From Karachi to Caracas 916


I am finding Karachi an interesting place from which to view the world. Four US Presidents have visited Pakistan – Eisenhower, Nixon, Clinton and Bush Jr. Each of them visited a military dictator, in the friendliest of terms. No American President has ever visited a civilian government of Pakistan. The Americans have always been far too busy plotting the next coup.

More recent neo-con practice has of course been to eschew open espousal of military dictatorship and to present CIA-organised coups as democratic revolutions. I was of course aware of their hand behind Juan Guaido in Venezuela, but I had not fully taken on board the extent to which Guaido is purely their creature. If you have not seen this superb article on Guaido’s history in Consortium News, please do read it. Guaido has been US-funded since 2005 specifically to undermine the socialist government of Venezuela. Notably the US sponsorship of this far right puppet started at a time when Chavez’ democratic and human rights credentials were impeccable, which rather undermines the current excuse for Guaido’s elevation.

In Caracas we are seeing an attempt at a colour revolution – quite literally. Here, from a US government propaganda website (not Bellingcat, another one), we have a photograph of the overwhelmingly white opposition group in the Venezuelan National Assembly.

And here, we have from the BBC a shot of Maduro’s new pro-Government citizens’ assembly – overwhelmingly of different ethnicity.

I should be plain, that I did not accept Maduro’s ruse to set up the Constituent Assembly. But neither do I accept the CIA’s ruse to overthrow the elected President. These photographs are helpful because they crystallise the fundamental issue – what is at stake is the West’s attempt to reimpose economic apartheid on the people of Venezuela.

Here in Pakistan, I am anxious to avoid the journalists’ disease of claiming expertise on a country after a few days. But it has been very instructive, and I am impressed by the start Imran Khan has made to addressing the complex and intractable problems that have hamstrung this state of 200 million talented people. Every Pakistani government has claimed to be making efforts to tackle corruption, and the colossal misapplication of state funds, and pretty well every government has been lying about that. But Imran Khan does seem to be fighting the hydra, and with an extraordinary level of application – I heard yesterday direct and separately from a Federal Minister and a Provincial Governor examples of how remarkably closely Khan is following their work.

Internationally, the move to open dialogue with the Taliban appears, coupled with Trump’s determination to pull out, to point the way to some hope of a settlement in Kabul which must inevitably include an element of power-sharing. The conundrum of accessing funds from Saudi Arabia and China without becoming a client is very well understood. Those funds help ward off over-dependence on the World Bank and IMF, whose vultures are already hovering around the usual demands for privatisations and vast hikes in utility prices to poor people. At the same time, a relationship with those institutions is unavoidable. It is an unenviable path to tread.

Attempts to reform Pakistan always encounter massively wealthy entrenched interests. If you are trying desperately hard to do good for your country, against opposition that is often viciously self-interested, it can be hard to remember that freedom of speech must also extend to the ill-intentioned and malign. Equally, while the government may feel this is hardly the time for fissiparous forces to be given play, those with secessionist views should be allowed to express them. Where there is terrorism and political violence, it can be easy for the line to be blurred between when force is and is not legitimate, and between violent extremists and peaceful dissenters advocating similar end goals. It is particularly not easy to tackle these questions where intelligence and military have enjoyed and abused excessive long term autonomy. Getting a grip on fundamental human rights is not easy, but it has to be done.

So the government faces massive challenges in making progress in areas where Pakistan has rightly been criticised in the past, but I feel much more confident they will make progress than I did before I came. I should also say that the overwhelming kindness and hospitality I have received from people at all levels has been very touching. It is a fascinating country to visit and in the next few days I shall be seeing a large number of historical sites, following in the footsteps of Alexander Burnes.

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916 thoughts on “From Karachi to Caracas

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  • Sharp Ears

    RT report on Pakistan.

    Pakistan relying less and less on US, turning to China, Saudi Arabia & UAE
    1 Feb, 2019
    Pakistan is making important strides in its military and naval capacities with the help of China, relying less on US-made weaponry. Despite accepting money from all sides, Pakistan’s relationship with China continues to be strong.

    After the Trump administration decided to suspend $3 billion in security assistance to Pakistan, complaining that Islamabad fails to do enough to combat terrorism, Washington has risked pushing Pakistan into the open arms of a number of other notable nations.

    /..
    https://www.rt.com/op-ed/450332-pakistan-china-saudi-us/

    This is crazy. ‘Pakistan Raises Defense Spending. Pakistan is slated to increase its defense budget by around 7 percent in fiscal year 2017-2018. Pakistan is set to increase defense spending by $578 million to $8.78 billion in fiscal year 2017-2018, Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told the country’s National Assembly in late May …
    https://thediplomat.com/2017/06/pakistan-raises-defense-spending/
    5 Jun 2017

      • jellybean

        So much ‘aid’ spent on that lot over there over the years, you’d think they’d have the manners to say thank you.

        Do you think you’d win a debate against Forest Gump Kempe? Honest question.

        • Muscleguy

          Those who hoovered up those monies are I’m sure very grateful, but only in private you understand. Then there’s the British corporates who did business from the aid, oh, you think we just give them money with no strings? The money HAS to be spent with UK companies, specified UK companies and a few NGO’s we need a fig leaf.

          Meanwhile there are plenty in this current govt who want all of that on steroids, so less for the NGOs and more money flowing to the corporates. At least theoretically that money then comes back to HMG through taxes, except the proportion of taxes paid by corporates has been declining across the Western World, so not so much any more.

          So, it goes to enrich the corrupt and the fat cats here. If poor people get some help, if some children get educated as a by-product? I’m sure we can do better and avoid such things in the future if that will make you happy.

  • Charles Bostock

    Love the way you’re pushing the race card in the Venezuelan unrest. Shame on you.

    Have you had a look at the skin colour of most of the Communist head honchos in Cuba, by the way?

    • Adrian Parsons

      Yep – hits you right between the eyes.

      This blog typifies Liberalism. Since Liberalism is irredeemably hostile to Communist theory and its insistence that economic (class) relations lie at the heart of any society, the only acceptable analyses of the problems thrown up by the Capitalist mode of production revolve around non-class issues: race, gender, nationality, religion, favourite colour, hair style, etc. – in short, “identity”.

      A classic case of treating the symptom not the cause.

      • .Peter

        In many South Amercan countries race and class are interlinked. The members of the ruling class are most often members of the conquerers from Spain or Portugal.
        And of course – in the class struggle why is it not legitimate to exploit this race divide as a tool.

        • SA

          Peter
          Race and class are associated but not linked. In the US , Clinton’s undesiarables contain many right wing white people I believe. It is a clear example of divide and rule.

        • James McIntosh

          Absolutely. Racism so entreched throughout the continent that people go around with an internal colour chart. Their obsession with their European names and ethniticity is worse than that of the gringos.
          Worst offenders Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Venezuela.
          Least, only because they massacred their indigenous Indians and don’t grow plantation crops so didn’t import African manpower; Argentina & Chile.

          As you suggested encouraged by ” los de siempre ” -the ancestors of the European settlers who declared their independence from Spain & Portugal but continued the looting of the continent’s resources and have been in control of everything since early 19th century it’s a continent obssessed with colour.

          There’s not been a president anywhere, even in Mexico, that I can remember who hasn’t had a European name.

          No indigenous Indian dynasties with their hands on the loot or the land and it’s a BIG continent.

          • Loony

            You are correct South America is a big continent and a lot of indigenous people were massacred.

            Do you think more indigenous people were massacred by the Spanish or by other indigenous people? For example it is estimated that in an average year the Aztec practice of human sacrifice accounted for around 20,000 people. On special occasions they may have slaughtered up to 80,000 people in one giant orgy of killing.

            Of course things like this are of absolutely no interest – but could become interesting if only we could develop a theory of reincarnation and claim that in a previous life Donald Trump was simultaneously both an Aztec Priest and a Spanish Conquistador.

        • Adrian Parsons

          “…in the class struggle why is it not legitimate to exploit this race divide as a tool.”

          This is an extremely dangerous road to go down and represents the theoretical equivalent of entryism.

          The “logic” of the argument is that Capitalism is “white” (actually a common current tendency amongst a certain strain of politically/theoretically ignorant “woke”, “down with the people”, “progressive” clowns, especially in the USA) which, to be consistent, necessitates the complete abandonment of the principles of Marxism.

          What problems could that cause? Well, take the example of the US 2nd Amendment. 100 years before the formation of the first Communist parties in Europe, this legislation, uniquely in the world, established the right of American citizens to bear arms and actually encouraged them to be members of a non-State controlled militia, a “people’s army”. This is one of the most basic principles underlying any Communist society: that arms be held by the people, not by a State apparatus. Problem? The ideological warfare fought against Marxist/Communist theory over the past 150 years by the Capitalist State has convinced the American manual working class that “Socialists/Communists want to take your guns away” and that they are therefore an important bulwark against those pesky Reds: armed = anti-Communist! (An equally “funny” irony is that many “Leftists” in America, particularly the “educated”, “sophisticated” ones, are virulently anti-2nd Amendment – work that one out if you can).

          So, on a superficial level, anyone who walked into an NRA meeting wearing a T-shirt with Marx’s face on it congratulating the assembled “brothers and sisters” for their support might not have a good day. More seriously, if you fuck around with the power of ideology you are going to get bitten: the armed American working class currently represent neither a threat to the US State nor a source of Communist recruits. They are an army asleep at their post.

      • SA

        Adrian
        Thanks for reaffirming what I have always maintained on this blog that targeting symptoms rather than the underlying system is playing into the divide and rule characteristic of neoliberal capitalism.

      • bj

        You got him there big time. With great economy of words.

        He’s making out like Craig made these shots, of selections of people made by Craig.
        This is followed by a silly straw man erected in another country. Florida? No, Cuba.

        Intellectual laziness followed by logical fallacy followed by growling “shame on you”,
        each step premised on the previous.

        What does that point to?

    • jellybean

      Thank you Charles for highlighting this ‘pushing the race card’ craig resorts to. Shameful stuff as you say…….

      On a similar note, you being the resident Isralophile and a recent advocate for human rights, could you offer an opinion as to what the motivation is behind the extreme violence aimed at the Ethiopian-Israli community on the streets of Isral recently? Is it that they are the ”wrong kind of Jw”, or is it to do with the color of their skin? Or something else as to why they are being hospitalized/murdered? I’m struggling to understand why this community is being targeted by the fellow Jw.

      What ever the logic used by these violent, intolerant folk, you’d agree its completely wrong and that jw community of Ethiopia have every right to live in the ‘homeland’ yes? No doubt, you’re one of the more vocal supporters of their plight. Keep up the good fight for tolerance and equality, if so.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Charles Bostock February 3, 2019 at 09:29
      What, you mean like here?
      ‘Cuban Parliament session on economic reforms on December 18, 2010 in the National Assembly in Havana’:
      https://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/news-photo/view-of-the-cuban-parliament-session-on-economic-reforms-on-news-photo/107677926
      Or here?: ‘National Assembly of the Popular Power (Parliament), where Miguel Diaz-Canel was elected as the new Cuban president on April 19, 2018 in Havana, Cuba.’ (Photo by Ernesto Mastrascusa/Getty Images):
      https://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/news-photo/members-of-the-national-assembly-of-the-popular-power-vote-news-photo/948791122

      • Charles Bostock

        In reply to a point I made on page 1, Mr Paul Barbara (peace be upon him) replied as follows:

        “@ Charles Bostock February 3, 2019 at 09:29
        What, you mean like here?
        ‘Cuban Parliament session on economic reforms on December 18, 2010 in the National Assembly in Havana’:
        https://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/news-photo/view-of-the-cuban-parliament-session-on-economic-reforms-on-news-photo/107677926.

        His intention was to disprove my contention that the Cuban communist head honchos were also overwhelmingly white (just like the people in the photo of a Venezuelqn demonstration kindly provided by our host).

        Unfortunately Barbara’s photo does nothing of the kind. That is because in all examples of communist government known to history so far, the parliaments/peoples’ congresses, etc – call them what you will – have been mere rubber-stampers of decisions taken by a small coterie of communist head honchos (variously known as the Presidium, the Central Committee or whatever).

        Hence in Barbara’s photo you will certainly see people of colour. But the problem is that the photo is not of the Cuban communist head honchos who really decide things. The mqtter, as I said, are overwhelmingly white.

        ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

        Come to think of it, most if not all far meft wing or communist revolutions and rebellions were the fruit of action by people of impeccably middle-class origin. Or even toffs;. You won’t find, among the leaders, many of yer working-class blokes innit!!

  • vin_ot

    Wow, that Consortium News piece is a real eye opener. The number of key omissions from the aporoved narrative I’ve been reading is actually quite shocking. Further confirmation that when you strip away all the surface level disagreements the liberal and conservative cheeks of the ruling (cl)ass adhere to the same essential Neoliberal, Necon agenda. Liberal and conservative media and politicians will shill for every resource grabbing crusade in the developing world, no matter how blatant or indefensible. Even ones led by Donald Trump, John Bolton, and Jaier Bolsonaro. Their shameless misrepresentation of this Guaido charlatan is just one more reminder that we are being lied to by cynical, self serving [fill in the blank]

  • David

    Co-incident with your visit Craig, the Daily Jang reported (then removed) an article concerning the dismantling of a major international spook network in Pakistan.

    https://propakistani.pk/2019/02/01/top-pakistani-agency-dismantles-international-spy-network-report/

    Reports are that the elite pak agency took down an “international” = “USA” effort, It’s not clear if they mean the pro-Trump or the anti-Trump USA.

    More excellent reporting at
    https://intelnews.org/2019/02/01/01-2487/

  • J

    I very much appreciate that you say the things most other insiders (or former insiders) are unwilling to say, and which lead to our better understanding of difficult and nearly intractable problems. Many thanks Craig.

  • Republicofscotland

    Its good you’re enjoying your trip to Pakistan.

    As for Imran Khan, I fear he’s backed himself into a corner on at least one matter. He and his PTI party ran vigorously on a ticket of defending the strict blasphemy laws. The frenzied treatment of Asia Bibi springs to mind, and the stark realisation that Khan hasn’t a hope in hell of reforming the blasphemy laws.

    • SA

      ROS
      In a traditional society like Pakistan and others you do not expect change if it is to be democratic and consensual to happen overnight. Before you can change the blasphemy laws in Pakistan you have first to rule and by winning an election. You can then slowly educate and change society. I always despair when I hear westerners judge others by thier own fixed parameters and damn certain people because they did not carry out the agenda of the West. We in this blog always criticise the regime changers because of this tendency so let us not fall into the same trap ourselves.

      • Paul Barbara

        @ SA February 3, 2019 at 15:21
        To say nothing about Western ‘divide-and rulers’ intentionally stirring the pot for their own ends.

      • giyane

        SA

        The Tories think a new generation of British youth will automatically adopt Tory values inculcated in them with their powdered milk by the tightly controlled education curriculum. Like hair-dye Tory values are growing out, largely because the prosperity on which they flourished was the product of socialist ideas.

  • John2o2o

    Thank you Craig, I enjoyed your article. Yes, I have to agree that Max Blumenthal is a very sharp observer of foreign policy issues. He usually writes and comments in association with Ben Norton who is equally talented. The pair have published a number of extended interviews with experts on Venezuela recently on youtube which I think are worth checking out for those who want to learn more.

    Imran Khan was interviewed last year by Sophie Shevardnadze on RT. Some may find that interesting.

    • Robyn

      Agree Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton are certainly worth following. If you’re short of time, you can catch them on their podcast ‘Moderate Rebels’.

  • Dan Hanley

    I am an American citizen and former United Airlines B-777 captain and 9/11 whistleblower who was terminated in 2003 for speaking out about issues concerning 9/11.

    Being married to a Pakistani, I have lived in Islamabad, Pakistan for the past 9 years and agree wholeheartedly with your remarks concerning the warm and friendly Pakistani people.

    Imran Khan is my hero and is the greatest thing that has happened to Pakistan since Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

    Regards,

    Captain Dan Hanley
    International Public Spokesperson
    Whistleblowing Airline Employees Assn

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Dan Hanley February 3, 2019 at 11:07
      Good on ‘yer! Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney, is to set up a Grand Jury.

  • pete

    Welcome back Craig, thanks for the Consortium news link, and for highlighting the different ethnic support for the rival leaders, if it wasn’t clear before it certainly is now.
    Oh, and thanks for adding fissiparous forces to my dictionary of abusive alliteration.

  • Sharp Ears

    From the Consortium News piece – ‘But after a single phone call from from U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Guaidó proclaimed himself as president of Venezuela. Anointed as the leader of his country by Washington, a previously unknown political bottom dweller was vaulted onto the international stage as the U.S.-selected leader of the nation with the world’s largest oil reserves.’

    These are the oil reserves –
    ‘The Orinoco Belt: “oil-in-place” is estimated to be up to 1.4 trillion barrels, of which 70% might be extracted using the most advanced technologies.
    “Let’s place 1 trillion barrels of oil in context.
    Global oil consumption is currently 35 billion barrels a year. Thus, the Orinoco Belt alone could satisfy 100% of global demand for almost 30 years!
    As for the Orinoco field’s dollar value. World oil prices are currently hovering near $60 … do the math.”
    And these oil reserves belong to the People of Venezuela. ‘

    https://www.globalresearch.ca/valuing-venezuelas-orinoco-oil-belt/5667266

    The condors (vultur gryphus) are wheeling and returning to Venezuela, some in red, white and blue plumage and others wearing just blue and white They are ravenous for corpses.
    https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Vultur_gryphus/

    • Michael Droy

      Actually the maths is that West Texas Intermediate trades $8 cheaper than Brent. There is a surplus of oil and in particular the lighter and less useful grades coming out of the US.
      If Venezuela produces 30% of world production the oil price goes to $30 a barrel, there is little margin on oil for anyone except Saudi and Russia, and even if some US firms steal the whole of Venezuelan production, then US oil firms net actually generate lower profits.

      The real truth is that in a coming glut of oil NOBODY can afford for Venezuela to start up production in full scale. And that is assuming that solar power’s costs do not continue to fall (unlikely – they are just big silicon chips) or that Fusion never works (a safer bet).

    • Ascot2

      If you do all the various “maths”, it becomes clear that, because of the high cost of extraction and processing, the Venezuelan Tar Sands oil cannot be profitable under around $80/bbl ( see various reports at Carbon Tracker https://www.carbontracker.org/ ).

      This is one reason why the big boys like Shell and Statoil, who had invested early on in Alberta’s Tar Sands, are quietly selling out as fast as they can. Another reason that that they are getting out is that they have also done the environmental math.

      Tar Sands oil, after taking all extraction, processing and distribution pollution costs into account, is considerably dirtier than even coal.

      In Canada , Alberta, which has less than 12% of Canada’ population, is trending towards producing so much CO2, from the Tar Sands production alone, that it will consume half of the entire Canadian carbon budget that was committed to in the 2016 Paris COP agreement.

      To meet its environmental targets, Ontario, which has almost 40% of Canada’s population, has had to close down all its Coal fired generating plants, so it is hardly inclined to buy anything, like Tar Sands Oil, which is even more polluting than what it just got rid of.

      The same will play out, worldwide, for the Venezuelan tar sands. In a declining fossil fuel market, low carbon, conventional, oil and gas will be the only stuff saleable. Venezuelan heavy Oil will never be exploited.

          • Clark

            Hydrogen is a bustard to store; it embrittles and/or diffuses through most anything. Best to bond it to as little carbon as you can get away with.

          • Paul Barbara

            There’s hydrogen-run buses on London streets, exhausting just water vapour. Have been for some years.
            Hydrogen got bad publicity when an airship burst into flames, but it was later shown to have been the highly flammable coating on the airship that was to blame. Obviously, once alight, it set off the hydrogen.
            The fact that buses run around London (and I’m sure other towns) indicates technical safety issues have been sorted – doesn’t mean there will never be a bad incident, but accidents happen in all spheres.

          • Dungroanin

            The problem with storing hydrogen is being solved by various gas companies who are talking about using it piped to the customers instead of natural gas. While an Australian company is using ammonia, a cheap, stable liquid that consists of NH4. Which easily releases the hydrogen in it.

            http://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6398/120

            I’d be worried if pure H2O was being directly vented into the environment – it is pretty powerful as a molecule!
            Although it may keep the cooker clean.

          • Deb O'Nair

            “I’d be worried if pure H2O was being directly vented into the environment”

            Especially if it started to precipitate out of the atmosphere during Wimbledon.

      • Paul Barbara

        @ Ascot2 February 3, 2019 at 16:50
        Owning or controlling the oil is the objective, not necessarily selling it at today’s prices, Also, of course, Venezuela has coltan, gold and other minerals.
        I remeber donkeys’ years ago reading that it was criminal to waste hydrocarbons by burning them as fuel, when they were so usefull as a raw material for other products.
        Also, there is the ‘fuel from algae’ which promises to go huge, and which some believe the Gulf of Mexico was deliberately hugely contaminated by the BP rig disaster, in order to poison the Gulf and use it to produce this algae based fuel.
        Katrina also figures in that scenario.
        The US, at least under Trump, couldn’t give a monkey’s about pollution.

    • Northern Sole

      “Thus, the Orinoco Belt alone could satisfy 100% of global demand for almost 30 years!” After 30 more years of this madness, I imagine we’d rather have the oxygen.

  • Loony

    Good to learn that Pakistan is a fascinating country. No doubt it is especially fascinating if you happen to be Ahmadi Muslim.

    Particularly fascinating is the fact that should you wish to obtain Pakistani citizenship, or even to enroll in a Pakistani college you will need to sign a sworn declaration that you agree that Ahmadi’s are “non-Muslim” and that the founder of the Ahmadi sect, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, is an impostor prophet.

    I guess life for an Ahmadi must be pretty similar to the life of a black person living under Apartheid in South Africa.

    Still at least the Ahmadi’s do not suffer alone as there is a thriving business in bombing Christian churches in Pakistan and shooting members of the congregation.

    Equally fascinating is the degree of attention paid to something called the Ghazwa-e-Hind. Not that interesting outside of Pakistan but something that may be of concern to 960 million Hindus living in India.

    But of course all this pales into insignificance when you can spend time stoking up racial divisions in Venezuela. What a pity Venezuela is not more religiously diverse as that would provide an excellent plank from which to provoke indiscriminate violence and terror.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Loony February 3, 2019 at 13:15
      And what about being a Muslim (or an ‘Untouchable’ or ‘Tribal’) in India?
      Or a Catholic in pre-‘Troubles’ Northern Ireland?
      Or a Palestinian in 1s^ael? Or a Christian priest there (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSy6ENVAJlY)?
      Or a Rohingya in Myanmar? A Tibetan in Tibet?
      Christian churches bombed and vandalised – how heinous!
      How many Mosques have been bombed and desecrated in the Middle East by Western and local ‘Regime Change’ merchants?
      Imran Khan, as has been explained, is against such practices but cannot end it overnight – Rome wasn’t built in a day.

      I found the Pakistanis very hospitable and friendly – when I stayed briefly in a hotel in the Naulakha Bazaar, the Naulakha Hotel, in 1967 the owner (a Mr. Khan, common name in Pakistan) took me on a bus trip around Lahore, showing me the notable sights.
      I found the same kind and hospitable people in just about all the many Muslim majority countries I have travelled through (even though I’m obviously Western and look ^e*ish). I also travelled across Pakistan in 1974/5.
      One Pakistani who took me to a local cinema told me to say I was German, if anyone asked, because the film was about British atrocities, probably around Sikunder Burns’ times.
      In India a guy shot a frog with a .22 or maybe a BB gun or air rifle, invited me to his house and his wife cooked it for me.
      Another time, on a train station in India, some porters were giving me a hard time (I was travelling without a ticket) and a kid of about twelve told them to leave me alone – he said ‘He’s one of us!’ – and sure enough, they did.
      I always mist up when I remember that incident.

      • Loony

        Thank you so much for reminding me of what it must be like to be a Muslim in India.

        Historically it has been a busy time for Muslims in India, Take for example the murder of 100,000 Hindus in South Delhi in 1265, or the massacre of 500,000 Hindus at Vjayanagara between 1365-1367. Alternatively you may be interested in the 1398 execution of 100,000 Hindu captives prior to the battle of Delhi.

        There is a very long list of Islamic atrocities committed against Hindus and I can provide many more examples should you wish. I very much doubt you have any interest as this 800 year long bloodbath largely preceded the establishment of the British Raj and so there is no plausible way of blaming white supremacists or Donald Trump. Consequently it is necessary to airbrush this vast catalog of slaughter from history.

        Much more acceptable in polite company to reminisce over the eating of a frog that someone once cooked for you, or taking pride in defrauding the Indian railway system. I expect Indian railways are all run exclusively for the benefit of white capitalists and so defrauding the railway system is in fact a moral obligation.

  • Michael Droy

    The US may have funded Guaido since 2005, but it is extraordinarily low key.
    Guaido didn’t have a wikipedia entry till Jan 9th 2019.
    Search any major media, like NYT, Economists, WaPo, and there is no mention of Guaido till mid Jan 2019.
    Whatever he was, he was not being prepared for Presidency by the CIA.

    Rather Sanctions have been the big tool of the US, and have been squeezing Venezuela for years.
    Sanctions are the big tool ahead of the next big conflict – US/China Trade war.
    The US wants to prove that if you don’t join the US trading system you will be destroyed, that sanctions work.

    • SA

      So because he does not have a wikepedia page is proof that he has not been groomed by the CIA. In my view it seems to be quite clear cut proof that he is as someone like this does not suddenly arise from nowhere without a lot of background work and the secrecy is part of the better chances of success.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Michael Droy February 3, 2019 at 13:20
      You don’t necessarily ‘build up’ a person publicly who you are grooming to seem to have come up from the ‘people’.
      ‘The Making of Juan Guaidó: How the US Regime Change Laboratory Created Venezuela’s Coup Leader’:
      https://grayzoneproject.com/2019/01/29/the-making-of-juan-guaido-how-the-us-regime-change-laboratory-created-venezuelas-coup-leader/
      ‘…While Guaidó seemed to have materialized out of nowhere, he was, in fact, the product of more than a decade of assiduous grooming by the US government’s elite regime change factories. Alongside a cadre of right-wing student activists, Guaidó was cultivated to undermine Venezuela’s socialist-oriented government, destabilize the country, and one day seize power. Though he has been a minor figure in Venezuelan politics, he had spent years quietly demonstrated his worthiness in Washington’s halls of power.
      “Juan Guaidó is a character that has been created for this circumstance,” Marco Teruggi, an Argentinian sociologist and leading chronicler of Venezuelan politics, told The Grayzone. “It’s the logic of a laboratory – Guaidó is like a mixture of several elements that create a character who, in all honesty, oscillates between laughable and worrying….”
      ‘…The Stratfor and CANVAS trainers of this cell identified Guaidó’s ally – a libertarian political organizer named Yon Goicoechea – as a “key factor” in defeating the constitutional referendum. The following year, Goicochea was rewarded for his efforts with the Cato Institute’s Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty, along with a $500,000 prize, which he promptly invested into his political network….’.
      CANVAS (previously OTPOR) was heavily involved in Serbia, Egypt, Ukraine, and other countries, as well as Venezuela.

  • Sharp Ears

    Max Blumenthal, the co-author of the Consortium News article referred to above, is here on a RT link along with Ali Abuminah of Electronic Intifada, with Chris Hedges. Video 28mins

    The Lobby – USA, a four-part Al Jazeera documentary on how the government and intelligence agencies of Israel work with US domestic Jewish groups to spy on, smear, and attack critics – which was blocked under heavy Israeli pressure – has been leaked online by the Chicago-based Electronic Intifada, the French website Orient XXI, and the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar. To discuss the series in a two-part interview, Chris Hedges is joined by Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, and author and journalist Max Blumenthal.
    Follow us on Facebook: Facebook.com/OnContactRT
    https://www.rt.com/shows/on-contact/449861-lobby-usa-israel-spy/

    • N_

      The whole thing is 3 hours 17 minutes? At least one reporter who did undercover work for this film is said to be in hiding. Contracts may have been put out.

  • able

    My memory of Karachi is of a seemingly unending dump sprawled across a hot desert landscape with virtually no redeeming features whastoever. Nothing to see, nothing to do. Probably the most desperate city I have ever visited, certainly in Asia. All the rich elites that Craig will be hobknobbing with live in the gilded compounds of Clifton and Defence districts. One way or another, they have all made their money out of bribery and corruption and hold on to their ill-gotten wealth by way of a feudal system of patronage that is medieval and barbaric.

    My abiding memory of Karachi is seeing a poor old man having the shit kicked out of him on the street by police officers for not having coughed up some bribe. Virtually no Hindus remain there anymore, Christians have virtually gone, as have the Jews. The madrassas and mosques churn out hatred, the city is run by a criminal mafia and is riven with sectarian violence. Terrorist attacks are commonplace.

    As in Venezuela, the Chinese are investing heavily in Pakistan in return for their resources and an invasion route to India. Absolutely nothing of any benefit will filter through to the Pakistani people, but a lot will be asked for in return.

    • SA

      All of what you say may be true. But characteristic of the style of anon1 and to a certain extent Loony, the analysis is faulty. This corruption that you describe happened at a time that Pakistan has been in the western orbit and the military dictators were supported or at least not criticised by the West but as stated previously a lot of US especially military aid was poured into the country with full knowledge of the corruption and the funding of extremism. The heavy reliance on Saudi money was also part of the plan. The scenario appears to be slowly changing in favour of less reliance on China and indipendence from the West. Also you appear to be attaching too much hope on Sino-Indian rivalry as the cause of why Pakistan May get closer to China whilst forgetting something called (B) rics which appears to include India and China in cooperation. All in all a rather poor analysis Anon1.

    • jellybean

      able, this sounds like England –

      ” My memory of x is of a seemingly unending dump sprawled across a cold desert landscape with virtually no redeeming features whastoever. Nothing to see, nothing to do. Probably the most desperate city I have ever visited, certainly in England. All the rich elites that Craig will be hobknobbing with live in the gilded compounds of Clifton and Defence districts. One way or another, they have all made their money out of bribery and corruption and hold on to their ill-gotten wealth by way of a feudal system of patronage that is medieval and barbaric.”

      which is why we love reading your contributions on here. The complete lack of self awareness is so funny. Keep it the frothing. Its a real pity you weren’t around the region pre – western manufactured ”Mujaheddin”. The hippies loved that region of Asia before western backed lunatics made it a no go area for the minorities you list above. Like Syria would be today if not for Mr Assad if you need help.

      If you are looking for a tolerant nation in the region to visit though try Iran. They still have vibrant Jewish and Christian communities.

      Now any more updates on Birmingham Schools able? Cheer us all up.

      • able

        I’ve been to Iran – it’s anything but tolerant. Syria may have allowed a degree of religious freedom, but it was and still is a brutal dictatorship. I’m not inrerested in hippies smoking hashish in Afghanistan. That country was fucked badly by the Soviets for nearly 10 years in one of the nastiest wars in living memory. Pakistan is just a horrible place all round thanks to appalling levels of corruption and religious fanaticism and has been since its inception. You resort to all this “Western-backed”, “Western-manufactured”, Western funded, Western orchestrated etc bullshit because fundamentally you hate the West and your own lack of self worth and you can’t ever, in any circumstance, accept that anything can be the fault of one of the basket case regimes you and your ilk like to champion on here.

        • SA

          Able
          Your grasp of history is somewhat feeble. What you say is that Afghanistan was f***ed badly by the Soviet Union but what you seem to ignore is that the USSR backed a secular socialist regime against the west backed Taliban who were supported by KSA and the jihadists later transformed to Al Qaida. This has f***ed more than just Afghanistan. You also wonder why many are against western imperialism but of course again ignoring history. The major genocides that followed the ‘discovery ‘ of America by Europeans and resulted in expropriations if not only indigenous populations of US and Canada but also of Australia and to a lesser degree NZ. Other massacres included those in India and South Africa the Congo and Kenya and elsewhere. The in the supposed post colonial era we have Palestine, coups in Iran in 1953, war on Nasser in 1956, Chile in 1973 , numerous Central American states. More recently we had Afghanistan, The Balkans, Iraq, Somalia, Libya Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Ukraine and now an attempt at Venezuela which is at least the second attempt at a coup and also several attempts on the life of Chávez and Maduro. If you need to ask questions it would be why do rulers of the west like to impose their will on other nations despite the lack of success in all of these enterprises except the enrichment of some favoured against the others?

          • SA

            One supermarket chain labels their chillis as ‘discovered by Colombus’.
            The fact that natives had already been using chillis for a long time of course is not counted as a discovery, they do not count.

    • Dungroanin

      Oi oi! Napoleon incap-Able
      LIAR.

      Pakistan was a CIA funded basket case for most of it’s existence – hopefully the pashtun Khan will finally sort these shits out.

      ‘January 10, 1957, National Security Council approved enhanced program of military assistance to Pakistan (NSC 5701). The estimated cost of this enhanced program was $410 million for military assistance and $374.7 million for defense support for the three year period of 1957-1960. (15) U.S. committed to raise and support four infantry and one and a half armored division of Pakistan army, absorption of additional 40’000 soldiers in Pakistan army as well as equipment for air force and navy.
      In January 1957, Eisenhower approved a three year increase in military aid and next month a restricted area of Peshawar base saw construction to welcome U-2. Richard Bissell was in charge of U-2 program at CIA. His assistant, James Cunningham negotiated with Pakistan army chief General Muhammad Ayub Khan. (16) Peshawar and Lahore were two sites from where U-2 was flown over Soviet territory.’

      Plenty more at
      https://www.brownpundits.com/2014/07/31/eye-in-sky-us-pakistan-u2-and-so-on/

    • Paul Barbara

      @ able February 3, 2019 at 14:11
      ‘..Absolutely nothing of any benefit will filter through to the Pakistani people, but a lot will be asked for in return.’
      Of course, unlike when the US and it’s cronies invade a country, when the ‘people’ gain immensely (ask the Vietnamese, Koreans, Filipinos, Puerto Ricans, Guatemalans, Nicaraguans, Afghans, Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians….
      The Yanks and cronies don’t ASK a lot, they just slaughter and plunder at will.

  • N_

    Boris Johnson has tried his hand at a “haversack ruse” – claiming Tory chief whip Julian Lewis is “plotting a second referendum”. Whoever set the fool Johnson up must be having a good old bellylaugh at this.

    My view is Britain will leave the EU on 29 March. Much of the “urgent legislation” wouldn’t come into effect until the end of the transition period anyway, and some of it can be laid during Parliamentary recesses. 36 pieces were tabled last week, more than in any week for a long while.

    “There was also a bizarre doodle of a giant tooth”. I have no idea what that means, but it presumably means something to somebody. Certainly heavy cocaine use can cause tooth decay.

    • N_

      Maybe MI6 are telling Johnson to mind how he goes?

      Johnson will probably start running for the Tory leadership and then get scandalled out while nominations are still open.

  • Sharp Ears

    entering the danger zone….

    Trump confirms use of US military in Venezuela among ‘options’ on table
    3 Feb, 2019 14:50
    The option of sending the US military to Venezuela is on the table, while talking to President Nicolas Maduro is not, President Donald Trump said in an interview on Sunday.

    While talking to CBS’ Face the Nation, Trump would not expand on the prospects of military involvement in the crisis in the Latin America country besides replying that “it’s an option.”

    [Read more – ‘Inhuman’ humanitarianism: Caracas slams US as it vows to send aid to Venezuela while backing coup]

    He also confirmed that he refused to talk to President Maduro when he suggested a meeting a few months ago. According to Trump, there is no point in talking to Venezuela’s elected president because “we’re very far along in the process” and there are “horrible things happening” in the country, ***such as “poverty,” “anguish,” and “crime.” ***
    /..
    https://www.rt.com/usa/450498-venezuela-us-troops-trump/

    *** Sounds just like Amerika! 🙂

  • Jack

    On Venezuela, whats worse than US is the pathetic, truly disgraceful attitude and law breaking thugs in the EU, that, along with western media and their propaganda, is the most sickening of this story.
    These people dont even have a friggin plan for what they are doing!

  • Sharp Ears

    The UK’s state broadcaster feeds the state broadcasters in the region of the Antipodes.

    “Juan Guaidó is a symbol of hope. He’s already been called Venezuela’s Obama.”

    —Orla Guerin, BBC, on RNZ National’s Morning Report, Monday 4 Feb. 2019, 6:18 a.m.”

    A comment on The Lifeboat News.

  • Philip Willan

    The Consortium News article you link to reads like Maduro regime propaganda. Of course the CIA plots, but very little of that dirt seems to attach directly to Guaido. He once, perhaps, bared his bottom at an anti-government demonstration? In Venezuela the police and army fire real bullets at unarmed demonstrators and the overwhelming majority of the victims of political violence have been from the ranks of the opposition. Your photo of the well-fed anti-government protesters in Caracas is meaningless. Of course the Caracas middle classes want to see the back of Maduro and are not yet starving. But so do a lot of other people from around the country. The Maduro regime provided foreign televisions with images that seemed to show a huge turnout for the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Bolivarian revolution, equivalent to the vast crowd that showed up for Guaido. Video shot from a building overlooking the location shows that in reality the crowd filled only the first 100 metres or so of the street. Considering some of Maduro’s fans were military/militia, there is some doubt as to how free they were in making the decision to participate. On other occasions Maduro has had himself filmed saluting non-existent crowds, to be edited into the video later. A wise precaution since uninvited audiences are likely to prove hostile. After 20 years of Chavismo and a humanitarian catastrophe it does not seem unreasonable that many Venezuelans should want to try something else. Unless you like your democracy Cuban or Soviet style, in which case Maduro and co. are only just getting started. Oh, and Chavez was a military officer who showed his devotion to democracy by leading a failed coup, for the good of the nation of course.

    • Ort

      The Philip Willan comment reads like pro-Guaidó golpista propaganda.

      Of course the CIA plots, and its signature regime-change SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) has become so obvious that only authoritarian-submissive thralls or the Western hegemony’s black-ops fans ignore or deny it.

      • D_Majestic

        A right-wing regime change, backed by Western right-wing neocon governments. Never seen that before, have we? What could possibly go wrong?

    • John Goss

      “Of course the Caracas middle classes want to see the back of Maduro and are not yet starving. But so do a lot of other people from around the country.”

      Then why don’t they wait for the next general election and vote him out?

        • Philip Willan

          The newspaper Ultimas Noticias, which supports the government, today published a front page photograph showing the massive rally for Maduro. It includes an incomplete building, which was finished five years ago, so dates from the glory days of the revolution. Certainly not last Saturday.

          • Paul Barbara

            @ Philip Willan February 3, 2019 at 21:14
            If it was a fake, it is dwarfed by the number of fraudulent pictures shown by major Western media, including our ‘Flagship’ British Bull*hit Corporation.

        • John Goss

          Be aware Philip that countries who sucked on the teat of the great western Holy Cow of capitalism ended up with failed states: Libya, Iraq, Ukraine, everywhere the Yanks set down their proxy jackboots. There is no milk left in the cow. It is after your milk.

      • Tom Welsh

        “Then why don’t they wait for the next general election and vote him out?”

        Good question, John. But they can’t, because there are so many “deplorables” who persist in voting for Maduro.

      • Charles Bostock

        Oi oi, Josephine!

        Because they knew that the election was going to be rigged, in true far left-wing style. And of course it was.

        • Dungroanin

          Ok Bossie you liar.
          How was it going to be fixed?
          How was it?

          Even so – why didn’t they bother to partake?
          Actual proof of numbers of voters who turned out would have made great optics for their cause.
          You know like the Catalans trying to vote and being stopped by thug police and paramilitary – it didn’t harm their cause even as that vote was curtailed did it?

          You defending Gauido, the student psychopathre recruited and trained as a agent provocateur and be a cog in the pathocracy? How did he end up where he is?
          It is almost as if you haven’t bothered to read the article linked to by CM. above your paygrade?

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Philip Willan February 3, 2019 at 17:59
      You may have forgotten, or not even noticed, but the US and it’s cronies have ‘form’ in lying about issues which they then turn into ‘casus belli’. USS Maine; ‘Spotty Lincoln’ Pearl Harbour; ‘Gulf of Tonkin Lie’; Iran 1953 coup; Guatemala 1954 coup; Chile; Nicaragua 1912; coups all over latin America in the ’60’s, 70’s and 80’s; ‘Kuuwaiti Incubator Babies’; WMD’s in Iraq; CW ‘False Flags’ in Syria; Qaddafi fueling troops with Viagra. Pinocchio, Hitler and Stalin must be turning in their graves….and H G Wells shaking his head and mumbling ‘I tried to warn ’em’.

    • Charles Bostock

      I’m not sure how the good ambassador can “free” Mr Julian Assange, given that Mr Julian Assange is not imprisoned anywhere.

      But not to worry, Ecuador will soon “free” Mr Julian Assange by the simple expedient of chucking him out of the embassy. And not before time – am I not right in thinking that Mr Julian Assange said he would leave the embassy if the Americans released Chelsea Manning? (They did but he didn’t).

  • Velofello

    Enjoy your trip Craig, I’ve lived and worked in Pakistan, Karachi and Lahore, thoroughly enjoyed my time there. Traffic wise a bit chaotic, and the electrical wiring in building…I found the people welcoming and interested in my background, surprising awareness of Scotland and her travails with her neighbour. And I found the same response from people in the Middle East, North Africa and wherever, once they recognised you weren’t just another white guy wearing a tie in the blistering heat, for appearances.

  • shugsrug

    OT but have a look at the current goings on in France. If you are worried about some of the posters on here denying the effects of the last 30 years economic policies, and the freedom of the rich to avoid tax, you might, and they might see what is round the corner. If you keep supporting the II, Atlantic Council brigade, well.
    Also, no recent reporting on MSM of French troubles, which I hear are deepening.
    https://21stcenturywire.com/2019/01/29/gilets-jaunes-civilians-in-police-crosshairs-as-macron-adopts-totalitarian-state-practices-to-suppress-dissent/

    • Mist001

      I live in Marseille but am Scottish. One day I was looking out the bus window and here was a policeman going home after work. I use the term policeman VERY loosely but anyway, he was dressed head to toe in all his riot gear, apart from the helmet and what puzzled me about this, was why nobody was kicking the shit out of him. They’re being used by the state against the people so this policeman had just finished his shift where he was likely using force against some group of people yet he was able to walk along the street in full gear, completely unworried and unaccosted and nobody batted an eyelid.

      There was even a photo posted online of a Gilet Jaune and a riot policeman standing in a bar, having a drink together. Maybe that’s why the MSM isn’t reporting much about the actions by the Gilet Jaunes, they understand that the protestors and the riot police have a very weird relationship with one another. It certainly beats me.

      • Tom Welsh

        “I live in Marseille but am Scottish”.

        I feel I should warn you that, according to some frequent commenters here, that is impossible. I have been told in no uncertain terms that, in spite of both my parents and all my grandparents and great-grandparents having been Scottish, I am not – because I live in England.

        By their logic, if you live in Marseille you are French.

        • Eric the Half Bee

          Perhaps, Tom, those commenters are confused by your surname? Some very dim people post here. Perhaps you could make things easier for them by moving to Cardiff?

      • Clark

        I suspect the author was merely reluctant to use ‘temperature’ twice in close proximity. His misunderstanding of the origin of long-lived actinide “waste” is far more serious – it nearly all comes from the >95% U238 in the fuel elements, not the <5% U235. Ironic; nearly all our nuclear "waste" was never even fuel, and there was precious little point to putting it in a reactor in the first place.

        • Clark

          And thorium transmutes upwards when hit by relatively low energy neutrons. And: “But because nuclear power was traditionally tied up with nuclear weapons research into uranium and plutonium, thorium was mostly abandoned” – wrong again. Nixon nixed the relevant reactor because it wasn’t in his state, and after that uranium was found to be more abundant than suspected.

          • Clark

            There have been various small, ‘modular’ reactor designs, and lots of other designs too, but the designs most extensively deployed are Boiling Water Reactor BWR and Pressurised Water Reactor PWR – similar designs that produce a lot of ‘waste’ and are vulnerable to Loss of Coolant Accident – LOCA – which caused the three meltdowns at Fukushima. Many of the most interesting designs were abandoned during development due to political decisions.

            Long-lived nuclear ‘waste’ contains actinides which are elements of higher atomic number than uranium. It can indeed serve as fuel in appropriate reactors, but such reactor designs are repeatedly abandoned, eg. the French Superphenix scuppered, ironically, by environmental protestors, and the US IFR scuppered politically under Bill Clinton. That leaves the Russian BN-800 reactor, currently turning plutonium stockpiles (some ex-military) into electricity.

          • Clark

            For small reactors, there are a lot of links here:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_modular_reactor

            All fission reactors produce waste, but nearly all current power reactors produce far more waste than necessary. When U235 atoms absorb a neutron, 85% of them split and 15% transmute into a heavier atom. The ones that split provide energy, and the fragments form “reaction products” – lighter atoms including caesium, strontium, iodine etc; the same constituents as nuclear fallout. These all have relatively short half-lives, so their activity decays to background levels in about 300 to 400 years.

            But over 95% of a typical reactor’s ‘fuel’ is the impurity U238, which cannot split, and thus cannot produce energy. All it can do is increase in atomic weight, becoming long-lived actinide ‘waste’, because typical (“thermal spectrum”) reactors can’t fission it.

          • Clark

            You’re welcome Pete. Nuclear technology is grossly misunderstood; the issue has been highly politicised and polarised, acquiring a disproportionally sinister image, which is why I like this video:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QcN3KDexcU

            I love the bit where the interviewer asks the student if she understands all the instruments, and she just replies “yes”.

            Nuclear engineering is an integral part of our modern technology, used for making electronic components, smoke detectors, medical applications, looking for flaws in metals etc. Nuclear power could have been done right, but instead we have this sort of monstrosity:

            https://woub.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/aerial_paducah_yard.jpg

  • Baalbek

    And here, we have from the BBC a shot of Maduro’s new pro-Government citizens’ assembly – overwhelmingly of different ethnicity.

    Socioeconomic status is probably more relevant here than ethnicity. Maduro’s supporters are overwhelmingly working class and poor, whereas the opposition’s supporters are largely from the wealthier classes.

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