But isn’t Pakistan a victim of terror? Why, even the Prime Minister of South Asia  said so.

Does the US really care against whom their missiles are used? That is their main “industry” and they have to sell it to somebody. Besides they ‘need’ Pakistan and its puppet government, the ISI and its machinary and personnel  for their ‘frankenstein’  – the Talibans and the Al Qaedas. They need Afghanistan and its government too for the oil pipelines. What does it matter if some missiles are ‘misdirected’ to India? What if a ” few more thousand Indian lives” is the price for their misadventures.

 

U.S. Says Pakistan Made Changes to Missiles Sold for Defense

By Eric Schmidt and David E. Sanger

 

WASHINGTON — The United States has accused Pakistan of illegally modifying American-made missiles to expand its capability to strike land targets, a potential threat to India, according to senior administration and Congressional officials.

The charge, which set off a new outbreak of tensions between the United States and Pakistan, was made in an unpublicized diplomatic protest in late June to Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and other top Pakistani officials.

The accusation comes at a particularly delicate time, when the administration is asking Congress to approve $7.5 billion in aid to Pakistan over the next five years, and when Washington is pressing a reluctant Pakistani military to focus its attentions on fighting the Taliban, rather than expanding its nuclear and conventional forces aimed at India.

While American officials say that the weapon in the latest dispute is a conventional one — based on the Harpoon antiship missiles that were sold to Pakistan by the Reagan administration as a defensive weapon in the cold war — the subtext of the argument is growing concern about the speed with which Pakistan is developing new generations of both conventional and nuclear weapons.

“There’s a concerted effort to get these guys to slow down,” one senior administration official said. “Their energies are misdirected.”

At issue is the detection by American intelligence agencies of a suspicious missile test on April 23 — a test never announced by the Pakistanis — that appeared to give the country a new offensive weapon.

American military and intelligence officials say they suspect that Pakistan has modified the Harpoon antiship missiles that the United States sold the country in the 1980s, a move that would be a violation of the Arms Control Export Act. Pakistan has denied the charge, saying it developed the missile itself. The United States has also accused Pakistan of modifying American-made P-3C aircraft for land-attack missions, another violation of United States law that the Obama administration has protested.

Whatever their origin, the missiles would be a significant new entry into Pakistan’s arsenal against India. They would enable Pakistan’s small navy to strike targets on land, complementing the sizable land-based missile arsenal that Pakistan has developed. That, in turn, would be likely to spur another round of an arms race with India that the United States has been trying, unsuccessfully, to halt. “The focus of our concern is that this is a potential unauthorized modification of a maritime antiship defensive capability to an offensive land-attack missile,” said another senior administration official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter involves classified information.

“The potential for proliferation and end-use violations are things we watch very closely,” the official added. “When we have concerns, we act aggressively.”

A senior Pakistani official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity because the interchanges with Washington have been both delicate and highly classified, said the American accusation was “incorrect.” The official said that the missile tested was developed by Pakistan, just as it had modified North Korean designs to build a range of land-based missiles that could strike India. He said that Pakistan had taken the unusual step of agreeing to allow American officials to inspect the country’s Harpoon inventory to prove that it had not violated the law, a step that administration officials praised.

Some experts are also skeptical of the American claims. Robert Hewson, editor of Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, a yearbook and Web-based data service, said the Harpoon missile did not have the necessary range for a land-attack missile, which would lend credibility to Pakistani claims that they are developing their own new missile. Moreover, he said, Pakistan already has more modern land-attack missiles that it developed itself or acquired from China.

“They’re beyond the need to reverse-engineer old U.S. kit,” Mr. Hewson said in a telephone interview. “They’re more sophisticated than that.” Mr. Hewson said the ship-to-shore missile that Pakistan was testing was part of a concerted effort to develop an array of conventional missiles that could be fired from the air, land or sea to address India’s much more formidable conventional missile arsenal.

The dispute highlights the level of mistrust that remains between the United States and a Pakistani military that American officials like to portray as an increasingly reliable partner in the effort to root out the forces of the Taliban and Al Qaeda on Pakistani territory. A central element of the American effort has been to get the military refocused on the internal threat facing the country, rather than on threat the country believes it still faces from India.

Pakistani officials have insisted that they are making that shift. But the evidence continues to point to heavy investments in both nuclear and conventional weapons that experts say have no utility in the battle against insurgents.

Over the years, the United States has provided a total of 165 Harpoon missiles to Pakistan, including 37 of the older-model weapons that were delivered from 1985 to 1988, said Charles Taylor, a spokesman for the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

The country’s nuclear arsenal is expanding faster than any other nation’s. In May, Pakistan conducted a test firing of its Babur medium-range cruise missile, a weapon that military experts say could potentially be tipped with a nuclear warhead. The test was conducted on May 6, during a visit to Washington by President Asif Ali Zardari, but was not made public by Pakistani officials until three days after the meetings had ended to avoid upsetting the talks. While it may be technically possible to arm the Harpoons with small nuclear weapons, outside experts say it would probably not be necessary.

Before lawmakers departed for their summer recess, administration officials briefed Congress on the protest to Pakistan. The dispute has the potential to delay or possibly even derail the legislation to provide Pakistan with $7.5 billion in civilian aid over five years; lawmakers are expected to vote on the aid package when they return from their recess next month.

The legislation is sponsored by Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts and Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the top Democrat and Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, as well as Representative Howard L. Berman, a California Democrat who leads the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressional aides are now reconciling House and Senate versions of the legislation.

Frederick Jones, a spokesman for Mr. Kerry, declined to comment on the details of the dispute citing its classified nature but suggested that the pending multifaceted aid bill would clear Congress “in a few weeks” and would help cooperation between the two countries.

“There have been irritants in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship in the past and there will be in the future,” Mr. Jones said in a statement, noting that the pending legislation would provide President Obama “with new tools to address troubling behavior.”

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When recently the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a dubious Christian majority body from USA, put India on a so called “watch list” of countries for “lack of religious freedom and failure to protect the minorites, all that the Government of India officially do was regret”. 

One may recall that the same government in the pre-election days actually, initially, allowed this religious vigilante group   to scrutinize religious freedom in India but then had to retreat and withdraw permission, amidst protest from different circles, including the Sankaracharya

Perhaps by limiting their protest to just a meek regret, they avoided sending any wrong signal to the minority vote banks, both Muslims and Christians.

For once they could have stepped out of their narrow, divisive, political gimmicks and state the truth that India is a secular nation because Indian Hindus want it to be secular. It would have enhanced their natianalistic stand, had they echoed the sentiment of the Christian leaders of Orissa, who  emphasized that the majority community has been extremely cordial and supportive of the minority community”

This time, though it looks like the equation is different.

This time it is a popular star, a huge mass appeal, the ‘Badshah of Bollywood’, the name of Shahrukh Khan, a perceived ‘secular’ Muslim – too many good brownie points to miss. There had been other Khans and other Muslims who have been ill-treated by US authorities, including a former President of the country, but those incidences have been sidelined successfully in due time. Also this is not like when Rahul Baba was detained in Boston – that needed to be hushed up. This incidence is something that has already started to cause public outrage and it is not only politically correct, it actually will boost the Government’s image. It would be surprising if the government would let this opportunity go.

It is possible that our ardent, US loving Prime Minister may even start having sleepless nights again and be ‘instructed’ to take his complain of ‘Insomnia’ to the US administrators, currently overwhelmed by the Obama Health Care Plan.

  

India protests detention of Shahrukh Khan

 

August 16th, 2009 – 12:34 am ICT by John Le Fevre  

The Indian government has reacted angrily to the detention of Shahrukh Khan, one of it’s Bollywood superstars by US immigration officers. Khan, one of the best known faces in India, was detained at Newark Airport in Newark, New Jersey on Saturday as he traveled to Chicago to celebrate India’s Independence day and claims he was only released after the Indian embassy in the United States intervened. The 43-year-old actor, who has just finished filming a new movie, My Name is Khan, in the US, claims he was detained because he has a Muslim name.

“Certain countries have issues with my name. I am very proud of my name,” he said.

India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said India has taken up the issue with the US embassy and the consul general of India in New York is in touch with Shahrukh. Dubbed the “King of Bollywood”, Khan said he was questioned for two hours by immigration officials, and prevented from using his mobile phone to call for assistance.

US Ambassador to India, Timothy J. Roemer, said: “We are trying to ascertain the facts of the case – to understand what took place. He is a very welcome guest in the United States. Many Americans love his films.”

 

Shah Rukh detention: Soni suggests tit for tat

PTI | New Delhi

After a string of incidents like the one involving Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who was detained at a US airport, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni on Saturday suggested that India should do a ‘tit-for-tat’ towards Americans.  “I am of the opinion that the way we are frisked, for example I too was frisked, we should also do the same to them,” Soni said. Many examples like this have come from the US where frisking is done and “beyond permissible limits”, she said. “I don’t understand. In the name of religion, frisking can be done for anyone like this,” an angry Soni said.

This was not the first time that a prominent Indian was subjected to security checks in the US or by an American enterprise.

George Fernandes, who was then Defence Minister, was forced by US security officials to remove his shirt and shoes and made to undergo check at an airport in Washington when he was there on an official visit a few years ago.

The most recent case was that of former president A P J Abdul Kalam, who was frisked by officials of Contintental Airlines at the international airport here before boarding a Newark-bound flight. This had led to a furore in India.

Actor Kamal Hasan had to undergo security checking at a US airport in 2002, soon after 9/11, with some officials becoming suspicious about him while Malayalam superstar Mammootty too was detained at the JFK airport recently because of his middle name ‘Ismail Mohammed’.

Actor Irrfan Khan also faced a similar problem last year in US despite his global fame following the success of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.

Kabir Khan, Director of recent hit ‘New York’ which portrays victimisation of Muslims in post 9/11, was detained thrice while actor Neil Nitin Mukesh had to undergo similar drills.

Just a few months back,  Newsweek magazine named him one of the 50 most powerful people in the world. This time though, the claim, “My name is Khan” did not turn out to be so powerful.  Most likely the actor’s accusation that he was hassled because of his name is true and thus, he and his fans are  furious for a right reason.

It proves, once again, that, despite its tall claims to a just and equal society, without discrimination of age, gender, religion, nationality, etc, religious profiling has been and is still routinely used in the USA. One wonders what credibility they have to pass jugements on other people or countries, like the recent placement of India on watch list for “lack of religious freedom”.

Post 9/11 Muslims are undoubtedly the major sufferer of such profiling.  While it can be argued that some subtle selection processes are necessary for safety and security, such practice can be  counterproductive, since it increases further hatred. On the other hand, Muslims around the world, even if they are mild or moderate, cannot absolve themselves from their roles and responsibilities of creating such a vicious  atmosphere of suspicion and malice about their religion.

 

Bollywood star held in U.S. airport, fans outraged

 

Sat Aug 15, 9:09 am ET

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Indian Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan said he felt angry and humiliated after he was detained and questioned at a U.S. airport, sparking an uproar in India among his fans.Khan, 43, one of India’s best known actors, was enroute to Chicago for a parade to mark the Indian independence day on Saturday when he was pulled aside at Newark airport Friday, he said.

“I was really hassled perhaps because of my name being Khan. These guys just wouldn’t let me through,” he said in a text message to reporters in India. After a couple of hours’ interrogation, he was allowed to make a call, he said, and he got in touch with the Indian consulate who vouched for him and secured his release. “Absolutely uncalled for, I think. I felt angry and humiliated,” said Khan, who had just finished a month-long shoot in the United States for his upcoming film “My Name is Khan,” which is about a Muslim man’s experience with racial profiling.

A U.S. consul official in India told a television channel they were inquiring into the matter. As news of Khan’s detention broke on Indian television channels, which have played up attacks in Australia on Indian students, fans and actors began posting angry comments on the Internet. “Shocking, disturbing n downright disgraceful. It’s such behavior that fuels hatred and racism. SRK’s a world figure for God’s sake. Get real!!,” tweeted actor Priyanka Chopra.

Indian Information Minister Ambika Soni told a television station that while she could not say if Khan had been detained “on religious grounds, there have been too many instances like these in the U.S. concerning Indians.” Last month U.S-based carrier Continental Airlines apologized to former Indian president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam for frisking him at New Delhi airport.

(Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; Editing by Rina Chandran)