Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Stakes high as Afghans go to vote

Millions of Afghans are set to vote in the country's second presidential election since the fall of the Taliban.Militants have threatened to disrupt the polls, in which President Hamid Karzai is running for a second term.Violence has escalated in recent days and at least five election workers were killed on Wednesday. There are fears some Afghans will be afraid to vote.But a government order for a media black-out on poll-day attacks so as not to dissuade voters has been criticised.Some 300,000 Afghan troops and members of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) are being deployed to protect the 17 million registered voters.Polling stations open at 0700 (0230 GMT) and close at 1600. However, it remains unclear how many of the 6,969 polling sites will operate because of the security threat.“ I'm requesting all our people wherever they are... to come out and vote in millions ”
The interior ministry says about a third of the country is at high risk of attack and that no polling stations will be open in eight districts under Taliban control.
There are also concerns about corruption, with reports of voting cards being openly sold and of candidates offering large bribes.
Opinion polls suggest support for Hamid Karzai, who is running against 41 candidates, is at around 45%, with his former foreign minister, Abdullah Abdullah, in second place with 25%.On Wednesday Mr Karzai urged all registered voters to cast their ballot in defiance of the insurgents.
Ian Pannell, BBC News, Kabul Despite a lively campaign the enthusiasm and joy that surrounded the last election has largely disappeared.
Corruption, fraud, apathy and the threat of attacks from the Taliban are expected to keep many people away from the polls.But millions of pounds have been invested and hundreds of lives have been lost in order to allow this election to happen.Not surprising then that western officials insist that any vote, however flawed, is still better than none at all."I'm requesting all our people, wherever they are - in villages, in homes, in remote areas, in valleys - to come out and vote in millions to make this country a greater, better success," he said. "It's good for all of us."
"Enemies will do their best, but it won't help," he added.
Militants have made repeated threats against the polls and more than 25 people have been killed in bombings and attacks in the last two days.
In a statement, the Taliban said 20 suicide bombers had made their way to the capital, Kabul, where they were preparing attacks.
In Helmand province, insurgents warned that anyone with indelible ink on their finger, used to identify people who have voted, would have it cut off.
The BBC's Caroline Wyatt, in the Helmand city of Lashkar Gah, says there is a quiet sense of menace in the province as people weigh up whether to risk going to the polling station.
Reporters harassed
The US has expressed concern about the apparent attempts by militants to intimidate voters.
But State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said there was a "very strong will of the majority of people in Afghanistan to be responsible for their own destiny".

Mr Kelly also criticised Afghan attempts to ban media coverage of violence during the polls, saying unfettered media reporting was "a fundament of a free society".
Some journalists have reported being harassed and beaten by security forces. The United Nations has asked for the ban to be lifted, saying the Afghan constitution guarantees a free press.
Thursday's vote will be Afghanistan's second presidential election since the US-led invasion in 2001 toppled the Taliban regime.
Preliminary official results should be announced sometime on Saturday evening. If the winning candidate fails to gain more than 50% of the vote on Thursday, there will be a second-round run-off in October.

Kick out Karzai. We deserve a second chance
My country is on the brink of chaos, and without peace, honesty and justice in Afghanistan the whole world is in danger
Ashraf Ghani
The success of the Nato-led intervention in Afghanistan hangs in the balance in the elections that begin today. Without a new government committed to restoring the State’s sovereignty and working with the international community to stabilise the country, the insurgency will spiral further out of control. Afghanistan needs a new leader who has a clear strategy to achieve our mutual goal of sending foreign troops home.

In the past three years the insurgency has grown in strength and number. The Taleban have reversed their losses in southern and eastern strongholds and gained ground in once stable parts of the North and West. Al-Qaeda still remains active on our border. The number of troops on the ground has increased, and yet this past July was the deadliest month for foreign forces since the conflict began eight years ago.

In the run-up to today’s election the insurgents once again stepped up their attacks. Deadly suicide bombs outside Nato headquarters and around Kabul this week have underlined their determination. They are targeting candidates and voters alike, intent on killing soldiers, police and innocent civilians. Fear has gripped the country as Afghans anxiously anticipate a violent post-election outcome.

The corruption of the Karzai regime has enabled this deterioration of security by tolerating lawlessness, cutting deals with warlords and turning a blind eye to the drug trafficking that is funding attacks and perpetuating injustice. Mr Karzai’s recent pardon of five drug dealers and a known rapist are just the latest in a series of unconscionable acts he has committed as president. This week he even welcomed General Abdul Rashid Dostum, a known killer, back to Afghanistan to endorse his re-election bid. Not only does Mr Karzai lack a coherent strategy to stabilise the state, but also he lacks the will and legitimacy among the people to do so.

Initially, the Afghan population welcomed the Nato forces, but the Bush doctrine of counterterrorism resulted in arbitrary arrests, detentions and accidental civilian deaths that turned the people against the troops. The efforts of the international community have been undermined by incompetent Afghan leadership. The prime example is the National Police, which after $10 billion in international assistance remains unprepared and rife with corruption. The Obama Administration is ready to change this doctrine but it needs a capable and reliable partner.

I have a strategy for restoring sovereignty that can bring peace to Afghanistan in the next three to seven years. Only one fifth of my plan involves a military effort, the rest consists of government reform and economic growth. For this to happen it will be essential for the Afghan Government and the international community to agree to a process with clear benchmarks that measures meaningful process toward withdrawal, such as a mutual commitment to shut foreign detention centres such as Bagram within three years.

Once the joint commitment is established then a coherent peace- building process can begin. The first priority will be to negotiate an initial ceasefire. Only then can a process of reconciliation with the Taleban begin. We need to talk with the Taleban and understand why they joined the insurgency to help to address the root causes. In my experience, injustice and bad governance have been the primary drivers.

The next step will be to reorganise Afghan security forces. As commander-in-chief, the president must lead the security effort — something that Mr Karzai has failed to do. Operations should be restructured around three key priorities: securing cities, highways and large projects. In their endeavours, the security forces need to take a neighbourhood-level approach, reaching out to local elites to ensure cooperation. Rooting out corruption will be critical to this. I want to create a network of 20,000 citizen monitors who will report on the abuse of power by local officials and police. These monitors should be connected in a telephone chain that leads them directly to the president’s office from local, district and provincial levels. Such a “neighbourhood watch” scheme would restore trust in the armed forces.

The final step to achieving security will be to create jobs. Afghanistan suffers from almost 53 per cent unemployment, and 71 per cent of our population is under the age of 30. I have laid out a detailed plan to create one million new jobs in construction, mining and agriculture. These jobs will help to give Afghans a stake in society — so that they won’t want to attack it. My economic agenda includes privatisation, foreign investment and the opening of international markets to Afghan goods. Whether it is a rural women’s co-operative exporting dried fruit, the beef sold by a nomadic herdsman or even our deep deposits of copper or gems, Afghanistan is rich in exportable resources. Ultimately it will be impossible to achieve stability until people see improvements in their daily lives. Jobs and growth are the way to make that happen.

Military gains will never be enough. Nowhere is this better illustrated than Helmand. Despite repeated Nato victories, it is still not safe. Strong civic institutions, such as courts, local councils and an uncorrupt police force are needed to enforce a just and lawful order.

After almost eight years of Hamid Karzai, violence, drug trafficking and rampant corruption are continuing to erode our national sovereignty. The elections offer both Afghanistan and the international community a rare second chance to get it right: to root out the insurgency, pursue reconciliation and enforce the good governance that is needed to secure the peace and make it last. The future stability of our nation, our region and the world depend on the outcome.

Ashraf Ghani is a former Finance Minister, and a presidential candidate in Afghanistan

Voter turnout could deal blow to Taliban

(CNN) -- A high voter turnout in Thursday's presidential elections in Afghanistan could help marginalize the Taliban, experts said Wednesday.

The militant Islamist group, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, has threatened to violently derail the war-torn nation's second-ever presidential election. Fifteen million voters, almost half the nation, are registered.

In the last week, two suicide car bombers killed 15 people in Kabul, a rocket landed on the presidential palace compound, wounding a staffer, and Afghan security forces killed three gunmen after storming a bank. The Taliban said the gunmen were potential suicide bombers and that there were 17 more in the capital.

If the Afghan people rise above the threats and attacks and turn out en masse to vote, the Taliban's ability to exact fear on the population will be diminished. In essence, a large voter turnout will be a vote of confidence in the democratic process, experts said.

But, warned J. Alexander Thier of the U.S. Institute of Peace, a nonpartisan, congressionally funded think tank, it's a two-way street.

"[Voters are] not going to be able to stand up to the Taliban and Taliban intimidation if they don't believe in the alternative," said Thier, who directs the institute's "Future of Afghanistan" project.

It's imperative the election is deemed legitimate, he said, because if the Afghan people think the election was rigged or predetermined, they will lose faith in an already weak and corrupt government.

"As we increase our military resources there, it will look like the U.S. is pouring in to prop up a leader not supported by his own people," Thier said.

A bogus election - whether real or perceived -- could exacerbate an already fragile political situation, another expert said.

"There's a concern that if they don't handle this election properly, there will be more violence because people are not trusting the legitimacy of the election," said Patricia DeGennaro, who has served as a consultant on policy development in President Hamid Karzai's office.

Daniel Markey, a senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations and former State Department staffer, said nothing would better suit the Taliban, which is trying to dissuade citizens from voting in an effort to discredit the entire process.

The group, which has resurged in recent years, also is attempting to show the international community that the war in Afghanistan is not winnable, Markey said.

"The entire project in Afghanistan - the reason we have tens of thousands of troops there - is based on the idea that eventually we'll get a stable and effective government," he said. "If it's thoroughly discredited by the Taliban, if it leads to more instability, then the political side of the equation won't come together and the military side won't be enough to hold Afghanistan together."

The Taliban shouldn't be the sole scapegoat for Afghanistan's woes. In addition to U.S. and international mishandling of the situation in Afghanistan, the government of Karzai, who is running for re-election, is seen as corrupt and ineffective, Markey said.

Another problem is the people of Afghanistan, said Frank Anderson, president of the Middle East Policy Council and former chief of the CIA's Near East and South Asia division.

There are plenty of people in Afghanistan who want to see democracy and civil society prevail, but there are more people - largely in the rural areas - who have little faith in government, he said.

They want better lives but have far more confidence in family and tribal leaders, outside of whom, they believe, "there is no permanent friendship and no permanent enmity," Anderson said.

"There is a population that lacks the education and opportunities to even conceive what benefit they could get from a modern nation-state," said Anderson, who headed the CIA's Afghan task force in the late 1980s. "They've always been able to prevent a modernizing state force from extending its writ into the countryside."

Perhaps demonstrating the point is that polls indicate votes are going to fall largely along ethnic lines.

Karzai is a Pashtun, Afghanistan's largest ethnic group, while his top opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, is half Pashtun and half Tajik, the second-largest ethnic group.

Experts differ on whether the election will be a landslide or photo finish, but most agree Karzai has the advantage over Abdullah, a 48-year-old doctor who served as Karzai's foreign minister until 2006.

Another front-runner, Ashraf Ghani, has not been polling well. DeGennaro said it's because he refuses to bargain with powerful warlords and elders, a common Afghan means of garnering popular support.

While Karzai's and Abdullah's campaign headquarters have been bustling with people trying to form alliances with the next potential chief executive, Ghani has embraced a more grassroots approach.

"His compound is quite quiet. ... That's why he's not doing well," said DeGennaro, an adjunct associate professor at New York University who has taught classes on international intervention in Afghanistan.

Ghani is the best prospect for change, the professor said. He works with women and intellectuals, embraces Western-style governments and keeps human rights and social issues like literacy atop his agenda, she said.

Karzai, DeGennaro said, is more prone to bombastic promises. Afghans are increasingly weary of the war and violence in their country and Karzai has promised to boot U.S. troops out of major cities and curtail the deadly U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan.

"It's definitely what Afghans want to hear, but he's never going to implement [his promises]," DeGennaro said.

Not much will change in Afghanistan if Karzai or Abdullah win, experts predict. In regard to human rights, the rampant opium trade and the U.S. military presence - a few of the top issues dogging Afghanistan - "there is no significant policy daylight between them on the key issues," Anderson said.

There is also little difference in the level of support that either man would receive from Washington, he said, adding, "Irrespective of who wins, the enemy isn't going to stop."

Though Americans are largely buffered from the violence and political turmoil that unfolds daily in Afghanistan, the Council on Foreign Relations' Markey said U.S. citizens should keep an eye on the nation.

"We should care about those troops, but we should also care about stability in Afghanistan so we don't see a return to something that looks like pre-9/11 Afghanistan," he said.

US energy experts due today: Holbrooke

KARACHI: President Barack Obama’s envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke announced on Wednesday that a team of US experts would arrive in Pakistan on Thursday to help address its energy crisis.

He told a news conference before flying to Afghanistan at the conclusion of his visit to Pakistan that the US would begin issuing 100 business visas every week in Karachi from next month and restore consular services next year through its consulate general.

Mr Holbrooke said the steps were being taken to strengthen bilateral ties and facilitate Pakistan’s access to international markets, especially the US.

He said the measure would be a major step in strengthening relations between the city of Karachi, the business community and the people of Pakistan and the US.

On his first visit to Pakistan’s economic hub, Mr Holbrooke underscored the ‘deep ties’ that bound the two countries and US support for the business community.

The US diplomat also focused on the energy crisis and the situation in Afghanistan.

He said the US had great confidence in Pakistani people and its resilient economy, which promised opportunities for the future. The US was working with the private sector to support policies envisaging innovation, employment opportunities and growth, Mr Holbrooke added.

Focused on the ‘plague of blackouts,’ he said energy shortfall presented a clear crisis for Pakistan.

He said the needs of Pakistani people must be addressed and assured that the US was prepared to help.

‘We also seek to engage the energy crisis of Pakistan which is a complex problem and cannot be solved through quick-fix measures. It needs a mix of resources and plans on appropriate use of fuel and generation capacity.’

As a first step, the US government is organising a Pakistan emergency energy task force to explore all possible means of engagements. In the short term, the US will hold a meeting with Pakistani officials in October in Islamabad.

A team of energy experts will arrive on Thursday to evaluate the situation and seek technical details, the US envoy said, adding that Washington was engaging many international financial institutions, including Exim Bank and the US Trade and Development Agency, the IMF, the ADB and the World Bank. The private sector would be critical in all the efforts, he said.

‘We have made a major turn in our relationship with Pakistan under President Obama by focussing on the needs of Pakistani people,’ he said.


In reply to a question about Afghan elections, Mr Holbrooke said: ‘There are 17 million people registered as voters in Afghanistan — five million more than the previous election. I can’t say how many polling stations will be closed tomorrow during elections. It is very difficult in Afghanistan to see perfect elections.’

On the possibility of negotiation with Taliban, the US envoy said: ‘This is not like World War II. This is a different war in which there is an equal threat to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States. We are fighting against a common enemy.’

Mr Holbrooke was pleased with the success of Pakistan Army in Swat and other parts of the northwest.
He acknowledged that a purely military solution was neither likely nor desirable.

He said the Taliban were fighting for many reasons -- some for guns, some for money and some for revenge.

Mr Holbrooke vowed to ‘continue to make efforts to succeed in Afghanistan’ and claimed to have made a lot of progress lately both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He said there was room for anyone supporting Taliban to reintegrate into Afghan life after leaving Al Qaeda, laying down arms and starting life in accordance with the country’s constitution.

In reply to a question, he said: ‘Balochistan is a concern for all of us as tension seems to be rising, adversely affecting Pakistan and Afghanistan.’ But he declined to go further, saying it was for the government of Pakistan to deal with the issue.

He said the US had no presence in Balochistan nor were its troops present in Pakistan.

US negotiations with Russia for an alternative route for Nato supplies to Afghanistan would not affect the importance of Karachi.

Asked why the US could not create conditions for 2.5 million Afghan refugees to return home, he promised that it would be Washington’s priority after the Afghan elections.

He also talked about plans to set up economic opportunity zones along the Afghan border.

To a question about his reported remarks regarding President Asif Ali Zardari completing his term, Mr Holbrooke said the US wanted democratically elected representatives to complete their term.

‘We support the democratically elected government of Pakistan.’

Earlier, the US envoy met Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad Khan and an MQM delegation and discussed development works.

A delegation of the PPP, led by Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, also met him at the Governor’s House.

Mr Holbrooke termed development works carried out in Karachi unbelievable. Talking to journalists after visiting a city government school near the City Railway Station, he said measures taken by District Nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal had surprised him.

North Korean diplomats to meet US Governor Bill Richardson

Times Online
In a further sign of a possible thaw in relations between Pyongyang and Washington, two North Korean diplomats are to meet Bill Richardson, the Governor of New Mexico, today.

The meeting is being held at the request of Kim Myong-Gil, a minister at the North Korean mission at the United Nations, and will take place "for most of the day" in Santa Fe, a spokeswoman for Mr Richardson said.

She said that the diplomats had expressed interest in clean energy solutions being developed in New Mexico and stressed that Mr Richardson was not representing the administration of President Barack Obama.

But the meeting will inevitably be seen as a sign that Pyong Yang may be willing to be more conciliatory in its relations with the US and South Korea.

It comes just two weeks after former President Bill Clinton met North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in his successful mission to free two US journalists and after further conciliatory signs to South Korea.

Kim Jong Il sent a message of condolence to the family of Kim Dae Jung, the former President of South Korea, amid media reports from the South that a delegation from Pyong Yang would attend his funeral. Earlier this week the North also announced that it would restart several tourism ventures with South Korea.

The meeting comes as the first details emerge of Mr Clinton's visit to Pyong Yang this month, where he met a surprisingly fit-looking Mr Kim. According to the New York Times the men enjoyed "chit chat" during a long dinner together, with an "unexpectedly spry" Mr Kim suggesting that the two men stay up afterwards.

According to the New York Times, Mr Clinton's meeting with the Dear Leader was also at Pyong Yang's behest.

Officials in Washington told the newspaper that Mr Clinton had not asked to see Mr Kim, asking only for a meeting with "appropriate officials".

But his meeting has given the first substantive insight into Mr Kim's health and that of his rule.

After suffering a stroke last year, Mr Kim has looked increasingly frail in official photographs, leading to suggestions that he was about to stand down in favour of one of his sons. However officials accompanying Mr Clinton said that they were surprised at his apparent fitness and at the presence of two long-standing aides who were thought to have been pushed aside.

The men's conversation, however, did nothing to change the US perception of North Korea's nuclear ambitions, the newspaper said.

Mr Richardson, a veteran diplomat who served as US ambassador to the United Nations under Mr Clinton, has had a long relationship with the North.

He twice visited the country in the 1990s to secure the release of US citizens held prisoner there and has also met with diplomats from the North Korean UN mission twice before, in 2004 and 2006

In 1996, he negotiated the release of US citizen Evan Hunziker, an eccentric missionary who had been detained for three months on suspicion of spying after swimming the Yalu river.

Two years earlier, he helped free a US military helicopter pilot, Bobby Hall, who was shot down after straying into North Korean airspace.

Any warming in relations could be set back as South Korea prepares to launch its first rocket, just four months after Pyong Yang's own missile launch, which was punished with UN sanctions

The North has warned that it would "closely watch" the international response to South Korea's launch, scheduled for today.

South Korean officials have said that their rocket launch, carrying an observation satellite, is peaceful, and they hope that it will boost the country's aim to become a regional space power.

Yeom Ki-su, a Science Ministry official, said that the two-stage rocket, called KSLV-I, will carry a domestically built satellite aimed at observing the atmosphere and ocean.

Gunmen Battle Police in Kabul
KABUL, Afghanistan — In another violent episode a day before the Afghan national election, three gunmen seized control of a commercial bank branch in central Kabul on Wednesday morning, engaging in an extended firefight with police before they were killed, police and witnesses said.

The gunmen were armed with AK-47 assault rifles and hand grenades, police officials said.

Sayed Abdul Ghaffar, head of the criminal department of Kabul police, said the men were “terrorists” and had entered the five-storey building of the commercial bank and started shooting at police as they approached from the street below.

The incident came as the Taliban stepped up efforts to disrupt the nationwide presidential election on Thursday with suicide attacks, roadside bombings and other actions. On Tuesday, a bloody suicide car bombing in the capital killed eight people and wounded dozens more.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s bank attack and said 20 insurgents had been sent into Kabul to carry out suicide attacks. Zabihullah Mujahid a spokesman for the group, claimed that five men had seized the bank and killed a number of policemen. “The rest of the suicide bombers are looking for the targets elsewhere in Kabul city,” he said by telephone.

Mohammad Omar, 58, owner of a small tea shop close to the bank, saw two of the men enter the bank. He said they were young men with AK-47 rifles and hand grenades, with ammunition strapped to their chests. When police arrived they started shooting, he said.

“I saw two of them with guns and grenades” Mohammad Omar said “I told them there is no one in the bank but then I realized they were armed with weapons,” he said.

“They were ordinary good looking men dressed in Afghan clothes,” he said.

A police officer at the scene who declined to have his name published said three officers with the Afghan counterterrorism police were wounded during the firefight. Government officials did not confirm the injuries of the policemen.

Most Afghanis stayed home on Wednesday as the country observed the national holiday marking independence from Britain; government and big commercial buildings were closed.

Officials reported further violence around the country, in particular from roadside bombs and mines.

The District chief of Registan, Najibullah Baloch, and a tribal elder were killed when their vehicle struck a mine in the road in the southern province of Kandahar, the deputy provincial police chief, Fazli Ahmad Shizad, said. Two policemen were injured in the blast. Three policemen were also killed in another explosion on the highway between Kandahar and Oruzgan provinces Wednesday morning, he said.

A number of election workers also have been killed in the last 24 hours. Two election workers were killed by roadside bomb on their way to Shorabak district in Kandahar on Tuesday, the regional director of the election commission, Abdul Wasi Alokozai, said. Four other election workers were killed in the northern province of Badakhshan on Tuesday while transporting election materials to one of the districts, the election commission in Kabul said.

US General Petraeus meets COAS

ISLAMABAD : General David Petraeus, the commander of US forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, arrived here on Wednesday on a surprise visit, Aaj News reported.
Soon after his arrival in Islamabad, Petraeus visited the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi where he met with Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani.
The two military officials discussed war on terror, the security situation of Pak-Afghan border area and ways to enhance defence cooperation between Pakistan and US.
Petraeus is also likely to meet with the top political leadership of the country along with his scheduled meetings with other military brass to discuss Pakistan’s recent achievements in its war against local Taliban militants in northwest of the country, it was reported.

BJP expels Jaswant Singh for praising Jinnah

SHIMLA : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday expelled senior leader Jaswant Singh from the party, in the wake of him praising Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah in his recent book. The BJP top brass took the decision to sack Jaswant Singh at the party’s chintan baithak (introspection meeting) being held in Shimla. The development came even as Jaswant Singh stayed away from the opening session of the three-day meeting which began here today. The BJP had yesterday distanced itself from Jaswant Singh’s remarks on Jinnah in his new book, "Jinnah - India, Partition, Independence", with party president Rajnath Singh saying that his views were against party’s ideology. Stating that the book did not represent the views of the party, Rajnath said that the BJP completely disassociates itself from the book. He further said Jinnah’s role in partition was well known and “we cannot wish way this painful part of our history”. Rajnath also took exception to Jaswant’s comments on Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and said that he played an important role in the unification of India. In his book, Jaswant recalls the events leading to partition as well as the "epic journey of Jinnah from being the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity, the liberal constitutionalist and Indian nationalist to the Quaid-e-Azam of Pakistan”. In the book, Jaswant remarked that Mohammed Ali Jinnah did not win Pakistan as Congress leaders Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel "conceded" Pakistan to the Quaid-e-Azam with the British acting as an ever helpful midwife. The remarks did not go down well with the BJP and it was evident by the fact that no BJP leader on Monday showed up at a function in which Jaswant Singh's book was released.
Like Jaswant Singh, senior party leader LK Advani too had praised Jinnah in 2005 which drew criticism from within BJP and the Sangh Parivar, including the RSS.
When asked if RSS agreed with Singh's view that Jinnah has been "demonised" in India, RSS leader Ram Madhav said, "I have only read excerpts of the book. But I am constrained to say that it is far from the truth to state that Jinnah was not responsible for partition."
Jaswant Singh had however said that his book was purely an academic exercise and not an attempt to malign or glorify anyone.