February 04, 2006

Major Rally in Washington, D.C., to Call Attention to Atrocities In Balochistan Province of Pakistan

To: National and International desks

Contact: Munawar Laghari, 202-378-0333

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A major rally is planned for Monday, February 6th in front of the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, DC. The World Sindhi Institute, with support from many other organizations (see below), has organized the demonstration to call the world's attention to an ongoing military operation in Balochistan province and to protest undemocratic moves by Pakistan's government.

Since December 18, the Pakistan security forces have been carrying out attacks in the Kohlu and Dera Bugti districts of Balochistan using helicopter gun ships and fighter jets. These attacks have caused many civilian deaths, innocent women and children among them. The Pakistan government first denied the attacks, then called it "a law and order operation." But the army's brutal tactics will not resolve conflict between the Baloch people and the central government.

At the same time, the government of Gen. Parvez Musharraf is aggressively pushing to construct mega dams on the Indus River, despite massive opposition from the Pakistani people, including those in Sindh, NWFP, Balochistan, and even Punjab. In the face of demonstrations, rallies and public statements of opposition during the last weeks and months, Musharraf and his cabinet use the rhetoric of consensus but continue on this destructive path where the economic and democratic rights of the smaller provinces are violated.

The Washington, D.C., event is the first of six rallies to take place in successive weeks throughout the U.S. and Canada. A seventh rally will take place in London. See www.worldsindhi.org for dates and locations of other rallies.

SPEAKERS INCLUDE:

Rasul Bux Palijo - president, Sindhi Awami Tahreek; Dr. Malek Towghi - president, Baloch International Human Rights; Dr. Wahid Baloch - president BSO-NA; Saleem Samad - journalist ; Iqbal Tareen - Sindhi human rights activist; Humaira Rahman - director, WSI Canada

Supporting organizations: Baloch Society of North America (BSO-NA), Baloch International Human Rights, Pashtun Institute for Peace and Democracy, World Sindhi Congress, Sindhi Association of North America, Friends of South Asia.

http://www.usnewswire.com/

Major Rally in Washington, D.C., to Call Attention to Atrocities In Balochistan Province of Pakistan

To: National and International desks

Contact: Munawar Laghari, 202-378-0333

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A major rally is planned for Monday, February 6th in front of the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, DC. The World Sindhi Institute, with support from many other organizations (see below), has organized the demonstration to call the world's attention to an ongoing military operation in Balochistan province and to protest undemocratic moves by Pakistan's government.

Since December 18, the Pakistan security forces have been carrying out attacks in the Kohlu and Dera Bugti districts of Balochistan using helicopter gun ships and fighter jets. These attacks have caused many civilian deaths, innocent women and children among them. The Pakistan government first denied the attacks, then called it "a law and order operation." But the army's brutal tactics will not resolve conflict between the Baloch people and the central government.

At the same time, the government of Gen. Parvez Musharraf is aggressively pushing to construct mega dams on the Indus River, despite massive opposition from the Pakistani people, including those in Sindh, NWFP, Balochistan, and even Punjab. In the face of demonstrations, rallies and public statements of opposition during the last weeks and months, Musharraf and his cabinet use the rhetoric of consensus but continue on this destructive path where the economic and democratic rights of the smaller provinces are violated.

The Washington, D.C., event is the first of six rallies to take place in successive weeks throughout the U.S. and Canada. A seventh rally will take place in London. See www.worldsindhi.org for dates and locations of other rallies.

SPEAKERS INCLUDE:

Rasul Bux Palijo - president, Sindhi Awami Tahreek; Dr. Malek Towghi - president, Baloch International Human Rights; Dr. Wahid Baloch - president BSO-NA; Saleem Samad - journalist ; Iqbal Tareen - Sindhi human rights activist; Humaira Rahman - director, WSI Canada

Supporting organizations: Baloch Society of North America (BSO-NA), Baloch International Human Rights, Pashtun Institute for Peace and Democracy, World Sindhi Congress, Sindhi Association of North America, Friends of South Asia.

http://www.usnewswire.com/

Major Rally in Washington, D.C., to Call Attention to Atrocities In Balochistan Province of Pakistan

To: National and International desks

Contact: Munawar Laghari, 202-378-0333

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A major rally is planned for Monday, February 6th in front of the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, DC. The World Sindhi Institute, with support from many other organizations (see below), has organized the demonstration to call the world's attention to an ongoing military operation in Balochistan province and to protest undemocratic moves by Pakistan's government.

Since December 18, the Pakistan security forces have been carrying out attacks in the Kohlu and Dera Bugti districts of Balochistan using helicopter gun ships and fighter jets. These attacks have caused many civilian deaths, innocent women and children among them. The Pakistan government first denied the attacks, then called it "a law and order operation." But the army's brutal tactics will not resolve conflict between the Baloch people and the central government.

At the same time, the government of Gen. Parvez Musharraf is aggressively pushing to construct mega dams on the Indus River, despite massive opposition from the Pakistani people, including those in Sindh, NWFP, Balochistan, and even Punjab. In the face of demonstrations, rallies and public statements of opposition during the last weeks and months, Musharraf and his cabinet use the rhetoric of consensus but continue on this destructive path where the economic and democratic rights of the smaller provinces are violated.

The Washington, D.C., event is the first of six rallies to take place in successive weeks throughout the U.S. and Canada. A seventh rally will take place in London. See www.worldsindhi.org for dates and locations of other rallies.

SPEAKERS INCLUDE:

Rasul Bux Palijo - president, Sindhi Awami Tahreek; Dr. Malek Towghi - president, Baloch International Human Rights; Dr. Wahid Baloch - president BSO-NA; Saleem Samad - journalist ; Iqbal Tareen - Sindhi human rights activist; Humaira Rahman - director, WSI Canada

Supporting organizations: Baloch Society of North America (BSO-NA), Baloch International Human Rights, Pashtun Institute for Peace and Democracy, World Sindhi Congress, Sindhi Association of North America, Friends of South Asia.

http://www.usnewswire.com/

February 03, 2006

The Baloch Options in Pakistan

By Dr Naseer Dashti



Ideal of liberation of one’s people and land is cherish able and worth fighting for.

The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices - submit or fight. For a majority of conscious Baloch that time has now come to Baloch people. A growing fear of cultural, economic and political domination has prompted an extensive discussion among Baloch nationalists in Pakistan for formulating a viable and feasible strategy for countering the ever-dominating maneuvers of the state. Baloch political elite and workers are also conscious of far-reaching repercussions of recent political and strategic changes in the world polity in general and the region in particular. The nationalist leadership and groups in Balochistan are increasingly under pressure from different quarters to forge a united front of patriotic forces on a common minimum program of national salvation. Majority of the Baloch intellectuals and writers believe in carrying out a resistance struggle on the basis of right of self-determination.

Balochistan was conquered by force and is being ruled by force. Whether in reserve or in actual employment, brutal force is ever present and this has been so since the incorporation of Balochistan in to Pakistan in 1948.

1 Massive military crack downs of atrocious proportion waged against Baloch people in 1948, 1958, 1973 and the present military operation in Marri, Bugti, Jhalawan and Southern Balochistan is the latest in this series.

2 Attempts to the eradication of Baloch culture by denying education in mother tongue and superimposition of north Indian language and culture on Baloch people and non-acknowledgement of a Baloch existence as a separate national entity within Pakistan. The Pakistani state has been adopting an approach of induced integration that is the creation of a novel Islamic nation from several ethnic nationalities as part of their nation-building efforts.

3 Gaining hold of the Baloch land by encouraging settlers from majority nationality to move to northern Balochistan, for example, in Quetta and Sibi in the past and the recent allotment and occupation of the thousands of acres of lands in the coastal belt and the planned settlement of 2.5 million people in Gwadar.

4 Subjugation tactics by the use of armed violence, state terror against Baloch, such as with the use of torture, selective killing of Baloch elite by fomenting intertribal and intra-tribal conflicts by various state agencies.

5 A ‘state of siege’ has been imposed on Balochistan through police, paramilitary and coast guard repressions.

6 Electing or selecting government functionaries have imposed an indirect or internal colonial rule by manipulating and under hand tactics of government agencies.

7 Encouraging fundamentalist religious elements allied with state establishment and funded and patronized by it to take over, in the long run the very fabric of a secular Baloch society.





In all the institutions of Pakistan, the Baloch are practically and statutorily excluded from the political, economical and cultural processes of the state. Political power, except for some marginally delegated powers to provinces, is explicitly the monopoly of the central government dominated by Punjabis. All of this is being rationalized on the basis of Ideology of Pakistan; the core of this ideology is the conquest and domination of the minority nationalities of Pakistan in the name of Islamic Brotherhood. Balochistan has been ruled in a manner of indirect colonial rule. In the name of elections, agents of state security agencies were “elected or projected” as the representatives of Baloch masses. The so-called incorporation in the provincial power structure of some "Baloch" leaders is a thorough corruption of colonial traditions and merely an extension of majority domination by proxy. Its purpose is creating a class of relatively privileged Balochs who would thus acquire a direct material interest in the preservation of the institutions of national domination at the expense of their own people. The fact that some of these collaborator tribal chiefs and leaders of so-called Baloch middle class could trace descent from those who sided with the Pakistani establishment from the very beginning is quite interesting.

The Baloch Options

The National Question of Baloch is an old sociological reality historically constituted. Baloch never accepted the partition of their homeland Balochistan, in the aftermath of the unjust decisions of the boundary commissions reached between British Empire, Persia and Afghanistan during 19th century and annexation of Kalat State by Pakistan in 1948. The Baloch demand for self-rule constitutes a democratic pursuit that is incompatible with the despotism and religious-based nationalism of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. In spite of the diversity of struggle in the 20th century, The Baloch Resistance Movements in Iran and Pakistan had all the same background - the will of national liberation.

In the prevailing circumstances, Baloch masses firmly believe that Baloch identity is more at peril than ever before. Baloch have suffered more than just national humiliation. Baloch people are deprived of their national wealth. Poverty and starvation has been their life experience. The so-called democratic institutions such as district governments, provincial assemblies and federal bodies are a gross insult to Baloch national inspiration and mockery of federalism in Pakistan. These have proved in practice to be blind alleys serving mainly as a delaying tactic to ensure the prolongation of the period of Punjabi domination over Baloch and other nationalities.

There is disillusionment among the majority of Baloch with the prospect of achieving national salvation by traditional peaceful processes. All lawful modes of expressing opposition to the domination and cultural and economical exploitation had been closed by the state, and Baloch are placed in a position in which they had either to accept a permanent state of inferiority, or to defy the state. Many politically active groups are in firm belief that under the highly sophisticated police state of Pakistan it is questionable whether a peaceful movement can succeed in a program of mass political organization beyond a certain point. For the majority of conscious people among Baloch the only option left for them is to answer the state violence with armed resistance.

Are the circumstances conducive?

Here the cardinal question is whether conditions are favorable for an all out struggle including armed resistance by Baloch masses? In the typical colonial-type situation armed resistance becomes feasible only if:

There is readiness to respond to the strategy of armed struggle with all the enormous sacrifices which this involves.
There is in existence a political leadership capable of gaining the organized allegiance of the people for armed struggle and which has both the experience and the ability to carry out the painstaking process of planning, preparation and overall conduct of the operations.
There exist favorable objective conditions in the international and regional polity.
From the time alien rule was imposed on Baloch people there has been - historically speaking - unbroken resistance by the Baloch masses. It has taken different forms at different times but it has never been abandoned. There were regular armed clashes, and battles. The superior material resources of the enemy, the divided and often fragmented nature of the resistance, the unchallenged ascendancy of imperialism as a world system, the historically understandable absence of political cohesion and leadership in the Baloch camp; these and other factors combined to end the past phases of Baloch resistance against foreign domination in defeat and confusion.

In the post cold war era a polarization of forces has occurred on international level. There are forces of religious fundamentalism supported by rouge and artificial countries like Pakistan and Iran, creating chaos and instability. There are forces which would like the world to be a safe place for all humanity acknowledging the birth right of different nations, nationalities and ethnic groups to be governed by the representatives of their own selection, in their own cultural and traditional ways. Although, on the face of it, major western powers such as Britain, Germany, France, the United States and Japan who have an enormous stake in the ongoing war against terrorism constitute a formidable support for the rogue Punjabi state. But there is the wide spread belief among the political observers on international affairs that the support of western alliance to states like Pakistan with a fundamentalist establishment and nuclear potentials is a temporary one and a major strike by western powers is on card against such rogue states.

Conditions are connected and interdependent. They are not created by subjective and ideological activity only. These conditions are brought about not only by developing political, economic and social conditions but also by the long hard grind of resistance movement. They depend on such factors as the response of the enemy, the strength and weaknesses of the enemy and the experience gained by the people themselves not in academic seminars but in actual political struggle. The new and apparently the final phase of struggle of Baloch people is taking place in the context of a new world political milieu, in which the fundamentalist and religious and rogue states are increasingly under pressure from world community to reform their social, economic and political systems. Baloch are part of the zone in which international pressure is highest on the countries where Baloch are being subjugated as a nationality.
.
The enemy is not invincible

The Baloch face a ferocious and formidable foe. There is the reinforced feeling of confidence among Pakistani ruling elite that their fortress is impregnable and unassailable considering the state’s immense military power and nuclear capability. For the moment apparently, the Baloch face what is by and large a united and confident enemy and all significant sections of the dominant nationality are in broad agreement on the question of defeating Baloch struggle for national emancipation. But if there is one lesson that the history of national liberation struggles has taught, it is that the material strength and resources of the enemy is by no means a decisive factor. The armed struggle is the political struggle by means which include the use of military force by an oppressed people. Armed resistance by a suppressed people almost by definition presents a situation in which there is a vast imbalance of material and military resources between the opposing sides. It is designed to cope with the situation in which the enemy is infinitely superior in relation to every conventional factor of warfare. Protracted guerilla warfare is par excellence the weapon of the materially weak against the materially strong. Given its popular character and given a population which increasingly sides with and shields the armed insurgents whilst at the same time opposing and exposing the enemy, the survival and growth of an armed resistance is assured by the skilful exercise of tactics. Superior forces can thus be harassed, weakened and, in the end, destroyed. The absence of an orthodox front, of fighting lines; the need to protect the widely scattered installations on which the state economy is dependent; these are among the factors which serve in the long run to compensate in favor of the armed resistance for the disparity in the starting strength of the adversaries.

The mobilization of a large force in the course of a protracted struggle will place a huge burden on the economy of the state. The most favorable factor concerning the confrontation of Baloch and state is that the enemy resources are all situated within the reach of Baloch resistance forces and theatre of war can easily be extended to the heartland of Punjab and there will remain no secure asset safe from sabotage, and armed action. Balochistan tremendous size will make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the occupational forces to keep the whole of it under armed surveillance in strength and in depth.

The history of the liberation of people from the domination of another nation has always been through a terrific struggle involving much sacrifice and suffering on the part of the oppressed. Experiences of past Pakistani actions are sufficient to believe that an armed resistance movement would offer the state of Pakistan limitless opportunities for the indiscriminate slaughter of Baloch people. But many in Baloch circles are in the opinion that the Baloch land is already drenched with the blood of innocent Baloch. And the ideal of liberation of one’s people and land is cherish able and worth fighting for.

February 02, 2006

HARVARD and SANSKRIT : Michael Witzel reduced to an ordinary teacher

The Harvard summer catalog for 2006 "SANS S-101 Beginning Sanskrit" with a tution fee Tuition $4,400 , the course to be taught by Michael Witzel.

It is amazing that a person of Witzel's supposed stature is reduced to teaching a course like this normally taught by teaching assistants, especially during summer when most faculty are supposed to be engaged in research.

When questioned about this , multidisciplinary scholar Dr.Rajaram told IntelliBriefs that "This means he has no summer support of any kind. The Emperor-- or rather, Der Kleinfuhrer, has no clothes. "

He further riduculed Witzel by pointing to latest california school books issue , "No wonder he is spending so much time hob nobbing with California school bureaucrats, looking for fresh pastures. "

Regarding the quality of the program Dr.Rajaram said "As far as the course is concerned, after completing it, his students would have trouble passing an exam given by a village Pandit in India. "

Limited enrollment means enrollment is limited to those willing to pay for
it.

---------------------

Sanskrit
a.. SANS S-101 Beginning Sanskrit
SANS S-101 Beginning Sanskrit (31991)
(Print View)
Michael E. J. Witzel
(8 units: UN, GR, NC) M-Th 3:30-6 pm. Tuition $4,400. Limited enrollment.
This course continues to meet during the final examination period.

This course, equivalent to two semesters of coursework, will enable
students to acquire the basic reading skills in Sanskrit. Stress is placed
on learning the Devanagari script, basic grammar, and essential vocabulary.
Emphasis is also given to correct translation of passages ranging from
simple narrative literature to the epics. Prerequisite: Knowledge of Latin,
Greek, or Hindi is useful but not required.

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Clamour for Rahul exposes the waning Sonia spell

Author: Sandhya Jain
Publication: Organiser
Date: February 5, 2006
URL: www.organiser.org

Rahul Gandhi's de facto anointment at the Hyderabad plenary session of the Congress, under the watchful eyes of his mother and Congress President Sonia Gandhi, sent political and media acolytes into the throes of a self-induced hysteria and hyperbole. Even though the truth is that the scandal involving the surreptitious de-freezing of Ottavio Quattrocchi's London bank accounts, which contained Rs. 21 crore of Bofors payoff money, forced Sonia Gandhi to postpone bringing Rahul Gandhi into the Congress Working Committee, senior party leaders and media mandarins behaved as if his "reluctance" to assume a formal position in the party was the last word in self-abnegation.

One has only to recall his informal interview with Tehelka last year, where he bragged that he could have become prime minister at the age of 25, to realise that his humility is borne out of necessity. The parallel that comes to mind is of Sonia Gandhi who falsely claimed the support of 272 MPs to President K.R. Narayanan finally staking her claim before President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, only to be told she could not be sworn in, and cloaking her humiliation in dramatic renunciation.

Rahul's supposedly off-beat speech reflects the yawning chasm between Congress' top leadership and the people of India, which is the reason for the party's dwindling fortunes in state after state. The demeaning drama that preceded Rahul's speech failed to disguise the reality that the Congress' future leader is a youth without vision, without passion for India, and without any knowledge about Indian society and its grand civilisational ethos. He is in politics because his family background ensures him a seat in Parliament.

To his credit, Rahul is canny enough to realise that he cannot shoulder the burden of the party's expectations alone, since he does not empathise with the Indian people, and hence he cannot emerge as a significant vote-catcher, on the lines of Indira Gandhi. This is equally true of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, and that is why Congress performs poorly in states where it lacks credible local leaders. That is why Rahul has called for rebuilding the party leadership in states where Congress is weak, which encompasses most of north India.

Rahul Gandhi is wise not to blame communal and religion-based parties for the decline of the Congress, as this will only alienate the sections of society that vote for these parties and whom Congress is trying to woo. Besides, as Congress in the guise of the UPA is only pursuing communal and religion-based politics, which is excessively biased towards the minorities, the party should introspect why it still fails to impress voters. Thus, while Rahul may be right that Congress has the largest number of young leaders, the sad fact is that most of these so-called leaders are merely, like him, the scions of political families, who have "inherited" the family seat. They are Babalog, not innovative and energetic youth who will take the country forward in any area.

Indeed, their disconnect with the people of India was powerfully underlined by Rahul when he made his appeal to the youth leaders: "Let us move into a battlefield, the heart of India. Let us go to the villages, and the towns and the cities. Let us go to universities and schools. Let us move away from the corridors of power. Let us cement the links with our people. Let us listen to wisdom of our great people. Let us understand their concerns and their aspirations. Let us become leaders by listening and by learning and by working rather than through post and positions." Biased media bards have gone into raptures over this speech, yet this is precisely, to my mind, the segment that best betrays the complete alienation of Congress' city-bred MPs with India that breathes outside the large megapolises. Rahul has let the cat out of the bag- Congress has no grassroots youth leaders at all!

As for the Congress ideology, I wish we could know what it is, other than minority appeasement and fostering of divisive tendencies in the larger Hindu community. The late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi wrote a piffling verse in memory of Bahadur Shah Zafar when he visited Rangoon, but his horrible gaffe came when he allowed a scriptwriter from Mumbai to make him mouth the infamous nani yaad dila denge for Pakistani President Gen. Zia-ul-Haq.

Rahul's scriptwriter has asked him to tell his slavish audience that his religion was the Indian flag. This is simply dishonest. Given the Congress penchant, especially under the UPA regime, to exploit religion for electoral purposes; given the Roman Catholic background of his mother Sonia and the fact that his sister has married into a Christian family; and his own foreigner girlfriend having a Catholic background, Rahul should not have dissimulated about his religion after himself raising the issue.

But having raised the issue, he owes the nation the truth. He has to tell us whether or not he roots himself in the ancient dharma of India, respects its civilisational ethos and feels duty bound to uphold and protect it, or whether he feels that missionaries have the right to freely enter the country, demean its native traditions, and undertake conversions by any means. Since many western countries consider conversions an instrument of foreign policy and have huge budgets reserved for evangelical activities, which impinge upon India's national sovereignty in sensitive regions like the north-east. The Congress party's heir apparent should have used to first opportunity to clarify his position on conversion to foreign faiths, funded and monitored by foreign governments.

Rajasthan opens doors to first RSS university

On the curriculum: ‘Indian thoughts, Indian value system, alternative to modern lifestyle’


SANDIPAN SHARMA


Posted online: Thursday, February 02, 2006 at 0203 hours IST

www.indianexpress.com/f

JAIPUR, FEBRUARY 1: Taking advantage of the Rajasthan Government’s decision to allow private universities in the state, the RSS has decided to set up its first varsity in the country on the outskirts of Jaipur.

The self-financing varsity, to be named Keshav Vidyapeeth Vishwavidhyalaya (KVV), would become functional from the next academic session. RSS Sarsanghchalak K S Sudarshan would dedicate the new educational institution to the nation at a function here on February 18.



The RSS university is among the first to be issued a letter of intent by the Vasundhara Raje Government after the state Cabinet cleared such institutions in the private sector.

The new varsity would be a result of the upgradation of the Sangh Keshav Vidyapeeth, an autonomous college in Jamdoli in Jaipur.

The university will have 16 post-graduate colleges in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kota, Dausa and other towns of Rajasthan. Two colleges in Jaipur will be exclusively for girls. The RSS and its subsidiaries already have nearly 4,500 schools in Rajasthan. According to the RSS, the varsity is an attempt to promote nationalism through a ‘‘novel approach.’’

According to a document circulated by the RSS to promote its new venture, the university would ‘‘promote Indian thoughts and research.’’ The focus would also be on the study of the ‘‘Indian value system’’ and its projection as a strong alternative to the modern lifestyle. Apart from the courses that are part of a standard university, the Keshav Vidyapeeth would offer courses in Yoga Sadhana, Ayurveda.

State Education Minister Ghanshyam Tiwari said the KVV would have to adhere to all the UGC norms. ‘‘We have only issued a letter of intent to them. Their courses would be recognised only after the varsity fulfils UGC norms.’’ But the RSS seems to have already crunched the numbers. It plans to enroll 3,500 students in the first year. Over the next five years it plans to attract 20,000 students.

Condoleezza Rice Completes Washington's Geostrategic Shift

In quick succession on January 18 and 19, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced major changes in the operational dimension of Washington's global diplomatic strategy.

Wrapped in the language of the Bush administration's campaign to encourage democracy around the world and explained under the rubric of "transformational diplomacy," Rice laid out plans to reposition diplomatic resources from Europe and Washington to emerging power centers in Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East, and to reorganize the administration of foreign aid by creating the post of director of foreign assistance, whose occupant would coordinate aid programs that are currently dispersed among several agencies and bring them into line with Washington's broad foreign policy goals.

Rice's announcements culminate a major revision of Washington's overall geostrategy that has been in the making since 2004 when the failures of the Iraq intervention exposed the limitations of U.S. military capabilities and threw into question the unilateralist doctrine outlined in the administration's 2002 National Security Strategy. Through the second half of 2004, Washington appeared to function in a policy void, as the neoconservative faction in the security establishment, which had already edged out the traditional multilateralists, lost influence and no competing tendency was strong enough to take its place. That picture changed in 2005 when Rice became secretary of state and moved to fill the policy vacuum by implementing her realist vision based on classical balance of power.

In her January 18 speech at Georgetown University, where she sketched out how U.S. diplomatic resources would be repositioned, Rice left behind the scenario of the neoconservatives and their allies in Vice President Dick Cheney's office that is premised on the ability of the U.S. to achieve sufficient military superiority to allow it to act alone to secure its global interests in the long term. Rather than thinking in terms of a unipolar configuration of world power dominated by the United States, Rice embraced multipolarity and the acknowledgment of Washington's limitations that follows from it.

Nearly echoing the analysis of Beijing's 2005 defense white paper, Rice asserted that "states are increasingly competing and cooperating in peace, not preparing for war." The complex web of convergent and divergent interests occurs within the context of a dispersion of power among regions -- the hallmark of multipolarity: "In the 21st century, geographic regions are growing ever more integrated economically, politically and culturally." Within regions, dominant power centers are rising: "In the 21st century, emerging nations like India and China and Brazil and Egypt and Indonesia and South Africa are increasingly shaping the course of history." The 21st century, in Rice's view, will not be a second "American century"; it will be a global century defined by what PINR has called "the new regionalism." [See: "The New Regionalism: Drifting Toward Multipolarity"]

The shift in Washington's geostrategic thinking from what it was from September 11, 2001 through the Iraq intervention in 2003 could not be more pronounced. It proceeds from the time honored rule of international relations that policy follows power. Rice's analysis was preceded by a change in the Pentagon's perspective through 2005 in which military planners introduced the idea that Washington was entering a "long war" to secure its interests against Islamic revolutionaries and a long term attempt to contain rising regional power centers that would require partnerships and stabilization efforts around the world.

Rice's view is no longer one voice among several in the Bush administration; her growing prominence and influence represent an acceptance in Washington of the reality of multipolarity. This realization brings the United States into line with the consensus among other world powers and that is likely to persist in succeeding administrations.

Now that Washington has begun to accept a world in which the U.S. does not shape the course of history according to its own agenda, but is a major player in an intricate and evolving pattern of cooperative and competitive relations, it has positioned itself to develop strategies for restoring some of the influence that it has lost as a result of the Iraq intervention and, far more importantly, as a consequence of the redistribution of global power that was beyond its control. Such strategic innovation in response to polycentricity is behind Rice's State Department reforms.

Diplomatic Repositioning

Rice's Georgetown speech is a curious mixture of the Bush administration's current ideology -- advanced in the president's 2005 Inaugural Address -- that the U.S. would "seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture," and a statement of concrete measures that would -- if they can be implemented successfully -- represent steps toward a realistic adaptation of U.S. diplomacy in a multipolar world.

Promotion of democracy abroad has been a recurrent theme of U.S. presidents for nearly a century and has always run up against the fact that Washington's perceived interests often require it to cooperate with non-democratic regimes and movements, and to undermine democratic tendencies. It is not to be expected that the Bush administration will close the familiar gap between rhetoric and practice; indeed, in her speech, Rice singled out for praise "good partners like Pakistan and Jordan," neither of which are democracies.

If the democracy language has any concrete import, it refers to the belief in sectors of Washington's security establishment that U.S. interests are best served by market-oriented governments that allow enough popular participation and sufficient independence of civil society groups to dissipate anti-U.S. left and right oppositions. As is the case with every state, the U.S. above all wants regimes that are favorable to its perceived interests. All other things being equal, Washington would prefer that those regimes follow democratic forms. When -- as in Georgia's Rose Revolution and Ukraine's Orange Revolution -- people-power combines with market-oriented and pro-Western leadership, Washington will back the democratic movement. Awareness of that has caused governments around the world to look on Washington with suspicion and to distance themselves from it.

The high concept of Rice's version of the democratization ideology is "transformational diplomacy," which she defines as "a diplomacy that not only reports about the world as it is, but seeks to change the world itself." Here, either Rice is only rephrasing what all states have always done, or she is announcing a policy of soft regime change to replace the hard version of military regime change represented by the Iraq intervention. If it is regime change that she has in mind, it is not clear that a public announcement of a policy to destabilize in order to try to gain greater stability serves Washington's interests.

The significance of Rice's new diplomatic strategy does not reside in its ideological rhetoric, which can be pared away without loss, but in its concrete measures to reposition Washington's diplomatic resources that begin what is likely to be a long term trend in U.S. foreign policy regardless of which political party controls the presidency and what ideology it adopts.

Taking up the thinking of 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's foreign policy and security team, Rice noted in her speech that in light of the probable peaceful future of relations among great powers, "the fundamental character of regimes now matters more than the international distribution of power." Among the threats to U.S. security, she identified terrorism, pandemics, arms proliferation and failed states, all of which can only be countered by cooperation with regional powers and access to trouble spots.

At the heart of Rice's plan to respond to the emerging threat pattern is the redistribution of U.S. diplomats to the rising power centers around the world, starting immediately with 100 and reaching, according to analysts, as many as one-third of the 4,000 foreign service officers during the next decade.

The mission of U.S. diplomacy will also be redefined through a series of measures ranged under the idea of "forward deployment," in which diplomats will go into the field and administer programs in addition to their traditional duties. Regional public diplomacy centers will be created to counter anti-U.S. media, American Presence Posts -- sometimes staffed by only one diplomat -- will be set up outside capital cities, and there will be Virtual Presence Posts -- local interactive websites -- to appeal primarily to youth. Diplomats will work directly on projects to improve health care, reform education, set up businesses, fight corruption and encourage democratic practices.

Diplomats will also coordinate more closely with the U.S. military through political advisors, and the State Department's Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization will have access to up to US$100 million from the Department of Defense to manage post-conflict situations -- recognition of the shortcomings in planning for the aftermath of the Iraq intervention.

Although Rice claims that her revision of U.S. diplomatic strategy is a "bold" initiative, it is actually only a first step toward making Washington a more effective player in a multipolar world, and it promises only limited success. Most importantly, in order to be successful, the reforms will have to be backed by adequate funds, which are unlikely to be made available under the conditions of persisting budget deficits.

There are also questions about how security will be provided for the American Presence Posts, and the effectiveness of public diplomacy has yet to be proven in regions, such as the Middle East, where anti-U.S. sentiment has become deeply entrenched and is bound up with opposition to U.S. policies. Finally, it remains to be seen how much access regimes that are suspicious of Washington's aims will grant its diplomats.

Rice's reforms follow a pattern that has been established by the Pentagon in its redeployment of troops from Europe and South Korea to smaller bases within the "arc of instability" that stretches from East Africa through Central Asia. That policy has been limited by failures to gain access when Washington has provoked hostility from local regimes, such as Eritrea's and Uzbekistan's. The same problem is likely to come up when Rice's strategy is implemented.

When Rice's reforms are considered as a whole, their most significant components are her forthright acknowledgment that "partnership" is necessary in order to manage threats to U.S. security and the simple shifting of diplomats to emerging regional power centers. What those diplomats will do and how effective they will be will depend more on Washington's positions in inter- and intra-state conflicts than on the mechanics of forward deployment.

Centralization of Foreign Aid

Having laid out her revision of U.S. diplomatic strategy, Rice moved on January 19 to announce her reorganization of foreign assistance to the staff of the U.S. Agency for International Development (U.S.A.I.D.). Here, the heart of Rice's reform was the centralization of the administration of foreign aid, along the lines of the Bush administration's 2004 restructuring of the intelligence apparatus, aimed at coordinating assistance programs to serve the goals defined in her statement of diplomatic strategy.

In order to bring the various aid programs controlled by the State Department under unified guidance, a new post of Director of Foreign Assistance (D.F.A.) has been created whose occupant will superintend the Office of Global AIDS Coordinator, The Millennium Challenge Corporation and U.S.A.I.D. The D.F.A. will also be the U.S.A.I.D. Administrator, bringing that agency, which has previously been independent, under greater State Department direction.

Accounting for US$14 billion of the yearly US$18 billion U.S. foreign assistance budget, U.S.A.I.D. had been given its relative independence in order to ensure that it would pursue its mission of providing long-term development aid unfettered by temporary changes in foreign policy. Although Rice assured U.S.A.I.D.'s staff that its mission would be unimpaired by the reform, she also made it clear that foreign assistance would be "aligned" with the objectives of her transformational diplomacy.

There is little doubt that Rice does not intend the reorganization to be merely cosmetic and that she wants to diminish the power of U.S.A.I.D. to allocate funds -- the "dual-hatting" of D.F.A. and U.S.A.I.D. Administrator will not serve to bring all foreign assistance under the development agenda, but will gear development programs to serve strategic aims.

Rice's reform plan met with predictable criticism from elements inside and outside U.S.A.I.D. who believe that Washington's long term interests are best advanced by insulating development programs from political pressures. While that argument has merits, so does Rice's view that Washington needs to mobilize its diplomatic and financial resources to restore its global power -- a process that will demand genuine sacrifices.

As is the case with her plan to reposition diplomats, Rice's reorganization of foreign assistance has strict limitations. Outgoing U.S.A.I.D. Administrator Andrew Natsios has identified Congressional earmarking of aid as a greater problem than deficiencies in coordination, and earmarking will not be touched by Rice's reform. In addition, the State Department will not gain control over assistance programs that are currently dispersed among the Defense, Agriculture and Commerce departments. It is also likely that there will be resistances within U.S.A.I.D. to integrating its organizational culture into the State Department's. Again, Rice's reorganization is more a first step than a bold transformation.

Conclusion

Reflecting Washington's diminished position in the global configuration of power, Rice's revisions of U.S. diplomatic strategy and her reorganization of foreign assistance will have limited immediate effect and will be hindered from long-term success by constraints resulting from the likelihood of budgetary austerity. Nonetheless, Rice's reforms are significant because they are embraced by a multipolar perspective on world politics that brings Washington into line with the other major power centers. Her reforms put into place concrete measures that follow from that perspective, even though they are -- as should be expected -- just a beginning.

Rice has made it plain that the new diplomatic strategy is predicated on a sustained effort that will take at least a generation to bear fruit -- another long war as the one envisioned by Pentagon planners. That effort -- even if it were successful -- will not restore the U.S. to the dominating position that it held temporarily after the fall of the Soviet Union, but it might stem Washington's loss of power and even strengthen its position if it were deft at manipulating regional balances of power.

Within the context of the general consensus that world politics are structured by a complex web of competition and cooperation that is stressed by Islamic revolution, competition over natural resources, the eruption of populism, state failure, environmental degradation and the possibility of pandemics, other power centers will welcome Washington's acknowledgment of multipolarity at the same time that they will be challenged by it.

Report Drafted By:
Dr. Michael A. Weinstein



The Power and Interest News Report (PINR) is an independent organization that utilizes open source intelligence to provide conflict analysis services in the context of international relations. PINR approaches a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral judgments to the reader. This report may not be reproduced, reprinted or broadcast without the written permission of inquiries@pinr.com. All comments should be directed to content@pinr.com.

Intelligence Brief: 42nd Munich Conference on Security Policy

On February 3, the 42nd Munich Conference on Security Policy will start at the Presseclub München. High level delegations from Germany, the U.S., and E.U. countries, as well as Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, will attend the conference.

The main topics of the meeting will be the relationship between Europe and the United States, with special attention to how the future role of N.A.T.O. will affect E.U.-U.S. security cooperation, and the new direction of German foreign policy.

After the 2003 transatlantic rift, caused by the U.S. decision to invade Iraq, many decision-makers in Europe want to mend fences with the United States. The more explicitly pro-American stance of newly elected German Chancellor Angela Merkel provided a good opportunity to improve relations. As PINR forecasted on July 13, 2005, Merkel immediately tried to re-establish excellent political and strategic relations with Washington. [See: "Angela Merkel's Forecasted Win and Germany's Foreign Policy"]

The Munich gathering comes at a very delicate moment for N.A.T.O. and the transatlantic security policy. As requested by the United States, N.A.T.O. is deploying thousands of extra troops to parts of southern Afghanistan to allow a partial U.S. withdrawal; the southern region has seen heightened levels of violence. N.A.T.O.'s additional 6,000 troops will be provided by European members and will raise N.A.T.O. peacekeeping forces in the country to 15,000. [See: "Insurgents, Warlords and Opium Roil Afghanistan"]

PINR correctly predicted in August 2004 that the "most likely future for Afghanistan is chronic instability that Western powers, expending limited resources, will attempt to contain, but will not be able to resolve." This conclusion worries many European governments. For instance, any deeper military involvement in Afghanistan will result in more N.A.T.O. casualties. Additionally, financing peacekeeping missions will be a source of dissent in light of the European public's reluctance to accept any kind of military mission that is led by the United States. Moreover, today's N.A.T.O. is often perceived by Europeans as a tool to ensure U.S. leadership in the Western geostrategic realm. [See: "Afghanistan's Transition: Decentralization or Civil War"]

The Netherlands is struggling with these concerns. The Dutch Parliament appears divided on the proposed mission, which entails sending 1,400 more troops to Afghanistan. The Parliament will vote on this issue today.

Oppositely, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and London's Defense Secretary John Reid confirmed the U.K.'s determination to pursue an ambitious new three-year British mission in southern Afghanistan.

The backdrop to the Afghan debate is Washington's push for a transformation of N.A.T.O., with the goal of involving the alliance in more high-combat missions, projecting the organization across strategic distances.

Such a U.S.-led transformation of N.A.T.O. is likely to cause opposition in France, as Paris consistently favors a stronger European Security and Defense Policy (E.S.D.P.) to be the main common security effort by E.U. members. However, even more Atlanticist states like the Netherlands, seen through the concern over its troop commitment to Afghanistan, are bound to become uneasy over expanding the role of N.A.T.O.

Expect 2006 to be the year of attempted transatlantic strategic rapprochement, with significant resistance coming from continental Europe. If the Afghan mission becomes increasingly unsustainable for European members of N.A.T.O., U.S. plans to transform the Atlantic organization will be hindered.



The Power and Interest News Report (PINR) is an independent organization that utilizes open source intelligence to provide conflict analysis services in the context of international relations. PINR approaches a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral judgments to the reader. This report may not be reproduced, reprinted or broadcast without the written permission of inquiries@pinr.com. All comments should be directed to content@pinr.com.

'Let Iran be like India'

Anupam Varma (HindustanTimes.com)

New Delhi, February 1, 2006



To vote or not to vote - while India is yet to decide its stance over Iran at the impending International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meet in Vienna, young Iranians in Delhi hope that New Delhi "will support us this time".

Iran's relationship with India is not new. Strong cultural and political ties date back many centuries and include periods of both tension and friendship.

However, India seems to forget this when it comes to supporting Iran in front of the world.

New Delhi had surprised the world last September by supporting Washington at an IAEA vote, which declared that Iran had failed to comply with its international obligations.

The Iranian community in the national capital, as expected, is a firm supporter of their country. Whether India votes or not is not their concern. All they want is that the US should not interfere in their country's internal matters.

As Dr Qamar Ghaffar, Professor, Department of Persian, Jamia Millia Islamia, puts it, "India's stance on the Iran issue is justified. The Indian government is answerable to the billions it represents. It has to do what it feels is right, even if it means supporting the US."

Asked whether she felt that Iran was wrong in resuming its nuclear programme, she said, "My supporting India does not mean that Iran is wrong. Iran is doing something for its own benefit. How can India's supporting or deserting Iran make Iran's decision right or wrong? Iran is right in its own sense. India only has to decide whether to support or not."

But this is precisely where India had gone wrong. After the vote last September, Iran had threatened to review its economic and trade ties with all the 22 nations that had gone against it.

The US wants Iran to be referred to the United Nations Security Council, as it fears that Iran might be developing nuclear weapons in the garb of research and development.

When asked why, if right, does Iran not want to be referred to the UNSC, Dr Qamar Ghaffar said, "Currently, the the US, along with the UK, France and other European nations, is creating a hindrance. If the case goes to the UNSC, the members, mostly developed European nations, will all start opposing Iran."

"US wrecked Iraq only on the basis of an assumption. And European countries have supported it. US is up to it again. Only this time, it wants to do it in a legal manner," she added.

During the previous vote, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran had said that India supported the IAEA resolution to avert "a major confrontation" between Iran and the international community. At the same time, India had hoped that this would not affect bilateral energy cooperation and that the $7.4 billion trilateral gas pipeline project through Pakistan would go ahead.

The student community, though not as vocal, is up in arms against the US. And, some are hopeful that India will support Iran this time.

"The two countries have good relations. They are doing business together. India should support Iran," said Majid Azadi, an MA student from the School of Environmental Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

"If the US fears that Iran may develop nuclear weapons, it should station personnel in Iran who can keep an eye on the developments. They have hundreds of troops in Iraq. Surely, they can send people there as well," he added.

According to Masoud Imani, America's fear is, to a large extent, unreasonable.

The student from JNU's School of International Studies argued, "The US is taking the once-bitten-twice-shy thing too far. Agreed, a Muslim terrorist attacked US and keeps issuing threats time and again. But how can one put at stake the growth of others due to one's own irrational fears?"

"Today India undertakes nuclear research and develops technology through government bodies like BARC. But India follows world body norms. Iran can do the same thing," observed Sahar, another JNU student.

Well, no matter what Iranians think of their country, as regards the Indian stance, let's wait and watch.

PAKISTAN: Focus on the conflict in Balochistan





© Kamila Hyat/IRIN

Children near Quetta protesting against ongoing violence that is keeping their school closed

QUETTA, 2 Feb 2006 (IRIN) - An apparent air of calm hangs over the sleepy city of Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's largest province, Balochistan, lying to the southwest and bordering Iran and Afghanistan.

Along the dusty, wind-swept streets, where temperatures plummet each night to below 10 degrees centigrade throughout much of the winter, vendors in woven woollen caps and heavy shawls sell dried fruit, blankets, mittens and other items on the pavements.

The 700,000 people of the city go about business as usual – noisy trucks blare their horns almost constantly, pedestrians keeping hands tucked firmly in jacket pockets as a defence against the biting cold.

Only the occasional damaged building, or a shallow crater by a roadside, gives away the fact that Quetta has experienced at least 100 bomb blasts and rocket attacks in 2005 alone, according to figures provided by Pakistan's interior minister Aftab Ahmed Sherpao to the country's Senate at the end of December 2005. He added that there had been 187 bomb blasts, 275 rocket attacks and eight attacks on gas pipelines in Balochistan in 2005.

SIMMERING VIOLENCE

In the Kohlu and Dera Bugti districts of Balochistan, lying southeast of Quetta, simmering violence between tribal militias and security forces has flared up recently. Since the middle of December 2005, the sound of gunfire, and of military planes flying overhead, has been heard day after day. In early January, tension spread to the adjacent Dera Bugti district – with the Frontier Constabulary (FC), a paramilitary force, locked in fierce battles with armed militants, consisting mainly of tribesmen.

The people of the province have long felt a sense of deprivation and alienation from Islamabad, and have repeatedly demanded greater power to determine their own affairs. Balochis are also demanding greater control over the rich natural resources of the province. These include vast fields of natural gas at Sui, in Dera Bugti.

NEED FOR REGIONAL AUTONOMY

Analysts stress the need for more self-determination for the region. "As far as possible resolutions [to the current conflict] go, in the first place the 1973 constitution of Pakistan should be implemented, especially in regard to provincial autonomy,” leading regional observer Ahmed Rashid, told IRIN.

He also spoke of the need to "alter the corrupt mechanisms through which development aid is currently distributed in the province, with a system possibly involving neutral monitors… so that the development demands of Balochistan could be met."

Since early 2005, tensions have been running high between Nawab Akbar Bugti, the chief of the Bugti tribe, and the government of Pakistan. A dispute over royalties payable for the mining of gas in Dera Bugti, is thought by some to lie at the heart of the conflict, observers say.

However, increased attacks in Balochistan on military installations, government buildings and other targets, apparently by Baloch separatists, have added fuel to the fire. So too has the controversial case of Dr Shazia Khalid, a young female doctor posted to Sui, who early last year made accusations that an army officer had raped her. Angered by this, tribal militias surrounded the gas fields, leading to a stand-off with state forces, which continued for several months before arbitration by some government members restored temporary calm.

LATEST VIOLENCE

The latest violence began after eight rockets were fired on 14 December 2005 at a paramilitary base on the outskirts of the town of Kohlu, a stronghold of the Marri tribe, while President Pervez Musharraf was visiting it. The Marri tribe's leader, Sardar Khairbaksh Marri, is regarded as a close ally of Nawab Akbar Bugti and authorities saw the attack as having been planned by tribal leaders. Nawab Marri has maintained it was in fact staged by the military.

Three days later, paramilitary forces began what local people describe as an aerial bombardment of Kohlu town and surrounding areas. The government has consistently denied any army action and insists that the problems of Balochistan are created only by a few 'miscreants' encouraged by the province's rebellious tribal leaders.

In mid-January, three soldiers were killed and three others wounded when their vehicle struck a landmine in the town of Pir Koh, 400 km east of Quetta. After the blast, suspected militants launched an attack on a gas field in which 12 of them died, police said.

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION GATHERS DATA

Fact-finding missions, sent by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) to the Kohlu area and to Sui and Dera Bugti in December 2005 and January 2006, under the leadership of HRCP's chairperson Asma Jahangir, have found a troubling picture. The fighting has caused widespread damage to buildings, and 85 percent of the 25,000 or so people of Dera Bugti have been forced to flee the town, the commission maintains.

In the Dera Bugti area, schools have been closed for the last month. HRCP says children have not been attending them since March 2005, due to armed skirmishes between tribal militias and paramilitary troops in the area. "How can the children go to school? There is a sound of gunfire all the time here, the kids are terrified and there is a real danger of getting caught in the crossfire," Jan Muhammad, 40, a father of four, told IRIN in Quetta. He had fled to the Balochistan capital after leaving Dera Bugti, along with hundreds of other families, in mid-January.

"Life there is not possible. Homes have been hit. No one is safe. We can see planes with bombs flying overhead," added his wife, Kaushan Jehan.

The HRCP team, on its visit, found what looked like a ghost town at Dera Bugti. Almost the entire population, their belongings tied atop trucks, vans, lorries or donkey carts, had left the town and shops had been closed for over a month. On the roads leading out of Dera Bugti, caravans of people could be spotted leaving, watched by security forces manning road blocks.

IMPACT ON CIVILIANS

Meanwhile, the town of Kohlu remains under a state of siege. Entry to the area is barred, and the 12,000 or so people of the town have remained virtually cut off from the outside world since the middle of December. There have been complaints of food shortages, acute problems in taking the sick or injured to hospitals and normal life has come to a standstill. From towns near Kohlu, such as Kahan, hundreds have fled. The fact that much of the population of the area is nomadic makes it difficult to ascertain the precise number of displaced people.

"There is a war-like situation, ordinary people are suffering greatly, children have been unable to go to school for months and we were told some school buildings have been hit," Asma Jahangir told IRIN. She added: "People told us their children had gone crazy with fear."

HRCP has, in a detailed report on Balochistan released last Sunday, called for an immediate ceasefire and warned that development plans in the troubled region must be focused on building civil society, including establishing press clubs, bar associations and community radio and television networks, which would help connect the population of Balochistan with the rest of the country.

The fact that many roads in the province have been mined by tribal militias adds to the danger many civilians face. On Wednesday, six members of a family, including two women and three children, were killed when a landmine exploded as their van was travelling along a road near Dera Bugti.

Other roads have been closed due to the fighting and people are sometimes forced to travel many hours along alternative routes, some consisting only of dirt tracks, to reach destinations lying just a few kilometres away.

As people continue to flee troubled areas, rights activists are also demanding camps be set up for them and other assistance provided. "These people have nowhere to go. They need help," Quetta-based lawyer and activist Zahoor Ahmed Shawani, said.

[ENDS]

February 01, 2006

‘My men need to be protected’ -- Director General CRPF

NEW DELHI: Jyoti Kumar Sinha, the director general of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), is a worried man.“When my soldier goes into an area, for operation he knows it is definitely mined and he knows he is certainly going to be fired up on. What does he want in such a situation to feel confident?” asks the chief of the paramilitary force that has most of its men deployed in Kashmir, northeast and in naxal-infested areas. The question keeps returning as I accompany Sinha and his senior officials for almost an hour checking out armoured vehicles, personal protection suits, and systems to detect explosives on display from around the world in Pragti Maidan at the Defexpo 2006.

READ MORE
Naxal Terror Watch: ‘My men need to be protected’ -- Director General CRPF

January 31, 2006

Scions of the Nehru-Gandhi family eternal rulers of Bharat

Ashok Kumar

New Delhi, January 28: It is the last day of the plenary session of the Congress. The President of the party Antonia Gandhi, while speaking over the occasion, was trying her level best to dwell on the priorities of the party in light of the challenges lurking in its path. But those present on the occasion, it seems, did not give much heed to what their party president was trying to highlight.

For the majority of them, somebody occupying the helm of affairs from the Gandhi family is enough; her priorities can take a back seat so far as that ‘Magic Presence’ is maintained in the party.

Meanwhile the Congress people do not want to let go the opportunity to milk this ‘status’ of the party whenever and wherever the elections happen.

The basic requirement of the party is of course to win elections and when someone from the Gandhi family is at the helm of affairs, the victories are taken for granted.

This huge gap (between Congress chief and members), which was evident on the last day of the plenary session of the Congress when the esteemed crowd that gathered there, demanded the appearance of Rahul Gandhi on the podium to address them and assure them of his more active presence in the affairs of the party.

Expecting the cherished leader of the masses to lead the party is something that is an important factor in any political party and Congress is no exception to this fact.

It could well be illustrated that Atal Biharee Hajpayee was similarly a greatly required presence in the Bharatiya Janta Party as was Jyoti Basu for the ruling communist party in West Bengal and Lalu Prasad Yadav for the Rashtriya Janta Dal.

But what makes the vehement demand of the Congress party men for Rahul Gandhi absurd is that he is still far away from having an appeal to the masses like the other veterans, who have treaded to each and every nook of the country and have a fairly good understanding of the nuances which builds up the fabric of the society.

The holler to elevate the latest scion of the legendary Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty has come at a three-day Congress convention that came to an end in Hyderabad on Monday, January 23, 2006.

Who would have ever wondered that the assembly which would be the meeting ground for Congressmen all over the country, to transform it into a brain storming session with delegates from all the parts sharing their experience to bring better fruits to the party would end up singing the same rhyme which if repeated too often could be a bitter pill not only for the common man and supporters of the party but for the Congress supremo as well who is trying to revive the party to find the lost ground in certain states which were supposed to be its strong holds quite before the emergence of the regional satraps.

A party new to the coalition scene has recently faced a face off in Karnataka where the Congress led government is threatened by the splinter group of the supporting Janta Dal (Secular).

The Congress Chief is pragmatic enough to realize the gravity of situation and the party’s high handedness in handling the delicate situation.

But it seems difficult to comprehend that the same worry is reflected in the congregation in the plenary session. Instead of trying to pay heed to the party leader the party it seems just does not wants to come out of that notoriously lazy recline where it is idly basking in the magnetism of the individuality that comes handy with the scions of the Nehru-Gandhi family

Rahul first contested elections in 2004 and was elected to Parliament from Amethi, a family citadel in Uttar Pradesh, winning more than a simple majority of the votes cast. But everybody knows, as to whom goes the credit for his maiden and marvelous victory.

It is obvious for anybody to guess why the locales of Amethi voted him to power when he had nothing to show to them except that he was the son of Rajiv Gandhi and the grandson of Indira.

But what Antonia or Rahul accepts is something which becomes immaterial for the petty Congress leaders who shy away from the ground responsibilities and always dream of a joy ride on the legacy of the grand political dynasty powered by anyone who has inherited that family label.

It is not to say that Rahul cannot prove himself as a responsible leader of the party and masses but the whole point is, the Congress wallas should show a minimum of patience and allow the budding scion and heir apparent of the Antonia Gandhi to earn him his well deserved rank of leading one of the oldest ruling party of the country.

As Rahul himself confessed in the plenary session, “My place right now is among our people, my place right now is to learn and to understand so I can serve my people and my party better.”

The Congressmen should have some regards at least for the words uttered by their very own cherished leader, if not for the poor voter of this country.

Sycophancy has been the bane of the Congress of Indira GANDHI, Rajiv and now Antonia who has been catapulted to power with no special qualification or study. She started as a waitress in a London hotel where she enticed Rajiv Gandhi and got into the Gandhi family. The course of events pushed her to the forefront.

In spite of bluntly telling them not to say anything about individuals, these congress servants kept chanting that they are slaves of only Gandhi family. Only god can save them.Congress culture has turned into appeasing Antonia and Rahul only. They do not have self respect or Asmita. What can one say? They compete in pleasing these individuals. Who is at fault?

Congress meeting is a gathering place for the scoundrels and looters of Hindu Bharat. It is most likely that JD(S) would be split soon in Karnatka. And the split group would be taken back in the congress. Kumara swamy really can go back to the Congress fold. If the Congress can take hard-core Shiv Sainiks like Narayan Rane in Maharashtra, or Shankarsinh Vaghela in Gujarat in its fold, they can take anyone back in their fold. JD-S can also go back to the "secular fold". Who cares about ideology these days? What really matters are - (1) jaati equations in pre-poll days (2) party equations in post poll days. Everything else is perceived as non-essential.

There are only 3 parties which stick to some sort of ideology. (Congress as anti-BJP, Left as anti-BJP, and BJP as anti-Congress/Left). Anti-Christianism is now an ideology. All other terms (secularism, psecularism ...) have been rendered context dependent.

The objective of the leaders is to loot the country and not work towards the development of Bharat. People will have to throw Congress out of power or even out of Bharat. To save Bharat, some partied like INC ( Islamic National Congress) , NCP ( National Chamchas Party) , CPI ( Corrupt party of India) CPM( Maha Corrupt party) RJD

( Rakshsas Jallad Dal) should be thrown in the Indian ocean. Islamisation and Christianisation of Hindus is going on at its full speed in Hindusthan the land of Hindus due to secularism which is the cancer for Hindu-Bharat. The so called minority is dominating over Hindus due to anti Hindu Congress, Communists and opportunists. It is a very serious situation indeed for Hindus. Hindu leaders are not yet ready or united against the enemy.

Most of the Bharatiya media are anti Hindu, keep repeating lies, and keep spreading fabricated theories to degrade Hindu religion and insult Hindus. It is because we Hindus as a civilization still suffer from Dhimmitude and because our educational system is still Macaulayan (so that it continues to produce Dhimmitude). As part of these two factors is Nehruvian secularism whose founder was the so-called "Mahatma" Gandhi, is the cause for the degradation of Hindus.

Antonia is Catholic Christian. Even her son, daughter and son in law are Catholic Christians. People of Bharat have voted both Antonia and Rahul to send them into Parliament. They have been commanded by Jesus to slay non-Christians who do not accept Jesus their king. (Bible, Luke 19:27). She is residing in Bharat to baptize, bring fire and division among the families of Bharat and the entire globe. (Bible-Luke/ Chapter 12 / Verse 49-53).

Antonia is exploiting the fraud named Indian Constitution and the name of Nehru, Gandhi. The Indian Constitution has been compiled to enslave one economically & religiously Hindu Bharat, steal the possessions of the humanity and eradicate Vedic culture.

Antonia, Rahul and other scions of Nehru family need to be vanished from the political scene of Bharat

KANCHI CASE : HC quashes proceedings against S Gurumoorthy

It is refreshing to note that the HC has intervened decisively in a false case foisted against Guruumurthy. I hope the proceedings in the Kanchi Acharya case will also be so quashed. These cases should make us all rethink on the Macaulay-inspired criminal justice system which continues in force in Bharatam. The time has come to revamp the systm, lock, stock and barrel. S'ubha kaamanaayen, Gurumurthy ji and wishing you every success in your quest for satyam.


HC quashes proceedings against S Gurumoorthy

Chennai | January 31, 2006 8:40:26 PM IST


Madras High Court today quashed the entire case proceedings pending against S Gurumoorthy, a columnist, before the Kancheepuram Court following his articles in connection with the arrest of the Kanchi Acharya in the Sankararaman murder case.

Mr Justice M Jeyapaul quashed the proceedings while allowing a petition from Mr Gurumoorthy seeking to quash the chargesheet filed in the Kancheepuram Court.

Mr Gurumoorthy was charged for offences under Section 176, 179 read with Section 193 of IPC and Section 14 of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867.

According to police, with an intention to create false evidence and sidetrack the Special Investigation Team (SIT) from the murder case, Mr Gurumoorthy wrote misleading articles in a English daily.

The judge said punishable provisions of law contemplated under Section 14 of the Press and Registration of Books Act did not apply to false statements in articles, either in dailies or journals. The petitioner had been wrongly charged based on total misconception of law for offences under Section 14 of the Press and Registration Act.

Section 176 of IPC contemplated punishment for omission to furnish information on any subject to any public servant. Section 179 stipuated punishment for refusal to answer a public servant. The petitioner written articles expressing his point of view as a journalist. Irked by this, it appeared that the Chief Investigating Officer summoned him under Section 160 of Cr.P.C. and grilled him, which did not take the investigating officer anywhere, he added.

Usually, journalists collected information from furtive sources and published it for public consumption. No one could attribute special knowledge to the journalist about the information he had adverted to in the article, the judge said.

The judge said the fact remained that even before the article was published, the Investigating Officer had got material information in the shape of the FIR and had also arrested the accused concerned. It was not as if the petitioner withheld vital information, which led the investigating officer to grope in the dark. Therefore, the question of withholding vital information did not arise in this case.

The petitioner was not supposed to answer any question relating to the article he had written to the officer investigating the murder case. He was bound to answer only with regard to Sankaraman's murder. He had answered that he knew nothing of the murder, the judge added.

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Indo-US nuclear deal in doubt

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A breakthrough nuclear cooperation pact between the US and India remains doubtful as negotiations falter. US officials have increased pressure over the differentiation of civilian and military installations, and are seeking support for efforts to send the Iranian nuclear dossier to the UN Security Council.

By Animesh Roul in New Delhi for ISN Security Watch (30/01/06)


Hopes for credible Indo-US nuclear cooperation are fading despite three rounds of negotiations on the formulation of an elusive nuclear agreement, rooted in a joint statement issued by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George W. Bush in Washington on 18 July 2005.

Hopes for an agreement have received two reverses in the lead-up to Bush's planned South Asian trip in early March, through the remarks of two senior US officials.

US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns spoke about "difficulties ahead" in the negotiations, saying that separating civilian and military nuclear facilities is an enormous task for India. Last week US Ambassador David Mulford warned that the "historic deal" might fall through unless India votes against Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting scheduled for early February. He insisted that India "elaborate and commit" to the plan it had developed for the sake of credibility.

Mulford told reporters: "On the basis of that commitment from India, [we] would seek to change the US law and would seek to gain the consensus of the 35-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) that controls nuclear technology and fuel."

India and the US had opened a new chapter in bilateral relations in July last year when Bush, in a reversal of decades-old US nuclear policy, pledged to move towards full nuclear cooperation with India, including the sale of reactors and fuel for India's civilian nuclear energy program.

Under the deal, India is supposed to separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities.

The policy reversal drew strong criticism from the US Congress with members vowing to introduce legislation to block the deal. Opponents said the deal was "complicated" with regards to US policy for neighboring Pakistan, and called it a "bad non-proliferation policy".

However, matters turned in India's favor in early January when two delegations led by Senator John Kerry and Representative Bobby Jindal met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi, and voiced their support for the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Jindal said that civilian nuclear cooperation was the "most important issue" at present between the two countries and expressed confidence that the deal would receive bipartisan support in the US Congress.

Even Kerry, who has been known as an advocate of nuclear non-proliferation, indicated that the implementation of the 18 July Indo-US agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation would mean recognizing India as a nuclear power.

If the US Congress and the NSG approve the deal, the international community is likely to look more favorably on supplying India with fuel and equipment for its civilian nuclear program, under international safeguards.

Mulford's comments
Ambassador Mulford's comments on the agreement raised a political and diplomatic storm in India, with media criticism focusing on his call on India to vote against Iran in February's IAEA meeting. His statements were dubbed "inappropriate" and "not conducive to building a strong partnership". Several political parties, including the main ally of the ruling Congress Party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), urged the government to seek Mulford's recall and demanded clarifications from the government.

According to a communist party statement, "these remarks confirm that the Indian government was pressurized to vote against Iran in the IAEA. It also raises serious apprehensions regarding the nuclear cooperation deal".

Former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said that Mulford's comments were "outrageous" and accused the US diplomat of denigrating his host country and violating all diplomatic norms.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has also indicated that India needs to make some "difficult choices" for a final agreement to be reached.

Iranian referral a deal-breaker?
The Indian prime minister gave strong indications on Sunday that India would not be pressured into voting against Iran over its suspect nuclear program at the IAEA meeting, raising further questions concerning the future of the Indo-US nuclear deal.

"We will do what is right for the country and India's national interest is the prime concern whether it is domestic or foreign policy," he said.

Many experts believe that, if not a decisive issue, Iran is still a factor in the fate of the ambitious deal.

Speaking to ISN Security Watch, Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of Washington-based Arms Control Association (ACA), said that a decision by India to vote against sending the Iranian nuclear dossier to the UN Security Council might lead many members of the US Congress to look less favorably on the expected legislative changes required for "full" nuclear cooperation with India.

Kimball said that, "it should be up to India to decide how it believes the Iran situation should be handled most appropriately".

Advising caution, he said: "Members of the US Congress should not base their judgments on the proposed deal on the basis of whether India does or does not vote with the United States on Iran at the IAEA meeting."

However, Charles D Ferguson, from the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), does not think Iran is a bone of contention and is optimistic about the future of the proposed nuclear cooperation pact and overall bilateral relations between the two countries.

Ferguson told ISN Security Watch: "I do not believe that the India-US nuclear deal will completely fall apart if India decides to support Iran in the IAEA, or in other forums such as the UN." . He said that the relationship between the two countries goes far deeper than the nuclear deal.

However, Ferguson contended that if India decides to oppose the US on Iran, "critics of the deal would use that decision to charge that the Bush administration has given away too much in the deal without getting enough from India in return".

The communist party has urged the government to abstain from the vote if the IAEA meeting does not reach a consensus.

During an IAEA meeting in Vienna in September, India joined the US, UK and France in rebuking Iran over its nuclear program.

Many countries, led by the US, want to refer Iran to the UN Security Council amid concerns over its nuclear program, especially after the Islamic Republic revoked its voluntary moratorium on nuclear research in a televised breaking of IAEA seal at three facilities.

A civilian or military program
India has 22 nuclear reactors, and differences persist with the US over how many of these should be classed as civilian facilities open to IAEA inspections.

In the meantime, the Bush administration has directed India to classify the majority of its nuclear reactors as civilian in order to convince the US Congress that New Delhi has no ulterior motives in seeking nuclear cooperation.

The US says that India's proposals for differentiating between civilian and military nuclear facilities has yet to meet the "test of credibility' and "minimum standard" that would be required for the US Congress to vote in favor of the pact.

Ferguson explained: "One of the main stumbling blocks in this respect is India's fast breeder reactor program. Because India does not have extensive deposits of uranium, but has extensive deposits of thorium which can be used to breed nuclear fuel, and for that New Delhi wants a large breeder reactor program." He added that, "so far India has been unwilling to place this program under safeguards because it can serve as a plentiful source of weapons-usable nuclear materials".

Kimball says that India is caught in a Catch-22 situation: "If India seeks to exclude its fast breeder facilities from meaningful IAEA safeguards or exclude existing quantities of spent fuel at nuclear power reactors from meaningful safeguards, the Bush administration may reject the plan and effectively kill the deal.

Kimball went on to explain: "If India does not provide further indications that it will end the production of fissile material for weapons purposes, Congress may not agree to the arrangement because it could then mean the US would be providing indirect support to India's weapons program, which the United States is prohibited from doing under Article- I of the Non-Proliferation Treaty."

Dr. A Gopalakrishnan, the former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board of the Government of India, believes the Indo-US deal is difficult to negotiate to the satisfaction of both sides and that a "lot depends on how the Iran issue develops in the next few weeks".

"There should be understandings on at least three major issues both nations are currently grappling with," he told ISN Security Watch.

Gopalakrishnan said that the differentiation between Indian nuclear facilities used for civilian or military purposes, drafting an India-IAEA safeguards agreement and inspection strategy acceptable to India, and agreeing on an associated Additional Protocol which India will be comfortable with, are vital issues to be ironed out.

However, he was pessimistic about the possibilities for an early understanding on all or even on one of these issues by the time Bush arrives in New Delhi in early March.

Meanwhile, a group of political parties has vowed to protest against the US president's visit and has formulated plans for a "Go Back Bush" campaign. The storm created by Mulford's remarks has yet to die down.


Animesh Roul is ISN Security Watch's senior correspondent in New Delhi

Behind the cult of Chavez

ISN Security Watch’s Sam Logan searches for the cult of personality that keeps President Hugo Chavez in popular power in Caracas, Venezuela.

Venezuela Information and Justice Ministry
By Sam Logan in Caracas for ISN Security Watch (19/01/06)

I boarded a plane in Buenos Aires, Argentina for a long flight to Caracas, Venezuela. The plane was packed with Venezuelans. Some of them, judging from their dress, manner of speech, and number of electronic gadgets, had traveled to Argentina as part of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s security detail for the Mar del Plata Summit. The rest, farmers in shabby clothes with worn, wrinkled hands, had been sent to fill the stands with Venezuelan blood, hot enough to shout in favor of their leader.

The elderly lady sitting next to me said Venezuelan state agents had recruited her from her small family farm just hours before takeoff. She was to attend the summit as a Chavez fan, watching her leader stand side by side with Argentine President Nestor Kirchner and then-Bolivian presidential candidate Evo Morales to denounce US foreign policy in the region and promote Chavez’s region-wide call for socialism.

She and her husband referred to Chavez endearingly as “Huguito”, or “little Hugo”, and said state agents had instructed them as to when and how to cheer for “Huguito” in Argentina.

Observers have long talked about Chavez’s cult of personality, but it was the first time I had seen it first hand, and in the genuine, cheerful faces of these small-time farmers.

Chavez, who has served as Venezuela’s president for nearly a decade, faces elections in December 2006, and all indications are that he will secure another six years in power. For all intents and purposes, he is the president, the government, and all but an autocrat.

For six hours, the elderly couple talked about their beloved leader, who would one day deliver them from misery.

“Chavez represents the typical Venezuelan,” the couple explained. “He grew up in the county in a house with a dirt floor. Raised by his grandmother, Huguito was able to get into the military academy because he was an exceptional baseball player, not because he had money.”

Most Venezuelans are poor like Chavez was before he became president. This is the part of Chavez’s personality that the Venezuelan government promotes, and it is why so many Venezuelans love him.

Chavez has been harshly criticized by large parts of Venezuela’s middle and upper classes referred to as the “opposition”. He has been accused of electoral fraud, human rights violations, and political repression. He has survived a brief 2002 coup and a failed 2004 recall referendum. The poorer classes tend to view him as a socialist liberator, while the middle and upper classes tend to view him as an authoritarian demagogue. Regardless of the labels, Chavez is one of Latin America’s most complex and controversial figures.

From Mexico to Argentina, poor Latin Americans appreciate his rhetoric, his charisma, and talk of plans for a better future. He makes promises and keeps them. Within Venezuela, Chavez has setup medical clinics for the poor. Located in the shantytowns that surround Caracas, Cuban doctors run the clinics; service is free of charge. State-run markets, where the prices for basic food staples are controlled and very low, are popular with Chavez’s supporters. And his talk of land appropriation, a very difficult promise to keep, has moved forward, giving poor, landless Venezuelans hope that one day, they will have their own land.

Chavez is the keeper of the faith. He has spearheaded a movement in Venezuela and abroad, that, more than any other substantial outcome, has delivered hope to millions of impoverished Latinos.

At the airport outside of Caracas, one is abruptly introduced to the loud, badgering, and careening nature of Venezuelan culture. But amid the constant motion and liveliness, and despite the faith in Chavez, a growing sense of doom-and-gloom seems to have descended upon Caracas.

Having lived in major cities in Argentina and Brazil, I have grown accustomed to the red bricks and corrugated tin roofs of South America’s slums. But the shantytowns in Caracas were something different and more depressing. The sheer mass of slums and the length to which they spread forth from the hills surrounding Caracas, down the slopes, all the way to the coast, was depressingly impressive.

These shacks seem to cling to the side of the hill with little more than sheer will and some luck. Their inhabitants represent the mass of people who largely support Chavez. They are the first to praise their leader for the reduced prices of meat, chicken, bread, and eggs, and free medical care. Their children fill Chavez’s rank and file of loyal soldiers.

They love “Huguito”, placing all their hope in one very charismatic man who seems to have all the answers. Yet their votes are all that remain of Venezuelan democracy, which, with each election cycle, is chipped away at just enough to keep alarmists on their toes and pragmatists from worrying.

Talking to some of these Chavez supporters, I was surprised to learn that their allegiance was not as solid as it would seem. Many here love that he claims to represent Venezuela’s poor. But they are quick to add that it seems that only those who live in the cities - and a limited number of pockets of rural poverty - receive attention from the state. They are also quick to mention that the Cuban doctors are not what Chavez says they are. More than one Chavez supporter told me that the doctors in the Caracas slums were little more than medical students, trained to the level of a nurse.

Later on in my journey through Caracas, I met with representatives of the “middle class” who do not support Chavez.

I met with a former vice minister in the Venezuelan Energy Ministry at a downtown café, just far enough from the hustling street to make conversation without shouting. Sitting in a far corner of the air conditioned café, he ordered both of us round after round of coffee and explained in fast-paced Spanish the realities of living among the opposition.

The former vice minister worked in the nuclear studies section of Venezuela’s Energy Ministry and is now a professor with the Central University in Caracas. We spoke only a little about Chavez’s nuclear ambitions before falling into a topic that began with what many in Caracas simply refer to as “the list”.

Chavez’s nuclear ambitions are more talk than reality, he said, adding that there was really nothing to talk about because Venezuela did not have the scientific brain trust to make it happen.

“The poor bastards have all left,” he said. “Why? Because they were finished with working for the Chavez government, and the few who remained signed the list.”

The list is a record of signatures made by those Venezuelans who opposed Chavez’s presidency in late 2003. At the time, Chavez’s political opposition had enough momentum to attract millions of signatures needed to call a nation-wide referendum. Since the list was delivered to the National Electoral Council, those who signed it became persona non grata for the Chavez administration. And it was soon after the referendum vote in August 2004 that strange things started happening.

“Chavez took that referendum very personally,” the nuclear scientist said. “Everyone on that list is an enemy to Chavez and an enemy to the Venezuelan state in his eyes.”

Rumors are that those who signed the list became part of a register that represents the core of Chavez’s opposition.

Over time, members of that register noticed their lives becoming more difficult. Business licenses were not renewed, applications for passports and visas were “lost”, strange bills for unknown taxes appeared in the mail.

As I listened to the stories about this lawyer, and that merchant, the daughter of the cousin of some friend, and her boyfriend’s father, I realized that many of these stories may not be true, or were partial truths or rumors. But the fact remained that the former government employee sitting before me clearly believed those stories, and his speech was so fraught with anxiety that he brought his fist down on the table, spilling his coffee on my notepad.

While he failed to completely convince me of the veracity of these stories, he did manage to convince me that he, along with thousands or perhaps even millions of Venezuelans, believed them to be true. And that is what really matters.

If millions of middle class Venezuelans believe that their government is actively trying to make life more difficult for them, then they also believe there is no social contact between civilian and state. If Venezuelans believe the government should be changed, they have the constitutional right to organize a referendum and recall vote. The man sitting before me was convinced that he and millions of others had been punished for exercising their rights as citizens of a democratic state.

“What worries me the most is the future state of Venezuela for our children. What Chavez is doing to me and my peers now will only last a little while. Chavez will only last a little while, but what he is doing to divide Venezuelans, to destroy our economy, and to undermine our belief in our government and democratic system will take decades, maybe longer, to correct,” he said.

Returning to my hotel in the broad backseat of an old Chrysler, my taxi driver, an Italian who immigrated to Caracas over 40 years ago, complained about life under Chavez. When I asked about “the list”, he exploded in anger. He had signed the list and was convinced that was why he was still waiting for a tax receipt that would allow him to circulate in Caracas as a legal taxi driver.

Before the referendum, it took about two months for his tax receipt to come in the mail. This time around, he had already been waiting six months for his 2004 receipt, and the last time he called to complain, he was told he had never paid his taxes and would have to pay in full again or risk losing his driver’s license.

I asked him if he would vote in the upcoming elections. “Hell no, I’m a marked man in this town. There is no way my vote would be counted,” he said.

“They know my name is on the list, so it doesn’t matter who I try to vote for, they’ll just tell me I’m not registered to vote when I arrive at the [voting] station.”

By this time I was getting the feeling that abstention would become a big problem among the middle and upper classes.

The Venezuelan opposition is a relatively small group of middle- and upper-class Venezuelans who are divided and in need of direction. Compared to the very focused mass of Chavez supporters, the opposition is fragmented and more of a diaspora throughout the Western Hemisphere than a political force in Venezuela. Chavez supporters currently form a solid political base, and Chavez rewards them with cheap food, free medicine, and maybe a plot of land, for their support.

What Chavez does not preach about is the truth of his fragile economic situation. The Venezuelan economy shrunk in 2002 and 2003 by 8.9 per cent and 9.2 per cent, respectively. Current claims that the Venezuelan economy is growing may be true, but it’s still recuperating from years of shrinkage. Roughly one-third of Venezuela’s gross domestic product is from the sale of oil, some 80 per cent of Venezuela’s exports. The day the price of oil falls, Chavez will have a very hard time keeping the largesse of his social programs afloat.

When the well of socialist security begins to dry up, this whole system that Chavez has created will come crumbling down and his support base will revolt. If that day comes, those who form the core of his support base will revolt first, not the middle class Venezuelans who speak out against the president in a disorganized manner.

The first to revolt will be the taxi drivers, the bus drivers, the waiters, mechanics, and others who live in all but impoverished conditions, but who still hold on to hope that Chavez will be their deliverer.

The minute they lose that hope, they will take to the streets with all the firebrand fervor they now use to support “Huguito”.

Sam Logan is an investigative journalist who has covered security, energy, politics, economics, organized crime, terrorism, and black markets in South America since July 1999. He has reported from Santiago, Brasilia, Sao Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro. He currently lives in Buenos Aires. Sam holds a Master's in International Policy Studies, and has earned a specialization in Security and Development in South America.