May 11, 2006


by B.Raman


Internal security management has been an important component of India's national security management ever since India became independent in 1947.The Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India is the kingpin of India's internal security management mechanism. Initially, it focussed mainly on the maintenance of law and order and inter-communal peace, crime control and counter-insurgency.

2.Counter-insurgency became an important component of internal security management following the launching of an insurgent movement by a group of communist insurgents in what now constitutes the State of Andhra Pradesh immediately after India became independent and by some of the tribals living in India's North-East in the period starting from 1956. While the communist insurgency, which still continues as a Maoist movement in 12 States of India, is now an ideological movement for the spread and implementation of the Maoist ideology, the tribal insurgent movements sought independence for various tribal groups living in the border areas of India's North-East. These insurgencies drew the support of China and Pakistan. While the Chinese support to the Marxist and tribal insurgencies stopped after 1979, the Pakistani support to the tribal insurgencies continues through Bangladesh.

3. Counter-terrorism became a new component of India's internal security management in 1981 when a group of Sikhs living in the State of Punjab in India as well as in the UK, the then West Germany, Canada and the US took to terrorism in emulation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in order to pressurise the Government of India to concede their demand for an independent State for the Sikhs to be called Khalistan. The Khalistani terrorist organisations were largely funded by some members of the Sikh diaspora abroad and by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan. They were trained and armed by the ISI in camps in Pakistani territory.

4. The Khalistani terrorists used four modus operandi----- first, use of hand-held weapons against selected leaders, officials and others perceived as enemies of the Sikh religion; second, hijacking of planes of the Indian Airlines---they hijacked five planes between 1981 and 1984; third, blowing up planes of Air India in mid-air---they blew up off the Irish coast a plane originating from Toronto in June,1985, killing over 200 passengers and unsuccessfully tried to blow up another plane originating from Tokyo the same day; and four, indiscriminate planting of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in public places killing a large number of innocent civilians.

5. In response to their modus operandi, the first bricks of India's counter-terrorism architecture came into being in the 1980s. These related to civil aviation security, personal security of very important persons and anti-explosives security. This period saw the coming into being of the National Security Guards (NSGs), who are specially trained to intervene to terminate incidents of hijacking and hostage-taking, the Special Protection Group (SPG), specially trained to protect the serving and past Prime Ministers of India and their families, and anti-explosive capabilities in the police forces of different states, in the para-military forces of the Govt. of India and in the NSG and the SPG. This period also saw increased importance being given to strengthen the crisis management capabilities of the concerned Ministries and departments of the Governments at the Centre and in the states.

6. The 1980s also saw the emergence of disaster management as an important component of internal security management following an accidental explosion in a chemicals factory run by the Union Carbide company of the US in Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh in 1984, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians. Even before the 1980s, we had a disaster management capability, but this related essentially to management of famines, floods and earth quakes. The explosion in a chemicals factory and the resulting deaths brought home to the Indian policy-makers the need to develop specialised disaster management capabilities relating to industrial explosions and other disasters of an unconventional nature caused by nature, accidents or intentionally by terrorists. The concept of disaster management and the drill associated with it have been constantly updated keeping in view the likelihood of acts of terrorism involving the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

7. The period between 1989 and 2001 saw eight new challenges confronting the Indian counter-terrorism managers and policy-makers.

Firstly, the emulation of the Afghan Mujahideen of the 1980s by some organisations in the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) in order to exercise pressure on the Government of India to concede their demands, which related to either independence for the State or its annexation by Pakistan. The cadres of these organisations, which have been active in the State since 1989, are funded, trained, armed and guided by the ISI.
Secondly, the infiltration initially into J&K and subsequently into other parts of India of trained and armed members of four Pakistani pan-Islamic organisations, namely, the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM). These Pakistani pan-Islamic organisations have two objectives--- to help the terrorist organisations of J&K to achieve their objectives and to keep the Indian security forces and counter-terrorism agencies preoccupied with internal security duties in other parts of India by indulging in acts of terrorism. These organisations, which have since joined Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front (IIF) formed in 1998, were initially recruiting their members from Pakistan, but since 2003, they have also been recruiting from the Indian Muslim diaspora in the Gulf and from the Indian Muslim community in India itself. All these organisations operate from Pakistan. Two of them---the LET and the HUJI---also have sanctuaries in Bangladesh.
Thirdly, the emergence of suicide terrorism as a strategic weapon of great lethality. Suicide terrorism was first used in Indian territory by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi, former Indian Prime Minister, at Chennai in May,1991. Since the four Pakistani pan-Islamic organisations joined bin Laden's IIF formed in 1998, they have been increasingly resorting to suicide terrorism.
Fourthly, the acquisition of a maritime terrorism capability by the LTTE. This capability consists of a fleet of commercial ships for gun and narcotics running and a naval capability for covert acts of maritime terrorism, including sea-borne suicide terrorism. Even though this capability has been acquired by the LTTE mainly for use against the Government of Sri Lanka, it also poses a threat to the internal security of India in view of the LTTE's past contacts with the Indian Maoists and its undertaking gun-running missions for Pakistani pan-Islamic organisations.

Fifthly, the beginning of economic terrorism with the attacks on the tourist infrastructure in J&K and with the explosions of March,1993, in Mumbai, which were directed against carefully selected economic targets such as the stock exchange, a tourist hotel etc. These explosions were carried out by a group of Indian Muslims trained and equipped by the ISI. Among other targets attracting the attention of different terrorist groups are the Mumbai off-shore oil platform, oil pipelines in the North-East and Information Technology companies in Bangalore, India's Silicon Valley. However, the terrorists have not succeeded so far in attacking any of them.

Sixthly, narco terrorism and the increasing use of narcotics by different terrorist groups as a source of funding for their terrorist operations.
Seventhly, the emergence of links between the Pakistan-based pan-Islamic jihadi terrorist organisations and the trans-national mafia group headed by the Karachi-based Dawood Ibrahim, who has since been designated by the US Treasury Department in October,2003, as an international terrorist following evidence of his contacts with Al Qaeda. He had master-minded the Mumbai explosions of March,1993.
Eighthly, large-scale illegal immigration into India from Bangladesh, which is threatening to change the demographic composition of sensitive areas in India's North-East and provides sanctuaries for jihadi terrorists based in Bangladesh for their operations in Indian territory.
8. The pan-Islamic and other jihadi terrorists have introduced certain new modus operandi, in addition to their use of hand-held weapons, improvised explosive devices and hijacking of aircraft. These new modus operandi are hostage-taking on the ground directed against Indians as well as foreign nationals in order to secure their demands, deliberate attacks on places of worship in order to provoke inter-communal clashes, mass killing of members of the Hindu community in J&K in order to force them to leave the state and attacks on soft targets such as shopping areas in order to create panic.

9. To meet these new challenges, India's counter-terrorism capabilities have been further strengthened in the following ways:
The beginning of the erection of a fence along the Line of Control (LOC) and the international border with Pakistan and along the international border with Bangladesh.
Strengthening the counter-infiltration capabilities of the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Indian Army.
A greater role for the Army in counter-terrorism in J&K in order to deal with infiltration and cross-border terrorism.
Raising of village defence forces in remote villages.
Strengthening physical security for sensitive places of worship.
Upgradation of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) in order to enable it to protect the economic infrastructure, including the oil infrastructure, ports and airports, nuclear establishments etc from possible terrorist attacks.
Strengthening the maritime counter-terrorism capability of the Coast Guard.
Raising a pool of officers specially trained in hostage negotiation techniques.
Strengthening anti-narcotics control.
Strengthening measures against money-laundering.
10. Apart from strengthening close-proximity security and access control, India , like other countries confronted with the problem of suicide terrorism, has not yet been able to find an effective counter to it.An effective counter to suicide terrorism depends on answers to the following questions:
How to prevent the terrorists from getting hold of explosives?
Can the scientists find a way of detecting the presence of a concealed explosive device on the body of a person without subjecting him or her to the usual physical checks?
Can the scientists find a way of inactivating the device from a distance without alerting the terrorist?
11. Till we find answers to these questions, suicide terrorism will continue to confront the police and other counter-terrorism agencies. Psychological or ideological counters to suicide terrorism alone will not suffice. There has to be, in addition, a scientific and technical counter. All nations in the world should put their heads together to find that counter.

12. Since 9/11, prevention of WMD and cyber terrorism and emergency response mechanisms to deal with a situation if the terrorists manage to carry out an attack have become important components of the counter-terrorism architecture. An updated anti-hijacking policy adopted by the Government of India in August,2005, provides for the shooting down of a hijacked plane if there is a danger of its being used by the hijackers as a missile. The decision-making drill for this has also been laid down.

13. The Indo-Pakistan military conflict of 1999 led to the appointment by the Government of India in 2000 of a Special Task Force For the Revamping of the Intelligence Apparatus. This Task Force recommended measures not only for strengthening our cabality for the collection, analysis and assessment of human and technical intelligence relating to conventional threats, but also for strengthening our capability for the collection of terrorism-related intelligence. One of its important recommendations led to the creation of a Multi-Disciplinary Centre in the Intelligence Bureau (IB), which is the equivalent of the UK's Security Service (MI-5), to co-ordinate the intelligence and follow-up action process in all the central agencies having a role in counter-terrorism. Counter-terrorism experts from all the agencies are to work in this centre under a common umbrella under the leadership of the IB, which is the operational nodal agency for counter-terrorism. It is proposed to bring into being a similar co-ordination mechanism at the level of the States of the federation.

14. Counter-terrorism has four aspects---preventive through timely intelligence, physical security to thwart terrorist attacks if intelligence fails, crisis management if physical security too fails and deterrence through investigation and prosecution. India's preventive, physical security and crisis management capabilities are above average and have produced good results. The weakest link of India's counter-terrorism capability is deterrence through legal action against terrorists and their organisations.

15. India's investigative and prosecution agencies have to fight against terrorism with the normal laws of the land, which were enacted long before terrorism emerged as a major threat to national security. Certain other powers have been given to the Police under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, but this Act relates to all crime and is not terrorism focussed. The repeated pleas of counter-terrorism professionals that India should emulate the example of other democracies like those of the UK and the US and enact terrorism-focussed legislation have fallen on deaf ears. The Government of India did give special powers to the Police under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), but this Act was abrogated in 2004 in response to criticism from the religious and ethnic minorities. They alleged that the special powers in respect of detention etc given under this Act were being misused by the Police to harass the minorities.

16. The Indian judicial process against terrorism is very slow. Trials take a long time. The defence lawyers representing the terrorists manage to get frequent adjournments of the trial under some pretext or the other. We do not have adequate legal provisions to prevent intimidation of the witnesses testifying against the terrorists. The judiciary tends to avoid convicting terrorists purely on the basis of circumstantial evidence, however strong and continuous it may be. The result: A very low conviction rate of less than 10 per cent in terrorism-related cases as against 80 per cent plus in Western countries.

17.Before I conclude, I would like to touch upon two other aspects relating to the general principles followed in counter-terrorism and the role of diplomacy. We make a clear distinction between the counter-terrorism strategy and the counter-terrorist strategy. The counter-terrorism strategy treats terrorism as a phenomenon with political, economic, social, religious and security aspects and tries to find a holistic answer to the problem instead of focussing exclusively on the security approach. We follow this strategy in respect of all domestic terrorist organisations, whose leaders and members are our citizens.

18. The counter-terrorist strategy treats terrorism exclusively as a threat to national security to be eliminated firmly through the neutralisation of the terrorist organisations and their leaders. This approach is followed against the Pakistani pan-Islamic organisations operating in Indian territory.

19. In India, the Police is the weapon of first resort in counter-terrorism and the Army is the weapon of last resort. In J&K and in the bordering areas of the North-East, the Army plays a role in assisting or even leading the police because of the problem of trans-border infiltration and cross-border terrorism. In the rest of India, it is the Police, which is in the frontline of the fight against terrorism.

20. Even though India records the largest number of terrorist strikes and deaths due to terrorism in the world every year, we have never used our Air Force or the artillery or other heavy weapons against the terrorists in any part of India. We fight them with weapons, which will not lead to a disproportionate use of force and collateral damage. Use of force, when unavoidable, and with careful calibration. That is our policy.

21. India has had a long history of counter-terrorism co-operation with other countries, particularly with the UK, Canada and the US. This co-operation has expanded further after 9/11. A capability has been created in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), which is our Foreign Office, to facilitate this co-operation.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )

Planned sabotage of the Constitution

By: V Sundaram

"It is never the law itself that is in the wrong; it is always some wicked interpreter of the law that has corrupted and abused - Jeremy Bentham.

At the instance of the Congress party playing its usual wicked game of petty chicanery behind the curtain, Jaya Bachchan was disqualified in a huff by the President of India on the advice of the Election Commission. In order to avoid the fate of Jaya Bachchan, Sonia Gandhi made the so- called "supreme sacrifice" of resigning her seat in the Lok Sabha. As if it were part of a planned course of action, the Election Commission of India has also announced that elections will be held in Rae Bareli constituency, the pocket borough of the Nehru family, on 8 May to enable Sonia Gandhi to get back to Lok Sabha under "controlled" conditions. In the meantime, the Congress party has stage-managed to announce that the Parliament which was adjourned sine die to ensure the planned escape of Sonia Gandhi will be reconvened on the 10 May mainly to pass a new legislation for amending the provisions relating to the "office of profit".

The joke about the whole affair relating to the "office of profit" is that Somnath Chatterjee, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, also comes under the same category as Jaya Bachchan and Sonia Gandhi. As one who is known for his exemplary rectitude and unmatched political values, he has already declared that he would not resign from Lok Sabha. His party has also advised all its members who are likely to be hit by Jaya Bachchan-type disqualification "not to resign". The same stand has been taken by all the other political parties placed in a similar situation.

The President of India has already forwarded some petitions in this regard to the Election Commission for enquiry and report. The Election Commission is now in a state of self-chosen political coma, giving "reasonable time" to all the political parties, to come together on an agreed formula to be put in the garb of a new legislation for extending the list of exempted "offices of profit" under Article 102 of the Indian Constitution.

This controversy about the "office of profit" raises important Constitutional issues that need to be examined and addressed carefully without any delay whatsoever. Article 102 of the Constitution stipulates that "a person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a Member of either house of Parliament, if he holds any office of profit under the government of India or the government of any State, other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder". The following are the fundamental issues:

Issue I:

In the absence of any clear definition of "office of profit" in the Constitution, one should interpret these words to imply:

a) any office that is subject to direct or indirect control or supervision of either the government of India or the government of any State.

b) any office that directly enables the person holding it to "profit" ie, derive pecuniary or non-pecuniary benefit or gratification, including any formal or informal ability to grant favours or patronage.

In other words, except those offices that a Member of the Parliament is expected to hold for discharging his responsibilities envisaged in the Constitution itself, (eg Minister, Speaker), all other offices that attract the above two definitions should automatically attract the disqualification. Here, the words "under the government of India and the government of any State" are sufficiently wide as to include an office in any organisation that is subject to the regulatory jurisdiction of either of the two governments.

I cannot help getting the impression that all the political parties politically united in their resolve to pursue different agendas of self-aggrandisement are very anxious to adopt a legislation that would regularise many offices that are already being held by them, which they fear would attract the disqualification as clarified above. If this is allowed to happen it will sound the death knell of the spirit of the Indian Constitution.

Issue II:

There are several Members of Parliament who have already come under the cloud (may I say umbrella?!) of the "office of profit" controversy. There are two questions that arise in this connection:

a) Assuming for a moment that one of these members stands disqualified under Article 102, subject to the interpretation attempted above, would that member be qualified to attend the proceedings of the Parliament and vote on important matters? For example, the Parliament recently passed the Finance Bill. Was it a valid vote?

b) Would it be constitutionally proper for such members that could attract the disqualification in question to take part in the proceedings of the Parliament and vote on the Bill on "office of profit" now under political consultation for adoption in the Parliament to be convened on 10 May, 2006? No accused under the Indian Penal Code is allowed to sit in judgement upon himself.

It is true that the Election Commission of India would advise the President on whether a member stands disqualified or not under the provision in question. However, in such a situation, the Election Commission can at best carry out its scrutiny vis-a-vis the existing law on "office of profit" that may not be fully compliant with the spirit of the Constitution. The Election Commission should not forget the fact that there is no surer sign of a feeble and fumbling law than timidity in penetrating the form to the substance. Environment illuminates the meaning of acts, as context does that of words.

One can argue that the definition of "office of profit" is an issue that is already under scrutiny before the Supreme Court and the decision of the SC should be awaited. Considering the urgency and the far-reaching implications of the issues raised above, perhaps, instead of waiting for individuals and organisations approaching the Supreme Court for justice in a piecemeal manner, the President of India himself could make a reference to the Supreme Court, before the politically-planned infirmities in the proceedings of the Parliament become a "fait accompli" on or after 10 May, 2006 in the garb of a new legislation.

Both the President and the Supreme Court should also look at the costs that the ordinary tax payers of this country have to bear every now and then because of the fleeting and whimsical decisions of individual Members of Parliament to tender their resignation only for the purpose of contesting the elections again at the expense of the government exchequer. This clearly shows that for sacrificing heroes like Sonia Gandhi, the Indian nation is expendable, the Indian Constitution is expendable and above all the mute millions of India are expendable. The most precious thing to be guarded and preserved for posterity is the political interest and the financial interest of the Nehru clan. It should not be taken to mean that I am against the disqualification of the members holding "offices of profit". The President should also request the Supreme Court to examine the Constitutional issue as to whether the total cost of conducting elections in respect of those constituencies where the elected representatives choose to resign in a capricious and self dictatorial manner much before the expiry of the allotted term.

The Congress party and all the Leftist and other parties supporting it in the UPA government in New Delhi seem to be of the view that there can be no true democracy in India unless we have the dynastic democracy of Sonia Gandhi with Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi as Ministers in waiting. On the other hand, all the enlightened and responsible citizens of India are definitely of the view that there can be no democracy unless it is a dynamic democracy. When our common people cease to participate, to have a place in the Sun, then all of us will wither in the darkness of decadence. All of us will ultimately become mute, demoralised, lost souls. We have discovered, to our dismay, that those who subscribe to the principles that Jefferson called "self-evident" are in a stark minority in India today and such people in minority are now being called upon to vindicate those principles as never before.

As a concerned citizen, I would appeal to the President of India to consult the Supreme Court immediately, before the Parliament is reconvened on 10 May, 2006, so that one is clear as to "who is" disqualified and "who is not" under Article 102 of the Indian Constitution as it stands at present. At any rate, all those members now under a cloud should not be allowed to participate in the voting relating the proposed legislation for extending the list of "office of profit" exempted under Article 102 of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court cannot remain neutral between the fire-brigade and the fire. Suomoto the Supreme Court can direct the Election Commission to observe the rule of the Constitution in letter and spirit in the same way as it has feigned and acted with great political aplomb if not suavity in respect of Jaya Bachaan. All the members of Parliament, now under a cloud and attracting the Jaya Bachaan type of disqualification, should be treated in the same way without any discrimination by the Election Commission forthwith.

The grim tragedy of India today is that there is total dearth of men like Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes or Justice Felix Frankfurter in the highest echelons of the Indian Judiciary. The nation is badly in need of great judges whose guiding lights are detachment, rigorous integrity in dealing with the facts of a case, refusal to resort to unworthy means, no matter how noble the end and above all selfless dedication to the Court as a sacred institution. I am aware of the fact that Judges too are human. But they should not forget the overridingly important and sacred process of Law. For the highest exercise of judicial duty is to subordinate one’s personal pulls and one’s private views to the Law of which they are all guardians--those impersonal convictions that make a society a civilized community, and not the victims of personal rule. In this context the most pointed words of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes are very appropriate: “You see how the vague circumference of the notion of duty shrinks and at the same time grows more precise when we wash it with cynical acid and expel everything except the object of our study and duty, the operations of the Law”.

The Election Commission has shocked the Nation by its unnatural alacrity and sensitivity by fixing the date of Sonia’s Election in Rae Barelli on 8th of May. The track record of the Election Commission in the matter of by-elections during the last fifty years particularly in respect of time-frames clearly shows that there has been no undue haste in the past. But in respect of Sonia Gandhi, who is more equal than others, the Election Commission is more interested in complying with this unwritten law of shameful Indian politics today by cleverly avoiding the path of technical violation of the letter of the Constitution. If the honourable citizens of India choose to remain silent, then they would be paving the way for not only the total violation in letter and spirit of the Indian Constitution but also its total decimation in the not very distant future. That is why Harold Laski said: “A constitution, which cannot be constitutionally administered in letter and spirit, will only be an open invitation to an armed revolution”.

The mute silence of our Prime Minister who is ever wafting the aroma of a Silent Revolution all round in respect of the public desirability of the continuance of Navin Chawla in the constitutional position of Election Commissioner has already sent wrong signals to all public servants throughout the country. The meaningful message of our Honourable Prime Minister, uttered in a low, quiet and submerged voice is: “If you have to be magnificently successful in UPA Government, you have to master the science and art of being singularly unscrupulous!”

We are in a desperate situation today with wicked politicians trying to sell the country for themselves. All the highest Constitutional authorities seem to be in a state of coma. They seem to be decided only to be undecided, resolved only to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity and all powerful only to be impotent.

I would conclude in the words of a great poet which are totally applicable to India. It is called
"The Cunning of Reason":

We know
That it
Is the cunning
Of Reason
But does it know it?

Does this knowledge
Make us more cunning
Or more reasonable
Than it is?

Do we outdo it
In reason
Or has it
More cunning
Than we?
- V Sundaram

May 10, 2006

Pakistan's Obedient Son -- Musharraf's Ambitions

SPIEGEL ONLINE - May 10, 2006, 02:17 PM

Musharraf's Ambitions

Pakistan's Obedient Son

By Susanne Koelbl

A key ally in America's "war on terror," Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf is bickering with his neighbor Afghanistan and is faced with ongoing unrest at home. But he still wants to make his chaotic country a regional power -- with China's help.

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, center, pays a visit to Chaklala airbase in Rawalpindi.
Today the president is wearing a uniform. His sand-colored shirt is festooned with military decorations and the flash of gold on his epaulets. Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf sits in his office in a colonial-style villa built at Army House, a residential development for the military in the northern city of Rawalpindi. Everything seems very British here, including Musharraf's study, with its dark teak furniture and historical paintings hanging on the walls.

The general is amused when asked on how many fronts his forces can fight in this troubled country. The bombings, the never-ending assassinations, the regional quarrels -- these are all isolated incidents, Musharraf explains. "That's not the real Pakistan," he says and laughs.

But Pakistan's president really doesn't have a lot to laugh about these days. For one, his counterpart in neighboring Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, has soured his mood. The two heads of state were always on good terms. But those days are apparently over now.

During his most recent visit to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, President Karzai handed Musharraf a list of names and telephone numbers of terrorists he claimed are able to operate freely on Pakistani soil. The list included information on the supposed whereabouts of the one-eyed leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Omar, who is thought to be living with his family in Quetta, the provincial capital of Pakistan's Baluchistan province. Musharraf was beside himself. Karzai's information, he felt, was nothing but an attempt to make him look bad. The material, he complained, was "old" and "unusable." A high-ranking officer who works with Musharraf offers a blunter assessment: "They served us bullshit."

Ever since the meeting, the two countries have been involved a war of words that Musharraf would prefer to forget. He'd rather discuss his golf game -- he's got an 18 handicap. But he used to be better, when he had more time to devote to the sport. Of course, what head of state, especially in a troubled country like Pakistan, can afford to spend the three hours Musharraf says he needs to play only eight holes?

Since its founding almost 59 years ago, Pakistan has been embroiled in an endless chain of crises ranging from bloody clashes to political coups, interspersed with only short periods of fragile democracy. The memories of three wars with India have become deeply carved into the Pakistan's collective memory. A sense of menace has remained a basic fact of life for Pakistanis ever since their country was formed from the smaller, predominately Muslim portion of the Indian subcontinent while it was all a British colony. Many government officials in both New Delhi -- but even in Kabul -- still see Pakistan as a completely superfluous, artificially created spot on the world map that has become a breeding ground for extremism, and trouble that would be best done away with. Of course, no reasonable public figures express these sentiments publicly.

Getting the bomb

Pakistan's new medium range surface-to-surface ballistic missile Hatf-V (Ghauri) can carry nuclear warheads.
Building its own nuclear bomb was Pakistan's most important step toward ending such questions about its right to exist -- at least according to many Pakistanis. But Musharraf wants far more than simply to keep his country impervious to attack from abroad. He also wants to fundamentally reposition Pakistan in South Asia and turn his country into a dominant regional power -- a political and economic hub strategically positioned amongst India, China, Iran and the central Asian countries. To achieve his goals, Musharraf is looking for new allies. American priorities have essentially dominated Pakistan's policies since the attacks of September 11, 2001. But instead of limiting himself to his current alliance with the United States and its "war on terror," Musharraf is also reaching out to China, the superpower of the future.

All those grand plans aside, however, the president is having a tough enough time prevailing in his own country. Large swaths of Pakistan are by no means controlled by the central government. Instead, feudal warlords set the agenda with their own laws, militias and prisons. To this date, not a single political leader in Islamabad has been able to crush the power of these provincial rulers.

In Baluchistan, for example, Musharraf has spent months battling three powerful, defiant tribal leaders and their private armies. The warlords there want more political autonomy and a larger share of the spoils from exploitation of the region's natural resources. Baluchistan, a vast coastal province with enormous oil and natural gas reserves, holds a strategic position in the triangle of nations including Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. The other conflict zone that's currently keeping the president busy lies to the country's northwest, along the rugged border with Afghanistan. In the so-called Tribal Areas, a region almost completely beyond the central government's control until recently, the Pakistani military, together with American forces, is trying to hunt down al-Qaida terrorists. On both domestic fronts, however, Musharraf is really fighting to sustain his own dominant position at home.

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Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti's hiding place is a well-protected cave in the Dera Bugti mountains of eastern Baluchistan. Young men wearing large turbans guard his makeshift fortress set into a bare, brown rock formation. The men, guerilla fighters from the Bugti tribe, carry ammo belts and Kalashnikovs strapped over their traditional dress, the shalwar kameez -- a baggy shirt and billowy trousers. The enemy they're fighting is none other than the central government in Islamabad.

For Musharraf, Bugti is currently public enemy number one among the country's rebellious tribal leaders. Early this year, he had his forces surround and fire on Bugti's estate in the city of Dera Bugti. But the warlord survived and fled. Since then he has been hiding out in his mountain command post, where he proclaims: "Now we are at war."

On a brisk spring evening, Bugti sits on an intricately carved, throne-like wooden chair covered with white cushions. He is the absolute ruler of the 200,000 members of his tribe. They call him the Tiger of Baluchistan. Bugti, who has allied himself with the Marri and Mengal tribes, runs the resistance movement from this mountain hideout. He is a tall, alert 78-year-old man with snow-white hair. "These men are fighting for the honor of Baluchistan, for their homeland and for the natural resources that belong to them," says Bugti. He's referring to natural gas, for the most part, which Baluchistan supplies to almost half of Pakistani households. The biggest gas fields are located not far from Bugti's estate in Sui.

Pakistani armed Bugti tribesmen in the town of Dera Bugti.
The tribal warlord commands an estimated 5,000 armed fighters. Some of their targets include gas pipelines and military vehicles and their bombings have cost hundreds of people -- mostly civilians -- their lives in recent months. Ten thousand local residents, forced out of their homes, are currently refugees in Dera Bugti. The most recent escalation was triggered by a speech President Musharraf gave in December at a new military base in the center of the Marri tribal region -- a clear show of strength. The ensuing rocket attack was an equally clear message that Baluchi tribal leaders' were not about to stand by and watch Musharraf's forces occupy their territory without a fight.

The scramble for power

Pakistan's internal conflicts could soon attain international significance, if a plan to run South Asia's two most important gas pipelines through Baluchistan in a few years comes to fruition. The agreement for the construction of the pipeline from Turkmenistan to the Arabian Sea, which would take it through both strife-torn Afghanistan and Pakistan, has already been signed. Negotiations are currently underway for a network linking Iran, India and Pakistan.

When Musharraf talks about Bugti, he's visibly less relaxed than he was a few minutes earlier, when the conversation revolved around his golf game. "I am the president of Pakistan, and I want Bugti to submit to the Pakistani flag," he threatens darkly, "I advise him not to challenge this flag."

Pakistani soldiers stand guard near the damaged cars of President Pevez Musharraf's motorcade in Rawalpindi December 25, 2003.
Musharraf sees the rocket attack during his visit to the military base as the fourth attempt on his life since he assumed power more than six years ago. The attacks illustrate just how much the struggle over access to natural resources has become a personal matter among men seeking to demonstrate who has the say in this country.

The origin of the bloody disputes lies 800 kilometers (497 miles) southwest of Dera Bugti in the small coastal city of Gwadar that is also in troubled Baluchistan. Energy is the name of the game in Gwadar. Until a few years ago, Gwadar was a poor, backward fishing village on the Arabian Sea, a dusty, insignificant place against a backdrop of steep mountains. The inhabitants eked out a living catching fish and raising goats. Nowadays, property values have exploded on the small peninsula, where men with thick checkbooks drive around looking to buy land for development. An important deep sea port is scheduled to be opened in Gwadar this June, important because China plans to use it as a hub for its Middle East energy supply. Beijing has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the construction project, and the Chinese will be the majority owners of the new port.

A Chinese port

Ahmed Baksh Lehri, the General Manager of the Gwadar Development Authority, is Pakistani. His office smells of fresh paint, and this new furniture is still encased in packaging wrap. "This is my future, this our future and this is the future of Pakistan," he says proudly, presenting a video depicting an amazing transformation for the former fishing village and the surrounding region. Modern highways penetrate the desert landscape, continuing into Afghanistan and on to the Chinese border. The western portion of Gwadar's bay is lined with exclusive beach resorts, while skyscrapers stretch high into the sky. It's only animation, says Lehri, although he's convinced that soon -- in 10 or 20 years, that is -- this could "all become reality." Gwadar, he claims, will become a second Dubai, lifting Pakistan out of its economic misery.

Musharraf, center, offers prayers with Chinese Vice Premier Wu Bangguo and Amirul Mulk Mengal, right, Governor of Baluchistan, after ground break ceremony of Gwadar Port Project on March 22, 2002.
The new Gwadar is already seen as strategically important today. At the site 80 kilometers (50 miles) east if the Iranian border, the Pakistanis are building a giant port which, unlike Karachi, would hardly be vulnerable to a naval blockade by archenemy India. The Chinese, for their part, want to use Gwadar as a base from which to keep an eye on the Americans in the Persian Gulf and the Indians in the Arabian Sea and, of course, to monitor both countries' movements in the Indian Ocean. That's why Washington and New Delhi view the cooperative venture between China and Pakistan as a serious provocation. The Indians feel hemmed in, while Washington has its doubts about the loyalty of the Chinese to their oil interest with Iran.

On a more local level, the Baluchis fear that they could soon be displaced from their own region. There have already been bombings at the harbor construction site and attacks on Chinese workers. Baluchi politicians like Senator Sanaullah Baloch are busy stirring up the conflict with rhetoric such as: "We Baluchis can easily keep the military regime busy with our attacks."

Unrest in the north

Two months ago, the Pakistani army launched its biggest offensive in the northern region of Waziristan since the beginning of operations in the Tribal Areas. Waziristan is the epicenter of Washington's "war on terror." Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are believed to be hiding in these borderlands between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Waziristan is home to the Wazir and Daur, two powerful Pashtun tribes. No one can move freely in the region without their permission. The tribal areas are still governed by laws from the days of British colonial rule, laws that grant the tribal leaders wide-reaching autonomy. Until now, the central government was merely represented by a government official with the title of Political Agent.

All that changed after September 11, 2001. For the first time in the country's history, the Pakistani army pushed forward into the wild, mountainous terrain along the Tochi River, partly in response to pressure from the Americans and partly because Musharraf sought to use the opportunity to finally gain the upper hand in Waziristan. Al-Qaida fighters easily find safe haven among the Pashtun tribes living in settlements and caves in this arid mountain region. The jihadists are well-paying guests and the Pashtuns have a reputation of defend their visitors with their own blood, if necessary. Hospitality is considered a holy tradition among both the Wazirs and Daurs.

Opposition supporters gather at a rally, protesting against police raids on religious institutions following an ongoing crackdown against extremist elements in Pakistan.
"After the Afghanistan war, hundreds of foreigners, mostly Arabs and Uzbeks, moved around the city quite openly," reports Ahmed Mohammed, a 35-year-old shop owner from Wana in southern Waziristan. But then, in March 2004, Musharraf launched his first offensive. Many foreign jihadists died in the campaign, says the shop owner, as did many local civilians. Today the foreigners live in hideouts in the mountains.

Since then, the local population lives in constant fear of both sides. While the army pressures them to turn over the foreigners, the foreigners threaten to kill anyone who betrays them. "We love and support Musharraf, and the terrorists don't stand a chance here," Qadir Khan Wazir assures Pakistani officers at the Mir Ali military base in Miram Shah. The gaunt tribal leader wearing a large black turban is the head of 80,000 Pashtuns in northern Waziristan and he wants to protect his people from renewed attacks. But how reliable are such promises coming from a man who could well be forced to profess his loyalty to Islamist extremists the next day? Within the last year alone, more than 100 tribal leaders have been murdered in Waziristan for cooperating with the Musharraf regime.

The president likes to believe that his government is now in control of the situation in the Tribal Areas. "There is peace and harmony in northern Waziristan. We have purged the region of terrorists," the government spokesman in charge of the region, Syed Zaheerul Islam, assured DER SPIEGEL. But only a few days later, he narrowly escaped an attempt on his life and his bodyguard was killed.

Shadowy intelligence agency

The Pakistani intelligence agency, ISI, is also more than happy to discuss its supposed successes in fighting the terrorists. What they seek to downplay, however, is that the organization was once biggest supporter of the extremist Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

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The Pakistani agent wearing a cream-colored summer suit introduces himself as "Ali." He receives visitors in an apartment, complete with chandeliers and contemporary upholstered furniture, in an exclusive neighborhood of Islamabad. He has prepared a Powerpoint presentation titled: "The War Against Terror." The agent shows a chart depicting Pakistan's intelligence and security services. He opens photographs of terrorists that the ISI has nabbed, including the planners of the attacks on New York and Washington, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh. Ali then explains the strategy behind the agency's operations against both the Taliban and al-Qaida. He attempts to dispel doubts voiced by his audience. But Western military experts simply refuse to believe that the Pakistani military is truly devoting its full efforts to the campaign in the tribal areas. Residents of the Pakistani provincial capital Quetta steadfastly claim that the Taliban continues to move about freely in the city and, just as in the past, are being managed and trained by Pakistani security forces.

Thousands of fanatics allegedly fled to Quetta after the fall of their Afghan center of operations, Kandahar. There is also a persistent rumor that President Musharraf controls only parts of his intelligence service and that a group of influential officers are steadily pursuing their own agenda. Their apparent aim is to weaken the influence of Western forces in Afghanistan so that, with the help of the Taliban, they will soon be able to reassume power there. Indeed, militant Islamists already control large portions of southern Afghanistan once again. Ali can only shake his head upon in the face of so little faith in his government's efforts. These claims, he says, reflect "a completely incorrect perception on the part of the West." Pakistan, he adds, has secured the border with Afghanistan with 80,000 troops. Ali himself, he says, has lost more than 300 fellow agents in the war against terror. "Who performs and who suffers in this battle more than we do?" he asks.

The obedient son

Zareen Musharraf, the elderly mother of the president, sits in the tea room of her house in the military residential community in Rawalpindi, wearing an elegant yellow sari. She has fond memories of the days before the founding of Pakistan, when her family still lived in Delhi. The office of her son Pervez is only a stone's throw away from her house, on the other side of a garden path.

Pervez Musharraf.
The president's mother has three sons. Zareen Musharraf says that she predicted the future careers of two of her sons when they were still young. The eldest was the ideal doctor, she says, while the youngest showed some talent for becoming a civil servant. Only the middle son was constantly behaving poorly, refusing to focus on his studies and interested in nothing but sports. That middle son was Pervez.

The door swings open and her son, the president, saunters into the room, wearing an open jacket and a checked shirt, as he sits down next to his mother. "You were afraid that I wouldn't turn into much, that I was useless," he gloats. The two are a well-practiced team. Mother Musharraf talks about how she was "attracted to the glamour of uniforms" at an early age. In the end, she dispatched her middle son into the military with clear instructions to "make it to the top." And as president, she says, it is his duty to lead the entire country "to the forefront of all nations." She is convinced that her now obedient son will also carry out her instructions this time around. Her plans have always come to fruition in the past.

Translated from German by Christopher Sultan


By Chietigj Bajpaee

While the world is focused on China’s relations with the United States following Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington, China’s relations with the “other” West—the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand—have been of increasing importance in recent years, especially in achieving China’s foreign policy goals of gaining access to markets, raw materials and creating a multi-polar world.

Relations Grounded in Economics

China’s relationship with Europe has always had a strong focus on economic and trade interactions via the Silk Road; the Cohong system of the 18th and early 19th centuries; and under Beijing’s unequal treaty relationship during the “100 years of humiliation” in the 19th century and first half of the 20th century. In the post-Cold War period, China’s relationship with Europe has been guided by economic considerations. In 2005, the European Union emerged as China’s leading trade partner while Canada and Australia were China’s ninth and tenth largest trading partners respectively (Chinese Ministry of Commerce). New Zealand is the first Western state to grant China the status of “market economy” while Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to New Zealand in April reaffirmed China’s commitment to implementing a free trade agreement with New Zealand within two years, making New Zealand potentially the first developed Western country to reach a free trade agreement with China. China is New Zealand’s fourth largest trading partner and is second-largest for the EU, Canada and Australia (New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, December 2005; World Trade Organization; Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, October 2005; Strategis, Industry Canada, January 2006).

Australia and Canada are also fast emerging as a major source of raw materials for China, including uranium, oil and coal. In line with its goal of diversifying its source of oil imports beyond the volatile Middle East, China has signed several deals with Canada to gain access to its vast deposits of oil sands, as well as investing in infrastructure to transport these resources to Canada’s Pacific coast from where they can be transported to China. Canada has the world’s second-largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia and investing in oil sands remains a lucrative venture as long as oil prices remain high. In May 2005, China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) acquired a 40 percent stake in Canada's Northern Lights oil sands project and in April 2005 China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) acquired one-sixth of MEG Energy Corporation. PetroChina has also signed a preliminary agreement to buy half of the crude transported through the Gateway project, an oil pipeline being developed by Enbridge to connect Alberta to Canada's Pacific coast (Dow Jones News, April 8). Some in the United States have expressed concern over China’s growing energy interests in its backyard, especially as the U.S. is Canada’s leading oil export market.

Australia and China are also deepening their relations in the energy sphere with a deal on the sale of Australian uranium to China for its civilian nuclear power program. Australia holds 40 percent of the world’s uranium while China intends to build an additional 40 nuclear power plants from the current nine within 15 years. During the visit by Premier Wen Jiabao to Australia in April 2006, Beijing and Canberra signed a deal on the sale of Australian uranium to China, although shipments are unlikely to begin until 2010 (Xinhua, April 3). Australia is already a major supplier of iron ore, coal and copper to China.

Converging Interests Beyond Trade and Resources

These growing ties have not been confined to the economic arena as burgeoning trade relations have spilled over into political and security arenas. China has used its improving relationship with the European Union to work toward achieving its long-term goal of creating a multi-polar world to dilute U.S. influence and predominance. This has been illustrated by Sino-EU cooperation on the Galileo satellite navigation project, which is challenging the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS), and shared opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq by China and numerous European countries, most notably France and Germany. Meanwhile, Beijing’s deepening relationship with Canberra fueled the initial reluctance of the Australian government to grant asylum to defectors from the Chinese Embassy in June 2005 and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer’s statement in August 2004 that Australia is not obliged to assist the United States in a conflict with China over Taiwan under its 1951 ANZUS treaty alliance. Downer was quoted as saying that “the ANZUS obligations could be invoked only in the event of a direct attack on the United States or Australia. So some other activity elsewhere in the world…doesn't invoke it” (The Australian, August 18, 2004). Following the passage of China's anti-secession law in March 2005 Downer further stated that although the ANZUS Treaty could be invoked if war broke out in the Taiwan Strait, “that's a very different thing from saying we would make a decision to go to war.” In the security sphere, China held joint maritime exercises with France, Britain and Australia in the East China Sea in 2004.

China has also utilized its relationships with these countries to further isolate Taiwan on the world stage. The most visible sign of this is the ongoing discussion for the Vatican to switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the PRC. The Vatican is the only European state that still grants diplomatic recognition to Taiwan since Macedonia switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 2001. Both sides have made numerous symbolic gestures to demonstrate their growing willingness to improve relations such as Beijing’s appointment of Donald Tsang, a devout Catholic as Hong Kong’s Chief Executive in 2005.

Limits of Rapprochement

Yet China’s relations with the European Union and other industrialized countries have not been without pitfalls. Like the United States, the European Union has emerged as a popular market for Chinese-made goods. Chinese-made clothing exports to the EU increased by 47 percent in 2005 following the expiry of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing on January 1, 2005 (AFX News, April 9). This has led to accusations of Chinese textiles undermining European-made textile products and putting European producers out of business. A deal that was reached in June to limit the growth of Chinese textile imports to 8-12.5 percent until the end of 2008 had to be renegotiated as clothing shortages occurred across Europe and Chinese textile products piled up in European ports. Most recently, on March 23 the European Commission imposed anti-dumping duties on Chinese-made leather shoes and a week later Canada, the United States and the EU filed a complaint with the WTO regarding China’s tariff policy on auto parts. Western states are putting pressure on China to further open its $19 bn auto parts market as China has emerged as one of the world’s largest auto markets. This is the first time the EU has brought a complaint against China before the WTO since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 (Reuters, March 31).

The EU and the UK in particular have also continued to voice complaints over the slow pace of democratization in Hong Kong since the territory reverted to Chinese control in 1997. Meanwhile, China has maintained that Hong Kong is a domestic issue that should not be subject to the interference of foreign governments. The Vatican’s appointment of the outspoken Joseph Zen as Cardinal of Hong Kong is also likely to slow a rapprochement in Sino-Vatican relations, as is Beijing’s recent ordination of two bishops without approval from Rome, which has drawn criticism from Pope Benedict XVI.

There are also limits to China’s cooperation with these states due to their close relationship with the United States. For example, under U.S. pressure and in the wake of the Anti-Secession Law being passed by the National People’s Congress in March 2005, the EU agreed to maintain the arms embargo on China, which was imposed following China’s suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen protests. U.S.-EU security cooperation also has the potential to conflict with Beijing’s interests as seen by the NATO presence in Afghanistan and the Partnership for Peace program, which is attempting to spread democratic principles and expand the NATO alliance to China’s western borders. While China has strengthened relations with Australia in recent years, the first ministerial-level meeting of the Australia-Japan-U.S. Trilateral Strategic Dialogue in March 2006 reaffirmed the close security relationship between Australia and the United States and is regarded by many as an attempt to “balance” China’s growing influence in the region. With respect to the uranium deal between Beijing and Canberra, while China has vowed to abide by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), there remain concerns in Australia about uranium being diverted to China’s nuclear weapons program or pariah regimes. In the ongoing attempt to address Iran’s nuclear ambitions, China and Russia have also adopted a more conciliatory approach than the EU and United States, which has been demonstrated by discussions to admit Iran to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a full-fledged member in June.

At a fundamental level, there remains a difference in values between the West and China as demonstrated by the significant concern over China’s human rights record and widespread support for the Tibetan cause across Europe, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. China and Russia remain committed to traditional norms of international conduct such as non-interference and respect for national sovereignty, while the West is more willing to violate these norms in favor of humanitarian intervention, preemptive action and supra-nationalism in the case of the EU.

Steady Improvement in Relations

Interest in China’s foreign policy has tended to focus on its relations with the United States, countries on China’s periphery and with the developing world. Yet Beijing is also actively engaging the EU, Australia, Canada and New Zealand in order to gain access to their markets, raw materials and achieve the longer-term goal of creating a “multi-polar” world. Public opinion surveys in these states reveal that China is increasingly held in a more positive light than even the United States. Relations with the EU have improved to such an extent that it is no longer a question of “if” the EU arms embargo on China will be dropped but rather “when.” China has demonstrated it’s good-will toward Europe by its restrained criticism of the EU’s trade policy relative to its negative rhetoric on U.S. protectionist policies. The Sino-Australian uranium deal has been sweetened by the fact that Australia has refused a similar deal with India, China’s traditional strategic rival, even though the United States agreed to assist India’s civilian nuclear program. China’s relations with the “other West” is likely to continue to improve, even as these states remain firmly embedded within the U.S.-led security structure, with strong cultural, historical and economic links to the United States.


By Stephen Blank

During the first week in April, China and Turkmenistan signed a deal by which Turkmenistan will annually sell China 30 BCM of gas from 2009 to 2039 at a price to be determined with reference to the global market price. During Turkmenistan President Sapirmurad Niyazov's visit to China from April 2-7, the two countries agreed, as stated in their joint agreement on the gas pipeline, to carry out "separate and joint actions necessary for the rapid implementation of the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline project" and for its route to be “commissioned” in 2009 (, April 5). “The departments concerned will quicken their steps to study and implement" the pipeline project, said a separate joint statement issued by Niyazov and Chinese President Hu Jintao (Xinhua, April 5). In theory the pipeline would run via Kazakhstan and possibly Uzbekistan. China would “provide the bulk of raw materials” to facilitate the pipeline's construction (, April 5). Both governments also stated that they would jointly explore and develop gas deposits and conclude a comprehensive gas purchase agreement.

Although many observers are skeptical that Turkmenistan can uphold this deal, it nonetheless is very important because of its repercussions. First, it completes a three-week period in which China signed major gas deals with Russia and a major uranium deal with Australia. These three deals, taken together, underscore China’s global and comprehensive search for energy to meet rising demand—in particular for substitutes for coal, which is polluting, and for oil, of which it does not have enough. Gas and uranium are critical in answering China’s present and prospective needs.

Furthermore, close examination of the Russian deal shows that it is actually quite insufficient for China, as several Chinese energy officials pointed out, such as Zhang Guobao, Vice Director of China’s National Development and Reform Commission. Russia still refuses to commit itself openly to an oil pipeline to China. Moreover, the gas deal called for construction of two pipelines, the first in Western Siberia to supply China with up to 80 BCM annually starting in 2011. The second pipeline will ostensibly then be built from Eastern Siberia. Yet this agreement destroyed any possibility for China to receive gas from the Kovykta field in Eastern Siberia that had been designated for this purpose several years ago. Several years of negotiations and feasibility studies have duly been tossed out as Gazprom has successfully throttled that TNK-BP project. So now it is clear China has to wait for several years for any gas from Russia.

This makes turning to Central Asia all the more imperative. Not only was this deal signed with Ashgabat, but China will explore for oil with Turkmenistan and is talking to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan about gas pipelines from the latter through, or with branches to, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, so that it can avoid having to depend on Russia. Since neither of those Central Asian states wants to be permanently tied to subsidizing Russia at below market prices, the stage is being set for Sino-Russian rivalry in Central Asian gas affairs. This is all the more likely as Russian demand is increasing, while its pipeline capacity is insufficient, and while it is determined to subordinate Central Asian gas to its whims so that it can keep the region dependent upon it, maintain Gazprom’s monopoly over gas and pipelines and provide its own customers with cheap energy at subsidized prices. Thus Russia has consistently sought to organize a gas cartel under its domination to monopolize Central Asian gas projects and frustrate any efforts to sell independently to other markers.

China’s deals with Central Asian states like Turkmenistan indicate that it knows it cannot rely on Russian promises and is prepared to compete with it in Central Asia. Moreover, it is going global to avoid excessive dependence upon any one provider or form of energy. At home it is cutting energy imports, especially in oil, striving for energy efficiency, building new nuclear power plants, opening up new fields and seeking to revamp its energy bureaucracy to make it more able to enforce a rational energy policy upon Chinese consumers (China Brief, April 12).

At the same time, this deal with Turkmenistan indicates some continuing elements in Chinese energy policy. China has hitherto generally sought long-term contracts and vertical integration so that it can gain access or control over the gas and oil fields and also ensure that it has a stake in the pipelines. In its dealings with Russia and as appears to be the case with Turkmenistan, it also is seeking to obtain these long-term contracts at prices below those of the global market, a drive that clashes with suppliers’ and exporters’ determination to reap maximum economic benefits for their energy holdings.

This Chinese quest for cut-rate prices has helped stall the oil and gas deals with Russia and could still interfere with Central Asian deals. Since Moscow is enforcing below market prices upon them as well, they naturally seek to gain as much as possible from selling to China and will resist deals making them sell their products for less than market prices.

China may well seek to intimidate Turkmenistan into compliance and wholly employ its old tactics of buying up fields and pipelines at long-term contracts, which may be under the market price now but entail major costs down the road. Or it could hark back to the increasingly skeptical voices of many Chinese experts, such as Zhao Guohong of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who believe that China is better served by moving toward more control by the market rather than by the state. These voices seek cooperation in Asia with India and even Japan in consumers’ associations and agreements to moderate the price paid for energy and for access to oil fields.

Hitherto China has bought oil on largely political grounds, to keep energy prices low at home and to pay even more than is justified for access to fields, e.g. SINOPEC’s 2005 deals with Saudi Arabia. As the Russian example shows, however, such tactics breed resistance that backfires upon China and it cannot much longer sustain the subsidization of energy consumption while paying top dollar for Gulf and other energy sources. The Turkmen and Australian deals not only suggest the global scope of China’s energy quest, but also its increasingly urgent search for gas and uranium rather than for oil and coal.

China’s recent oil and gas deals with Iran, including its recently announced joint prospecting with Iran in the Caspian and its overt interest even in an overland pipeline from Iran through Pakistan to China, also betrays its interest in secure global access that cannot be interdicted by the U.S. or other navies in the Persian Gulf or Indian Ocean. Its January 2006 agreement with India suggests as well the possibility of creating some kind of consumers’ league or association to moderate the price paid for new fields on the market or eventually for existing energy products. Similarly, its recent agreements with the European Union indicate a desire to reduce pollution and achieve greater overall efficiency in China’s use of energy.

Chinese energy policy is therefore dynamic on a global scale and comprehensive insofar as it searches for access to every form of energy. Yet it also is to some degree in transition from the old dirigiste and state subsidized consumption model to something new that possibly might have more elements of a market-based approach. This new approach could conceivably evolve into one that relies less on bilateral efforts to force suppliers into compliance by invoking extraneous political considerations—as is the case with Turkmenistan and even Russia—and more on market levers at home and abroad. Certainly the Russo-Chinese energy relationship to date demonstrates the utter inutility of the anti-market approach that puts politics in command, as it has led to China’s failure to secure access to the energy it had believed it was going to receive and to Russia's failure to sell as much as it intended to China and other Asian countries. Worse, none of the pipelines that have been discussed for years have been constructed, so Russia's energy ties to Asia have had to be put off for years amid growing suspicions in these countries of Russian unreliability.

A market based approach could certainly do better than this and it has the added virtue of stimulating a more cooperative approach to bilateral and multilateral relationships among Asian consumers—India, Japan, China, South Korea, and even potentially in the future North Korea. Yet it also provides an opportunity for the United States to support such a league that could reduce the burden of energy prices upon all these consumers and lead the global energy business toward a more market friendly system. This would not be a panacea but it would be a positive new departure.

Even if many analysts doubt Turkmenistan’s ability to meet this contract, that deal evokes the contradictions inherent in China’s transitional phase. In its substance it evokes the old approach: China subsidizing dictators by paying for pipelines as well as for gas and trying to knock prices down while tying up the producer for 30 years. Yet at the same time, seen in the light of the “triple play” of the last few weeks in regard to energy, this deal opens up and extends new possibilities that could lead China and its partners in new and unforeseen directions.

Would an attack on Iran be legal?

BBC News - 10 May 2006

Details : As diplomatic attempts continue in the UN Security Council to get Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment activities, the question has been raised about an American attack on Iran and whether it would be legal under international law.

If the US decided to attack Iran, it would probably claim that it was acting pre-emptively and exercising an inherent right of self-defence under the UN Charter.

One can rule out the US taking the other main legal path by which one state can attack another - an authorisation of force by the Security Council. Russia and China, both veto holders, are opposed to sanctions against Iran, let alone military action.

And nor would it invoke the growing doctrine of a humanitarian intervention, as the conditions needed for that do not apply.

So the US would probably seek to justify an attack under the self-defence principle, and it would first of all have to outline the nature of the threat.

Currently, this would refer to Iran's previously secret development of enrichment technology, and therefore its forfeiture of trust; its refusal to follow Security Council demands to suspend enrichment; and its president's hostile comments on Israel's right to exist.

All of these would be declared a threat to the US, its interests and to regional and world security. At some future date, the US might bring forward further arguments, depending on how Iran's nuclear programme develops.

Article 51

Having defined the threat, the US would then invoke Article 51 of the UN Charter, which allows self-defence.

This article says: "Nothing in the present charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security."

To get round the phrase "if an armed attack occurs", the US would say that international law does not require that an attack is actually taking place, and that its own new doctrine of pre-emption, an extension of the self-defence principle, was being implemented.

It justified pre-emption in a National Security Strategy document in 2002, after the attacks of 11 September 2001:

"The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction - and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile attacks by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act pre-emptively."

The US might say that it was acting in protection of or at the request of Israel, which could argue that it was under a greater threat than the US itself.

Collective defence is allowed by the UN if the original state claiming self-defence asks for help.

It is possible that, if the Security Council ever agreed a resolution under the enforcement of Chapter Seven of the UN Charter, which orders a member state to comply, the US could declare that it was enforcing it unilaterally.

International law

Would such arguments be accepted in international law?

There is some legal backing for the principle of not waiting too long.

A British judge, Dame Rosalyn Higgins, who was made president of the International Court of Justice in February, said before she joined the court: "In a nuclear age, common sense cannot require one to interpret an ambiguous provision in a text in a way that requires a state passively to accept its fate before it can defend itself."

However, the general view among international lawyers is that there has to be the threat of an "imminent" attack.

British Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, who used a complex series of Security Council resolutions on Iraq to justify the 2003 invasion, was critical of pre-emption in the House of Lords in April 2004: "International law permits the use of force in self-defence against an imminent attack, but does not authorise the use of force to mount a pre-emptive strike against a threat that is more remote."

There is therefore a fairly fundamental divergence between the US doctrine and the view of much of the rest of the UN membership. At the very least, there is no settled opinion.

The question of imminence

Elizabeth Wilmshurst, senior fellow in international law at the British think tank Chatham House, who resigned as a legal adviser to the Foreign Office because she felt the invasion of Iraq was illegal, told the BBC News website: "There is currently no basis for an American attack on Iran under Article 51. There certainly is not a case for self-defence at the moment.

"You do not have to wait for an attack but the threat has to be real and imminent."

She did not think the conditions for a self-defence argument existed. "Does enrichment of uranium count as a threat?" she asked. "It has not been weaponised. Is there a threat?"

Nor did she accept that the US could enforce a Chapter Seven resolution by itself. "This requires a further resolution authorising force and is a settled view," she said.

That an attack is illegal is also a view shared by former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. He told reporters the other day that an Article 51 action could not be justified.

The new Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, has not gone that far, saying only that nobody had any "intention" of attacking Iran.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has pointedly refused to say that an attack is "inconceivable", a word used by Mr Straw, but whether this is a tactical use of language to rattle Iran or whether it foretells potential British support for an attack is not clear.

Ms Wilmshurst accepted that Israel might regard itself as threatened, given the remarks made by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But she added: "Israel would have to take an objective, realistic view as to whether there was a real threat, and I am doubtful at the moment."

The Caroline incident

Much of the traditional doctrine on self-defence comes from an incident in 1837 near the Niagara Falls, in which a boat called the Caroline was attacked and tipped over the Falls by British forces that moved into American waters from Canada. The boat was being used by Canadian rebels preparing an attack.

Some very elegant diplomatic exchanges between US Secretary of State Daniel Webster and British Foreign Secretary Lord Ashburton led to the acceptance of Webster's principles of pre-emptive self-defence. These held that it was justified only in cases in which the "necessity of that self-defence is instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation".

The UN Charter basically adopted that rule, and a highlevel group which looked at UN reform in 2004 said that "Article 51 needs neither extension nor restriction in its long understood scope".

The General Assembly confirmed that view. However there remains some debate about how "imminent" a threat has to be, and how large.

The doctrine of pre-emption has therefore not received widespread international backing. Last year, Chatham House sent a questionnaire about self-defence to 13 international lawyers in Britain. As a result, a number of principles were drawn up to give precision to Webster's phrasing.

May 09, 2006

NBA turns vicious, takes on the law

Damn the law: Medha Patkar at a demonstration in New Delhi - PTI

NBA turns vicious, takes on the law

Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

A day after losing the legal battle to stop the construction work of Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), the Narmada Bachao Andolan on Tuesday gave a call for a "fight to finish" and launched a vicious campaign against the Supreme Court, the Union Government and the media."

Displaying complete disregard for the judiciary, NBA leader Medha Patkar staged a demonstration outside the Supreme Court where her supporters raised noisy slogans against the court's verdict. The NBA leader was also joined by other rent-a-cause activists and NGOs opposing the construction of the SSP without addressing the issue of rehabilitation of the displaced persons.

Incidentally, when the apex court in October 2000 had rejected the NBA's plea to stop SSP work, Ms Patkar had similarly condemned the court. Not just that, the NBA had also buried the copy of the Supreme Court judgement in front of the Badwani district court on October 23, 2000 and raised a plank at the site with inscription: `Grave of Justice'.

In a press release on Tuesday, the NBA expressed "disappointment, shock and loss of faith" in the court, and also criticised the judiciary for "a host of anti-people and anti-poor judgements ranging from order for demolition of slums to eviction of hawkers." It was obvious that Patkar was trying to project her anti-dam movement as the larger cause of the poor.

An agency report quoted Patkar as also slamming some media organisations for being "puppets in the hands of industrialists" and publishing news reports "without verifying facts".

Taking on the court, the statement signed by Patkar and two others said, "even though the judgement is against truth and against us....we will continue to fight for justice, irrespective of what the Supreme Court decided."

In a separate press release, Patkar went so far as to attach a motive to the court's verdict saying, "Supreme Court violates its own former orders in favour of petty politics."

"The court's verdict is against the rights of the oustees who are protected by Article 21 of the Constitution. The verdict shows an anti-poor perspective. Development will now have not only an inhuman but also a brutal face and force," the NBA said.

"The Supreme Court has hidden behind an unbelievable reason - disputed facts - to postpone the decision on the raising of the dam height while ignoring the 'undisputed' facts presented by all the parties including the Governments on incomplete rehabilitation. It has also bypassed its own 'unchallenged verdicts'. When it became clear to every committee that visited the Valley before - World Bank's, Union of India's to that of Members of Parliament - that injustice was being imposed, and records and reports were flawed, the Court couldn't and didn't take the responsible task of investigation into the jumbling of not figures, but of families in thousands, nor a timely conclusion," Patkar said.

"The UPA Government has decided and conveyed to the country that in this globalised, liberalised era, development decisions will be made by the multinationals to the corporate interests with political distortion of the truth, all of which is obviously dominant in Sardar Sarovar and not mass-rooted democracy or the scientific or rational analysis of social, environmental and economic conditions," Ms Patkar said.

Alleging nexus between the Centre and the Guajrat Government, the NBA said, "the UPA Government has proved to be in alliance by favouring Modi's violent ways and means to development, and not Gandhi's 'Antyodaya'."

Obstruction As Ideology : Exposing Medha Patkar's Narmada Bachao Andolan

Medha Patkar exposed (

From: Murli Date: Sat, 06 May 2006

Of course, the usual mudslinging at Narendra Modi occurs. Murli

Web| May 03, 2006


Obstruction As Ideology

NBA defines itself mainly through negative agendas – anti-dam, anti-liberalisation, anti-globalisation, anti-WTO, anti this, anti that. The alternative development paradigm Medha Patkar claims to represent has not yet offered any practical and positive worldview or agenda for action.

The spectacular success of Medha Patkar's Narmada Bachao Andolan in making her opposition to the Narmada Dam Project an international cause célèbre and the courage and perseverance she has shown in pursuing this issue are indeed admirable. However, an honest and nuanced account of this movement is yet to be written. It is worth a serious study because the tactics and strategies adopted by the NBA movement has many important lessons to teach -- both positive and negative -- for all of us engaged in battles on behalf of the poor and marginalized groups of our society.

I am no expert on the economic viability of big or small dams. Therefore, I cannot pass a definitive verdict on the Sardar Sarovar Dam Project. My gut feeling, however, is that mega projects that cause mega displacements tend to be politician- and contractor-friendly rather than people friendly. Moreover, our government (no matter which party is in power) has a shameless record of habitually cheating people of their rights, responding to their genuine grievances with callousness and even brutality, robbing the poor of their pitiful resources and transferring them to the rich and powerful and facilitating outright loot and corruption in the guise of development projects. I also believe that our netas and babus are not enthusiastic about low-cost, eco-friendly options for water harvesting and power generation because they cannot siphon off as much money from them as they can through mega projects. I myself played an active role for a long period in the campaign against building the Tehri Dam, which I believe to be far more ecologically dangerous than the Narmada Dam. I share many of the misgivings of those opposing the Narmada Dam. Yet, I prefer that the merits and demerits of each such project be evaluated in a non partisan manner through a public audit by genuine experts, rather than adopting a permanent oppositionist position as a matter of ideology.

Despite my reservations regarding mega-projects, I am forced to conclude that the mountains of propaganda material generated by the NBA, including the melodramatic tracts written by Arundhati Roy, are not fully trustworthy. More importantly, the strategy and tactics adopted by the NBA have also often put their objectivity and ethical credentials in doubt.

Consider this:

Though NBA never tires of pointing to the real and imagined failures of Relief & Rehabilitation (R&R) as the main reason for their opposition to the Narmada Dam, it has actually worked tirelessly to obstruct many legitimate R&R projects. Medha Patkar had started her career in 1984 with an Ahmedabad based organization called SETU which assigned her the job of assisting Vasudha Dhargamwar of MARG to survey the affected villages to assess the information available to these people regarding the impact of the Narmada Project, and their rights as oustees. This exercise was meant to help ensure that people got a fair and just rehabilitation package. But by 1987, Patkar had developed extensive contacts of her own in the project area, and unilaterally parted company with a whole coalition of NGOs sincerely working there for R&R to proclaim: "Bandh Nahin Banega, Koi Nahin Hatega [The Dam Won't Be Made. Nobody Would Move]". Thereafter, she is alleged to have made it so difficult for Vasudha Dhargamwar to carry on with the work they had started by carrying on a negative campaign against those willing to work on R&R as a fall back plan that MARG and SETU had to withdraw from
the area.

Her stand became even more uncompromising when, under pressure from the World Bank, the Gujarat government agreed to give a generous R&R package.Far from welcoming it and joining hands with those who began working to ensure that the government's promise of R&R was translated into concrete action, she declared that the NBA would not accept any kind of R&R package because NBA was opposed to obstructing the "natural" flow of rivers. Even the name of the movement, "Narmada Bachao Andolan", indicates that the NBA is more obsessed with "saving" the river from human beings than protecting the interests of poor farmers.

Thereafter she began a sustained campaign by the NBA against all those who were acting as watchdogs to ensure proper rehabilitation. They were dubbed as anti-poor, anti-tribal, pro-kulaks and hostages to corporate interests. NBA activists were instructed to prevent the entry not just of government officials, but also of independent NGOs into villages for
collecting honest, updated data regarding families requiring resettlement. They physically obstructed those who tried to provide accurate information about the R&R package to prevent people from making an informed choice. They even got tribals to take a sacred oath, with water of the holy Narmada in hand, that they would choose death to relocation.

However, it did not take long for many of their local followers to realize that NBA was denying them the right to an informed choice. Therefore, despite the "sacred" oath NBA administered to them, most of the tribal villages began quietly voting with their feet and accepted the unprecedented R&R package of 5 acres per adult son and Rs.45,000 to each family for building a new house, free transportation of their household goods, including the timber frame of their house, plus truckloads of additional wood from their villages.

The R&R process in Maharashtra and Gujarat is almost complete. All said and done, the R&R package offered to Narmada Dam oustees is by all accounts better than anything we have witnessed so far in part because several Gandhians and NGOs in Gujarat did a fairly good job of playing watchdogs, insisting that the government must give the land of their choice to oustees even if it meant purchasing it from private owners. That is one of the reasons that in recent years oustees who have settled in Gujarat and even Maharashtra have not been seen seeking the help of NBA.

Most of the new villages for oustees have been provided with better schools and primary health facilities and better connectivity with urban centers than they ever had before. This is not to suggest that the rehabilitation package is flawless. According to Prof. Ghanshyam Shah of the Surat based Centre for Social Studies, who has closely followed the R&R in Gujarat, while 80 percent of oustees in Gujarat have been given a fair deal, about 20 percent have not received their full due. All this because of sustained pressure rather than due to an innate desire of the Gujarat government to give a fair economic deal. Activists of Arch Vahini who played a vital role in this were so worn out in the process that they withdrew from the Resettlement and Land purchasing Committee after resettling villagers from 19 uprooted villages spread over 155 Gujarat villages. Maharashtra government too played a lot of mischief with the awards, and the Madhya Pradesh government has also done all it could to wriggle out of its commitments. The Monitoring and Evaluation Committee of the Project as well as the Supreme Court have at various times expressed dissatisfaction at the veracity of their Action Taken Reports and forced the state governments to improve their performance.

However, those in the know have numerous sad but true stories of how, even in this part of the rehabilitation effort, NBA activists put all manner of hurdles in the way of those working for R&R, including the use of outright violence.More than 200 criminal cases have been filed in Madhya Pradesh against NBA activists for engaging in violent attacks. As per news reports, as recently as April 6, NBA activists were reported to have beaten up and torn the clothes of government officials who visited Bajrikheda for survey work. One would have dismissed this reported instance as an example of the repressive policy of the state government -- except for the fact that it is not just government officials who have alleged obstructionist attacks by the NBA; honest NGOs working for R&R narrate similar accounts. The Indian Express of May 1, 2006 also reported how when they tracked down some of the families in Madhya Pradesh whose case the NBA took to the Supreme Court, they found these families had actually bought land of their choice with the settlement money provided by the government but the NBA activists were pressuring them not to move from their original villages so that they could continue to argue in the Court that R&R was incomplete.

Such tactics are not new. They date back to the early days of NBA. This is how Ambrish of Arch-Vahini describes one among many reported episodes of NBA's techniques: When a large majority of tribals from Manibeli wanted to move to the new land sites offered to them in Gujarat, the minority who were still aligned to NBA declared they would not let those who wanted to move take their dismantled houses with them. Since tribal homes are built with a lot of valuable timber, no one who was ready to accept the government offer was willing to let the minority NBA activists take forcible possession of their houses. Government functionaries sent to assist in helping those willing to relocate to carry their belongings and construction material were stoned and prevented from entering the village. Finally, those keen to move sought the intervention of Arch-Vahini of Gujarat, since it had worked for long years to pressure the Gujarat government to implement honestly its promises of R&R. When Arch-Vahini personnel were also attacked, the entire operation had to be carried out under police protection. However, the NBA successfully manipulated the media coverage of this event to project an image that Manibeli was razed to the ground by police action and goons acting on behalf of the Gujarat government to forcibly oust the poor tribals from their village.

Another method used by NBA to obstruct R&R was to demand that, since tribals are forest dwellers, they should be given forestland for resettlement. For years the Ministry of Environment resisted the idea because the new environment laws are against allowing new settlements in forest areas. However, when, under World Bank pressure, the government of Maharashtra was persuaded to make forest land available for oustees, the NBA decided to create a big furore by reversing its stand without explanation. They objected to this deal on the plea that this would destroy the already depleted forest cover in Maharashtra, proving yet again that for NBA keeping the "movement" alive has become more important than protecting the rights of vulnerable citizens.

Maneka Gandhi, who is an ideologically compulsive supporter of the NBA, gave the following account from a whole repertoire of stories about Medha Patkar\'s obstructionist strategies with regard to R&R. In the year 2001, when Maneka Gandhi was appointed minster for social welfare, she approached Medha Patkar and asked for a list of the project affected families in Madhya Pradesh so that she could help in providing a comprehensive plan of action for rehabilitation. When she found that the NBA had never prepared a list of those requiring rehabilitation, she offered to get that job done by sending the most honest among her officers to do a survey.However, she requested Patkar not to let this be known publicly, so that the survey could be kept a quiet affair since her own party bosses were not keen on such an exercise. However, as soon as the team reached Bhopal, Medha Patkar gave a press conference denouncing the survey team and dissociating NBA from it. As soon as BJP leaders got to know of it, Prime Minister Vajpayee ordered Maneka Gandhi to recall the survey team. As a junior minister in the cabinet, she had no choice but to comply. That was yet another opportunity sabotaged for preparing an accurate list of people requiring rehabilitation.

Today, despite the obstructionist tactics of the NBA, Gujarat and Maharashtra have almost completed the R&R process. Madhya Pradesh is the only state that has not fulfilled its entire commitment. However, most of the 35,000 families whose cause NBA is currently espousing with a view to stopping work on the Dam are not tribals, though they are paraded as adivasis. Tribal lands were submerged long ago; the adivasis have mostly been settled despite NBA obstructions. The present day "oustees" are mostly from Patel and other Patidar castes. There are serious differences between the government's estimates of families requiring total relocation and that of the NBA. How do we know what is the accurate ground reality when all along NBA activists have steadfastly opposed the entry of government officials and even independent NGOs to carry out an accurate updated assessment?

Even those who disagree with NBA's methods cannot deny that by building a sustained and relentless campaign on the issue of rehabilitation, at the national and international level, making Narmada Dam an international cause célèbre and tirelessly drawing attention to the many real and imagined bunglings, it has undoubtedly played an important role in forcing the government to offer a decent R&R package. While determined interventions by the Supreme Court and the ground level work by Arch-Vahini and other concerned citizens doesn't ever get due acknowledgement, even the NBA's detractors admit that pressure from the World Bank after NBA lobbied hard to get them to withdraw from the project played a significant role in ensuring a fair deal for the

However, by their mixing untruths, half-truths and overstatements and their consistent obstructionist attitude towards R&R while cynically using the issue to stall the dam construction by defaming those who took up the task seriously, NBA has compromised its own credibility and ended up being an extremely divisive movement. It often gave the impression that keeping alive the movement became an end in itself and the oustees were being used as mere instruments toward this end.

The NBA has also harmed itself by making light of the drinking water needs of Gujarat and making it seem as if the dam was going to cater only to the urban elite. It was this total lack of acknowledgement, this total lack of compassion for those deprived of water that would make anyone feel, if not demonized, at least dismissed and totally blanked out of the picture. It is this rigid and inflexible stand, with no compassion shown or alternative offered for drinking water needs of the people of Gujarat who saw the dam as the only panacea on offer, that made this into a 'us versus them' divisive battle.

So on one hand you had Medha Patkar's rigid stand against the dam, with no viable alternative on offer, and, on the other, you had Modi standing absolutely firm in support of the dam promising water and development - just as Chiman Bhai Patel of the Congress had at one time. Medha Patkar, one could conclude, has made no small contribution in polarising the society, deepening the divide, thus helping Modi get people to forget his part in the killing of thousands, enabling him to reinforce his image as a symbol of Gujarati pride.The high profile international campaign by NBA also easily lends itself to the fears and phobias being cultivated by their leaders that there is an international conspiracy to halt Gujarat's march towards a prosperous future. It is a combination of all this which evoked and aroused chauvinistic feelings which in turn were exploited by Gujarati politicians—both from the Congress and BJP—allowing them to get away with their own quota of lies and half-truths regarding the potential costs and benefits of the dam.

While the NBA has been successful in winning support for its cause among large sections of national and international NGOs, the Gujarat government has been eminently successful in convincing the people of the state, cutting across almost all divides, that the Sardar Sarovar Project is their lifeline and answer to all their problems with regard to water and power needs. Gujaratis are so charged on this issue that they are willing to overlook all the lapses, including evidence of corruption and lies being peddled by their government. For example, so far only 10 percent of the available water from the dam is reaching Gujarat because the network of canals required to transport the full load has not yet materialized. Gujarat has stretched its budgetary resources to such a limit that it does not even have the money to build the required canal network. And yet, it insists on raising the height of the dam. In the process, the state has almost bankrupted itself by sinking more and more money in the ever-escalating costs of this project, justifying it as a matter of Gujarati swabhiman.
Another important reason for NBA losing a lot of goodwill it had initially garnered is that it appears to have made a religion out of opposing all kinds of development projects without examining the merits of each case. NBA defines itself mainly through negative agendas – anti-dam, anti-liberalisation, anti-globalisation, anti-WTO, anti this, anti that. The alternative development paradigm Medha Patkar claims to represent has not yet offered any practical and positive worldview or agenda for action. That is why even those of us who have serious misgivings about the Sarkari Paradigm of Development feel sceptical of the Patkar-Roy Politics of Non-Development. They have made the single theme of obstructionism into high ideology. One expects a more constructive approach in politics from those who claim to draw inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi.