Day: January 20, 2007

Pakistan and the Taliban

At Border, Signs of Pakistani Role in Taliban Surge – New York Times

The most explosive question about the Taliban resurgence here along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is this: Have Pakistani intelligence agencies been promoting the Islamic insurgency?

The government of Pakistan vehemently rejects the allegation and insists that it is fully committed to help American and NATO forces prevail against the Taliban militants who were driven from power in Afghanistan in 2001.

Western diplomats in both countries and Pakistani opposition figures say that Pakistani intelligence agencies — in particular the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence — have been supporting a Taliban restoration, motivated not only by Islamic fervor but also by a longstanding view that the jihadist movement allows them to assert greater influence on Pakistan’s vulnerable western flank.

Read the whole article, it is instructive. Most South Asians (including Pakistanis) would say “D’uh”! We’ve known this for years! It’s considered a well known fact that the Pakistan’s Intelligence Agency ISI helped create the Taliban with US assistance and coordinated the Mujahideen resistance in Afghanistan. Read this article from 2001 for a good summary.

My point is not to discuss the rightness or wrongness of these actions. Most competent countries will do whatever is in their best interests. Everyone’s known this piece of information about the ISI for years, and the U.S government knows this as well. It is in every country’s best interest to be as hypocritical/devious as possible in the pursuit of foreign policy. 

But  it is incumbent on any newspaper covering the government to not participate in this hypocrisy. The NY times writes three pages on the Taliban without providing any background on U.S involvement. It is an article of faith among South Asians like me that American mass media is an organ of U.S diplomacy and/or propaganda. Articles like these only confirm this hypothesis.

Mercury Exposure in India?

Ex-workers ask HLL to accept liability for mercury deaths

The death of a 47-year-old man who had worked for a Hindustan Lever thermometer factory for 18 years brought out hundreds of ex-employees, who had also been exposed to toxic mercury, to the streets.

Scores of people in the area suffer from skin diseases, premature greying, incessant headaches, stomach pain, kidney problems and blood in the urine, say the former workers who approached the Supreme Court in 2005 demanding compensation.

Well, I don’t know what to say. This tragedy goes on in India continuously, occupational pollution exposure is through the roof in most factories. Safety equipment is not used, enforcement is minimal, all in all, in a country of 1+ billion people, some are more expendable than others.

I suspect this one is getting more play because a large multinational is involved. But Indian factories are equal opportunity killers, whether owned by large behemoths like Unilever, or by your local rotary club small businessman.

It looks like they have not even done an autopsy/blood test to look for mercury in this man’s system, so it’s early days.