August 11, 2007

US worried over loose nukes in Pakistan

12 Aug 2007, 0221 hrs IST,Chidanand Rajghatta ,TNN

WASHINGTON: The United States is having anxiety attacks over the prospect of loose nukes in strife-torn Pakistan, even as India seems unperturbed by it.

An ongoing security review of the evolving situation in Pakistan by the US reveals that Washington has full knowledge about the location of Pakistan's nuclear weapons, but it is not certain who might start controlling them if there is a shift in power.

In an intriguing story, CNN reported on Friday that beleaguered military ruler Pervez Musharraf "controls the loyalty of the commanders and senior officials in charge of the nuclear program, but those loyalties could shift at any point."

Musharraf's control over the military remains limited to certain top commanders and units, raising worries about whether he can maintain control over the long term, CNN said, citing intelligence analysis that is part of a broader security review of Pakistan, undertaken amid the turbulent events in the maverick nuclear armed country.

The deep US concern is in sharp contrast to the almost karmic indifference to the prospect of loose Pak nukes in India, where there has been little or no debate about the matter.

India may have more to worry about than US in the event of Pakistan's nuclear weapons falling into wrong hands. Washington and New York are beyond the direct range of Pakistani nukes; almost every Indian city is within their reach.

Yet, it is US analysts who are sweating bricks. Some experts have already begun analyzing the fall-out of a Pakistani regime collapse in terms of not just 'ready-to-use' nukes, but from the dispersal of key staff, critical technologies, technical data, components, etc. to other maverick groups or nations.

Washington has long sought to get a fix on Pakistan's crown jewels. Lt.Gen Khalid Kidwai, head of the Pakistan's Strategic Plans Division who is in charge of the operational security of the country's nukes, has been a frequent visitor to the US, mostly in an effort to assure Washington of the military's total custodial control of the weapons.

Such guarantees aside, the latest analysis suggests the US is not entirely certain which way the nuclear pins would fall in the event of a regime collapse.

The calculated leak about Washington knowing the location of Pakistani nukes, a claim made for the first time, is double-edged. While it provides some assurance to the world (including India) that the US has a fix on the weapons, it also enables a tetchy Pakistan to take remedial action.

Some previous reports have gone as far as to suggest the US has precise plans, involving its special forces and joint plants with Israeli units, to exfiltrate or neutralize Pakistan's nuclear weapons in the event of a meltdown or a power vacuum. Islamabad itself went hysterical over possible India-Israel joint action to neutralize its nuclear weapons in the immediate aftermath of India's May 1998 nuclear tests, when Pakistan was still preparing for its tests.

But more sober accounts indicate Washington is on the horns of a dilemma about the nuclear armoury of its unstable client state. The prospect of Islamabad losing control of some of its weapons to terrorists was foreseen in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review report, which did not directly mention Pakistan, but stated that at its core, the problem is one of "internal instability."

Experts said at that time while the QDR language seemed vague and euphemistic, it is clear Pentagon planners have a very specific place in mind: Pakistan.

Still, argued analyst Thomas Donnelly in a 2006 National Security Outlook paper, "It would be hard to know in advance whether American intervention in a Pakistani crisis - whether related to nuclear weapons, materials, or facilities -would make things better or make them worse."

One thing seems clear though: Washington's worst nightmare is right around the corner - India's corner.

It is a practical solution that meets all our requirements

— Photo: N. Sridharan
“It is a practical solution that meets all our requirements”

T.S. Subramanian

Anil Kakodkar, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, says the ‘123’ agreement between India and the United States on nuclear cooperation “is a practical way forward. So it is satisfactory.” In an interview toThe Hinduin Mumbai on August 6, he clarified that the agreement provides for a possibility of transfer of reprocessing, enrichment, and heavy water technologies but it would require an amendment. Excerpts:

Anil Kakodkar: “The unilateral voluntary moratorium [on testing] we have, remains as such. There is no conversion of that into a bilateral legality.”

What compelled the Department of Atomic Energy to go in for this ‘123’ agreement with the United States when it is on course with its indigenous three-stage nuclear power programme? Where is the need to import light water reactors (LWRs)?

The fundamental priority remains the development of the three-stage nuclear power programme. Even in the programme of 20,000 MWe of nuclear power by 2020, which provides for PHWRs [pressurised heavy water reactors], a number of FBRs [fast breeder reactors] and an AHWR [advanced heavy water reactors] run on thorium, there was a provision for eight imported LWRs of 1,000 MWe each. The objective is that while we open up the huge energy potential in our thorium resources through the development of our three-stage programme, we also look for additionalities in the near-term through imports.

Similarly, if the civil nuclear cooperation comes about and we are able to import natural uranium, we can also set up more indigenous PHWRs. So this international civil nuclear cooperation is to get additional nuclear power generation capacity in the near term, without in any way affecting our three-stage programme or the strategic programme or our domestic R&D activities.

We should also look at it from the point of view of possibility of exports. For example, our PHWRs are the smallest, commercially competitive systems worldwide. It may be of interest to several developing countries … Once the international civil nuclear cooperation opens up, it should be possible for us to sell our reactors and technology to other countries … who may have an interest in them just as it should be possible for us to buy reactors from other countries... The embargoes are there at present. If the restrictive regime which is operating around us goes away, it is certainly good for a greater share of nuclear power in the total power generation capacity.
What are the areas in the 123 agreement that have satisfied you? What are the areas with which you are disappointed?

I have always viewed the possibility of opening the civil nuclear cooperation as an additionality. These additions will not in any way impinge on our domestic development of the three-stage nuclear power programme, our strategic programme, and our R&D. Secondly, if we set up nuclear power stations which are acquired from outside, then there should be an assurance that there will be no interruption in their operation. With whatever spent fuel that will arise in these power stations, it should be possible to reprocess and recycle [plutonium] so that we can get the benefit of 50 to 60 times more energy. Also, there should be no difficulties in terms of spent fuel management in accordance with our domestic policy of reprocessing and recycling in a closed fuel cycle mode. This agreement provides for all this. These are our requirements and they are met … This agreement is a practical solution, which meets all our requirements. It is a practical way forward. So it is satisfactory.

There are three central issues: India’s right to reprocess the spent fuel into plutonium from the reactors to be imported; uninterrupted fuel supply for these imported reactors; and India’s voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing, which it does not want to convert into a bilateral legality with the U.S. Are you satisfied in all these areas?

I think so. There is an upfront reprocessing consent right. There is an assurance of uninterrupted operation of reactors. In terms of tests, the unilateral voluntary moratorium we have remains as such. There is no conversion of that into a bilateral legality. So I think it is satisfactory.

The U.S. has only given its consent to make a request to it to allow us to reprocess the spent fuel from the imported reactors. The consent may come after a year and a half. How can you say upfront consent has been given?

This needs to be clarified. First, that there is a consent for reprocessing is very explicitly stated in the same Article [6(iii)] in the beginning: “the Parties grant each other consent to reprocess or otherwise alter in form or content nuclear material transferred pursuant to this Agreement.” So this consent right is upfront. There is no ambiguity about it. Now the important point to recognise is that you need to establish arrangements and procedures with regard to safeguards, physical protection, storage and environment, and such other parameters. The agreement spells out the standards for these purposes.

Parties will agree on arrangements and procedures, and consultation for this purpose will start in six months from the date of the request and it will be completed in one year. So it is not one year and a half. It is one year from the date of the request that arrangements and procedures will be in place.

“Arrangements and procedures” seem to be a loaded term. Can the U.S. not impose any number of conditions under that, and delay granting India the reprocessing rights?

No, no. For what does the Agreement talk about “arrangements and procedures”? It says, “These arrangements and procedures shall include provisions with regard to physical protection standards set out in Article 8, storage standards set out in Article 7, and environmental protections set forth in Article 11 of this Agreement, and such other provisions as may be agreed by the Parties. Any special fissionable material that may be separated may only be utilised in national facilities under IAEA safeguards.”

So these arrangements and procedures have been clearly spelt out, and also the standards to be adopted are spelt out. There is no ambiguity about that.
The Agreement says that India should build “a new, national facility dedicated to reprocessing safeguarded nuclear material under IAEA safeguards.” Supposing the U.S. insists that we should show them the design of this reprocessing plant and picks holes in it?

When you sign up safeguard arrangements with the IAEA, certain information has to be defined but it is to the extent of safeguardability. It is not necessary that every information has to be given. Only information about safeguardability has to be given because we must satisfy that safeguards can be satisfactorily put in place. All these with respect to the IAEA. There is no issue on that. We have done that in the past.

Reprocessing is at the heart of India’s three-stage programme. Is there a diabolical game to block India from going ahead with its second and third stages and saddle it with imported reactors?

We should go by what is stated in the Agreement. It clearly states that upfront consent rights [for reprocessing are granted]. There is a clear provision for completing the arrangements and procedures within one year from the date of the request and we can make that request the day the Agreement is in place. Afterwards, you can build the facility, get IAEA safeguards established and carry on with reprocessing. That is an activity between us and the IAEA.

Over and above that, the agreement has a non-hindrance clause, which says that there cannot be any hindrance or interference in India’s unsafeguarded programme or programmes involving military nuclear facilities and so on. So there is an explicit statement in the agreement itself — a legal provision that we can carry on our programme unhindered, according to our policies. Similarly, we can carry on with the reactors which are supplied to us under this agreement. We can reprocess the fuel supplied under this agreement and we can re-use the plutonium, derived after reprocessing the spent fuel, in safeguarded national facilities. So it is quite clear.

The four FBRs that India will build before 2020 will not be under safeguards. After these four, whatever FBRs India builds, it can determine which will come under safeguards and which will not.

Yes. It is for India to decide. Where we are using fuel derived from the spent fuel of imported origin, we will put them under IAEA safeguards.
This agreement seems to be full of verbal jugglery. For instance, in Article 5 (2), it says, “Transfers of dual-use that could be used in enrichment, reprocessing or heavy water production facilities will be subject to the Parties’ respective applicable laws, regulations and licence policies.” So it is clear that the Hyde Act, the U.S. Atomic Energy Act of 1954, its Non-Proliferation Act of 1978 will apply to this agreement, and all these three deny reprocessing, enrichment, and heavy water production technologies to India. Does it mean that India will not get full, civil nuclear cooperation from the agreement although it promises that?

Let us look at it the following way. As I said earlier, we are talking about our ability to derive full benefit out of imported fuel, using our ability to reprocess and recycle the nuclear material and derive 50 to 60 times more energy potential compared to what is possible in once-through use. This is one part. With regard to reprocessing, enrichment, and heavy water technologies, the U.S. has not transferred these technologies to any country so far. So this agreement provides for a possibility of such transfers but that will require an amendment to this agreement. That possibility has been kept open.

With regard to dual-use items for use in heavy water, reprocessing and enrichment facilities, one should remember that these items do not involve sensitive nuclear technology. The agreement says that they can be transferred consistent with the Parties’ respective applicable laws, regulations, and licence policies. That provision has been made.

What do you mean by this?

In the sense, there is a positive forward-looking provision on transfers. It prevents an outlook of targeting these facilities. The point is we are able to carry forward our activities including reprocessing, enrichment and heavy water [production]. We are able to derive full benefits from international civil nuclear cooperation. So it is a satisfactory arrangement… In fact, it talks about full civil nuclear cooperation, reactors, fuel and aspects of associated nuclear fuel cycle. So it is a broad-based Agreement that covers all aspects of nuclear cooperation. Wherever we proceed with this cooperation, there is no possibility of any interruption. At the same time, there is a non-hindrance protection to our domestic activities.

The same Article 5 (2) says, “Sensitive nuclear technology, sensitive nuclear facilities, heavy water production facilities and major critical components of such facilities may be transferred under this Agreement pursuant to an amendment to this Agreement.” Does it mean that it will attract a review by the U.S. Congress?

I think perhaps yes. But that is in future when the two countries decide to cooperate further in transfers in these areas — sensitive nuclear technologies that will require an amendment to this agreement … The important point to recognise is that the agreement does not say that they will not be transferred. They have kept an opening for the future.

So there is full civil nuclear cooperation?

I think so.

There is a cloud of uncertainty even about the uninterrupted fuel supply for the reactors to be imported. Article 5 (6) (b) (i) says, “The United States is willing to incorporate assurances regarding fuel supply in the bilateral U.S.-India Agreement on peaceful uses of nuclear energy under Section 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act, which would be submitted to the U.S. Congress.” Does it mean it requires the Congress’ ratification?

The whole document will go to the U.S. Congress. This entire thing [agreement] is a cut and paste of the March Separation Plan. It is entirely identical. And the U.S. is making a commitment that it will get this done. They will have their arrangements and they will join with other countries and they [other countries] will support building a strategic reserve of fuel [for India] to guard against any interruption. There are these multi-layered assurances including that if there is a disruption of fuel supply, India will have the right to take corrective measures. There is a good amount of protection. The agreement says that it will provide “for corrective measures that India may take to ensure uninterrupted operation of its civilian nuclear reactors in the event of disruption of foreign supplies.” So uninterrupted operation of the reactors is assured in the agreement.

The agreement says, “If the IAEA decides that the application of IAEA safeguards is no longer possible, the supplier and the recipient should consult and agree on appropriate verification measures.” Isn’t this a backdoor entry for the American inspectors to our safeguarded facilities?

No. Not at all. It is very unambiguous. First of all, the agreement talks only about IAEA safeguards. The determination on application of safeguards rests only with the IAEA. Even if it comes to a situation where the IAEA determines that the application of safeguards is not possible, which is almost an impossibility — even if the IAEA were to determine that — what is there in the agreement is that there will be consultation between the supplier and the recipient on verification measures. Verification measures are not the same as safeguards … Verification means you basically verify that the material that is supposed to be there is there. You are assured that there is no diversion.

The Americans can terminate the Agreement before its expiry period of 40 years by giving us notice.

We can also terminate ... The whole agreement is balanced on both the sides.
If the Americans terminate the Agreement before the end of 40 years, will the imported reactors, however, continue to be under safeguards in perpetuity? Isn’t it an imbalance?

Our ability to continuously run the reactors is also ensured. If the agreement is terminated, we can still run the systems using the strategic reserve of fuel. Only no new reactors will come.

Supposing India conducts a nuclear explosion and the U.S. terminates the Agreement and wants to take back the reactor vault, steam generators, coolant channels, etc. Is it possible to take back to the U.S. all these equipment, which will be full of radiation?

It is practically not possible. Even if they do, they have to pay for it. We can use that money to set up other systems.

Will the reactors to be imported be turn-key or will the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) build them after importing the equipment like it is doing with the Russian reactors at Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu now?

That depends on the contract for the reactors.

In sum, do you feel that this Agreement is in consonance with the July 18, 2005, Joint Statement by Dr. Manmohan Singh and the U.S. President George W. Bush and the Separation Plan?

I think so… I already said this is a satisfactory arrangement

India as a maritime power

Cooperation at sea in the country’s interests
by Premvir Das

Without much fuss or fanfare, but showing both determination and consistency, India has moved swiftly in the last few years to establish its position as a major player in the Indian Ocean region. The new proactive strategy first took root with the increasing spectrum and quality of the Malabar series of naval exercises between elements of the Indian and US navies.

Starting with basic activities such as search and rescue, replenishment at sea and the like, Malabar has now reached a level where both sides deploy their frontline ships, including aircraft carriers and submarines, and strive towards higher degrees of interoperability. It is not being suggested that these are on a par with the way in which the US and NATO navies operate and that is not possible given the equipment disparities in the two sides, or even desirable given the different motivations which guide the two relationships. However, the fact that the quantum and quality of the interface is being continuously upgraded shows that there is synergy of interests, both politically and in the maritime domain.

From a bilateral nature, which marked the first few of these exercises, the engagement moved informally to trilateral as ships of third countries “embedded” with the US forces in the Arabian Sea joined in. Thus, ships of the British Navy were the first to come followed by those of the French. The exercises were carried out in the Arabian Sea on the west coast of India. In February this year, another watershed was crossed when, for the first time, a formal trilateral Malabar was scheduled with ships of the Indian, US and Japanese navies as participants.

Even more significant, these exercises took place in the Pacific Ocean, far away from the Indian waters. During that same deployment, Indian ships separately exercised with ships of the Russian and Chinese navies. This is not all; in September, Malabar is taking a much larger multilateral dimension with ships of the Japanese, Singapore and Australian navies also joining in. These exercises are to be carried out in the Bay of Bengal on India’s eastern seaboard. Things have surely come a long way since 1995 when India hesitated to exercise with any country, much less with two or more.

This forward movement has not taken place without good reason. First, any military must frequently exercise with another to understand its own strengths and weaknesses and, indeed, those of the other. Confidence in one’s own professionalism grows if one performs well and the reverse is equally true. Malabar exercises have helped the Indian Navy grow not only by watching how a much larger navy, that of the US, operates but also created a healthy respect for its own capabilities among American navy professionals.

The fact that both sides regularly deploy their submarines in these exercises reflects the growing degree of mutual confidence. At another level, the trust generated by such exposures among personnel becomes a key factor in promoting cooperation at sea.

Why is such cooperation needed? The threats that prevail today or are likely to be faced in future are not just much from nation-states but increasingly from non-state actors. Proliferation of WMDs, transportation of narcotics and of arms purchased from their sale for terrorism, safety of sea-borne commerce from acts of piracy, hijacking of ships for criminal use and maritime terrorism fall in this category. These crimes are transnational.

It is not well known that the great majority of merchant vessels are owned in one country, registered in another whose flag they fly, and crewed by people from several others. A vessel might be hijacked in one place, its cargoes belonging to exporters in many countries sold in another, and taken for criminal activities far away in a third location. These crimes cannot be countered unless there is sharing of information and intelligence.

There is need for close coordination among several agencies operating in the maritime domain, within a country and between them and their counterparts in other countries. Stringent and, more or less, compatible laws and adherence to well-defined international agreements is also essential. These are more difficult to ensure than might be imagined. Without mutual trust and confidence in one another, this is a non-starter. This is where cooperation comes in. As the principal executing agencies operating in the maritime domain, navies must play the lead role in promoting cooperation.

This is where India comes in. Situated as it is in the middle of the North Indian Ocean and astride the important east-west shipping routes across which is transported more than 75 per cent of the oil and gas coming out of the Gulf, and with rapidly increasing maritime interests of its own, it must play a leading role in promoting cooperation both with external stakeholders and regional forces. India now has cooperation agreements with several littorals — Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Mozambique. It has similar interfaces with the US, the UK, Russia, South Africa, France and Australia, and those with Japan cannot be too distant.

Indian naval forces have carried out joint patrols in the Malacca Straits with those of the US Navy and coordinated patrols with Indonesian and Thai counterparts have also been instituted. We have provided offshore security to Mozambique at its request and carried out patrols in the exclusive economic zone of Mauritius. So, the exchanges are substantial and what is more, they are increasing.

Such interfaces at sea are not feasible without political synergies between the interests of the cooperating nations. These maritime engagements flow from shared strategic and security concerns already highlighted earlier. The other participants recognise that India is an important country in the Indian Ocean region without which ensuring the safety of shipping routes and other concerns would be very difficult. For India, the relationship, apart from meeting the same specific needs, serves to establish its legitimacy as the predominant maritime power in the region. From every point of view, it is a win-win situation.

The writer is a former Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command.

India should look at the world as an emerging power

by K. Subrahmanyam

The Indian political leadership over the last 60 years should be given
credit for steering the country's foreign policy in the best national
interests of the country. They foresaw in time the onset of the Cold
War and kept India out of the two confronting power blocs. As the Cold
War came to an end and it was realised that economic liberalisation
and joining the globalisation process will put India on a high growth

India switched to a policy of engagement with all major powers in a
balance- of-power world. India realised that it was in a position to
play the role of one of the six balancers of power in the
international system. This switch-over started with Narasimha Rao and
was pursued more vigorously by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, especially after
the "Shakti" tests.

Manmohan Singh has continued the Vajpayee policy of putting India in
an appropriate place in the emerging international balance of power.
Manmohan Singh clearly spelt out his world view in the Combined
Commanders' Conference of October 20, 2005. He said: "The end of the
Cold War, increasing global interdependence and the global nature of
many threats have made strategic concepts developed in a bipolar world
irrelevant. The United States has emerged as the dominant economic,
military, technological and cultural power. However, the European
Union, Russia, China, Japan and India will consolidate their
individual position and will be required to play a global role. We
must evolve a new paradigm of security cooperation relevant to an
emerging multipolar world in which global threats will require global

He further added: "It is clear that each of the major powers will seek
normal and mutually beneficial relations with the United States. They
will also seek to improve bilateral relations with each other,
independent of their relations, with the US. Our strategic policy must
orient itself to this new complexity. We must shed our Cold War
shibholeths, rework our relationships with all major powers and
emerging economies and improve our relations with all our economic
partners and neighbours."

It is in pursuance of this world view that India has sought strategic
partnership with the US, European Union and Russia. India is embarked
upon a strategic dialogue with Japan and China . As India's
relationship with the US improved, the South East Asian countries
which distanced themselves from India because of their support to the
US during the Vietnam war, mended their relationship with India in
response to the "look east" initiative launched by Prime Minister
Narasimha Rao. India is also cultivating the emerging economies of
Brazil and South Africa.

There is widespread recognition over the world that the economic
centre of gravity of the world is shifting from the Atlantic area to
Asia. China and India are fast growing economies and in the next few
decades they are likely to become third and fourth largest markets in
the world. That Asia will have Japan, China, India, South Korea,
Russia and Indonesia as major economies. There is concern among
Western nations that unless India is helped to balance China, Asia may
lack the much-needed balance.

The present international situation is therefore conductive to fast
growth of India. The faster India grows and its stake in the
international market becomes weightier, more the interest of other
great powers to have partnerships with India. In the fifties and
sixties India was importing food, was in need of economic aid and was
militarily weak. There were concerns about Indian unity and integrity.
Therefore India did not command respect from the countries of the
industrial world, from China and even its own neighbours. All this has
changed with the 8 per cent growth rate, India's IT prowess, our space
and nuclear achievements and performance of Indian companies and
Indian diaspora.

While in a balance of power world India would like to develop mutually
beneficial relations with all major powers and emerging economies, it
is inescapable that India's relationship with some countries are
likely to be closer than with others depending on the circumstances
and growth of economic and human interactions. Of all major powers,
the United States has moved closer to India in the last two decades
and the prospects of Indo-US friendship growing are becoming brighter.
There are already two-and-half million people of Indian origin in the
US and the number is growing. Top industrialists like Bill Gates are
pleading with US legislature to remove all caps on Indian talent
immigration into the US. The US has the largest Indian student population.

Manmohan Singh, addressing the joint session of the US Congress on
July 19, 2005 said: "The 21st century will be driven by
knowledge-based production and India is well placed in this area. We
have a large and relatively young population with a social tradition
that values higher education. Our educated young people are also
English speaking. That makes us potentially an attractive location for
production of high end services whether in software, engineering
design or research in pharmaceuticals and other area… The presence of
a large number of Indian Americans in high technology industries here
makes the US and India natural partners. It gives you confidence about
India's human resource capability. It also gives you an edge over your
competitors in the ease with which you can operate
in India".

The US wants to sustain its preeminence as the world's leading power.
The US understands that the 21st century is a century with knowledge
as the currency of power. The US concerns are about China with its
larger population, catching up with the US by out producing engineers,
scientists and doctors. The US is interested in importing brain power
and in outsourcing its scientific tasks to a partner with whom it is
not likely to have any clash of national interests. Of the five major
nations in today's balance of power, European Union, Russia, Japan and
China are likely to have ageing populations. India will have both
younger age population as well as English speaking one. It is for
these reasons the US is making attempts to make India a close
strategic partner.

India's strategic partner-relationships with European Union, Japan and
Russia will depend upon the growth of commerce and technological
interaction between those countries and India. However, the
relationship between India and Russia in defence will continue. India
is the second largest market for Russian arms (the first being China)
and facing mostly Chinese and Pakistani threats. Russian arms, likely
to be cheaper than American ones will be adequate to meet the threats.
Russia may also become the largest supplier of
nuclear reactors.

It is difficult to predict the relationship with China . It can
perhaps be said with reasonable certainty that the probability of a
military conflict with China is virtually nil. Of late, China has
taken steps to push up its trade and economic interaction with this
country. However, it has to be borne in mind what Manmohan Singh said
to the Combined Comman-ders' Conference on October 20, 2005: "We
cannot also ignore the strategic cooperation that Pakistan has secured
from China in many ways. We cannot rule out the desire of some
countries to keep us engaged in low-intensity conflict with some of
our neighbours as a means of getting India bogged down in low level

So long as China continues to arm Pakistan with missiles and nuclear
technology it can never become a truly strategic partner for India.
More the strategic cooperation between China and Pakistan, more the
compulsion on India to seek closer military cooperation (not as an
ally but in terms of defence procurement) from US, Russia and European
Union. It is China's continued proliferation to Pakistan and to other
countries via Dr A Q Khan that raises worldwide concern about Chinese
ambitions about Asian dominance.

In international politics there is no nation which could be termed
benign and altruistic in nature. All nations attempt to maximise their
national interests. The US is the preeminent power and wants to
continue to maintain its position. China is a rising power which is
likely to overtake US in terms of gross domestic product in terms of
purchase parity prices. China also hopes to overtake US in terms of
knowledge power and become first, dominant power in Asia and then in
the world. These developments are likely to take place through
peaceful competition and not through war.

The US seeks India's strategic partnership to tap India's knowledge
potential. China wants to tie down India at a low equilibrium using
Pakistan as a proxy even while maintaining apparently normal relations
with India. Japan and European Union are interested in keeping the
present status quo of having the US as the preeminent power.

Russia has very legitimate grievances against the US for its efforts
to deny Russia its due role in the post Cold War international system.
While Russia has improved its relations with China in the balance of
power game vis-à-vis US and has become a major arms supplier and
energy exporter to China, Russia also has concerns about China's
emerging dominance in Central Asia and Chinese demographic pressures
on Siberia. Therefore, while Russia resents US policy of cutting
Russia down to its size, it has no interest in allowing China to
overtake the US as the number one power of the world.

Kashmir: My Experience in Srinagar

By Stephen Knapp

It had been several years since I had first wanted to go to Kashmir until I was finally able to visit in June of 2007. I had almost traveled to Srinagar and made arrangements to go once before, but then a few days later the Kargil war broke out, and that stopped that idea. The violence and terrorism in the area made it restricted or not recommended to foreigners for years, and most Indians stayed away as well. But things had changed since then, and though warnings were still posted by the U. S. State Department about entering the region, I made my way up into Kashmir.

The trip up into Kashmir and seeing the landscape was enjoyable, the beauty of the hills and mountains was great. When I got to Srinagar, I was surprised to find the place was packed with Indian tourists. Of course, it was the hot season and temperatures had soared in the plains and cities like Delhi and Mumbai, so many Indian tourists were looking for places to escape the heat. The houseboats and hotels were filled except for a few. It seemed like India had rediscovered how nice Srinagar and the mountains and tourist spots of the area could be.

I also wanted to see the sites of the area, such as drift on Dal Lake on a shikhara boat, or go to Gulmarg or Yusmarg, and other places in the mountains. Shankaracharya Hill and the Vedic Shiva temple on top is also an historical place of pilgrimage. In fact, numerous Hindus were walking up the final 270 steps and visiting the place to do puja there. It also provides excellent views over Srinagar and Dal Lake. But there is heavy security that you have to go through at the base of the hill before you can drive up to the final stairway. And no cameras are allowed around the temple.

There are some important mosques in the area as well, and the Moghul gardens are some of the best I’ve seen in India. And the Rauzabal in the old section of town, the controversial place that is supposed to be the tomb of Jesus, was also on my list of places to see. And though the sign outside said no photography or videography, I took my chances anyway and took a number of shots of the place, both outside and in. Though I have to admit, it was smaller and less significant that I had imagined. There is really not that much to see. It is a small building, while inside is a smaller room with the grave of Jesus and the Islamic saint Syed Nasir-ud-Din. Through a small window inside you can see the real grave in an underground chamber, which is said to have sunk due to the ground giving way. A set of feet are carved into the cement next to the grave that are depicted as scarred the same way the feet would have been injured from the crucifixion. It was quite fascinating for me to see it after having read about it for so many years. To see where Jesus may be buried was not a boring occurrence for me. But more about this some other time.

I also saw the Shri Pratap Singh Museum that included large rock sculpted deities of Vishnu and other Vedic divinities from the Verinag and Anantnag areas that date back to the 6th century A.D. This showed that this area was a significant part of Vedic culture since at least that time, and Islam entered only sometime later. In fact, the Shah Hamdan mosque is dedicated to Shah Hamdan who originally brought Islam to Kashmir from Iran in 1370. If not for him, the place may have likely remained primarily connected to Vedic culture.

However, While in Srinagar I also wanted to do some serious investigation into the conditions of Kashmir. So I took the opportunity to talk with the local Muslims of the area to get their views on how things are, and what it has been like to have lived here with the terrorism and violence for so many years.

A few such opportunities included when I talked with a shop keeper who makes his living by operating a carpet factory and selling Kashmiri crafts, such as carpets, shawls and other textiles that Kashmir is known for. In another case I was able to talk to a Muslim family who has been in the tourist business for years and owns a super deluxe houseboat, and also rents rooms of their home to foreign tourists. So to get their views on things was quite fascinating.

The family actually reminisced about living in their neighborhood when people of all religions and cultures lived there, and they all lived together peacefully. Even now there were still Muslims, primarily Sunnis with about 25% Shiites in Srinagar, along with Christians who celebrate Christmas, and Sikhs who also celebrate their own holidays, all in the same neighborhood. And they also share such festivities with those of other faiths. The Muslims I talked to said that they did not mind it like that at all. It is not like all Muslims wanted all non-Muslims out of the area.

Mr. Abdulla, who works in the tourist trade, said that it never mattered what a person was years ago. They all got along and worked together. But when the terrorism started, it affected everyone and stirred up tension between them. Mr. Abdulla also said that to add to the confusion, some of the tourist companies from other areas of India would hire people to create disturbances in Srinagar to scare people away from coming to Kashmir, thus increasing business in other tourist spots in India. I'm not sure if he had hard evidence of this, or if this was only his theory. But many times after various terrorist activities took place, whoever did it would not identify themselves as being responsible, so they were not always sure of who did what. And the press was always quick to make headlines of any such trouble, which further scared people from coming to Srinagar.

The shop keeper said that he had lived in the area of the Moghul gardens years ago, which was an area where the militant Muslims would sometimes come down out of the hills and knock on the door of anyone they chose and demand food, water and money. When you have guns pointed at you, there is little else you can do. Or they would even separate the men and women and then rape the women. And this was to other Muslims. The militants would especially target those who had money, such as going to the wealthy homes, like doctors. But such people soon left Srinagar for other places. He said that many terrorists came in from Afghanistan and were paid by Pakistan to cause trouble in the area. Many still are, but now focus on rural regions outside and far from Srinagar where it is easier to get away with their dirty work. Thus, even the residents of Kashmir know that Pakistan is still the home or shelter of numerous terrorists that reside there, or assist them in creating trouble in places like Kashmir in hopes of assimilating that area into Pakistan.

At the time, no one could speak out against the militants. You could not say anything to even your wife or children because if word got out in any manner that you were against the interest of the militants, you might be the one killed or missing the next day. You had to tolerate what was happening or die. You had to watch in silence what occurred to other Muslims, and especially what happened to the Hindus of the area, or even the Sikhs, or any other non-Muslims, many of whom were terrorized, mistreated, tortured in terrible ways, and even killed. Thus, fear tactics for ethnic cleansing of the area of all non-Muslims took place for several years.

As many as 150,000 Kashmiris have been killed or disappeared during the 1992 to 1996 years because of the insurgent terrorists. Many of these are the Hindu Kashmiri pandits who now live as destitute refugees in camps in India.

I had talked to one Hindu man when I was in Haridwar who came from Srinagar. He said that it was the greatest place in the world, a heaven on earth. But because of what he had been subjected to by the Muslims of the area, he had to take his family and leave his property and belongings to escape the area. And the final point he made about it was that because of the way he had been treated by the local Muslims, he would never go back.

Actually, the terrorism has drastically reduced from what it was and it is now much safer than it used to be. These days any terrorist attacks are generally directed toward the police or military. But that does not mean that civilians do not get in the way of such attacks and are also killed. If a tour bus is going by an attack on a police vehicle, then too bad for whoever is there. This no longer happens often, but it is still a chance you have to take. Any Kashmir newspaper or website will let you know.

Many Indian tourists are returning to Srinagar for vacations and holidays, but you still do not see many tourists from outside India. Maybe a few young people or hippie-type travelers who think nothing of braving the area. But foreigners still have to be cautious if going into the old part of town where the locals sometimes still throw stones at westerners. So the shop keepers never advise their customers to go into the old section of town, at least not without an escort, even though some foreigners still go. They obviously are not aware of the potential danger, though this should also decrease with time.

One of the reasons for the reduction in terrorism is the great military presence of the Indian Army. Sometimes it seems like it’s too much, with a soldier every 50 feet along the roads, or even truckloads of soldiers at particular intersections that stop traffic of check the identification cards of the local people. But more than that is the change of policy in dealing with terrorists. First, it was to capture the terrorists and then put them in jail. But they found that after spending five years in prison and being released, the militant fanatics would go back to their old ways of terrorism and violence. Then the army seemed to change the strategy that if they found any terrorists, rather than taking prisoners, they fought to the death. Thus, the number of militants gradually began to decline, and they started to back away from situations in which they could be killed by the Army.

The shop keeper that I talked to also said that this is what is necessary, that the militant Muslims be killed so that Srinagar could go back to being a peaceful place. I have to admit that this was the first time that I ever heard one Muslim recommending the death of another Muslim for any reason whatsoever. But he was adamant about it. I could see that he had experienced too much fear and trouble from the militant Muslims himself to have any pity for them.

One thing to realize is that Kashmir does not really have particular products that they produce for their economic development. Most of what they depend on is tourism, and selling their crafts to tourists who visit, or shipping such items for others to sell in other places. So when the militant Muslims entered the area, it damaged and hurt everyone’s life because the tourism trade was drastically reduced. For several years, no one came to Srinagar. Plus, the militants not only intimidated the Hindus or the Kashmiri pandits to leave the area, or kill them and take possession of their property, the militants also burnt down places that were well known tourist spots. These included nice restaurants, hotels, or roads leading to known locations. Even the main tourist office was burnt down a few years ago. So when I went looking for it to get certain types of information, as listed in a recently published guide book I had, all that was in its place was a barren lot. Nor have many of these places been rebuilt or repaired yet. This will still take more time and more confidence in the situation there.

As it stands now, about 85% of all Kashmiris want to stay with India and do not support the idea of the militants to separate from India. In fact, they never did, but for years they could not say anything. Only in the last few years have they felt secure enough to be able to start speaking out and expressing how they really feel, and participate in elections. Only about 10% of Kashmiris want to be independent, and 5% want to be with Pakistan. Those who do not want to stay with India also do not want to have elections. They do not want the means for the general Kashmiri populace to be able to express their preferences.

However, the area of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir has little facility, and the people have hardly enough to eat. Pakistan does not have the means to really take care of their area of Kashmir, so many of the people there are very poor. So, as the shop keeper asked, why would anyone want to stay with Pakistan? While in the Indian area of Kashmir, people have the freedom and opportunity to develop their businesses and enjoy life. Plus, India supplies the people with many of the facilities they need. Only those with a criminal mentality want to stay with Pakistan, because they get paid from their Pakistan connections to pose in that way. Yet, if you look at them, this is the only way by which they have the money to live in nice houses and send their children to college in England, or even the United States. They prepare them to leave Kashmir, not to remain there or stay with Pakistan. So the shop keeper felt that India has done so much for the Kashmiri people. Why change that?

So most Kashmiris that I talked with felt that Srinagar is now safe for tourists, and foreigners, who could stay in any hotel. But not in the old town yet. That is why when I was visiting the Hazratbal Mosque and someone asked where I was from, I answered that I was from Canada rather than saying the United States. I just didn’t know what the reaction would have been.

All the Muslims that I talked to in Kashmir felt angry at Bush for attacking Iraq and thus putting American citizens at unnecessary risk while they travel in foreign countries. This was the big thing, not the invasion itself, but that there had been so much dislike developed toward Americans because of what Bush did. Yet they all loved Bill Clinton and talked nicely about him, but felt that Bush was just stupid.

Most of the Muslims I talked to very much appreciated the American people. In fact, the shop keeper almost desperately wanted me to convey the message that he loved Americans. He felt they were God’s gift to the region since they are important to their survival in their participation in tourism. He pointed out clearly that not all Muslims feel like the militants but do indeed want to get along with all others and Americans especially. Indians are coming back to Srinagar, but they do not purchase much of the handicrafts like carpets, shawls, etc. So Kashmir is still dependent on foreigners for their livelihoods. If the peace continues, then as the Indians have returned to Kashmir, in time more foreigners will also begin to return to Srinagar.

There was a time before 1989 when tourism was really high. You would not be able to find a houseboat or hotel room for weeks in the tourist season, which is the three to four months of the summer. But for years now that has not been the case. Only recently are things getting busier and numerous people are again crowding the area, renting houseboats on Dal Lake, or the quieter lakes, and occupying the hotels. Due to the terrorism of the militants they have all suffered so much, and also because of crooked politicians who want Kashmir for their own agenda. But now things are getting better.

I do not know what this may mean for the thousands of Hindu Kashmiri pandits that have been forced out of Kashmir and are now living as refugees in India. Whether they will be able to return, or if they even want to, remains to be seen. They still may not have much to return to even if they did come back to see what was left of their property. That part of this episode has been a sad state of affairs, and I feel that India did not do enough to defend the people of that area, especially the Hindu Kashmiri pandits, from the terrorism of the militant Muslims when they could have done so.

Even though most Kashmiris say that the military presence of the Indian Army is too much, and sometimes it seems that they harass more than protect, still it may be a necessity to make sure that terrorism does not raise its ugly head again in the region. Or until an ultimatum is given regarding Pakistan so that it is no longer an easy shelter for terrorists. Most everyone knows this, but it is treated favorably by the U.S. and a few other countries. This should not remain so, at least not until things change in a more positive manor and when the terrorists are really routed out of Pakistan.

Each time when I left the people with whom I was conducting these conversations and interviews, they always asked that I return to Srinagar, and that I also carry this message to the Western world. They were touched by my interest and my involvement in the issues of Kashmir. I certainly hope that things will continue to improve there for the benefit of everyone.

You may also read: The Truth on Kashmir and Terrorism in India and Facts on Pakistani Terrorism Against Kashmir.

[More information is found at:]

Russia and the thrust on Asian policy

Saturday, August 11, 2007 OPINIONS

Ali KÜLEBİIt is obvious that the assertive period started with Putin has fully made the Russian Federation that was formerly exhausted enter a new phase. Have successfully put its foreign policy together with energy as an instrument, Putin has taken successful steps on his Asian policy. Although Turkey, not the Russian Federation, could have been the initiator of an international organization such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to be a center of political power in Asia, it was Putin who established such an organization successfully. It should also be mentioned that the possibility of using the organization against the U.S. in Asia would make the SCO more important, which in turn could change the balances especially in Asia in the course of time.

While talking about Russian policy on Asia, it would be wrong to skip that the Russian influence especially in Central Asia is based on ethnic and cultural elements and the centuries of Russian relationships and experience with the nations of the region. The reason is that the Russians are able to utilize the fact that the rulers of Central Asian Republics are their former bureaucrats and they make use of their former relations with the several communist parties and staff with Marxist ideology. In fact it cannot be denied that the young and inexperienced republics in Asia have accepted Russia as their guide. Furthermore, the use of the Cyrillic alphabet and the Russian language as the second language provide Russia with a cultural advantage to establish an area of political influence, which will last for years. Although Turkey should have evaluated this fact from different strategic and tactical perspectives, the lack of politicians with the capability and vision that can make attempts for our own advantage makes us not set our potential advantages into action for many years more.

China and Russia have become friends

Although the U.S. occupation targeting the Taliban in Afghanistan pleased China and Russia that were already having trouble with radical fundamentalist' activities in Central Asia, the ongoing ambitious U.S. activities awakened both China and Russia, and, they have become close allies at the SCO with regard to common interests and concerns. The U.S. presence in Central Asia started with the invasion of Afghanistan and U.S. efforts to change regimes in various Central Asian countries deepened this Russian- Chinese friendship. While Russia expanded its influence outside the region's borders with the desire to become a global power, the other powerful giant of Asia, China has taken giant steps in its economy.

Russian chess moves

In this context we see that reins in the region are controlled by Russia that has elicited China's support and we see that successful Russian moves against the U.S. have alternately come.

Russian diplomacy, which provided conciliation by soft and back-door interventions for the situation in Kyrgyzstan where the U.S. tried changes in staff and regime in countries of the region, has shown the same skill in Uzbekistan, and, it has been effective in diminishing U.S. control over the country. Feeling it was beset by the U.S. in Central Asia, Russia has taken a swipe at the U.S. in the region with the support of China, and, Russia beat the U.S. at chess by taking the queen. With the support of China and other SCO members Russia has recently followed a policy that offers a fair and just alternative to the world against Bush's unilateral and aggressive policy. We see that this policy has started to prevent the U.S. from making changes in various countries. This success of Russia with the leadership of Putin is an incontestable development.

Meanwhile the best example that the US has been negatively influenced by the Russian policy is the last situation in the US-Iranian relations. The US, which already invaded two neighbors of Iran and which, due to its plans on energy dominance and the Israeli pressure, doubtlessly seemed to intervene in Iran however, has for now got on Iran's back against Russia that backed by the SCO. In this context, it can be said that one of the political aims of Russia is to prevent Iran to fall into the hands of the US.

Russia's other moves in Asia

The most important element of Russia's Asian diplomacy is its partnership with China. This partnership was strengthened with the signing of the Russia - China Friendship and Cooperation Treaty on July 18, 2001 and this partnership was put into operation in more concrete terms under the framework of the SCO. Although China could have been the biggest rival of Russia for its Asian policy, the cooperation between these two giant regional powers that stand out against the more powerful rival the U.S., has created a new political arena for Russia where it felt surrounded by the U.S.

Recent U.S. efforts for developing relations with India, an important economic power in the future, have been noticed by Russia that has already had cozy relations with India and this situation has made Russia look for counter moves against the U.S.

In this respect one of the third world countries of the Cold War period, India, which significantly moved close to Russia as a result of its anti-American policies, keeps its traditional policy on purchase of arms from Russia rather than the U.S. despite instant change in policies of the U.S. that has become more tolerant toward India, especially on the nuclear issue. And there is no doubt that Russia will certainly exploit this situation to the bitter end. Russia may keep using India as its important chessman in Asia for a few more decades. At this point it is important to emphasize the Russian view that is revealed in the saying, "Strengthening Indian defense means strengthening our own defense." And Putin's position and his determination that India cannot be left alone against the U.S. in its Asian politics should be evaluated within this context. Furthermore, SU-30 military aircraft, T-90S main battle tanks and the co-developed BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles that are sophisticated weapons in terms of its technological level and a nuclear submarine and an aircraft carrier that Russia does not want to give to every country must be evaluated from this perspective. Despite all American attempts, it should be borne in mind that India still buys 80 percent of its weapons from Russia.

Russia may play its weapon card for other Asian countries like it already does in its relations with India. It may sell its cheap arms and technologies to the countries it needs to. However, it should be taken into consideration that the most important weapon in Russia's possession will be energy for energy-poor countries and political support for countries that look for allies against the U.S.

* Ali Külebi is the acting president of Ankara-based TUSAM (National Security Strategies Research Center) He can be reached at

Indian Citizenship on Sale : It's cheap

Hugo Chávez Editorial

Saturday, Aug 11, 2007

By: Ignacio Ramonet - Le Monde Diplomatique
Few governments in the world have been victims of devastating campaigns full of hatred. The Venezuelan government, led by President Hugo Chávez, is one of those victims. His enemies have tried everything: Coup d’État, oil strike, flow of capital, plots… After the attack against Fidel Castro, a similar situation has not ever happened in Latin America.

The most miserable lies have been said about Chávez, all of them orchestrated by the new propaganda office called -National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, financed by Bush Administration. With unlimited financial resources, this lying machine manipulates important media and organizations for the defense of Human Rights which are at the service of sinister plans.

Likewise, part of the social-democrat left-branched party surrender before these groups of liars.

Why so much hate? Nowadays, the social-democracy in Europe is experiencing a crisis of identity. The historic circumstances seem indicating that Chávez has the responsibility of assuming the international leadership of the left’s recognition.

While in the old continent the European construction has made impossible any alternative to neo-liberalism, in Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador, inspired in the Venezuelan model, some experiences keep alive the emancipation hope of poor people.

In this regard, Chávez’s sense of balance is outstanding. This is the reason why he has become into a reference in many poor countries.
Has not Venezuela been refounded on a new base, legitimated by a new constitution that guarantees people’s participation in the social changes, always within the most painstaking respect of democracy and liberties? (1)

Has the government not given back the dignity to five million poor people?

Has it not recovered for the public the state owned oil company PDVSA?

Has it not de-privatized and given back the main telecommunication company to people, as well as the electric company of Caracas?

Has it not nationalized the Orinoco oil fields?

Finally, has it not assigned part of its oil income to obtain autonomy before the international financial institutions and to finance social programs?

• More than three million hectares of land have been distributed among peasants.
• Millions of children and adults have been taught to read and write.
• Thousands of medical centers have been settled in the popular suborns.
• Thousands low-income people with eye diseases have been operated for free.
• Basic food products have been subsidized and offered to poor people at a low price, 42% less than in the market.
• The weekly working hours have been reduced from 44 to 36 and the minimum wage was about 204 euros per month (the highest in Latin America after Costa Rica).

The result of all these measures is that between 1999 and 2005 poverty dropped from 42.8% to 33.9% (2). The population that works in the informal economy decreased from 53% to 40%. This decrease of poverty allows the maintaining of economic growth, which - in the last three years – reached 12% (one of the highest in the world), supported by a consumption rate that has increased up to 18% during a year. (3).

Given these results, without mentioning the achievements reached in the international policy, is it not surprising that President Chávez has become a target for where the owners of the world and their agents want to shoot?

(1) The lies concerning RCTV have just been denied since this channel has resumed its programs by cable and satellite from July 16.
(2) Poverty Rates in Venezuela. Getting the Numbers Right, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Washington DC, May 2006.
(3) Read the repport "Chávez, not so bad for business", Business Week, New York, June 21, 2007.

Opinion article by Ignacio Ramonet / Le Monde Diplomatique /

Chavez Meets with Kirchner and Morales in Bolivia for Closer Cooperation

Saturday, Aug 11, 2007
By: Chris Carlson -

Mérida, August 11, 2007 (— In the final leg of his South American tour this week, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez arrived to Bolivia last night to sign several economic agreements with Bolivian President Evo Morales as well as with Argentinean President Nestor Kirchner who was also present. The new regional agreements, according to Chavez, are part of a project to unite and integrate the region into a South American block of nations.

"We continue strengthening the integration of the South," said Chavez upon arriving in Bolivia. "More than the integration, the union of the South. That is what we are doing, forming a South American political block as a counterweight to the hegemonic pretensions of North America or any other hegemonic pretension," he said.

Chavez is finishing a four-country tour of South America, where he signed agreements to increase economic integration between the countries of the region. Chavez mostly offered to supply nations of the region with the abundant energy resources of Venezuela in exchange for investment in development and cooperative projects. In Bolivia, Chavez and Morales signed agreements of a similar nature.

On Friday morning, the two leaders signed an agreement to create an oil company, named Petroandina, formed jointly by Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA, and Bolivia's state-owned YPFB. Petroandina will extract oil from different regions of Bolivia as well as in the Orinoco river basin in Venezuela and will require an initial investment of 600 million dollars. Bolivia will have 60 percent ownership and Venezuela 40 percent.

It is alliances like this that Chavez claims will form the "skeleton" of a "great South American nation." Chavez said that many more projects will be built on top of energy agreements like this one to further integrate the countries.

"We are all one nation, all one homeland," said Chavez. "Let's strengthen that consciousness, because from that consciousness comes strength."

The two presidents also made an agreement to build a thermoelectric plant near Cochabamba and Chavez spoke of the possibility of cooperating in the development of a steel industry in El Mutin, a region on the Brazilian border with rich iron deposits.

"We are willing, together with Bolivia and hopefully other nations, to install ourselves there, not to take the iron from El Mutun, but to develop a 'steel city,' a steel industry. That is what is going to give Bolivia technological development, jobs, and more income," said Chavez.

Chavez also mentioned that Bolivia has the natural resources to become a "power in petrochemicals" and pledged the assistance of Venezuela in the construction of oil and gas refineries.

"Bolivia must develop a big petrochemical industry. It can't keep exporting raw gas like it does now," suggested Chavez as one of the many cooperative projects that the two nations could do in the future.

Chavez and Morales later met with Argentinean President Nestor Kirchner in city of Tarija, in the southern part of Bolivia where the leaders signed more agreements for economic integration.

In what Kirchner called the "first step" in the project to construct a gas pipeline from Venezuela to Argentina and Brazil, Morales and Kirchner signed an agreement to build a joint natural gas refinery in Bolivia. Kirchner said the project to integrate the region's energy supply "is going to be the true development motor of our nations."

Morales also showed interest in joining the project Petrosuramerica, formed between Argentina and Venezuela with the purpose of developing cooperative projects in the gas and oil industries and supplying energy to the southern nations. Bolivia's participation in the project will be its first attempt at industrializing its huge gas reserves.

U.S. Concerns about Pakistani Nukes after Musharraf

U.S. Concerns about Pakistani Nukes after Musharraf - A Failure to Understand Political Dynamics in Pakistan

Sources: U.S. assessing Pakistan nukes if Musharraf falls

From Barbara Starr CNN Washington Bureau, CNN: August 10, 2007

Story Highlights
U.S. concerned about who would control Pakistan's nukes after power shift; Pakistan's president ponders state of emergency as his opposition grows; Pakistan troops moving to tribal areas of Afghan border, officials say; Musharraf's control over military remains limited to certain top commanders

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. military intelligence officials are urgently assessing how secure Pakistan's nuclear weapons would be in the event President Gen. Pervez Musharraf were replaced as the nation's leader, CNN has learned.

Key questions in the assessment include who would control Pakistan's nuclear weapons after a shift in power. The United States is pressuring Musharraf, who took control in a 1999 coup, not to declare a state of emergency as he faces growing political opposition.

Three U.S. sources have independently confirmed details of the intelligence review to CNN but would not allow their names to be used because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The sources include military officers and intelligence community analysts.

The assessment is part of a broader review of the military and security situation in Pakistan.

Officials say that Pakistan and its nuclear weapons are always a high intelligence priority for the United States.

The current review is a result of recent developments in that country, including the prospect that Musharraf could still declare a national emergency that would give him sweeping powers.

Although the Pakistani government ruled out the declaration Thursday, the three sources told CNN that the United States thinks Musharraf may still impose those measures.

Musharraf was elected to president in a 2002 vote that was widely viewed as rigged. His five-year presidential term expires in November and he is seeking to retain his position as president and army chief. Pakistani elections are scheduled sometime around the turn of the year.

U.S. analysts are watching current Pakistani troop movements closely to see whether Musharraf is making any moves that could indicate he is about to impose emergency measures. It appears that in recent weeks a large number of troops left the Kashmir region to go to the tribal regions along the Afghan border, officials say.

Afghan officials have accused Pakistan of allowing Taliban and al Qaeda fighters to regroup and carve out a new safe haven along Pakistan's largely lawless northwestern frontier.

The United States has full knowledge about the location of Pakistan's nuclear weapons, according to the U.S. assessment.

But the key questions, officials say, are what would happen and who would control the weapons in the hours after any change in government in case Musharraf were killed or overthrown.

Musharraf controls the loyalty of the commanders and senior officials in charge of the nuclear program, but those loyalties could shift at any point, officials say.

The United States is not certain who might start controlling nuclear launch codes and weapons if that shift in power were to happen.

There is also a growing understanding according to the U.S. analysis that Musharraf's control over the military remains limited to certain top commanders and units, raising worries about whether he can maintain control over the long term.

The U.S. officials also say one of the key problems for the U.S. military is what restrictions on U.S.-Pakistani military cooperation could be imposed if Musharraf were to impose heavy security restrictions in his country.

It is a legitimate democratic right to kill Taslima Nasreen?

The Pioneer, Aug 11, 2007

[from]Unfortunate we couldn't kill Taslima, says Majlis

Omer Farooq | Hyderabad
MIM brazenly justifies violence: We're proud of assault on author

Akbaruddin Owaisi, the floor leader of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) in the Andhra Assembly on Friday said, "It is legitimate to kill Taslima Nasreen under Islamic law, but unfortunately we could not do it". He was reacting to Thursday's attack on Bangladeshi writer Taslima by Majlis men and MLAs.

MIM president and former Member of Parliament Salahuddin Owaisi lauded his party legislators and workers for targeting Taslima stating that she had insulted Islam and Muslims all over the world and she was still continuing her mission enjoying the hospitality of the Left Government in West Bengal.

"We have used our democratic right to protest against those who are misusing the freedom of expression to insult and hurt Muslim sentiments," he said.

Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT), the rival of MIM, went to the extent of saying that originally it was their plan to implement the fatwa of death issued against Taslima but the MIM sabotaged it. Instead of killing her, the MIM workers only saved her by creating a nuisance there. MBT leader Farhatullah Khan said that he was ready to undergo punishment as per the country's law by killing a person who had committed blasphemy against the Prophet.

The fatwas issued to kill Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen should be implemented, he added.

The attack on Taslima seems to have triggered a war of one-upmanship among various Muslim organisations, which are trying to surpass the other in taking extreme postures.

While the MIM has patted itself for its success in forcing Taslima to flee the function, its rival groups within the community have criticised it for allowing Taslima to go back alive......

INDIA : Radical Mindset: Lawmakers, Fatwa and Jihad
By Animesh Roul

Two events that would shed some light on how far elected political leaders are influenced by the tenets of radical Islam, more than outlawed terrorists, in the subcontinent and they act with such impunity only to get away with their antics later.

In India’s Andhra Pradesh state, sitting members of a political party, Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) unleashed a murderous attack on the self-exiled Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen on August 09 during a book release ceremony at the Press Club in Hyderabad city. MIM’s legislators and activists spearheaded the attacks against Taslima for her alleged blasphemous writings. Even they threatened to behead her under a 1994 fatwa, if she ever comes to Hyderabad again. Three MIM legislators and others were arrested and released on bail on the same day. One of them told the media later that, "Muslims are proud of what our legislators and workers have done because we can never tolerate any insult to Prophet Mohammed.” Another political party which has been representing Muslims of the region, Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT) had planned to kill Taslima outside the venue after the function. However, the MBT failed to target her as she was escorted to the airport immediately after MIM swung into action inside the club. Countrywide condemnation notwithstanding, the perpetrators are currently boasting on their act and with little fear for the laws of the land.

Earlier this week (August 07), in Pakistan, there was a call for Jihad against India and the US. And this was not from any terrorist outfit, but by the parliamentary secretary for defense, Syed Tanveer Hussain. Hussain, a retired Army officer, with backing from the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, argued for Jihad to solve vexed Kashmir problems and said that the dispute over Kashmir would be settled in months if jehadis were allowed free entry into Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir. He also remarked against the US and Taliban Policy of Pakistan. Pakistan government distanced itself from Hussain's remarks, (he is a member of ruling coalition) terming these outbursts as ‘individual views’ and do not represent the government policy.

These events certainly reflected radical mindset that remains fertile at the political level in both Pakistan and India.

Between Fanatic Secularism and Religious Fanaticism-the case of Tasleema Nasreen

Source: SAAG.ORG

Guest Column- By Swati Parashar

The secular credentials of India were questioned yet again when Bangladeshi writer, Tasleema Nasreen was attacked in Hyderabad, by none other than those who are considered as the law makers of the country. In a deplorable act of vandalism, three MLAs of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) hurled abuses at Tasleema and even threw pieces of furniture at her while she was attending the launch of the Telugu version of her new novel, Shodh, in Hyderabad on August 9, 2007. The three MLAs of MIM and four other party activists were arrested by the police but later released on bail. Far from any repentance, even more alarming are their proclamations that Tasleema got what she deserved and that it could be worse next time. In a television debate, the unrepentant MIM MLA, Akbaruddin Owaisi said that, “She has hurt the sentiments of 20 crore Muslims. We are bothered so much about one person who is not even an Indian but we don't seem to care about the lot of Muslims in this country who are disgusted with her.”

Among the reasons attributed to this outrageous behaviour of the MLAs is the claim that this is a publicity ploy to strengthen their vote bank and their dwindling political fortunes in Hyderabad. Whatever may have been the real or perceived intentions behind this attack, it goes without saying that it completely makes a mockery of the secularism and tolerance that India has proudly been preaching to the rest of the world. It is in the same genre of attacks against intellectual freedom which we have witnessed plenty in the recent times and which most of us who believe in tolerance and freedom of expression have condemned and rejected. However, this particular attack on Tasleema Nasreen raises a number of uncomfortable questions which have been bothering liberal individuals like me. Having signed a number of online petitions usually initiated by left leaning intellectuals who have vociferously defended intellectual freedom for people like M. F. Hussain, I cannot help wonder whether our leftist comrades will take up cudgels against the guilty this time. One has not heard anything from them as yet, and one is not very hopeful that comrades Karats and their colleagues who are busy debating the nuclear deal will stand in solidarity with Tasleema. One is not even hopeful of any official statement by the government in her defence. The government and the Indian intellectual community, which raised a hue and cry (justifiably so in my opinion), over the human rights violation of Dr. Mohammed Haneef in Australia, will have nothing to say about this gross violation of freedom of speech and expression of a foreigner and above all an asylum seeker, on Indian soil. Reasons? Call it anything – pseudo secularism, vote bank politics, minority appeasement. In blatant words hypocrisy backed by ‘fanatic secularism’!

Our present UPA government, with its left allies has constantly shoved ‘secularism’ down our throats. Dr. Singh and his colleagues have repeatedly reminded us about how the Congress has been the biggest and perhaps the only bulwark against majority communalism and Hindu fundamentalism. It is time to remind them that MIM as their trusted ally abstained from Presidential elections 2007 to protest against UPA’s nominee Pratibha Patil's reported remarks that the 'purdah' system came into India because of Muslims. The MIM has a long history of communal politics in Hyderbad which includes violence against the Hindus as well as the communists who opposed the Nizam’s decision to form an independent Muslim state. It is also well known that the MIM members participated in the communal riots that hit Hyderabad in 1979. Violence, thus, has been their mode of politics even in the past, the attack on Tasleema being no exception. There is also a need to refresh our memories of the great escapades of the Congress Party and its left allies who have in their over zealous efforts to promote secularism often sought support from fundamentalist and communal elements within the minority communities. They perhaps agree with what Asaduddin Owaisi, the leader of the MIM’s legislature party has said in the past, "How can an independent articulation of minority interests and aspirations be termed communal?”

Even as I write this article, the predictable political responses to the Tasleema episode have started pouring in. While the UPA Government has still not issued statements or strong condemnation of the attack, here is a glimpse of the responses that have come from the secular political leadership of this country. The Delhi Minorities Commission Chairperson Kamal Farooqui while condemning the attack reminds us that the “government should also ensure that Nasreen is not allowed to do or write anything, which hurts the sentiments of Muslims. The government should immediately cancel her visa and make her go out of the country. She should realise that this is not Bangladesh or Pakistan, but India where the sentiments of all communities are respected.” Ghulam Nabi Azad, Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, and a veteran secular Congress leader reportedly responded to the Tasleema issue by stating that “Writers have other subjects to write. Why just religion?'” Samajwadi Party which harps on its secular credentials more than the Congress had its leader Shahid Aqla responding that, “I will ask the government to get her (Tasleema’s) visa revoked. She should be thrown out of the country.” Please contrast these responses to the ones that have been issued against the cancellation of the work visa of Dr. Mohammed Haneef in Australia. Isn’t there blatant double standard here even if the two cases are different in their content and issues?

When painter M. F. Hussain was subjected to acts of vandalism by the Hindu right wing, for his painting of Hindu Goddesses in the nude, did Ghulam Nabi Azad still say the same thing then that painters have other subjects to paint, why only religion? Thankfully, for the democratic traditions of this country, there was no dearth of support for M. F. Hussain. Not long ago a fine arts student in Baroda was jailed and his works vandalised by the Sangh Parivar activists for painting what they saw as blasphemous images of Hindu deities. Once again the liberal and secular minded citizens and human rights activists came together in support of the student. I also participated in the initiatives against moral policing by the Hindu fundamentalists and in support of freedom of artistic expressions. Clearly, this will not apply to Tasleema’s case because the moral policing this time comes from a minority community. The MIM MLA’s statements that they are Muslims first and then MLAs have been vindicated by the silence of those in constitutional positions and upholding the secular credentials of India.

It is deeply disheartening to note how the labels of communal, fundamentalist and secular are being assumed to serve political interests. I am aware that after this article I will also be branded as a right wing supporter. Only, it ceases to bother me, as I witness the hypocrisy that is rampant in Indian political and intellectual life. Noted scholar Ramachandra Guha says Hindu fundamentalism is the biggest threat to India today. I believe it is not religious fanaticism of either the Hindus or Muslims that threatens the country today but the “fanatic secularism” upheld by the large mass of our political leadership and intellectual community that will foment communal passions and threaten the unity and integrity of India . Between these two extremes of ‘religious fanaticism’ and ‘fanatic secularism’, freedom of speech and expression will continue to be sacrificed at the alter of political correctness, and in the name of community sentiments. However, it might not be such a good idea to end on this pessimistic note. Once again, truly secular Muslim intellectuals like Shabana Aazmi, Javed Akhtar, Nafisa Ali and even our Vice President elect Hamid Ansari have condemned the attack on Tasleema Nasreen and the use of violence as a method of protest. Perhaps true Indian secular and liberal ethos may survive the onslaught of religious fundamentalism and even ‘fanatic secularism’. We shall wait and watch.

* Swati Parashar is a Visiting Scholar at the University of Sydney, Australia, and a PhD Candidate at the Department of Politics and International Relations, Lancaster University, United Kingdom. She can be contacted at

I have never come face to face with death like this: Taslima
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Sujoy Dhar, Indo-Asian News Service
Kolkata, August 10, 2007
First Published: 14:00 IST(10/8/2007)
Last Updated: 16:38 IST(10/8/2007)

"For half an hour death stared at me from close as I locked myself in a room and those men tried to break in and kill me," a traumatised Taslima Nasreen said on Friday, a day after the controversial Bengali author was attacked in Hyderabad during a book release.

Nasreen is not new to either controversy or attacks by fundamentalists for her writings against Islam. But Thursday's vicious attack by members of the Hyderabad-based Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) was different.

"I was attacked earlier too but it was never like Thursday's attack. There was no police for help because the organisers had not foreseen anything of this kind. If I have returned alive to Kolkata it is because of mediapersons who fought those men for half an hour and got injured to save me," Nasreen told IANS in her first interview after the incident at the Hyderabad Press Club on Thursday.

A shaken Nasreen arrived in Kolkata on late Thursday from Hyderabad where she had gone to release a Telugu translation of her novel Shodh.

"I was wondering how they would kill me. Would it be with a knife or a gun! Or would they simply beat me to death. They had encircled us. After I escaped from a back door and took shelter in a room, they even broke down one of the doors. I thought I would be dead," said the 45-year-old writer.

"I have never come face to face with death like this."

Though Nasreen managed to escape unhurt, many others were injured.

"They were hurling chairs, bags and thick books at us. What you have seen on television was nothing compared to what happened on Thursday," said the writer at her Rawdon Street apartment in an upmarket Kolkata locality.

"The organisers were a small group and so they had not arranged for police. They hardly expected this to happen, I don't blame them. They were surprised but I knew who these people were and so I asked to call the police. But before police came, journalists fought them off and saved me," said Nasreen.

Nasreen, who has penned several volumes of her seven-part autobiography, had attracted the ire of fundamentalists in Bangladesh for stance against Islam, its treatment of women and atrocities on the Hindu minorities in that country in her novel Lajja (The Shame). She first went into hiding in 1994 and then fled Bangladesh with support from international human rights organisations like PEN and Amnesty International.

She was given asylum in Sweden. Since then she has lived in Germany, France, the US and later Kolkata in India, where she got a tourist visa though her requests for citizenship have been repeatedly turned down by the Indian government.

The attack on Nasreen came on a day when her visa, scheduled to expire this month, was extended by six months till February next year.

She is living in Kolkata following a fatwa issued against her by some Islamic groups in Bangladesh for her book Lajja.

"If I were a citizen of India perhaps people would not have thought that I could be killed just like that. The truth is that I cannot return to Bangladesh while returning to Europe is like courting death too. I can only live here in Kolkata," said Nasreen.

"I am happy that the people who attacked were actually a minority while there are so many people who supported me. The photographers could have just clicked as they killed me but they chose to save me."

"A similar incident had occurred in a book fair in Bangladesh but then thankfully police was near. In fact, the release of the book on Thursday had nothing to do with Islam. This is the translation of an old book of mine," said the hunted author, who is now penning a sequel to Lajja.

The new book continues on the fate of the Hindu family, who was the focus in Lajja, and their life in Kolkata. A book on her columns is also awaiting release.

Though the Left Front government in West Bengal condemned the attack on Nasreen on Thursday, it had banned her book Dwikhandito (Split in Two), the third volume of her seven-part autobiography, till a court order lifted it.

Asia's rich and poor

Asia's rich and poor
For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more

Aug 9th 2007 | HONG KONG
From The Economist
Income inequality in emerging Asia is heading towards Latin American levels

“GROWTH with equity” was the mantra of the Asian tigers during the three decades to the 1990s. Unlike Latin America, most of them combined speedy economic growth with relatively low and sometimes even falling income inequality, thereby spreading the economic gains widely. More recently, Asian economies have continued to enjoy the world's fastest growth, but the rich are now growing richer much faster than the poor.

According to a report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), income inequality has increased over the past decade or so in 15 of the 21 countries it has studied. The three main exceptions are Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, the countries worst hit by the 1997 financial crisis. The biggest increases in inequality were in China, Nepal and Cambodia (see chart 1).

Income inequality is usually measured by a country's Gini coefficient, in which 0 is perfect equality (everyone has the same income) and 1 is perfect inequality (ie, one household takes everything). China's Gini coefficient rose from 0.41 in 1993 to 0.47 in 2004, the highest in Asia after Nepal (see chart 2).

On this measure, China has more income inequality than America (whose Gini coefficient is 0.46). Governments in Beijing and elsewhere in Asia like to comfort themselves with the thought that they still have less inequality than Latin America does. Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico all have Gini coefficients of considerably over 0.5; Brazil's is 0.57.

However, this may partly reflect differences in measurement. Gini coefficients in Latin America are based on income; those in Asia are mainly based on expenditure, because reliable income data are often not available. Using income data produces higher estimates of inequality in developing countries because it tends to understate the well-being of self-employed and agricultural workers, who are generally the poorest. In Asian countries where inequality data are available on both measures, the income coefficient is typically a fifth higher than that based on expenditure. Thailand's, for example, jumps from 0.43 to 0.52.

This suggests inequality in many Asian countries could now be nudging Latin American levels if measured on a comparable basis. The figures in the chart are for 2004, but inequality has been rising in China, while in Brazil it has been falling over the past decade. Assuming this trend has continued, China's inequality may be as great as Brazil's already.

Moreover, in some Asian countries, expenditure figures may understate the true extent of inequality. India's Gini coefficient is in the lower half of the chart, yet health and education measures suggest the country suffers from wide disparities. In the richest 20% of households, only 5% of children are severely underweight, compared with 28% in the poorest 20%—a wider gap than in countries which have higher Gini coefficients. In India's richest state 99.8% of the population has access to clean water, but only 2% does in the poorest. The comparable figures for China, where income inequality is officially much greater, are 100% and 75%.

The main cause of increased inequality, especially in China, is the differing fortunes of rural and urban households. Productivity—and hence income—is growing much more slowly in agriculture, on which most of the poor depend, than in manufacturing or services.

A second factor is the widening gap between those with and without skills. The shift from socialism to a market economy in China and India has increased the financial benefits of an education. Across Asia, the opening up of economies also means that some high-skilled workers are now paid more in line with international rates.

Does rising inequality matter so long as poverty is falling? It is clear that Asia's poor have not been bypassed by growth—popular claims to the contrary notwithstanding. Even where inequality has increased sharply, the poorest 20% of households are still better off in real terms than they were ten years ago everywhere except in Pakistan. The number of people living on less than $1 a day has fallen everywhere except in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Indeed, poverty has fallen by much more in some countries with high and rising inequality than in more egalitarian ones. The share of India's population living on less than $1 a day fell from 42% in 1993 to 35% in 2004. China saw a sharper fall, from 28% to 11%, largely thanks to faster growth.

But even if poverty has continued to fall despite rising inequality, it may not have dropped as fast as it might have if economic gains had been more equally distributed. The other main reason to worry about widening inequality, says the ADB, is that it can threaten growth if it results in social unrest. High and rising inequality played a big role in Nepal's recent troubles. Rumblings of discontent across the region suggest governments cannot afford to ignore such risks.
How to help—maybe

Populist measures to soak the rich are not the answer: they would stunt growth. The ADB instead recommends governments focus on policies that lift the incomes of the poor, such as improving rural access to health, education and social protection. More investment in rural infrastructure could boost productivity in farming and increase job opportunities for the poor.

But that is easier said than done. Rajiv Gandhi famously remarked that only 15% of government money intended for India's poor ever reached them. Most of it leaks out in bureaucratic incompetence or corruption—fattening the wallets of those who are already well-to-do.