Comments posted on The Times of India website over Swagato Ganguly’s Edit page article: Taliban can be beaten

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From: Ghulam Muhammed <>
Date: Tue, Jun 9, 2009 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Comments posted on The Times of India website over Swagato Ganguly’s Edit page article: Taliban can be beaten

Comments posted on The Times of India website over Swagato Ganguly’s Edit page article: Taliban can be beaten

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

For over a century now, Americans lived with the dictum: What is good for GM, is good for USA. GM filed for bankruptcy last week. In India, our intelligentsia, since the arrival of a World Bank advisor, Manmohan Singh, with his bag of liberalisation cookies, has been following a new line of thinking: What is good for USA is good for India. This, while USA itself is tottering on the verge of bankruptcy.

In today’s TOI edit page article: Taliban can be beaten, have no need to think independently – who are Taliban, how far India is their target, why US attack on Afghanistan should be lauded by India. All they are obsessed with is that Taliban are Muslims and we hate Muslims, so we should hate Taliban. In their

Swagato Ganguly’s comments: The Taliban can be beaten, suffer from a major analytical flaw, when he fails to highlight that there is deep divergence albeit with some overlap between US and India‘s identification of who is the enemy. Neither Muslims nor Taliban is a monolith. US is targeting Al Qaida for 9/11 and Taliban for not allowing US corporate UNOCAL to lay its oil and gas pipeline through ‘independent and free’ Afghanistan, which Mulla Umar had wrenched from his own countrymen – Gulbuddin Hikmatyar and Abdullah Masood. India‘s enemy is Muslim groups based in Pakistan and not in Afghanistan, who have been making forays into Jammu and Kashmir. If India is mixing up the two groups and presenting them as one, just to get sympathy and help from the US over its problems with Jihadist (for want of a better and correct phrase), it cannot fully blame the US for not coming to the aid of the party.

Besides, if India falls into a trap of owning up US enemies as its own, it is open to an extension of its war against the Jihadi, into other areas. US has global hegemonic underpinnings to its ‘neo-con chalked out world strategies’. India has to find its own objectives first, and need not fall into strategies of the New World Order, where India will be merely the supplier of mercenary forces where our Jawans will sacrifice their blood and sweat to carry out a colonial war being marketed as war against terror or war against Jihadists. India should not fall prey to such motivated and self-serving agenda of the US backbenchers, who are still holding on to Bush era fundamentals and priorities.

2. Swagato Ganguly’s definition of modernity lacking in Taliban is a much skewed proposition. In the use of modern weapons, they are as modern as the US and NATO forces and much more modern than the current level of modernity available to Indian armed forces. Taliban are not village bums. They have earlier able to use even stringer missile to take down enemy aircraft. They are international traders in arms, ammunitions, drugs and currencies. The modernity sought by the West in Afghanistan is merely a smokescreen to demonise the ‘other’ and get support world-wide. India should have its own assessment of what modernity means to an undeveloped region, be that Afghanistan, Pakistan, India or Bangladesh.

3. Even though a reference is made to ‘international jihadist activity’, it cannot be denied that India has till now escaped the full force of such activity in Jammu and Kashmir and even in mainland India. India therefore should do everything to keep the genie into the bottle and not get tempted to ‘virtually’ invite international jihadist forces to ‘come into our parlour’ through ill advised moves, public and private.

4. Sometime back I wrote: Taliban cannot be fought; though they can be bought. It only means that between war and diplomacy, there are better chances for diplomacy to succeed. In its latest interview with German magazine Der Spiegel, Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf admits they negotiated with Taliban to get Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan free. That proves discretion is better part of valor and Swagato Ganguly’s bravado — Taliban can be beaten — has no leg to stand on.

The myth of the invincibility of Afghan/Pathan/ Pakhtoon/Taliban is not mere historical or Kiplingesque fiction. There are easily observable reasons for that invincibility. And for that one does have to rely only on Kipling. The terrain is so vast, mountainous, craggy, full of natural hideouts; the people are deeply committed to their personal freedom and independence, their own sense of justice, their own standards of generosity and revenge. Like the Wild West, they too have personal security and safety as the sine qua nonof their armed existence at individual level. All these cannot be broken down with aerial bombardments. Even with heavy aerial bombardment, US and NATO forces are bogged down in Afghanistan and the government of US promoted President Karzai does not extend beyond his heavily fortified residence.

Besides Afghan/Pakhtoon/ Taliban are not fighting a conventional war, they are into an ongoing guerilla war. As you eliminate some, others take their place. They are residents of their country; others are merely visitors in a place that cannot hold attraction for them for long. Even timeless time is on their side. They can survive on minimum. Modern armies need to be funded and financed by sacrificing public budgets. Taliban resources are meager but limitless. Others’ are limited.

It is time Times of India choose its lead commentators that do not boast of being more wild than Taliban, just to prop up a public charade.

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

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