Nuanced but discernible: Romney Slightly more supportive of Pakistan during debate


n the third and final debate between US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, India wasn’t mentioned at all, not even once, in the 90-minute debate.

Pakistan was mentioned 25 times and Iran was mentioned 47 times. Here is the count:

Iran: 47 times; Israel: 34 times; China: 32 times; Syria: 28 times; Pakistan: 25 times; Afghanistan: 21 times;

For US policy makers, India did not exist on the world map. Many analysts wondered why Bharat was left out and not discussed or mentioned?

Sadanand Dhume, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (a Conservative Neocon think tank) “India is much less central to US foreign policy than many pundits in New Delhi would like to believe.”

“India is a large and inward-looking country and in many ways it sees itself as the centre of Asia whereas in reality as this debate shows it is not quite the case,” Dhume, a contributing writer to The Wall Street Journal.

RomneyRomney (Photo credit: Talk Radio News Service)

Nuanced but discernible: Romney Slightly more supportive of Pakistan during debate and during the campaign.

There was no vitriol against Pakistan, but Obama was more negative–especially when he justified the raid on Abbotabad. There didn’t seem to be much of a policy difference among the candidates on Pakistan. The foreign policy differences between the two candidates were slight. There were distinct nuances, but neither supported continuation of war, or the announcement of new wars. Both candidates are supportive of continued engagement and continuation of aid to Pakistan.

“But it’s important for us to recognise that we can’t just walk away from Pakistan. But we do need to make sure that as we send support for them, that this is tied to them making progress on – on matters that would lead them to becoming a civil society,” Romney said.

Romney voiced his support for the President’s ongoing policy of using unmanned weapons to attack terrorist targets, saying the U.S. should be ready by “any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world.”

Romney on drones: “I believe we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world. And it’s widely reported that drones are being used in strikes, and I support that and entirely, and feel the president was right over the usage of that technology, and believe that we should continue to use it, to continue to go after the people that represent a threat to this nation and to our friends. But let me also note that as I said earlier, we’re going to have to do more than just going after leaders and – and killing bad guys, important as that is.”

Both are concerned about Pakistan’s Nuclear program. Even though Governor Romney has supported the drone strikes, he has generally been more supportive of Pakistan during the debate and during the campaign. Romney had declared that America should have sought permission from Pakistan before making the Osama raid. Obama displayed his general distrust for Pakistan during the debate when he said that if we had sought permission from Pakistan, Osama Bin Laden would have escaped. For the record, both candidates have supported withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 with some nuanced differences. Romney said that the withdrawal would depend on conditions on the ground (which Obama will also do–but Obama’s withdrawal date is confirmed as per VP Biden).

Obama was not very positive about Pakistan “if we had asked Pakistan permission, we would not have gotten him (bin Laden). And it was worth moving heaven and earth to get him.”

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 1:  In this handout image...WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 1: In this handout image provided by The White House, President Barack Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office before making a statement to the media about the mission against Osama bin Laden, May 1, 2011 in Washington, DC. The President made a series of calls, including to Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and others, to inform them of the successful mission. U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the United States had killed the most-wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden in an operation led by U.S. Special Forces at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

When asked if the US should “divorce” Pakistan, Romney gave a strong No to the question.

“No, it’s not time to divorce a nation on Earth that has 100 nuclear weapons and is on the way to double that at some point, a nation that has serious threats from terrorist groups within its nation,” Romney.

“But we do need to make sure that, as we send support for them, that this is tied to them making progress on matters that would lead them to becoming a civil society.”

Obama on the other hand was all over the map and didn’t quiet answer the question, though he did want to stay engaged with Pakistan.

Both the candidates are supportive of the Drone strikes, but Romney may revert to the Bush position if faced with defiance from Islamabad (which has been lacking during the PPP government)–as may Obama. The Republican contender Mitt Romney said that he would continue to engage with Pakistan and would not abandon it because it was a Nuclear power. “So we’re going to have to remain helpful in encouraging Pakistan to move towards a more stable government and rebuild a relationship with us. And that means that our aid that we provide to Pakistan is going to have to be conditioned upon certain benchmarks being met.” He also said that “It is important for the US to recognise that it cannot just walk away from Pakistan, Romney”.

The 65-year-old Romney responding to a question about the US withdrawal said that Pakistan “is important to the region, to the world and to us” because it had 100 nuclear warheads and was rushing to build a lot more. “They’ll have more than Great Britain sometime in the relatively near future,” Romney said. “They also have the Haqqani network and Taliban existent within their country. And so a Pakistan that falls apart, becomes a failed state would be of extraordinary danger to Afghanistan and us,” he added. Romney argued that despite a strained relationship with Pakistan, the United States cannot afford to “divorce” Pakistan, which is a nation of over 100 nuclear weapons. “No, it’s not time to divorce a nation on earth that has a hundred nuclear weapons and is on the way to double that at some point, a nation that has serious threats from terrorist groups within its nation, the Taliban, Haqqani network. It’s a nation that’s not like others and that does not have a civilian leadership that is calling the shots there,” he said.

Romney supported Pakistan by saying “And so we’re going to have to remain helpful in encouraging Pakistan to move towards a more stable government and rebuild the relationship with us. And that means that our aid that we provide to Pakistan is going to have to be conditioned upon certain benchmarks being met.”

Romney supported Obama by saying. “I don’t blame the administration for the fact that the relationship with Pakistan is strained. We had to go into Pakistan; we had to go in there to get Osama bin Laden. That was the right thing to do,” said the Republican presidential candidate during Af-Pak section of the debate.

Roney said “This is an important part of the world for us. Pakistan is technically an ally, and they’re not acting very much like an ally right now. But we have some work to do. And I – I don’t blame the administration for the fact that the relationship with Pakistan is strained. We had to go into Pakistan. We had to go in there to get Osama bin Laden. That was the right thing to do. And that upset them, but obviously there was a great deal of anger even before that. But we’re going to have to work with the people in Pakistan to try and help them move to a more responsible course than the one that they’re on. And it’s important for them. It’s important for the nuclear weapons. It’s important for the success of Afghanistan.”

Discussing Pakistan, Romney said, “It’s a nation that’s not like others and that does not have a civilian leadership that is calling the shots there.

“You’ve got the ISI, their intelligence organisation is probably the most powerful of the three branches there. Then you have the military and then you have the civilian government. This is a nation which if it falls apart — if it becomes a failed state, there are nuclear weapons there and you’ve got — you’ve got terrorists there who could grab their — their hands onto those nuclear weapons”

President Obama is the only US president, or possibly the only American politician that has held office that correctly pronounces the name of the country.

Liberate Arakan Mrohaung: Stop Burmese genocide of Rohingya Muslims


The world is appalled. All civilized nations have condemned it. The Burmese (aka Mayanmar) authorities are on a rampage and have been on a rampage. The Muslims have been stripped of their citizenship and have no rights as human being.

The kingdom of Mrohaung used to own vast territories which included Chittagong. The kingdom came into conflict with the Mughals during the reign of Aurenzeb. It did survive the attacks, and continued to be independent for much longer. The British in all their wisdom did not give Mrohaung its independence when they left Burma.

As of 2012, 800,000 Rohingya live in Myanmar. Burma occupied the Muslim kingdom of Arakan on December 31st, 1784. Following the Burmese conquest of Arakan in 1785, as many as 35,000 Arakanese people fled to the neighbouring Chittagong region of British Bengal in 1799 to avoid Burmese persecution and seek protection from British India.

The Human Rights Watch urged the government of Myanmar to take immediate steps to stop violence against the Rohingya Muslim population in the Arakan State of western Myanmar.

The stateless Rohingya,have long been considered by the United Nations as one of the most persecuted minorities on the planet.

Aung San Suu Kyi is silent.

The United Nations on Friday warned that the hostilities could jeopardise the country’s widely-praised reforms, which include the release of hundreds of political prisoners and the election of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament.

  • The United Nations earlier said 3,200 had made their way towards shelters in Sittwe, with a further several thousand on the way.
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    English: Human Rights Watch logo ???????: ??????? ?????? ????? ???? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Residents of one camp in a coastal area on the outskirts of Sittwe said they could see boatloads of Rohingya on the shore.

  • “The security forces are not allowing them to come in. Some people are on the shore and some are still on their boats.”
  • He added the group of several thousand people, including women and children, was believed to be from just two towns.

Burma’s president Thein Sein’s has admitted an unprecedented wave of ethnic violence has targeted his country’s Rohingya Muslim population, destroying whole villages and large parts of towns.

The attacks in Arakan province in the country’s west – also known as Rakhine – appears to have been part of a wave of communal violence pitting Arakan Buddhists against Muslims .

New satellite imagery shows extensive destruction of homes and other property in a predominantly Rohingya Muslim area of the coastal town of Kyauk Pyu – the epi-center of widespread new violence and displacement.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the darling of the West is silent.

  • The Rohingya, are under “vicious attack”. Rangoon must ensure protection for the affected Muslim and Buddhist communities in the region.
  • A total of 811 destroyed building structures can be identified from the images of the eastern edge of Kyauk Pyu city – a Rohingya area. The destruction was caused by arson attacks occurring October 24.
  • The victims were mostly Muslim Rohingyas.
  • “Unless the authorities also start addressing the root causes of the violence, it is only likely to get worse,” said Phil Robertson, HRW deputy Asia director.
English: Silver_coin_of_king_Nitichandra_Araka...

English: Silver_coin_of_king_Nitichandra_Arakan_Brahmi_legend_NITI_in_front_Shrivatasa_symbol_reverse_8th_century_CE. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Burma’s government urgently needs to provide security for the Rohingya in Arakan state, who are under vicious attack,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Unless the authorities also start addressing the root causes of the violence, it is only likely to get worse.”

Myanmar State television had reported Friday night that 67 people had died, 95 been injured and 2,818 houses were burned down from Sunday through Thursday in seven of the state’s townships. Human Rights Watch said that the true death toll is higher than that officially reported, based on witnesses’ accounts and a history of government undercounting in cases that might reflect badly on it.

Why doesn’t  Aung San Suu Kyi speak up?

Muslim settlements have existed in Arakan since the arrival of Arabs there in the 8th century CE. The direct descendants of Arab settlers are believed to live in central Arakan near Mrauk-U and Kyauktaw townships, rather than the Mayu frontier area, the present day area where a majority of Rohingya are populated, near Chittagong Division, Bangladesh.

According to Charles Kimball In the 14th century Arakan was a pawn that frequently changed hands in the struggles between Ava and Pegu. Things began to look up, however, when King Narameikhla (1404-34), aided by the sultan of Bengal, recovered his throne from a pro-Burmese usurper. At the end of his reign he built a splendid new capital, Mrohaung, and Arakan’s golden age began.

Kimbal says that “Relations with the Mogul Empire went from bad to worse as the 17th century progressed. The first Mogul attack retook Dacca, but the invading fleet was smashed before it could get out of the Ganges delta (1629). In 1660 a Mogul prince, Shah Shuja, fled to Mrohaung when he failed to keep his brother, Aurangzeb, from usurping the Mogul throne. Shah Shuja asked for ships to convey his family and retinue to Mecca, but none were supplied. Then the Arakanese king, Sandathudamma, asked for one of Shah Shuja’s daughters in marriage and was indignantly refused. Fearing he would be handed over to the Moguls, Shah Shuja tried to escape; on the second attempt he was killed in a riot and his treasures were confiscated.”

Kimbal futher adds that “When Aurangzeb heard the news, he demanded the surrender of Shah Shuja’s children; Sandathudamma refused and war broke out. At first the war went well for Arakan, with the Feringhi making two devastating raids on the Bengal coast. But at a crucial moment they quarreled with the Arakanese, and when the Moguls offered employment most of the Feringhi switched sides. The result was an overwhelming Mogul victory at the battle of Dianga (1666), where the Arakanese fleet was destroyed and Chittagong (held by Arakan since 1459) was taken back.”

Early evidence of Bengali Muslim settlements in Arakan date back to the time of King Narameikhla (1430–1434) of the Kingdom of Mrauk U. After 24 years of exile in Bengal, he regained control of the Arakanese throne in 1430 with military assistance from the Sultanate of Bengal. The Bengalis who came with him formed their own settlements in the region.

Following the Burmese conquest of Arakan in 1785, as many as 35,000 Arakanese people fled to the neighbouring Chittagong region of British Bengal in 1799 to avoid Burmese persecution and seek protection from British India.

Català: Bandera de la nació Rohingya, imatge p...

Català: Bandera de la nació Rohingya, imatge propia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rohingya scholars have successfully written the Rohingya language in various scripts including Arabic, Hanifi, Urdu, Roman, and Burmese, where Hanifi is a newly developed alphabet derived from Arabic with the addition of four characters from Latin and Burmese.

British Francis Buchanan-Hamilton in his 1799 article “A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the Languages Spoken in the Burma Empire,” Buchanan-Hamilton stated: “I shall now add three dialects, spoken in the Burma Empire, but evidently derived from the language of the Hindu nation. The first is that spoken by the Mohammedans, who have long settled in Arakan, and who call themselves Rooinga, or natives of Arakan.

Old coin of Arakan, today Rakhine, Myanmar. Mi...

Old coin of Arakan, today Rakhine, Myanmar. Minted by Shams al-din Muhammad Ghazi, sultan of Bengal. Dated AH962 (= 1554/5 AD). Obverse: kalima within square. Reverse: (above and right:) Shams al-Dunya wa al-Din abu al-Muzaffar (within square:) Muhammad Shah Ghazi khalled Allah mulkahu wa sultanat (below:) sanah 962 (left:) zarb Arakan (with low “a”). More or less similar to this coin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MA Chowdhury a historian says that among the Muslim populations in Myanmar, the term ‘Mrohaung’ (Old Arakanese Kingdom) was corrupted to Rohang. And thus inhabitants of the region are called Rohingya.

Amnesty International also issued a separate statement calling for more government action to protect lives.

“These latest incidents between Muslim Rohingyas and Buddhists demonstrate how urgent it is that the authorities intervene to protect everyone, and break the cycle of discrimination and violence,” Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific deputy director, Isabelle Arradon, said in a statement.

In June, ethnic violence in Rakhine killed at least 90 people and destroyed more than 3,000 homes. About 75,000 have been living in refugee camps ever since. Curfews have been in place in some areas since the earlier violence and were extended in scope this past week.

The unrest in Rakhine state has caused a fresh exodus of people fleeing for safety from Rohingya minority areas.

Aung San Suu Kyi doesn’t say anything!

  • Tens of thousands of mainly Muslim Rohingya are already crammed into squalid camps around the state capital Sittwe after deadly violence in June. Rakhine state officials said the latest bloodshed had caused an influx of boats carrying around 6,000 people to the city.
  • “The local government is planning to relocate them to a suitable place. We are having problems because more people are coming,” said Rakhine government spokesman Hla Thein. Some of the displaced are still on boats while several thousand have docked on an island opposite Sittwe.
  • Chris Lewa, head of the Arakan Project, which campaigns for Rohingya rights, said the recent spate of clashes were “far deadlier” than the June unrest.
  • “Rakhine State has now spiraled into complete lawlessness,” she told news agency AFP on Saturday. “Violence is spreading to the south and east with the clear purpose of expelling all Muslims, not just Rohingya.”