Taj Mahal camouflaged
December 30, 2001 1:00 PM   Subscribe

Taj Mahal camouflaged The Taj Mahal is to be covered with a '400 metres of khaki, black and green cloth' to protect it from possible Pakistan attacks. Bizarre and sad that it's nescessary, though. Before posting, I noted a link shown on the same page, offering another solution... Sorry, couldn't resist to post it.
posted by swordfishtrombones (25 comments total)
maybe they could get Christo to do it for free...
posted by machaus at 1:20 PM on December 30, 2001

This is ridiculous!
Taj Mahal is one of the most well recognized structures around the world. Pakistan has to be absolutely blind about PR (which they are not) to bomb Taj Mahal. Many Pakistanis are quite fanatical and most have huge chips on their shoulder re:India. But I dont think their Air Force is crazy enough to bomb Taj Mahal.
posted by justlooking at 1:25 PM on December 30, 2001

The thought that a nation sophisticated enough to have nuclear weapons might not have the wit to find the Taj Mahal is truly scary.
No its not ,its truly stupid.This is just a p.r exercise.
posted by Fat Buddha at 1:58 PM on December 30, 2001

When the US tries to bomb buildings that we can SEE we miss and hit stuff sometimes miles away. I'm assuming our technology is more advanced than Pakistans, so I don't think it's completely ridiculous to assume this may be real. But it also might be a PR stunt. Or both.
posted by Doug at 2:04 PM on December 30, 2001

First, I think Doug is mostly correct: this is a propaganda move to escalate pressure on Pakistan. But the risk here is clearly not that Pakistan would bomb the Taj Mahal, which after all is a Muslim monument that includes a mosque. To the contrary, the risk is that the Taj, visible for at least 40 miles at ground level, would provide a convenient navigational aid. (The similar building near me, the Baha'i Temple, is used by pilots crossing Lake Michigan or following its shore.)

skallas: I strongly doubt that Pakistan has GPS-enabled missiles. They don't seem to have a very effective missile tech base, anyway; what they have is borry'ed from China, and their nukes are designed to be delivered by bomber flights.

And if the US is leaving the GPS system on once these guys go bugf**k ...
posted by dhartung at 2:25 PM on December 30, 2001

Oh, I "grok" alright. I "grok" plenty.

I think that missing a target by some distance is MORE common than hitting a specific longetude and lattitude with a "gps enabled missile." We don't live in a James Bond movie. Militaries have been using camoflage to counter aerial bombing since WW2.
posted by Doug at 2:30 PM on December 30, 2001

maybe they could get Christo to do it for free...

Yeah, that's all well and good, but wouldn't it be more effective to unlease a little Copperfield magic instead ?
posted by aaronchristy at 2:49 PM on December 30, 2001

Very interesting point re efficacy of smart bombs.I recall being told how good they were in the Iraq conflict."Turned left at the lights " was the propaganda. Some time after ,it was disclosed that most had in fact missed their targets.
It was a not dissimilar story in Kosovo.It will be interesting to see what comes out in the fullness of time about this latest conflict,where we have been told they are more accurate than ever.
posted by Fat Buddha at 2:55 PM on December 30, 2001

Pakistan has Hatf and Ghauri (based on M11s and No Dong 2s sold to them by China in violation of MTCR treat) -supposedly quite competent as short and medium range missles. However, they dont appear to have any smart missiles capable of precision bombing. They are light years behind the capabilities of NATO countries in that. It is quite unlikely that they are capable to precision bombing Tajmahal through missiles.

I kind of liked the argument of a previous poster that Taj Mahal can be a huge navigational guide - specially if it can be seen from 40 kms away. Camouflaging Taj Mahalwill stop it from serving that purpose. There is also an Air Force base in Agra (the city in which Taj Mahal is located). Of course the PR angle can not be entirely overlooked .....
posted by justlooking at 3:29 PM on December 30, 2001

Latitude: 27° 10' 11" North
Longitude: 78° 2' 32" East
posted by tomplus2 at 3:41 PM on December 30, 2001

The Taj Mahal is an Islamic building, right? What sense would it make for Pakistan destroy it? I'd read somewhere it was a converted Hindu palace but could only find this account on the Internet.

The author is anything but calm and collected but it's interesting stuff nonetheless.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:47 PM on December 30, 2001

Geez, Miguel, that's a pretty scurrilous site.
posted by rodii at 4:28 PM on December 30, 2001

Covering the Taj Mahal, their best-recognized tourist attraction, really makes them look beset upon, under seige. As a PR move, it puts them in the same class as the US: a nation defending its national monuments from suicide bombing. I think they may be trying to win some international sympathy with this move, whether there is a threat or not. All of their previous efforts to cast themselves as the good guys holding back the fanaical Pakistani terrorists have met with skepticism. But if they can plug their PR war into the 911 theme...
posted by scarabic at 4:36 PM on December 30, 2001

Be very quiet - we're hunting wabbits!
posted by NortonDC at 4:44 PM on December 30, 2001

Re: "All of their previous efforts to cast themselves as the good guys holding back the fanaical Pakistani terrorists have met with skepticism" in previous post by Scarabic:

Scepticism By whom? The entire free world agrees with India that terrorists ARE shletered and aided by Pakistan. It is simply that most of the world doesnt want India to fight with Pakistan because both have nuclear weapon. Many are worried that if Pakistan lose a conventional war as they are expected to, they would use the nuclear trigger. On top of that,US doesnt want Pakistan to move their troops from the Afghan border to Indian border - hence so much pressure on both countries to talk peace. So they are not terribly happy about the whole affair.

I agree that all this saber rattling by India is mainly to bring diplomatic pressure on Pakistan. And to a certain extent it is working. The leader Laskar a Taiba got arrested today in Pakistan, as per BBC News . They would never have done it under ordinary circumstances.

As per the Taj Mahal incident is concerned, that appears to be partiallya PR ploy to me. And a good one.
posted by justlooking at 4:49 PM on December 30, 2001

skallas: What proof did the US release publicly that Osama Bin Laden was involved with the suicide hijackings when they started bombing Afghanistan?
posted by riffola at 6:39 PM on December 30, 2001


Just a few pointers for you ……

This document Patterns of Global Terrorism is part of the Asian Overview published by the State Department in April 2001. (WAY before 9/11 happened and realpolitik necessities forced US to embrace Pakistan all over again.). Please scroll down to the section on Pakistan and see what it says. This is as strong a condemnation of Pakistan as diplomats usually come to.

This is the transcript of interview of UK foreign secretary Jack Straw in the aftermath of the attack of Perliament

This is a report of Guardian about the confession of a terrorist that blames Pakistan for Delhi killings in the perliament building.

Let us go further. Let us talk about just one person.
Let us talk about Masood Azhar – the leader of Jiash-I-Muhammad who was recently arrested by Pakistan government. (Jaish-I-Muhammad initially claimed responsibility for the Perliament killings before they apparently took it back under Pakistani pressure.)

is backgrounder on Masood Azhar. In 1999,terrorists kidnapped an Indian Airlines passenger flight from Kathmandu to Afganistan demanding the release of Masood Azhar. This is the BBC profile that came out after the kidnapping. (Incidentally, In 1995 a group of six Western tourists were also kidnapped by another group demanding Masood Azhar's release.)

Azhar moved to Pakistan after release and has been working with impunity in Pakistan after his release in exchange for the passengers, organizing terrorist activities ever since. (And there are MANY MANY like him on the streets of Peshwar and Karachi who are hatching plans about how and where to plant the next bomb in India.)

Its only on Dec.26th that Colin Powell, added Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad to its list of terrorist - when the noise level has gotten way to high and there appeared to be real danger of Indian attacking Pakistan over this. Otherwise, no one was too eager to upset the applecar right now. It is only after strong US pressure that Pakistan has now arrested Azhar. He is just one of many many nutcases being bankrolled by ISI/ISI sympathizers in Pakistan.

I did not mean to claim in my post that Pakistan government is overtly cavorting with those fanatics. I spoke unnecessarily in hyperboles. For that I apologize. But by all appearances Musharraf is as much a prisoner of Pakistan’s history as all head of states there before him. The state of Pakistan is disintegrating. One hand may not know what the other hand is doing. A lot of people believe that General Musharraf himself started a military campaign in Kargil in India without first informing the democratically elected government in Pakistan and presented Nawaz Sharif with a fait accompli. Similarly, ISI runs a lot of stuff in Kashmir that the General may be clueless about. They are part of the same state of Pakistan to us.

So far as Taj Mahal is concerned, I agree it is unethical to use it to attract attention to the terrorism menace. But it is easy for you to sit here and pass judgement on the actions of a government which in the past 20 years have tried everything else. I agree it is not the right tactic. What is right is probably war with Pakistan to really put a stop to the terrorism problem. Would you advise that?

Terrorism as an activity can not be stopped without the active assistance of Pakistan. THAT is not gonna happen. All that one can hope for without any effort on the part of Pakistan is containment.. That’s cynicism on my part. But that’s real life. Similarly, the monoeuvres being deployed by India and Pakistan are cynical. But that’s politics

Quite apart from that, camouflaging Taj Mahal may not necessarily be ‘manufactured concerns’. It is as someone else pointed out a huge navigational aid to anyone flying in that region.

Passing judgement without being aware of the facts is the easiest thing to do in life.
posted by justlooking at 7:07 PM on December 30, 2001

I wasn't implying that the US was right, I am just saying that India's provided more proof than the US had at the same point. (i.e. Mobilising the troops.)
posted by riffola at 8:19 PM on December 30, 2001

Re: Scallus's post:
Other than pointing out my attitudinal problem (and I stand corrected, my flaming was uncalled for)- I really couldnt find anything substantial in your post.
If you take the stance
", I do not nor have ever claimed to have the answer to how to cure people from blind racism, territorial disputes, border conflicts, and military pissing contests. Neither does anyone else, that's why they keep occuring"

you and I are talking ar cross purposes. I believe one should always try to act That's one of the prime reasons why you talk in a public forum about a disputed subject- in order to eventually find a solution or at least to give voice to something you believe in.

IMHO it is ridiculous to expect India to be able to build ironclad case against Pakistan when you really have to go there and investigate as a lawyer to be able to do that. To me it appeared that there is more than enough curcumstantial evidence linking terrorism to active/tacit support from Pakistan. It also appears that both the US state department and UK foreign office agrees (per the links that I quoted in my previous mail). I assumed since you belong to either of these two countries you would consider supportive comments from foreign offices from your country more seriously than from those from my country. But apparently it was just 'conjecture' to you.

From another post, it also appeared that you were not too happy with US's stance on Osama Bin Laden either. Where as I always thought Bin Laden is a nutcase who deserves to be brought before an impartial court of law.
posted by justlooking at 8:39 PM on December 30, 2001

My understanding as per smart bombs in the Gulf War was that some fighter bombers dropped smart bombs, but B-52's dropped roughly 25 times as many dumb as dirt iron 500 pounders, and the Iraqi's surrendering to CNN would drop to the ground and soil themselves at the sound of B-52's, not cower in terror over the invisible F-117.

The control of information allows the controller to dictate the terms of the debate. That was the primary lesson taught during the Gulf War, and I suspect other nation's military commands have learned from observing recent conflicts as much as past armies have.

Declare a military conflict, therefore access to a region must be controlled, even you press people, but we will have a press conference every 6 hours, with footage, available to all members of the media. Easy.

"Our enemies are unspeakable, we had to camoflage one of the great artistic treasures of humanity. Can't you see what we're up against?".

Information age indeed. Expect Pakistan to retaliate with "Goliath approaches, and I have but a sling..." any minute now.

All countries claiming to be sophisticated by pulling psy-ops on the rest of the world would actually be more believable if they followed it up with more sophisticated actions than lobbing artillery shells at each other like WWI.

Where are the net attacks, the financial overthrows, the deregulation wars? If the world insists on lunging towards Mona Lisa Overdrive, well, I can live with that because I have the skillset, but this in between stuff is just oafish and half-ass. Cut to the chase, or surrender, because the nuclear option makes for an unmanageable relationship. It's an equation with infinity in it, diminishing all the other parts to nothing. Didn't the Cold War prove that?
posted by dglynn at 10:20 PM on December 30, 2001

Will be the first time that two nations, both with nuclear capabilities, go to war with each other?
posted by geoff. at 11:19 PM on December 30, 2001

"I'm interested in the fact that the less secure a man is, the more likely he is to have extreme prejudice." - Clint Eastwood

maybe we should work to make pakistan and india more secure, like instead of exchanging nukes they could exchange students and stuff.
posted by kliuless at 7:35 AM on December 31, 2001

There's actually quite a bit of cultural exchange that goes on. Many families live on both sides of the border; heck, even Musharraf was actually born in what is now India. The one major road link (Lahore-Amritsar) is extremely busy. It really isn't a conflict that maps to the liberal but if only they understood each other analysis; it's all pretty much about Kashmir. It's a cop-out to say Well, they both have a claim to it, because htat doesn't solve anything. Right now India has the advantage in momentum and world opinion, because at least it's democratic, and so is Kashmir. (There isn't even a good argument along the lines of Muslim religious freedom; arguable, Kashmiri Muslims have more.) The attacks against the Parliaments of both the region and the nation are anti-democratic, and this year that's not flying. Indian rhetoric seems to concentrate little on its territorial claims beyond the Line of Control, suggesting a settlement based on the de facto boundary; but that's unacceptable to Pakistan, particularly since it's so damn close to their capital Islamabad. But is India interested in a land-for-peace deal? I doubt it.

India is actually pretty psychologically secure as a nation right now. It's Pakistan we have to worry about: they've lost one of their biggest strategic initiatives (turning Afghanistan into a cozy client), and they're about to lose another (shutting down the terror war for Kashmir). They have a proud, secular military, but a paranoid and -- many believe -- completely rogue intelligence apparatus radicalized by Islamism. Large swathes of the country aren't even under more than nominal control of the central government. 20 years of harboring 3 million Afghan refugees have strained the economy and public institutions. It's a nation on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
posted by dhartung at 9:02 AM on December 31, 2001

Well, as long as they get Christo & Jeanne Claude to do the covering, it might be the only good thing to come out of this whole nuclear debacle
posted by fellorwaspushed at 10:50 AM on December 31, 2001

I completely agree with Dhartung. There is a lot of similarity in culture, food, habits etc. between Pakistan and Northern India. There has always been a lot of cultural exchange between India and Pakistan. Heck, many previous Pakistani premiers like Zia, Benazir Bhutto etc. even came to India for school. Hindi movies in Pakistan and Pakistani soap operas in Northern India are very popular. As people, most Pakistanis and Indians tend to get along fairly well. Those from India who have travelled to Pakistan always speak warmly about the Pakistani hospitality.

IMHO, India has been immensely lucky in its robust political leadership right after India gained freedom. They managed to establish the institutions of democracy - an independent judiciary, right to vote etc. firmly in the public psyche.

Pakistan had one incredibly talented politican - Md.Ali Jinnah who died (if I remember correctly) within 6 months of the establishment of Pakistan. The feudal elite of Pakistan gradually took over the democratic institutions of Pakistan over the last so many years. Zia's Islamization campaign brought the Mullah out of the woods. Drugs,Guns and Religion got a free rein during the Afghan war of the Russian occupancy years. I personally am not comfortable with the idea of theocracies. But that aside, The traditional social elite of that country destroyed it.

Today, both Pakistan and India are going through an immensely difficult time (and I am not just talking about the terrorism problem). It is just that we are a little more hopeful about what the future would be like, what we can do for ourselves. We dont look to blame Pakistan for all that is ailing India.

Having said that it is difficult to build a secure, successful India without a secure, self-sufficient Pakistan. Many Indian politicians understand that.Pakistan has -in spite of all these issues - the equivalent of the Most Favoured Nation ' status in India for trade. Many Pakistani politicians -Bhutto in 1972, Nawaz Sahrif in 1990s seemed to have made a genuine effort towards reconciliation. But Kashmir is a huge psychological chip on the shoulder on Pakistan that has never gone away and it keeps coming back to haunt us.
posted by justlooking at 12:50 PM on December 31, 2001

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