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Hyderabad based AIMIM led by MP and leader Assaduddin Owaisi after the recent success in Maharashtra elections had announced a rally in Pune Maharashtra to demand implementation of 5% Reservations from the Maharashtra Government which had been struck down by the courts.

Crowd at AIMIM rally in Pune
Crowd at AIMIM rally in Pune

The rally was already marred by controversy when Pune police denied Mr. Assaduddin Owaisi permission to hold rally at the much larger Golibar Maidan Pune as requested by the AIMIM leader.  Mr. Owaisi had cried foul and alleged police bias in regard to denying of the permission to hold the rally at the desired venue.

After the venue was rejected AIMIM leader settled for a much smaller ground in Kauser baug a Muslim dominated area of Kondhwa Pune. The rally was scheduled for 5.pm. All the roads leading to the venue were blocked and traffic diverted for law and order and crowd control. Just before the rally started there was a demonstration by right wing Hindu Shiv Sena activists at some distance from the rally venue adding to woes of the already worsened traffic condition.

Crowd at AIMIM rally in Pune
Crowd at AIMIM rally in Pune

Unlike most political partiesMr. Asaduddin Owaisi rally started on time exactly. The venue was already packed with a large number of Muslims most of whom were youngsters and more people continued to stream towards the ground. Mr. Asaduddin Owaisi is no doubt one of the better orators not only among the Muslim community but among all the political leaders in India. He surely knows the pulse of the community and it was evident from the huge roar and applause he got from the crowd that consisted mainly of young Muslim men.

The Hyderabad based MP spoke about hate speech charges leveled against him and his younger brother MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi but did not use any words that amounted to be called provocative in his speech. He mentioned issues like Muslim backwardness and recommendations of Sachar Committee report and requested Maharashtra government of Fadnavis to implement 5 % reservation for Muslims that was brought in by the previous government. He refuted the charges against him and his party of being communal and went to tell the crowd that he was the first one in parliament to address Pakistan based JUD leader Hafiz Saeed as an old man in the parliament

Crowd amassed at AIMIM rally in Pune
Crowd amassed at AIMIM rally in Pune

The crowd which according to my estimate should be anything between fifteen to twenty thousand people cheered the leader at his jibes against the opposition parties and the largest roar came when Mr. Assaduddin Owaisi declared that there would be another rally in Pune in future that would be addressed by his younger brother the firebrand Akbaruddin Owaisi

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen clearly appears to have caught the fancy and imagination of the younger generation of Muslims and one should not be surprised if AIMIM a fairly new party in Maharashtra starts winning local council seats in Muslim dominated pockets in the state.

AIMIM rally audience
AIMIM rally audience

The rise of parties like BJP and AIMIM means marginalization of parties like congress and NCP from the political scenario and only future will tell whether Indian political scene has taken a road towards right or will go back to its secular politics

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This article stating that Ved Pratap Vaidik was participating in the TrackII dialogue representing RSS and Modi (Ved Pratap Vaidik met Hafiz Saeed in same trip, confirming my suspicions about his interview) was apparently originally published in Manorama but isn't accessible anymore. Only copy seems to be in Kashmir Watch, which some people couldn't access. Duplicating it here for the sake of record.

Money matters

By Kallol Bhattacherjee

Focus on trade likely to be the defining feature of Modi's foreign policy

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi touched down in Bhutan on June 15, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was hosting a special Indian guest and his companions in Islamabad, who had come for a Track II dialogue. While the Prime Minister's Office is tight-lipped about editor and columnist Ved Pratap Vaidik's visit to Islamabad, he is believed to have gone to Pakistan as the representative of the RSS, tasked with dispelling misunderstandings about the Sangh Parivar and its south Asian agenda.

Vaidik had travelled to Lahore on his own to meet Sharif in May last year after the Pakistani leader won the elections. In return, Sharif, reportedly, rewarded him with rare access and contacts, which he used extensively during a trip to Pakistan early this year to convince its leaders that Pakistan can do business with India under Modi.

Najam Rafique of the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, which is hosting the Track II dialogue, told THE WEEK that Vaidik represented not just the RSS, but also Modi. “Vaidik is visiting us as an emissary of the Indian prime minister. On June 23, he is addressing an in-house meeting at ISSI. The agenda is how to revive the Pakistan-India dialogue process and what issues are to be taken up. The Indian side is resisting to discuss Kashmir,” he said. Sources in Islamabad said the Modi government's focus was on trade, especially getting the non-discriminatory trade agreement ratified by Pakistan. Rafique, however, said it might not be easy and would require some arm-twisting by India. “The Pakistani side is insisting that Kashmir should be on the table during the Track II dialogue. But, there is a widespread understanding that trade has to come first,” he said.

Given the sensitivities involved, not all details are on public domain, but Union Minister Arun Jaitley's comment about a possible dialogue with separatists in Kashmir has added to the sentiment that the Modi government will manage south Asia unconventionally, with a surprise cast of characters, if necessary. Darakhshan Andrabi, leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Socialist Democratic Party, who is lobbying Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh for creating an alternative political platform in Kashmiri politics, said the Track II dialogue with Pakistan was aimed at attempting an enabling condition for going ahead with other aspects of life, like trade and development.

Former foreign secretary Shyam Saran said the Modi government's emphasis on trade with Pakistan, the rest of south Asia and the major world powers could well be the defining feature of Indian foreign policy under Modi. “Allowing Pakistani banks in India and the State Bank of India to operate in Pakistan and granting non-discriminatory market access to India by Pakistan will add to India's growth economy status. Much of our diplomatic stalling of the last five years happened because the world, after celebrating our economic growth for some time, suddenly started perceiving us as a low-potential economy hobbled by a weak political structure. India's diplomacy will change dramatically if Modi can create an impression by his initial deals in south Asia and Japan that India will prioritise trade over other differences, whether big or small,” he said.

These priorities will be reflected in External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's foreign trips as well. Swaraj, fresh from her tour to Bhutan, accompanying Modi, is expected to leave for a meeting with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on June 26, carrying forward the Look East dynamic of Modi's foreign policy. Already, the Bhutan visit of Modi is being interpreted as a message to China not to snatch away India's partners in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

Saran said the September session of the UN General Assembly, which Modi was likely to attend, would give his team another major opportunity in perfecting its trade diplomacy. In Washington, DC, the United States India Political Action Committee, the organisation that facilitated the pre-election US visit of Rajnath Singh and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, is doing unofficial groundwork for Modi's visit. “We are excited about the defence IT sector as a new area, as India plans new investment zones in defence production,” said Sanjay Puri of USINPAC.

An immediate challenge for Modi will be in breaking ice with Italy, which is taking advantage of the football season by selling T-shirts with the names of the Italian marines charged for killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast. “The European Parliament will be headed by Italy from September and there is a possibility that tough Italy-India ties might hurt India-EU ties,” said a European ambassador.

The Modi-Swaraj-Doval team has begun with an intense plan of action. But, given the uncertainties in the world of diplomacy, it may also need some luck to succeed.

The gambit

Modi's tenure has begun with a bang:

* Neighbouring heads of state at the swearing-in ceremony
* First foreign visit to Bhutan, emphasising its significance
* Back-channel talks on with Pakistan
* Hosted Chinese foreign minister and Russian deputy PM
* Talks scheduled with Bangladesh PM
* Interactions being worked on with leaders of the US and Japan
* Renewed focus on trade diplomacy

-Source: The Week, India-
Print Version

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Let us begin with the video of the king of "carefully presented BJP interviews", Rajat Sharma interviewing Baba Ramdev aide Ved Pratap Vaidik.

Even as respected journalists flee a sinking media, the entire media seems to have let this pass unquestioned. Ved Pratap Vaidik has no authority to engage in dialogue with anyone. This cannot be called a journalistic endeavor, since there is no documentation, or for that matter any new information not previously known being disclosed. It is no documentary type visit bringing insight to an entity. Instead, he seems to have held a bilateral dialogue with an entity we consider criminal.

Is the BJP also legitimizing a track of dialogue between extremists of both countries?

What does Ved Pratap Vaidik have in common with Hafiz Saeed other than organized religious Nationalism with stakes in national politics?

He speaks of their talks as a cultural exchange, asks after his objections to Narendra Modi and views with regard to Modi's potential visit to Pakistan. Now let us get this clearly. India considers Hafiz Saeed to be a terrorist. He is no representative of Pakistan recognized by India to interview for acceptance of the Indian Prime Minister. This undermines India's efforts to pressure Pakistan to curb radicalization against India by giving legitimacy and seeking acceptance from someone we consider to be a terrorist supporter.

Here are some quotes. I leave you to decide for yourself what Ved Pratap Vaidik is up to and what Rajat Sharma is doing when he projects an action clearly against India as some kind of achievement. Not to mention the whole pantheon of Indian media who appear to not have noticed this at all, or have not found it worth questioning.

baatcheet shuru karnese pehle, kuch tasweerein hum darshakon ko dikha dete hain. Lahore ki ye tasweerein hain. subah mein savva ghante lambi mulakaat hui Ved Pratap Vaidik ki Hafiz Saeed se. ek kamre mein sirf Hafiz Saeed or Vaidik sahab the. Vaidik sahab aap.... (Before beginning the talk, we bring you some images. These images are from Lahore. In the morning, there was an hour and a quarter long meeting between Ved Pratap Vaidik and Hafiz Saeed. Only Hafiz Saeed and Vaidik sahab were in a room. Vaidik sahab, you...) ~ Rajat Sharma

And amazingly, after showing images of the meeting, Rajat Sharma completely skips asking what gave Ved Pratap Vaidik the authority to do a one on one meeting with a non-state actor of another country that asked about the acceptability of the Indian Prime Minister in the opinion of someone declared a terrorist in India. He directly moves on to ask details of the meeting as though it were a formal dialogue with any legitimacy!!!

Now, if this were anyone other than a Modi supporter, the TV channels would be rightfully screaming outrage over the fact that the meeting happened at all, let alone got reported in detail over national TV in such glowing terms. The fact that the meeting seeks a terrorist's opinion on the Indian Prime Minister is an insult to India!!! Even if he is a product of an allied religious fanaticism industry. The expectation is that he represents the country now. It is no matter of pride that religious fanatics engaged in harm to the country find him acceptable!

Talk of terrorist associations. There would be more outrage if non-BJP Indian politician had an opinion on Modi. Apparently it is more acceptable to be a terrorist than a non-BJP politician?

Then Ved Pratap Vaidik drops these gems unchallenged by not just Rajat Sharma, but anyone in Indian media so far.

Quoting Hafiz Saeed in first person: media ke baare mein jab baat hui, to unhone kaha ki aapka media mujhe baar baar dahashatgad kehta hain. aapke propaganda se america prabhavit ho gaya aur america aur united nations ne bhi mujhe dahashatgarh ghoshit kar diya.... (when we spoke about media, he said that your media calls me a terrorist repeatedly. America has got influenced by your propaganda and America and United Nations have also declared me terrorist.)

Conveying Hafiz Saeed's view and then the astonishing response to the accusation of Indian media calling him terrorist.

lekin unko maine spasth kiya ki ye sirf media ki wajah se nahi hain. ye uch aisi ghatanayein Pakistan ki taraf se hoti hain ki jikse karan logon ke man mein ye vishwas pakka hota hain i koi na koi badi deheshatgarh takat un sab ghatanaon ke peeche hain, jisse pura hindustan bilbilaa uthta hain. (but I made it clear to him that it isn't only because of media. These are some incidences from Pakistan's side, due to which people believe that there is some or the other big terrorist power behind them, because of which entire Hindustan trembles.)

What. The. Fuck?

India thinks Hafiz Saeed is terrorist because it trembles at the terrorist power behind some incidences from "Pakistan's side" (as opposed to any role by Hafiz Saeed and denied by Pakistan state)? And really? Hindustan trembles, which is why they think he's terrorist? Reminds me of the "hysteria" accusations made at women. "Hey, Hindustan is overreacting because they're terrified, they mean you no harm." And this joker is proudly sharing this with whole country without any questions raised on a channel known to be pro-Modi-sarkar. Makes one wonder if Modi sarkar's plan is to prostrate India!

Descriptions of Hafiz Saeed's grandeur follow. Thousands coming to listen to him, then Vaidik went to meet him. Lived in a dense, upscale locality in Lahore, his security is better than Pakistan Prime Minister's, he has high stature in Pakistan, I got the impression he doesn't want to meet me but he called me, then he immediately said he had heard our complaints in media and asked me to tell him about myself, etc.... note that this man Hafiz Saeed, whom Vaidik is giving glowing details of being allowed to meet, is calling for Pakistanis to fight India for the "freedom" of Kashmir often in his public meetings.

Vaidik is describing discussions of how Hafiz Saeed said we share a common culture. How his mother came to Pakistan pregnant with him. Then Hafiz Saeed asked about Modi's wife and he said that he has no wife in the manner we understand wife and is a bachelor for all practical purposes. Sangh pracharaks are bachelors. Then he described sangh, brahmacharya and so on.

Then Vaidik asks why Hafiz Saeed has enmity with Modi. Erm... WHAT? Hafiz Saeed denied enmity with Modi (which probably means that bhakts on Twitter will like JuD better now). Vaidik asks about the treatment Modi will get if he comes to Pakistan, and Hafiz Saeed says that they will give him an open hearted welcome. So the question is, what visits does Vaidik think India's Prime Minister will do to Pakistan where Hafiz Saeed will provide hospitality.

And Vaidik asks whether Saeed too is a brahmachari and Saeed replied that he has three wives. And so on.

Nor is this a one time connection. Ved Pratap Vaidik confirmed to journalist Aditya Raj Kaul that he had been seeking a meeting with Saeed for a while since his meeting last year got cancelled.

He paints a glowing picture of Hafiz Saeed as a humanitarian messiah who has been defamed. Repeats Saeed's claim that he was framed by Rehman Malik. Bluntly denies allegations of terrorism on Hafiz Saeed's behalf based on HIS OWN interactions in Islamabad and Lahore. Sidesteps questions of calls for jihad in Kashmir that are ON RECORD and states that Saeed made a very favorable impression on him. In short, he openly contradicts India's stand on Hafiz Saeed ignoring all evidence to the contrary. Or perhaps, he simply sees nothing wrong with religious zealots doing humanitarian work and inciting violence using the popularity it brings them. Sound familiar?

This is a far cry from BJP's so far rabid stand against Hafiz Saeed and given that statements of this magnitude are made on National media without any objection from BJP (indeed a defense of his "motives") - from a party that is happy to object to absolutely every pro-Pakistan/pro-terrorist word ever said and rabidly attacks any attempts to raise questions - this raises serious questions about the BJP government's stand with regard to Hafiz Saeed, and more importantly, his views on Kashmir that were neatly sidestepped, but are a core issue. The government's silence on this interview is ominous.

The interview sounds like Vaidik is out to build relationships and there is absolutely no distinction in the importance given to the meetings with Nawaz Sharif and other official government representatives and Hafiz Saeed. In fact, Hafiz Saeed is compared MORE favorably. In a BILATERAL discussion often featuring India's Prime Minister.

Given that there is no censure, nor any specific interrogation of Vaidik after extensive contact with a wanted terrorist in a trip featuring meetings with official Pakistan government representatives, is this rubbish is actually sanctioned by Modi?

This interview and the complete lack of scrutiny is a FUBAR of massive proportions, that a completely prostrated media is happy to ignore. It raises questions about the government's intentions with regard to prosecuting terrorist acts against India, entities that are actively trying to separate Kashmir from India and the overall questions of developing relations between extremists of the two countries. NONE of which can be good for India.

If Hafiz Saeed is innocent or mistakenly accused, his name should first be cleared officially before such overtures. Regardless, abundant public speeches inciting large crowds against India exist, and such overtures seem inappropriate even if he were not guilty in 26/11. And if there is no change in status in India considering him guilty in 26/11, then what Ved Pratap Vaidik did amounts to an action against India's interests.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZQyS21Ut-s

Goes much to say how much the new government is undermining India's interest that the only place this interview shows is on a channel that did a carefully scripted interview of Modi, the rest of media is silent and there is no censure or even official denial of legitimacy for Vaidik from the government or security agencies investigating in the wake of this travesty.

Update: Hafiz Saeed is a terrorist. Government of India has nothing to do with a journalist meeting him. ~ Arun Jaitley and some other denials and distancing by others. Still no comment on a channel broadcasting a blatantly pro-terrorist show.

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In a post last year, I had brought up the growing Chinese presence in PoK. My opinion on that is only getting stronger. To me, the matter is simple. China wants that port in Pakistan. What does Pakistan want from China? Kashmir is pretty much the only thing.

The timing is about right too. The ill thought out war in Afghanistan is on a shaky foot as always, the US is looking for ways to leave, Pakistan is getting bolder on the subject of Kashmir. Even before that post, I had written another, where I thought that the flood in Pakistan probably prevented a Pakistani effort to use Kashmir's summer of rage to "liberate Kashmir". The Chinese troops, Pakistan's rhetoric, increasing comments from Pakistan's jihadis pointed to that.

Since then, winter came and went. Its time for a new summer. Hafiz Saeed has held open rallys for the "liberation" of Kashmir. The other great "co-incidence" - India-Pakistan peace efforts already has happened too, with the cricket match in Mohali.

Today, news reports are on the rise about China's presence in Pakistan, which China denies, but news channels are showing footage. Tough to argue that.

We have news that a pro-independence leader Maulana Showkat has been assassinated in Shrinagar in a bomb blast. No blame games have happened so far, which is telling, since if it was India suspected, people would be vocal. Still, India is likely to be blamed by the separatist leadership - its tradition.

To me, it is telling that the rise of rhetoric in Pakistan and Chinese presence on the LoC is accompanied by the killing of a moderate, pro-independence leader. If we remember, this was also the man who issued a fatwa against stone-pelting and engaged with the interlocutors. He had called for an inquiry into the killings of moderate separatist leaders like Mirwaiz Farooq, Abdul Gani Lone and Qazi Nissar and while he was a friend of Yasin Malik, he did not belong to either Hurriyat faction. Will probably be another 20 years before someone puts him among the likes of Lone and Mirawaiz - blamed on India, but 'tidied up' by the pro-Pakistan hardliners. Pro-independence would be inconvenient for the game plan I think is happening.