HOME | ABOUT US | Speaker | Americans Together | Videos | www.CenterforPluralism.com | Please note that the blog posts include my own articles plus selected articles critical to India's cohesive functioning. My articles are exclusively published at www.TheGhouseDiary.com You can send an email to: MikeGhouseforIndia@gmail.com

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas - Kwanza - Zartosht - Muharram - Yalda

Christmas - Kwanza - Zartosht Diso - Muharram - Yalda
Summary of other Festivals of December in the link at the bottom of this page
"If your festival is missing, please share it with me and my world of friends"

Let's learn a little bit about our friends, neighbors and co-workers, and how they commemorate or celebrate their lives. Friendship is an amazing thing, it takes time to know, but when you do, a lot of myths about others disappear - and you find an amazing peace within you for knowing some one from some group, whom you thought otherwise..oh well, you got it. I have compiled, borrowed and added a few notes to learn and share about the following festivals and commemorations. It is not perfect but selected for a lay person to grasp it. For example the write up about Zartosht no-deso is very elementary to Zoroastrians but meaningful to others.

Please join us to reflect upon the Holocaust and Genocides. Let's make room in our hearts for the precious feelings for human helplessness. Kindly mark your calendars for 7:00 - 9:15 PM on Saturday, January 24th, 2009. Details at: www.HolocaustandGenocides.com or try .org

Click here to read the details of the festivals listed above:


Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer on Pluralism, interfaith, terrorism, peace, interfaith, Islam, Multiculturism and India. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website www.MikeGhouse.net. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sonia Gandhi - Shahrukh Khan most influential leaders

Newsweek is one of the most respected Magazines that I have come to enjoy reading since my college days in early seventies. In this report about 50 Most influential or powerful people in the world, I was offended by the insinuation of the writer about Shahrukh Khan;Here it goes, " The magazine describes Shahrukh Khan, who occupies 41st spot, as the King of Bollywood. “.... Khan is huge in the Muslim world, even in Pakistan and Afghanistan..."

The writer's innuendo about "Muslim world" is wrong, as it has nothing to do with the Muslim world, Amitabh Bachhan was equally popular in his days and in the same places, and so were Dev Anand, Rajendra Kumar and Raj Kapoor. To be fair he should have mentioned the religion of Sonia Gandhi to make a point about India that every one can make it. His intention may be good, but it is painting the wrong picture.

Every Bollywood actor was popular in those Nations regardless of their religion and it is wrong to suggest that he is popular in Muslim world because he is a Muslim".

By the way, these guys are popular in Russia, Thailand, Hong Kong, African and East European countries. Bollywood and Hollywood are the only excellent movie makers of the world.

Mike Ghouse

Pakistan's general 20th most powerful person in world
The Nation (Pakistan)
Publication Date: 22-12-2008

Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is ranked among the “50 Most Powerful People of the World” selected by Newsweek, a leading American weekly magazine.

The list, carried in the magazine’s January issue, is led by President-elect Barack Obama, whose legacy, it said, will be decided by actions he takes over the next four years.

Indian Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan also made it to the list. Among others, it includes Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, United Arab Emirates President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

General Kayani is placed at 20 on the list. In theory, Newsweek says, he answers to President Asif Ali Zardari. But general Kayani and his troops remain the dominant power in what could be the “most dangerous country in the world”.

“He’s responsible for Pakistan’s nukes; for the battle against Al-Qaeda and its tribal allies along the Afghan border; and for managing tensions with neighbour India,” Newsweek stresses, noting that so far, the Pakistan Army has kept itself out of politics and seems focused on the battle against extremists. “In the wake of the November terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Kayani stood firm on Pakistan’s sovereignty while also taking measures against the alleged sponsors of the outrage,” it says.

“Kayani insists he’s a committed democrat, but he nevertheless argues that military interventions (there have been four since independence 61 years ago) are sometimes necessary to maintain Pakistan’s stability. He likens coups to temporary bypasses that are created when a bridge collapses on democracy’s highway. After the bridge is repaired, he says, then there’s no longer any need for the detour,” it added.

Obama, who tops the list, is followed by Chinese President Hu Jintao, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, German Chancellor Angela Markel and powerful Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

A surprise inclusion in list, which the magazine admits is subjective, is Osama bin Laden, whom the Newsweek describes as “global terrorist”. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il also finds place in the list.

Placing Sonia Gandhi at 17th spot, the magazine says though Indian political scene is riven by factions, Congress remains the strongest national force and rules unchallenged. “In the world’s largest democracy, she is the queen.”

The magazine describes Shahrukh Khan, who occupies 41st spot, as the King of Bollywood.

“It’s not just that his romantic flicks make gazillions--it’s where those gazillions come from. Khan is huge in the Muslim world, even in Pakistan and Afghanistan. (The movies thrive on the black market.) Their main appeal is certainly the song-and-dance numbers, but Khan (a Muslim married to a Hindu) makes devoutly secular films where love trounces bigotry,” it says, adding that Sonia Gandhi gives Khan’s DVDs to visitors, especially Muslim ones. “Here’s hoping tolerance will leap from reel life to real life.”

For Osama bin Laden, who finds 42nd spot, the magazine says the manhunt may not have been successful, but it has driven him far underground.

Once a glutton for publicity, he hasn’t shot a new video since September 2007, and no audio message from him has been heard since May 2008, it adds and quotes knowledgeable Taliban sources as saying “the sheik” (as acolytes call him) rarely has contact with even his top lieutenants, who are steadily being eliminated: in 2008, at least eight of the 20 most wanted Al-Qaeda operatives died in Predator attacks along the Afghan border.

“The underlings who have replaced them don’t match their brains or planning skills, Taliban sources say. But as the Mumbai attacks showed, Osama’s ideology continues to inflict monstrous harm,” it points out.

Awarding Chinese President Hu second place, Newsweek says he is a guy “you wouldn’t think twice about - cautious, colourless and corporate and in the past, he has lost spotlight to other world leaders with bigger egos and sharper elbows. “

But to underestimate Hu Jintao would be a monumental error. His position as China’s President makes him CEO of a financial juggernaut that’s projected to post USD 280 billion trade surplus this year. While the rest of the world plunges deeper into recession, Hu the Humble is emerging as the one who is holding the lifeline.”

The economic crisis and market meltdown has got “Economic Triumvirate” place among the top ten. They are central bankers: Ben Bernanke of the US Federal Reserve; Jean-Claude Trichet of the European Central Bank (ECB); Masaaki Shirakawa of the Bank of Japan; and, to a lesser extent, counterparts in China, India, Brazil, Mexico and elsewhere.

“They are enormously powerful, and in 2009 they may determine whether the global economy avoids calamity, the magazine notes. Not since the early 1980s, when high inflation plagued many advanced economies, or perhaps the 1930s, has their role been so crucial as global economic growth is slowing to a standstill,” Newsweek says.

“Economists at Deutsche Bank forecast that the world economy will expand a meagre 0.2 per cent in 2009 - the worst year since at least 1950. In 2007, growth was almost 5pc. Without stronger growth, the slump might feed on itself and fuel economic nationalism,” it warns.

Giving reasons for placing Kim on the list, Newsweek notes that he is in bad shape after suffering a stroke but still presides over a handful of nuclear weapons, an arsenal of long-range missiles and a million-man army.

A weakened leader could in fact feel compelled to prove his toughness by threatening outside world. An in recent weeks Pyongyang has halted its rapprochement with South Korea and “torpedoed” talks aimed at getting it to give up its nuclear weapons. “Whether strong or weak, he’s still dangerous,” it observes.

Others on the list include the Dalai Lama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Gen David Petraeus, Iraqi leader Nuri al-Maliki, US House speaker Nancy Pelosi, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Pope Benedict XVI, Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch and popular show host Oprah Winfrey.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Indian Muslims - one of a kind

The times of India Article "The distinctiveness of Indian Muslims is asserting itself again." follows my commentary.

I applaud Times of India for consciously making an effort to reflect the views of the moderates of India who make up perhaps 98% of the population across the board. They want to get along with all and silently act, talk and think of goodwill for every Indian; they are the peace makers.

The article by Harbans Mukhia is a reflection of those peace makers; it is written with the purpose of mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill.

The battle cry of the insecure members of our society who are less than 1/10th of 1% of our population is to spread hate so they can make a political capital out of it; they are the surrogates of our past colonial masters who believed in dividing and weakening India. The Indians be it Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists and others have seen this time and again and have rejected that extremist ideology.

I am pleased to see Muslims of India sending a strong, firm, clear and emphatic signal to the terrorists; "when you die you will not even get burial grounds and you will become the curse of people", and 6000 Ulema's coming together for the express purpose of condemning terrorism must be lauded and encouraged.

Times of India will continue to keep its lead, as long as it promotes articles that unite India. Every Indian hankers for one India, and it is there and I am glad to see their view reflected in the leading paper of India. This is what it takes to lead. Keep it up!

Mike Ghouse

The distinctiveness of Indian Muslims is asserting itself again.
Harbans Mukhia


The distinctiveness of Indian Muslims is asserting itself again. Over the past few months, Muslim theologians distanced themselves from what has come to be branded "Islamist terror" in the media followed by an organised expression of unqualified disapproval by as many as 6,000 Ulema (Muslim Clergy) from around the country gathered in Hyderabad specifically for the purpose. This highlights the distinctiveness of Indian Muslims which has evolved through centuries of Indian history. There is probably no other instance of the Ulema rising up in protest against terrorism on this scale anywhere else in the world. And in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, ordinary as well as elite Muslims also gave public vent to their outrage.

To appreciate this distinctiveness, it is instructive to look at the process of conversions to Islam that took place in India. The Muslims inhabiting the Indian subcontinent comprise the largest concentration of the community in the world. The easiest assumption is that conversions were effected by the might of the medieval Muslim state in India over the six centuries that it ruled. Yet, interestingly there is not a single book on the subject of conversion in India as a whole. There are two books on the subject in Kashmir, another on Bengal. That's it. The reason is that there is not enough historical evidence to substantiate a book length work. This in turn implies that conversion did not take place at the hands of one agency or at one go or for one reason, either by the use of force or temptation or persuasion. For, if such had been the case, there was no way it could have escaped being recorded either by Islamic scholars or their opponents.

Indeed, the geographical distribution of the density of Muslim population in the subcontinent flies in the face of the notion that the medieval Indian state could have been even the chief agency of conversion. The highest density is located in four geographical peripheries of the subcontinent: the Kashmir valley in the north, Pakistan in the west, Bangladesh in the east and in the Malabar region down south. That is where the Muslims are, and were, in a majority. These were also the political peripheries of the medieval Muslim state. Kashmir had turned to Islam long before the medieval Indian state reached there in Akbar's reign. West Punjab was a land where the hold of the medieval state was forever disputed and tenuous. East Bengal was seldom under the control of Delhi or Agra either and the Muslim state's reach never extended to Kerala anyway.

On the other hand, in the heartland of the Muslim empire Bihar, UP, Delhi, East Punjab for nearly six centuries the Muslims never exceeded around 15 per cent of the total population. Significantly, the massive conversions amounting to about a 50 per cent rise from about one in six to one in four of the population occurred between the second quarter of the 19th century and 1941, the last census before the partition, when the British ruled here. And overall, a fraction less than 25 per cent of the population had converted from the arrival of Islam in India to about the time of the partition.

Massive as these conversions are, two things stand out: if the medieval Indian Muslim state had taken upon itself the role of the religious zealot, it could not have been satisfied with converting just about one in every six inhabitants; and, the process of conversion was so slow, spread out over such long stretches of time and almost imperceptible that medieval historians and litterateurs, both Hindu and Muslim, failed to notice and record it, except as sporadic events.

It is this slow, stretched out process that explains the persistence of a wide spectrum of pre-Islamic, sometimes even anti-Islamic, customs, ceremonies, values and mores among the converts. Historian Ghulam Ahmad Tabtabai, writing in the 1780s, noted that the Muslims celebrated Holi as much as the Hindus. And Mirza Qateel a little later said that except for the Afghans and fanatics among Muslims, everyone played Holi and celebrated Diwali. But much more significant is the fact that militancy has never found much civil support either among the Hindus or Indian Muslims. It, therefore, becomes understandable that all the assaults on temples, mosques and dargahs in the past few years with the clear intention of inflaming communal passions and inciting violence have failed to provoke a single incident of rioting.

The Indian Muslims are thus a part of that all encompassing civilisation of which tolerance of difference is a central feature. The offence that Islamic militants have caused to this civilisation and to the Muslims in the process is now being confronted with protests from within the community.

One happy result of these happenings is the gradual lifting of the siege mentality with which Indian Muslims have lived for a long time. The seeping realisation that peace lies in reaching out, rather than sulking in isolation from the other communities, bodes well for us all. It has the capability to erode the hold of other forms of communalism as well.

The writer was professor of history at JNU, New Delhi.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

In Defense of Sonal Shah

Eboo, Thanks for writing about Sonal. We are learning first hand accounts of her work, her quality as a human,and her humanatarian work is simply adorable and laudable.

Thanks to Vijay for questioning about Sonal, had he not done that, we would not have discovered this diamond and none of the people would have written about her and we would have missed so much about her. Vijay fulfilled his obligation for democracy to find out about her, and it was the right thing to do. That's how a democracy works and diamonds are discovered.

Mike Ghouse

In Defense of Sonal Shah


Eboo Patel

When I heard that Indian American Sonal Shah was named to be part of
the Obama transition, I thought to myself, 'What a perfect pick.
President-elect Obama couldn't have chosen a better exemplar of India,
or America.'

Now, according to India Abroad, a handful of groups are trying to link
Sonal with the nefarious forces of Hindu nationalism.

Let me be very clear about something: I consider the Hindu right (an
alphabet soup of totalitarian groups which includes the VHP, the BJP,
the RSS and the Bajrang Dal) a serious danger - to the safety of
Muslims and Christians, to the ideals of Hinduism and India, and to
the possibility of pluralism. I devoted significant parts of my book
Acts of Faith to exposing their recruitment of young people for the
cause of Hindu extremism.

But to link Sonal to their activities is frankly offensive.

A few years ago, I was flipping through a stack of old India Abroad
newspapers at my wife's parents' home, when I ran across a story about
Sonal Shah. A young Indian American woman, she had been named India
Abroad's "Person of the Year" for founding Indicorps.

The more I read, the more I found myself impressed.

First of all, Sonal has denounced Hindu nationalism in no uncertain
terms, stating: "my personal politics have nothing in common with the
views espoused by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), or any such organization".

Second, the evidence linking Sonal to Hindu extremism is laughably
thin. It amounts to Sonal passing a Hindu nationalist on the street
and not performing a citizen's arrest.

Some of Sonal's accusers are pointing fingers in the name of defending
Indian Muslims. They correctly say that the Hindu right was
responsible for a pogrom against Muslims in the state of Gujarat,
which resulted in the heinous murders of one to two thousand people in

Well, I'm a Muslim from India. I have Muslim family in Mumbai and
Gujarat who have personally felt the destruction of Hindu nationalist
violence. And I don't feel defended by these accusations.

In fact, they strike me as particularly disturbing precisely because
I'm a Muslim.

Here's why: the mode of the attacks is guilt by association, which
goes something like this. Person X was in a room when Person Y said
something offensive, and Person X didn't immediately issue a statement
denouncing Person Y, therefore Person X should be held responsible for
Person Y's crimes (all of them).

I recognize that tactic - that's how good American Muslims get smeared
all the time.

Well, I hope the hatchet job doesn't work on Sonal. Her talents have
benefited many many people.

I first read about Sonal a few years ago in India Abroad. She had been
named India Abroad's "Person of the Year" for founding Indicorps.

The more I read, the more I found myself impressed.

Sonal not only had big dreams, she had the commitment to make them
reality. Indicorps sent diverse groups of young Indian Americans back
to their homeland for an extensive period of service with Indian-based
nonprofits. Indicorps members have included Muslims, Hindus,
Christians and Jains. They have worked on projects ranging from making
musicals with slum children to deepening wells in villages to
launching a rural design school for artisans.

I started recommending Indicorps to idealistic young Indian Americans.
Most of them already knew about it. They felt like it was "their"
Peace Corps - an opportunity to connect their Indian heritage and
American citizenship through the common value of service.

I started thinking of Sonal Shah in the same way that I think of
people like Wendy Kopp (who founded Teach for America), Michael Brown
and Alan Khazei (who founded City Year) and Vanessa Kirsch (who
founded Public Allies and New Profit) - as part of a new generation of
service leaders.

Then something startling happened: I met Sonal (through the Clinton
Global Initiative), and found her to be even more impressive in person
than she was on paper. I watched people in meetings continually defer
to Sonal and ask her opinion, and I watched Sonal deftly turn the
tables and find a way to do more listening than talking. I discovered
that Sonal's expertise was both wide and deep, and that she commanded
respect from a broad range of ethnicities and across the political
spectrum. Most of all, I appreciated Sonal's combination of humility,
spirituality, intelligence and idealism.

That's the best of India, I thought; and the best of America.

Indian Muslims Mark a Somber Eid

Ahsaan Qureshi is right, it was not a festival to celebrate, it was gloomy all over.

The moderates make up over 95% of any group, be it Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddishts, Jews or any one and usually their focus is two square meals, family, schooling and health. Thank God they are speaking up now. With their involvment the extremist find themselves less and less space from them to crawl.

Mike Ghouse
# # #

In India, Muslims Mark a Somber Eid
Celebrations Subdued After Mumbai Siege

By Emily Wax
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, December 10, 2008; A18

MUMBAI, Dec. 9 -- Ahsaan Qureshi, one of India's most popular comics,
usually hosts a posh party to mark the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.
His wife gets her hands decorated with red swirls of henna. His
children dress in their swankiest clothes, eating sweets and setting
off firecrackers late into the night. Family friends come over and
dine on vats of biryani, an Indian version of jambalaya.

But after a series of coordinated attacks late last month across
Mumbai, India's financial capital and largest city, Qureshi, 45, like
many of the country's 140 million Muslims, held a much more subdued
Eid on Tuesday, mainly out of respect for those who died in the
three-day siege.

"There is no glitz and glamour this year," said Qureshi, who was a
star on the "Great Indian Laughter Challenge" stand-up show and has
been featured in several Indian films. "I speak for many Muslims when
I say we are all in a great deal of pain. It's not a happy Eid."

From the ancient walled city of Jaipur in the northwest to the streets
of Kolkata in the east, India's Muslims have held somber vigils to
show their solidarity in condemning the attacks.

This week, leaders of the All India Organization of Imams of Mosques
asked Muslims to wear black bands on their shoulders as a symbol of
loyalty to their homeland. Muslim groups in Mumbai, meanwhile, have
brought tea and cookies to many of the victims still recuperating at
the city's hospitals. "Long live Mother India" and "Our country's
enemies are our enemies," one group of young Muslim students called
out during an Eid candlelight gathering to protest the attacks.

The displays of solidarity come amid fresh fears of sectarian strife
between India's Muslim and Hindu communities. Communal riots have
plagued Mumbai before, particularly in December 1992 and January 1993,
when hundreds of people died. Riots in the western state of Gujarat in
2002 left more than 1,000 Muslims and Hindus dead in the worst display
of sectarian violence since the bloody partition of the Indian
subcontinent in 1947. In recent months, a series of deadly bombings
have been linked to either Muslim or Hindu extremists.

Indian Muslims -- who represent about 10 percent of the country's
population -- are by and large eager to separate themselves from the
alleged Islamist extremists who carried out last month's Mumbai
attacks. They are also quick to point out that a third of the 171
victims were Muslim.

"Muslims in India are a suspect and separate minority," said Vivek
Kumar, a sociology professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New
Delhi. "Islam is a huge part of India's history, its architecture.
But, of course, Muslims are deeply rattled now. They fear they will be
branded Pakistani."

Muslims around the world usually celebrate Eid by slaughtering sheep,
goats and cows to commemorate the prophet Abraham's willingness to
sacrifice his son, Ismail, on God's command. This year, Muslim leaders
asked that no cows be killed out of respect for the Hindu belief that
cattle are sacred. Muslim leaders have also refused to allow the
bodies of the nine fighters killed in the attacks to be buried in
Islamic cemeteries. In sermons and in street demonstrations, Muslims
have said they, too, want tougher laws and a stepped-up fight against
terrorist attacks.

"We are calling for justice in Pakistan just as much as anyone," said
Abbasali Jannati, 33, a Muslim home designer, who spent a recent
afternoon walking through the Colaba neighborhood, the location of
many of the attacks.

In Gujarat, six years after the sectarian violence, Muslims remain
angry and aggrieved. Many who lost their homes in the riots are now
living in India's largest Muslim ghetto. The violence erupted after 59
Hindus were burned to death on a train as they returned home from a
pilgrimage. At the time, Muslim extremists were blamed for the fire.
But the cause of the blaze remains in dispute, and one government
panel has said it was an accident.

At mosques in Gujarat on Tuesday, worshipers observed a moment of
silence, said Chiraag Sheik, a Muslim social activist.

Muslims in India tend to be poorer than their Hindu neighbors. Some
Muslims complained this week that they were having trouble renting
houses, and others said they were being watched closely when entering

Near an Islamic prayer cap store and in front of a popular mosque in
Mumbai, friends gathered in a narrow alleyway after prayers to console
Mohammed Rafique, 45, who had been at the landmark Taj Mahal Palace &
Tower hotel, the scene of much of the carnage.

"We all have felt the horror," said Rafique, a driver, who was inside
the hotel to help organize a wedding party. "I just hope my Hindu
brethren don't blame us. We have suffered greatly, too."

Special correspondent Pragya Krishna in New Delhi contributed to this report.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Muslims send a strong Message to Terrorists

A Strong Message to Terrorists

Muslims had enough of this non-sense from terrorists claiming to be Muslims. It is time to treat them as criminals and do what needs to be done, if some one calls them Muslim, shame on them.

The Muslim majority has spoken, give no room to these terrorists. I have been writing "that Muslims get from both ends, Muslims are more sick of terrorism than others" This was also echoed by Javed Akhtar “Indian Muslims have often suffered twice: first from the terror, and then from the accusations afterward.

It is good to see a solidarity in the fight against terrorism. Those bad boys should know now that they have been duped that they will go to heaven and get the houris. Heck no, their bodies won't even be buried. This is the strongest message Muslims are sending them, that terrorism is bad and those who duped them are bums and no need to listen to them any more. Just live a decent life, even with hunger and poverty but get a decent burial.

Thank God, Muslims are given a space in the media, I wish Media had done this for a long time, we would have had less of this.

Mike Ghouse

A Strong Message


All over India, Eid celebrations on Tuesday were muted. Many Muslims wore black bands in protest against the Mumbai terror strikes while imams of
several prominent mosques spoke out against terrorism and pledged to stand united against terrorists. The Shahi Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid India's biggest mosque called the 'jihad' which took nearly 200 lives in Mumbai a crime against all people. He also slammed Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism in India. So did the imam of another prominent mosque, the Fatehpuri Masjid.

The nationwide protests on Eid by Muslims against the terror attacks weren't a one-off event. In the immediate aftermath of the Mumbai attack, the city's Muslims refused to allow the dead terrorists to be buried in Muslim graveyards. Earlier this week, Muslim organisations in Mumbai took out a rally to send the message that killers of innocent people are the enemies of Islam. And over the past few days, several Muslim icons of India, including Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, have spoken out against terrorism. These strong words and actions by India's Muslims are a slap in the face of groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba which are intent on spreading terror in the name of Islam and to supposedly avenge wrongs done to Indian Muslims. What Indian Muslims are saying is that terror has no religion. But by clearly speaking out against Islamist terrorism, India's Muslims are taking away any justification that the terrorists might claim for their bloody acts.

Groups like LeT not only want to spread immediate mayhem but eventually to break up India. India, with its 150-million Muslim minority population, is a direct challenge to Islamist terror groups. Nothing would please the terrorists more than if blasts and terror attacks were followed by communal violence. But every time there has been a terrorist act, Indians, irrespective of religion, have closed ranks. This has been so since 1993 when terrorists first struck in a big way in Mumbai. Since then there have been several terror attacks across India, but none has provoked rioting or large-scale violence.

Indian Muslims occupy a unique position. They're the largest Muslim minority anywhere and practise an Islam that is much more syncretic than elsewhere. At a time when radical Islamic ideologies are trying to gain the upper hand across the world, Indian Muslims could offer a compelling counter-narrative. Indian Muslims have already given a fitting answer to the Islamist groups that were behind the Mumbai terror attacks. The point now is to sustain the debate and to widen it further.

Sonal Shah Renounces Hindu Group

I seriously doubt if Sonal Shah renounced her affiliation with VHP because of pressure, she is American raised and most Indian kids raised here are immune to hate ideology that a "FEW" Indian parents attempt to inject in their kids. Shame on those few parents who poison their kids.

She probably thought it will go away, when it did not she chose to express her sincerity.

It is a shame that a FEW Indians are so hateful against the other Indians for questioning her qualifications.

Vijay and Ubaid did their democractic duty to question indeed, they simply wanted clarifications and thank God and every one who did their due dilegence in asking her to tell her stand on the affiliation issue, we have it now and she is in clear.

She is going to be loved by one and all. I am glad she has sincerely expressed her freedom, she has a good heart and a good soul. God bless her!

Mike Ghouse

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 4:00 PM
Under Pressure, Shah Renounces Hindu Group
By GAUTHAM NAGESH, Government Executive

After weeks of questions, Obama transition team member and former Google executive Sonal Shah today renounced her former connection to a Hindu organization accused of fomenting violence against Muslims and Christians in India.

In a statement obtained exclusively by NextGov and National Journal, Shah says that if she could have anticipated the role of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in the 2002 outbreak of communal violence in the Indian state of Gujarat, she never would have associated with the group's American branch a year earlier:

In 2002, Gujarat suffered one of the most profound tragedies in its long history, when extremist political leaders, including some associated with the VHP, incited riots that resulted in the deaths of thousands. Had I been able to foresee the role of the VHP in India in these heinous events, or anticipate that the VHP of America could possibly stand by silently in the face of its Indian counterpart's complicity in the events of Gujarat in 2002 -- thereby undermining the American group's cultural and humanitarian efforts with which I was involved -- I would not have associated with the VHP of America.

The controversy escalated this weekend when Shah asked supporters for their help in stopping the spread of allegations that she had been a member of the VHP.

In an e-mail sent Friday night and obtained by NextGov, Shah asked her supporters for help combating the allegations and expressed fear that the Obama transition team would ask her to resign as a result of the story.

"I need your help," wrote Shah. "This is gaining legs as the National Journal also picked it up and likely Fox. I need to moblize [sic] people against the leftists and the right wing. There is a likely chance that they will ask me to resign as team does not need my publicity."

The controversy has been gathering steam in the Indian press and South Asian blogosphere for weeks now, but it went mainstream on Thursday when former GOP Senator Rick Santorum published an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer questioning the appointment of Shah to the transition team -- prompting a Lost In Transition post Friday.

Shah, a Google executive who previously worked for Goldman Sachs and served as a Treasury official in the Clinton years, was appointed to the Obama transition team in November and has since been tapped to be part of the three-person team to develop technology policy. She is also reportedly being considered for Secretary of Energy.

However, her appointment to the administration has drawn strong reactions from the South Asian community. While many prominent Indian-Americans have stood behind Shah, others have raised doubts about her past. Dr. Shaikh Ubaid is part of a group including several Muslim and Sikh associations and dozens of college professors that sent letters to both Shah and President-elect Obama, requesting further information on Shah's past associations.

"When she was appointed, it was initially a proud moment for us, her being an Indian-American," said Ubaid in an interview given before Shah's latest statement. However, the reports regarding Shah's past ties to the VHP gave Ubaid and others a cause for concern.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad is an international Hindu organization which is a part of the Sangh Parivar, the Indian nationalist movement organized around Hindutva, or Hindu nationalism. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the political face of Hindutva; VHP is the social wing of the movement.

The nonprofit group Human Rights Watch as well as the U.S. State Department have condemned the BJP-led government and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi for not stopping the 2002 violence in Gujarat following the burning of a train containing Hindu pilgrims by a Muslim mob. In rioting that followed, more than a thousand people were killed, the majority of whom were Muslims.

"I'm not saying Sonal Shah is involved in that," Ubaid said. "But we have questions."

On Nov. 11, Shah had released a statement where she termed the allegations "baseless and silly reports" stemming from her charitable work for victims of the 2001 Gujarat earthquake. She denied any involvement in Indian politics, but her critics quickly pointed out that nowhere in the original statement did Shah formally acknowledge her role in the VHP-America or specifically condemn the violence in Gujarat and the actions of Narendra Modi.

Both Ubaid and Vijay Prashad, a South Asian history professor at Trinity College (Conn.) who wrote the original article questioning Shah's ties to the VHP, pointed to a recent interview in which a VHP-America leader indicated that Shah was more than tangentially connected to the group. Prashad, interviewed before Shah's latest statement, called her a "leading figure" of the organization from 1998 to the early 2000s and said her claims of having participated only in the organization's earthquake relief efforts were "disingenuous."

"I can understand someone raised in a suburb, whose parents are apolitical, coming to college, seeing the earthquake, finding an organization and getting involved in raising funds [without knowing any better]," said Prashad. "But here is someone not from an apolitical household. She was well aware of the politics. And she had been in a leadership role. It was not just happenstance."

Shah's brother Anand said that she was co-opted by the organization's leadership, who were eager to show a younger face to the public.

"If the situation wasn't what it is, if it was someone else, I would be asking these questions," said Anand Shah. "It's not a non-serious issue; the questions being raised are legitimate ones." But he added that he hoped people would judge his sister by her own words and actions, and not by her associations.

The text of Sonal Shah's full statement is as follows:

I was recently maligned by a professor at a college in Connecticut who wrote an article in CounterPunch accusing me of association with Hindu extremism. Then, a few days ago, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, published an editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer, to which this site linked, that echoed the CounterPunch accusations. These attacks sadden me, but they share one other thing in common: the accusations are false.

In reaction to these attacks, my closest friends -- and many strangers -- have rallied to my side. I am touched by this outpouring of support. And as painful as this episode has been for me personally, I welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue with the seriousness that it deserves, but the conversation should proceed on the basis of verified facts and reasoned argument, not innuendo and defamation.

Indian politics and history are contested and emotive, but also unfamiliar to most Americans. I understand why so many Indians and Indian-Americans feel strongly about religious extremism in India, because I share the same concerns.

I am an American, and my political engagements have always and only been American. I served as a U.S. Treasury Department official for seven years, and now work on global development policy at Google.org. And I am honored to serve on the Presidential Transition Team of President-elect Obama while on leave from Google.org.

I emigrated from India at the age of four, and grew up in Houston. Like many Americans, I remain proud of my heritage. But my engagement with India has been exclusively cultural and humanitarian. After the devastating earthquake in Gujarat in 2001, I worked on behalf of a consortium of Indian-American organizations to raise funds for humanitarian relief. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHP-A), an independent charity associated with the eponymous Indian political group, was among these organizations, and it was the only one to list my name on its website. I am not affiliated with any of these organizations, including the VHP-A, and have not worked with any of them since 2001.

The experience with the Gujarat earthquake did, however, teach me an important lesson. It pointed up a lack of dedicated infrastructure to help alleviate suffering in India, so together with my brother and sister, I founded Indicorps, an organization modeled on the U.S. Peace Corps that enables young Indian-Americans to spend a year in service to marginalized communities in India. The fellows come from every religious background, and have worked among every religious community in India. Indeed, some Indicorps fellows focus on inter-faith dialogue as part of their projects.

In 2002, Gujarat suffered one of the most profound tragedies in its long history, when extremist political leaders, including some associated with the VHP, incited riots that resulted in the deaths of thousands. Had I been able to foresee the role of the VHP in India in these heinous events, or anticipate that the VHP of America could possibly stand by silently in the face of its Indian counterpart's complicity in the events of Gujarat in 2002 -- thereby undermining the American group's cultural and humanitarian efforts with which I was involved -- I would not have associated with the VHP of America.

Sadly, CounterPunch and Senator Santorum have suggested that I somehow endorse that violence and the ongoing violence in Orissa. I do not - I deplore it. But more than that, I have worked against it, and will continue to do so. I have already denounced the groups at issue and am hopeful that we can begin to have an honest conversation about the ways immigrant and diaspora communities can engage constructively in social and humanitarian work abroad.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Muslims in India Repudiate Terrorism

Muslims in India Repudiate Terrorism

Individuals are terrorists, not their religion. Muslims had enough of this non-sense from terrorists claiming to be Muslims. The Muslim majority has spoken, give no room for the terrorists. I have been writing "that Muslims get from both ends, Muslims are more sick of terrorism than others" This is echoed by Javed Akhtar “Indian Muslims have often suffered twice: first from the terror, and then from the accusations afterward,” a Muslim poet and lyricist. “Perhaps because of that, they have been much more articulate and more unconditionally clear about condemning this attack.”

Thank God, Muslims are given a space in the media, I wish Media had done this for a long time, we would have had less of this.

Mike Ghouse


Published: December 7, 2008

MUMBAI, India — Throngs of Indian Muslims, ranging from Bollywood actors to skullcap-wearing seminary students, marched through the heart of Mumbai and several other cities on Sunday, holding up banners proclaiming their condemnation of terrorism and loyalty to the Indian state.

Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Muslims took part in a candlelight march last week toward the Oberoi hotel in Mumbai.
The protests, though relatively small, were the latest in a series of striking public gestures by Muslims — who have often come under suspicion after past attacks — to defensively dissociate their own grievances as a minority here from any sort of sympathy for terrorism or radical politics in the wake of the deadly assault here that ended Nov. 29.

Muslim leaders have refused to allow the bodies of the nine militants killed in the attacks to be buried in Islamic cemeteries, saying the men were not true Muslims. They also suspended the annual Dec. 6 commemoration of a 1992 riot in which Hindus destroyed a mosque, in an effort to avert communal tension. Muslim religious scholars and public figures have issued strongly worded condemnations of the attacks.

So far, their approach appears to have worked: the response has been remarkably unified, with little of the suspicion and fear that followed some previous attacks.

Hindu right-wing groups have been noticeably absent from the streets. Although leaders of the opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party have criticized the government’s handling of the crisis, they have not stirred anti-Muslim sentiment. The fact that some 40 Muslims were among the victims of the attackers may well have helped dispel any strife.

Still, many Muslims seem anxious, fearing that some of the anger unleashed by the attacks may be directed into the Hindu-Muslim violence that has often marred India’s modern history.

“It’s a pity we have to prove ourselves as Indians,” said Mohammed Siddique, a young accountant who was marching in the protest here on Sunday afternoon with his wife and mother. “But the fact is, we need to speak louder than others, to make clear that those people do not speak for our religion — and that we are not Pakistanis.”

The cluster of banners all around him, held aloft by marchers, seemed to bear out his point. Some read “Our Country’s Enemies are Our Enemies,” others, “Killers of Innocents are Enemies of Islam.” A few declared, in uncertain grammar, “Pakistan Be Declared Terrorist State.”

There were also slogans defending against the charge often made by right-wing Hindus that Muslims constitute a fifth column, easily exploited by terrorists. “Communalist and Terrorist are Cousins,” one sign read. Some of the marchers held up a sign with lines drawn through the names of various terrorist or extremist groups, including, notably, the acronym S.I.M.I.

That stands for the Students’ Islamic Movement of India, a radical group, now banned, that has come under suspicion after recent attacks. One of the men arrested earlier this year in what appears to have been a similar plot against Mumbai landmarks used to belong to the group. Unlike the most recent attackers, who are all believed to be Pakistani, four of six members of the earlier plot were Indian.

There is little doubt that jihadists — including Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani militant group believed to be responsible for the Nov. 26-29 attacks — are seeking Indian recruits. Although such groups are rooted in the ideology of global jihad, many people fear that the Indians who join them may be motivated in part by essentially Indian grievances, like the 2002 mass killings of Muslims in the state of Gujarat that left 1,100 dead.

One of the gunmen in last month’s attacks referred to the Gujarat riots before he shot and killed a hostage at the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel, apparently in an effort to identify his own cause with that of Indian Muslims.

He seems to have failed. The brutality of the attacks and the fact that many Muslims died have strengthened a sense of outrage among ordinary Muslims here, and even some sense of communal harmony, however precarious.

“After this attack, everything has changed; people now see the realities,” said Saeed Ahmed, 45, as he stood outside his stationery shop on Muhammad Ali Road, a working-class Muslim area. “This is something different from what we had before, it’s like your American 9/11. It is not about Hindus and Muslims; it is about the nation being attacked.”

Certainly, the violence has prompted many Muslims, including religious scholars, Bollywood figures and politicians, to speak out more urgently than they had in the past.

“Indian Muslims have often suffered twice: first from the terror, and then from the accusations afterward,” said Javed Akhtar, a Muslim poet and lyricist. “Perhaps because of that, they have been much more articulate and more unconditionally clear about condemning this attack.”

But many remain anxious that foreign jihadists could take advantage of the divisions in Indian society to wreak more havoc here. India’s 140 million Muslims are generally much poorer and less educated than Hindus. Although some of the very rich and many Bollywood stars are Muslim, the faith is far less well represented in the professions and the middle class. Many have bitter memories of communal riots and violence, from the 2002 killings in Gujarat all the way back to the bloodletting that accompanied the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947.

“There is a very deep divide,” said Mahesh Bhatt, a well-known film producer and director who is half Muslim, half Hindu, as he sat on a plastic chair on the set of his latest film on Sunday morning, with actors strolling nearby. “And if the foreign element is using the indigenous clay, how can justice be done?”

Mr. Bhatt, who has the baroque manner of an old-fashioned Hollywood eminence, added that he saw in the crisis a chance for India to heal the religious and social fractures that make it vulnerable.

“In every danger there is an opportunity, a chance to look at the evil within,” he said. “If you’re going to do this fight against terror, you’d better start by fortifying your own house.”

Battle For The Muslim Mind

Battle For The Muslim Mind


Your powerful sentence is the highlight of the article "By identifying the terror attacks as "un-Islamic", the clerics undermine the religious legitimacy that the terrorists seek to bring to their violent acts." Furthermore, the denial of burial space for the terrorists by Indian Muslims sends a very strong signal to the terrorists that upon their death, ugliness will be meted out to them and not the houris. They will realize that they have been duped and hopefully the recruitment to terrorism will dwindle.

Mike Ghouse

Battle For The Mind
9 Dec 2008, 0012 hrs IST,
Post-Mumbai terror strikes, most of the talk has been about improved security and ways of hitting terror camps within Pakistan. But we often forget that the battle against terror must be won in the mind too. It is in this context that the unequivocal condemnation of the Mumbai terror by prominent imams in Delhi and Mumbai is important. And well before the Mumbai carnage happened, a gathering of some 6,000 Islamic clerics in Hyderabad endorsed a fatwa against terror issued by the influential Deoband seminary.

What effect, you might ask, would the Deoband fatwa and the imams have on those who inflict terror in the name of Islam? Possibly not much. Those who have been indoctrinated into taking up arms in the name of martyrdom and a place in paradise would probably continue doing terrible deeds. But the actions of the clerics are not academic exercises either. By identifying the terror attacks as "un-Islamic", the clerics undermine the religious legitimacy that the terrorists seek to bring to their violent acts.

In a larger context, the proclamations by the clerics and the Deoband school are very much a part of the process of interpretation of Islamic law and canons, which have been going on since centuries. It's a common error to regard Islamic law as unchanging and cast in stone. Though the Quran, the sunna (the practice of the Prophet) and the hadiths (sayings of the Prophet) are the primary sources of Islamic law, there is also a place for ijma (consensus), qiyas (analogical thinking) and ijtihad (systematic original thinking).

Ever since Islam was founded, change has been a part of the religion. And this continues to be so. Just a few weeks ago, lawyers, religious scholars, judges, journalists and activists gathered at Salzburg a not-so-unlikely place considering the Ottomans had once reached the gates of Vienna to debate and discuss if there was a common ground between Islamic and international law. There were no simple answers at the Salzburg Global Seminar but the consensus was that in many areas Islamic law was compatible with international law and covenants such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The gatherings in Hyderabad or Salzburg must be seen in this context of reinterpreting tenets of Islam, perhaps the most controversial being jihad. Jihad which in Arabic means "righteous struggle" or "striving" can be looked at in several ways. There are many Islamic scholars who believe that the greater jihad is the inner or spiritual struggle. These interpretations, of course, cut no ice with the terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) or the "army of the pure" which orchestrated the Mumbai terror.

It is no secret that jihadi terrorism has emanated from radical and backward-looking strains of Islam such as Wahhabism and Salafism. It's also no secret that the dominance of these hardline ideologies can be traced to Saudi backing and money. This has resulted in the mushrooming of mosques and madrassas across the world that preach an ideology of hate. LeT is known to have received Saudi funds and, of course, Pakistani patronage. Undoubtedly there are some in India who are also receptive to this ideology.

This is where Islamic clerics figures of authority for many Muslims could play a crucial role. If they interpret Islam as being patently against terror and violence, it is bound to have an effect on believers. And if the majority of Muslims subscribe to that view, it makes it that much more difficult for the purveyors of terror to gain acceptability.

A long-term solution to countering the ideology of hate must involve liberal interpretations of Islam. India, and indeed South Asia, could be one of the poles of this transformation. It is often forgotten that nearly half of the world's Muslims live in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. And contrary to what many people think, an overwhelming majority of ordinary Muslims in South Asia we must not, of course, confuse them with governments reject the ideologies of hate and violence. That's why international relations scholar Vali Nasr said during a recent visit to India that South Asia "matters to the Muslim world in real terms much more than the Arab world".

There could be other poles for the reinterpretation of Islam. Turkey, where the AKP party has won elections for the second time running, could provide a testing ground for a confluence of Islam and secular ideologies. The AKP leader and Turkish PM, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has on more than one occasion affirmed his faith in secularism even while arguing for more freedom for Muslims. Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation but also a multi-religious one, could be another pole. Recent reports suggest that the government is serious about cracking down on radical groups such as the Jemaah Islamiah. And Muslim groups, including the Indonesian Ulemas' Council, have said that the three men recently executed for the 2002 Bali bombings must not be treated as martyrs. These are encouraging signs.

It is a truism that terror has no religion. But when that terror emanates from a twisted interpretation of religion, we must acknowledge it instead of justifying it by referring to Kashmir or atrocities against Muslims as some prominent commentators have done. This is precisely the sort of logic employed by LeT ideologues. Such bigots and their followers have no place in civilised society. But they cannot be countered by force alone; their militant ideologies have to be thoroughly discredited. This is where India's 150 million Muslims and clerics could play a significant role.

President of Pakistan on Mumbai

I am impressed with this op-ed!

Mr. Zardari needs to follow it up by action, catch them bad buys, each one of them, then the words and actions will match. - Mike Ghouse


December 9, 2008
Op-Ed Contributor
The Terrorists Want to Destroy Pakistan, Too

Islamabad, Pakistan

THE recent death and destruction in Mumbai, India, brought to my mind
the death and destruction in Karachi on Oct. 18, 2007, when terrorists
attacked a festive homecoming rally for my wife, Benazir Bhutto.
Nearly 150 Pakistanis were killed and more than 450 were injured. The
terrorist attacks in Mumbai may be a news story for most of the world.
For me it is a painful reality of shared experience. Having seen my
wife escape death by a hairbreadth on that day in Karachi, I lost her
in a second, unfortunately successful, attempt two months later.

The Mumbai attacks were directed not only at India but also at
Pakistan's new democratic government and the peace process with India
that we have initiated. Supporters of authoritarianism in Pakistan and
non-state actors with a vested interest in perpetuating conflict do
not want change in Pakistan to take root.

To foil the designs of the terrorists, the two great nations of
Pakistan and India, born together from the same revolution and mandate
in 1947, must continue to move forward with the peace process.
Pakistan is shocked at the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. We can
identify with India's pain. I am especially empathetic. I feel this
pain every time I look into the eyes of my children.

Pakistan is committed to the pursuit, arrest, trial and punishment of
anyone involved in these heinous attacks. But we caution against hasty
judgments and inflammatory statements. As was demonstrated in Sunday's
raids, which resulted in the arrest of militants, Pakistan will take
action against the non-state actors found within our territory,
treating them as criminals, terrorists and murderers. Not only are the
terrorists not linked to the government of Pakistan in any way, we are
their targets and we continue to be their victims.

India is a mature nation and a stable democracy. Pakistanis appreciate
India's democratic contributions. But as rage fueled by the Mumbai
attacks catches on, Indians must pause and take a breath. India and
Pakistan — and the rest of the world — must work together to track
down the terrorists who caused mayhem in Mumbai, attacked New York,
London and Madrid in the past, and destroyed the Marriott Hotel in
Islamabad in September. The terrorists who killed my wife are
connected by ideology to these enemies of civilization.

These militants did not arise from whole cloth. Pakistan was an ally
of the West throughout the cold war. The world worked to exploit
religion against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan by empowering the
most fanatic extremists as an instrument of destruction of a
superpower. The strategy worked, but its legacy was the creation of an
extremist militia with its own dynamic.

Pakistan continues to pay the price: the legacy of dictatorship, the
fatigue of fanaticism, the dismemberment of civil society and the
destruction of our democratic infrastructure. The resulting poverty
continues to fuel the extremists and has created a culture of
grievance and victimhood.

The challenge of confronting terrorists who have a vast support
network is huge; Pakistan's fledgling democracy needs help from the
rest of the world. We are on the frontlines of the war on terrorism.
We have 150,000 soldiers fighting Al Qaeda, the Taliban and their
extremist allies along the border with Afghanistan — far more troops
than NATO has in Afghanistan.

Nearly 2,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives to terrorism in this
year alone, including 1,400 civilians and 600 security personnel
ranging in rank from ordinary soldier to three-star general. There
have been more than 600 terrorism-related incidents in Pakistan this
year. The terrorists have been set back by our aggressive war against
them in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the
Pashtun-majority areas bordering Afghanistan. Six hundred militants
have been killed in recent attacks, hundreds by Pakistani F-16 jet
strikes in the last two months.

Terrorism is a regional as well as a global threat, and it needs to be
battled collectively. We understand the domestic political
considerations in India in the aftermath of Mumbai. Nevertheless,
accusations of complicity on Pakistan's part only complicate the
already complex situation.

For India, Pakistan and the United States, the best response to the
Mumbai carnage is to coordinate in counteracting the scourge of
terrorism. The world must act to strengthen Pakistan's economy and
democracy, help us build civil society and provide us with the law
enforcement and counterterrorism capacities that will enable us to
fight the terrorists effectively.

Benazir Bhutto once said that democracy is the best revenge against
the abuses of dictatorship. In the current environment, reconciliation
and rapprochement is the best revenge against the dark forces that are
trying to provoke a confrontation between Pakistan and India, and
ultimately a clash of civilizations.

Asif Ali Zardari is the president of Pakistan.
# # #


December 9, 2008
Pakistan Raids Group Tied to Attacks

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — After mounting pressure from the United States
and India, Pakistani authorities raided a camp run by the militant
group suspected of carrying out the Mumbai attacks, Pakistani and
American officials said Monday.

The operation on Sunday appeared to be Pakistan's first concrete
response to the demands from India and the United States to take
action against the militants suspected in the attacks, which have
raised tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors to their highest
point in years.

The Pakistani authorities said that among those arrested was Zaki
ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who Indian and American officials say masterminded
the attacks for the militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, according to a
State Department official in Washington.

American Embassy officials could not verify the claim independently,
he said. Neither would Pakistani officials in Islamabad.

A senior Pakistani security official, who spoke on the condition of
anonymity, said about a dozen people had been arrested in the raid,
which took place in Muzaffarabad, the capital of
Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

The official at first said that Mr. Lakhvi, an operational commander
for Lashkar, was among them, but later backed away from the assertion.

Lashkar-e-Taiba was founded 20 years ago with the help of Pakistan's
intelligence agencies as a proxy force to challenge Indian control of
part of Muslim-dominated Kashmir.

American intelligence and counterterrorism officials told The New York
Times that Pakistan's spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence,
continued nurturing the group, even after 9/11, when the Pakistani
government pledged to sever its ties with militant groups.

While investigators and intelligence officials say there is no hard
evidence linking Pakistan's spy agency to the Mumbai attacks, they
have pointed to Lashkar as the likely culprit.

The Pakistani government has resisted the notion that Pakistani
citizens may have been involved in the Mumbai attacks, and it has so
far refused to hand over 20 criminal and terrorist suspects long
demanded by the Indians.

The raid on Sunday appeared to be the first step by the Pakistanis
that at least tacitly recognized the American and Indian claims.

Counterterrorism experts familiar with the behavior of the Pakistani
security services said there was a need by Pakistan to be seen to be
doing something to alleviate the American and Indian pressure, as well
as to avert the possibility of an Indian military strike.

Still, the effectiveness of that action might be less than India or
the United States would like, they said. In the past, Pakistan
detained militants under pressure from the United States and Britain,
and then quietly let them go, said Sajjan M. Gohel, a director of the
Asia-Pacific Foundation in London.

A senior Pakistani official said the operation was part of a gradual
effort to bring the militants under control. This accords with the
general view among civilian politicians that Pakistan cannot afford to
appear as if it is being coerced into shutting down militant groups
that have been created to fight India.

"Pakistan will do it at its own pace, not at gunpoint," said a senior
politician in the Pakistan Peoples Party, who declined to be named
because he was not authorized to speak.

Moreover, the politician said that the efforts by Pakistan's
president, Asif Ali Zardari, to deal with the Mumbai attack were
interpreted by the Pakistani public as an attempt to mollify the
Indians rather than stand up to them.

"The street is upset," the politician said. For that reason, the
government could not move too harshly against Lashkar-e-Taiba, he

The murky relationship between Pakistani military and intelligence
services and Lashkar seemed to contribute to the confusion over what
actually happened during the raid and who had been detained, as well
as to the official reluctance to discuss the matter.

Whether law enforcement officers or soldiers were on the scene in
Muzaffarabad was unclear on Monday. Most Pakistani news reports said a
helicopter hovered near the compound.

Some reports said the compound was run by Lashkar-e-Taiba, while
others said it belonged to Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the related charity

On Sunday night, the senior official in the Interior Ministry, Rehman
Malik, told the newspaper The Nation that he believed that the raid
was being conducted by the local police, but that he was not sure.

The information department of the Pakistani Army released a statement
on Monday evening saying an "intelligence-led operation against banned
militant outfits and organizations" was under way. There had been
arrests, it said, and the results of investigations would be available
"on completion of preliminary inquiries."

A resident near the compound told Dawn, an English-language newspaper,
that she had heard an army helicopter over the area and then two or
three loud explosions in the early evening.

All the national newspapers reported Monday morning that Mr. Lakhvi,
the Lashkar-e-Taiba leader, was among those who were arrested during
the raid. Later in the morning, a senior security official confirmed
that Mr. Lakhvi had been arrested, along with about a dozen others.

But by the afternoon, after a meeting of the Defense Council of the
Cabinet, a civilian body that includes the army chief of staff, Gen.
Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the security official said he understood that
Mr. Lakhvi had not been arrested.

At one point during the day, word spread that Mr. Lakhvi had eluded
arrest. On Monday night, two members of the cabinet declined to
confirm whether Mr. Lakhvi was in custody.

If Mr. Lakhvi was indeed in custody, India and the United States would
regard his arrest as a good first step, diplomats said.

But his arrest along with the arrests of a handful of others would
fall well short of fulfilling the expectations of Washington or New
Delhi, they said.

Mr. Lakhvi, who is in his 50s, fought in Afghanistan as a mujahedeen
against the Soviet Union, said Arif Jamal, a visiting fellow at the
Center on International Cooperation at New York University and the
author of a coming book, "Shadow War: The Untold Story of Jihad in

Mr. Lakhvi had not actually fought since 1989, Mr. Jamal said. He said
Mr. Lakhvi possessed excellent organizational skills and a strong
ideological commitment to the jihadist cause. "If Lashkar-e-Taiba was
involved in the Mumbai attacks, Mr. Lakhvi would have an important
role because of his organizational abilities," Mr. Jamal said.

Lashkar-e-Taiba, which regards itself as a wing of the charity
Jamaat-ud-Dawa, dismantled most of his training camps after 9/11, Mr.
Jamal said. "They keep erecting mobile camps for training," he said.

Mr. Lakhvi was active in the relief effort organized by Jamaat-ud-Dawa
after the earthquake in Kashmir in 2005. That was the last time Mr.
Jamal said he had seen Mr. Lakhvi.

A spokesman for Lashkar-e-Taiba, Abdullah Gaznabi, confirmed Monday
that the Pakistani security forces had carried out a raid "under
pressure from India and the United States," but would say nothing
specific about who or how many people had been detained.

"We have already made it clear that the Lashkar has nothing to do with
the recent attacks in Mumbai," he said by phone from an undisclosed
location, "and by constantly trying to drag our organization's name
into these is nothing but to malign it."

He also warned the government against sacrificing the cause of
Kashmir, which has been disputed by India and Pakistan for more than
60 years. "Being Kashmiris, it is our right to use any part of the
territory of Jammu and Kashmir for our just freedom struggle," he

The Pakistani authorities offered on Monday to send a "high-level"
delegation to India for a joint investigation, the foreign secretary,
Salman Bashir, said.

Police officials in India, meanwhile, said they had identified the
hometowns of all 10 known gunmen — all of them from Punjab Province in
Pakistan — and said they had evidence further establishing the
Pakistani origins of the men. "There are mailboxes from Pakistan,
there are medical kits from Pakistan," said Rakesh Maria, the joint
police commissioner in Mumbai who is in charge of the case. "The
rations — the flour, the rice — that has markings from places in

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington; Yusuf Jameel from
Srinagar, Kashmir; and Robert F. Worth from Mumbai, India.

Ganga meri maa ka naam, baap ka naam himala


During the Mumbai terrorist attacks,
CNN and Fox were showing maps of India without Kashmir.

From the Indian journalists to every one of the 1.1 Billion of us noted it and were upset. A few years ago I had written to Microsoft to correct this and a corrected version had appeared.

Some 15 years ago, a Pakistani business man threw my news paper Asian news from his store, because it showed the full map of Kashmir in the Indian Map.

A few months ago India Association printed India's Map with the LOC, and jee a few really got upset, did not even attempt to find what the story was and made accusations of unkind. That is the map avaialbe on the the net...

I was just listening to this song " Ganga meri maa ka naam aur baap ka naam himala" something I sang in SLN college Bangalore function in 1970-71. As I was watching the song, around the 4th minute I saw the kids forming India's outline... darn, Kashmir is shown with the LOC in it leaving a 1/3rd to Pakistan and a 1/3rd to China. There was actually another National anthem, where they showed the same...

However, I have always been conscious an have found the right maps, it was on Asian News Magazine that I ran between 1993-2001, and it is on the Dallas Indians group home page and now here it is on this site. On the home page to the left.

You may enjoy the two versions of our national Anthem as well.

Well enjoy this song...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hindus Call for a New Dialogue on Terrorism

North American Hindus Call for a New Dialogue on Terrorism -


Please include "World Muslim Congress" and the"Foundation for Pluralism" as dialogue participants. I will be representing the group. It sounds funny that this dialogue does not have participants from the Muslim, Jewish, Christian and other communities who are equal victims of terrorism. Most certainly Musilms get it more than the others. Their presence is a must and every group that is committed to non-violence and co-existence must be included. Make the sincere effort, sincere results will come out.

As peace makers, our words and our actions should create an environment of peace, where one is encouraged to dialogue, put everything on the table with an open mind and an open heart. The goal should be finding solutions and not pointing fingers. No one can bring the dead back to life today, so there is no need to make calls on them. We have to find solutions and not excuses. As citizens for peace, it is our duty to focus on working for peace and co-existence. Terrorism has got to go from our lives.

There was a time, when you could find fliers at Mosques with hate for others, no more, enough of us have worked hard to rid of such fliers, come to find out no one wanted them in the first place. Yesterday, I found the orange flier distributed at the temple to contain language that was not peace makers language.

We have not been able to solve Terrorism because we are eager to bark at the wrong tree, we are smart people, we can do better than that. It is my deviousness that makes me rob the bank, kill any one that comes my way, and my religion does not teach me to do that. There are millions of Christian, Hindu, Muslims and Jews rotting in Jails for their wrong doing, their religion surely did not teach them to do that.

If we blame the religion, can we punish it? Is it tangible? It is the wrong effort to blame religion and leave the problem un-solved. We need to find the individuals, however many they may be and punish them for their crimes to disturb peace and creating chaos and anarchy. Then we will have justice with justice comes peace and prosperity. Truth triumphs, hate does not.

Religion came in to existence to make us better beings. Lord Krishna says whenever there is Adharma, he will appear and re-store dharma; Allah in Qur'aan says that he sends a messenger to every nation, every community to set them on the right track.

If I burn the Belgian embassy, or burn the busses in the fight for Cauvery water, or burn the innocent men and women in train compartment in Godhra or burn innocent men and women in Gujarat or bomb the trains or bomb Mumbai, It is me, who is the criminal and I should be punished, and each individual should be punished who does that ugly crime. Does blaming my family members make any sense to you? Does blaming the State of Karnataka make sense to you? Does blaming India make sense to you? Does blaming Islam or Hinduism I claim to practice makes sense to you?

We all have the base emotions playing at us, the terrorist find excuses to blame injustice or some other idiotic excuse to kill us, and some of us are eager to act on our base emotions to harm the ones who have done no harm to us.

In the press release below, I took out the Prefix- terrorism attached to the name of the religion. Here is a letter from Iffat Khan about the flier.

Mike Ghouse, Moderator
As a proud Indian and Muslim, I felt a great need to join my Indian compatriots who held the prayer ceremony in memory of the victims of the Mumbai carnage at the DFW temple.

I laud you for having taken the initiative for a “new dialogue” to promote peace. But, I am dismayed at the choice of language in your call for dialogue on “Islamic Terrorism”. Labeling the acts of few disaffected beings to vilify the religion Islam does not promote dialogue. Terrorism has no religion, and has been and is being committed by Hindus in India and SriLanka; and by Jews and Christians elsewhere -- i.e. by people professing various faiths. These acts have NEVER been labeled Hindu, Jewish or Christian Terrorism. I, therefore, beseech you to refrain from labeling atrocious acts as “Islamic”.

It behooves people of conscience to use greater prudence in the choice of words, especially if they genuinely espouse "dialogue". Remember one of the debates we have all had in our schooling - "The Pen is mightier that the Sword".

Ardently striving (JIHAD) for peace, justice,charity and fraternity--the cornerstones of Islam.

Iffat Khan
Chandra Siv
Date: Sun Dec 7, 2008 12:25 am
Subject: North American Hindus Call for a New Dialogue on Terrorism -

Dear Mike,

I understand that you had called and attended the Shanti Homam performed at the DFW Hindu Temple to-day, Dec 6, 2008 morning along with ...... Akram from IANT representing the Islamic faith and Community. I was there too.... distributing the copies of the Press Release.....

Missed talking to you there....Below is the Press Release Dt, Dec 6, 2008, from the North American Hindu Community


North American Hindus Call for a New Dialogue on Terrorism

The heinous terrorist attack on the City of Mumbai from 26 November, 2008 through 29 November, 2008 that claimed over 200 innocent victims and left over 300 injured is a stark reminder that Terrorism is one of the greatest dangers to the future of peaceful human existence in the world. This incident clearly exposes the fact that it was a cold blooded, well orchestrated attack, with months of planning and preparation behind it, and targeted at destabilizing the democratic and secular society of India in particular and the world at large.

“We are extremely disturbed by this horrible terrorist attack on Mumbai. Our hearts bleed for the departed souls and families who have lost their loved ones, we also feel compelled to state that the people who master-minded this attack should be severely punished. The Hindu community of North America has come together to perform a Shanti Homa (ceremony of peace) to pray for peace for the affected families and also for the world” says Kalyan Viswanathan president of Dallas-based Sanatana Dharma Foundation.

The Shanti Homam at the DFW Hindu Temple, Irving, Texas attracted members of over 30 Hindu organizations living in the DFW metro area. Members of the Jewish and Islamic faiths were also present at the ceremony where prayers for world peace and solace for the affected families were offered, in the Sanskrit language in a traditional Vedic ritual. “We come together to look into the eyes of terror and say we stand together as one people of the world in support of humanity - Not in despair or hopelessness, but rather in love, strength, resolve, and peace for the present and the future” says Ranna Jani, President of the DFW Hindu Temple, Irving, Texas. Similar Homam ceremonies were also offered in many cities in United States of America, Canada, Australia and around the world.

Nearly 3 million Hindus live in North America today. India is home to another 900+ Million Hindus. Pluralism or the ability to accept many different belief systems and pathways to God is not new to Hindus. Right from the early Rig Vedic era (5,000 BC), Hinduism aka Sanatana Dharma has upheld and valued the fundamental spiritual freedom and the right of the individual to believe and practice his or her faith. As a result numerous sects and sub-traditions within the family of traditions called Hinduism exist in harmony within India and across the world. Over the ages, Hinduism also welcomed many religions born in distant lands to come into her land to make a home, free from fear of persecution. This has been the very core of the Hindu civilization for many millennia. In keeping with her ancient Hindu pluralistic ethos, India embraced a Secular Constitution after its independence in 1947 further affirming and accepting the co-existence of many diverse faiths in its land. As a non-proselytizing family of religious traditions, Ahimsa (non violence) being one of its core values, Hinduism poses no threat to any other faith community in the world.

However, this essential pluralistic tradition has made India vulnerable to threats that have come into its lands from afar and within. Since 2004 alone, nearly 7000 people lost their lives due to terrorist attacks. Behind every terrorist attack is the same ideology that sanctions violence against innocent people, in the name of a particular religion and its God. We are concerned that the civilized world and India in specific, which are committed to democracy and pluralism, are increasingly under threat.

Even as our heart goes out to the innocent victims of this heinous crime and we affirm the validity of different paths and religious traditions in this world, we are obliged in this hour of crisis to raise our voice, and say “Enough. We need a new resolve. We need fresh thinking. We need an approach to resolving the problem of Terrorism that does not tip-toe around the hard issues, and keeps making practical compromises, leaving behind the infrastructure that graduates yet another batch of terrorists. We need our Islamic brothers and sisters, who truly believe in peaceful coexistence, to step up and be equal stakeholders in stamping out this deadly cancer from the world”.

Signed by :

Sanatana Dharma Foundation, Dallas, Texas
DFW Hindu Temple, Irving, Texas
Vaishno Devi Temple, Ontario, Canada
North Texas Hindu Mandir, Dallas, Texas
Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism, (FACT), Houston, Texas
Kanchi Kamakoti Seva Foundation, New Jersey
International Sanatana Dharma Society, Omaha, Nebraska
Samskrita Bharati, San Jose, California
United States Hindu Alliance, Atlanta, Georgia
Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Vadtal Dham, Scarborough, Ontario
Kanchi Kamakoti Seva Kendra, Toronto, Canada
Global Hindu Heritage Foundation, Madison, Mississippi
Hindu Mahasabha of America, Houston, Texas
The Arise Arjuna Foundation, New Jersey
Indic Studies Foundation, California
Indian Intellectuals Forum, New York City, New York
Third Eye Meditation Inc., Dallas, Texas
Denton County India Cultural Association, Denton, Texas
SEWA International, USA – Dallas Chapter
National Federation of Indian American Association (NFIA), California
International Kashmir Federation (IKF), San Francisco, California
Global organization of the people of Indian Origin, San Francisco, California
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, Dallas Chapter
Foundation for Hindu Religious Studies, Cleveland, Ohio
Forum for Religious Freedom, New York City, New York
Yoga Bharati, San Jose, California
Sri Kripalu Kunj Mission, Houston, Texas
Kashmiri Association of North Texas, Dallas, USA
Jagadguru Kripalu Yog, USA
Frisco Vishnu Sahasranama Group, Frisco, Texas
Sanatana Dharma School, Irving, Texas
DFW Hindu TRAC Group, Dallas, Texas
Vedanta Today, Boston, Massachusetts
American Telugu Association (ATA), Irving, Texas
Indo-Caribbean Cultural Council, Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean
Subhodhayam Group, College Station, Texas
Canadian Hindu Advocay, Toronto, Canada
DFW Gayatri Parivar, Arlingon, Texas
Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Sydney, Australia

Mike Ghouse
2665 Villa Creek Dr, Suite 206
Dallas, Texas 75234
(214) 325-1916

Scream bloody Murder

Scream Bloody Murder, reflections on Holocaust and Genocides

You feel angry knowing that the world stood by silently when the Jews were put on the train to the gas chambers; you feel anger when the Bosnian Muslims children were given chocolates and told not to worry and go right behind and open gunfire and massacre them; you feel anger when the Canadian general sends faxes upon faxes to the United Nations to send help, while the UN and USA did not want to get involved and 800,000 Rwandans were massacred, they were even announcing on their radio how to torture pregnant women to pull out the babies… It was a difficult documentary to watch, but you must watch and face the world; you have to do your share to clean your own slate of conscience.

Continued: http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Articles/Scream-bloody-Murder-reflection-on-holocaust-genocides.asp

Saturday, December 6, 2008

India Maps

If you click on the Map, you can see an enlarged version of the Map


Pakistan will have to pay a heavy price

Pakistan will have to pay a heavy price

It is a shame that the People of Pakistan have not had their own government; either it was a puppet regime or some tin-pot dictator running and frightening them even to speak up. When the Lawyers brought down Musharraf Government to its knees, I thought, finally it is going to be the government of the people, and as Indians we can look forward to dealing with the people of Pakistan and their legitimate representatives.

None of that is happening, it is time for the people of Pakistan to wake up and have guts to let their government do what is good for the them; jobs, safety, security and prosperity, NOT Kashmir, it has given them nothing but misery and for what?

It is time to own responsibility and incarcerate the terrorists from LeT and other outfits, they have brought nothing but destruction to Pakistan and India. Getting rid of the terrorists should be their first focus. How long are they going to be duped by their dictators and useless politicians? Tom Friedman had asked the Pakistani public to take up on the streets and bring their government on their knees; you either rid of the terrorist or we will get rid of you.

If their government is not going to do it, unfortunately they will have to pay a heavy price before doing the right thing. I hope they wake up and bring the change. Mr. Singh should send a clear signal "Don't mess with India". Obama was asked on the day he made the announcement of Hilary Clinton, if he believed America has the right to go into Pakistan and take out the terrorist, then why shouldn't India do the same? I know India can do it without collateral damage, with least loss of life and with far less money to set an example to the world once again that we can do things non-violently.

Mike Ghouse
# # #

'Pakistan will have to pay a heavy price'

M J Akbar December 02, 2008 16:13 IST
Last Updated: December 02, 2008 19:24 IST

M J Akbar is one of India's best-known journalists and commentators, someone with a deep insight into the Indian people and their mindset. In this first-person, as-told-to piece, Akbar discusses the Mumbai attacks and their relevance for India.

Many people forget that India is a tough nation. Toothless leaders have turned India into a soft nation. People forget that India has fought back Muslim terrorism in Kashmir; Sikh terrorism in Punjab, Christian terrorism in Nagaland and Hindu terrorism in Assam, and amongst the Naxalites [Images].

We have had everything thrown at the Indian nation State. Still, we have stood up. The people of India have shown the courage and ability to believe in their nation and to fight back. But the completely impotent leadership of five years have turned a tough country into a soft State.

I am very sad. I keep feeling that if they protect India as they protect their leaders -- whether it is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] or Congress President Sonia Gandhi [Images] -- I think I would be safe. Today, India's leaders are safe and India is in panic.

On what India's response should be:

India's proper reaction would be possible if we understand the extent of the disease.

If the disease is cancer, you can't apply band aid. After making a complete mess of security issues for five years by asking Shivraj Patil [Images] to go finally we may have a home minister who doesn't comb his hair and change his clothes. But we want something more than that. If it is cancer, we need chemotherapy, a much more serious exercise. It needs a legislative and executive framework. It needs political mobilisation. People are numbed.

The Indian people have no leadership. You have a prime minister. Did you see him when he addressed the nation? Nobody knew if he was addressing the nation or having a cup of tea?

He looked serious, but he didn't talk to us about our anger and about our anguish. I think this administration is tone deaf to the anguish of the people. They just cannot understand what the people are going through. They just don't understand our pain or our anger. The most important thing is that, perhaps, we have politicised not only the instruments of the State like the police but we have also politicised the understanding of the nature of the problem.

I think the very first thing to do is to ensure security so that it prevents the next attack. If any attack takes place under some ones job should go. Don't come to me with alibis.

On the terrorists getting local support:

I am an Indian Muslim and I am very proud of both, being an Indian and a Muslim. I do not see any contradictions. This is my land and I have nowhere else to go.

But can I say because I am an Indian Muslim that no Indian Muslim is involved? Can you, because you are a Hindu, say that no Hindu is involved? We have to behave like Indians first. Not as a Muslim or as a Hindu first. Because we need Hindu votes and Muslim votes and because this government thinks that it needs Muslim votes so it has been in complete denial.

Do you think that these people came across from Pakistan and had no support in Mumbai?

It is not possible. It was a huge operation. Ten people hit nine places and you killed nine of them. You want to say that they went from place to place? Who knows some of them must have slipped away to create new sleeper cells to hit us six months later.

They are hiding things. I would like to believe that there was an underworld connection. Because, Karachi and Mumbai are also linked by drug smuggling. The culture of criminals is aggression. It comes naturally to them. It is not easy for you and I to become aggressive, however angry we are. It does not come naturally to us. These are people who are trained psychologically in aggression. They have no respect for the State. They have no love for the country. And they have no respect for authority.

Why? Because the only face of authority is the corrupt policeman. The criminal gives money in the morning and money in the evening. Why should he have respect for somebody he gives bribes to? For the guy from the underworld his understanding of the Indian State and authority is corruption. He has no patriotism to stop him. Why would he not join hands with the terrorists? In any case, he belongs to another world. We have not even begun to address and discuss this.

On the Pakistan factor

I am tired of giving Pakistan a long rope on some excuse or the other. Everybody is saying this will happen if we do this, that will happen if we do this. Our relations with Pakistan will go, then, let them go. What has our relations with Pakistan brought us except violence and terror? Why should we be in charge of saving Pakistan? For what? Every time they turn around and they say they want evidence. Now, finally we have evidence.

I have been an editor for 35 years from the age of 23. From that time on, since the days of General Zia-ul Haq, I have been hearing 'Pakistan is asking for evidence'. We asked for withdrawal of their support to the movement for Khalistan, they said, 'Oh, we don't know anything about it.' On Kashmir, they kept repeating where is the evidence. Benazir Bhutto [Images] came, she asked for evidence. Nawaz Sharif came, he asked for evidence. I think Pervez Musharraf [Images] asked for less evidence. Now again, they are asking for evidence.

There is a terrorist in Mumbai, captured and arrested. How much more evidence do you want? If what he is saying is not evidence, then how can you get more evidence?

This government is in its 11th hour. Now they will bluff the people to protect their votes. There is no time left for them. The agony of departure will be hard from this government.

On the reaction in the West

The US and Britain have a vested interest in telling India to look within. Why? When Americans die then they can send their air force 7,000 miles and bomb every country to smithereens. But when Indians die, they tell us no, no, you must be patient. You must act like a swami and a yogi. Why? Is an American life more precious than an Indian life? Why should we keep listening to them? But we have a government that keeps listening to them all the time. We don't get tough.

The last time we got tough was after the attack on Parliament. We took some tough actions under Operation Parakram and then there was a certain lull. Three years ago, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was able to tell President George W Bush [Images] that there are no terrorists amongst Indian Muslims. That means that lull continued.

Pakistan must be made to realise that it will have to pay a heavy price. Not necessarily through war, but a heavy price will have to be paid in loss in trade, in cancellation of orders and other engagements. They should pay a heavy price in terms of people to people relations. I am not saying you can freeze a relationship to death, but the message must go out that if there is a crime there will be a penalty. You just can't get away with it.

Let the Pakistan government cooperate with us. But look at how the Pakistan government has buckled down and we are sitting here whimpering.

They want to send some lowly officers to India. For what? Even Pakistan is treating the Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi government with total contempt. They know how weak it is.

Delink Hindu-Muslim relations and Pakistan

Look, you must not confuse the Pakistan issue with the Indian Muslims issue. Their so-called alienation or their economic deprivation is not linked to the issue of Pakistan.

Indian Muslims have nothing to do with Pakistan. They have absolutely no sympathy for Pakistan. They know that Pakistan was the biggest mistake committed in the history of Indian Muslims. They know it. You can ask anyone in Baroda, Bihar or Mumbai. They know how they are suffering the backlash of all the consequences of cross-border terrorism.

Today, they fear retribution from the government, they fear retribution from popular disenchantment and anger. They feel helpless. They feel afraid.

We must understand finally that it is not so much the 'local people', it is the local underworld that is involved in anti-India activities. In 1993, who were involved in terrorism? The underworld. Why have you not done anything about it? The State turns a blind eye to the police and corruption. I don't know how many readers smoke hashish and other stuff, but I am accusing them of cross-border terrorism. Drugs come to India from Afghanistan via Karachi.

What we can do as individuals

If whoever is responsible for protecting the nation fails, then he or she should not be allowed to continue in power. That is the toughest and sharpest message we can give. You can tell that you may be a soft State, but we are a hard people and we are hard voters.

We are not going to forgive you for your lies and deception and for your waffling. How many blasts do we need to understand that? When Jaipur [Images], Ahmedabad [Images], Mumbai and Delhi [Images] happened no one who was genuinely guilty was caught.

We have to understand now that corruption has eaten away vitals of this nation. It is the biggest danger to the security of India. It is not just the case of some spectrum being sold to someone by some minister in. Everyone who is corrupt get out!

It Is a failure all around. We have to be extremely practical and pragmatic. There is great deal to be depressed about as an Indian. Frankly speaking, I feel very angry and upset. I am never upset by the behaviour of our enemies. I am only upset by the betrayal of those I trust.

M J Akbar, editor-in-chief, Covert magazine, spoke to Sheela Bhatt