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Tag Archives | protests

Urdunama: Raymond Davis

It has surfaced that Raymond Davis, the U.S. citizen arrested in Lahore for killing two Pakistanis, is actually a CIA contractor who provided security to agency stations in Pakistan.  This will further complicate matters between the U.S. and Pakistan on the status of Mr. Davis.

The shrillness and rhetoric in Pakistan’s Urdu press, which has led a campaign for capital punishment for Mr. Davis since his capture, will only grow.  As an example, Roznama Ausaf’s February 22 editorial challenges the U.S. to make good on threats from some quarters in D.C. to withhold military and non-military aid to Pakistan if Mr. Davis is not released.  An excerpt of the editorial follows:

America will continue its “carrot and stick” policy with Pakistan.  It will try to bribe its way out of its current predicament.  But does it not realize that a country of 170 million people with one the finest armed forces in the world cannot be bought?  The U.S. will probably increase the amount of money it is willing to pay to seek the release of Raymond Davis.  Mr. Davis’ importance to the U.S is apparent given the lengths to which they are prepared to go to secure his release.  No doubt, he was part of a larger U.S. conspiracy against Pakistan.

The U.S. may also threaten to withdraw military and non-military aid to Pakistan.  However, if they do follow through on this threat, what do they think will happen to Pakistan’s military operations in FATA?  Does the U.S. realize what impact a Pakistani withdrawal from FATA will have on its war in Afghanistan?

This isn’t the first time that Pakistan would have had to face sanctions from the U.S.  Each time the U.S. has punished us with economic and military sanctions, Pakistan has responded — by becoming a nuclear power, by upgrading our missile technology, and by strengthening our armed forces.   Let the U.S. be under no illusions that once that “safety valve” that Pakistan has kept secure in the tribal regions is open, the U.S. will not be able to deal with the repercussions, even after spending another trillion dollars.

It is therefore advisable that the U.S. come clean about all its activities in Pakistan, ask for forgiveness, and allow Raymond Davis to suffer the consequences of his actions.   Times have changed. [روزنامہ اوصاف]

An approximate Hindi translation of Ausaf’s editorial can be accessed here (thanks @SundeepDougal).  Also follow my monthly review of Urdu and Arabic news media in Pragati.

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India’s response to Bahrain

Unpardonable negligence.

The situation in Bahrain has steadily deteriorated, with the al-Khalifa monarchy unleashing army tanks onto the streets of the capital, Manama.  About two days ago, I asked on Twitter what India’s contingency plans were for the over 300,000 Indian citizens that lived in Manama, should the violence escalate.  As early as February 14, I had tweeted that the violence in Manama will have a direct impact on the security of NRIs living in the country.

Today, on day six of the protests in Bahrain, MEA released this statement on the situation:

In response to a question the Official Spokesperson said that India is closely following the developments in Bahrain. Our Mission in Manama is in regular touch with representatives of the Indian community numbering over 350,000 , who are reported to be safe. We hope that calm soon returns and prevails in Bahrain. [Ministry of External Affairs]

Now, Bahrain no doubt is a friendly country and one of India’s important trading partners in the region.  And I appreciate the sensitivities involved in issuing statements on the situation.  However, I wasn’t hitherto aware that governments based their policy responses on “hope.”  Apparently, MEA “hopes” calm will return to Bahrain.

But what if it does not?

Further, how does the Indian Embassy in Manama know is citizens are safe?  If violence in Bahrain escalates, how do these citizens know where to apply for relief?

I make these points, because of the state of the Indian Embassy in Bahrain.  The Embassy didn’t bother to renew its website (indianembassybahrain.com), which resulted in the website being bought by an other owner, who ended up hosting pornographic content.  Worse, the Embassy purchased a second website (indianembassy-bh.com), which expired on February 15, 2011.  As of today, the Indian Embassy has no effective way of being able to communicate with NRIs in that country.

On being informed about the issue, the Foreign Secretary thanked the responder and said that the ambassador “is checking.”  Call this nitpicking, but surely Amb. HE Mohan Kumar or his staff should have already been alert to the minor issue of their website disappearing off the face of the earth, sometime over the course of the past three days.  If violence becomes unmanageable for the state this morning, I’m not sure how he or his staff expect to be able to communicate with stranded NRIs.

Their negligence is unpardonable.

Footnote: By the way, and for what it’s worth, Indian citizens in Bahrain can call the 24-hour helpline (+973 17713509) to reach out to the Embassy for relief, if needed.  This is the only number that the Embassy published prior to the demise of its website.  Going by current form though, whether or not this number works is another question altogether.

Update: It appears that the Foreign Secretary’s follow-up had the desired effect on Embassy staff in Bahrain (LT @nikhilnarayanan).  Indian Embassy, Bahrain’s website is back up (http://www.indianembassybahrain.com) as of 1:30pm, February 19.  The website includes an advisory to Indian citizens in Bahrain and emergency contact numbers[1771-2785, 3930-4285 and 3982-8767].

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