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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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Editorials | Article | Middle | Oped

EDITORIALS

Adieu, George Bush
Legacy of terror and turmoil
S
OME people are welcome wherever they go while others are welcome whenever they go. As President George Bush steps down from the world’s most powerful office, few are likely to place him in the former category. His eight years in the White House were a period of cataclysmic shifts across the globe, the blame for many of which may be laid at his door.

Supreme folly
Transparency strengthens judiciary
T
HE Supreme Court has not crowned itself with glory by challenging a Central Information Commission order in the Delhi High Court. It is, perhaps, the first time that the apex court has filed a case in a lower court. What provoked the Registrar to file it was an innocuous directive to the court’s information officer seeking to know whether any declaration of assets had been filed by the Supreme Court judges or not.



EARLIER STORIES

Making TV a scapegoat
January 18, 2009
Miliband’s ballistics
January 17, 2009
Terror under arrest
January 16, 2009
Friends or foes?
January 15, 2009
Losing sheen
January 14, 2009
A dangerous trend
January 13, 2009
Don’t bank on others
January 12, 2009
Policing the people
January 11, 2009
Prosecute Raju
January 10, 2009
Asatyam
January 9, 2009


Miracle on Hudson
Thanks to masterly piloting
T
HOSE who rule out miracles may have to revise their opinion after seeing what happened to the passengers of a US Airways aircraft which crashed into the icy Hudson river off Manhattan in New York on Friday. It had become crippled after a bird-hit soon after take-off but all the 155 passengers and crew had a second lease of life. The pilot showing the very best in skill and presence of mind gently glided the plane on to the river.

ARTICLE

Transfer of judges
Self-inflicted wounds seldom heal
by Rajindar Sachar
Independence of the judiciary is the sheet-anchor of our Constitution. The instrument wielding this power is the higher judiciary i.e. High Courts and Supreme Court. In 1963 the Law Minister assured Parliament that the transfer of High Court judges will only be done with his prior consent. But in 1975 High Court judges were the target in a series of non-consensual transfers because they were said to be too independent.

MIDDLE

Together in life and death
by M. P. Mittal
I
N the last week of December, 2002, I was residing in the lush, beautiful 50- acre campus of the GRD Academy, Ludhiana, and it was organising the silver jubilee celebrations of SPICMACAY, founded by Dr. Kiran Seth and Mrs Manveen Sandhu, Principal, Spring Dale Public School. I was informed that Manveen herself will preside over the function.

OPED

Bush leaves the stage
Farewell to this flawed and unpopular President
by Leonard Doyle
T
HE ground is already shifting underfoot at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The movers are on their way to Texas and, shortly after the inauguration ceremony on Tuesday, the Bushes will be whisked off the White House lawn by helicopter for the last time. But on Thursday night, the White House was an oasis of calm as Mr Bush prepared to deliver his final farewell speech to the nation.

Afghans furious over civilian deaths
by Pamela Constable
T
HE planned U.S. military and counterinsurgency drive in Afghanistan is meeting public and official resistance that could delay and possibly undermine a costly, belated effort that American officials here acknowledge has a limited window of time to succeed.

Chatterati
A clean team for Rahul
by Devi Cherian
Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi’s statement that all Congress ministers who are from the Rajya Sabha will have to contest the Lok Sabha polls has caused a flutter. The ministers who are MPs from the Rajya Sabha are a worried lot while the Lok Sabha members look smug.





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Adieu, George Bush
Legacy of terror and turmoil

SOME people are welcome wherever they go while others are welcome whenever they go. As President George Bush steps down from the world’s most powerful office, few are likely to place him in the former category. His eight years in the White House were a period of cataclysmic shifts across the globe, the blame for many of which may be laid at his door. Regardless of how his presidency is judged, one certainty is that these were certainly not forgettable years. His legacy will haunt the world for a long time. Even as historians await the moment of distance in time for an objective assessment of his contribution, one undeniable fact is that he kept the US safe after 9/11. Terror did not revisit the US. That is an achievement from which many other countries, especially India, can learn lessons on political management of national security.

The flip side of Mr Bush keeping America safe is that the world is a lot more unsafe, including for Americans outside America, than when the man of many malapropisms ascended to office. Hardly surprising, then, that he is leaving office with the lowest public approval ratings in eight years. Mr Bush, to vary James Bond’s line, doesn’t look like he gives a damn. His election as president itself was the result of an electoral quirk. Given the thin ground on which he came to office, he exercised remarkable power over the world although this has increased threats to both the US and global security.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the raging Arab-Israeli conflict are just the most glaring aspects of his legacy to an already troubled world. For all his ineptitude and arrogance, Mr Bush cannot be blamed for the economic meltdown. The economic and financial crash may have culminated in his term, but the death of the neoliberal agenda born of Thatcherism and Reagonomics was inevitable. Of course, his own ideological predisposition made him carry on with the economy the way it was, and in fairness to him, there were many, including in the developing world, who cheered him on. As Mr Bush heads out of the White House, one Capital where he may be missed is New Delhi as the US and India forged a new partnership across many tracks, despite the ongoing debate over the benefits of such a relationship.

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Supreme folly
Transparency strengthens judiciary

THE Supreme Court has not crowned itself with glory by challenging a Central Information Commission order in the Delhi High Court. It is, perhaps, the first time that the apex court has filed a case in a lower court. What provoked the Registrar to file it was an innocuous directive to the court’s information officer seeking to know whether any declaration of assets had been filed by the Supreme Court judges or not. If the information was provided, it might have been asked to provide details of the assets. In order to rule out such a possibility, it decided to question the very basis on which the directive was issued. In doing so, the court has relied on legal quibbling.

The court says the Chief Justice of India is not a public authority, as defined under the Right to Information Act. Besides, the judges are not mandated to provide information about their assets to the Chief Justice. It claims that the practice in vogue whereby judges declare their assets to the Chief Justice was based on an informal resolution. In other words, the asset details are not to be revealed. The very purpose of declaring the assets is defeated if they have to remain a closely-guarded secret. Whatever may be the soundness of the court’s claim, it goes against the very grain of the RTI Act.

Declaration of assets has become mandatory for contesting elections and to hold high offices, including that of the President. Government officials have to periodically give details of the assets they have acquired while in office. There is, therefore, no logic for exempting judges from this provision. The RTI Act is considered one of the most enabling pieces of legislation for probity and transparency in public life. Unfortunately, it has run into a strong opponent in the judiciary. It is nobody’s contention that the court should submit itself to questions on how judicial decisions are taken but it cannot use the same logic to deny the citizen’s right to ask questions on the administrative decisions of the court. The heavens will not fall if judges have to declare their assets in public. It’s a folly to claim that they are above the RTI Act.

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Miracle on Hudson
Thanks to masterly piloting

THOSE who rule out miracles may have to revise their opinion after seeing what happened to the passengers of a US Airways aircraft which crashed into the icy Hudson river off Manhattan in New York on Friday. It had become crippled after a bird-hit soon after take-off but all the 155 passengers and crew had a second lease of life. The pilot showing the very best in skill and presence of mind gently glided the plane on to the river. The aircraft kept floating for the crucial few minutes and ferries that take visitors to the famed Statue of Liberty nearby and water taxis were on hand and converged onto the ship within moments. Leave alone deaths, there were not even serious injuries. If this coincidence of good fortunes is not a miracle, then what is?

Bringing a plane down on the water may appear to be an easy operation but it is one of the most crucial. As anyone who has fallen flat on the water knows, the impact can be fatal. The angle at which a person — or a plane — hits the water has to be just right. The passengers and the crew were lucky that their Airbus A320 was under the command of Chesley B Sullenberger, who is not only a former fighter pilot but also runs a safety consulting firm. As Robert Bea, a civil engineer who co-founded UC Berkeley’s Center of Catastrophic Risk Management, gushed: “When a plane is getting ready to crash with a lot of people who trust you, it is a test. “Sully” proved the end of the road for that test. He had studied it, he had rehearsed it, he had taken it to his heart”.

All such acts of unalloyed bravery increase one’s confidence in the future of mankind. Not only that, they become the stuff legends are made of and provide role models for others to emulate. “Sully” saved all those lives and became an instant hero. Here is hoping that all those who survived because of him and also those who learnt about it in sheer amazement will learn to hold their nerves in the same way if ever they face a similar emergency.

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Thought for the Day

A word to the wise isn't necessary; it's the stupid ones who need the advice.

— Bill Cosby

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Transfer of judges
Self-inflicted wounds seldom heal
by Rajindar Sachar

Independence of the judiciary is the sheet-anchor of our Constitution. The instrument wielding this power is the higher judiciary i.e. High Courts and Supreme Court.

In 1963 the Law Minister assured Parliament that the transfer of High Court judges will only be done with his prior consent. But in 1975 High Court judges were the target in a series of non-consensual transfers because they were said to be too independent. Though this wrong was undone by the Janata government (1977) by restoring the status quo, the common lure of power in all governments tempted them to retain power for non-consensual transfers. The Supreme Court, one had hoped, recognising the danger to independence of judiciary, would strike down this provision. Rather it inflicted a self wound by upholding this power but sought to partly sweeten it by requiring the transfer to be approved by the Chief Justice of India (CJI).

Again in 1993, the apex court avoided the fundamental question by papering over with a new set of sweetness; namely that transfers would be to subserve public interest and will not be used as a weapon to punish the judge and as a further reassurance this power by the Chief Justice was circumscribed by requiring him to obtain the view of a collegium of a few senior judges.

This touching faith in the almost divine infallibility of the Chief Justice as advised by collegiums was based more on faith rather than logic. That this is so is clear from the repudiation of this principle by J.S. Verma, CJ (retd), (author of this dictum) himself in various public platforms. That these apprehensions are not misplaced is evident from the latest proposed transfers of judges of High Court of Allahabad to various High Courts including Justice Misra to the Punjab and Haryana High Court, allegedly because of enquiry in the UP provident fund scam (paradoxically the CJI in a recent press interview has stated: “I do not think any High Court judge is directly involved”.)

No doubt the Supreme Court rightly embarked on an enquiry into the UP provident fund scam. But the court took the unusual step of referring the matter to the CBI — prima facie a controversial decision and against the previous judgments of the apex court negating police investigation. Many well-wishers of judiciary are aghast at the implicit faith placed in the CBI — an arm of the executive which has received so many rebuffs at its partisan working, both from public and courts. The correct course would have been to the entrust the enquiry to some senior judges of High Courts (other then Allahabad) just as it has been done in the case of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. (though unfortunately even after the submission of Report by three High Court Judges) the position remains embarrassingly doubtful in that matter.

I fail to see any logic for these transfers. Regretfully one cannot find any public interest in transferring Justice Misra, a promotee with limited experience to a High Court, which is one of the oldest High Courts in India. The bald explanation that his and other Judge’s presence at Allahabad would hinder a CBI enquiry is a gratuitous insult to these judge’s honesty and fairness. This would send an unfortunate message to the public that the collegiums have less than full faith in the fairness and honesty of these judges — thus it has already stigmatised the judges in the eye of the public and the bar.

Such an action is bound to have disastrous consequences which could have been avoided if only the collegium had familiarised itself with a similar experiment in the same court.

I recall that in 1990, a judge from the Allahabad High Court about whom there was some talk concerning his integrity was sought to be transferred to the Gauhati High Court —but the lawyers in the later High Court were upset and felt insulted as to why if allegations were correct, they should be burdened with such a person and had conveyed their resentment to the CJI and the President. As a consequence, the transfer to Gauhati was cancelled and later on that judge resigned.

Regretfully the collegium has put Justice Misra through the same anguish and embarrassment. Press reports say that the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association (Executive) has resolved to oppose the transfer of Justice Misra and is writing to the CJI and the President. One apprehends that similar stand may be taken by bar associations of other high courts. I can understand the reaction of the bar, namely that if a judge’s integrity is being questioned by the head of family of judiciary, why should the transferee court welcome such a judge. The result is that notwithstanding the stand of collegium that transfers were only meant to facilitate enquiry, the harm to the reputation of judges concerned and inevitably to the judiciary is already done. This gratuitous insult to the transferred judges is the most hurtful blow and reminds one of Caesar’s wail “ Et tu Brutus”.

No, the High Court judges are not asking for any relaxation in the demand for absolute integrity — the test should be as strict as you can make it. But what hurts is this uncalled for insult to an equal wheel of justice as the Supreme Court itself.

Another assumption that a judge with adverse reputation will suddenly become clean if transferred to another court is falsified by a number of examples in the past. Justice Ramaswami of Tamil Nadu was proceeded for impeachment for what he was said to have done on transfer to Punjab and not for anything in Tamil Nadu.

Another Chief Justice of Bombay was made to resign for what he had done there and not for anything in his parent court Kolkota from where he had been transferred. Similarly a judge was made to resign from Rajasthan though he had been transferred from Delhi.

Pray, why cannot these matters be concluded in the shortest time? Surely such matters needs to be enquired by High Court and Supreme court judges themselves. Due to delay, judiciary gets vilified — the institution suffers and with it the base of democratic state suffers. Is it not time to hurry up with formation of the National Judicial Commission. Rather, let all such matters be handled by a closed Masonic type of mysterious workings of collegium. What an irony that near-fatal blows against judiciary should be given by our own family elders! I know I am sounding harsh, but let me in my defence call to aid the observations of Mr Justice Holmes of the Supreme Court of the US: “I trust that no one will understand me to be speaking with disrespect of the law, because I criticise it so freely……but one may criticise even what one reveres……..and I should show less than devotion, if I did not do what in me lies to improve it.”

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Together in life and death
by M. P. Mittal

IN the last week of December, 2002, I was residing in the lush, beautiful 50- acre campus of the GRD Academy, Ludhiana, and it was organising the silver jubilee celebrations of SPICMACAY, founded by Dr. Kiran Seth and Mrs Manveen Sandhu, Principal, Spring Dale Public School. I was informed that Manveen herself will preside over the function.

I strived very hard. Ms Uma Sharma (Kathak), Shiv Kumar (Santoor), Raza Abaee (Rumi Sufi) and Amaan and Ayaan Bangash (Sarod) performed. People of Ludhiana were mesmerised.

Chairman S. Raja Singh congratulated me for the success of the function. I heaved a sigh of relief. I remember Manveen Sandhu saying during her address that she was living for the music and theatre and would die for the same.

After eight years she died for the same cause along with her husband Dr Shivinder Singh Sandhu, in a car accident on their return from Jaisalmer, a place well-known for music and theatre, where they had gone on a brief holiday after having celebrated their silver jubilee marriage anniversary.

I found myself emotionally attached with her when I got transferred to Amritsar to head a school there. Then it had become my privilege to interact with her in almost all the monthly meetings of Principals of Sahoday Schools, Amritsar. She taught us that education is nothing but sharing. I saw she was worried over the declining state of hockey in Punjab. The couple was full of conviction and I had shared a vision to root out illiteracy from Punjab soon.

When the CBSE held its national conference in Bhopal in December, I met Manveen the last time to congratulate her on her wonderful presentation representing Punjab. I saw an angelic smile on her face.

Their funeral procession was endless. Every shopkeeper from Spring Dale School to the Shaheeda crematorium put the shutters down as a mark of respect. They were true educational leaders and philanthropists.

I don’t have words to pay a tribute to the couple who promoted Punarjyot, a centre for preservation and promotion of the heritage of Punjab. They also founded “Saanjh” to promote cultural interaction and brotherhood between India and Pakistan. She remained a votary of cultural exchange in SAFMA Conference 2005. While presenting her papers on macro-economy in the World Forum Meet, Oxford, she had anticipated the current global meltdown. The World Forum had judiciously honoured her with the Cultural Ambassador of India Award 2006.

The couple defied Blaise Pascal’s famous quote that we shall die alone, because they died together.

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Bush leaves the stage
Farewell to this flawed and unpopular President
by Leonard Doyle

BushTHE ground is already shifting underfoot at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The movers are on their way to Texas and, shortly after the inauguration ceremony on Tuesday, the Bushes will be whisked off the White House lawn by helicopter for the last time. But on Thursday night, the White House was an oasis of calm as Mr Bush prepared to deliver his final farewell speech to the nation.

In the stately East Room, he chatted to a small group of invited guests enthusing about the fancy new Dallas home he an Laura are moving to. The new house "is to die for", Mr Bush said, before the cameras were switched on. He will be penning his memoirs there as soon as he tracks down a suitable ghostwriter, although publishing houses have apparently shown little interest in the project so far.

For his last planned public appearance before Barack Obama's swearing-in, Mr Bush then gave a 13-minute address to the nation that was carried live on all the networks. "I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions," he said in a spirited defence of his unpopular eight years at the helm.

It was a final attempt to restore some lustre to the Bush political dynasty, which has been battered by an economic hurricane a deeply unpopular war in Iraq, the stain of torture and deeply controversial spying on American citizens at home. The outgoing President acknowledged no mistakes, but he conceded to unspecified "setbacks."

What Mr Bush did not explain was how he cleared the way for the invasion of Iraq, the subsequent failure to find weapons of mass destruction and the catastrophic aftermath of that conflict.

Nor did he mention Osama bin Laden, the man he vowed to capture "dead or alive" and who released another teasing audiotape this week, reminding everyone that he is about to outlive Mr Bush's presidency.

As invitees to the final reception and farewell Mr Bush had selected a group of people he believes represented his finest achievements at home and abroad. Foremost among them was Mr Chierichella, the fireman who shouted "I can't hear you," to Mr Bush when he tried to address rescue workers at Ground Zero just four days after the World Trade Centre attacks.

It triggered one of Mr Bush's most memorable lines: "I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."

To a frightened, angry nation, the encounter helped crystallise the aggressive response to terrorism that defined Mr Bush's years in office.

Americans are frightened again today but it is fear is of an economic catastrophe like the Great Depression of the 1930s that preoccupies many, rather than an imminent terrorist attack on "the homeland". George Bush came to office eight years ago proclaiming himself "a uniter not a divider" and promising to "restore honour and dignity" to a White House tainted by the behaviour of Bill Clinton.

He leaves office, less popular at home than Richard Nixon at his nadir, and with America's pre-election international standing as low as it has ever been. Mr Bush can hardly be blamed for failure to meet expectations; they were not high at the start.

His was a presidency born in division: the contentious election of 2000 that was eventually decided by the Supreme Court. Even his inaugural procession was marked by protest.

Within months, though, all division was subsumed in the wave of fearful and angry patriotism that was the response to 9/11. The most devastating attack on the US since Pearl Harbor shattered an America that had believed itself secure, and defined the remainder of the Bush presidency. National security became the overriding priority of the administration, with malign consequences for civil liberties everywhere.

History will pronounce the final judgement on the decisions made by Mr Bush. We hope, for the sake of both countries, that Iraq and Afghanistan will in time come good. But Mr Bush's readiness to resort to arms, on evidence that was inadequate and, as it turned out, wrong, spoke of an impetuous strain to his character, and a willingness to be led by those more ideologically committed than he.

In his farewell address, this President who had at times seemed too cocksure for his own – and America's – good admitted to decisions he regretted. But there were also key moments when, for all the bluster, he seemed tentative and out of his depth. His invisibility in the immediate aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks was one.

Mr Bush bequeaths his successor a country at war in two countries halfway across the world, a prison camp in international legal limbo, and a once-thriving economy in tatters. It is also, thanks in part to Mr Bush's concessions to the domestic energy industry, out of step with the international mainstream on the environment.

So preoccupied has the world been with what went wrong during Mr Bush's presidency, however, that it is easy to overlook what went right. Born into privilege, he was conspicuously race- and colour-blind, committed to improving school standards and life chances for deprived children. He increased US aid to Africa more than any president before him. It is interesting, but vain, to speculate what might have been his legacy without 9/11.

It has been the perverse fate of almost ever recent US president not only to be confronted by issues quite different from the ones they had prepared for, but also – by virtue of their failings in office – to open the way for a successor in many ways their opposite. It was a younger, more cosmopolitan and less cautious America that elected Barack Obama. But it was George Bush's failures that gave an Obama presidency much of its appeal.

— By arrangement with The Independent

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Afghans furious over civilian deaths
by Pamela Constable

THE planned U.S. military and counterinsurgency drive in Afghanistan is meeting public and official resistance that could delay and possibly undermine a costly, belated effort that American officials here acknowledge has a limited window of time to succeed.

The officials say they are optimistic that the planned addition of up to 30,000 troops, combined with a new strategy to support local governance and development aimed at weaning villagers away from Taliban influence, will show significant results within the year. They say improved cooperation from the army in neighboring Pakistan and better performance by the Afghan national army are bolstering this optimism.

Yet they also acknowledge that they face an array of obstacles, including widespread public hostility to international forces over bombing raids and civilian abuses, the growing influence of Taliban insurgents in areas where central authority and services are scarce, and controversy over plans to establish village defense groups.

Officials are also worried about other issues: The upcoming Afghan presidential election and the revived hostility between Pakistan and India, caused by a deadly terrorist rampage in Mumbai in November, could inject unpredictable tensions and competing priorities into the region just as a new administration in Washington tries to focus afresh on the anti-terrorist struggle here.

Unlike the troop "surge" in Iraq, the doubling of the U.S. military presence on the ground in Afghanistan is not temporary, military officials said. Rather, troops will maintain a protracted presence focused on securing and holding villages currently dominated by the Taliban.

One conundrum, U.S. military officials say, is that the expanded forces will have to come in with heavy firepower and aggressive military tactics — likely to create more civilian casualties and public animosity — to secure rural districts so they can bring in services, aid and governance aimed at winning over the local populace.

"We don't want to give people false expectations. This is going to be a very tough year," said a U.S. military official here, speaking on the condition of anonymity. As American troops deploy throughout the south, where Taliban forces are strongest, he said, "you will see a very big spike" in armed clashes. Once areas are under control, "then we can bring in governance and development. But there will be some tough months of violence first."

Many Afghans are furious over some actions taken by foreign troops, especially air strikes that kill unarmed civilians and night raids where unidentified foreigners burst into homes, terrifying families. While the Taliban has swiftly capitalized on such incidents, U.S. and NATO officials tend to initially deny or minimize them, and then fail to publicize investigations or findings.

President Hamid Karzai, the coalition troops' official host, has recently stoked this anger with a series of critical comments about foreign forces, saying they should deploy along the border with Pakistan instead of in Afghan villages. Critics say Karzai is pandering to popular emotion in hopes of winning reelection this year. In private, U.S. officials speak of their longtime ally with angry sarcasm. In public, they have begun to specifically contradict Karzai's claims of fresh civilian casualties, identifying slain Taliban insurgents by name and face.

But other observers here say the president has a point. While global attention has focused on two airstrikes last year that killed numerous civilians, a report by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission found a "common pattern" in which "Afghan families experienced their family members killed or injured, their houses or other property destroyed, or their homes invaded at night without any perceived justification or legal authorization." Often, victims were afraid to report the incidents or were rebuffed by officials if they tried.

The report concluded that the Afghan public's welcoming attitude toward coalition forces as guests and protectors has significantly shifted to resentment and fear. These findings were borne out in interviews this month with Kabul residents and with leaders from restive provinces, including Logar, Wardak and Kandahar, who said many Afghans are now as afraid of foreign and national government forces as they are of the Taliban.

"When the foreign troops first came, every Afghan child said thumbs up; but now, nobody likes them. People have lost their trust," said Fazlullah Mojadeddi, 52, a legislator and former governor of Logar. "They don't want the Taliban back, but they are silent because nobody can guarantee their security. If one or two Taliban fighters come, the people don't inform the authorities for fear the foreigners will start killing innocent people."

A second dilemma facing U.S. planners is whether to shore up a weak and corrupt central government or seek help in the volatile and murky arena of local and tribal politics. The regime in Kabul wields little authority in many rural areas, so U.S. military officials hope to reach out directly to traditional and tribal leaders. They plan to propose the creation of local defense committees similar to the "Awakening" groups used in Iraq.

But the idea of raising local defense forces has aroused concern among foreign experts and Afghan citizens, who warn it could stir up old ethnic and tribal hostilities; rearm a factionalized populace the United Nations just spent millions to disarm; and raise the specter of previous experiments by the pro-Soviet government of the 1980s and other regimes that led to fratricidal violence.

"Creating local militias would be a disaster," said Shukria Barakzai, a member of parliament from Kabul. "Who can guarantee they won't go to war? It would undermine central authority, civilian life would be under threat and nobody would be able to control them."

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

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Chatterati
A clean team for Rahul
by Devi Cherian

Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi’s statement that all Congress ministers who are from the Rajya Sabha will have to contest the Lok Sabha polls has caused a flutter. The ministers who are MPs from the Rajya Sabha are a worried lot while the Lok Sabha members look smug.

In Delhi the Prime Minister at a high-powered meeting said that everyone involved in the Satyam case, however powerful, should be exposed so that the system could be cleansed once for all. Many ministers and political brokers are suspected of involvement in the Satyam scam.

According to the Congresswalas, when Rahul Gandhi takes over he should get an elected, clean and young team to work with.

They are now busy whispering to all who matter that this is not a good idea. Some of the Rajya Sabha members who are ministers are Anand Sharma, Jairam Ramesh, Ambika Soni and many from down South.

Actors in politics

Sunil Dutt’s legacy is precious to the Congress, claims Digvijay Singh while offering Sanjay Dutt the Congress ticket. Even though the Samajwadi Party just cannot get over its Bollywood fixation. After Jayaprada and Jaya Bhaduri, now enter Sanjay Dutt and his wife, Manyata. This is the first time that Priya Dutt, MP and Sanjay’s sister, has commented at her brother and sister-in-law Manyata’s decision to fight from the S.P. platform.

The S.P. has also offered the ticket to Bhojpuri actor Manoj Tiwari. If this is the kind of representatives they are bent upon sending to Parliament it’s sad.

So most ageing, out-of-job Bollywood actors will be a part of our Parliament to the dismay of our public. We do also have the non-visible ones like Dharmendra, Govinda, Dara Singh, Hema Malini and Vinod Khanna, who have only visited Parliament once or twice in five years. So do glamour and politics make a good mix? Maybe for retired Bollywoodwalas, but not for politicians for sure.

Talent hunt

The youth Congress started a talent hunt in Punjab as the democratisation of the Congress. It was Rahul Gandhi’s brilliant idea. The young Gandhi hates sycophancy and nepotism. Hence, this new initiative was taken. It may have worked in Punjab but in Maharashtra it’s been a flop show, thanks to Ashok Tanwar, the All India Youth Congress President.

Old habits die hard. His list of the new Youth Congress has the former Chief Minister of Maharashtra’s son Amit Deshmukh, Patangrao Kadam and Shraddha Mane, daughter of ex-MP Muralidhar Mane.

Well, to cut a long story short, at least 10 senior Congress leaders’ kids are the top office-bearers of the Youth Congress there. So the much-hyped talent hunt has once again let down the genuine party workers who have struggled at the grassroots.

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