boron, chromite, copper, iron ore, lead, lithium, uranium and zinc. Most of Asia’s major rivers originate in the Tibetan plateau, with their waters a lifeline to 47 percent of the global population living in South and Southeast Asia and China. Through its control over Asia’s main source of freshwater and its building of huge dams upstream, China holds out a latent threat to fashion water into a political weapon.

Energy-rich Burma is a land bridge between the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. China, however, has succeeded in strategically penetrating Burma, which it values as an entryway to the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean. Beijing is now busy completing the Irrawaddy Corridor through Burma involving road, river, rail, port and energy-transport links.

The key difference between Tibet and Burma is that the repression in the former is by an occupying power. Months after the 1949 communist takeover in Beijing, China’s People’s Liberation Army entered what was effectively a sovereign nation in full control of its own affairs.

At the root of the present Tibet crisis is China’s failure to grant the autonomy it promised when it imposed on Tibetans a “17-Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet” in 1951. Instead of agreeing to autonomy, Beijing has actually done the opposite: It has pursued Machiavellian policies by breaking up Tibet as it existed before the invasion, and by seeking to reduce Tibetans to a minority in their own homeland through the state-supported relocation of millions of Han Chinese.

It has gerrymandered Tibet by making Amdo (the present Dalai Lama’s birthplace) Qinghai province and merging eastern Kham into the Han provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Gansu. More recently, Chongqing province was carved out of Sichuan.

The traditional Tibetan region is a distinct cultural and economic entity. But with large, heavily Tibetan areas having been severed from Tibet, what is left is just the 1965 creation — the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), the central plateau comprising U-Tsang and western Kham, or roughly half of the Tibetan plateau. Yet China has changed even the demographic composition of TAR, where there were hardly any Han settlers before the Chinese annexation.

TAR, home to barely 40 percent of the 6.5 million Tibetans in China, was the last “autonomous region” created by the Chinese communists, the others being Inner Mongolia (1947), Xinjiang (1955), Guangxi Zhuang (1958) and Ningxia (1958). In addition, China has 30 “autonomous prefectures,” 120 “autonomous counties” and 1,256 “autonomous townships.”

All of the so-called autonomous areas are in minority homelands, which historically were ruled from Beijing only when China itself had been conquered by foreigners — first by the Mongols, and then the Manchu. Today, these areas are autonomous only in name, with that tag designed to package a fiction to the ethnic minorities. Apart from not enforcing its one-child norm in these sparsely populated but vast regions (which make up three-fifths of China’s landmass), Beijing grants them no meaningful autonomy. In Tibet, what the ravages of the Cultural Revolution left incomplete, forced “political education” since has sought to accomplish.

China grants local autonomy just to two areas, both Han — Hong Kong and Macau. In the talks it has held with the Dalai Lama’s envoys since 2002, Beijing has flatly refused to consider the idea of making Tibet a Special Administrative Region like Hong Kong and Macau. It has also rebuffed the idea of restoring Tibet, under continued Chinese rule, to the shape and size it existed in 1950.

Instead it has sought to malign the Dalai Lama for seeking “Greater Tibet” and pressed a maximalist historical position. Not content with the Dalai Lama’s 1987 concession in publicly forsaking Tibetan independence, Beijing insists that he also affirm that Tibet was always part of China. But as the Dalai Lama said in a recent interview, “Even if I make that statement, many people would just laugh. And my statement will not change past history.”

Contrary to China’s claim that its present national political structure is unalterable to accommodate Tibetan aspirations, the fact is that its constitutional arrangements have continued to change, as underscored by the creation of 47 new supposedly “autonomous” municipalities or counties in minority homelands just between 1984 and 1994, according to the work of Harvard scholar Lobsang Sangay.

Until the latest uprising, Beijing believed its weapon of repression was working well and thus saw no need to bring Tibetans together under one administrative unit, as they demand, or to grant Tibet a status equivalent to Hong Kong and Macau. President Hu Jintao, who regards Tibet as his core political base from the time he was the party boss there, has ruled out any compromise that would allow the Dalai Lama to return home from his long exile in India.

Following the uprising, Hu’s line on Tibet is likely to further harden, unless effective international pressure is brought to bear.

The contrasting international response to the repression in Tibet and Burma brings out an inconvenient truth: The principle that engagement is better than punitive action to help change state behavior is applied only to powerful autocratic countries, while sanctions are a favored tool to try and tame the weak. Sanctions against China are also precluded by the fact that the West has a huge commercial stake in that country. But Burma, where its interests are trifling, is a soft target.

So, while an impoverished Burma reels under widening sanctions, a booming China openly mocks the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Even the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre of countless hundreds of students did not trigger lasting international trade sanctions against Beijing.

No one today is suggesting trade sanctions. But given that Beijing secured the right to host the 2008 Olympics on the promise to improve its human-rights record, the free world has a duty to demand that it end its repression in Tibet or face an international boycott, if not of the Games, at least of the opening ceremony, to which world leaders have been invited. By making the success of this summer’s Olympics a prestige issue, China has handed the world valuable leverage that today is begging to be exercised.

This rare opportunity must not be frittered away.

Brahma Chellaney, a professor of strategic studies at the privately funded Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, is a regular contributor to The Japan Times.…


Posted on on March 28th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

“‘More than 120 million people from India and Bangladesh alone will become homeless by the end of this century,’ [a Greenpeace report on climate change] says. It estimates that 75 million people from Bangladesh will lose their homes. It predicts that about 45 million people in India will also become ‘climate migrants’… ‘Most of these people will be forced to leave their homes because of the sea-level rise and drought associated with shrinking water supplies and monsoon variability. The bulk… will come from Bangladesh as most of the parts of that country will be inundated,’ Dr. Sudhir Chella Rajan, a climate expert and author of the study, told the BBC.”…

South Asia in climate change crisis.
By Amitabha Bhattasali
March 25, 2008, BBC News, Calcutta

The Indian coastline is ‘extremely vulnerable’

A Greenpeace report on climate change says that if greenhouse gas emissions grow at their present rate, South Asia could face a major human crisis.

“More than 120 million people from India and Bangladesh alone will become homeless by the end of this century,” the report says.

It estimates that 75 million people from Bangladesh will lose their homes.

It predicts that about 45 million people in India will also become “climate migrants”.

Intense cyclones:

The report says that the number of people who could be affected by climate change is almost 10 times greater than the number of people who migrated during and after the partition of India in 1947.

Around 130 million people now live in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in what are called low elevation coastal zones, which comprise coastal regions that are less than 10m above average sea level.

“There is already plenty of evidence to suggest that the average global temperature rise we have already experienced is associated with substantial changes in weather patterns over recent decades,” the Greenpeace report says.

“Droughts have become more common since the 1970s. The frequency of intense tropical cyclones has also increased and there has been widespread retreat of mountain glaciers.”

It is argued that India’s weather is becoming less predictable

The study says that “if global temperatures rise by about 4-5C in the course of the century – as they are projected to – the South Asian region could face a wave of migrants displaced by the impact of climate change”.

“Most of these people will be forced to leave their homes because of the sea-level rise and drought associated with shrinking water supplies and monsoon variability. The bulk of them will come from Bangladesh as most of the parts of that country will be inundated,” Dr Sudhir Chella Rajan, a climate expert and author of the study, told the BBC.

“And Bangladesh is already experiencing the migration,” says an activist from Bangladesh, Mohon Kumar Mondol.

“Though Bangladesh is hardly responsible for the global warming and climate change, the Bangladeshi people are paying the price for it – they have never heard of these terms but are suffering from them.”

The report says the Indian coastline is also extremely vulnerable.

Greenpeace has long campaigned in India

Several large cities within the low elevation coastal zone like Bombay (Mumbai) and Madras will go under the sea if the present growth rate of greenhouse emissions continue.

The report says that while huge investment is being made along the coast line of India, most of these projects are in the danger zone.

“This isn’t going to happen gradually. What we are going to see is a series of coastal surges, you will see inundation, salt water intrusion – which will cause lots of harm and devastate a lot of these infrastructures,” said Dr Rajan.

According to the Greenpeace report, major population movement from the coastal cities to other large urban centres like Delhi, Bangalore and Ahmedabad will take place.

“These cities will have serious resource constraints of their own by the middle of the century, but will have to be prepared to accommodate enormous numbers of migrants from the coasts.”

When receiving the Nobel Price, Al Gore Hit On The US anc China As the Major Culprits – We thought to bring up that old BBC material also.

Gore climate plea to US and China.
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Al Gore’s acceptance speech was a powerful piece of rhetoric
Former US Vice-President Al Gore has urged the world’s two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, the US and China, to work together on climate change.

Receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Mr Gore referred to climate change as a “planetary emergency”.

He said he hoped for a positive outcome from the UN climate talks in Bali.

The chairman of Mr Gore’s co-laureate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said climate change threatened human security.

“Societies have a long record of adapting to the impacts of weather and climate,” said Rajendra Pachauri, the Indian engineer who has chaired the IPCC since 2002.

“But climate change poses novel risks often outside the range of experience.”

 “In every land the truth, once known, has the power to set us free”
Al Gore

Climate goes to the movies

The IPCC’s fourth major assessment of climate science, impacts and economics, released over the course of 2007, forecasts increases in droughts, declining crop yields, and scarcity of fresh water over large areas of the planet.

Dr Pachauri paid tribute to the thousands of scientists whose work had contributed to the IPCC assessments, notably its inaugural chairman Bert Bolin, who was unable to attend the ceremony as a result of ill-health.

Rhetorical power

As befits the cinematographic auteur of An Inconvenient Truth, Mr Gore’s speech was a rhetorical tour de force.

“We, the human race, are confronting a planetary emergency – a threat to the survival of our civilisation that is gathering ominous and destructive potential even as we gather here,” he said.

“The Earth has a fever, and the fever is rising. The experts have told us it is not a passing affliction that will heal by itself.

Why the IPCC and Gore won
“We are what is wrong, and we must make it right.”

The former vice-president painted a gloomy picture of the climate impacts that might lie ahead. But he was more upbeat in his assessment that carbon emissions could be tackled.

“In every land the truth, once known, has the power to set us free,” he said.

Essential steps, he said, included the universal ratification of the Kyoto Protocol – a reference to the US which is now alone among industrialised countries in its rejection of the 1997 treaty – a moratorium on conventional coal-fired power stations, widespread taxation of carbon, and the mobilisation of entrepreneurial initiative worldwide.

His warm words for the efforts that Europe and Japan have made in recent years contrasted with his assessment of “two nations that are now failing to do enough” – China and the US.

“Both countries should stop using the others’ behaviour as an excuse for stalemate and instead develop an agenda for mutual survival in a shared global environment.”

Bali heat

Mr Gore and Dr Pachauri now travel to the UN talks in Bali, which have just entered their second week.

Delegates there have also heard stern messages about the potential impacts of climate change.

No unity yet in Bali
Climate goal ‘unreachable’

On the fringes of the conference, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that rising temperatures were already taking malaria into regions where it had previously been too cold, such as Bhutan and Nepal.

The negotiators’ main task is to initiate a process that will result in targets for greenhouse emission reductions when the current Kyoto Protocol targets expire in 2012.

A draft text proposes that industrialised countries agree to cut their emissions by 25-40% by 2020. The US is opposed to any notion of binding targets.

Dr Pachauri said that hopes remained alive for the Bali meeting, “unlike the sterile outcomes of previous sessions in recent years”.

The question, he told delegates in Oslo, was whether policymakers would listen to the voice of science and knowledge.

“If they do so at Bali and beyond, then all my colleagues in the IPCC and those thousands toiling for the cause of science would feel doubly honoured at the priviledge I am receiving today on their behalf.”


Posted on on March 27th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

As Fighting Flares in Civil War, Key Buddhist Shuns Nonviolence


» Links to this article
By Emily Wax
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, March 26, 2008; Page A13

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Draped in his burnt-orange robe, Athurliye Rathana strolled onto the veranda of a posh hotel here one recent evening and an entire wedding party adorned in fine silks knelt as one, in a gesture of respect and honor to one of the country’s best-known monks.

“I guess I’m popular,” said a slightly surprised Rathana, 45, rubbing his shaved head. “I knew our Sri Lankan people love monks. But I didn’t know they loved the ‘Parliament Monk.’ “

Rathana is a celebrated figure in this predominantly Buddhist nation, where monks are cherished for their spiritual guidance. But he is known for more than just his religious leadership. Dubbed the Parliament Monk and the War Monk by the Sri Lankan press, he is a legislator who has pushed for the use of military force to end this island nation’s 25-year civil war, which has left 70,000 dead and displaced nearly a half-million people at its height.

“Am I an extremist? Sometimes I am. Sometimes I am not,” Rathana said over green tea, when asked about reports from foreign human rights groups that accuse his party of hindering peace talks. “The point is that we need to end this war. And we are forced into a military solution.”

Rathana fits into the tradition of monks across Asia who have embraced political causes. Last fall, monks in Burma risked their lives to rise up against the country’s ruling military junta; more recently, monks in Tibet have been at the center of ongoing protests against the Chinese government.

The sporadic war in this country has divided and weakened society, reigniting long-standing ethnic tensions between the majority Sinhalese, who are predominantly Buddhist, and the minority Tamils, who are mainly Hindus and Christians. In recent months, there has been a surge in fighting between government troops and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the separatist group known as the Tamil Tigers, or LTTE.

The government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa has regained territory in the eastern reaches of the island, known as the Wild East. But in the thick jungles of the north, heavy fighting still rages. Aid groups operating in the region say hundreds of Tigers and civilians have died over the past few months, though claims cannot be independently verified because the government does not permit journalists to travel near the front lines.

Rathana’s party, the Jathika Hela Urumaya, is led by monks and is the staunchest supporter of the government’s military offensive. The party does not represent most monks in Sri Lanka, who are largely committed to nonviolence.

“As a Buddhist monk, I think every bad thing should be finished,” Rathana said. “Here in Sri Lanka, we have terrorists who brutally murdered people. As monks, we must defend ourselves and fight back. That is reality.”

As many as 30,000 mostly Sinhalese young men have signed up for the army in the past few months, spurred in part by activism by Rathana and others. The Tigers still control the northern tip of the country and have vowed to continue their struggle for a separate Tamil homeland.

The war has left the north and east of this former tourist haven a shambles. White-painted monuments of Buddha are battle-scarred. Many of the roads leading to the country’s mostly Tamil east are potholed and nearly impassable, with checkpoints every few miles where government troops search travelers and their luggage.

Caught in the middle are Tamil civilians. Many fear both the Tigers, who forcibly recruit children and adults, and government troops, whom human rights groups have accused of carrying out false arrests and abductions.

While Rathana is treated like a rock star in Colombo‘s elite circles of Sinhalese, he has vocal critics.

Mano Ganesan, a Hindu Tamil member of Parliament, characterized him as "highly divisive and offensive." He said Rathana and his party have "not helped in pushing for a peaceful solution. They are only creating more militant Tamils."

“This is not Buddhism at all,” Ganesan said. “This is using Buddhism to justify politics and a policy of war.”

Rathana’s name, meanwhile, invokes panic among many ethnic Tamils, who say they are often targeted for harassment by police and paramilitary groups.

Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka’s foreign secretary, said the government was taking those issues "very seriously. But the LTTE is using this to fight a propaganda war. We are reaching out to moderate Tamils to help us fight the terrorists."

Rathana said his entry into political life was not easy, explaining that his parents were unable to accept his political calling at first. Born into the upper middle class — his father was a prosperous goldsmith — he became a monk at age 15.

In his youth, he was a communist. But his views on government changed as he watched the 1998 bombing of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, in the spiritual capital of Kandy, home to a tooth allegedly snatched from Buddha’s funeral pyre, he said.

Rathana has defended keeping foreign monitors out of Sri Lanka, saying the country has for too long been ruled by outsiders, from the Portuguese to the Dutch to the British. The British once favored the Tamils for jobs in their administration, and the Sinhalese, Rathana said, “had to fight to regain representation in the government, even though we were the majority.”

“We can sort this out on our own. We tried to discuss things, but the LTTE always wanted to fight,” he said, sounding more like an army general than a legislator or monk. “We must do our duty on the battlefield.”


Posted on on January 23rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (


THE ELDERS -well known people gathered by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in order to provide counsel in areas of conflict or on subjects that impact human life, human rights, the right to development etc.
The activity that brought to our attention this group centers now on the attempt to resolve the Kenya crisis. Among Their supporters is the UN Foundation and individuals like Richard Branson.

Welcome Elders Latest Events Global Village Press Our Supporters History


Posted on on January 13th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Jan. 13, 2008, The Japan Times, Kyodo News: Japan to give ¥6 billion in aid to four Mekong River nations – Former Indo-China’s Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Japan will provide a combined ¥6 billion in aid to four nations in the Mekong River region for various projects, including the construction of two highways that will traverse the Indochina Peninsula, government sources said Saturday. Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura will pledge the official development assistance to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam at a meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday, the sources said.

The meeting, the first of its kind, will bring together Komura’s counterparts from Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos.

Japan wants to place emphasis on funneling ODA resources into the Mekong region, which has been lagging behind other Southeast Asian regions in economic development, they said. The aid is expected to help Japanese companies increase business activity in the Mekong.

The projects covered by the aid will include one to build two highways linking Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar that have been dubbed the “Indochina East-West Economic Corridors,” the sources said.

Japan plans to disburse ¥2.2 billion over the next three years to help the Mekong region build road transportation bases from which truck cargo can be shipped to various destinations, and to train local customs officials how to conduct proper customs procedures, they said.

Separately, Japan will provide ¥2.2 billion to help Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam build schools and power generation facilities for poor people in areas traversing the nations, the sources said.

Japan will also provide ¥1.7 billion to support Cambodian poverty-reduction efforts, the sources said.

Komura will hold bilateral talks with the foreign ministers of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos on Wednesday, and with the foreign ministers of Myanmar and Thailand on Thursday.


Posted on on December 29th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (

Benazir Bhutto (Bibi) – Self Appointed Martyr – Does She Bring Change To A South Asia That Was Carved By The British? Obviously We Do Not Know, But Analyzing Three Days Worth Of Publicity We Dare To Put Forward The Big Elephant Theorem. “Bibi” said about her return to Pakistan – “I did not chose this life – it chose me.”

The Big elephant is the Indian Subcontinent. See – we do not start by writing about Pakistan, not even about present day India – but by what, in geography books is called the Indian Subcontinent which is the triangular shaped chunk of land-mass that is cut of from the rest of Asia by the Himalaya chain of mountains. Today, in this land mass, going from west to east, we find five to eight UN member States. These are the obvious five – Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. In addition the islands of Sri Lanka and The Maldives are part of this geography. Further, my 1981 Hammond atlas has pages for “Indian Subcontinent and Afghanistan” this because it includes with this region – Afghanistan which borders right to the west of the “Subcontinent” – thus leaving the region outright bordering with Iran, Russia, China and Burma (now Myanmar), formidable neighbors which are clearly outside this subcontinent.

When one looks carefully at that map, one sees that Baluchistan became Pakistan, but was actually made up of Baluchistan proper, Sind, Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province. It had 7 major languages and 5 major religions. India had 31 Internal Divisions, 16 major languages and 8 major religions. Bangladesh was made up only of one unit, had only two major languages, Bengali and English, and only three main religions – Islam, Hinduism and Christianity – nevertheless, as having been incorporated with Baluchistan into the original Pakistan, it also inherited problems that came from its creation. Obviously, at creation, because all areas had people of all religions – a total of 25 million people became refugees – half of them Muslim and half of them Hindi. The refugees were not accepted easily by their brethren and the major parts of the Subcomtinent remained hurting for generations to come.The other Independent States of the Subcontinent are much smaller, but as we shall see have had their own problems galore. Taking all of the above into account – and without trying to offend anyone – I will continue from now to use for sakes of generalization and brevity the term INDIA for the Subcontinent as a whole. INDIA was not a total model of peace, but it was a rather peaceful region with the diffeent peoples coexisting and intermingled.

I mentioned the above in order to say that the Indian Subcontinent, or INDIA, with many more people then Europe, was as complex, if not more then Europe – and here – to this immense world march in the British and somehow manage to take it over by using the old Roman technique of DIVIDE AND RULE. the Dutch and the Portuguese came before the British, but were in owe and tried just to trade. All right, to the purist, they also established fix trading posts, but realized that the morsel is too big and complicated for them to swallow. To get a taste of the feeling of a European coming to India I will quote from today’s (December 30, 2007) New York Times travel section:

“I go to India by myself most years because I love the country. I like the history and the culture. From the photograph that goes with the NYT article you get an idea of what an extraordinary structure this is ( he talks about the 13th century, black granite, Sun Temple at Konarak, The Eastern State of Orissa, India, not far from the Bangladesh border) with big wheels representing the chariot of the sun god, Surya. What’s really fascinating about India – and you really get this when you’re by yourself – is noticing the small things. The detail in India is extraordinary, in the way people dress, the way people store their things and mend things, and the paradoxes: nothing is quite as it seems. So, intellectually, mentally, it’s this constantly fascinating display of languages and architecture and objects and craft. It’s all around you. Your senses are constantly bombarded with little details, which is fantastic.”

I know what he is talking about because I was there. I was many times to India, three times to Pakistan, once in Nepal and once in Bhutan. Further, I cooperated with Pona Wignaraja, the Sri Lankan who was the 2nd Secretary-General of the Rome, Italy, based Society for International Development and we organized with UNEP’s Dr. Noel Brown, and with Indian Dr. Rashmi Mayur, NGO leader from Bombay (now Mumbai), the meetings on Biomass and Outer Space at the First UN Conference on Outer Space that was held in Vienna, Austria, sometime around 1981, and learned what a Sri Lankan can do when looking at the world. Those years I also went to Pakistan with Turkish-American Professor Nejat Veziroglu, on behalf of a University of Miami mission backed by the US National Science Foundation, in order to help open a Solar Energy National Institute for Pakistan in Sind. We met many people involved in the Pakistan Energy leadership – the main officials were all called Khan – and we met also in Islamabad the top Khan who became later famous for his trading in nuclear technology and products. I was involved later, twice, with presenting to Pakistan the concept of Energy Cane – that is the sugar cane that has been allowed to go to the natural state when it produces more biomass (the size of the stalk and the quantity of fermentable sugars, rather then crystallizable sugars that are the interest of the sugar industry). The Energy Cane is thus better if you really want energy products. To Bhutan I went to find out some more- and learn about- the concept of Gross National Happiness that originated with its leaders. INDIA is thus even today a great source of original economic and philosophical innovation – this if not interfered with by politics based on domination by religious specificity – or sometimes perhaps simply corruption – economically based.

Plain cultural tourism I experienced in the four INDIA States mentioned – Nepal, Bhutan, India, Pakistan. I saw in Kerala State of India people peacefully practicing Aramaic Christianity as old as Christianity itself, I visited the remaining memberships of three different Jewish groups of India – the Cochin Jews that were running the spice trade from time immemorial, the Black Jews of Bnei Israel near Mumbai, The Baghdadi Jews in Mumbai and New Delhi – some of whom are now British Lords and the heads of Banking in Hong Kong and Shanghai. I visited with various Hindu Sects, with Mahatma Gandhi’s Foundation, with the Krishna movement, with the Zoroastrians in Mumbai, with the Madame Blavatsky Peace loving movement – their world headquarter of the Theosophic Society is in Madras (now Chennay)… too many different groups and ideas to do justice in one paragraph – beyond trying to say that INDIA is not the ideal place for British colonization, or for US economic up-hand-manship capitalistic involvement.

This last remark brings us back to the results of World War II, which we described previously on, when in 1945, on the same trip abroad, at meetings at Yalta and then on the Suez, the world was carved out between Stalin and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, without the bravado of France present, and with the out-of-realism at the time Churchill’s agreement, East Europe went to the Soviets, and South-of-Siberia-Asia went to the US economic and political interests – allowing for the start of a COLD WAR. That cold war pushed also to the borders of INDIA into Afghanistan, and got halted at a line that was to include India and Pakistan that were carved out from the INDIA of yore.

Pakistan was an artificial creation with five regions of INDIA carved out for Muslims so local Muslims, and outside Muslims, could be given some satisfactions from the long British DIVIDE AND RULE policies. It was a clear disaster, and out of East Pakistan Bangladesh was spun off quite soon, with India and the West-Pakistan state at each other’s throat in Kashmir and Jamu. This confrontation, with the Cold War breathing hot – led to two nuclear technology States in-the-know – India and Pakistan. While India slowly tried to take over the economic, cultural and political mantle of the fallen INDIA, Pakistan tried to take over the mantle of an extremist Islamic world. Like the Catholics in the world that sometimes want to out-Catholize the Pope of the Vatican, there came about Pakistanis that wanted to out-Muslim the Saudis in the name of the US side in the Cold War with the Soviets in Afghanistan. So, the US and Saudi Arabia managed to build up the Islamic “Gholem” in the mountains of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan, but unlike the Gholem of Prague Jewish legend, there is no Rabbi Leev that has now the magic formula to undo the Islamic Gholem. This is now the downfall of Pakistan and Afghanistan and may lead again to disasters that can hit the world at large.

Now, with this introduction, let us take a look at what we can learn from the available press that hit me these last three days – and here comes handy our ELEPHANT THEOREM.

INDIA is the Elephant. It could have developed into a lovely cooperative animal that could have been an economy larger then Europe, as free as the United States ideal in the US Constitution. All the many ingredients of the cultures, religions, economies, political structures, that were at least a millennium old, and in some cases two and three millennia old, could have fit into a jig-puzzle like the EU is trying to do now – this if the British had not played one group against another in order to make the life of the British intruders easier.

Now, we have a different Elephant situation – that known to all as the description by blind people of an elephant animal – each description being rather accurate of a detail of that elephant. That is what we found in a collection of about twenty different reactions to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, known to her friends as Bibi, the two times Prime Minister of Pakistan and the leading candidate to take over Pakistan’s reins for a third time – President or Prime Minister.



Assassination Rocks Pakistan
Opposition Leader Shot at Rally
Bhutto’s Backers Blame President

The first news of Thursday, December 27, 2007 from Rawalpindi and Islamabad, Pakistan: – An attack on a political rally killed the Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto near the capital, Islamabad, Thursday. Witnesses said Ms. Bhutto was fired upon at close range before the blast, and an official from her party said Ms. Bhutto was further injured by the explosion, which was apparently caused by a suicide attacker.
Ms. Bhutto was declared dead by doctors at a hospital in Rawalpindi at 6:16 p.m. after the doctors had tried to resuscitate her for thirty-five minutes. She had shrapnel injuries, the doctors said. At least a dozen more people were killed in the attack.

“At 6:16 p.m. she expired,” said Wasif Ali Khan, a member of Ms. Bhutto’s party who was at Rawalpindi General Hospital where she was taken after the attack, according to The Associated Press. Hundreds of supporters had gathered at the political rally, which was being held at Liaqut Bagh, a park that is a common venue for political rallies and speeches, in Rawalpindi, the garrison city adjacent to the capital.

Amid the confusion after the explosion, the site was littered with pools of blood. Shoes and caps of party workers were lying on the asphalt, and shards of glass were strewn about the ground. Pakistani television cameras captured images of ambulances pushing through crowds of dazed and injured people at the scene of the assassination.

CNN reported that witnesses at the scene described the assassin as opening fire on Ms. Bhutto and her entourage, hitting her at least once in the neck and once in the chest, before blowing himself up.

Farah Ispahani, a party official from Ms. Bhutto’s party, said: “It is too soon to confirm the number of dead from the party’s side. Private television channels are reporting twenty dead.” Television channels were also quoting police sources as saying that at least 14 people were dead.

Then, the Pakistani official announcement said there were no bullets found in her body, these were pieces of shrapnel from the bomb detonated by the suicide bomber.


Friday December 28, 2007, McClatchy Newspapers wrote, from information from their correspondent in Pakistan Saeed Shah – “Pakistan Government Skips Autopsy, Shifts Story on How Bhutto Died.”

Larkana, Pakistan – Violence and recriminations grew Friday over the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, as Pakistan’s government changed its account of how she died while her supporters charged that the government withheld personal protection she’d requested.

As deadly protests continued to rage on Pakistan’s streets, the country’s Interior Ministry said that Bhutto – buried Friday without an autopsy – had died after she was thrown against the lever of her car’s sunroof, fracturing her skull. ….

“We have intelligence intercepts indicating that al Qaida leader Baitullah Mehsud is behind her assassination,” Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said.

Mehsud, who’s based in the lawless Waziristan region on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, has been behind a series of suicide attacks in the region, according to U.S. officials.

Pakistani authorities released a transcript of what they said was a conversation in which Mehsud exults after being told by an unidentified religious cleric that Bhutto is dead.

“It was a spectacular job. They were very brave boys who killed her,” Mehsud said, according to the transcript.”

Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, Mahmud Ali Durrani, said in a television interview Thursday that the security accorded Bhutto was “almost the same” as President Pervez Musharraf’s. “She was given not exactly what maybe she asked for, but for Pakistan’s environment, she was given the best protection possible,” Durrani said on PBS’s “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.”


Washington lawyer Mark A. Siegel, Bhutto’s U.S. spokesman, released an e-mail that he said Bhutto had written Oct. 26, 2007, eight days after the earlier attempt on her life, complaining that Musharraf had denied her needed security measures. We saw him on CNN, and unless he is a trained theater or TV actor – this man and the material in his hand are completely true comment). He knew her for 25 years, was a close friend and he has co-written a book with Benazir Bhutto that will come out in January. What he is saying is that Bhutto did not get the protection she was asking for.

Further, we saw on CNN how the Pakistani Ambassador, in answer to Mark Siegel, addressed the claim that she was not given adequate protection to a former Prime-Minister – that Bhutto was not a security person – just a lay person – she did not know what was good for her protection – it was the Pakistani security personnel that knew what was good for Bhutto’s protection.

“I have been made to feel insecure by his minions,” reads the e-mail, which Siegel sent to CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer for release in event of her death. That e-mail was with Blitzer already before the assassination. “There is no way what is happening in terms of stopping me from taking private cars or using tinted windows or giving jammers or four police mobiles to cover all sides could happen without him” she wrote.

The “jammers” appear to refer to devices that can interfere with the detonation of bombs, which – like the body armor – wouldn’t have saved Bhutto’s life Thursday. The “four police mobiles” refers to a screen of vehicles to the left, right, back and front of her own.


But others said that Bhutto, who loved political rallies, at times seemed heedless of her own security, or fatalistic.

“In her enthusiasm, she got carried away, and exposed herself in ways” she shouldn’t have, said former State Department official Marvin Weinbaum of the Washington-based Middle East Institute.

In Pakistan, the shifting government explanations and Bhutto’s burial without autopsy aroused suspicion. Some say that her husband did not allow an autopsy – this clearly has to be veryfied with him!

Babar Awan, a senior official of Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party, said of the sunroof theory: “That is a false claim.” He said he’d seen her body after the attack and there were at least two bullet marks, one in the neck and one on the top of the head: “It was a targeted, planned killing. The firing was from more than one side.”

Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister, Mohammadmian Soomro, told the Cabinet that Bhutto’s husband had insisted on no autopsy. But according to a leading lawyer, Athar Minallah, an autopsy is mandatory anyway under Pakistan’s criminal law in a case of this nature.

“It is absurd, because without autopsy it is not possible to investigate. Is the state not interested in reaching the perpetrators of this heinous crime or there was a cover-up?” Minallah said.

The scene of the attack also was watered down with a high-pressure hose within an hour, washing away evidence.


The attack came just hours after four supporters of former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif died when members of another political party opened fire on them at a rally near the Islamabad airport Thursday, Pakistan police said.

Several other members of Sharif’s party were wounded, police said. Nawaz Sharif himself was at the side of Bhutto’s remaining family and on TV, as shown on CNN, said now that her loss is like a losss of a sister – clearly good politics for the moment.

Benazir Bhutto, who led Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and was the first female prime minister of any Islamic nation, was participating in the parliamentary election set for January 8, 2008, hoping for a third term.

A terror attack targeting her motorcade in Karachi when she returned from exile to Pakistan killed 136 people on the day she returned to Pakistan on October 19, 2007, after eight years of self-imposed exile.

CNN’s Mohsin Naqvi, who was at the scene of both bombings, said Thursday’s blast was not as powerful as that October attack.

Thursday’s attacks come less than two weeks after Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf lifted an emergency declaration he said was necessary to secure his country from terrorists. Will he now claim that this forced ending of the emergency rules was the reson that led to the assassination?

Two weeks after the October assassination attempt, Bhutto wrote a commentary for in which she questioned why Pakistan investigators refused international offers of help in finding the attackers.

“The sham investigation of the October 19, 2007 massacre and the attempt by the ruling party to politically capitalize on this catastrophe are discomforting, but do not suggest any direct involvement by General Pervez Musharraf,” Bhutto wrote. Just think of the possibility that she wanted to believe that the US had an arrangement with Musharraf for an eventual “Co-habitation” agreement after the elextions – with Musharraf as President and her as prime-Minister. Perhaps she really wanted to believe that.

Ms. Bhutto saw herself as the inheritor of her father’s mantle, the Democratically elected leader who was executed by General Zia who took over from him by force of the military. Benazir often spoke of how he encouraged her to study the lives of legendary female leaders ranging from Indira Gandhi to Joan of Arc.

Following the idea of big ambition, Ms. Bhutto called herself chairperson for life of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party, a seemingly odd title in an organization based on democratic ideals and one she has acknowledged quarreling over with her mother, Nusrat Bhutto, in the early 1990s.

Saturday night at a diplomatic reception, Ms. Bhutto showed how she could aggrandize. Three million people came out to greet her in Karachi on her return last month, she said, calling it Pakistan’s “most historic” rally. In fact, crowd estimates were closer to 200,000, many of them provincial party members who had received small amounts of money to make the trip.

Such flourishes led questioning in Pakistan about the strength of her democratic ideals in practice, and a certain distrust, particularly amid signs of back-room deal-making with General Musharraf, the military ruler she opposed.

“She believes she is the chosen one, that she is the daughter of Bhutto and everything else is secondary,” said Feisal Naqvi, a corporate lawyer in Lahore who knew Ms. Bhutto.

When Ms. Bhutto was re-elected to a second term as Prime Minister, her style of government combined both the traditional and the modern, said Zafar Rathore, a senior civil servant at the time.

But her view of the role of government differed little from the classic notion in Pakistan that the state was the preserve of the ruler who dished out favors to constituents and colleagues, he recalled.

As secretary of interior, responsible for the Pakistani police force, Mr. Rathore, who is now retired, said he tried to get an appointment with Ms. Bhutto to explain the need for accountability in the force. He was always rebuffed, he said.

Finally, when he was seated next to her in a small meeting, he said to her, “I’ve been waiting to see you,” he recounted. “Instantaneously, she said: ‘I am very busy, what do you want. I’ll order it right now.’ “

She could not understand that a civil servant might want to talk about policies, he said. Instead, he said, “she understood that when all civil servants have access to the sovereign, they want to ask for something.”

But until her death, Ms. Bhutto ruled the party with an iron hand, jealously guarding her position, even while leading the party in absentia for nearly a decade.

Members of her party saluted her return to Pakistan, saying she was the best choice against General Musharraf. Chief among her attributes, they said, was sheer determination.


The Japan Times Editorial of Sunday, December 30, 2007 puts it right as it is:

Assassination of Benazir Bhutto
Like her father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, a Pakistani prime minister who was executed by the military in 1979 after being ousted from power, Ms. Benazir Bhutto, the charismatic opposition leader died an unnatural death — shot to death by an assassin Thursday. Her death, which occurred only 12 days after President Pervez Musharraf lifted a six-week state of emergency is a tragedy for Pakistan. It put the country into further disarray and the effects extend beyond the country’s borders.

Ms. Bhutto became the first female prime minister in the Muslim world in 1988 and again took power in 1993. She came back to Pakistan in October after 8 1/2 years of self-imposed exile to lead Pakistan’s secular forces.

She was the country’s most pro-Western political figure, and a foe of Islamic extremist forces. The United States, which treats Pakistan as a frontline state in its fight against terrorism, apparently hoped for a power-sharing arrangement between Mr. Musharraf and Ms. Bhutto as a means of maintaining stability in the country.

With Ms. Bhutto’s death, the U.S. will be forced to rethink its approach. Meanwhile, her death will serve as a boon to extremist forces, including Taliban and al-Qaida forces in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. The situation could lead to more attacks on Afghanistan by Taliban forces.

The assassination of Ms. Bhutto has strengthened the impression that Mr. Musharraf lacks the capability to ensure security in his country and to prevent the destabilization of the first nuclear-armed Muslim country. The worst scenario would be Islam extremists getting hold of nuclear weapons.

Supporters of Ms. Bhutto accuse Mr. Musharraf of having failed to provide sufficient security for her. Mr. Nawaz Sharif, another two-time former prime minister and main opposition leader, announced that his party will boycott the Jan. 8 general elections. Even if Mr. Musharraf wins, his legitimacy will be weakened and protests against him are likely to grow fiercer. Mr. Musharraf faces his biggest crisis.



Brussels, 27 December 2007: The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi on 27 December 2007 is a serious blow to the re-emergence of democracy in Pakistan and the country’s return to stability. The leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party and former prime minister died alongside her colleagues and supporters campaigning in elections. The international community must now come together to push for a full investigation into the murders.

“Our condolences go to her family and to the people of Pakistan,” said Gareth Evans, President and CEO of the International Crisis Group. “Since the 1980s, she had been a vital and often under-estimated political force. Prospects for democracy and stability in Pakistan are much dimmer without her.”

Pakistan’s military-backed interim government is not in a position to carry out a fair investigation into the assassination. The United Nations Security Council should meet urgently to establish an international commission of enquiry to determine who ordered and carried out the killings. Given the long-standing connections between the Pakistani military and jihadi groups, this would be the only way to carry out an impartial and credible investigation.


Benazir wrote about herself:

“Why I’m Returning To Pakistan”
Posted September 1, 2007, The Huffington Post.

“I was looking forward to a quiet family holiday in New York this summer with my three children, our dog Maxmillian and my husband, who is being treated for a heart condition that developed while he was a political prisoner in Pakistan from 1996 to 2004. I thought we would go to the theatre and spend time walking in Central Park, as well meeting up with friends for nice, long chatty dinners. But in this surprisingly momentous summer of 2007, our quiet family vacation disappeared as we found ourselves caught up in the media attention on my country Pakistan, and its fast changing political situation.

It is clear to those following events in South Asia that Pakistan is truly at a turning point. Almost a decade of military dictatorship has devastated the basic infrastructure of democracy. Political parties have been assaulted, political leaders arrested, and the judicial system manipulated to force party leaders into exile. NGOs have been under constant attack, especially those that deal with human rights, democratic values and women’s rights. The press has been intimidated, with some reporters — even those that work for papers like the New York Times — arrested, beaten or made to disappear. Student and labor unions have not been allowed to function. The electoral institutions of the nation have been manipulated by an Election Commission that could not stop rigging and fraud. And in the battle against terrorism, we look on with dismay as the government of Pakistan ceded sections of our nation that previously had been governed by the rule of law to Taliban sympathizers and to Al Qaeda, making Pakistan the Petri dish of the international terrorist movement.

But the most dangerous manifestation of this retreat from democracy has been a growing sense of hopelessness of the people of Pakistan, and a total disillusionment with the political system’s ability to address their daily problems. The social sector has festered — under-financed and relegated to the back burner of national policy. All the indicators of quality of life have spiraled down, from employment to education to housing to health care. And as people’s sense of disillusionment has grown, there has been a corresponding growth in the spread of religious and political extremism. The failure of the regime has made our citizens open to extra-governmental experimentation with fanaticism. This has clearly been manifest in the spread of politicized Madrases, schools in which the curriculum incorporates xenophobia, bigotry and often para-military terrorist training. But poor parents who cannot feed or clothe their children entrust them to these kinds of schools, so their children may be fed and housed.

The growth of the Madrases is but one important signal that extremism has been making inroads against moderation amongst the Pakistani polity. I have always believed that the battle between extremism and moderation is the underlying battle for the very soul of Pakistan. Yet moderation can prevail against the extremists only if democracy flourishes and the social sector improves the quality of life of the people. In 2007, I sensed that the decade of dictatorship was threatening to undermine the moderate majority of Pakistan, those people committed to pluralism, to education, to technology — in other words, those committed to Pakistan taking its place among the community of civilized nations as a leader in the 21st century. Under democracy, the extremists had been marginalized in the past, never receiving more than 11% of the vote in an election. But under dictatorship, Pakistan was edging toward extremism, chaos, and sliding towards a failed state.

My party [the Pakistan Peoples Party] was engaged in a dialogue with the regime of General Musharraf, but discussions didn’t move the regime concretely toward democratic reform. In the summer of 2007, after the reinstatement of the Chief Justice of Pakistan and the birth of judicial activism, the dialogue with General Musharraf took a more substantive turn. It seemed now that the country had an opportunity to peacefully transition to democracy, which is critical for the other war — the war of moderation against extremism — to succeed. I had a choice. Engage in dialogue, or turn toward the streets. I knew that street protests against the Musharraf dictatorship could lead to the deaths of hundreds. I thought about the choice before me very carefully. I chose dialogue; I chose negotiation; I chose to find a common ground that would unite all the moderate elements of Pakistan for a peaceful transfer to a workable political system that was responsive to the needs of the 160 million people of Pakistan whose empowerment is critical to the success of both governing and the fight against terrorism.

I know that some in Pakistan, including those in political parties were so embittered with the military regime that they wanted the door of dialogue shut. But from the very beginning my goal was and remains to guarantee a free and open electoral process that would provide for a legitimate Parliament and provincial assemblies that would then select, in a constitutional process, a civilian President who understands that in a parliamentary democracy, the parliament is supreme. I wasn’t negotiating for a guaranteed outcome, I was negotiating for a guaranteed process. That was the goal at the beginning. That is the goal now. Are we making progress towards that goal? I still am unable to say. There are many elements, in particular those sympathizers in the ruling Party and Government who enabled the extremists and militants to expand their influence in my country who are fearful of the return of the PPP and a rollback of the terrorist forces that have gained strength since my government was overthrown in 1996. They want to scuttle a process that could see the emergence of a moderate Pakistan. So it has been a roller coaster ride. Some times the dialogue moves forward with General Musharraf . But then he consults his colleagues in the ruling alliance and retracts from confidence building measures promised for a fair electoral process.

As the presidential and parliamentary elections approach, I am making plans with my supporters to return to Pakistan. I know that it is critical for Pakistan to return to a democratic way of life so that the people’s problems can be addressed. When people are partners with government, they stand up to defend their communities against terrorists, criminals and negative forces.

My stay in New York wasn’t exactly the family vacation I had planned, but it was a critical period of weeks that could very well determine the future of Pakistan. I long ago realized that my personal life was to be subjugated to my political responsibilities. When my democratically elected father, Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was arrested in 1977 and subsequently murdered, the mantle of leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party, our nation’s largest, nationwide grassroots political structure, was suddenly thrust upon me. It was not the life I planned, but it is the life I have. My husband and children accept and understand that my political responsibilities to the people of Pakistan come first, as painful as that personally is to all of us. I would like to be planning my son’s move to his first year at college later this month, but instead I am planning my return to Pakistan and my party’s parliamentary election campaign.

I didn’t choose this life. It chose me.”


What is uncanny is the fact that at her funeral on Friday it was revealed that Ms Bhutto had gone to her father’s burial place (Just days before her Rawalpindi Liaquat Bagh speech, and had given instructions to the caretakers there that she be buried next to her father, Zulfiqar Ai Bhutto, in case of her death.)


We know thus that Benazir Bhutto came back to Pakistan in full knowledge that she might get killed – she was thus a self-appointed martyr to a cause – that is clear to us, and we will just try to understand what was this cause and then to watch if she will turn out to be the eventual winner in her death – was this the hope of a suicide martyr?


Some insides to her from friends first Ariana Huffington:

Benazir Bhutto: From the Oxford Union to her Last Rally in Rawalpindi
Posted December 27, 2007 | 06:06 PM (EST) The Huffington Post

The world is debating the political fallout from Benazir Bhutto’s assassination — from fear of chaos in Pakistan to the impact of her death in Iowa. There is already no shortage of analysis about the national security implications of her death, but I want to write about the young woman I met in England before she became a player on the world stage.

She was at Oxford. I was at Cambridge. And by a strange coincidence I became president of the Cambridge Union and she became president of the Oxford Union. The anomaly of two foreign women heading the two unions meant that we ended up debating each other around England on topics ranging from British politics to broad generalities about the impact of technological advance on mankind.

When I checked my blackberry this morning at 5:28 am LA time there was an e-mail from our news editor Katherine Zaleski: “Benazir Bhutto killed by bombing.” As we found out afterwards she was killed by an assassin’s bullet. But just as the news was filled with the details of her death, my mind was filled with how full of life she had been every time I had seen her, including the last time in 1998 when she came to my home in Los Angeles for a dinner (which Harry Shearer, also there, wrote about). She was in exile, her husband in jail, and she was separated from her children.


But still, there was an incredible life force about her, a sense that no matter what life brought her way, whether a tough debating argument, or exile, or her father’s death by hanging, or the deaths of her two brothers — she could deal with it, and she would prevail. Until the rally in Rawalpindi.

Three years earlier, I had seen her at the height of her power and fullness of life when she was staying at Blair House in Washington, DC as the visiting prime minister of Pakistan — the first woman prime minister in the Muslim world. She had her third child with her and took me to her bedroom to meet her. Then she sat on the bed with her baby in her arms while we laughed about our lives on the debating circuit, and talked about her life now. (Including how much she loved her husband. She was trying to convince me that even though it was a marriage arranged by her mother, she had fallen in love with him, as if she had spotted him herself across a crowded room.) She had arrived at Oxford from Harvard, where she had gone at 16 after her convent school in Karachi. But wherever she was, she was at home because she was always at home in her own skin.

I wrote a book about fearlessness last year, long before the rally in Rawalpindi, where she went against everyone’s advice and despite the fact that there had already been a failed attempt at her life. She was fearlessness epitomized. Many will debate her political successes and failures, her personal probity in public office, the charges of corruption against her and of course the national security implications of her death, but for now I’m just filled with a profound sadness about the end of a woman that was always brimming with life. I asked her to blog before she returned to Pakistan and blog she did. Here’s a portion of what she wrote this fall:

“I long ago realized that my personal life was to be subjugated to my political responsibilities. When my democratically elected father, Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was arrested in 1977 and subsequently murdered, the mantle of leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party, our nation’s largest, nationwide grassroots political structure, was suddenly thrust upon me. It was not the life I planned, but it is the life I have. My husband and children accept and understand that my political responsibilities to the people of Pakistan come first, as painful as that personally is to all of us. I would like to be planning my son’s move to his first year at college later this month, but instead I am planning my return to Pakistan and my party’s parliamentary election campaign.

I didn’t choose this life. It chose me.”


MaximNews Network has a story about another young lady, who was a student at Oxford University and was befriended by Bibi (that is where we learned about this nickname. All point at her being a nice down to earth lady. Was she tough in politics, perhaps so indeed – but what do you expect from a woman that was western educated but still had to conform to the norms of her country and marry someone she did not even see before the wedding say? Asif Zardari was her husband and in effect whatever corruption tails are spun about her really mention his name not her name. All she got out of this marriage were problems as she saw the death of her father, the death of her two brothers, and eventually the imprisonment of her husband. It is known she had disagreements with the mother that picked her husband.

Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto (“Bibi”)- 21 June 1953 – 27 December 2007- Leader, Mother and A Friend Who Will Be Much Missed By Mahnaz Malik 28/ 12/2007 (MaximsNews Network)

Twenty four hours have passed since the news of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination stopped traffic on Pakistan’s streets. The media is flooded by tributes from national and international leaders who mourn the loss of Pakistan’s most famous daughter. There are wails from her supporters- tearful old men, angry teenagers and crying women- who vociferously lament the death of their sister and leader.

The world has not only lost a great leader in Benazir, a precious bridge between the east and west, but perhaps the most remarkable woman premier of our time. She emerged as the first Muslim woman to lead a nation, a virtually impossible feat, and became an inspiration to women the world over. However, for those of us who knew Benazir personally, we will miss her as the generous, warm and highly intelligent friend, who made us feel special and cherished despite the heavy demands on her time.

I have always kept my relationship with Benazir discreet because it was personal, not political. For me, Bibi was my mentor and a dear friend, who I have known since the age of seven. Her death has left me divided between my fear for Pakistan’s future and immense grief in knowing that my dear Bibi is no more. Her assassins have taken away some one who had much to teach to me, indeed to us all. However, my grief pales in comparison to the loss of her family because in addition to being a great leader, Bibi was an amazing mother, sister, wife and friend.

Today, I want to share a few of the many memories I have of this remarkable woman. She is often painted by her critics as an arrogant and corrupt demagogue, but the person I knew was far from this description. Whenever, I have been asked to comment on Benazir’s political conduct in office, I have reserved my opinion because as a friend who cared for her, I cannot be the best judge. However, I have no hesitance in testifying to the commendable attributes she possessed as a person and friend.

Bibi’s gender augmented the challenges of being a political leader in Pakistan. While there were those who rejected her capability simply because she was a woman, there were others who accused her of not doing enough for women’s rights when in office. The Bibi I knew believed in empowering women, and took every opportunity to encourage them to succeed. When I was seven, my grandfather introduced me to a frail young woman as the future Prime minister of my country. Bibi visited our family house under cover of night in 1986 as my grand father negotiated with the martial law regime of General Zia on her behalf. I doubt Bibi knew at the time the significance of her note to the little girl she had just met: “For Mahnaz, who I believe will grow up to serve her country and her people”. Her autograph to my male cousins simply said “Best Wishes”. Those words planted in me a desire and responsibility to help my people and country at an early age. It also left me feeling special; it was usually my male cousins who received all the attention from visitors to my grand father’s house. Bibi was “deeply moved” when I told her this story a couple of years ago when we discussed how important positive role models were for young people. As her own children grew up, she often spoke about their future with me. She wanted Bakhtawar, her eldest daughter to become a lawyer and was very proud that Bilawal had made it to Oxford.

Bibi felt great empathy with working women, whether it was a Cherie Blair, or a labourer toiling in Sindh. At the same time, she firmly believed in a family life. Bibi doted on her three children, Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Aseefa, to whom she was a caring mother. Between her crazy schedule of meetings, Bibi and I would drive around London searching for Buffy the Vampire comic books that her children had requested. However, her affection was balanced with instilling values for hard work and respect of money. I remember watching a young Aseefa struggle with her math as Bibi made her count the pennies received from a shopkeeper.

Bibi’s nurturing instinct extended beyond her children, to her sister Sanam, and to younger friends like myself. It even extended to her pet cat, whose sickness kept her up at night. She would often take us all out to lunch, a small tribe comprising of her children, her sister, cousins and friends. It was Bibi, the former prime minister of Pakistan, who ensured that every one had the pizza they wanted. She was equally meticulously in ensuring that she was there for her associates during times of grief or joy. She was always one of the first to congratulate me on my achievements. When I finished my first children’s book, Mo’s Star, Bibi wrote two special messages for children reading the book: “Learn to take risks and you will learn to reach the heights of success” and “Patience and perseverance are the keys to success. Never give up. Never lose heart”. These words now take on a significance more than ever before in view of yesterday’s events.

When we went out visiting, Bibi was meticulous about choosing the right present for her host. She never forgot a good deed- Decades after my grand father’s death, she always recounted his favours to her, from his political support during her detention to the boxes of chocolates he would send to her in jail. Bibi had little to gain from me politically or for that matter my deceased grand father, and yet she never forgot the friendship forged between the families that continued with our association.

Her critics say she amassed a personal fortune by plundering Pakistan. The charges of corruption against her have never been proven in a court of law. I remember her feeling frustrated at the reporting of the Swiss proceedings by the press. “Aren’t you presumed innocent, until proven guilty under law? Then why am I being presumed guilty by the media until proven innocent?” she would vent to me during our many walks in the park. I never saw Bibi spend extravagantly. I remember when I moved into my first apartment, we went shopping together for linen and crockery. It was Bibi who spotted all the best bargains on the sale. What I did see her splurging on were books, which she bought by the box full for herself and the children. Her pleasures were simple, going out for films (she loved a good old romantic movie), walking in the park or sitting around in café with close friends and family.

Her critics say she was arrogant, yet Bibi never made me feel less important because she was a former prime minister and I was a mere undergraduate. When we made arrangements to meet, Bibi gave tremendous respect to my time as we matched schedules. Those who have known her in a professional context may have a different experience but during all the years I have known Bibi I only saw her being polite to those around her. I remember Bibi addressing a rude sales girl as “ma’am” as she tried to reason with her. There was never a trace of “Don’t you know who I am?”.

In fact, Bibi at times was surprisingly unaware of her stature when in the company of friends, as if for those hours she was taking a break from playing the leader of millions, just to be herself. Out of my first pay check, I took Bibi to The Ivy in London. I thought it was time to return at least one of the many lunches she had treated me to over the years. I was surprised that Bibi had never been to the Ivy before. I saw the flash of a young girl as she asked me to look for the celebrities the Ivy is so famous for. As I gazed around the restaurant, I saw other customers looking at our table. I found it endearing that Bibi did not realise that she was the celebrity at the restaurant that day, and every one was watching her.

Her critics say she was a pampered princess, and yet I never saw her rest. Bibi was a workaholic glued to her computer. She was extremely efficient with answering emails, and reading copious amounts of paper. Bibi kept her staff to the minimum, there was no entourage of assistants or professionals, just the bare minimum. I often sent her the odd intern to ease her workload because she was so overstretched. Contrary to what people think, she was not living in a palace with a large staff. Her HQ was always a few computers with various volunteers helping out. At the very centre of activity was Bibi working away, until we would drag her to take that much needed break. More recently, with her lecture circuit, we used to discuss how much we had to travel just to earn a living.

Her critics called her a demagogue, yet Bibi gave up her life to a cause she believed in, her commitment to democracy, her dream for a moderate, progressive Pakistan. Bibi was well aware of the risks involved in her return to Pakistan. During our last meeting in March over sorbets in a Dubai restaurant, we spoke about her return. She was keen to fulfil the promise she had made to her countrymen and women. I knew Bibi had waited for years to come back to Pakistan to meet her people. Her critics may take issue with her politics, indeed there were times when I disagreed with her politics, but it will be hard for them to contest her commitment to serve Pakistan. Despite a near death experience in a suicide bomb attack in October, she continued to appear in public rallies because she wanted to be with her people. It is sad that the bullet that killed Bibi hit just as she emerged to greet her party members. And then the Bibi I knew, so full of passion, wit and affection, was taken away forever.

As the television shows her funeral I cannot believe that my beautiful friend, ies in a box buried in the ground. I find it hard to understand why I will never enjoy an ice cream with her or exchange an email. My loss, which has left me reeling with grief, is insignificant compared to that of her family and the country in a crisis she wanted to save. However, once my tears dry, I fear that they may be replaced by a different kind of grief for the risks to the lives of hundreds of Pakistanis as a crisis looms on the horizon.

Bibi, wherever you are I hope my prayers and love reach you. You are much missed. You lived up to the promise you made to us all. May you find eternal peace and rest. I hope your sacrifice will not go in vain. Mahnaz Malik


Bibi was the last hope of her father’s immediate family. The PPP (Pakistan’s People Party), was a dynastic party. With her death, will the party be able to survive. The best chance for the party is for it to be taken over by the judges that are still in prison – the actual start of chain of events that have disqualified the now Mr. Musharraf from running the country – this when he dissolved the Supreme Court that questioned his legitimacy. This would require the postponement of the January 8, 2008 elections – something that the US seems not to want.

The press looks now at the continuation of the Musharraf Presidency as what the US wishes for itself and for Pakistan. The reality is that even before the killing, the US did not instigate the October return of Ms. Bhutto in order to allow her to become President – what the US wanted is to patch over the differences by having a co- habitation of president Musharraf and Prime-Minister Bhutto but the Foggy Bottom inhabitants did not do the necessary work to make sure that this does not become a Bhutto suicide line of events?

Does the US really understand what we started with – the INDIA that was destroyed by the British and the “Great Game” that in parallel involved years ago the British and Russia and Afghanistan – as they did not understand also the French in the Vietnam story, and stepped there into the French shoes to US peril? Do we have now the same thing in Pakistan with a US Administration that will feel obliged to back a Musharaff who got US$ billions and gave to the US nothing in return?


Interesting accounts we found:

Who Will Succeed Bhutto?
By Spencer Ackerman
TPM Muckraker

Thursday 27 December 2007

Try as Nawaz Sharif might to carry the banner of Benazir Bhutto, he might not be the optimal anti-Musharraf candidate. For one thing, even if Musharraf holds a promised election, Sharif isn’t eligible to run, thanks to a ruling of the Musharraf-controlled Electoral Commission. For another, there’s another secular, democratic politician waiting in the wings who might resonate with this year’s middle-class rejection of Musharraf.

Ex-Bhutto aide Husain Haqqani says he expects Aitzaz Ahsan to ascend to the leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party, the party first led by Bhutto’s father. “He’s in the best position,” Haqqani says. Ahsan was the chief counsel for former Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, whose ouster by Musharraf on dubious charges of personal corruption proved to be the final straw for much of middle-class Pakistan. A longtime PPP member, respected barrister and democracy advocate, Ahsan’s representation of Chaudhry landed him a stint in prison when Musharraf declared emergency rule on November 3. As a result, Haqqani says, Ahsan “disagreed with Benazir’s more conciliatory stance” toward Musharraf.

Ahsan has an international profile as well. An old enemy of 80s-vintage dictator Zia ul-Haq, he gained global esteem for his willingness to go to jail for the sake of democracy. After his November detention, 33 U.S. Senators wrote to Musharraf demanding his release. Still, Ahsan’s profile is much higher in Pakistan than it is in the United States. But shortly before Christmas, he penned this New York Times op-ed:

“Last Thursday morning, I was released to celebrate the Id holidays. But that evening, driving to Islamabad to say prayers at Faisal Mosque, my family and I were surrounded at a rest stop by policemen with guns cocked and I was dragged off and thrown into the back of a police van. After a long and harrowing drive along back roads, I was returned home and to house arrest.
Every day, thousands of lawyers and members of the civil society striving for a liberal and tolerant society in Pakistan demonstrate on the streets. They are bludgeoned by the regime’s brutal police and paramilitary units. Yet they come out again the next day.
People in the United States wonder why extremist militants in Pakistan are winning. What they should ask is why does President Musharraf have so little respect for civil society – and why does he essentially have the backing of American officials?”

With Ahsan a potential successor to Bhutto, those questions have a renewed salience. As does his implicit challenge to Washington to support Pakistani democracy:
How long can the leaders of the lawyers’ movement be detained? They will all be out one day. And they will neither be silent nor still.

They will recount the brutal treatment meted out to them for seeking the establishment of a tolerant, democratic, liberal and plural political system in Pakistan. They will state how the writ of habeas corpus was denied to them by the arbitrary and unconstitutional firing of Supreme and High Court justices. They will spell out precisely how one man set aside a Constitution under the pretext of an “emergency,” arrested the judges, packed the judiciary, “amended” the Constitution by a personal decree and then “restored” it to the acclaim of London and Washington.


other potential PPP candidates:

Asif Ali Zardari
As Benazir Bhutto’s husband and the father of their three children, Mr Zardari has become the natural choice as party leader for some of PPP’s hardcore leaders and activists, who see in him the assurance of carrying forward the former leader’s policies. However, he is not popular with the masses because of corruption allegations, which were never proved but for which he was jailed from 1990 to 1993, and again from 1996 to 2004. PPP leaders say Mr Zardari’s strongest credentials come from being the father of a future leader should Bilawal, the couple’s 19-year-old, choose to enter politics.

Amin Fahim

As PPP vice-chairman, he is theoretically next in line to Bhutto. Mr Fahim has been an influential figure in Pakistani politics since the 1970s, and one of Bhutto’s staunchest allies. Both came from feudal, religious families in the Sindh province, which ironically is Mr Fahim’s biggest liabilility since he remains politically overshadowed by the Bhutto family on his home turf. In control of the party during Bhutto’s eight-year exile from April 1999, Mr Fahim constantly resisted pressure from Pervez Musharraf to turn his back on her in return for being made prime minister. His election as head of the PPP would come as a surprise to many of the party’s leaders.


Another Ugly Day in Pakistani Politics
Posted by Joshua Holland, AlterNet at 12:20 PM on December 27, 2007.

Let’s look at hard at the narratives that are emerging about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.


Here’s Bush’s spin on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto:

“The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’s democracy,” said Bush, who looked tense and took no questions.

It’s clearly too early to say, but the “murderous extremists” are just as likely to have been elements of the Pakistani military as anyone else. But more on that in a minute.

There are a few narratives that are being reinforced by the media today, all of which are, at best, badly oversimplified. They are:

  • Benazir Bhutto was a brave democracy activist, a symbol of women of color breaking down the doors and storming the corridors of power. She was a much-beloved figure who gave up a cushy life in exile to return to Pakistan to bring stability and democracy to a troubled land.
  • Musharraf is a “moderate Islamic leader” whose reckless abuses of power are tolerated by the international community because he stands as a bulwark against Al Qaeda radicals.
  • It’s simply a given that the assassination was directly related to the struggle against “Islamofascism” — or whatever silly label one prefers.

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is a shocking and tragic occurrence that’s going to have terrible repercussions in Pakistan and beyond. That doesn’t mean, however, that we should white-wash her background or lionize her as some sort of saint. She was a hero to many when she came to power, and she was the prominent face of the Pakistani democracy movement this time around. But she and her husband also robbed the country blind during her time in office and went into “self imposed exile” with tens of millions of dollars tucked away in a series of secret accounts.

Many in Pakistan saw her as the petty kleptocrat that she was. Although Bhutto always claimed that all the corruption charges against her (and her husband) were trumped up, they were tried in Western courts as well as in Pakistan; the couple were found guilty of laundering millions of dollars in bribes and kick-backs after a 6-year trial in Switzerland.

When Bhutto first came to power, her administration tried to push back against the religious fundamentalists who are a fixture in Pakistani politics but made little progress. During her time as Prime Minister, she supported and aided the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan, viewing them as a stabilizing force after all years of chaos under the Russian occupation and during the anarchy that followed. Although Bhutto joined the rest of the world in condemning them after 9/11, when it suited her, she had played footsie with religious fundamentalists just like everyone else in Pakistani politics has, ever since the founding of the nation.

As for Musharraf, it’s just a marvel that anyone could call him a “moderate” with a straight face. Just as dozens of petty dictators during the Cold War realized that they could receive American aid, military assistance and political cover for cracking down on internal dissent simply by saying those magic words: “I’m an anti-Communist,” Musharraf’s declaration of war against Islamic extremism has been a model of cynical super-power manipulation. It’s worked out great; after seizing power in a military coup, the guy’s passed laws effectively outlawing his political opponents’ candidacies, suspended the Constitution and the judiciary and placed half of the country’s elites under house arrest, yet the media continue to portray him as a moderate leader. He’s a moderate like I’m Miss America.

Here’s Najum Mushtaq, of the Pak Institute for Peace Studies:

He portrayed himself as a liberal Muslim and parroted moderate Islam to appease the West. Yet, in the eight years of his military rule General Musharraf too displayed an ambiguous attitude towards the religious right in Pakistan. On the one hand, his regime is an ally of the United States in the campaign to curb extremism and militancy. On the other hand, the religious parties, some of them overtly pro-Taliban, have been his political allies and helped to sustain his illegitimate rule by acquiescing in his post-2002 experiment of controlled democracy. Under General Musharraf, the religious parties were able to win elections in one of the four provinces and became the major coalition partner in another in partnership with the pro-Musharraf faction of the Pakistan Muslim League.

Mushtaq points to a report by the International Crisis Group:

Despite his propensity to rule through decrees and ordinances, President Musharraf has been unwilling to use his powers to implement his pledges to control religious extremism. On the contrary, his constitutional amendments, contained in the Legal Framework Order 2002, have undermined the domestic standing of moderate secular parties. Moreover, the military has actively supported the religious parties during and after the October 2002 elections. The MMA, an alliance of religious parties, is a major beneficiary of the military’s use of all available means to manipulate parliamentary alliances and forge acceptable governments.”

In the lead-up to the current elections — which everyone seems to agree will now be suspended — the pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party has been busy trying to strike a partnership with Musharraf’s supporters in the Muslim League. That’s our bulwark against Al Qaeda, right there.

So who killed Benazir Bhutto? I’m writing this a few hours after the news broke and can safely say that I don’t know. What I do know is that it will be — is already being — taken as a given that the killing was carried out by Islamic extremists. That’s entirely possible, but Musharraf and/or his supporters in the Pakistani military are also prime suspects, with motive, means, etc.

What I can also say with certainty is that while all Pakistani politics are influenced by religious conflict, and have been since the country was founded, the recent crisis had little to do (directly) with Musharraf’s supposed crack-down on extremists. Musharraf said he was going to war against pro-Taliban extremists, but he cracked down on his political opponents, on democracy activists and lawyers and judges — it was not about rolling back militancy, but rolling back Pakistan’s beaten and bruised democracy movement.

As Spencer Ackerman points out at TPM, both Bhutto’s advisors and Nawaz Sharif (who escaped a possible assassination attempt himself an now becomes the most prominent face of the opposition) are accusing Musharraf of being behind the killing. At the same time, as Ali Eteraz notes, Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attack. We will see (or maybe not).

I think it’s important to understand that the U.S. had a key role in the events leading up to today’s tragedy. It was becoming increasingly difficult for the Bush administration to support Musharraf while spewing the usual rhetoric about democratization and the rule of law and all that, so they played a very active role in brokering the deal between Musharraf and Bhutto that led to her return from exile and brought her to this unhappy end. The idea was that as long as Musharraf was unlikely to cede real power, Bhutto’s presence would help legitimize the Pakistani regime. But the administration seriously overestimated the degree of popular support Bhutto had. Essentially, we pushed Bhutto into the mix, and, as Tom Daschle noted in testimony before Congress last week (PDF) Musharraf, who was pushed to hold elections by Congress (which threatened and then did put conditions on U.S. aid to Pakistan), did exactly nothing to create a secure environment in which the process could take place.

It’s a pretty typical U.S. foreign policy set of blunders: support an illegitimate dictator because he’s “our” dictator, ignore his abuses until they become too embarrassing to ignore, then get together some State Department staff to start mucking around in the domestic politics of a country even if they don’t have a really firm handle on the nuances of its political culture and, while the specific chain of events may come as a surprise, the fact that the outcome will be bad is entirely predictable. Wash, rinse and repeat.

The sad irony here is that because of the baggage she carried, Benazir Bhutto will probably be much more effective as a martyr to democracy than she would be as it’s spokesperson. But that’s not good news; reports filtering out of Pakistan suggest widespread chaos has broken out in various states, and the prospects for a lot more blood shed to follow are simply frightening.

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet.


Benazir Bhutto: An Age of Hope Is Over
By Barbara Crossette, The Nation. Posted December 28, 2007.

Our preoccupation with Muslim terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan often blocks out the bigger picture: South Asia is a region drenched in blood.


Nineteen years ago at the end of December, Benazir Bhutto, fresh from her first, exhilarating election victory and newly sworn in as Prime Minister of Pakistan, met Rajiv Gandhi, the youthful prime minister of India, for talks in Islamabad. She was 35, he was 44. There was obvious good will, almost intimacy, between them. The air was full of promise and hope that these two modernizing scions of dominant political families would turn decades of war and hostility between their nations into a new era of peace.

Three and a half years later, Gandhi was assassinated. There had been no breakthrough with Pakistan to bolster his legacy. Now Bhutto is dead, at another moment of renewed anticipation. An age of hope is over.

There is a terrible symmetry in the lives and deaths of these two political leaders. Both were the children of powerful people: Indira Gandhi as India’s prime minister and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto her counterpart in Pakistan. Together, in 1972, they had negotiated an agreement over Kashmir, but their heirs were never able to build on it. Their respective children, Rajiv and Benazir, had seen those parents suffer politically motivated deaths: Indira murdered in 1984 by bodyguards revenging her attacks on Sikhs, and Zulfikar hanged under the regime of General Mohammed Zia ul Haq in what many Pakistanis consider a thinly disguised judicial execution.

Young Gandhi and Bhutto, both killed by suicide bombers, ultimately became the victims of inherited policies. Rajiv Gandhi had tried to put an end to Indian meddling in Sri Lanka and its support for a vicious Tamil Tiger rebellion. He was killed by a Sri Lankan Tamil suicide bomber, a woman who moved toward him to touch his feet in an age-old gesture, then triggered an explosion that blew them both apart. While it is too early to know who killed Benazir, Pakistan’s policies on Afghanistan are the backdrop to this tense and dangerous moment. Her father and his successors had supported Afghan rebels in order to become a player in Afghanistan and counter Indian influence in Kabul lately aligning riskily with American policies. Rajiv’s mother, whose intelligence agencies roamed the region causing havoc, had set out to weaken Sri Lanka, South Asia’s most developed nation.

Benazir Bhutto and Rajiv Gandhi were both campaigning to return to power when they died. Both had been elected, then vilified. She lost support among middle-class Pakistanis for her feudal ways and unwillingness to take on social issues — child labor or the mistreatment of women — or chip away at the power of the military, and was driven from office twice on charges of corruption, much of it attributed to her husband. In India, Rajiv was the perennial butt of attacks from unreconstructed leftists and traditionalists who scoffed at his Westernized style, Italian wife and fresh ideas that rattled the khadi crowd. On the night he died, a policeman told me they had identified his remains by his expensive imported running shoes. Suspicions linger that Gandhi or those close to him may have been involved in illegal payments for arms contracts.

Tragically, political violence has been the bane of modern South Asia, from Afghanistan and Pakistan east to Bangladesh. Militants and fanatics of all stripes and dogmas and grievances have assassinated leaders since much of the region gained independence from Britain in the mid 1940s. It has been a formidable hindrance to development of political institutions.

In New Delhi, Mohandas K. Gandhi was killed in 1948 by an outraged Hindu. Pakistan’s first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, was assassinated in 1951 — in the same Rawalpindi park where Benazir Bhutto died — and General Zia ul Haq perished in a still mysterious plane crash in 1988. In Sri Lanka in 1959, Prime Minister S.W.R.D Bandaranaike fell victim to a fanatic Buddhist monk, the first of two generations of more than a half-dozen leading politicians to die in shootings and bombings. (Tamil Tiger rebels would later try but fail to kill Bandaranaike’s daughter, Chandrika Kumaratunga, when she was president.) Sheikh Mujibir Rahman, founder and first Prime Minister of independent Bangladesh, was murdered in 1975; in 1981 Bangladeshi President Ziaur Rahman, was shot in an army coup. Nepal’s entire royal family was wiped out in one evening in Kathmandu in 2001, apparently by a disaffected crown prince.

Hindus and Muslims killed one another by the hundreds of thousands after the partition of British India in 1947 into Pakistan and modern India. And compared with Pakistan since then, India has experienced much more large-scale sectarian and political violence, with thousands of Sikhs butchered in the streets of Delhi and elsewhere in North India after Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984, and up to 2,000 Muslims slaughtered by Hindu nationalists in Gujarat — Mahatma Gandhi’s birthplace — in 2002. In both cases, political parties have been deeply implicated yet no political leader has been punished — in a democracy.

As the world mourns the loss of Benazir Bhutto, it would be myopic to focus only on Islamic-inspired violence and on Pakistan. This is a region with a turbulent post-independence political history. Our (Islamophobic?) preoccupation with Muslim terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan often blocks out a bigger picture. From end to end, South Asia is a region drenched in blood.


OK, you guessed it – we feel that Barbara Croisette, who used to be a New York Times correspondent from the UN Headquarters in New York, she remembers the “stages of the INDIA cross” in this century. The clear punishment for the US and for the world is now a resulting situation with having on our hands a nuclear Pakistan aiming its nukes at a nuclear India, and really not giving a hoot about the US interests.

Musharaff is no moderate, he does not care about Al-Qaida as long as they keep away from his own person – just like the Saudis did not care when they could have done so.


The New York Post might have a better insight to this story then most other papers – that is into what Washington wished about Pakistan and what it might get instead:

By RALPH PETERS, The New York Post, December 28, 2007.

FOR the next several days, you’re going to read and hear a great deal of pious nonsense in the wake of the assassination of Pakistan’s former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

Her country’s better off without her. She may serve Pakistan better after her death than she did in life.

In Pakistan, the military has its own forms of graft; nonetheless, it remains the least corrupt institution in the country and the only force holding an unnatural state together. In Pakistan back in the ’90s, the only people I met who cared a whit about the common man were military officers.

Americans don’t like to hear that. But it’s the truth.

Bhutto embodied the flaws in Pakistan’s political system, not its potential salvation. Both she and her principal rival, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, failed to offer a practical vision for the future – their political feuds were simply about who would divvy up the spoils.

From its founding, Pakistan has been plagued by cults of personality, by personal, feudal loyalties that stymied the development of healthy government institutions (provoking coups by a disgusted military). When she held the reins of government, Bhutto did nothing to steer in a new direction – she merely sought to enhance her personal power.

Now she’s dead. And she may finally render her country a genuine service (if cynical party hacks don’t try to blame Musharraf for their own benefit). After the inevitable rioting subsides and the spectacular conspiracy theories cool a bit, her murder may galvanize Pakistanis against the Islamist extremists who’ve never gained great support among voters, but who nonetheless threaten the state’s ability to govern.

As a victim of fanaticism, Bhutto may shine as a rallying symbol with a far purer light than she cast while alive. The bitter joke is that, while she was never serious about freedom, women’s rights and fighting terrorism, the terrorists took her rhetoric seriously – and killed her for her words, not her actions.

Nothing’s going to make Pakistan’s political crisis disappear – this crisis may be permanent, subject only to intermittent amelioration. (Our State Department’s policy toward Islamabad amounts to a pocket full of platitudes, nostalgia for the 20th century and a liberal version of the white man’s burden mindset.)

The one slim hope is that this savage murder will – in the long term – clarify their lot for Pakistan’s citizens. The old ways, the old personalities and old parties have failed them catastrophically. The country needs new leaders – who don’t think an election victory entitles them to grab what little remains of the national patrimony.

In killing Bhutto, the Islamists over-reached (possibly aided by rogue elements in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, one of the murkiest outfits on this earth). Just as al Qaeda in Iraq overplayed its hand and alienated that country’s Sunni Arabs, this assassination may disillusion Pakistanis who lent half an ear to Islamist rhetoric.

A creature of insatiable ambition, Bhutto will now become a martyr. In death, she may pay back some of the enormous debt she owes her country.

————————————- summary:

1. Pakistan is an unnatural State – put together so there is a Moslem foot hold on the Indian Subcontinent.

2. The Army – for the better or for the worse – can be secular, and can be without corruption – just think of the history of Turkey. In effect the army can be a guarantor of democracy in a country that does not have it. Sounds strange – I know.

3. The Islamists may have indeed killed Bhutto as the last article believes. On the other hand it might also have been the Pakistani Intelligence that did this on Musharraf’s behalf – it really does not matter.

4. The country will benefit from Bhutto’s Martyrdom – they may waken up and try for honest change.

5. To obtain this change, upheaval may be welcome – though there must be complete accounting of the nuclear material.

6. The US requested from North Korea and from Iran nuclear accounting – the country where this is most needed now, and was most needed this last decade, is Pakistan. Will we hear anything on this line from the Bush Administration? One year is hell of a long time when the other side sits with his finger on nuclear triggers – not on the drawing board – but on India’s border.

7. Washington should not just back Musharraf because this is the easiest thing to do now. Rethinking the situation might require some time and one week in January is not enough time. Why not suggest a caretaker until the elections are held. It seems that all think the judges are the least tainted group. How about one Judge and one military man to manage for a month or two in tandem?

8.The Presidential candidates for the US November 2008 elections will prove not to be worth a second of the voters time if they do not address above point 6. No waxing anti Bush slogans will do now! The only acceptable stand is one of National unity under the clear requirement that the Pakistan nukes must be put under some sort of US system of checks, without further support for Musharaff if this does not come about. Otherwise, even if this means that Afghanistan is lost to the resurgent Al-Qaida – those candidates for US President do not show what it takes.


New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination and a former
US ambassador to the United Nations, on Thursday already called on Washington to push for Gen Musharraf’s exit:
“President Bush should press Musharraf to step aside, and a broad-based coalition government, consisting of all
the democratic parties, should be formed immediately,” he said. “It is in the interests of the US that there be a
democratic Pakistan that relentlessly hunts down terrorists. Musharraf has failed, and his attempts to cling to
power are destabilising his country. He must go.”

Will above turn out to be the consensus among the Presidential candidates?
But the opinion in Europe is that Washington will stick with Musharraf.


PS. The Bernard-Henry Levy Obituary to Benazir – as printed on the op-Ed page of the Wall Street Journal:



Posted on on November 10th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (…

Sixteen Asia-Pacific countries will seek to expand their forests by a combined 15 million hectares by 2020 to help fight global warming, according to the draft of a special statement expected to be adopted at their Nov. 21 summit in Singapore.

Kyodo News, Japan Times on line, Sunday, November 11, 2007.

The draft, a copy of which was obtained by Kyodo News, calls for “encouraging environmentally sustainable planning and management of the region’s forests while strengthening forest law enforcement and governance to combat illegal logging and other harmful practices.”

It also stipulates that the 16 countries set voluntary energy-saving targets and compile action plans by 2009.

The draft calls on the countries to participate actively in a process for developing an international climate change arrangement after the 1997 Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. The Kyoto pact aims to cut developed countries’ emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by imposing binding reduction targets.

Forests are major absorbers of carbon dioxide.

The draft, titled “Singapore Declaration on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment,” will be the first of its kind to be adopted at the East Asian Summit.

It throws support behind a long-term goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050 and calls for promoting the use of nuclear energy and biofuels.

The draft also says the 16 should work toward achieving a regional goal of reducing “energy intensity” by at least 25 percent by 2030.

Energy intensity is a figure used to gauge an economy’s energy efficiency. It is defined as energy consumption divided by GDP. The lower the number the better.

But it is uncertain whether this will enter the final statement. India, which lags the others in energy conservation, strongly opposes such a target, a Japanese official said.

The East Asia Summit features the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam — plus Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.


Posted on on October 31st, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (

A Stakeout is a planned impromptu meeting with the press. one such “locale” is at a prescribed location in front of the exit from the Security Council. On Halloween the meeting at the Security Council dealt with the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and with Western Sahara, but the UN General Assembly dealt with “Peace, security and reunification on the Korean peninsula.” At the Stakeout the President of the General Assembly, before introducing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented the UN GA Resolution that was adopted by consensus – as a call to the TWO STATES OF THE KOREAN PENINSULA to settle the Inter-Korean differences in the interest of the the NorthEast-Asian Region, and the world in General. While he was speaking in diplomatic language of the two UN Member States, then, when the Secretary-General spoke, seemingly as a Korean, he mentioned the TWO PARTS OF KOREA – expressing thus the obvious case that Korea should be one State. This was strong language at the UN.

Completely different from his obvious intent of using his position at the UN in order to drive for the reunification of Korea, something our website is applauding him for, his positions on practically everything else are shrouded in language that uses words in order to say nothing – this is what they used to say before his election to the post of UN Secretary-General, he was famous for in his previous diplomatic positions – they called him “slippery eel.”

We were particularly taken back by his lack of reply to the question from a correspondent about the UN accreditation process that allows to the UN only those journalists that are sponsored by their governments – be those governments as undemocratic and oppressive as they may – the US press floors are thus devout of any press that should be representing opposition in undemocratic governments – like Myanmar – and as asked also in the case of Taiwan that cannot have press present at the UN because of a China rule.

Further, he did not address the question of a journalist that was trying to feed him with the idea that France kidnaped children in Africa. He said he will have someone look into it.

Now, totally to our disappointment – there was no question about his announced trip to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, the Antarctica – on topics of climate-change and ozone hole in action – on his way to Valencia, Spain, where he intends to be present at the release of the last, and IPCCC summary report on global warming/climate change. This did not surprise us at all as we already pointed out that Arab interests at the UN have made this topic a taboo at the UN Department of Public Information that under the Ahmed Fawzi – Gary Fowlie leadership has made the place free of interested media.

Except for the Korea issue, the attached video clip shows that this Halloween scene is the UN reality – please do not have too much hope that the UN will solve the world’s problems.

31 October 2007
Media Stakeout: Informal comments to the Media by the Secretary-General of United Nations, H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon.
UN WEBCAST TV VIDEO – 14 minutes…


Posted on on November 12th, 2005
by Pincas Jawetz (

This was sent to the editor of the “New York Press” weekly that printed a review article written by Mr. Causwell of the Petrocollapse Conference, then the following week had several follow up letters.
Dear Editor, the New York Press, Dear Mr. Causwell
Regarding your Halloween issue cover reporting on the petrocollapse, and the following week’s “Soapboxing”, I would like to contribute notes regarding what Mr.Causwell missed (New York Press, October 26 – November 1, and November 2-8, 2005).
The Conference was not a monolith, while recognizing something that your reporter also recognized — fossil fuels are finite and that this dooms our suburban life-styles — there were differences in the views of speakers regarding further implications.
I am writing for and I have there three pieces relating to the October 5, 2005, Petrocollapse Conference:

I approached the subject from its environmental side – something your reporter missed altogether (please see the October 4 piece). I argue that THE REAL COST OF FUEL IS CLIMATE CHANGE. I was speaking of the Katrita effect – our understanding that the Katrina and Rita Hurricanes tell us we must start decreasing CO2 emissions. My argument is thus that eventually we will understand that we must start using less oil even before we are forced to do so because of decreased supply. I spoke of changes of life-style and our learning to live less energy demanding existences. I mentioned my recent trip to Bhutan in order to learn what the King of Bhutan means by “Gross National Happiness”. I advocated that a major part of the reduced energy needs should come from renewable sources of energy.
My reporting from the meeting includes my disagreement of 25 years with Professor David Pimentel, who also spoke at this Conference. He does not believe in biofuels and in renewables while I, and most scientists who try to soften our addiction to oil, see in them the way to provide the residual energy needs after we have brought ourselves to our senses and reduced our needs for energy. There are no sound technological answers that will allow us to continue to waste energy – we are speaking about ways to keep us “happy” by answering for the reasonable needs. By doing the right things we can avoid the predicted effects of petrocollapse and the fate of being a Katritastan, but we can not avoid change.
Again, please look at and let us avoid empty exchanges in favor of practical positive new ways. The above web-site was established in order to provide for a media think tank on Sustainable Development – the concept that was officially placed on the international negotiation table in 1992 at the UN Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Jan Lundberg, after leaving the oil industry, also joined the advocates of Sustainable Development and was with me in Kyoto in 1997 – we even shared a room – present at the birth of the Kyoto Protocol. If his actions now may seem extreme to Causwell, this may simply be a result of the slowness of our leadership in grasping the seriousness of the problem. This is no laughing matter; I would say it deserves further serious analysis and coverage in the Press. People must understand that drilling for oil in Alaska is a fake answer, believing that this is not so will indeed bring us to petrocollapse.
Sincerely yours, Pincas Jawetz New York City