T h e

K a s h m i r

T  e  l  e  g  r  a  p  h

Vol I Issue XII

A Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

April 2003

I N S I D E


Spotlight 

Deepak Lokhande

 

Editorial     

 

Column     

Yashwant Sinha     

                   

View Point      

Sushil Vakil

 

On Track     

M V Kamath 

         

Opinion

M K Dhar

 

Analysis

Sawraj Singh

 

State Craft

Ram Puniyani

 

Perspective

K G Joglekar

 

Last Word

V Sundaram 

 

                            


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S P O T L I G H T

After Iraq, it is Yemen next 

Deepak Lokhande


After Iraq, Yemen will be the next target of the United States, says Sundeep Waslekar, president of the Strategic Foresight Group, a Mumbai-based think-tank on foreign policy, security and governance issues.

Waslekar claims to have accurately predicted the US attack on Iraq way back in September 2001 and has released two reports on the future of India and Pakistan.

On Thursday, his group will release a third report, this time on the future of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It is titled ‘Shifting Sands: Instability in Undefined Asia’.

Here are excerpts from a conversation with Waslekar about the possible effects of the US-Iraq war on India and her neighbours:

What made you do a report on Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia?
We thought about this a year ago, after US action in Afghanistan began. I had predicted the possibility of a US strike against Iraq as early as September 2001. We decided to look at the possibilities beyond war in this region.

Why this particular group of nations?
They are a unique set. Together they don’t make any association of nations but are linked together through war, terrorism, energy routes and the US interest in them.

We call them undefined because we can’t classify them as west Asian or north Asian countries and also their nature is not quite clear.

These nations have also shown a rare economic feature — they have registered a drop in income. Having a slow growth is one thing, having a drop in income is entirely different.

What does that lead to?
They have a youth population of about 50 million. About 10 million youths are unemployed, coming from an education system manipulated by radical elements.

Most of them can’t find jobs in the modern economy and have limited opportunities as preachers or priests. They would want to create a radical Islamic order, which would have an elite place for them.

There is a huge turmoil among the youth, to be exploited by radicals, as it is easy to create a sense of insecurity among them. They will portray the US as an outside enemy. US intervention in the region will work as a catalyst towards the rise of terrorism.

How will this affect India?
Not just India, it will affect the whole world. Terrorist groups operating from these countries are in close touch. They share seminaries, funds and even personnel. This will make our task of combating terror difficult in India.

Today we know we have to fight the Pakistani terror network. Tomorrow the network could be more complex. It is going to affect us on the economic front, too. Oil prices will rise to more than US $40 per barrel if the US-Iraq conflict goes on beyond three months. It will hit us very hard.

What can be the action plan for India?
We must define our interests and see how best to protect them. We need to take a careful approach. The Taliban and   al-Qaeda are getting stronger in Afghanistan. India must mobilise Europe to bring about stability in Afghanistan and strengthen Hamid Karzai’s regime.

Pakistan, in the past one year, is pretending to curb terrorism but an overall tendency has been to cultivate terror. The Lashkar-e-Taiba is now operating under the name of Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Harkat-ul-Ansar has acquired the new name of Jehad-e-Islami.

The US is ignoring this as it doesn’t want to let Pakistan down. But we need to counter it through diplomatic and stronger internal security measures. There will be periodic terrorist attacks, like the one we saw in Srinagar recently. We must also carefully plan our energy needs and prepare for uncertainties.

Do you see a link between the attack on Kashmiri Pandits and the US-Iraq conflict?
There’s not just one attack, there are two — the other one being the murder of rebel Hizbul leader Majid Dar. They are unusual in the sense that they came in a span of two days. The Indian government must see if there is a pattern in this.

Will Pakistan be the next target of the US?
Actually, it will be Yemen. It has been a hotbed of terrorism. Of the 15 Saudis involved in the 9/11 attacks, 11 came from the border area of UAE and Yemen.

The Yemeni government is co-operating, but the US is not satisfied with its efforts. The US is also possibly tightening its grip around Saudi Arabia by first taking Iraq and then Yemen. It’s easier for them that way.

Pakistan is not that important for the US. They may have an interest in Baluchistan, which has rich gas reserves, and the Guadar port, as it is their only sea link to central Asia.

By an exclusive arrangement with Mid Day, Mumbai

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