WHY AFGHANISTAN MATTERS FOR INDIA

KEEPING PAKISTANI DESIGNS IN CHECK

PAKISTAN CONSIDERS AFGHANISTAN ITS BACKYARD

HAS TRADITIONALLY USED THE COUNTRY TO PUSH FOREIGN TERRORISTS IN JAMMU & KASHMIR WITH PAKISTAN SPONSORED TALIBAN GOVERNMENT THERE TILL DECEMBER 2001

NIPPING IN BUD A POTENTIAL FRONT FOR THE CHINESE THREAT

A STRATEGIC DEFENCE PARTNERSHIP MAY PROVIDE INDIA WITH A DEEP PRESENCE ENCIRCLING CHINA AND PAKISTAN

INDIA WILL HAVE GREATER LEVERAGE IN DEALING WITH TERROR GROUPS LIKE ISIS AND AL QAEDA THAT ARE TRYING TO ESTABLISH THEIR INDIAN FOOTPRINT

THESE GROUPS ARE CURRENTLY USING RESTIVE REGIONS OF PAKISTAN AND AFGHANISTAN AS THEIR GATEWAY OPPORTUNITY TO THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT

INDIA’S GATEWAY TO RESOURCE RICH CENTRAL ASIA, ESPECIALLY AFTER PRIME MINISTER’S FOCUS ON CENTRAL ASIAN NATIONS FOR INDIA’S ENERGY SECURITY NEEDS

MAJOR OPPORTUNITY FOR INDIAN INDUSTRY IN AFGHANISTAN’S RECONSTRUCTION

AFGHANISTAN OF FUTURE MAY BE A BIG PUSH FOR THE MAKE IN INDIA INITIATIVE OF INDIA’S DEFENCE INDUSTRY

©SantoshChaubey

DONALD TRUMP’S AFGHANISTAN POLICY REVIEW TODAY. WILL US PICK A LARGER ROLE FOR INDIA?

The article originally appeared on India Today.

According to the White House, US President Donald Trump is holding his much awaited South Asia strategy review focused on Afghanistan today at his country retreat Camp David in Maryland. In attendance will be US Vice-President Mike Pence, US National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and the US National Security Team.

The inter agency exercise aimed at redrawing US’ Afghanistan strategy includes inputs from the US State and Defence departments. An earlier plan by US Defence Secretary James Mattis and H.R. McMaster to increase the number of US troops in Afghanistan was rejected by Trump.

The plan sought to send around 5000 more US troops to the South Asian nation. The US has currently 9000 troops stationed in Afghanistan in its longest war in history that began in 2001. Reportedly, Trump has conveyed to his lieutenants that the US is not winning in Afghanistan and he might go for a radical revamp of the US policy there.

THE AIM OF THE INTER AGENCY EXERCISE

The exercise is also aimed at incorporating regional perspective to the whole Afghan issue. To explore the possibilities, the Trump administration had sent its top diplomat Alice Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs and Acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, earlier this month to India and Pakistan.

India also hosted other senior US State Department, Pentagon and US Security Council officials including Lisa Curtis and Cara Abercrombie during an event organized the MEA and a think tank.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S PRO-INDIA BENT

Given the Trump administration’s pro-India bent, India may emerge as an instrumental player in Afghanistan with US policy change and it happens so, it will certainly be a humiliating setback for Pakistan which sees India’s increasing influence in Afghanistan inimical to its interests and has linked peace efforts in Kabul to Kashmir something that India has completely ruled out. What also goes against Pakistan is the fact that it doesn’t hold good relations with Afghanistan’s ruling establishment and is fast losing its credibility in Washington as well.

That India is on the US radar become clear from the fact that the all powerful US Senate Armed Services Committee has strongly advocated for a strong Indian role in Afghanistan. “The committee believes that the US needs to recommit to the fight in Afghanistan and that India, as a major defence partner of the US and a contributor to regional security, has a critical role to play in this effort”, the committee report last month.

Also, the review meeting is going to be held in the backdrop of pro India and anti Pakistan developments in the US. Trump called Prime Minister Narendra Modi to wish India on its Independence Day while he didn’t extend the courtesy to Pakistan, its so-called ally in the war on terror.

SALAHUDDIN A GLOBAL TERRORIST, HIZBUL A TERRORIST OUTFIT

Then the US first termed Syed Salahuddin a global terrorist in June and then declared his ISI supported organization Hizbul Mujahideen a terrorist outfit. Pakistani propaganda calls them freedom fighters and has termed the US action completely unjustified. Before it, the US pressure had forced Pakistan to house arrest Hafiz Saeed in January this year. And to compound Pakistan’s problems, its latest Country Report on Terrorism has called Pakistan a haven for India-centric terrorists.

Also, the US has made a part of its military assistance to Pakistan conditional to its handling of Afghan terror groups including the Haqqani Faction and it withheld the amount for this year and the last year, over $600 million, as Pakistan could not convince the US of its action against the Haqqani Faction.

INDIA, A TRUSTED FRIEND OF AFGHANISTAN

India has been a trusted friend of Afghanistan for decades and shares cultural ties with it. The Pentagon defines India as Afghanistan’s most reliable regional partner.

India has played an important role in Afghanistan’s reconstruction in post Taliban era spending around $2 Billion since 2002 on development projects including its parliament building and committed another $1 Billion last year. The Indian aid basically has been in infrastructure development, health services and military equipments like bullet proof jackets and convoy vehicles. But breaking the tradition of not giving lethal military equipments in aid, it gave Afghanistan four attack helicopters last year and is also training its soldiers.

©SantoshChaubey

LARGER ROLE FOR INDIA IN AFGHANISTAN EXPECTED IN DONALD TRUMP’S SOUTH ASIA REVIEW TODAY

US President Donald Trump is going to hold his South Asia review at his country retreat Camp David today. In attendance will be US Vice-President Mike Pence, US National Security Advisor HR McMaster and the US National Security Team.

The US South Asia strategy review basically revolves around Afghanistan and given the increasing voices in the US to take a regional approach and the Trump administration’s pro-India bent, India is expected to become an instrumental player in Afghanistan, much to the chagrin on Pakistan which see India’s increasing influence in Afghanistan inimical to its interests.

That India is on the US radar become clear from the fact that the all powerful US Senate Armed Services Committee, headed by influential lawmaker John McCain, has strongly advocated for a strong Indian role in Afghanistan. “The committee believes that the US needs to recommit to the fight in Afghanistan and that India, as a major defence partner of the US and a contributor to regional security, has a critical role to play in this effort”, the committee report last month said realizing India’s role in Afghanistan’s future, “The committee believes that timely actions by the Indian government to fill identified needs in Afghanistan would significantly benefit the short and long-term security and stability of the region.”

Also, the review meeting is going to be held in the backdrop of pro India and anti Pakistan developments in the US. Trump called Prime Minister Narendra Modi to wish India on its Independence Day while he didn’t extend the courtesy to Pakistan, its so-called ally in the war on terror.

Then the US first termed Syed Salahuddin a global terrorist in June and then declared his ISI supported organization Hizbul Mujahideen a terrorist outfit yesterday. Before it, the US pressure had already forced Pakistan to house arrest Hafiz Saeed in January this year. And to compound Pakistan’s problems, its latest Country Report on Terrorism has called Pakistan a haven for India-centric terrorists whom Pakistan patronizes as freedom fighters of Kashmir.

India has been a trusted friend of Afghanistan for decades and shares cultural ties with its South Asian neighbour. It has played an important role in Afghanistan’s reconstruction in post Taliban era spending around $2 Billion since 2002 on development projects in Afghanistan including its parliament building and committed another $1 Billion last year. The Indian aid basically has been in infrastructure development, health services and military equipments like bullet proof jackets and convoy vehicles. It is also training Afghan soldiers.

India, as a policy, did not provide lethal weaponry to countries facing internal unrest but with Afghanistan, that policy is changing now. Last year India gave four MI25 attack helicopters to Afghanistan and a positive US decision on India’s increased role in Afghanistan can see increased flow of all sorts of Indian military aid to the country, especially when Afghanistan has been seeking support for long.

We go by the report of the committee, the US, in fact, is envisaging a fairly comprehensive strategic role for India in Afghanistan. It talks of trilateral cooperation between India, the US and Afghanistan saying, “This assistance could include logistical support; joint training; combined military planning; threat analysis; intelligence, materiel, and maintenance support for Afghan National Defense and Security Forces for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, security assistance, and any other areas deemed appropriate.”

Apart from India’s humanitarian role in Afghanistan and its strengthening ties with the US, what can also work in India’s favour is the fact that the US is miffed with Pakistan’s double-dealings.

The world knows Pakistan is the main sponsor of terror in Afghanistan. The US has made a part of its military assistance to Pakistan conditional to its handling of Afghan terror groups including the Haqqani Faction and it withheld the amount for this year and the last year, over $600 million, as it found Pakistan’s claims dubious.

Pakistan’s situation in the US has seen a new low with the inauguration of the Trump Administration. The US has always questioned Pakistan’s dubious role in its war against terror and Al Qaeda and the voices that say that Pakistan be made accountable for billions of US dollars that it receives in US assistance in the name of being a US ally in the war against terror have taken the centre-stage of the US policymaking now.

We can say the inflection point in US-Pakistan ties was US locating Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and deciding to eliminate him without involving Pakistan. That showed how deep was the US distrust of Pakistan. But Pakistan continued double-dealing the US even after that, taking US money to fight terrorists while, at the same time, letting them run amok in Afghanistan.

So much so that the US and NATO commander in Afghanistan General John F. Campbell had described the Haqqani Faction as the most capable threat to the US and coalition forces. Also, Taliban is seeing a new surge. According to different analyses, it now controls 10 per cent of the Afghan territory and 30 per cent of its people. Taliban surge is good for Pakistan’s interests in Afghanistan but the US would never allow Taliban to run over Afghanistan again after spending 17 years fighting Taliban and other terror forces of the country.

©SantoshChaubey

PAKISTAN: US DECISION DESIGNATING HIZBUL MUJAHIDEEN A TERRORIST GROUP UNJUSTIFIABLE

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Pakistan has termed the US decision designating Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) a Foreign Terrorist Organization unjustifiable. According to Radio Pakistan, Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said Pakistan was disappointed with the US decision and he blamed India for it.

Continuing the Pakistan’s anti-propaganda on Kashmir, which is an integral part of India and a part of which is in Pakistan’s forceful occupation, Zakaria said India was in forceful occupation of Kashmir and reiterated the worn out line that “Pakistan would continue its moral, diplomatic and political support to Kashmiri people’s struggle for their just right of self determination.”

After declaring HM chief Syed Salahuddin a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) in June, the US has now proscribed his group as well. Salahuddin also heads the United Jihad Council, the umbrella outfit of terror groups operating in Kashmir.

“The Department of State has designated Hizbul Mujahideen as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224. These designations seek to deny HM the resources it needs to carry out terrorist attacks”, a US State Department release yesterday said.

Pakistan had reacted in the same expected manner when the US had designation Syed Salahuddin a global terrorist in June coinciding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US visit and his first Summit with US President Donald Trump. It Foreign Office had released a statement which called the US decision on Syed Salahuddin ‘completely unjustified’.

HM is the largest terror outfit in Jammu and Kashmir. It was formed in September 1989 as Jamaat-e-Islami’s militant wing by Ahsan Dar at Pakistan’s ISI’s commands. Salahuddin was appointed its patron in 1990 and later became its chief. HM is based out of Pak-occupied-Kashmir’s Muzaffarabad and according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, its current cadre strength is around 1500.

©SantoshChaubey

MAHATMA GANDHI’S VIEWS ON CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES AND CONVERSION

Mahatma Gandhi had strong views on religious conversion. He believed all religions were equal and therefore the need to switch from one to other religion was seldom justified, especially in the then prevailing Indian scenario, where he believed the Christian missionaries were indulging in proselytizing in the name of humanitarian aid.

Gandhi held the belief that “religion was not like house or cloak which can be changed at will”.

He used to say that he was not against conversion when it was in its purest form, driven by heart’s urge for higher purposes like peace and spirituality. His eldest son Harilal had converted to Islam in May 1936. Gandhiji condemned it saying Harilal’s decision was based on greed and sensual pleasures and he could never be a true follower of Islam.

“I just read in the paper about Harilal’s exploit. There could be no harm in his being converted to Islam with understanding and selfless motives. But he suffers from greed for wealth and sensual pleasures. I shall be spared all mental pain if I find my impression wrong and he turns a new leaf,” he wrote in a letter to his other son Ramlal. And indeed Harilal was driven by lesser motives as proved by his reconversion to the Hinduism fold just five months later.

He would say time and again that how happy he would be had the Christian missionaries be content with the humanitarian aspect of their work only and not in increasing the count of Christians. Following are views expressed by Mahatma Gandhi from time to time on religious conversion being performed by the Christian missionaries as available on http://www.mkgandhi.org.

WHEN GANDHIJI WAS ASKED BY CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES, WHETHER HE WOULD ALLOW CHRISTIANS TO CONTINUE WITH THEIR CONVERSION ACTIVITY WITHOUT ANY HINDRANCE, GANDHIJI REPLIED (YOUNG INDIA 27-10-20.)

“(And) if a change of religion could be justified for worldly betterment, I would advise it without hesitation. But religion is matter of heart. No physical inconvenience can warrant abandonment of one’s own religion.”

GANDHIJI’S VIEWS FROM BIHAR NOTES (8-10-1925) INDICATE THAT:

“Christian missionaries have been doing valuable service for generations, but in my humble opinion, their work suffers because at the end of it they expect conversion of these simple people to Christianity …How very nice it would be if the missionaries rendered humanitarian service without the ulterior aim of conversion.”

SPEAKING ABOUT THE BHILS, THE TRIBE FROM CENTRAL INDIA, GANDHIJI SAID (NAVJIVAN 18-4-1926):

“These so-called uncivilized communities are bound to attract the attention of missionaries, for it is the latter’s duty to get recruits for the Christian army. I do not regard such proselytization as real service to dharma. But how can we blame the missionaries if the Hindus take no interest in the Bhils? For them anyone who is brought into the Christian fold, no matter how he has become a Christian, has entered a new life and become civilized. If, as a result of such conversion, converts rise spiritually or morally, I personally would have nothing to say against their conversion. But I do not think that this is what happens.”

GANDHIJI SENT A TELEGRAM TO THE EDITOR OF DAILY HERALD, LONDON, (AFTER 23-4-1931) STATING, THAT THE REPORT ABOUT THE FOREIGN MISSIONARIES WAS DISTORTION OF HIS VIEWS.

“Am certainly against the use of hospitals, schools and the like for purposes conversion. It is hardly healthy method and certainly gives rise to bitter resentment, conversion matter of heart and must depend upon silent influence of pure character and conduct of missionaries. True conversion comes imperceptibly like aroma of rose. Thus, am not against conversion as but am certainly against present methods. Conversion must not be reduced to business depending for increase upon pounds, shillings, pence. I also hold that all great religions are of equal merit to respective nations or individuals professing them. India is in no need of conversion of type described. Whilst under swaraj all would be free to exercise their own faiths. Personally, I would wish present methods adopted by missionaries were abandoned even now and that under conviction not compulsion.”

SPEAKING AT THE CONFERENCE OF THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY, WHICH WAS HELD AT CHURCH MISSIONARY HOUSE, LONDON, ON 8-10-1931. GANDHIJI SAID:

“The idea of converting people to one’s faith by speech and writings, by appeal to reason and emotion and by suggesting that the faith of his forefathers is a bad faith, in my opinion, limits the possibilities of serving humanity. I believe that the great religions of the world are all more or less true and they have descended to us from God.

…Religion is like a rose. It throws out the scent which attracts like magnet and we are drawn to it like involuntarily. The scent of religious contact has greater pungency than the scent of the rose, that is why I hold my view with reference to conversion.”

GANDHIJI FELT THAT HIS CAMPAIGN AGAINST UNTOUCHABILITY SHOULD NOT BE A REASON FOR THE MISSIONARIES TO GET DISTURBED. (HARIJAN, 25-1-1935.) HE SAID:

“But my trouble is that the missionary friends do not bring to their work a purely humanitarian spirit. Their object is to add numbers to their fold, and that is why they are disturbed. The complaint which I have been making all these years is more than justified by what you say. Some of the friends of a Mission were the other day in high glee over the conversion to Christianity of a learned pandit. They have been dear friends, and so I told them that it was hardly proper to go into ecstasies over a man forsaking his religion. Today it is the case of learned Hindu, tomorrow it may be that of an ignorant villager not knowing the principles of his religion… Here is Miraben. I would have her find all the spiritual comfort she needs from Christianity, and I should not dream of converting her to Hinduism, even if she wanted to do so …Take the case of Khan Saheb’s daughter entrusted to my care by her father. I should jealously educate her in her own faith and should strive my utmost against her being lured away from it if ever she was so inclined. I have had privilege of having children and grown-up persons of other faith with me. I was thankful to find them better Christians, Mussalmans, Parsis or Jews by their contact with me.”

WHEN A. A. PAUL FROM FEDERATION OF INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP HAD ASKED GANDHI TO DEFINE CONVERSION, (HARIJAN, 28-9-1935.) GANDHIJI STATED:

“My own detached view may now be stated in few words. I believe that there is no such thing as conversion from one faith to another in the accepted sense of the term. It is highly personal matter for the individual and his God. I may not have any design upon my neighbour as to his faith which I must honour even as I honour my own. For I regard all the great religions of the world as true at any rate for the people professing them as mine is true for me. Having reverently studied the scriptures of the world, I have no difficulty in perceiving the beauties in them. I could no more think of asking a Christian or a Mussalman or a Parsi or a Jew to change his faith than I would think of changing my own.. .It is a conviction daily growing upon me that the great and rich Christian missions will render true service to India, if they can persuade themselves to confine their activities to humanitarian service without the ulterior motive of converting India or at least her unsophisticated villagers to Christianity, and destroying their social superstructure, which notwithstanding its many defects has stood now from time immemorial the onslaughts upon it from within and from without. Whether they—the missionaries—and we wish it or not, what is true in the Hindu faith will abide, what is untrue will fall to pieces. Every living faith must have within itself the power of rejuvenation if it is to live.”

GANDHIJI WAS HAVING DISCUSSIONS WITH HARIJAN WORKERS IN BARDOLI ON 8-1-1942. QUESTION WAS PUT TO GANDHIJI THAT, HOW ONE DEALS WITH THE TEMPTATIONS GIVEN BY THE MISSIONARIES IN FORMS OF BOOKS, SCHOOL FEES ETC., TO WHICH HE REPLIED —

“The missionaries have of course the right to preach the Gospel of Christ and to invite non-Christians to embrace Christianity. But every attempt to press material benefits or attractions in the aid of conversion should be freely exposed, and the Harijans should be educated to resist these temptations.”

©SantoshChaubey

AFTER SYED SALAHUDDIN, NOW HIS OUTFIT PROSCRIBED, THE US IS FINALLY COMING OUT OF ITS ‘GOOD AND BAD TERRORISTS’ MINDSET

After declaring Syed Salahuddin, the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) chief, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in June, the US has now proscribed his group as well. Salahuddin also heads the United Jihad Council, the umbrella outfit of terror groups operating in Kashmir.

“The Department of State has designated Hizbul Mujahideen as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224. These designations seek to deny HM the resources it needs to carry out terrorist attacks”, a US State Department release said.

Unlike earlier, some of the recent moves by the US have been targeted against terrorists and organizations perpetrating terror in India, be it Hafiz Saeed or Salahuddin or now HM and they suggest a clear mindset change.

GOOD AND BAD TERROR

The US State Department had declared Pakistan a safe haven for terrorists five years ago, a historical study of its annual authoritative Country Report on Terrorism says. The annual report for 2012 that came out in 2013 for the first time used the term “safe haven” for Pakistan for letting terrorist groups thrive and operate from its soil.

The 2013 Country Report on Terrorism (for terror activities in the year 2012) used the line “a number of these attacks were planned and launched from these groups’ safe haven in Pakistan.” ‘These groups’ here mean “the Afghan Taliban, HQN (the Haqqani Network) and other AQ-affiliated groups” which continued to wreak havoc in Afghanistan.

From next year onwards, i.e., 2014 Country Report on Terrorism (for terror activities in the year 2013), the US chose to generalize about Afghanistan centric terror emanating from Pakistan by removing ‘these groups’ and adding ‘and other insurgent and terrorist groups’. It meant the US found many more terror outfits operating from Pakistan to perpetrate terror against US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan and it was not just limited to the terror triad of Afghan Taliban, HQN and the AQ-affiliated groups.

So, first few lines of the second paragraph of Chapter 2 of the Country Report on Terrorism (on South and Central Asia) every year would be, “Afghanistan, in particular, continued to experience aggressive and coordinated attacks by the Afghan Taliban, including the affiliated Haqqani Network (HQN) and other insurgent and terrorist groups. A number of these attacks were planned and launched from safe havens in Pakistan.”

We can see the focus of the report about describing Pakistan a safe haven for terrorists all these years have been basically about Afghanistan. But the latest report goes a step ahead in adding the much required dimension to it, i.e., recognizing Pakistan’s complicity in sponsoring terror in India.

India has long been complaining to the US on its double standards on terror emanating from Pakistan rightly arguing that it cannot differentiate between a good terrorist from a bad terrorist. All the US censure, all tough words to Pakistan have been about cracking down on the terror outfits that have shifted their base to Pakistan but continue to target Afghanistan, the US forces and interests there and the Afghanistan’s government.

The civil war, in fact, never ended in Afghanistan. The warring factions were previously centralized within Afghanistan with Taliban being the last ruling faction. Now Pakistan has become the main base for Taliban and other such groups who want to overthrow the process of democratic transition in Afghanistan. And from Pakistan, they continue to run amok in Afghanistan. How serious is situation can be gauged from the fact that even Afghanistan’s most secure area, Kabul’s diplomatic enclave that also houses the seat of its government, is not safe from terror strikes. It has seen multiple attacks.

For Pak based groups perpetrating terror in India, the US brief had not gone beyond the routine lines like ‘Pakistan should expedite the Mumbai or Pathankot terror probes’. The US continued with billions of dollars in aid even if it knew that Pakistan was harbouring terrorists who were India’s most wanted. What made it a theatre of absurd was the fact that even if many of these terrorists like Hafiz Saeed were carrying a heft US bounty on their heads, they were free to roam in Pakistan like respected citizens.

That, seems, is changing now. First, the US pressure left Pakistan with no other option but to house arrest Hafiz Saeed in January this year. Though symbolic, it suggested that the US had started putting pressure on Pakistan. It also told us that the US was coming out of its “good and bad terrorists” mindset. In June, Pakistan had to ban the new front of Hafiz Saeed’s terror outfit, Tehreek-e-Azadi-Jammu & Kashmir (TAJK).

Then in June only, the US declared Syed Salahuddin, the terror lord of Pak based umbrella groups for perpetrating terror in Jammu and Kashmir, a global terrorist.

PAKISTAN A SAFE HAVEN FOR INDIA CENTRIC TERROR GROUPS

Then in July, the world’s only superpower termed Pakistan a safe haven for India centric terror groups.

The Country Report on Terrorism 2017 (for the year 2016) says, “The Pakistan government supported political reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban, but failed to take significant action to constrain the ability of the Afghan Taliban and HQN to operate from Pakistan-based safe havens and threaten U.S. and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.”

And then goes on to do the course-correction that was long overdue by writing specifically against the major India centric terror groups like LeT and JeM and holding Pakistan accountable for not doing enough, “The government did not take any significant action against LeT or JeM, other than implementing an ongoing ban against media coverage of their activities. LeT and JeM continued to hold rallies, raise money, recruit, and train in Pakistan.”

©SantoshChaubey

अपनी आज़ादी को हमें अब साधना है

पाया भी है हमने और खोया भी
अगर कुछ छूट गया है, टूट गया है
तो बहुत कुछ हमने गढ़ा भी है यहीं

अगर गरीबी अभिशाप बन अभी भी सताती है
तो विकास के प्रतिमान भी हमने देखे हैं यहीं

अगर भूख अभी भी चेहरों पर बिलबिलाती है
तो सोते हैं बहुत अपने घरों में भी

हां बोल नहीं पाते हैं अपनी बीमारी पर
और लाचार धकेले जाते हैं अपनी दुनियादारी पर
पर इसी समाज से निकलती है कहीं कोई आवाज़
जो कर जाती है एक नए संघर्ष का आगाज़

इतिहास से हमने सीखा है
और वर्तमान को लिखने की कोशिश अब करनी है

क्या हुआ के हम अभी भी लड़खड़ाते हैं
और ‘क्या नहीं कर पाए’ में उलझ जाते हैं
क्या आकाश हमें नहीं बुलाता है
और क्या सूरज को हमने नहीं मापा है

हां हम साध नहीं पाए हैं अपने ताने-बाने को
इंसान और देश की गति को एक पैमाने पर

देश आगे बढ़ता ही रहा है इन सालों में
पर इंसान कहीं पीछे रह गया इन सवालों से
कब इस भूल को सुधारेंगे हम
कब इंसान और देश को एक मानेंगे हम

जो देश ने पाया है पर इंसान ने खोया है
देखना होगा वो भ्रम किसकी आँखों में सोया है

आज़ाद हैं हम ये आवाज़ उठाने के लिए
क्या ये नहीं हमारी सफलता है
देश हमारा देता ये अवसर हमें
क्या नहीं ये इसकी सरलता है

आज़ाद तो हैं हम बरसों से
हां इसे हमें अब साधना है
हमारे सवाल जो पीछे रह गए हैं
उस क्यों को पहचानना है

जो गढ़ा है हमने देश के लिए
वही प्रतिमान हम इंसानों के लिए भी हो
गरीबी और भूख की सिसकियों से आगे
वही वर्तमान हम इंसानों के लिए भी हो

©SantoshChaubey

WHERE WAS CHINESE STATE MEDIA’S FUSS THIS WEEKEND?

The weekend passed without any fuss this time. The Chinese state media didn’t come with any editorial warning India of war or disastrous consequences, be it People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist Party (CPC), or its hawkish tabloid Global Times or China’s state-run news agency Xinhua.

Let’s begin with Global Times, the sister publication of People’s Daily that has been the front of the Chinese state media pushing for an India-China war (scenario?) ever since the border standoff between the two countries on the Doklam Plateau began around mid-June.

The only editorial with harsh war rhetoric available on the opinion section of its website is from August 7. Titled ‘India misjudges China’s hope for peace’, it mocks India for miscalculated assessment of Chinese ‘silence’ and then throws the routine, i.e., ‘countermeasures from China will be unavoidable’.

The pattern of all other editorials, especially during the weekend, have been back to viewpoints like the developments around the South China Sea dispute, or the Sino-US trade row or even the Sino-India trade war but the hawkish tone of military war has taken a leave it seems. Now whether it is temporary or the Chinese propaganda machinery will be back to its virtual war with India only time will tell.

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey

WHAT MADE TOM CRUISE PICK THE MUMMY 2017?

This is a question asked umpteen times ever since the movie hit theatres, a movie that is not just a reboot of a commercially successful series but also the launch vehicle of Universal’s Dark Universe, an ambitious sub-series by the global entertainment giant to tap into the ever-widening profitability net of comic book super-heroes (and super-villains), supernatural characters and obviously the all-eclipsing monsters.

Well, The Mummy of the previous generation was a bad movie series. It could work commercially because humour was an important part of this storytelling that the world is quite familiar with, palaces, kings, queens, princes, princesses, paramours, conspiracies, killings, tombs, mummies and pryramids.

And the natural inevitability – that how far can you go with a tellingly thin narrative – that any mummy is basically identified with Egypt’s Pyramids and some Egyptian royalty because of the controversial history surrounding them – so, a standalone chapter, or at best two can justify their arrival if they are given some good treatment. Even The Mummy’s previous incarnation had to look for other extensions beyond Egypt to keep the franchise lubricated beyond two but then it chose to suspend the movement beyond one more.

The latest Mummy has come to life after 2008, when the last movie of the series was released. The three previous Mummies were basically horror comedies to say best or if we say conservatively, they were action-comedy flicks which didn’t need star power but the treatment that could pull the viewer to the theatre. They were time-pass flicks running high on computer generated special effects. They didn’t need acting credentials for expressions or starry adrenaline for action sequences.

They simply needed a one point linear narrative that how to keep the viewer engaged for 100 minutes by producing a cocktail of commercial cinematic specs like comedy mixed with horror, special effects, good looking canvases and known mythological monsters. They were meant to entertain somehow. They were never meant to excel.

True, it can be argued that Tom Cruise is an entertainer and excellence in filmmaking is a reserved phenomenon. But he is certainly an actor who cannot, at this stage of his career, be associated with films that are meant to entertain somehow. He is a name. He is a star power. He is among the selected few names who are used to sell films.

So, the big question is, what made Tom Cruise pick The Mummy 2017, a poor reboot that fails to create the effect of its mediocre but commercially successful predecessors, especially when the film has failed to create box office magic? Reports say the film generated only $400 million against its overall budget of $250 million. And critical reception, well its flooded with all kinds of negative witticisms – plain, convoluted, satirical, humorous and even comical.

©SantoshChaubey