Wes Clark

Very interesting that Wesley Clark has shot up to be the top Democratic contender just after announcing his candidacy. Here are the results from CNN/USA Today/Gallup polls over the last month…

Very interesting that Wesley Clark has shot up to be the top Democratic contender just after announcing his candidacy. Here are the results from CNN/USA Today/Gallup polls over the last month.:

Candidate 9/19-21 9/8-10 8/25-26
Wesley Clark 22 10 2
Howard Dean 13 14 12
John Kerry 11 12 10
Dick Gephardt 11 16 13
Joe Lieberman 10 13 23
Bob Graham 4 5 4
John Edwards 4 5 5
Al Sharpton 4 2 4
Carol Moseley Braun 3 4 5
Dennis Kucinich 2 2 1
Other/None/No opinion 16 17 21

In a matchup with Bush, Clark does best (49-46) while Dean does worst (46-49) among the major Democratic contenders. (Yes, I know these numbers are too close to the 3.5% error margins.)

It seems Josh Marshall was right.

I think this [Clark’s candidacy] has the potential to turn the primary race completely upside-down. The Dean insurgency has almost completely defined the race to this point. At present, you can’t even call it an insurgency really since Dean is in fact the front-runner, by most reasonable measures. As I’ve written before, I think there’s a niche waiting to be filled just to Dean’s right. And the real mystery of the campaign so far is that none of the other contenders has managed to fill it and coalesce those who don’t support Dean behind their candidacy. Kerry, Lieberman, Edwards, Gephardt … none of them have managed it.

The Poor Man, who is a Clark supporter, must be very happy.

I usually have a bad reaction about generals in politics (a reflex action from my days in Pakistan) but as my friend John put it: A general who comes away from it all with some aversion to war is a good thing.1

Clark’s domestic policy positions are not well-known at this point. I’ll be keeping an eye out for his positions on issues.

The Democratic primaries has turned interesting now. Practically speaking, there are four major contenders: Clark, Dean, Kerry and Gephardt. Clark and Dean seem to be the top two guys right now but things could change before the primary season.

Continue reading “Wes Clark”

Abraham’s Claim to Mesopotamia

An interesting (funny is probably more like it) case in the DC district court:

Plaintiff “Great Prince Michael” (a.k.a. Michael Craig Clark) brings this action along with a group referred to as the “Inhabitants of the Land” against the United States, President George W. Bush, “Americans currently in the land,” Great Britain, and “British citizens currently in the land,” seeking injunctive relief from American and British occupation of certain lands located in the Middle East. Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that the defendants are trespassing over lands located west of the Euphrates River and Persian Gulf and east of the Mediterranean Sea and Nile River, thereby violating the plaintiffs’ rights under the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments of the United States Constitution. The plaintiffs allege that these lands are entrusted to the care of the plaintiff Great Prince Michael, who claims to be the sole representative of the descendants of Abraham and who allegedly has the responsibility to enforce the biblical covenant given to Abraham to protect lands in question.

The case was obviously dismissed by the court.

Via Begging to Differ.

Kashmir: Religion

Current census figures for religious affiliation in Kashmir according to the BBC are: …

Current census figures1 for religious affiliation in Kashmir according to the BBC are:

Religious groups: Indian-administered Kashmir
Region Buddhist Hindu Muslim Other
Kashmir Valley 4% 95%
Jammu 66% 30% 4%
Ladakh 50% 46% 3%
Religious groups: Pakistani-administered Kashmir
Region Buddhist Hindu Muslim Other
Northern Areas 99%
Azad Jammu and Kashmir 99%

kasmir_religion.jpg
Courtesy of the Kashmir Study Group.

Also see here for more information.

Most of the Muslims in the Kashmir valley, Jammu province and Azad Kashmir are Sunnis. Shias, mainly Nizari Ismailis, dominate in the Northern Areas. Ladakh also has a large number of Shias.

Muslims are a majority in the Kargil district of Ladakh while Buddhists dominate in the Leh district. There are also some Sikhs, mostly in Jammu.

Overall, according to the 1981 census, Muslims are 74.9% of the population of Kashmir, followed by Hindus (22.6%) and Buddhists (0.8%).

According to the 1941 census2, the percentage of Muslim population in the districts of Kashmir was as follows:

District Muslim Controlled by
Gilgit Agency 99.99% Pakistan
Gilgit Wazarat 100.00% Pakistan
Ladakh 79.00% India
Baramula 96.49% India
Muzaffarabad 92.89% Pakistan
Punch 90.97% Pakistan
Srinagar 91.55% India
Mirpur 80.41% Pakistan
Riasi 54.79% India
Udhampur 43.15% India
Jammu 39.00% India
Kathua 25.45% India
TOTAL 77.11%

The “controlled by” data in the above table is based on who controls more of the district as some districts are divided by the Line of Control. For example, more than half of the Punch district is controlled by Pakistan but the town of Punch is on the Indian side of the line of control.

Continue reading “Kashmir: Religion”

Kashmir: Geography

kashmir_disputed_2003.jpg

Click on the map to see a larger version.
Map courtesy of Perry-Castañeda Library, University of Texas.

The red line shows the traditional boundary claimed by the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. The green area is controlled by Pakistan, the orange by India and the rest (in the northeast) by China.

Here is a more detailed map of Kashmir region.

The total area of the state is 85,806 square miles, around the size of Utah or Minnesota. Pakistan controls about 43% (about the size of Indiana) 35% (about the size of South Carolina), India controls another 37% (about the size of South Carolina) 46% (about the size of Indiana) and China controls about 20% 19% (a little less than double the size of New Jersey).

According to the 2001 census, the population of Indian Kashmir is 10,069,917 with a density of 256 persons per square mile. The population of Pakistani Kashmir is 3.785 million according to the 1998 census. This comes to about 114 persons per square mile. The Chinese-controlled portion does not have any significant permanent habitation. If Kashmir were a US state, it would be the 5th most populous one, after California, Texas, New York and Florida.

Kashmir consists of a number of distinct areas (with different history and ethnicity) and is controlled by three countries. The state can be divided generally into the Kashmir vale, Jammu province, Ladakh, Gilgit and Baltistan. India controls Kashmir valley, Jammu and Ladakh. Pakistan controls a strip of land which is called Azad (Free) Jammu and Kashmir and Northern Areas which consist of Gilgit and Baltistan. China controls the northeastern part of Ladakh (called Aksai Chin) and some area in Hunza/Baltistan (Shaksgam) that Pakistan gave to China in 1963 over the objections of India.

Here is a description of the geography of the state.

Although the terrain of Jammu and Kashmir is highly diversified, only a small portion of its total area of approximately 85,000 square miles (220,000 square km.) is well suited to human settlement. Of particular note is the fertile Vale of Kashmir, a valley roughly 80 miles long and up to 35 miles wide (130 × 55 km.) astride the upper Jhelum River. This densely settled and surpassingly beautiful area, lies at an average elevation of approximately 5,500 feet (1,675 m.). Held entirely by India, the Vale comprises the core of Kashmir proper. In normal times, it supports an economy based on tourism, handicraft industries and intensive agriculture. Two other favorable areas are of note: the foothills of the Himalayas, together with a narrow strip of the adjoining plain, in Indian-held southern Jammu; and the northwestern extension of that region, comprising the greater part of Pakistani-held Azad Kashmir. These mainly agricultural areas are all relatively well-watered and, where not cleared for cultivation, support rich stands of mainly coniferous forest.

Between southern Jammu and Azad Kashmir on the one hand and the Vale on the other is the Pir Panjal mountain range, which, despite its rugged nature, supports a moderately dense and partially migratory population dependent on largely terraced agriculture, pastoralism, and forestry. Through these mountains must pass the overland traffic connecting the Vale with the plains of India. In the immediate aftermath of the de facto partition of the state in 1947-48, this traffic was funneled through the Banihal Pass, which, at an elevation of 9,290 feet (2,830 meters), was often closed by winter snows. This problem has been mitigated, however, though not entirely eliminated, by the construction of the Jawaharlal Nehru Tunnel at a significantly lower elevation, and by increasing reliance on air transportation. A much easier and formerly much more heavily utilized route to and from the Vale ran through the Baramula Gap by which the Jhelum River flows to what are now Azad Kashmir and Pakistan.

Along the northeastern flank of the Vale runs the main range of the Himalayas. This enormous mountain chain extends from the eastern border region of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan southeastward to and well beyond the southern border of Jammu and Kashmir. Forested on their windward southwestern flanks, the Himalayas present a dramatically different, largely barren, aspect to the northeast. There the terrain gives way to the high, arid regions of Pakistani-held Baltistan, administered as a part of the Northern Areas, and Indian-held Ladakh. These two thinly populated regions, comprising well over half the total area of the state, form a western extension of the Plateau of Tibet and are compartmentalized by a series of mountain ranges, generally paralleling the main crest of the Himalayas. They support scattered patches of agriculture, largely dependent on small-scale irrigation works, along with sheep-, goat-, and yak-based pastoralism. An even more barren area, further to the northeast, is known as the Aksai-Chin (White Stone Desert). Held by China since the mid-1950s, it is regarded by India as a part of Ladakh.

The western portion of the Northern Areas, comprising the former Gilgit Agency, is a region of highly variegated, generally mountainous terrain. Through it runs the strategic Karakoram Highway, linking Pakistan with China, and providing access to such fabled, once-isolated locales as Hunza. A thinly populated area, with an economic base similar to that of Ladakh and Baltistan, the region has considerable tourist potential and its Karakoram Mountains, wherein lies K2 (elevation 28,250 ft../ 8,611 m.), the world’s second highest peak, are a mecca for mountaineers.

No discussion of the geography of Jammu and Kashmir would be complete without mention of its great rivers and numerous glaciers. Among the latter are the Baltoro and Siachen Glaciers, the world’s largest outside the polar regions, and the site of continuous military skirmishes between India and Pakistan, the highest battles ? and, arguably, the most senseless ? fought in all of history. Of the state’s rivers, all but some interior-draining, intermittent streams (mainly in the Aksai Chin) form portions of the Indus drainage basin. The Indus itself originates in Tibet. Along with its major tributaries, the Jhelum and Chenab, it flows out of the state and into Pakistan, which is vitally dependent on their waters for its canal-based irrigation. Another major tributary, the Ravi, flows along the state’s southern border before entering Pakistan. The distribution and use of the waters of the Indus system between India and Pakistan is regulated by the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960.

Here are some more maps. The first one shows the different districts of Kashmir. You can also see the maps of Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas, the two regions of the state controlled by Pakistan.

Finally, a word about word usage. “Kashmir” is a confusing name since it applies to the Indian state of Kashmir, the Pakistani Azad Kashmir, the Kashmir valley and to the whole state as well. I’ll generally use Kasmir to refer to the region demarcated with a red line in the map shown above (i.e, the whole state). When referring to the portion of Kashmir ruled by India (or Pakistan or China), I’ll call it Indian (or Pakistani or Chinese) Kashmir or Country-controlled Kashmir. I’ll avoid Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) or Indian Held Kashmir (IHK). I’ll however refer to a portion of Pakistani Kashmir as Azad Kashmir. I am not making a value judgment here, but I think this is the easiest and least confusing way to refer to that area.

Arranged Marriage: The Problem

You probably already know from my series of posts on marriage that I don’t like arranged marriages. They are obviously not the disaster that people in the West generally think they are. However, there is one big problem with them and it is apparent from this money quote from the last article in that series I pointed out yesterday:

Since their first night together, Asim and Nida have proceeded backwards along the typical course of a Western romantic relationship. First married, then physically intimate, they are now entering the stage of courtship.

Busy Busy Busy

Sorry for the lack of posts. Amber was here for the weekend and I have been really busy with work and stuff.

I have a couple of Kashmir posts in the pipeline. Hopefully, I should post them in a day or two.

In the meantime, here are a couple of interesting things to read.

  • Via Ikram Saeed, a Village Voice article about Pakistanis in New York leaving. I have been to the Pakistani community neighborhood on Coney Island Ave a number of times, though not recently.
  • Via Eternal Illusions, a series on a Pakistani guy in Canada going to Pakistan for an arranged marriage.

Comment Milestones

Congratulations to Godless Capitalist for the 1000th comment.

And it seems I am famous now since I got my first real hateful comment against Muslims (I have had antisemitic comments before but they were more about conspiracy theories than direct hate. UPDATE: Rereading those comments, I was wrong. I have had comments which were extremely hateful towards Jews). This guy, from the US, was so filled by hate that he needed to repeat the same comment 5 times.