Unique new paperback book published worldwide today

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 A UNIQUE new book of poetry, prose and correspondence by emerging writers from South Asia is published in paperback today.

After six months of writing and production the clamour for Asian Voices was so great that its publisher fast-tracked its Kindle e-book release two weeks ahead of schedule.

And today the paperback followed suit to worldwide acclaim.

Divided by partition, war and politics, but united by creativity, brilliance and common humanity, Asian Voices has brought together 20 writers from across South Asia to shine a light on their diverse societies.

In 37,000 words, across more than 240 pages and two dozen images, these contributors paint graphic pictures of love, beauty, loss, patriarchy, disease and death in their respective countries of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

From chilly Kabul in the north, through Karachi, Delhi and Kolkata to the searing heat of Hyderabad in the south, their tales in poetry and prose are compelling.

The writers include an artist from Lahore, an engineer from Mumbai, a psychologist from Delhi, a social reformer from Jaipur, two 12th grade school students, plus many more.

The project has been pulled together by a retired British newspaper editor.

Most of the writers have, until now, only seen their work published on social media or in short order paperbacks. They are effusive in their excitement about this new book.

Nitika Das, a student from Jodhpur explains: “This book is the output of one dream shared by 20 writers.

“I believe everyone in this world is a writer, everyone has a story to tell… everyone knows how to put it into words. All we need is a pen and some blank paper.”

Fahmida Shaikh, an oceanographer from Bhiwandi believes that the diversity of the individual writers helped shape the book: “As individuals we are all so very different; different cultures, ages, nationalities and genders, but as writers we have been able to form an incredible bond that reflects the many ways that, as humans we have common needs, hopes, dreams and hearts.”

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Sobia Shakir Moon from Karachi, Pakistan

Sakshi Walia, an English Literature student from Amity University in New Delhi adds: “Together, I believe our words are shining a blinding light on the reality of being human, in a world of seeming chaos.”

Interior designer Pratibha Aasat from Hyderabad in says: “All our words are powerful emotions expressing varied feelings, the silent whispers of hearts, connecting every soul and thoughts, so vivid that they represent a complete lived life… to last in the memoirs forever.”

Nic Outterside from Wolverhampton, England is the editor and publisher of Asian Voices.

“I have edited many publications over the years,” says Nic, “But none has been as challenging and exciting as this. I am very lucky to have so many amazingly talented and beautiful people contributing to this hugely diverse project.

“I hope all the readers get as much pleasure reading this book, as I did editing it.”

Minnie Rai, a writer and 26-year-old refugee from Kabul, who now lives in London, sums up the ethos of Asian Voices: We don’t become by knowing… we become by doing. It is in the present we live and share diversity from within outwards. Through love and death we learn the language of war within us that separates us from the truth that sits beside our heart. When we share that truth, we become one… Asian Voices.”

  • Asian Voices – an anthology of new poetry and prose from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan is available in paperback from:

Worldwide

www.amazon.com/Asian-Voices-anthology-Pakistan-Afghanistan/dp/1795571217/

UK

www.amazon.co.uk/Asian-Voices-anthology-Pakistan-Afghanistan/dp/1795571217/

The Kindle e-book is also available from all Amazon outlets, including:

UK

www.amazon.co.uk/Asian-Voices-anthology-Pakistan-Afghanistan-ebook/dp/B07N7HY1VZ/

India

www.amazon.in/Asian-Voices-anthology-Pakistan-Afghanistan-ebook/dp/B07N7HY1VZ/

Rest of the World

www.amazon.com/Asian-Voices-anthology-Pakistan-Afghanistan-ebook/dp/B07N7HY1VZ/

Unique new book fast-tracked for worldwide release today

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DEMAND for a unique new book has fast-tracked its publication to today (30 January)… 12 days ahead of schedule.

After six months of writing and production the clamour for Asian Voices was so great that its publisher released it worldwide as a Kindle e-book this morning, rather than wait for the scheduled 11 February launch.

The paperback version of the book will be published next week – also well ahead of schedule.

Divided by partition, war and politics, but united by creativity, brilliance and common humanity, Asian Voices has brought together 20 emerging writers from across South Asia to shine a light on their diverse societies.

In 37,000 words, across more than 250 pages and two dozen images, these contributors paint graphic pictures of love, beauty, loss, patriarchy, disease and death in their respective countries of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

From cool Kabul in the north, through Karachi and Kolkata to the searing heat of Hyderabad in the south, their tales in poetry and prose are compelling.

The writers include an artist from Lahore, an engineer from Mumbai, a psychologist from Delhi, a social reformer from Jaipur, two 12th grade school students, plus many more.

The project has been pulled together by a retired British newspaper editor.

Most of the writers have, until now, only seen their work published on social media or in short order paperbacks.

They are effusive in their excitement about this new book.

Nitika Das, a student from Jodhpur explains: “This book is the output of one dream shared by 20 writers.

“I believe everyone in this world is a writer, everyone has a story to tell… everyone knows how to put it into words. All we need is a pen and some blank paper.”

Fahmida Shaikh, an oceanographer from Bhiwandi believes that the diversity of the individual writers helped shape the book: “As individuals we are all so very different; different cultures, ages, nationalities and genders, but as writers we have been able to form an incredible bond that reflects the many ways that, as humans we have common needs, hopes, dreams and hearts.”

Sakshi Walia, an English Literature student from Amity University in New Delhi adds: “Together, I believe our words are shining a blinding light on the reality of being human, in a world of seeming chaos.”

Pratik Arti Prakash, an electronic engineer from Mumbai sees a common theme: “You could use all the milk in the world to paint it white, still deep down the canvas is black. We learn from everyone but mostly fail to learn from ourselves.”

Agathaa Shelling, a 12th grade school student from Ahmedabad completes many sentiments:For all that has lived the ruins, it is art. The people, the poetry and the words. It’s beautiful how, the boundaries have embraced love so beautifully.”

Fellow writer and interior designer Pratibha Aasat from Hyderabad in southern India says: “All our words are powerful emotions expressing varied feelings, the silent whispers of hearts, connecting every soul and thoughts, so vivid that they represent a complete lived life… to last in the memoirs forever.”

Nic Outterside from Wolverhampton, England is the editor and publisher of Asian Voices.

“I have edited many publications over the years,” says Nic, “But none has been as challenging and exciting as this. I am very lucky to have so many amazingly talented and beautiful people contributing to this hugely diverse project.

“I hope all the readers get as much pleasure reading this book, as I did editing it.”

Minnie Rai, a writer and 26-year-old refugee from Kabul, who now lives in London, sums up the ethos of Asian Voices: We don’t become by knowing… we become by doing.

“It is in the present we live and share diversity from within outwards. Through love and death we learn the language of war within us that separates us from the truth that sits beside our heart. When we share that truth, we become one… Asian Voices,” she adds.

Asian Voices – an anthology of new poetry and prose from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan is available from Amazon at £3 a copy (280IR).

UK

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Asian-Voices-anthology-Pakistan-Afghanistan-ebook/dp/B07N7HY1VZ/

India

https://www.amazon.in/Asian-Voices-anthology-Pakistan-Afghanistan-ebook/dp/B07N7HY1VZ/

Rest of the World

https://www.amazon.com/Asian-Voices-anthology-Pakistan-Afghanistan-ebook/dp/B07N7HY1VZ/

 

New book explores love, death, religion and rape in South Asia

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A UNIQUE new book is set to take South Asia by storm as it addresses burning issues such as love, death, rape and religion in the developing sub-continent.

Divided by partition, war and politics, but united by creativity and common humanity, Asian Voices has brought together 20 emerging writers from across the region to shine a light on their diverse societies.

In 37,000 words, across 260 pages, the contributors paint graphic pictures in poetry and prose of issues which divide and unite people in their respective countries of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The book is divided into 10 sections: Darkness, Light, Love, Loss, Heaven, Hell, Life, Death, War and Peace.

And it is within these sections that the diverse Asian Voices can be heard.

With an infant mortality rate of 4.4% in India and 6.1% in Pakistan (the UK rate is 0.28%) and an adult death rate of 31% and 21% respectively (UK rate 10.3%) – an even higher rate in war-torn Afghanistan – it is hardly surprising that the issue of death features strongly.

Mortality is dealt with sensitively by the Asian Voices writers in at least three sections of the book.

This extract on coping with grief by Lahore based writer Shahreen Iftikhar is an example:

“They say, there are five stages of grief;

I got stuck in denial, with no reasons to heal.

Is this what life is; scribbles on an empty sheet?

Making no sense, just filling the voids of our being?

I said to myself: ‘To Hell with all this grieving and the misery.

It’s time for me to let go of all the tragedies.’

All I had to do was believe.

That is all it took for me to heal.”

 

All countries in South Asia live under different degrees of social patriarchy and this is reflected in the treatment of women.

Rape is the third most common crime against women in India.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau 2013 annual report, 24,923 rape cases were reported across India in 2012. Out of these, 24,470 (98%) were committed by someone known to the victim. And many more rapes go unreported.

Similarly, physical abuse, house-arrest imprisonment and even bride-burning (now illegal) also go largely unreported.

One of the Asian Voices writers, Janvi from Jaipur has already made a name for herself in calling out for social reform.

This extract speaks volumes:

And then one day we decide to raise our voice 

But again, this society shut us by claiming it as useless noise.

The politicians and the media cry that they worship women and cow!

Is this a way of worshipping? But How?

As our wails grow louder and louder about the demons residing in our own town 

They paint henna on our hands and send us off to an unknown place, looking like a clown.

Wondering that this was not the life that we were destined to live, we decide to put an end

And here you go, creating loads of new monsters and making it Trend.

We are sacrificing ourselves from centuries just so that you know

And here you go, treating us again like the trash that you throw. 

We’ve had enough, being the sacrificed Goddess 

Next time we’ll turn this country into a bloody mess.

 

Religion also resonates within the pages of the book.

India is home to at least nine recognised religions, and while Islam dominates in Pakistan, there are also significant minorities of Christians, Hindus and Ahmadi, and even more diversity in Afghanistan.

So the sections on Life, Heaven and Hell deal with each writer’s views of spirituality and faith.

This piece by 16-year-old Shaheeba from Sibsagar touches many pulses:

How could she survive further?

When her life resided in this heart rate.

Though not here, but in Heaven

They merged to a single soul

Whenever their love tale was evoked

It started raining

Dripping all with pure love.

This flooded the river of love

Which immersed both the fragments of the hamlet

With the virtue of love.

There was love everywhere

Flowing in the winds of hamlet

Residing in the lifeless soil

Felt in the arms of the mother

And in the oneness with God.

Some souls are united in Heaven.

Some stories are plenary despite being partial.

 

The one thing which binds all the writers together is the eternal subject of Love.

For centuries the Indian sub-continent has given birth to some of the world’s greatest love poets. And they continue to emerge as we enter 2019.

This poem by Agathaa Shelling of Ahmedabad, explores that deepest of all human emotions:

You’re the sanctified sacrament in the shrine of love. I’ll devour you and I’ll become pious forever.

Yes, I’m an atheist and there’s only one religion that I practise. That’s love. And there’s only one deity from whom I receive my hymn… it’s you.

And if this is not love. I don’t know what it is. A little bit of fall in your summer. A little bit of rains in your spring. Sunshine in your winters. And a chilly gust of wind in scorching heat.

“There was once a king of verses. Power were his words. Mightier than any sword. And then there was a queen of metaphors. Deep were her rhymes. Deeper than any ocean.

He weaved a tiara out of his words and she sharpened his sword out of hers.

And that’s how they announced their love, with poetry.”

 

Minnie Rai, a writer and 26-year-old refugee from Kabul, who now lives in London, sums up the ethos of Asian Voices: “We don’t become by knowing… we become by doing.

“It is in the present we live and share diversity from within outwards. Through love and death we learn the language of war within us that separates us from the truth that sits beside our heart. When we share that truth, we become one… Asian Voices,” she adds.

 

  • Asian Voices will be published in both paperback and Kindle e-book in February.

 

Unique book unites 20 writers from Pakistan India and Afghanistan

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DIVIDED by partition, war and politics, but united by creativity, brilliance and common humanity, a unique new book has brought together 20 emerging writers from across South Asia to shine a light on their diverse societies.

In 37,000 words, across 260 pages and two dozen images, these contributors paint graphic pictures of love, beauty, loss, poverty, patriarchy, disease and murder in their respective countries of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

From Kabul in the north, through Lahore and Delhi, to Hyderabad in the south, their tales in poetry and prose are compelling.

The writers include an artistic director from Lahore, an electronic engineer from Mumbai, a psychologist from Delhi, a social reformer from Jaipur, two 12th grade school students, plus many more.

The project has been pulled together by a retired British newspaper editor.

Most of the writers have, until now, only seen their work published on social media or in short order paperbacks.

Now, ASIAN VOICES is providing a professionally produced anthology of their work, for worldwide publication in February 2019.

This “family” of contributors live and work up to 5,000 miles apart, across six time zones, and their writings display the diversity of their home cities and cultures to form the unique nature of the book.

The works include letters of longing, narrative poems about grief, essays on abuse, patriarchy, rape and murder, a story about cancer and bereavement as well as countless poems of love, loss, discovery, anger, lust, peace and war.

“We don’t become by knowing… we become by doing,” says Minnie Rai, a writer and 26-year-old refugee from Kabul, who now lives in London.

“It is in the present we live and share diversity from within outwards. Through love and death we learn the language of war within us that separates us from the truth that sits beside our heart.

“When we share that truth, we become one… Asian Voices,” she adds.

Mum, wife and teacher Sobia Shakir from Karachi in Pakistan, poignantly adds: “In art lies, the soul of an artist.”

Fellow writer and interior designer Pratibha Aasat from Hyderabad in southern India says: “All our words are powerful emotions expressing varied feelings, the silent whispers of hearts, connecting every soul and thoughts, so vivid that they represent a complete lived life… to last in the memoirs forever.”

Retired newspaper and magazine editor Nic Outterside from Wolverhampton, England is the editor and publisher of ASIAN VOICES.

“I have edited many publications over the years,” says Nic, “But none has been as challenging and exciting as this.

“I am very lucky to have so many amazingly talented and beautiful people contributing to this hugely diverse project.

“Their writing alone is breath-taking, but it doesn’t stop there… they are all brimming with ideas about the book. Their excitement is palpable and their talent immense.”

Stay tuned for more news about ASIAN VOICES in the run-up to publication in both paperback and on Kindle in the week ending 17 February 2019.

New book brings together 20 writers from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan

BLOG AV COVER

A UNIQUE new book has brought together 20 emerging writers from across South Asia to shine a light on their diverse societies.

In over 35,000 words and two dozen images these contributors paint graphic images of love, beauty, loss, poverty, patriarchy, disease and murder in their respective countries of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

From Kabul in the north, through Lahore and Delhi, to Hyderabad in the south, their tales in poetry and prose are compelling.

The writers include a Muslim teacher and mum from Karachi, a 26-year-old refugee from Kabul, an electronic engineer from Mumbai, a psychologist from Delhi, a social reformer from Jaipur, two 12th grade school students, plus many more.

The project has been pulled together by a retired British newspaper editor.

Most of the writers have, until now, only seen their work published on social media or in short order paperbacks.

Now, ASIAN VOICES is providing a professionally produced anthology of their work, for worldwide publication in February 2019.

This “family” of contributors live and work up to 6,000 miles apart, across six time zones, and their writings display the diversity of their home cities and cultures to form the unique nature of the book.

The works include letters of longing, narrative poems about grief, essays on abuse, patriarchy, rape and murder, a story about cancer and bereavement as well as countless poems of love, loss, discovery, anger, lust, peace and war.

“As individuals we are all so very different; different cultures, ages, nationalities and genders, but as writers we have been able to form an incredible bond that reflects the many ways that, as humans we have common needs, hopes, dreams and hearts,” says Fahmida Shaikh, an oceanographer from Bhiwandi.

Sakshi Walia, an English Literature student from Amity University in New Delhi says: “Together, I believe our words are shining a blinding light on the reality of being human, in a world of seeming chaos.”

Fellow English Lit student Anjali Kumari at Delhi University, added: “Everything, whether living or dead has a story to tell, everyone is a muse to someone.”

Retired newspaper and magazine editor Nic Outterside from Wolverhampton, England is the editor and publisher of ASIAN VOICES.

“I have edited many publications over the years,” says Nic, “But none has been as challenging and exciting as this.

“I am so lucky to have so many amazingly talented and beautiful people contributing to this hugely diverse project.

“Their writing alone is breath-taking, but it doesn’t stop there… they are all brimming with ideas about the book. Their excitement is palpable and their talent immense.”

Stay tuned for more news about ASIAN VOICES in the run-up to publication in both paperback and on Kindle in the week ending 17 February 2019.

Saudi nuclear weapons ‘on order’ from Pakistan

Following the publication of my blog post entitled In Bed With the Devil: David Cameron and Saudi Arabia https://seagullnic.wordpress.com/2016/01/22/in-bed-with-the-devil-david-cameron-and-saudi-arabia a couple of readers have questioned my assertion that Saudi Arabia is acquiring nuclear weapons capability.

This fact has been corroborated from a number of sources, including Reuters and Associated Press (AP).

I attach an excellent piece published on 6 November 2013 by BBC Newsnight correspondent Mark Urban. Further supportive pieces are noted at the foot of his article:

 

SAUDI Arabia has invested in Pakistani nuclear weapons projects, and believes it could obtain atomic bombs at will, a variety of sources have told BBC Newsnight.

While the kingdom’s quest has often been set in the context of countering Iran’s atomic programme, it is now possible that the Saudis might be able to deploy such devices more quickly than the Islamic republic.

Earlier this year, a senior Nato decision maker told me that he had seen intelligence reporting that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery.

Last month Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, told a conference in Sweden that if Iran got the bomb, “the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring.”

Since 2009, when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia warned visiting US special envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross that if Iran crossed the threshold, “we will get nuclear weapons”, the kingdom has sent the Americans numerous signals of its intentions.

Gary Samore, until March 2013 President Barack Obama’s counter-proliferation adviser, has told Newsnight: “I do think that the Saudis believe that they have some understanding with Pakistan that, in extremis, they would have claim to acquire nuclear weapons from Pakistan.”

The story of Saudi Arabia’s project – including the acquisition of missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads over long ranges – goes back decades.

In the late 1980s they secretly bought dozens of CSS-2 ballistic missiles from China.

These rockets, considered by many experts too inaccurate for use as conventional weapons, were deployed 20 years ago.

This summer experts at defence publishers IHS Jane’s reported the completion of a new Saudi CSS-2 base with missile launch rails aligned with Israel and Iran.

It has also been clear for many years that Saudi Arabia has given generous financial assistance to Pakistan’s defence sector, including, western experts allege, to its missile and nuclear labs.

Visits by the then Saudi defence minister Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz al Saud to the Pakistani nuclear research centre in 1999 and 2002 underlined the closeness of the defence relationship.

In its quest for a strategic deterrent against India, Pakistan co-operated closely with China which sold them missiles and provided the design for a nuclear warhead.

The Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan was accused by western intelligence agencies of selling atomic know-how and uranium enrichment centrifuges to Libya and North Korea.

AQ Khan is also believed to have passed the Chinese nuclear weapon design to those countries. This blueprint was for a device engineered to fit on the CSS-2 missile, i.e the same type sold to Saudi Arabia.

Because of this circumstantial evidence, allegations of a Saudi-Pakistani nuclear deal started to circulate even in the 1990s, but were denied by Saudi officials.

They noted that their country had signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and called for a nuclear-free Middle East, pointing to Israel’s possession of such weapons.

The fact that handing over atom bombs to a foreign government could create huge political difficulties for Pakistan, not least with the World Bank and other donors, added to scepticism about those early claims.

In Eating the Grass, his semi-official history of the Pakistani nuclear program, Major General Feroz Hassan Khan wrote that Prince Sultan’s visits to Pakistan’s atomic labs were not proof of an agreement between the two countries. But he acknowledged, “Saudi Arabia provided generous financial support to Pakistan that enabled the nuclear program to continue.”

Whatever understandings did or did not exist between the two countries in the 1990s, it was around 2003 that the kingdom started serious strategic thinking about its changing security environment and the prospect of nuclear proliferation.

A paper leaked that year by senior Saudi officials mapped out three possible responses – to acquire their own nuclear weapons, to enter into an arrangement with another nuclear power to protect the kingdom, or to rely on the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.

It was around the same time, following the US invasion of Iraq, that serious strains in the US/Saudi relationship began to show themselves, says Gary Samore.

The Saudis resented the removal of Saddam Hussein, had long been unhappy about US policy on Israel, and were growing increasingly concerned about the Iranian nuclear program.

In the years that followed, diplomatic chatter about Saudi-Pakistani nuclear cooperation began to increase.

In 2007, the US mission in Riyadh noted they were being asked questions by Pakistani diplomats about US knowledge of “Saudi-Pakistani nuclear cooperation”.

The unnamed Pakistanis opined that “it is logical for the Saudis to step in as the physical ‘protector'” of the Arab world by seeking nuclear weapons, according to one of the State Department cables posted by Wikileaks.

By the end of that decade Saudi princes and officials were giving explicit warnings of their intention to acquire nuclear weapons if Iran did.

Having warned the Americans in private for years, last year Saudi officials in Riyadh escalated it to a public warning, telling a journalist from the Times “it would be completely unacceptable to have Iran with a nuclear capability and not the kingdom”.

But were these statements bluster, aimed at forcing a stronger US line on Iran, or were they evidence of a deliberate, long-term plan for a Saudi bomb? Both, is the answer I have received from former key officials.

One senior Pakistani, speaking on background terms, confirmed the broad nature of the deal – probably unwritten – his country had reached with the kingdom and asked rhetorically “what did we think the Saudis were giving us all that money for? It wasn’t charity.”

Another, a one-time intelligence officer from the same country, said he believed “the Pakistanis certainly maintain a certain number of warheads on the basis that if the Saudis were to ask for them at any given time they would immediately be transferred.”

As for the seriousness of the Saudi threat to make good on the deal, Simon Henderson, Director of the Global Gulf and Energy Policy Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told BBC Newsnight “the Saudis speak about Iran and nuclear matters very seriously. They don’t bluff on this issue.”

Talking to many serving and former officials about this over the past few months, the only real debate I have found is about how exactly the Saudi Arabians would redeem the bargain with Pakistan.

Some think it is a cash-and-carry deal for warheads, the first of those options sketched out by the Saudis back in 2003; others that it is the second, an arrangement under which Pakistani nuclear forces could be deployed in the kingdom.

Gary Samore, considering these questions at the centre of the US intelligence and policy web, at the White House until earlier this year, thinks that what he calls, “the Nato model”, is more likely.

However ,”I think just giving Saudi Arabia a handful of nuclear weapons would be a very provocative action”, says Gary Samore.

He adds: “I’ve always thought it was much more likely – the most likely option if Pakistan were to honour any agreement would be for be for Pakistan to send its own forces, its own troops armed with nuclear weapons and with delivery systems to be deployed in Saudi Arabia”.

This would give a big political advantage to Pakistan since it would allow them to deny that they had simply handed over the weapons, but implies a dual key system in which they would need to agree in order for ‘Saudi Arabian’ “nukes” to be launched.

Others I have spoken to think this is not credible, since Saudi Arabia, which regards itself as the leader of the broader Sunni Islamic ‘ummah’ or community, would want complete control of its nuclear deterrent, particularly at this time of worsening sectarian confrontation with Shia Iran.

And it is Israeli information – that Saudi Arabia is now ready to take delivery of finished warheads for its long-range missiles – that informs some recent US and Nato intelligence reporting. Israel of course shares Saudi Arabia’s motive in wanting to worry the US into containing Iran.

Amos Yadlin declined to be interviewed for our BBC Newsnight report, but told me by email that “unlike other potential regional threats, the Saudi one is very credible and imminent.”

Even if this view is accurate there are many good reasons for Saudi Arabia to leave its nuclear warheads in Pakistan for the time being.

Doing so allows the kingdom to deny there are any on its soil. It avoids challenging Iran to cross the nuclear threshold in response, and it insulates Pakistan from the international opprobrium of being seen to operate an atomic cash-and-carry.

These assumptions though may not be safe for much longer. The US diplomatic thaw with Iran has touched deep insecurities in Riyadh, which fears that any deal to constrain the Islamic republic’s nuclear program would be ineffective.

Earlier this month the Saudi intelligence chief and former ambassador to Washington Prince Bandar announced that the kingdom would be distancing itself more from the US.

While investigating this, I have heard rumours on the diplomatic grapevine, that Pakistan has recently actually delivered Shaheen mobile ballistic missiles to Saudi Arabia, minus warheads.

These reports, still unconfirmed, would suggest an ability to deploy nuclear weapons in the kingdom, and mount them on an effective, modern, missile system more quickly than some analysts had previously imagined.

In Egypt, Saudi Arabia showed itself ready to step in with large-scale backing following the military overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi’s government.

There is a message here for Pakistan, of Riyadh being ready to replace US military assistance or World Bank loans, if standing with Saudi Arabia causes a country to lose them.

Newsnight contacted both the Pakistani and Saudi governments. The Pakistan Foreign Ministry has described our story as “speculative, mischievous and baseless”.

It adds: “Pakistan is a responsible nuclear weapon state with robust command and control structures and comprehensive export controls.”

The Saudi embassy in London has also issued a statement pointing out that the Kingdom is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and has worked for a nuclear free Middle East.

But it also points out that the UN’s “failure to make the Middle East a nuclear free zone is one of the reasons the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia rejected the offer of a seat on the UN Security Council”.

It says the Saudi Foreign Minister has stressed that this lack of international action “has put the region under the threat of a time bomb that cannot easily be defused by manoeuvring around it”.

Further reading: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/saudiarabia/11658338/The-Saudis-are-ready-to-go-nuclear.html

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/the-ultimate-nightmare-north-korea-could-sell-saudi-arabia-13162

 

 

The face of innate racism

“No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.”Elie Wiesel

THE subjugation of one human being by another is something which has eaten at me for as long as I can remember, and is the main reason why I am a socialist and a pacifist.

That abuse of power shows itself in so many ways in our ever expanding world and not least by the innate racism that exists in white Western society.

Here in the UK, UKIP and many Conservative politicians seem determined to make the current General Election campaign revolve around the issue of immigration and fear of foreigners.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has singled out Romanians, and immigrants from other former Warsaw Pact countries, as “scroungers” and “criminals” who are taking “British jobs from British people” and putting pressure on our NHS and housing supply.

It is the sort of racist scapegoating we have witnessed time and again in this country since end of World War 2.

Racism is the belief that characteristics and abilities can be attributed to people simply on the basis of their race and that some racial groups are superior to others.

Racism and discrimination have been used as powerful weapons encouraging fear or hatred of others in times of conflict and during economic downturns.

You only need to look at the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930s or the atrocities meted out today by Zionist Israel to Palestinians, to see the dire consequences if racism is left unchallenged.

But here I am not talking about the overt racism exhibited by Bibi Netanyahu or Nigel Farage, or even the so-called ‘institutional racism’ within some of our national institutions, such as the police. But I am looking at a deeper racism which exists within almost all of us born white and British.

It exists due to 800 years of our collective history as a colonial and Christian power, hell-bent on exporting our values, religion and control on other nations.

And it exists because our collective media does nothing to challenge it.

In 2001, I was working as chief investigative reporter on The Chronicle – a daily tabloid newspaper in Newcastle upon Tyne. On 11 September, I returned from a routine job in the town to watch in horror – on the newsroom TV – the atrocities of 9/11 unfold in front of our eyes, some 3,000 miles away in New York and Virginia.

The next day, the newspaper’s senior management determined that all employees should stand and observe two minutes silence for the innocent victims of the terror attack.

I refused.

Not because I did not feel pain or sympathy for those victims, but because my company had never observed even one minute’s silence for the hundreds of thousands killed by Allied military action in Iraq in 1991, the one million murdered in Rwanda, or the thousands killed in Bosnia, just a few years earlier.

Instead I went to the newsroom toilet, sat in a cubicle and cried.

The newspaper’s reaction to 9/11 – and the wall to wall media coverage over the ensuing months – typified everything I had witnessed in my previous 16 years in journalism.

Now, almost 14 years later, nothing has changed.

If I take Bosnia, Iraq and Rwanda out of the equation, a few other examples may clarify what I mean:

  • Three French skiers are lost in an avalanche in the Alps. The next day there are lengthy reports in most UK national newspapers. Each of the victims is named and in-depth family stories are written.
  • A lone gunman goes berserk and kills children in a US high school. The next day it is front page news in almost every newspaper in the UK and Europe. In depth analysis of the gunman and tributes to each of the victims and their families ensues.
  • A mad man kills hostages in an Australian restaurant. It is front pages news in every newspaper in the UK, USA and Europe. Extensive coverage about the killer and each of his victims finds itself across western media.
  • An earthquake in Northern Pakistan kills thousands of inhabitants. Over the ensuing weeks there is barely a mention in any UK or western newspapers.
  • Tens of thousands of innocent civilians are murdered by US and UK bombing in Afghanistan. But there are few reports of these atrocities in UK and western newspapers.
  • Flooding in Bangladesh kills thousands of people. Over the following weeks there are just a few lines in UK broadsheet newspapers.
  • Currently we are reading reports about 700 African migrants who drowned when a boat they were in capsized off the Libyan coast. There has been plenty of news about how the accident happened and who is to “blame”, but no attempt by any British newspaper to name the migrants or find out a little about who they were and the grieving families they leave behind.

You don’t need a microscope to see the differences in the reaction and news reporting. It has nothing to do with distance from our shores. It is all to do with white western values.

So our news media – even enlightened newspapers like the Independent and The Guardian – value the life and story of an English speaking suited, white, Western person quite differently to that of an African black or Urdu speaking Asian person.

We give ‘ours’ names, identities and lives, but the ‘others’ just nationality, religion and race. It is so much easier to avoid reporting the lives and deaths of these people if we don’t identify them as human beings the same as us.

This innate racism runs deep and has been entrenched more deeply with the Islamophobia which has perpetuated within Western society since 2001.

The white mass murderer, Norwegian, Anders Brevik is reported simply as a ‘madman killer’ – despite the fact he was a zealot Christian with a white supremacist agenda.

In contrast any killing carried out by a person of even dubious Muslim faith is reported as the act of an Islamist Extremist!

Sorry for the pun, but it is clear black and white racism.

But we have 800 years to overcome.

Britain, France, Spain, Belgium, Holland and Portugal have been colonialists since the so-called Holy Crusades to Jerusalem in the 13th century, the colonial exploitation of the Americas in the 16th and 17th centuries, to the dissection of Africa, South America and Asia in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Our imperialist ancestors conquered peaceful countries, imposed western values and Christianity upon them, murdered millions and took millions more into slavery.

And over the past 100 years we have been joined by our ‘allies’ the USA, which since the end of World War 2 has bombed: China 1945-46, Korea 1950-53, China 1950-53, Guatemala 1954, Indonesia 1958, Cuba 1959-60, Guatemala 1960, Belgian Congo 1964, Guatemala 1964, Dominican Republic 1965-66, Peru 1965, Laos 1964-73, Vietnam 1961-73, Cambodia 1969-70, Guatemala 1967-69, Lebanon 1982-84, Grenada 1983-84, Libya 1986, El Salvador 1981-92, Nicaragua 1981-90, Iran 1987-88, Libya 1989, Panama 1989-90, Iraq 1991, Kuwait 1991, Somalia 1992-94, Bosnia 1995, Iran 1998, Sudan 1998, Afghanistan 1998, Yugoslavia – Serbia 1999, Afghanistan 2001, Iraq 2003, Libya 2011 and Syria 2014.

Our nations have sown war and hatred all over the world – now there is a heavy harvest.

As a white English father I despair for the future for my children and the children of Palestine, Africa, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Yemen and anywhere that is deemed by a Western government to be a target.

At the core of any working definition of racism is the unspoken ingredient of fear.

People around the world all belong to the same human race; they share the same tendencies to fear, domination, and subjugation.

We need to let everyone know, we are the same, no matter what language we speak, whatever the colour of our skin or the religion we follow.

Maybe, I am lucky.

I live in Wolverhampton in the English West Midlands. It is a city which basks in multi-culturism. It was the bed of much Afro Caribbean immigration in the 1950s. This was followed by immigration from Pakistan and India in the 1960s and 1970s.

Now decades later, those with black, brown and coffee coloured skin mix, work, play and even marry those with white skin.

Currently there are 22,000 Sikhs, 11,000 Muslims and 7,000 Hindis in Wolverhampton. But there is no racial or religious tension.

Within a mile of my house there is a Hindi temple, a Buddhist temple, two Sikh temples, a central Mosque and at least seven Christian churches of various denominations.

Most of those with Asian or African ancestry are now third or even fourth generation immigrants and speak English as their first language, often with a thick Wolves’ accent, that Noddy Holder would recognise as his own.

But, I am not pretending it has always been like this.

I live in the parliamentary constituency which was once the seat of overt Conservative racist MP Enoch Powell (1950-74), and there has been a later history of National Front and BNP activity in the area.

But most of their racial fear, or as Powell put it: “the rivers of blood” of immigration, has now passed.

Now most inhabitants of our city realise that under the skin and religion, we are all the same… we are all human beings struggling to make a living and make sense of our lives.

Maybe Mr Farage needs to live in Wolverhampton for a year… he may even grow to like the amazing Asian restaurants and wonderful grocery shops which can be found in many side streets.

But to breakthrough this fear and innate racism we need to start regarding the inhabitants of Asian, African and even Eastern European countries in the same was we view Americans, French people or Italians.

Let’s make a start today.

I will close with one of my favourite passages of text:

“Once upon a time they was two girls,” I say. “One girl had black skin, one girl had white.” Mae Mobley look up at me. She listening. “Little coloured girl say to little white girl, ‘How come your skin be so pale?’ White girl say, ‘I don’t know. How come your skin be so black? What you think that mean?’ “But neither one a them little girls knew. So little white girl say, ‘Well, let’s see. You got hair, I got hair.'”I gives Mae Mobley a little tousle on her head. “Little coloured girl say ‘I got a nose, you got a nose.'”I gives her little snout a tweak. She got to reach up and do the same to me. “Little white girl say, ‘I got toes, you got toes.’ And I do the little thing with her toes, but she can’t get to mine cause I got my white work shoes on. “‘So we’s the same. Just a different colour’, say that little coloured girl. The little white girl she agreed and they was friends. The End.”

Kathryn Stockett