July 08, 2006

Is Uniform Civil Code anti-Islam?

By N. Kunju

After 55 years of the Constitution coming into force, nothing has been done towards securing a Uniform Civil Code. What we have today are Hindu code, Christian code and of course the Muslim religious code based on the Shariat.

It is a myth to claim that the Muslim communal leaders represent the Indian Muslims as a whole. But this myth has been taken as the gospel truth by politicians in general. As a result, the very party that had been instrumental to the Partition of the country, the Muslim League, was made a partner for sharing power by the so-called secular parties.

When the NDA Government was formed in 1998 with the help of smaller so-called secular parties, the BJP had to omit three items from its agenda as desired by its partners. These were (1) the removal of Article 370 of the Constitution regarding special status to J&K State, (2) building of Ram temple in Ayodhya and (3) legislation of a Uniform Civil Code for all Indian citizens.

Out of the above three, there could be two opinions on the first two items. Constitutional purists could argue that the special status to Jammu and Kashmir was allowed as a concession for the accession of the Muslim majority state on the border to India. Especially the Congress and its offshoot parties could say that Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had made solemn assurances in Parliament not to change the status of the state as long as the people wanted it.

However, after 55 years of the Constitution coming into force, nothing has been done towards securing a Uniform Civil Code. What we have today are Hindu code, Christian code and of course the Muslim religious code based on the Shariat.

The Hindu code is not at all Hindu; it is based on modern jurisprudence of the western democracies. The Christian code is essentially British in character, and there is not much of a difference between the laws for the Hindus and the Christians. As such, there is no general opposition from the Hindus and the Christians for a Uniform Civil Code. The radical differences are between the Muslim Personal Law and the laws for the rest.

What are the salient features of the Muslim Personal Law that differ from the envisaged Uniform Civil Code, which the religio-political Muslim leaders want to have retained? Freedom for man to have four wives and summarily divorce them by pronouncing Talaq thrice. Then Muslim couples are not allowed legally to adopt children and bequeath their property to them. These provisions are meant to pamper the permissiveness of men and are obviously anti-women.

As for Muslim males, only a small segment of feudal remnants and mullahs indulge in polygamy and instant Talaq. The social behaviour of a community should be judged by the life-style of the educated middle class. Hardly any Muslim male from that segment normally take advantage of these religious laws. Then why should they oppose a Uniform Civil Code that would do away with these social evils?

The problem is that even the so-called secular political parties across the Indian political spectrum—the Congress, the Janata splinters and regional ones—recognise the Muslim parties and communal Muslim leaders as the real representatives of the Muslim population as a whole. No Kamal Ataturk has come up in free India. Unfortunately, the man with real potential to that role who openly declared that he would modernise Indian Muslims, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, chose the separatist path to create a Muslim state for him to rule. And his dream of establishing a secular Pakistan was dashed when the horse he was riding, Muslim communalism, ditched him. He died a sad man regretting the fathering of Pakistan that became a spoilt child—an Islamic state.

However, that historic catastrophe did not register in the minds of our so-called secular leaders of post-Independence era. They continue to look on the Muslim separatist leaders as the representatives of the whole Muslim community. And these leaders did everything to prevent the Indian Muslims from joining the national mainstream, so much so, they insisted calling Indian Muslims as Muslim Indians, giving preponderance to religion over nationality.

As mentioned earlier, it is a myth to claim that the Muslim communal leaders represent the Indian Muslims as a whole. But this myth has been taken as the gospel truth by politicians in general. As a result, the very party that had been instrumental to the Partition of the country, the Muslim League, was made a partner for sharing power by the so-called secular parties.

Ironically, the communists, who claim to be against God and religion, were the first to woo the Muslim League to be a partner in the E.M.S. Namboodiripad Government as far back as 1967. This enabled the Muslim League to arm-twist the government to form the Muslim-majority district of Malappuram, a mini-Pakistan in the State. (The people of Pakistan lost their political clout when they surrendered their democratic rights to communalism and are now perpetually under military jackboot or mullah-dominant political outfits. Fortunately for the Muslims of the little Pakistan of Malappuram in Kerala, they are a part of India and could ditch the Muslim League when they were disillusioned of the party that claimed to be the sole spokesman of all Muslims. In the last Assembly elections, Malappuram Muslims defeated all the Muslim League candidates.)

Now reverting to the subject of Uniform Civil Code, it is the only issue against which the Muslim leaders of all hues are united. They say that the Muslim personal law is the symbol of their identity. And the so-called secular parties accept the contention unquestioningly.

How many Muslim men take advantage of their personnel law to marry more than one woman and to summarily divorce their wives? One in a thousand. The educated middle class finds polygamy and instant divorce reprehensible to civilised human behaviour and economically unrewarding. The poor too can’t indulge in such permissive “luxuries”.

Then who wants the Muslim personnel privileges? The mullahs and the men of Muslim orthodoxy. They want to assert their male superiority and indulge in perverse sexual pleasures. They want to have young women howsoever old they themselves may be by dumping their previous wives. Also there are the Kazis (priests) who solemnise marriages of the old oil-rich Arabs for a night with poor young virgins and bear witness to the bridegroom pronouncing Talaq in the morning. The pimps legitimise their trade in the name of their religious personnel law.

There is not a single reason for the common Muslims to retain such an unjust personnel law and oppose a Uniform Civil Code. But the question asked by the mullahs and Muslim communal leader is, why should they ditch their own personnel law to adopt the Hindu code?

This question is mischievous to mislead the Muslim masses. First, the Uniform Civil Code is not going to be a Hindu code, but a new code encompassing all good features of all personnel laws to have a civil code fit for the modern Indian society irrespective of their respective religions. Second, it will not be against the tenets or scriptures of any religion.

The impression that a Uniform Civil Code is against the wishes of the Prophet or the Koran is false, meant to mislead the Muslim masses. There was opposition from Hindu orthodoxy when the Hindu code was being enacted on the plea that it was against the tradition of Hindus. And there are people who say even now why Hindus should have laws restricting their personal life when Muslims (males) are allowed the luxury of their medieval indulgences.

The Muslim masses, especially women, cannot enjoy the fruits of freedom and democracy guaranteed by the Indian Constitution as long as the constitutional directive principle of the Uniform Civil Code is not enacted into a law. This can’t happen as long as the political parties accept the Mullahs and Muslim communal leaders as the exclusive spokesmen of the Muslims in general. It is time the young modern-minded Muslim leadership asserted its right to represent their community and showed that the place of the mullah is the masjid and not the political arena.

(The writer, a veteran journalist, can be contacted at 42-B, Pocket 1, Mayur Vihar Ph.1. Delhi 110091, Email: janunkunju@sify.com)
www.organiser.org

Bangladesh Election and Dawood's mission worries India and West

Sumit Sen
[ NEWS NETWORK ]

KOLKATA: Reports of a recent secret meeting between absconding underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and two high-profile Bangladeshis — one, an extremely powerful young politician belonging to the ruling alliance and the other, a top national security intelligence officer — in Dubai have sent both Indian and Western intelligence agencies into a tizzy.

This, according to highly-placed sources, is part of a well-concerted move to smuggle in arms consignments to Bangladesh for creating countrywide disturbances well before the next elections.

According to sources, the discussion during the Dubai meeting veered around the urgent need to import small arms and explosives for terrorists enjoying the tacit support of a powerful section of the ruling group. The meeting was reportedly arranged by ISI agents, though the supportive role of a powerful foreign agency in the entire scheme of things is not being ruled out.

The meeting led to prompt results. On April 16, a commander of the banned Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (Huji) of Chittagong received a consignment of arms explosives that reached Chittagong port. Reports suggest larger consignments will be reaching the port very soon, before being handed over to Islamic terrorists. Interestingly, unlike the 2004 arms haul at the same port, which could equip a full Bangladeshi Army brigade, this incident largely went unnoticed because the entire operation was carried out deftly.

On May 16, a large consignment of arms — certainly not meant for security forces — was brought in at an air force base near Dhaka by a Kuwaiti C-130 aircraft. The whole operation, being highly secretive in nature, was supervised by the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence. Investigations reveal that a Kuwaiti NGO Al-Harmain (a banned organisation having links with Al-Qaida) was the funding agency for the arms transshipment for Bangladeshi terrorists.

Given the situation, Bangladesh experts now do not rule out major bloodshed — especially during the time when the country will be ruled by a caretaker government before the polls. Intelligence sources suspect that taking advantage of the fragile security network, the Dawood gang is slowly expanding its network in Bangladesh and providing support to terrorist outfits, especially Huji, which has been targeting opposition leaders with precision.

Prominent Awami League leaders who have been assassinated include former finance minister S A M S Kibria and Ivy Rehman. There were several attempts on the life of Sheikh Hasina, the last one having left her permanently debilitated in one ear. In most of these cases, Huji’s Bangladesh commander-in-chief Mufti Hannan was the mastermind.

Billion Dollar Fraud of the Iranian President’s Brother

Meysam Tavab

08 Jul 2006

The inspector of Tehran municipality recently submitted a report to the city council and the mayor of the capital, in which it expressly states that the elder brother of Mohammad Ahmadinejad who was the contractor for the development of Tehran’s Noor Circle had embezzled about 2 billion Toman (a Dollar is traded for approximately 1000 Tomans in the Iranian black market). Dawood Ahmadinejad is currently the head of the president’s inspectors office whose responsibility is to track and investigate government corruption and fraud.

According to a Rooz reporter, the contract for the development of the Noor Circle project during Ahmadinejad’s mayorship was awarded to the Passdaran Revolutionary Guards Corps, as were many other municipality projects. At the same time, the sub-contractor for all the municipality urban projects that the Passdaran had was the current president’s elder brother.

This fraud is made public at a time when there have also been reports about the embezzlement of some 350 billion Toman at the municipality during the days of Ahmadinejad. The amount remains unaccounted for. Nader Shariatmadari, a member of Tehran city council said in this regard that the implementation of the new accounting system in the municipality revealed the discrepancy and that this money had been spent without any documentation and trace. Existing documents do not show who authorized this money to be spent on what. About the timing of the expenditures of the money, he added that while one may say that about 50 billion Toman of this untraceable amount may belong to post-Ahmadinejad days. But what is certain is that 300 billion Toman are untraceable during the days that Ahmadinejad served as the mayor of the capital.

It should be noted that among the presidential candidates of 2005, Ahmadinejad was the only candidate who did not resign from his position as mayor of Tehran and continued to sign decrees while running for president. In those days, his brother was known to be a contractor for large municipality projects.

Musharraf Proposal : India must do reality check on Pakistan

India is not seeking a settlement with Musharraf. It is dealing with Pakistan. The latest proposal from him should, thus, be assessed after a reality check on Pakistan.


RAJINDER PURI



President Pervez Musharraf has now presented his "final solution" on Kashmir. In a TV programme last month he said: "I have proposed demilitarisation as a final resolution. Demilitarise Kashmir, give self-governance to the people of Kashmir with a joint management arrangement on top." Musharraf spoke after returning empty-handed from Beijing. He failed to get a nuclear deal from China. China refused to sign even other deals but preferred to study them further. Musharraf’s proposal on Kashmir, therefore, sounded a trifle desperate.
Take a reality check on Musharraf. He is a successful Mohajir. The Mohajirs, unlike most Pakistani Punjabis who opposed the Partition, were the pro-Pakistan ideologues who migrated from India. Later, many recognised their folly and settled abroad. They admit Pakistan was a mistake. The Mohajirs who stayed behind are obsessed with India. Musharraf is one of them. He repeatedly demands equal treatment with India. Musharraf masterminded the attack on Kargil. He continues to describe terrorist attacks on women and children in Kashmir as a freedom struggle. He continues to permit terrorist recruitment and training camps to operate within Pakistan. He is not, therefore, a prepossessing negotiator for peace. Failed assassination attempts against him persuaded some critics that he was helpless and could not control terrorism. It does not matter if he can control them or not. What matters is the end result. He does not deliver.

India, however, is not seeking a settlement with Musharraf. It is dealing with Pakistan. The latest proposal from the Pakistan president should, thus, be assessed after a reality check on Pakistan. Musharraf has proposed joint Indo-Pakistan management of a demilitarised self-governing Kashmir. Surely, he knows that joint management of Kashmir can’t be isolated from other facets of the Indo-Pakistan relationship. At the very least, joint management would imply total understanding between India and Pakistan on security matters related to the subcontinent. Security itself cannot be divorced from trade and tariff barriers. Joint management of Kashmir would imply a deep and strategic overall relationship between India and Pakistan.

Is Musharraf prepared for it? More importantly, is Pakistan prepared for it? Although Musharraf recently claimed that Balochistan’s armed protest had been put down, the problem is far from over. A problem persists even with NWFP and Afghanistan. And a problem persists with the army-controlled democracy Musharraf heads. The Indian government did not take Musharraf’s latest proposal seriously.

The question is: Does Musharraf himself take it seriously?




(Puri can be reached at rajinderpuri2000@yahoo.com)

July 07, 2006

The Khan job and the 'back-off' directive

Armed Madhouse


(Eds. note: Greg Palast's Armed Madhouse book tour is co-sponsored by Working Assets. Click here for more information about the book.)
Continued from Part III

The Khan Job and the "Back-Off" Directive

On November 9, 2001, BBC Television Centre in London received a call from a phone booth just outside Washington. The call to our Newsnight team was part of a complex prearranged dance coordinated with the National Security News Service, a conduit for unhappy spooks at the CIA and FBI to unburden themselves of disturbing information and documents. The top-level U.S. intelligence agent on the line had much to be unhappy and disturbed about: a "back-off" directive.

This call to BBC came two months after the attack on the Pentagon and World Trade Towers. His fellow agents, he said, were now released to hunt bad guys. That was good news. The bad news was that, before September 11, in those weeks just after George W. Bush took office, CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) personnel were told to "back off" certain targets of investigations begun by Bill Clinton. He said there were particular investigations that were effectively killed.

Which particular investigations? The agent was willing to risk his job to get this story out, but we had to press repeatedly for specifics on the directive to "back off." The order, he said reluctantly, spiked at least one fateful operation. As he talked, I wrote in my notebook, "Killed off Conn. Labs investigation." Connecticut Laboratories? I was clueless until my producer Meirion Jones, a weapons expert, gave me that "you idiot" look and said, "Khan Labs! Pakistan. The bomb." Dr. A. Q. Khan is known as the "Father" of Pakistan's atomic bomb.

He's not, however, the ideal parent. To raise the cash for Pakistan's program (and to pocket a tidy sum for himself), Khan sold off copies of his baby, his bomb, to Libya and North Korea—blueprints, material and all the fixings to blow this planet to Kingdom Come.

From another source inside the lab itself, we learned that Dr. Khan was persuading Pakistan to test his bomb—on India.

Why would Team Bush pull back our agents from nabbing Libya's bomb connection? The answer in two words: Saudi Arabia. The agent on the line said, "There were always constraints on investigating the Saudis." Khan is Pakistani, not Saudi, but, nevertheless, the investigation led back to Saudi Arabia. There was no way that the Dr. Strangelove of Pakistan could have found the billions to cook up his nukes within the budget of his poor nation. We eventually discovered that agents knew the Saudis, who had secretly funded Saddam's nuclear weapons ambitions in the eighties, apparently moved their bomb-for-Islam money from Iraq to Dr. Khan's lab in Pakistan after Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990.

But, said the insider, our agents had to let a hot trail grow cold because he and others "were told to back off the Saudis." If you can't follow the money, you can't investigate. The weapons hunt was spiked.

BBC got the call about Dr. Khan's bomb in November 2001 and reported it that night on the tube and in the London Guardian. Over two years later, on February 11, 2004, President Bush, at an emergency press briefing, expressed his shock—shock!—at having learned that Dr. A. Q. Khan of Pakistan was running a flea market in fissionable material. This indicated a major Bush policy shift since my last book and report. In 2001, regarding the Khan bomb, the administration dismissed our story as imaginary. With his 2004 press conference, the President shifted from obfuscation to prevarication, denial to mendacity.

Our report on Dr. Khan's nuclear bazaar was confirmed in 2004, not by U.S. intelligence, but by one of Khan's customers, Muammar Gaddafi, the mischievous tyrant of Libya. It was Gaddafi's last little bit of fun with Mr. Bush and Britain's Prime Minister, Tony Blair. The U.S. and Britain had agreed to end their trade embargo on Libya in return for Gaddafi's shutting down his bomb program and, not incidentally, Gaddafi's giving an exclusive oil drilling agreement to British Petroleum.

So with Libya giving up Dr. Khan's bomb, it appears we have a happy ending for the safety of the planet. Unfortunately, while Homeland Security, our Armed Forces and Mayor Josh were staking out the Indian casino ferry landing in Southold, New York, Khan had given the secret of the bomb, hardware included, to Kim Jong Il of North Korea, a despot in a leisure suit a little less stable than Charles Manson.

The U.S. government missed discovering Dr. Khan's radioactive fire sale because our agents were hard at work ignoring the Saudi money trail. If the agencies had not been told to "back off" the Saudis and Dr. Khan, would the U.S. have uncovered the nuclear shipments in time to stop them? We can't possibly know, but, to paraphrase Yogi Berra, it's amazing what you don't see when you're told not to look.

North Korea’s Missile: Fired by Kim Jong Il, Built by Team Bush

Published by Greg Palast July 5th, 2006 in Articles

George Bush is upset, distraught, that North Korea has fired a missile that could reach Alaska — carrying a nuclear warhead. Well, Mr. President, you have only yourself to blame.

In case you can’t recall, your intelligence chiefs ordered US agents to curb their investigation of A.Q. Khan, head of Pakistan’s bomb-building program. There was mounting evidence Khan was selling his nuclear and missile material technology to Libya and North Korea.
The reason for the spike order, the “back off” directive, was that the investigators had tracked the source of funds for Mr. Khans flea market in fissile material to Saudi Arabia. Apparently, Team Bush did not want to make the Saudi’s uncomfortable by exposing their payments to Khan.

We reported this on BBC in November 2001, based on informants within the top levels of our intelligence agencies, men unhappy with politicians who would have them avert their gaze.


Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “ARMED MADHOUSE: Who’s Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal ‘08, No Child’s Behind Left and other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War.”

For more on the Khan Labs sale of nuclear plans and material to North Korea, read, “The Khan Job and the ‘Back-Off’ Directive” in Armed Madhouse, the update of the story first reported by Palast for BBC Television Newsnight and the Guardian (UK).

Indo-China : The opening of old passes

http://www.dailypioneer.com/

Claude Arpi
The mandarins of South Block scored a good goal. Or is it the babus of the Foreign Ministry in Beijing who put a self-goal? On July 6, when the Dalai Lama celebrates his 71st birthday, the Gate of Tibet will be reopened after 44 years. The Tibetan leader, who has dedicated most of his life to dialogue and better communication between human beings, will undoubtedly be happy with this development. Humans and goods will circulate in relative freedom between India and Tibet.

The resumption of the old route between India and Tibet forces to reflect not only on the past, but also on the future of the region; particularly on the relations between Asian neighbours. A few days back, while watching a World Cup match (with France not faring well at all), I received a phone call from Washington. Voice of America (Tibet language) wanted my opinion on the reopening of the legendary pass. As only a few crucial minutes were left to play, I could not stop looking at the TV, though at the same time, I had to think fast about the forthcoming political event which is bound to have tremendous consequences for the Land of Snows as well as for the relations between India and China.

I said something to this effect: "Economic engagement between India and China is better than 'cold war', better for the two nations to have economic contacts than no contact." Later, the history of the pass came back to my mind. Nathu-la ('la' means pass in Tibetan) has for centuries been the symbol of a passage between two worlds. It was the entrance to Tibet, the Forbidden Land. Beyond its summit lay the first valley of the world's most mysterious nation.

Remember Colonel Younghusband when he crossed the Nathu-la with a small British army in June 1903, the Tibetans said: "No question for the Brits to walk inside Tibetan territory, they should step no further than the border post in Chumbi Valley." 'Negotiations' went on for a few months and finally Younghusband had to recross Nathu-la and return to Gangtok.

The following year, Younghusband went again: This time he had received clear orders from Lord Curzon, the Viceroy, "Strike when the iron is hot." The Choegyal of Sikkim had warned the Tibetans: "For the Tibetan army to challenge the British was like throwing an egg against the rock - the egg could only be smashed." But the Tibetans did not listen and the Tibetan Army was soon 'smashed'.

One has to understand that the Nathu-la route was the shortest way not only between India and Lhasa, but also between the Tibetan capital and mainland China. In July 1949, when the Tibetan Cabinet decided to expel all the Chinese living in Tibet, they were repatriated via Nathu-la and Calcutta. It was the shortest route to the Middle Kingdom!

When the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama came to India on the occasion of the 2,500th birth anniversary of the Buddha in November 1956, they travelled with their large entourage via Chumbi Valley. The Dalai Lama remembers: "At the top of the Nathu pass there stood a large cairn set about with colourful prayer-flags. As is the custom, we each added a stone to the cairn and shouted out, 'Lha Gyal Lo!' ('Victory to the gods!').

Less than two years later, Nehru paid a state visit to Bhutan. The day before he departed, he wrote to his Chief Ministers: "There are various routes to Tibet from India, but, till now, the easiest route to Paro, the summer capital of Bhutan, goes from the Nathu -la and crosses a small corner of Tibet. Thus, I shall have a brief glimpse of Tibet."

A few years ago, I wrote a small book, The Karma of Tibet, in which I tried to demonstrate that the main 'blunder' of the Tibetan authorities at the beginning of the 20th century was to have locked their country to the outside world. Today, in a changed situation, it is highly symbolic that the person who has tried for the past 45 years to 'open up' ancient Tibet to the world, will celebrate his birthday on the day the pass reopens.

During the last couple of years, the trend of opening passes and loosening the borders seems to have spread all over Asia. After India's borders (in Kashmir, Sinkiang, Tibet, etc...) were sealed during the years following India's independence, it is a welcome phenomenon.

In 1972 in Simla, Indira Gandhi had tried to change the trend but she was taken for a ride by her Pakistani counterpart. Mr PN Dhar, Indira Gandhi's Secretary, recalls the 'secret agreement': "After the resumption of the traffic between India and Pakistan across the International Border had gained momentum, movement of traffic would be allowed at specified points across the Line of Control." This did not happen as Bhutto did not keep his promises.

A movement leading in the same direction has now started. First, it was the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road, which was opened with great pomp (and a few grenades) in April 2005. In January this year, an India 'peace bus' journeyed from Amritsar to Lahore linking for the first time both parts of Punjab. Earlier a bus service between Delhi and Lahore had been started.

This interesting trend continued with Nepal and China concluding an accord for a Kathmandu-Lhasa bus; then last month the route between Poonch and Rawalakot in PoK was inaugurated and a few days later, Presidents Hu Jiantao and Gen Pevez Musharraf decided to have a regular road link between Gilgit and Kashgar (in Xinjiang). The 'official' inauguration of the century-old route between the subcontinent and Central Asia was 'the symbol of the all-weather relations' between Pakistan and China.

In the East, Hao Peng, the Chinese Vice-chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, stated that the reopening of Nathu-la will "boost the transport, construction and service industries, paving the way for a major trade route that connects China and south Asia." This will certainly take time to fully materialise.

Unfortunately, the opening of new roads has not hindered Islamabad's sponsorship of cross-LoC terrorism and a bus link between Gangtok and Lhasa will certainly not stop Beijing to be a potential adversary for India. The railway which will connect Lhasa to Xining, the capital of Qinghai province has just been inaugurated. Often acclaimed as a landmark project by Beijing wanting 'to develop its western regions', it is seen by the Tibetans and their supporters as a major threat to the Tibetan people who are already a minority in their own country.

For India, it is the most important strategic development in its relations with China since the 1950s. Did the National Security Advisor take up this matter with his Chinese counterpart during the last round of border talks? In any case, this loosening of borders is a great homage to the Dalai Lama on his birthday, which is tomorrow, July 6.

Nuke the doubts : SIX Myths

HINDUSTAN TIMES

Nuke the doubts

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri

July 6, 2006

The critics who have howled their disapproval of the Indo-US nuclear deal have been small but loud. They formed packs in both India and the US, they have included both right and left, war hawks and peaceniks. That they have emerged from the extremes is as good evidence as any that the deal is a win-win for India and the world.

Here's a checklist of the main arguments against the deal - and why they're hogwash.

Myth 1: The deal caps India's fissile material production. Elements in the BJP argue that the deal puts curbs on how much bomb-making fissile material India can make. The US non-proliferation lobby argues the deal places no curbs on fissile material production. They both can't be right.

The truth is closer to the latter stance. The deal gives India the option of piling up fissile material: India can build as many military reactors as it wants and continue developing its breeder reactor. The latter, when completed, would leave the country knee-deep in plutonium.

The non-proliferation crowd is wrong to say India will go fissile crazy. There may be a way, but there's no will. India didn't make a plutonium mountain before the deal - though it could have - because New Delhi has no interest in a mega-arsenal. Reasons: An emptied exchequer and an arms race with China.

Bottomline: The deal doesn't restrict India's fissile material production, India's own strategic calculations do.

Myth 2: The deal stops India from more nuclear tests. Not even the fine print says India can't test. What it says is that if India does test, the US will break off all civil nuclear cooperation. This has been part of US law since 1978 and applies to all countries, including Israel and the UK.

The only reason India may test again is to maintain the stability of its nuclear stockpile. But this can be done through subcritical tests - which attract no penalties. But just in case Pakistan and China suddenly start preparing to mushroom-cloud the region and India feels it must follow suit, the deal allows the US President to go to the US Congress and explain India's reasons and try for an exemption.

Assume the worst: India tests and the US says it's The End. The only real consequence for India would be a disrupted nuclear fuel supply. Which is why India is negotiating an International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards agreement that commits third parties to supply fuel if the US goes into a sulk.

Bottomline: The deal extracts a cost if India tests. But it has a reimbursement clause.

Myth 3: The deal forced India to sell out Iran. Assume the Indo-US nuclear deal never happened. Would India be happy with Iran getting nuclear weapons? Not a chance. Tehran did business with Pakistan's atomic smuggler A. Q. Khan. New Delhi has long fretted that Iran's going nuclear would lead to a Saudi Arabia-Pakistan nuclear alliance. Put it another way: a nuclear Iran rebounds in Pakistan's favour.

Much is made of India's 'special relationship' with Iran. This is mythical. Yes, the two worked together, notably in Afghanistan. But they have clashed on almost everything else. Iran opposes India's own nuclear ambitions, lobbies against India's attempts to get a UN Security Council seat, and supports human rights resolutions and other irritants that have negative implications for Kashmir. Iran is a fair-weather friend. On the nuclear issue, the bilateral sky is permanently cloudy.

Indians have rightly grimaced at heavy-handed attempts by US congressmen and officials to link the Indo-US nuclear deal to India's opposition to Iran's nuclear programme. The truth is that India's policy on Iran wasn't different, it was just never articulated out of political correctness.

Bottomline: India is and has been against a nuclear-armed Iran. But New Delhi foolishly never made this clear to its public or to Tehran.

Myth 4: Safeguards in perpetuity are a sellout. The idea that any safeguarded nuclear facility will remain civilian forever has an ominously biblical ring. But it's not new. India first accepted the principle of perpetuity in 1978 when the Department of Atomic Energy let Russia place the Rana Pratap Sagar reactors in Rajasthan under safeguards in 1978. India then agreed to the same for the Koodankulum reactors.

In other words, India has been accepting perpetuity clauses in return for nothing in the past. Now it's doing the same, but getting international acceptance of its right to have both civilian and military nuclear programmes in return. No country will provide India with nuclear fuel or technology without perpetual safeguards. This is not a US bogey, it's a global norm.

The only reasonable demand is that India not concede perpetuity without a guarantee of perpetual nuclear fuel supplies. Otherwise, in some theoretical global fluff-up, India could end up with a lot of idle nuclear power plants. This perpetuity-for-perpetuity trade-off is exactly what is being embedded in India's IAEA safeguards agreement.

Bottomline: Perpetuity is fine, but it must be double-barrelled.

Myth 5: India is not getting genuine nuclear power status. India can't get nuclear power status as defined by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty unless it can get: a) a time machine and detonate a nuclear bomb before 1967, or b) the support of all 151 NPT signatories. It's a toss-up as to which is more impossible.

What the nuclear deal gives India is the right to have both civilian and military nukes and access to global nuclear knowhow - the key benefits of nuclear club membership. All else is just rhetoric. It helps to realise that there is no standard 'bill of rights of a nuclear power', even among the five NPT powers. Crudely speaking, the earlier you enter the nuclear club, the more rights you get. Thus the US has the most, China the least. China, for example, places many of its atomic installations under perpetual safeguards despite being a recognised nuclear power.

Bottomline: India gets the wine in the bottle, minus the label.

Myth 6: India doesn't need nuclear power. India needs power from any source that it can find. Critics of nuclear power focus on the high start-up costs of reactors and projections that reactors will at best provide 8 per cent of India's future energy needs. Yes, reactors are billion-dollar-babies. But that's why the private sector is being brought in. Reliance, Tata and others are all lining up and they feel they have the funds. The fact the critics sidestep is that after a reactor is up and running, the per unit cost of its electricity is among the lowest and least volatile in the industry.

Also, no one says nuclear power is the be all, end all of India's power needs. A nation's energy security is also about being able to tap a variety of power sources. In the long-term, it wouldn't help to be dependent solely on nuclear power. But not having a lot more nuclear power - cheap electricity that is independent of sheikhs and price cycles - is worse.

July 06, 2006

Nathu La endangers Indian security: Experts

Nathu La endangers Indian security: Experts
PERCY FERNANDEZ
[ JULY 04, 2006 05:33 PM ]

India has compromised national security by opening the Nathu La Pass
for trade with China, say experts including many from the military and
the intelligence.

"Nathu La is a strategic opening. The Chinese have started by
targeting trade. Later they will use this bid to reach the outline
provinces for oil and other strategic items", says Bharat Karnad, a
security affairs specialist at the Centre for Policy Research, a think
tank based in New Delhi. "This will also strengthen China's military
presence in the area.

"China is growing by leaps and bounds. This is indeed an ambitious
growth. It is all well to say that trade will increase. But this may
nurse problems in the future. This is just a beginning to a full blown
trade corridor China needs to supply variety of items for its military
requirements to the outflanked regions."

"China has already laid defence networks in the region to gather
information and intelligence, one key reason for deferring the
reopening of Nathu La. Importantly it has deployed its DF-21 missiles,
akin to our Agni-II, which have the capability to hit Indian cities
within the range of 1500 km", says Srikanth Kondapalli, a China expert
who is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Defence Studies and
Analyses (IDSA), India's strategic think tank.

"The Indian Air Force (IAF) believes that there are 15 airfields in
the Tibetan region including one in Khasgar in the Xinjiang region,
which is 400 km from Leh as the crow flies. In Tibet, Chinese military
have been laying fiber-optics and expanding their airfields. There are
an estimated 50-60 missiles in Tibet."

Militarisation of Tibet and defence modernisation

The growing militarisation of Tibet was echoed in 1998 when George
Fernandes, the then defence minister said China has its nuclear
weapons stockpiled in Tibet right along India's borders and that it
has extended its military airfields.

Bharat says Nathu La saves China a lot of expenditure. The cost of
maintaining the outer areas of China will go down tremendously. This
may be balanced by increase in the military expenditure and thus
increasing military presence. The military grid will thus be managed
in a far better manner.

A military threat seems to be a perceived one and far fetched too. But
there is no doubt that India should raise its capabilities. "The
military posts at Nathu La will have to be strengthened and made more
vigilant. Transmigration would take place. There is indeed no
immediate threat but some extra security and some vigilance may be
required to manage the area", says Cmde Retd Ranjit B Rai, Vice
President Indian Maritime Foundation.

"Along with businessmen and tourists, even Chinese spies will pass
through Nathu La. Intelligence and counter intelligence will have to
be stepped up. The 180 km Siliguri corridor otherwise called the
chicken neck is at striking distance from the pass", says a senior
military intelligence official not wanting to be named.

He adds, "India already faces a daunting challenge in the face of an
illegal migration from Bangladesh. How on heavens are we not supposed
to expect anything close to this pattern from China after Nathu La
reopens?"

It is not for nothing that the top brass in the Indian Army and some
in the Ministry of Defence feel that there is more to Nathu La than
meets the eye and importantly think that China is unsettling India.
"Arms transfers were carried out on the Karakoram Highway by the
Chinese during the Kargil war in 1999. China pledged support to King
Gyanendra of Nepal to crush the Maoists and as a result sent eight ton
weapons in November 2005 to Nepal. It has also given arms to
Myanmar... expanded its airfields", says a senior Army officer.

He says, "The Ladakh route is economically viable and faster. It could
be an easy route to Indian pilgrims visiting Manasarover rather than
going through Uttaranchal. The Chinese could open areas that are north
of Arunachal Pradesh - Shigatse and Nyngqi prefectures- which are more
populated than the present Yatung province across Nathu La. It looks
like there is a plan."

Destination Indian Ocean

Not just land, China has been trying to close in on India through the
sea. "Nathu La will give China a free way to the South Asian region
including India. China has been seeking to get into the warm waters of
the Indian Ocean since time immemorial", says Prof. Swaran Singh from
Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). He adds, "They tried through the
Karakoram. Their efforts were expensive. China's west is least
developed. They also tried through Myanmar. Thus historically, the
only practical way to enter the Indian Ocean is through India. This
gets us to Nathu La."

Analysts at the India's strategic think tank have argued about China's
`strategic encirclement' of India policy - an attempt to befriend all
of India's neighbours. "During Premiere Wen Jiabo's visit in April
2005, China wanted to bolster its relationships with India's
neighbours, particularly enhance its "all-weather friendship" with
Pakistan", says Srikanth Kondapalli.

"The second Kodari road from Lhasa to Kodari via Gigatse and Shigatse
has raised concerns for India. The Indian railway link to Bhutan,
officials at the MEA say, is a response to China's proposed railway
line from Lhasa to Kathmandu", says a strategic affairs expert.

The Gwadar Naval Port in Pakistan built with Chinese assistance can
control almost fifty per cent of oil flowing from Iran. The Chinese
also plan to build a road from the Karakoram highway to Gwadar via
Baluchistan. China also has invested another $200 million into
building a coastal highway that will connect the Gwadar port with
Karachi.

Befriending India's neighbours

China has strategic arrangements with all its neigbours says Brig.
Arun Saghal of the United Services Institute (USI), a tri-services
think tank in New Delhi. He adds, "The southern port of Hambantota in
Sri Lanka is being built in assistance with Sri Lankan enterprise. The
Chinese are using a strategy of `congagement' (which sums up the
policy of containment and engagement). Against the backdrop of the
recent developments, the threat has shifted from territorial to oceanic."

A senior MEA official says, "India holds the cards right now because
it holds the relative breadth and width with the Americans, and China
is worried because of this."

Sino-Indian relations have come a long way from 1998 when George
Fernandes described China as enemy number one. Current Defence
Minister Pranab Mukherjee, today talks and enables "the process of
building trust between the two countries".

"Though both sides decided to spruce up efforts, India's bone of
contention - the delineation of the 3500 km common border - remains
till date as one", says Srikanth . He adds, "Barring India and Bhutan,
China has solved all border disputes with its neighbours, totalling
fourteen land and eight maritime disputes." And worse, a 2005 Chinese
map still shows Arunachal Pradesh as part of its territory.

Indeed, and some proponents will vouch, Nathu La can be seen as India
extending its trust further. But it all depends on what gathers over
the high pass in the coming months.

Sethna prefers NPT to Indo-US nuclear deal

Sethna prefers NPT to Indo-US nuclear deal

MUMBAI: India would be better off signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which permits the exit of any signatory nation, rather than the nuclear deal with the US that will bind the country for 'perpetuity', top nuclear scientist Homi Sethna has said.

“NPT may be discriminatory, but we will still be allowed to exit whereas in the current Indo-US deal which is under negotiation, India will remain bound in perpetuity,” Sethna said while delivering a key note address at the Forum of Integrated National Security (FINS) here on Saturday evening.

"Therefore, I prefer NPT...to signing the current deal (with the US)," said Sethna, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission that has been linked to the country's civil and military nuclear programmes.

"India is supposed to get only uranium for its nuclear programme to expand. Simply for this, so much compromising... is uncalled for," he said.

"The Americans were out of the nuclear power reactor building business for the last 25 years. So where is the question of (getting) technology from them?" asked the octogenarian scientist credited with playing a key role in the 1974 nuclear blast that saw India's emergence as a nuclear weapons power.

“Therefore, (in order to end the current global sanctions on the nuclear programme), we rather sign the NPT and it will give an escape route from going through all this trauma of separation and getting a special status agreement with IAEA (under the additional protocol)," he said.

"I do not know how we have been tied down to this situation," Sethna said.

"The Indian government should now seriously think about it (signing the NPT). Instead of being looked down upon as a non-signatory all the time, go ahead and sign and break it immediately may be within three hours," he said.

Asked whether it would be unethical on India's part to sign a deal with the US, he denied that this was the case, pointing to India's need for energy security.

Concluding a treaty with the US is a most difficult task, said Sethna, who has experience of dealings with the Americans during the 196Os and after the nuclear test in 1974.

"We had experience with them earlier. I am not saying Americans are not reliable. I want to say, they have a system which makes them feel that they are superior and want to dictate terms," he said to applause from a gathering that included scientists and security analysts.

Sethna said former prime minister Indira Gandhi had given oral instructions to go ahead with building a nuclear device after he informed her about China's progress in developing atomic weapons.

Speaking on the occasion, Former AEC chairman P K Iyengar also referred to the Indo-US nuclear deal and said the testimonies before the US Congress and the additions recommended by US Congressional panels to President George Bush's proposal have come as a "shock" to those who follow the intricacies of the nuclear deal.

Why US want a nuke deal with India?

Why US want a nuke deal with India?

The reasons as to why US wants a nuke deal with India are

1. Stop India from testing further nuclear weapons perpetually.
2. Curtail the progress on India’s Fast Breeder Reactor program or Thorium based fuel cycle.
3. Allow the Tritium reserves to exhaust (half life period is very less) so that India will lack the raw materials for making Hydrogen bombs in the future.
4. Dramatically reduce the Plutonium nukes in India by making India part of FMCT.
5. Get extra advantage with India’s support for maintaining US global order.
6. Get India sucked into Uranium market customer perpetually.

CO-OPERATE WITH US, BUT CAUTIOUSLY

CO-OPERATE WITH US, BUT CAUTIOUSLY


by B. Raman

Ironically, the first anniversary of what some consider as the historic Indo-US deal for civilian nuclear co-operation (July 18) has coincided with the unearthing by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) of a worrisome case of suspected penetration of our National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) through the Indo-US Cyber Security Forum set up in 2002.

2. One understands that the idea of the Forum came from Mr. Richard Armitage, the then Deputy Secretary of State, who had spent some years of his colourful career in the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA ) and in the CIA. He was a blue-eyed boy of the late Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, who had decorated him for his contribution, as an intelligence officer, to the cause of US-Pakistan friendship.

3. The Govt. of India, which was looking for US assistance for strengthening its capability for ensuring the security of our computer networks, reportedly accepted his offer of assistance through the Forum with alacrity. Selected representatives of India's Information Technology (IT) industry were also associated with the Forum, which met periodically in Washington DC and New Delhi. It also organised seminars and conferences on cyber security for the benefit of Indian experts---governmental and non-governmental. If media reports are to be believed, this Forum was misused by the CIA to penetrate the NSCS, which was reportedly co-ordinating the work of the Forum.

4. In the history of co-operation among nations in sensitive fields, penetration is an occupational hazard. The dangers of penetration can be reduced through appropriate security measures, but cannot be totally eliminated. The dangers of penetration are considerably higher while dealing with the US than while dealing with other countries because of its material, human and technical resources and its ruthlessness in pursuing its national interests. .

5. Since India became independent in 1947, the CIA has penetrated many sensitive departments of the Govt. of India, including the intelligence agencies, but there were two departments which, to my knowledge, the CIA could never penetrate through a human source---- namely, our Atomic Energy Commission and the Space Research Organisation. A perusal of declassified US State Department documents of the 1980s would show that while the USA's National Security Agency (NSA), which is responsible for technical intelligence, had apparently been monitoring the telephone communications of our Atomic Energy Commission, they had never succeeded in planting a human mole. That is why they were totally taken by surprise by our nuclear tests of 1998. They did not have any inkling of the preparations being made by our scientists for the tests.

6. The reason for the difficulties faced by the CIA in penetrating our nuclear and space establishments is simple. Right from the moment these organisations were established, their heads and all other scientists serving under them had nursed a healthy skepticism of the US and developed a clear understanding of the need to be perpetually on guard while dealing with the US. They were convinced that whatever the US might say, it was not a genuine well-wisher of India's nuclear and space programmes and that it would use every means at its disposal to undermine our programmes, if we were not cautious. Their conviction in this regard was strengthened following our bitter experience over the way the US wriggled out of its solemn contractual commitments relating to the Tarapore nuclear power station.
7. If our nuclear and space programmes have progressed despite all the difficulties sought to be created by the US in the past and if we have successfully thwarted the efforts of the CIA to penetrate our nuclear and space establishments, the credit for this should largely go to our dedicated and highly-motivated nuclear and space scientists. The nation owes a deep debt of gratitude to them.

8. It was not surprising that many retired scientists expressed reservations over the way the Indo-US nuclear deal was sought to be implemented and drew attention to the dangers involved. While serving scientists could not naturally express openly any misgivings they might have had on this subject , one should not be surprised if they shared the reservations of those retired.

9. Instead of respecting and understanding their reservations and paying heed to them, an attempt was made by some New Delhi-based analysts to ridicule them and treat their concerns with derision, if not contempt. An analyst, an alumni of the US Institute of Peace, who is an unabashed votary of close Indo-US co-operation, even described those expressing reservations as fast-breeding reactionaries.

10. I have myself been a strong advocate of Indo-US co-operation in certain fields such as counter-terrorism. At the same time, I have been pointing out the dangers involved in too close an embrace of the US. I have been pointing out repeatedly how the US has been trying to protect Pakistan from the consequences of its sponsorship of terrorism against India. I have been pointing out the skilful manner in which it has tried to divert the focus of our Navy away from the West from which all our energy supplies come in order to address Pakistani anxieties over the presence of our Navy in the waters to the West of us and instead keep it focussed to the East of us from where not a drop of our energy supplies come. Pakistan is not concerned over the presence of our Navy in the waters to the East of us. Look at the articles coming out of our maritime security experts. Most, if not all, of them reflect the US line that our focus should be on the Malacca Strait. There is hardly any reference to the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. There are many other issues where US motives are suspect.

11. Whenever I express my reservations about the disturbing, uncritical fascination for the US, which we have been seeing in this country since 2000 and more particularly since the visit of Ms. Condolleezza Rice, US Secretary of State, to India in March last year, I have myself been the target of derisive remarks by many of these votaries of a headlong rush into the arms of the US---- " a cold warrior unable to come out of the cold war", " still living in the 1950s", " a retired police officer who cannot understand strategic issues; he should restrict his writings to police matters". These are some of the epithets which have been used against me for advising caution while developing our relations with the US.

12. The orchestrated campaign against those advising caution should be a matter of concern. It is hoped that the case relating to the NSCS would temper our fascination for the US with a dose of healthy caution.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd.), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: itschen36@gmail.com)

Secularism Combat : July Edition ,2006

Inside

- Christian Evangelism In Tirumala Tirupati
- The Conspiracy of Selective Silence
- Excerpts from the Petition for Formation of United Hindu Dharma Samsthan
- ‘Christians Under Siege’: A Missionary Ploy
- Rewarding Conversions
- Exclusive Glorification of Nehru


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July 05, 2006

The perils of cooperating with the US

-- B.Raman

'In recent years, the increase in acts of terrorism and the understandable emphasis on the need for strengthening international intelligence co-operation have led to a dilution of the effectiveness of the counter-penetration measures laid down in the past.
'As a result, innumerable contact points are believed to have emerged, with no centralised system of control, supervision and record-keeping and with even many who are not professional intelligence officers and who have not had the benefit of counter-intelligence and counter-penetration training jumping into the game of intelligence co-operation.

'Nothing would gladden the hearts of the trained penetration experts of foreign intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA, more than the perceived loosening of control. Unless this dangerous trend is checked and reversed, we might find one day that the sensitive establishments of this country have been badly penetrated under the guise of intelligence cooperation.'

--Extract from my July 18, 2002 article: The dangers of intelligence cooperation.

'Future cooperation is likely to have its share of problems, as evidened last year by the discovery by Indian counter-intelligence officials that the CIA had penetrated RAW by allegedly recruiting one of its middle-level officers, Rabinder Singh, as an agent. Prior to his arrest, the CIA allegedly helped him escape from India via Kathmandu and flee to the United States by issuing him an American passport under a different name.

'This was a gross violation of the unwritten code of conduct governing liaison relations between co-operating intelligence agencies, which lays down that the officers posted in the host capital for liaison purposes would not misuse their presence in the host capital for penetrating the intelligence agencies, which are cooperating with their US counterparts. Such problems are an occupational hazard when dealing with a country such as the United States which does not hesitate to break the rules of the game when it is considered necessary in US national interests.'

From my talk at a conference on Indo-US Strategic Cooperation organised by Indiana University, Bloomington, USA, in April 2005.

One more instance of the US blatantly breaking the rules of the game in India has been reported by the Indian media in recent days.

This relates to the alleged recruitment of a systems analyst of India's National Security Council Secretariat -- NSCS -- by a woman, suspected to be from the Central Intelligence Agency. He has reportedly been arrested and is under interrogation.

It has been reported that he was siphoning off sensitive intelligence relating to vital aspects of India's national security from the computer network of the NSCS through a pen drive and passing it on to his woman handling officer. It has also been reported that copies of many NSCS documents were found in his house.

According to the media, he came into contact with this woman during a meeting of the US-India Cyber Security Forum and was probably recruited then. The Forum was established by the Vajpayee government in 2002 and has been meeting alternately in Washington, DC and New Delhi.

Whereas the Indo-US Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism consists exclusively of government experts in various aspects of counter-terrorism with no involvement of non-governmental experts, the Cyber Security Forum brings together both government and industry representatives from each country to identify areas for collaboration such as combating cyber-crime, cyber security research and development, information assurance and defence cooperation, standards and software assurance and cyber incident management and response.

According to a statement issued after its second meeting in Washington, DC in November 2004, the head of the Indian delegation, National Security Council Secretariat Joint Secretary Arvind Gupta, stated that 'securing cyber space will remain one of the biggest challenges facing the international community for years to come and this Cyber Security Forum has emerged as an important bilateral mechanism to address such issues.'

The US has apparently misused a forum which was set up ostensibly to help India strengthen its cyber space, to weaken it, penetrate it by recruiting a mole at a forum meeting and siphon off information from the network of our NSCS.

In countries having the NSC system such as the US, Russia, Israel etc, the NSC Secretariat is considered the sanctum sanctorum of the national security management architecture.

It is subjected to the highest level of internal security because it is there that the most sensitive of sensitive reports prepared for the head of Government are stored and it is there that details of decisions by the head of government regarding national security, war and peace are kept and the follow-up action on them is monitored.

If a foreign intelligence can penetrate the NSCS of any country, it will have access to a vast amount of sensitive intelligence relating to different agencies of the intelligence community and different sensitive departments of the Government.

It is because of this very high level of internal security in the NSC Secretariats of other countries that to my knowledge there have been very few instances of the penetration of the NSC Secretariat of any country by a foreign agency through a mole.

In the history of intelligence and counter-intelligence, there have been innumerable instances of the penetration of intelligence agencies, the armed forces headquarters, sensitive departments of governments and even the personal offices of the heads of government, but not many instances of penetration of the NSC Secretariats.

The suspected penetration of our NSC Secretariat by the CIA through a mole, if established to be correct, should, therefore, be a matter of serious concern to our national security managers.

The reported penetration has two aspects -- positive and negative. The positive aspect is that the Intelligence Bureau (IB), which is responsible for counter-intelligence, managed to detect it within a few months of the penetration taking place.

It is just not possible to detect a penetration the moment it takes place. The IB and its director, who, it is said, is an expert in counter-intelligence, need to be complimented for the quick detection. It speaks highly of their alertness and professionalism.

The negative aspect is the apparent weak internal security in the NSCS nearly eight years after it was set up by the Vajpayee government in pursuance of a recommendation made by a Task Force on National Security Management, set up in 1998 under the chairmanship of K C Pant.

Counter-intelligence has two components -- prevention of penetration and detection and investigation. While the IB is responsible for detection and investigation, each department is responsible for its internal security. Of course, the IB helps the various departments in their internal security tasks, but the ultimate responsibility for prevention is theirs.

Internal security has many aspects -- security of the premises, security vetting of the staff at the time of their recruitment and from time to time subsequently (in-service vetting), document security, network security and monitoring of the external contacts of the staff, especially with foreigners. If all these aspects are not handled with equal effectiveness, penetration is likely.

The IB's investigation will focus on the weaknesses in the internal security of the NSCS, which were exploited by the alleged CIA officer for penetration, the damage done by the systems analyst and the identification of anyone else, who might have formed part of a spy network.

When a foreign agency succeeds in recruiting a systems analyst as a human mole, the danger is not only that he or she would have been used for siphoning off information from the computer network, but also that the foreign agency might have succeeded in planting, through him or her, a microchip mole in the network, which would reduce the future dependence on the human mole.

We have the capability for detecting human moles, but do we have the capability for detecting microchip moles?

If the systems analyst had succeeded in planting a microchip mole in the NSCS network, it would keep automatically transferring all files from the NSCS network to the CIA headquarters, without the knowledge of the NSCS Secretariat.

Indo-US strategic co-operation in various fields -- intelligence, military-to-military, nuclear, space, economic -- is the flavour of the decade. It acquired its present flavour under the previous government and it has become stronger and stronger under the present government.

In our fascination for co-operation with the US, we should not let our guard down and forget the fact that the US has never had any qualms about the penetration of the governments and intelligence, national security, military, nuclear and space establishments of even the closest of its close allies.

Indira Gandhi understood our vulnerabilities while dealing with the US.

She had set up firewalls to protect ourselves from the possible negative consequences of close relations with the US. These firewalls continued to be in place after her. The US and the UK tried again and again when P V Narasimha Rao was the prime minister to have these firewalls removed, but he spurned their pressure.

Their erosion started under the previous government and seems to have continued under the present government.

The case of the systems analyst is a wake-up call to examine the risks of close strategic cooperation with the US and protect ourselves against such risks.

Are we heading towards a Christian India ?

Fran├žois Gautier

I am a westerner and a born Christian. I was mainly brought up in catholic schools, my uncle, Father Guy Gautier, a gem of a man, was the parish head of the beautiful Saint Jean de Montmartre church in Paris ; my father, Jacques Gautier, a famous artist in France, and a truly good person if there ever was one, was a fervent catholic all his life, went to church nearly every day and lived by his Christian values. There are certain concepts in Christianity I am proud of : charity for others, the equality of system in many western countries, Christ’s message of love and compassion….
Yet, I am a little uneasy when I see how much Christianity is taking over India under the reign of Sonia Gandhi : according to a 2001 census, there are about 2.34 million Christians in India ; not even 2,5% of the nation, a negligible amount. Yet there are today five Christian chief ministers in Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.
One should add that the majority of politicians in Sonia Gandhi’s closed circle are either Christians or Muslims. She seems to have no confidence in Hindus.Ambika Soni, a Christian, is General Secretary of the Congress and a very powerful person, with close access to Sonia Gandhi. Oscar Fernandes is Union Programme Implementation Minister. Margaret Alwa is the eminence grise of Maharasthra. Karnataka is virtually controlled by AK Anthony, whose secretaries are all from the Southern Christian association. Valson Thampu, a Hindu hater, is Chairman NCERT curriculum Review Committee, John Dayal, another known Hindu baiter, has been named by Sonia Gandhi in the National Integration Council ; and Kancha Ilaya, who hates Hindus, is being allowed by the Indian Government to lobby with the UN and US Congress so that caste discrimination in India is taken-up by these bodies.
I have nothing personnally against Sonia Gandhi, in fact she probably is a good person to win the alliegance of so many and certainly a loving mother . I share with her a love for India, like her I have lived in this country for over 30 years and like her I have married an Indian. But nevertheless, since she is at the top, Christian conversions in India seem to have gone in overdrive. More than 4,000 foreign Christian missionaries are involved in conversion activities across different states. In Tripura, there were no Christians at independence, there are 120.000 today, a 90% increase since 1991. The figures are even more striking in Arunachal Pradesh, where there were only 1710 Christians in 1961, but 1,2 million today, as well as 780 churches! In Andhra Pradesh, churches are coming-up every day in far flung villages and there was even an attempt to set-up one near Tirupati. Many of the North-East separatist movements, such as the Mizo or the Bodos, are not only Christian dominated, but also sometimes function with the covert backing of the missionaries. In Kerala, particularly in the poor coastal districts, you find “miracle boxes” put in local churches: the gullible villager writes out a paper mentionning his wish: a fising boat, a loan for a pukka house, fees for the son’s schooling… And lo, a few weeks later, the miracle happens ! And of course the whole family converts, making others in the village follow suit. During the Tsunami, entire dalit villages in Tamil Nadu were converted to Christianity with the lure of money.
It is true that there have been a few backlashes against missionnaries and nuns, particularly the gruesome muder of Staines and his two sons. But Belgium historian Konenraad Elst laments that « When over a thousand Hindus are killed and a quarter million Hindus ethnically cleansed in Kashmir, the world media doesn't even notice, but watch the worldwide hue and cry when a few local riots take place and a few missionaries are killed by unidentified tribal miscreants. Christian Naga terrorists have been killing non-Christians for decades on end, and this has never been an issue with the world media, except to bewail the "oppression" of the Nagas by "Hindu India" ». More than 20,000 people have lost their lives to insurgency in Assam and Manipur in the past two decades. As recently as last week, four paramilitary Assam Rifles soldiers were killed in an ambush yesterday by the outlawed United National Liberation Front (UNLF).
The other day I was at the Madras Medical center, the foremost heart hospital in Madras. Right when you enter the lobby, you find a chapel, inviting everybody to pray, there are pictures and quotations of Christ everywhere and a priest visits all the patients, without being invited at all. Educational institutes and orphanages run by Christian organisations have become big business in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and other states. In Pondichery, where I am often, schools run by Adventists force their pupils, mostly Hindus, to say Christian prayers every day and attend mass. They are constantly fed anti Hindu slogans and biases under different forms, whether it is in history books, or discourses by priests during religious classes. Even in the elite schools or colleges, such as Saint Stephen in Delhi, Saint Xavier in Calcutta or Loyola college in Madras, where no direct proletization is attempted, Hindu pupils are subtly encouraged towards skepticism of their own religion, and admiration of whatever is Western. One should also say that it’s a one way traffic : remember the furor when MM Joshi wanted the Saraswati hymn to be sung at a Chief Ministers’ meet on education ? And imagine the uproar in secular India if portions of the Bhagavad Gita, this Bible for all humanity, were read at the beginning of the day in public schools ?
Sonia Gandhi said during the last National Integration Council meeting : « We are committed to ideological battle against communal forces which seek to destroy our diversity and polarise us. Certain parties promote polarisation and confrontation. And there are certain regimes in India which promote communalism ». But is not actually the Congress under Mrs Gandhi, which is promoting communalism, by insidiously installing Christians and Muslims (and Marxists) everywhere, propping up Christian states, allowing a free hand too missionnaries and pressing for reservations for Christian Dalits and Muslims, as recently done in AP, in a nation of 850 million Hindus ?
In my country, France, a Christian majority nation , it would be unthinkable to have Hindus – or even Indian born French for that matter – in so many positions of power. Impossible also to find a non-elected, non French, non-Christian person being the absolute ruler of the country behind the scene as Sonia Gandhi is in India. Indians like to say that the greatness of India is that it accepts a foreigner and a Christian like Sonia Gandhi. But is’nt it rather a weakness, and an aberration ? Can’t we find a worthy leader amongst one billion Indians ? This is an India where you see today Swami Avimukteshwarananda Saraswati of Dwarka Peeth, made to disembark from an Indian Airlines flight for carrying his holy dand, a thin bamboo stick which is a symbol of their spiritual designation, inside the aircraft cabin.

Are we heading then towards a Christian India under Sonia Gandhi’s helm? It would be a tremendous loss not only to India, but also to the world. For in India, you find the only living spirituality left on this planet.
Fran├žois Gautier

Half-baked reforms at RAW

Facing an exodus of key personnel and
increasingly vulnerable to penetration,
India's external intelligence service
is beset by crisis.

By Praveen Swami
Opinion
The Hindu
Wednesday, July 5, 2006

"All wish to be learned," wrote the Roman satiric poet
Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis, "but few are willing to pay
the price." Those who depend on India's covert
services to help them negotiate an increasingly
dangerous world ought to be considering the dictum
with care.

Last week, the Delhi Police arrested S.S. Paul, a
computer systems operator at the National Security
Council Secretariat, on charges of espionage.
Intelligence Bureau counter-intelligence personnel
believe Paul was passing on NSC documents to Rosanna
Minchew, a Central Intelligence Agency operative who
operated under cover at the United States of America's
embassy in New Delhi.

Just how serious the damage is remains unclear -- NSC
assessments provide an overview of India's strategic
options and intentions rather than specific
operational details -- but the case has highlighted
the growing vulnerabilities of India's covert services
to the subversion of their agents. Counter-terrorism
and strategic intelligence cooperation has increased
since 2001 -- and with it, the prospect of
penetration.

Paul is thought to have been introduced to Ms. Minchew
by Mukesh Saini, a former naval officer who recently
left the NSC to join the private sector. Mr. Saini was
involved in the Indo-U.S. Cyber Security Forum, a body
set up in 2002 that includes representatives of RAW,
the IB, the Central Bureau of Investigation and the
Department of Revenue Intelligence. Ms. Minchew was
able to leverage the introduction to good effect.

Lessons unlearned

If nothing else, the espionage scandal demonstrates
the absence of serious thought on the 2004 defection
of Rabinder Singh, a senior RAW officer who turned out
to have been a CIA mole. Singh, who among other tasks
handled operations against Khalistan terrorists based
outside of India, is thought to have been recruited in
the course of legitimate counter-terrorism liaison
with the CIA -- a mirror image of the Paul case.

Singh's activities were first detected by a
middle-rank officer in RAW's operations wing itself. S
Chandrashekhar -- one of several key personnel who has
now left the organisation to join the private sector
amidst concerns about poor service conditions -- drew
the attention of counter-intelligence chief Amar
Bhushan to the fact that Singh had been asking for
information outside of his professional areas of
concern.

Singh was fed genuine but dated cipher traffic
generated by the U.S. mission in Islamabad which RAW
signals intelligence personnel had intercepted -- and
confirmed the suspicions about his conduct by promptly
seeking more.

At this point, RAW made a series of errors. Searches
were carried out at RAW's offices in New Delhi,
alerting Singh to the existence of a hunt for a
traitor. Intelligence Bureau counter-intelligence
experts were not informed of the case, even though RAW
lacked the capabilities to monitor Singh's multiple
phone and Internet accounts. Finally, physical
surveillance against Singh was minimal, allowing him
to escape through Nepal to the U.S.

None of these decisions has ever been explained,
fuelling suspicions that the real reason for RAW's
opaque handling of the case were political. Before
Singh was allowed to escape, RAW had after all
succeeded in identifying the traitor in its ranks and
built up evidence against him. But on election eve,
the National Democratic Alliance simply could not
afford a scandal that would call its warm relationship
with the U.S. into question.

For RAW, the latest demonstration of the
vulnerabilities of India's covert services couldn't
have come at a worse time. Even though Paul was
employed by the NSC, RAW's computer services director,
Ujjwal Dasgupta, is being investigated for failures of
supervision. Dasgupta's less-than-energetic watch on
his subordinate, sources say -- evidence of what is
being described as the worst-ever crisis of morale in
the organisation.

Frustrated by poor service conditions and promotion
prospects, at least five top officers have resigned
from RAW since 2003 to pursue opportunities in the
private sector, an unprecedented haemorrhage of cadre.
Apart from Mr. Chandrashekhar, Ashok Vajpayee, Jyoti
K. Sinha, S. Chandrashekhar, Sandeep Joshi, and Vijay
Tewatia are among the officers who had occupied
sensitive operational positions but have chosen to
leave.

Moreover, RAW is also facing problems retaining new
recruits. Of the six officers recruited by the covert
organisation from the civil services in 2002, informed
sources said, four have already chosen to return to
their parent organisations. Given that RAW's strength
of first-class officers only just exceeds a hundred,
the exodus marks a significant loss of badly-needed
specialists.

Paradoxically, the exodus from RAW is in large part
the consequence of efforts to reform the organisation.
A core group of bureaucrats will meet later this month
to consider allowing more Indian Police Service
officers to serve on indefinite deputation to RAW,
reflecting National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan's
belief that its in-house cadre lacks the enterprise
and determination to face emerging challenges.

Experts, however, believe the proposed changes evade
the real issue. RAW is exceptional amongst major
covert services in maintaining no permanent
distinction between covert operatives who execute
secret tasks, and personnel who must liaise with
services such as the CIA or public bodies, such as
analysts and area specialists. As a result, personnel
with sensitive operational information are exposed to
potentially compromising contacts.

Underpinning this curious state of affairs is the lure
of the big prize for those who work at RAW: overseas
assignments. Postings in major western capitals and
training opportunities in the U.S. or Europe are seen
as payoffs, not jobs. Senior officers without language
or area skills often hold sensitive western postings.
Typically, RAW sent senior officers abroad for
hostage-negotiation training in 2000 -- all of whom
retired soon afterwards.

Will bringing in more IPS officers help make RAW less
vulnerable to penetration? If history is a guide, no.
Several of those involved in past controversies
involving RAW were individuals who came to the service
from the IPS, including Samsher Singh, K.V.
Unnikrishnan, and Suchit Das. Others, like Singh
himself, had military backgrounds. No espionage
allegations, notably, have ever been drawn by RAW's
own direct recruits.

Organisational architecture

Organisational architecture, not individual
background, is clearly the real issue. From RAW's
inception in September 1968, it drew personnel with a
wide spectrum of specialist skills, including
scientists, civil servants, policemen and soldiers --
a significant break with the IPS-led Intelligence
Bureau, which evolved out of William Sleeman's East
India Company-era Thugee and Dacoity Department.

RAW's first chief, R.N. Kao, emphasised the need for
his service to have its own cadre so the special
professional skills it needed could be developed. Part
of that legacy still survives. Unlike staff taken on
deputation, directly-recruited RAW personnel must
learn a foreign language, spend time with armed forces
on India's frontiers and acquire what spies call
"tradecraft" — special espionage-related skills.

However, credible allegations of nepotism led the
Janata Party to terminate RAW recruitment in 1977. In
1986, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi reconstituted the
organisation, and all those on deputation were offered
the option of joining its own cadre or leaving. But
allegations of nepotism again surfaced and, under
Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, the Union Public
Service Commission was discreetly involved in the
recruitment process.

Over time, though, the IPS again came to exercise
significant influence with the organisation. Growing
numbers of IPS officers remained in RAW without
joining its cadre even after the expiry of their
eight-year deputation.

In some cases, there were good reasons for bending the
rules. For example, one of RAW's stellar operatives in
east Asia could only receive a well-earned promotion
once deputation rules were bent.

Sadly, though, influence-peddling also often played a
role in IPS deputations to RAW, and its in-house cadre
personnel were left feeling that their career
interests were being ignored.

While IPS leadership of the Intelligence Bureau has
served that organisation well, RAW insiders argue that
their organisation needs both diverse skills-sets and
staff willing to commit themselves to a lifetime in
the covert services.

Action is needed to address these grievances -- and to
bring about the kinds of institutional reforms India's
covert services desperately need. As early as 2002,
former RAW officer B. Raman had asserted that "we
might find one day that the sensitive establishments
of this country have been badly penetrated under the
guise of intelligence cooperation" -- a warning that
India can no longer afford to ignore.

Intelligence Bureau director E.S.L. Narasimhan and his
counter-intelligence staff deserve applause for
terminating the penetration of the NSC just months
after it began. Without serious reform, though, the
next scandal is most likely just months away.

http://www.hindu.com/2006/07/05/
stories/2006070505341100.htm

Intelligence Brief: Russia's Moves in Syria

In early June, the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported Moscow's decision to establish naval bases in the Syrian ports of Tartus and Latakia. The Russian Defense Ministry officially denied the report, even though more than one source confirmed it.

As part of the plan, the port of Tartus would be transformed into a naval base for Russia's Black Sea Fleet when it is away from the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol. The Russian plan involves the installation of an air defense system with S-300PMU-2 Favorit ballistic missiles. The missiles have a range of 200 kilometers (124 miles), allow a larger warhead and are equipped with a better guidance system than the previous version. The air defense system would be operated by Russia for the defense of the Tartus base and would provide potential protection for a large part of Syria. Through these initiatives, it is clear that Russia wants to strengthen its position in the Middle East.

Russia is searching for a new role in the diplomatic balance in the Middle East and a decision to move into Syria is a step on the path toward increasing its influence in the region. Syria seems to be the best target for this approach because of Damascus' heightened weakness as a result of its international isolation that was reinforced after the U.S. intervention in Iraq and Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is searching for allies to move the country out of isolation. This increases its incentive to turn to Moscow, even if this relationship will not be as strong as it was during the Cold War era. For Russia, its increasing ties with Syria provide Moscow with added leverage in the region. [See: "Russia's Future Foreign Policy: Pragmatism in Motion"]

During the first five years of Putin's presidency, Moscow and Damascus did not share close relations; since the beginning of 2005, however, that situation changed. In the last two years, Russia has built a closer relationship with Syria. The country is an important cash-buyer of Russian arms and an interesting partner for Russia's energy industries. Moreover, Putin is searching for a stronger role in the Israeli-Arab peace process; Russia's February 2006 meeting with Hamas is a clear example of this policy. Through that meeting, Russia tried to seize the initiative from the United States and the European Union, with the latter two's decision-making about the future of the peace process paralyzed by Hamas' election victory. [See: "Intelligence Brief: Recognizing Hamas, Iran Welcomes Shi'a Control in Iraq"]

The increase of Syrian strategic dependence on Russia will strengthen Moscow's political role in the region, even if Russian arms sales to Syria risk damaging the good relations built with Israel in recent years. Of course, stronger Russian influence in Syria could be used by Putin in a dual way. For example, if Russia needs to improve relations with Israel and the United States, it could possibly compel Syria to take a softer approach toward these countries. On the flip side, if Russia needs to increase pressure on these countries, it can use Syria as its arm for this purpose.

When connecting these latest initiatives in Syria to Russia's good ties with Iran, it is clear that Moscow is planning on playing a stronger role in the political and diplomatic dynamics of the Middle East.

Another reason why Moscow wishes to preserve the Bashar government's stability is to guarantee Russian economic contracts in the country. For example, in December 2005 Russia and Syria signed an important agreement worth US$370 million in the gas sector. This agreement presupposes the construction of a section of pipeline that ends in the Syrian city of Ar Rayyan, and of a gas processing plan next to Palmyra, built by Stroitransgaz -- Russia's most important engineering company in the oil and gas industry. The gas industry is one of the economic sectors in which the relationship between the two countries is growing. Commercial ties are also increasingly strong in the military and oil sectors.

Moreover, from Russia's point of view, Bashar's good relationship with pro-Russian Chechen groups is an important guarantee for Russian homeland security. A Sunni fundamentalist regime in Damascus is seen as a threat for Moscow because it will probably give financial and logistical support to terrorist groups operating in the Chechen conflict. The need for a stable, Bashar-led regime is also shared by Israel and the United States because the Syrian regime could be replaced by one that is more radical and more of a threat to U.S. and Israeli interests.

Moscow is in search of a new role in the Middle East. Russia is trying to moderate U.S. dominance of the international system, and the Middle East is a focal point of this strategy. Putin knows that modern-day Russia does not have the same assets as the former Soviet Union to influence the diplomatic dynamics of the Middle East, but he wishes to use every window of opportunity to increase Russian power. Decisions such as helping Syria, having a more decisive role in the Israeli-Arab peace process and playing a primary role in the Iranian nuclear affair are steps on the path to strengthen Russia's position in the Middle East and to increase Moscow's power to better serve its national interests.



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

Economic deprivation of Balochistan

Sheikh Asad Rahman


We have so far in this series discussed the political background of the ‘Balochistan problem’ and touched upon the province’s economic deprivation as well. This economic deprivation needs to be examined in more detail for all our readers to understand the real issues and problems faced by the people of Balochistan.

There are a handful of rivers that carry very small amounts of water year round. This is not enough to use for irrigation as most of these river courses are through difficult mountainous terrain and the beds are lower than the small pieces of land that could be used for agricultural production. The main rivers are the Bolan, Mullah, Nari Gaj, Chakar, Lahri and Beji, with a few other streams of no real consequence. By the time these waters reach the larger valleys or plains the water has disappeared into the ground.

The scanty rain and snowfall, averaging 6-7 inches due to the desertification of the whole of Balochistan, is nowhere sufficient to ensure cultivation without artificial assistance. The husbandman’s return, therefore, is only assured where his cultivation is dependent on the karez, or underground water channel, on springs, or on small weirs diverting the water of streams and rivers. The areas under cultivation are therefore divided into abi, lands that are permanently irrigated, and khushkaba, or ‘dry’ crop lands which include also land subject to floods. There are over 4 million hectares of fertile lands available for agricultural development and production, but for a lack of irrigation water, they are lying waste.

The crops sown extensively are wheat, maize, jowar (sorghum), watermelons, dates, rice in the Kachhi and Makran area, and many varieties of fruits. Fruits form the major export crop of Balochistan and its Kala Kohlu apples are sought after in all Pakistani markets. Grapes, cherries, apricots, dry fruits, pears are some of its well-known fruits available for the domestic and export markets. A small fruit-tinning factory exists in Quetta. Vegetables are only grown on permanently irrigated lands. In 1999, 6,000 tons of onions rotted in farmers’ stores because there were no transport facilities to domestic markets of the country where there was a shortage of onions and the government imported onions from India.

In Makran the fishing industry has developed well, but because of the inaccessibility of Gwadar and Pasni by land, the catch is shipped to Karachi via the new coastal highway built recently, while the villagers keep only local consumption requirements. This is now going to suffer badly as the fishermen’s village has been moved 40 kilometers inland so as to make way for some facilities of the Gwadar port.

The biggest economic activity in the province is mining. Gas in very large quantities has been found at Sui (1952), Loti, Pir Koh, Dohdak, Zin, mostly in the Bugti area. It is supplied to all of Pakistan but Balochistan got gas in Quetta and a few other towns after 1985. The potential for further discoveries in the Marri, Khetran, Khan Mekhtar, Duki, Sibi, Zarghun areas and other parts of Balochistan is enormous but the central governments have not been able to exploit these areas because of the opposition of vested interests. The local people have been denied any benefits, which should have accrued to them from such exploitation of gas. That is the reason they support their leaders’ stance on development. We have already mentioned the problem of Sui vis-a-vis the Bugtis in connection with benefits to the local people.

The royalty and taxes for gas have only been agreed to and paid to the provincial government recently and that too partially. This however does not get spent in developing the area where the gas is extracted from but is consumed by the provincial government for its running costs. The land rentals for the installations and pipelines crossing tribal lands are still based on the 1954 negotiated rates with minor escalations over the last 50 years. The problem that the federal government has with Nawab Akbar Bughti is on these rates, where the Nawab is asking for a revision of the land rental rates and wellhead price to be brought to the same level as that of gas fields in Sindh, while the federal government insists on the old rates.

The next biggest mining activity is coal. Good quality coal for steam production, though very friable, is found and mined in the Central Brahui range, in the Sor range near Quetta, Marri-Bugti areas, Mach, Duki, and Loralai. The seams are from four inches to six feet thick and may extend up to a kilometer or more. All the coal produced was consumed in Quetta for WAPDA’s power plant, which has been scrapped now. This mining is worked on primitive methods and no modern systems have been introduced for its more profitable exploitation, nor is labour safety ensured. The coalmines are all privately leased, mostly by the Sardars. This industry does employ a large number of unskilled labourers (estimated 10,000-15,000). The potential for using coal-based power generation is enormous in Balochistan, provided the government formulates a proper policy for its development.

Other minerals that are available in Balochistan are marble, granite, chromite, flouride, bauxite, chrysotile (asbestos), copper, gold, silver, iron ore, lead, alunogen, melanterite, cerussite, sulphur, and iron bisulphide (marcasite). All these have been found and extracted during the British period. These metals and minerals were extracted for some time but now have been abandoned as the railways, on which these minerals were brought from the mines to Quetta, discontinued the narrow gauge railway line laid by the British from Quetta to Duki. Some of the other potential minerals that can be extracted are phosphates, gypsum, limestone, and many others for which no surveys have taken place.

A typical case for study is the Saindak project in the Chagai desert. The feasibility study of the Saindak project was started in 1975. The project, the only metallurgy project in Pakistan, would yield for 80 years an annual production of 144,000 tonnes of copper, gold 1.47 tonnes, and silver 2.76 tonnes. The project would generate annual revenue of $ 55 million. The project would have also resulted in creating 1,288 direct and 11,000 indirect jobs (mostly for the people of Balochistan), opening new avenues of business/industry, developing infrastructure and transferring know-how of metal mining technology in Balochistan. A school, hospital, a township for 500 persons, railway line, 50 MW power plant, drinking water supply and a road from Taftan (Iran) to Saindak, were all completed. Initially the copper was to be refined in China, the partner in the project, but it was suggested that a refinery be built at Saindak, where the entire infrastructure for the setting up of a refinery was in place. This would have made the project even more feasible as it would then produce the following by-products as well: Sulphuric acid, elementary sulphur, and 240,000 tonnes phosphates for fertilizer, pyrite, and Magnetie concentrate.

This project started trial operations in 1995, and produced 1,700 billets of blister copper earning Rs 158 million in two months of trial production. But the Benazir government closed down the project late in 1995, on the plea that the government did not have the funds to continue and that the international copper prices had dropped, making the project unfeasible. The then Finance Minister, V.A. Jaffery, wrote on the demand of Rs. 1.5 billion working capital: ‘A bottomless pit’. The government of Nawaz Sharif did not restart this project either.

The government should have considered the benefits of this project, which would have given the country gold and silver reserves, and even if the international copper market was down, it could supply all the requirements of military and domestic industry. The initial capital cost had already been made and now not to run it would mean the waste of the Rs. 16 billion that had been spent on its development. All the work, quarry, infrastructure, power units, colony, railway line had all been done by Baloch labour and engineers. Drinking water is piped from Taftan in Iran.

The project was leased for 10 years in 2000 to a Chinese company on a BOT basis. The distribution of profits is according to a formula that is incomprehensible. The Chinese company takes 75 percent, the federal government 24 percent, and only 1 percent is passed on to the Balochistan government. A very equitable distribution indeed! All the Baloch management, engineers and labour have been replaced with outsiders. All this while the Pakistan government is importing 100,000 tons of copper for the military and wire industry from Australia and the US in foreign exchange worth millions of dollars.

At the time when the project was shut down, the Iranian government made an offer that was too good to refuse but refuse we did! The Iranians have a copper mining operation only 200 kms from Saindak where they had a small smelter but a large capacity refinery. The Saindak smelter is of a larger capacity. The Iranians offered a barter deal whereby they would send their ore for smelting in Saindak and the blister copper from Saindak to be refined in the Iranian refinery involving no financial burdens except for the transportation costs. Why Pakistan refused this offer no one knows except for those in the corridors of power.

The demand for developing the Gwadar port for strategic military and commercial use has been a long-standing one. But the manner in which it is being developed and how the Baloch are being kept out of its development and operations is another deliberate story of woe. The demographic changes that will be taking place and exclusion of the local population are alarming and this is the basic reason for opposition from all Baloch political leaders. It is interesting to note that the motorway being built is not connecting Gwadar to Quetta but to Punjab via Sindh. No railway line is being built to connect the port to Dalbandin or Punjgur and thus to Quetta. This means that commercial goods transport for Central Asia will be via Sindh, Punjab and NWFP, thus giving them enormous tax revenues, again denying Balochistan the full benefits of even the transport of goods.

This deliberate exclusion of the Baloch from development and economic activities and the repeated military operations in Balochistan smell of a forced migration policy of the indigenous population and to some extent genocidal so that large populations of Pashtuns, Sindhis and Punjabis can be settled in Balochistan, who would promote the discriminatory and exploitative policies of the ruling elite rather than oppose them.

The writer is a freelance columnist