Archive for the ‘Pakistan’ Category

Ok, here’s a quick quiz? And don’t surf the Internet for answers, be honest with yourself.

• What was the exact date of the bomb blasts in Sarojini Nagar in New Delhi?
• When were the bomb blasts in Greater Kailash Market and Karol Bagh in New Delhi?

How many of you guessed correctly? Let me be honest, even I didn’t know the precise answers to these questions. So why can’t we recollect the dates of the blasts in Delhi? Is it because those who got killed were people just like you and me (I mean the middle class) who were out there shopping, looking for a bargain in the middle class markets of Delhi when they were blown to smithereens? So what am I getting at?

I’ve been reading with interest Salman Khan’s comments on the terror attacks in Mumbai on 26/11 and the reactions to it by politicians. According to the websites, this is one half of his comment: “It was the elite that were targeted this time. Five star hotels and all. So they panicked. Then they got up and spoke about it. My question is why not before. Attacks have happened in trains and small towns too, but no one talked about it so much.”

I can’t seem to find the other half of his comment on Pakistan’s involvement (or the lack of it) anywhere. But if he has said that Pakistan is not involved then he should be condemned, because by now the world knows that Pakistan was in it neck deep.

But coming to the first half of Salman’s comment, what has he said that is so wrong? Moreover, why has it angered the political class, most of who were anyway missing when people were getting slaughtered and when policemen and hotel staff died in the line of duty on 26/11 in Mumbai? Like always, they know they can get their two minutes of fame if they drag the name of a film star into a needless controversy. So why not do it? So let’s not get swayed by all the nonsense and breast-beating indulged in by the politicians at Salman’s comment.

People have died in blasts set off in Mumbai’s local trains and in buses, or in Delhi’s GK Market, Paharganj, Akshardham, but no one remembers and no one cares, because it was the little guy who died. No one lit a candle for them and no one ever held placards that said “Enough is enough!”

The unpleasant truth is that one of the main reasons why 26/11 remains etched in public memory, is because the Taj Mahal Hotel & Oberoi Trident is frequented by the rich and famous, many of whom were in there, when the terrorists stormed the two places. I remember the comments by the Shobha Des and the Suhel Seths of the world who were outraged by what happened at the two hotels. I also remember the reactions of the man on the street and it was precisely what Salman said – that the only reason why everyone was making so much noise is because this time it’s the RICH THAT GOT HIT. Earlier, when the poor man on the street got blown up everyone forgot about it in a few weeks time.

Incidentally, more people died at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (58), Cama Hospital (8) and Leopold Cafe (10), Chabad House in two hours of mayhem than either at the Taj Mahal Hotel (32) or the Oberoi Trident (36) in over three days. And let’s not forget the NSG commando and the brave cops who were killed in action. I am also not implying that I don’t sympathise with the people who lost members of their family in either of these hotels or the bravery of the hotel staff that placed itself in the line of fire to protect the guests. But the truth is we still remember 26/11 more for the mayhem that unfolded at the two hotels and not so much for what happened at CST or elsewhere in the city. So if Salman Khan said what he said, what was wrong?


My former colleague and good friend, Candice, now a marketing manager at Vodacom in far away Dar es Salam, believes I should rename my blog “Mohan Sinha ko Gussa kyo aata hain!”

I shouldn’t be ranting and getting mad, she feels. There should be self-expression. She thinks I should be writing on Aloo tikki! I guess, that’s self-expression for her! I thought I expressed myself in a pretty lucid manner sometimes, a little too lucidly for my comfort and that of others around me! Ok Candice, this one’s for you!! No ranting, just some good-natured and light-hearted ‘self-expression’ about a few things!

A colleague told me (I am assuming, in jest), that I should not pen any posts criticizing the US government or the Americans. The reason, she explained, was that someone in the US Government might be trawling the web looking for anti-American sentiments by people from these parts and they might file my blog post away for future reference. So when I go to the US embassy for a visa, they might pull out my post, wave it in my face and accuse me of giving the US the middle finger! In other words I would never be allowed to board a plane for New York or wherever.

My take is, since US Immigration has already issued me with a multiple-entry business visa, which doesn’t look like it is EVER going to be put to any use, except to wipe my nose, I have no such worries! And if the Americans ever ask me why I said all those nice things about them, I am just going to say “BOO!” Hopefully, the US Marine who stands at the entrance of the Embassy on Warden Road in Mumbai would only have me evicted and not arrested for showing them my middle-finger.

On their previous visa application form they even had a question (thankfully removed later), which asked the applicant if he/she had ever indulged in terrorist activities against the US or intended to! So now you know how all the 9/11 hijackers got into the US. They lied through their gold capped teeth. So they learnt it from the masters of the game – the Americans themselves. Look at the way they’ve been lying about Headley, from the time they supposedly “arrested” him. Even a mentally challenged person knows by now that Headley is an American stooge and to allow some other country to interrogate him would be hara-kiri.

Which brings me to the Greeks….Remember this line? “Do not trust the Horse, Trojans / Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even bearing gifts.”. Every time some American official lands up at our door with news and tidings from the ‘Great One” I can’t get over the apprehension that they have some nasty surprises hidden up their sleeve. A few weeks ago one US official told India that they would be given access to Headley. Then a couple of days ago another official did a 180-degree turn! And at the same time we hear that the Americans are talking to the Pakistanis about a civilian nuclear deal.

They are even chatting up General Kiyani, who, to the Americans and the rest of the world, is the man holding the reins in Pakistan. This also makes it more than obvious, that the elected government there is nothing but a sham, and survives because it pleases the Pakistan Army establishment to tell the world that it is a ‘democracy’. The fact that the Americans are speaking specially with Kiyani is proof of his importance in the scheme of things.

God knows where Obama gets his moments of inspiration from. Right now, even a lot Americans don’t seem to be too enthused by their President. I hope for the sake of the sub-continent at least, He knows what he is up to. And I mean Him as in The Almighty. A lot of people believe that right now if a nuclear-armed Pakistan would pass into the hands of the Taliban, it would resemble a monkey with a loaded gun in its hands. You never really know how and who they’ll use it against. So where the Americans got this idea from to give civilian nuclear power is baffling. This is as crazy as the good Taliban and bad Taliban justification by the Americans! I wonder what happened to that, considering the fact that Pakistanis are experiencing a bomb blast a day.

So why do the Americans play these games and why do successive Indian governments fall for it? That’s a question only the Indian government can answer. But my take is, it bodes well for both the US government and its industries to keep the hysteria alive. The American weapons industry can continue to do roaring business with both governments, which is already in an advanced state of paranoia, while the US keeps up the pretence of brokering peace between the two warring neighbours.

We know the Pakistanis are never up to any good, so we are always wary of them. But we tend to trust the Americans and usually get taken for a ride. That is why I distrust them more than I do the Pakistanis. And that’s why I compare the Americans to the Greeks!

“When I die I’ll see God, till then I’ll see Sachin Tendulkar”

These were the words on a poster in Sharjah during the back-to-back hundreds Tendulkar made in 1998. But isn’t that what the Indian cricket fan thinks, anyway, about Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar?

The world’s greatest cricketer (please step back, Sir Garfield), has just completed 20 years in international cricket and it’s been a helluva ride – for him and his fans. It’s been a ‘Tendulkaresque’ two decades of joy that can never be replaced for another millennium. No human being has so overwhelmed us with so many different emotions as has Tendulkar in these two decades since he made his debut in 1989 against Pakistan.

Along with Tendulkar, we’ve gone through his highs and lows on the cricket field; felt his pain and joy; winced every time the ball hit him somewhere; shed silent tears every time the umpire’s finger went skyward; sighed in frustration every time another dubious decision sent him back to the pavilion; cheered every time another ball was sent soaring into the stands; raised our imaginary bats every time he scored another century.

I watched him on TV that day, like a million others with a prayer on my lips, as he faced up to Waqar and Wasim. He carried the hopes of millions and he could not have failed. I swore when he was hit on the face. Then something happened that has remained etched in my memory. Imran Khan clapped to his fielders to stay put. He wanted to see how this kid would take the blow. It was trial by fire. The kid stepped back, wiped the blood away, stared down the wicket, fixed his helmet and got down to the business of cricket. And he’s been doing that ever since.

It’s funny, and I don’t know how many of you noticed, but in the early days every time Tendulkar got hit, he would stare down the wicket (whether at the bowler or just to get back his concentration), adjust his cap and go after the bowler! So it was “uh oh” every time the ball hit him and a pitying look at the bowler thereafter.

Chandu Borde, twice chief of selectors, told me an interesting anecdote of that historic 1989 tour to Pakistan. One night, after everyone had retired to their rooms, Borde heard a strange ‘thump, thump, thump,’ from one of the rooms below. He walked down to investigate and found Tendulkar holding a bat, hitting the ball against the wall! He told the boy to go to sleep and was surprised to hear “Sir I can’t sleep. I’ve never slept alone in my life.” Borde says he sat next to Tendulkar and patted him to asleep. I guess that’s the image that all of us have of Tendulkar – at least those of us who have followed his career since his schooldays – that vulnerable, schoolboy look, that makes us want to reach out and pat him on the head reassuringly every time he scores or fails.

There was another side of him I saw in Pune at the Blue Diamond Hotel when the Indian team was there to play a one-day match against England sometime in the 1990s. While the rest of team went up to their rooms, Tendulkar walked up to a lady seated in the lobby and hugged her. She tousled his hair, stroked his cheek, and teased him like an elder sister would and he looked visibly embarrassed. It made an interesting picture. Here he was, even then the best batsman in the world, completely at sea when dealing with the affections of an elder sister!

At a World Cup group match in Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium in 1996, against Australia, Tendulkar scored an 84-ball 90 but India went down by 16 runs. I remember the match for the only six scored by India and it came from Tendulkar’s bat. From the all-glass air-conditioned press box, I saw him lift the ball and it soared, high…higher. For a second we lost track of it and then we realized that the ball was coming straight at us. Quite a few of us ducked as the ball thudded into the glass of the Press Box and fell to the ground. Forget us greenhorns, I don’t think even the veteran scribes had seen a shot like that in a long time.

He’s redefined the game and rewritten records, statistics, & figures of most of the bowlers in international cricket in these two decades. But I’ll admit that two years ago I was one of those who felt it was time for Tendulkar to end his one-day career because I thought he was losing his touch. My reason for saying so is because I wanted to remember the genius of Sharjah rather than someone who was found, quite often, searching for his off-stump. I am glad I was wrong.

Sometimes one feels that he ‘gifts’ his wicket away to an innocuous bowler, something his childhood hero Sunil Gavaskar rarely did. Experts believe that his concentration tends to lapse, whenever there is a stoppage during the game. But his peers say that when he is in the “zone” nothing disturbs him. Almost 29,951 international runs, 87 centuries, 198 wickets and 234 catches later, one wonders whether the ‘zone” will soon be rechristened “Sachin Zone” in his honour!

What more can one say about him? Like the days of Bradman, there will come a time when cricket will again be divided into two different eras – BT and AT — Before Tendulkar and After Tendulkar.

I wish that holding talks, peace marches and candlelight vigils at India Gate or the Wagah border could solve the problems between Indian and Pakistan. But since it can’t and never will, let’s get real.

Today at the South Asian Youth Peace Meet (SAYPM) at the Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication in Lavale, Chintamani Mahapatra, Chairman, Centre for Canada, US & Latin American Studies and Professor at the School of International Studies of Jawaharlal Nehru University, narrated a very interesting incident about the attitude of the members of a Pakistani delegation during a conference to discuss the problems between the two neighbours, held somewhere abroad.

During that conference, the Kargil fiasco erupted and the Pakistanis began to celebrate. Their mood would oscillate between fury and joy as they kept hearing about the developments. And these were people who were there for a peace meet!

One well known editor of a Pakistani newspaper came up to Mahapatra at the same conference, puffed up his chest and announced loudly, “Tell your government not to get too adventurous, Pakistan now has the bomb.”

Mahapatra reminded him that in the event of a nuclear war, lots of Indians might lose their lives, but looking at India’s population, millions will still survive. In Pakistan’s case, even that was doubtful! Incidentally, the conference was organised at Dr Mahapatra’s request, which goes to prove that good intentions, don’t mean much to the Pakistanis!

What I and, I’m sure, many others like me would like to know, is how a country, supposedly on the verge of bankruptcy half the time, and in the throes of anarchy, the other half of the time, can repeatedly tell its more powerful neighbour to F*** OFF, every time they are asked to arrest the people who plan terrorist attacks on Indian soil? My apologies for using the F word here, but there is really no other expression that fits so perfectly what the Pakistanis have been telling us to do for the past so many years.

See how the Pakistan Army hosts Hafeez Saeed at an Iftar, when they should, in reality be arresting him for his terrorist acts, or see the contempt with which the Pakistani foreign minister treats each dossier he receives from the Indian government. For that matter, see how easily Pervez Musharraf admits that the funds and weapons which were given by the US to fight the Taliban, were used against India. Even more ironical is A.Q. Khan stating that he had sold nuclear secrets to China, Iran and North Korea. Have you noticed any signs of surprise or outrage against any of these actions anywhere, except in India? I find it difficult to believe that the Americans didn’t know what Pakistan’s Dr. No was up to?

Take the case of Dawood Ibrahim. Indian Intelligence officials have given Pakistanis every single detail about the underworld don, but the Pakistanis simply junk it claiming that it’s not adequate. What else do they need – his underwear brand name?

Could the Pakistanis have done any of this without tacit backing of the Americans or Chinese? Don’t you find it strange that despite all the dirty tricks Pakistan indulges in, the US and Chinese continue to fund it? The Americans first castigate Pakistan for, “not doing enough” and then promptly send them a couple of billion dollars of funding to fight their “war on terror.”

A few days earlier, also at the SAYPM, well known reformist Asghar Ali Engineer, had me smiling when he said that wherever in the world there’s unrest and strife, there’s a US hand! A man after my own heart, this Mr Engineer!

The Indian sub-continent is becoming a very dangerous place, thanks to the Americans. They are running riot all over Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan and no one can do anything about it. Things are slowly and surely spiraling out of control and the weak-kneed Indian government is busy sending out dossiers to all and sundry or flying out its ministers to meet God (read Obama) and complain to him about our unfriendly neighbours.

Just because Mahatma Gandhi told us to show the other cheek, must we take it so literally?

When things fall apart…

Posted: March 6, 2009 in India, Pakistan
Tags: ,

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity

I don’t really like poetry – I never did – even as a student. But I remember these lines from the Second Coming by Yeats for two reasons. The first because, the opening lines are part of a text book (Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe) I studied in school, and I thought they were chilling. The second is because these lines capture perfectly, the events that have been unfolding in our north-western neighbourhood. Gun battles on the streets were something we only read about in the Westerns of Zane Grey, Louis L’Amour and J.T. Edson – or in the movies. From books to theatres to the TV screens and now into our lives – it’s the Gunfight at the OK Corral that’s showing week after week – only these reruns are for real and playing out right next door. Pakistan is hurtling towards anarchy and no one, even if they wanted to, can do anything to stop it. But what can anyone do if the country itself wants to step into the abyss?

Shouldn’t the world be sympathising with the Pakistanis after all that happened in Lahore a few days back? But not too many people seem to be offering commiserations. It’s almost as if they’re saying “it serves them right.” Was it an inside job? The voices supporting that claim are getting louder. Yet our neighbours seem totally unfazed, brazenly continuing with their daily dose of cooked up ‘evidence’ and ‘arrests’. If one has to feel sorry for anyone, it would be for their sportspersons who will have nowhere to compete, not in their own country, and not outside.

And to think that the Pakistani establishment actually blamed India for the attacks. If that were true, it would have been one of those rare occasions that Pakistan actually cooperated with India over something! How else could the streets of a high security area be so totally devoid of security? Could the Indians have requested their ‘friendly neighbours’ to sanitise the area before they decided to attack the convoy, and then walked away from it all seemingly confident of not being engaged by security personnel? Only a demented mind could conjure up such a fantasy.

Today it seems ironical that Pakistan’s founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah named his new creation ‘Pakistan’ or ‘pure country’. What’s happening there today is the result of 62 years of disinformation, bigotry and prejudices. Instead of talking peace and progress, Pakistan’s leaders have been indoctrinating their people with the belief that India is their enemy and destroying India would lead them to paradise. Good luck to them!