September 29, 2007

Russia: When politics becomes a family affair

The prime minister is the defense minister's father-in-law. The energy minister is the health minister's husband. Nepotism is rampant in today's Russia, and the new government unveiled this week by President Vladimir Putin proves the point. From RFE/RL.

By Brian Whitmore for RFE/RL (28/09/07)

Family values dominate Russian President Vladimir Putin's new government.

The prime minister is the defense minister's father-in-law. The energy minister is the health minister's husband. The justice minister's son is married to the deputy Kremlin chief of staff's daughter.

Shortly after Putin nominated Viktor Zubkov as prime minister, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov announced his resignation. Since he was Zubkov's son-in-law, Serdyukov said, he could no longer serve in the cabinet due to conflict of interest laws. Nonsense, Putin appeared to suggest. In announcing the new cabinet on 24 September, Putin rejected Serdyukov's resignation and reappointed him defense minister.

And why not? Despite a law forbidding officials to work in any job supervised or controlled by a family member, nepotism appears rampant in Putin's Russia. In its 25 September edition, the magazine Kommersant-Vlast identified 35 different examples of kinship ties among the Russian authorities.

Speaking to RFE/RL's Russian Service, opposition politician Boris Nemtsov says the trend stems from Putin's tendency to rely on a small clique of people to govern.

"I think this is not normal," Nemtsov said. "It shows the personnel deficit we have under Putin. All week the president was...thinking about what kind of government he wanted to form. And it turned out to be nothing new. Why? Because the president doesn't trust anybody. He is suspicious. Even though the country is huge and has a lot of talented people, he is choosing from a small circle of people."
Conflicts of interest?

Analysts have warned that Putin's tendency to rely on such personal and family ties to keep his cabinet under control can lead to damaging conflicts of interest, as officials become torn between serving the country and family loyalty. Observers also warn that conflicts among family clans could develop, potentially destabilizing the workings of government.

In the federal government, Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenenko and the newly named Health and Social Affairs Minister Tatyana Golikova are husband and wife. Dmitry Ustinov, the son of Justice Minister Vladimir Ustinov, works in the presidential administration and is married to deputy Kremlin chief of staff Igor Sechin's daughter, Inga.

The family ties are just as strong in the provinces. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and Chechen Prime Minister Odes Baisulatov, for example, are cousins.

Such links extend into the world of Russia's powerful state-run companies, as well. Federal Security Service Director Nikolai Patrushev's son Andrei is an adviser to the board of directors of the state-controlled oil giant Rosneft. Patrushev's other son, Dmitry, is vice president of the state-run bank Vneshtorgbank.
Began under Yeltsin

In the Soviet Union, family ties among the authorities existed but were rare. Under Boris Yeltsin, however, power in the Kremlin was widely believed to be wielded by a group of Yeltsin's relatives and their associates dubbed "The Family" by the Russian media.

Adam Bellow, author of the book In Praise of Nepotism: A Natural History, says he is not surprised that nepotistic practices are flourishing in the Russian government - or any other government for that matter. Bellow, himself the son of Nobel Prize-winning author Saul Bellow, says nepotism is a natural impulse "like sex and aggression," that it is impossible to eradicate, and that it has many positive elements. It builds trust, for example, and humanizes what Bellow calls amoral bureaucracies.

"My basic argument is that since we can't get rid of nepotism, and since it has many positive aspects that we wouldn't want to get rid of even if we could, the only thing we can do is to establish some standards of judgment and try to discern what the rules are," Bellow says. "In all governments, whether democratic or not, there is a tendency for family ties to exist either at the beginning, at the outset, as in the Roman republic, or developing over time as a political class begins to take shape."

Bellow cites the Roman Empire, the Chinese imperial dynasty, the Renaissance papacy, and the modern US as societies where nepotism has existed to some degree. US President John F Kennedy appointed his brother, Robert, as his attorney general, for example. Bill Clinton tasked his wife, Hillary, now a senator and presidential candidate, to formulate his health-care policy.
Nepotism itself isn't corruption

In US President George W Bush's first administration, Bellow notes that Michael Powell, the son of Secretary of State Collin Powell, became chairman of the Federal Communications Commission; Elaine Chao, the wife of Senator Mitch McConnell, was named secretary of labor; and the daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney became deputy assistant secretary of state. Bellow argues that such cases are not intrinsically bad and that nepotism itself isn't corruption - although it can degenerate into corruption.

"Nepotism can obviously become a form of corruption. It is, at the same time, the easiest form of corruption to address because all you have to do is shed light on it and public opprobrium immediately arises," Bellow says. "The malpractitioners of nepotism then have to immediately disavow it and back away from it. So it kind of withers in the light of day."

Bellow says nepotistic practices are most visible and manifest in what he calls "low-trust societies" with weak institutions.

"Historically, it is inevitable that elites will form because the mafia principle is the ultimate institutional principle. Everything is ultimately based on the family and its extension through various kinds of quasi-familial relationships," Bellow says. "This is where the focus of trust is in a low-trust society, which is how I would characterize Russia today, a low-trust society."

And in such societies, he adds, nepotism has the most potential to do damage.

"In the absence of a strong, centralized state with secure institutions, a market, the administration of justice, the enforcement of contracts, this is basically a mafia situation," Bellow says. "The default mode of human social organization is family rule. This is the way it has always been."

Copyright (c) 2007. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20036. Funded by the US Congress.

Some Gandhian lessons for the Gandhis
Sudheendra Kulkarni

Posted online: Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 0000 hrs

Sonia Gandhi, accompanied by her son Rahul, will be representing India at the UN General Assembly on October 2, when the world body will declare Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday as World Non-Violence Day.

In what capacity she can represent India at the UN, one doesn’t know. It would have been in the fitness of things if India were represented by our prime minister. Also, given that it is an honour for India as a whole, the Indian delegation should have included prominent leaders of the opposition. However, these objections would doubtless be considered irrelevant at a time the Congress party is getting ready to coronate the fourth member of the Dynasty as India’s next prime minister.

Since mother and son are going to New York for an event relating to the Mahatma, I wonder if either of them has seen a recently released movie about a father and his son. I am referring to Gandhi My Father by Feroz Abbas Khan, which is one of the finest cinematic narrations of the greatest hero of modern Indian history.

It tells the story of the troubled relationship between Gandhiji and his eldest son Harilal, whose life lurches from one failure to another and ends pitifully in 1955. The film’s director has handled a difficult theme with utmost sensitivity and without passing any value judgement on either father or son. At the same time, he brings out the true greatness of Gandhiji, a man who stood by his principles in small as well as big matters, in private as well as public spheres of life.

Without being overtly pedagogic, the movie is replete with messages of contemporary significance. One of them is how the Mahatma detested nepotism and would do nothing whatsoever to promote his son’s career using his personal influence. Harilal wants to study law in England and become, like his father, a barrister.

A wealthy Gujarati businessman has in fact authorised the father to nominate one student each year for a scholarship to study law in London. The father refuses to name his son for the scholarship the first year — and also the next year. Harilal is frustrated. He thinks his father neither loves nor cares for him. On the other hand, his father, who is running an ashram near Durban in South Africa, believes that all the boys and girls in the ashram are his children and must receive equal love and care from him.

Contrast this with what the Gandhis belonging to the Nehru dynasty have been doing. Rahul is only 37 years old. His parliamentary career, undistinguished by any standards, is only three-and-a-half years old. He has made exactly one speech so far in the Lok Sabha, and that too from a written text. Outside Parliament, his occasional speeches and sound bites have been a source more of embarrassment rather than enlightenment for his own partymen.

He is, at best, still a learner, and far from being eligible for a “scholarship” even to ministership. And yet his mother has nominated him for a post that is already more powerful than that of any minister in the UPA government, and is widely seen as a perch from where he would be elevated to prime ministership.

Just go back in history and see what another mother did to her son. Indira Gandhi made Rajiv general secretary of the Congress party on February 2, 1983. His only real experience till then was in running aircraft. His sycophantic partymen, however, believed that he was capable of running the country. On October 30, 1984, a tragedy became the pretext for making him, at age, 40, the prime minister of India.

How did Rajiv Gandhi govern India? Do not base your answer on the countless institutions, buildings, chowks and governmental schemes that have been named after him. Look at the truth behind the propaganda.

Look at the anti-Sikh carnage in Delhi that took place within days of his being sworn in as prime minister, and which he later tried to rationalise in a most unbecoming way; at the IPKF fiasco for which he was primarily responsible and which proved to be tragic in more ways than one; at the much-trumpeted Punjab and Assam accords, both of which are still not implemented; at how the Assam accord, which was meant to stop illegal infiltration from Bangladesh, has in fact become a legitimiser of the menace; at how he started the cover-up operation on the Bofors scandal, converting, in the process, a four-fifths majority in the Lok Sabha in 1984 into an abject defeat for his party in 1989; and look also at how the Bofors cover-up is continuing even today.

After seeing this truth behind the hagiography about Rajiv’s rule, ask yourself: Should India take the risk yet again with immaturity and inexperience? Has India’s oldest political party covered itself with glory by projecting Rahul Gandhi as its “Dhoni”? Has Dhoni earned his captainship on the strength of his performance, or because he is his father’s son? Above all, should the powerful mothers and fathers in our political establishment be allowed to practise nepotism? If you are agitated by these questions, I wholeheartedly recommend that you watch Gandhi My

Father for some answers and some inspiration.

RAHUL GANDHI : Batting for the family ( NOT FOR INDIA)

Batting for the family

Sep 27th 2007 | DELHI
From The Economist print edition
Rahul Gandhi continues his diffident climb to the top of Indian politics

In private, Mr Gandhi is an intelligent conversationalist, anxious to talk about building a better India. But he has not grown in stature since he became a member of parliament in 2004, and seems more at home with development agencies than rough Indian politics. He did not do well when he led the Congress campaign in his home state of Uttar Pradesh earlier this year, and he has been resisting his mother's efforts to persuade him to take a national post.

The Economist(Mar 22nd 2007 ) , "Caste, your vote" : "He (Rahul Gandhi) has done little to justify predictions that he will be prime minister after the next national elections, due in 2009 "

“YOUNG blood in a billion hearts” screamed the front page of the Indian Express newspaper on September 25th, a day after Rahul Gandhi, who has a better chance than most of one day becoming the country's prime minister, was appointed a general secretary of the Congress party, in charge of youth affairs. The headline was not for him, however, but for India's young cricket team that had just won the “Twenty20” World Cup in South Africa, beating Pakistan by a whisker. Congress supporters danced in the street outside the party's Delhi headquarters after Mr Gandhi's appointment. But they were soon subsumed by much more spontaneous countrywide fireworks and other celebrations for the cricketers.

"It is an internal matter of the Congress. But, what has happened is not surprising. They don't seem to believe in democracy. They believe only in dynastic rule and in the rule of succession,As of now, I am not saying anything. You can draw your own inference on the issue," --- JAYA LALITHA

''In the context of Mr Gandhi's promotion, the proverb can be rephrased...'nothing succeeds like failure'...,''- ARUN JAITLY

Recent leaders of the Gandhi dynasty, descendants of Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first post-independence prime minister, have been reluctant converts to politics. Rajiv Gandhi, a prime minister in the 1980s, was pulled in after the death of his brother, Sanjay, against the wishes of his Italian-born wife, Sonia. She now leads the party but was herself loth to take the job when her husband was assassinated in 1991. She eventually did so in order to save the dynasty and the party from collapse. Since then she has worked to ensure the dynasty survives. Rahul, her shy 37-year old son, is her choice as a future prime minister, above his more outgoing and politically astute younger sister, Priyanka.

In private, Mr Gandhi is an intelligent conversationalist, anxious to talk about building a better India. But he has not grown in stature since he became a member of parliament in 2004, and seems more at home with development agencies than rough Indian politics. He did not do well when he led the Congress campaign in his home state of Uttar Pradesh earlier this year, and he has been resisting his mother's efforts to persuade him to take a national post.

Now his reluctance has been overtaken by events. Political divisions over India's proposed nuclear deal with America could bring forward the general election due by May 2009, when many political analysts had been expecting Mr Gandhi to take a top job. And there are important state elections in the coming months. Many believe Manmohan Singh, the current prime minister, was put in his post in 2004 by Sonia Gandhi as a stopgap until Rahul Gandhi was ready. Mr Singh, who was 75 this week, is recovering from surgery on September 15th and working from home. It is not certain how long he will carry on after the next election.

Mahesh Rangarajan, a political analyst, says it is “inevitable” that Mr Gandhi will become Congress's parliamentary leader. But his becoming prime minister will depend on other parties.
Congress has no immediate prospect of winning a clear majority on its own and will need a coalition. With the help of a team of mostly young politicians formed this week to steer him, Mr Gandhi now has to try to rebuild Congress's grassroots support. The team has to turn him into a credible national leader. As one newspaper put it, referring to Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the exuberant 26-year-old Twenty20 captain , “Congress wants Dhoni magic in Rahul.”

September 28, 2007

BOOK : The Baloch and Their Neighbours: Ethnic and Linguistic Contact in Balochistan in Historical and Modern Times

Carina Jahani, Agnes Korn (eds.):
The Baloch and Their Neighbours:
Ethnic and Linguistic Contact in Balochistan in Historical and Modern Times

Wiesbaden (Reichert) 2003
ISBN 3-89500-366-2
380 pages incl. 10 maps, 59 Euro
Info and order form (pdf)

The present volume contains the contributions of an international symposium on linguistic contact in Balochistan. The issues treated range from linguistic contact of Balochi and its neighbour languages in historical and modern times to sociolinguistic questions of multilingualism and to the role of Balochi as minority language in present-day Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and the Gulf States. The volume presents a comprehensive and multifacetted overview of current research on Balochi.

Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag
Tauernstr. 11, D - 65199 Wiesbaden, Germany
Fax: 0049 - 611 - 46 86 13

Agni Missile :Next variant to be inducted within 4 years

Next variant of Agni to be inducted within 4 years: scientist

Jalandhar (Punjab), Sep 26 (PTI) The next variant of Agni having a range of 5,000 km will be inducted into the armed forces withing four years, a senior DRDO scientist said today.
"The next variant will also be fully indigenous and will be able to strike at over 5000 km range besides carrying heavy payloads ... It would be a multiple warhead missile with a capacity to carry four to 12 warheads," Advanced System Laboratory Director Avinash Chander said here.

He was speaking at a talk on "Technology management for integrated guided missile programme with special reference to Agni intercontinental missile" at the DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology.

He said the system would be meticulously designed so that the missile's direction and target could be changed in air.

"We are trying to attain an accuracy level of 100 metres," he said.

The Agni variant will be three-stage solid propulsion with road mobility with composite rocket motors, he said. PTI

Swat a Paradise lost

By: Khurshid Khan

Valley Swat, inhabited mostly by the Yusufzai tribe of Afghan and situated to the north of Pakistan, has witnessed numerous epochs for the last several thousand years. Since the Aryans, who migrated to the valley in 14 th century B.C, Alexander’s invasion in 327 BC, Buddhist civilization recorded by Chinese Buddhist pilgrims in 4th century A.D and the glorious period of the princely State of Swat till the merger with Pakistan in 1969. The Swat Yusufzai enjoyed freedom and neither had paid taxes to Delhi or Kabul not yielded obedience to any foreign law or administrative system. The valley has experienced diverse lifestyles, different worldviews, numerous cultural traditions, and distinct state institutions.

Everything seemed fine with the 5337 square kilometers area of the district and the 1.694701million people with a growth rate of 3.37, of the valley, despite upheavals in the rest of the Pashto speaking areas of the North West Frontier province of Pakistan, till the early nineties. Culturally, the people of Swat valley had been more accommodative, more generous and more open than the rest of the Pashto speaking areas of the N.W.F.P and Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The religious class of the area before the establishment of Swat State, during Swat state and long after Swat state, had always been broad minded and culturally absorbed in the society. They had never been rigid in accepting music, games, western dress, TV, internet and the rest of modern technology.

The valley had one of the highest women literacy rate as compared to the nighbouring districts. Till early nineties, no body among the common folks or the clergy had ever raised any objection to women education in the valley. The religio-political parties would cast a few thousand votes in different constituencies of the valley before 1990s, but they had never been able to win any assembly seat on their own.

The merger of Swat State brought miseries in the lives of the discipline community of Swat. The people of the area were more educated, socially develop, economically prosperous from the neighboring areas. Forests were protected, Fresh waters were clean, law and order situation was exemplary, Justice was speedy and cultural activities were supported and encouraged.

The rule of military dictator, General Zia ul haq, and the so called holy war in Afghanistan affected the resourceful valley Swat. The valley, being situated in PATA (Provincial Administered Tribal Area), provided safe haven for drug traffickers, Arms smugglers and investment place for Pakistani corrupt officials. The State was secular in nature. Queen Elizabeth was among the admirers of the natural beauty of Swat. The Pakistani government could not continue the State policy of modernization and enlightenment but adopted adverse policies, thereby plunging the valley into darkness and bigotism. PATA regulations made the bureaucracy more powerful. They enjoyed unlimited powers and the legacy of corruption began. In 80s the religious seminaries mushroomed, which were sponsored by the state through financial support from Ushar Zakat department @ Rs.360 per student. Resultantly, slowly and gradually the enlightened society of the valley lost its identity. The people of the valley fell victims to frustration, helplessness and powerlessness owing to a corrupt judicial system, broken health and security and an unviable education system.

General Zia‘s doctrine of so called Islamization worked successfully in Malakand Division in general and in Swat in particular. Since the mid-eighties through the early nineties the clergy, who mostly migrated from Afghanistan during Afghan war and after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, got the opportunity to introduce a molested interpretation of the Islamic Sharia’a in the madrassas established with the help of rich Punjabis industrialists, Urdu speaking Muhajars of Karachi and petro-dollars. This interpretation could be considered a new version of Wahabism. The local Ulema (religious scholars) resisted the emergent phenomenon but, probably, the rigid interpretation had already won political power among the illiterate segment of the society.

Among these hardliners was Sofi Muhammad who founded Tehrik-i-Nafaz-i-Sharia-i-Mohammadi (TNSM) in Dir in 1989. Sofi introduced his own interpretation of Sharia’a (Islamic laws). The divisional administration secretly supported Sofi in his endeavours. Moreover, Major Aamir of IB (Intelligence Bureau) forged close relationship with the clergy. The historical verdict of Supreme Court of Pakistan to abolish PATA Regulations created a management gap in Malakand division. To fill the gap Sufi found the right time to demand Sharia’a in Malakand Division and his movement got momentum and ended with bloody clashes between the Swati people and the security forces in 1994.

Maulana Sofi Muhammad gave a decree in favour of seeking military training declaring it compulsory for every Muslim. The TNSM workers were sent to training camps based in Afghanistan and other parts of Pakistan. Maulana Masood Azhar, the imprisoned extremist in India was released in a deal between hijackers and Indian Government in Qanadahar, came to Swat and formed a militant organization, the Jaish-i-Muhammad. He joined TNSM, trained its workers and started its activities along with Taliban in Aghanistan.This was the pioneer organization of suicide attacks in Kashmir and Afghanistan.

The Taliban regime became a source of inspiration for the religious seminaries and masses of Swat and supported it in cash and kind. Volunteers used to go to Afghanistan and took part in war and other activities. The incident of 9/11 changed the world political scenario and Pakistan brought U turn in its foreign policy and withdrew its support for Taliban .United States attacked Afghanistan and thousands of TNSM workers went to Afghanistan under the leadership of Sofi Muhammad for fighting a holy war against US forces. Thousands were killed and many are still missing. It was a very hard time for the militant organizations when their ideal government was dethroned. Pakistan declared these organizations as terrorists and banned them. General Parvez was held responsible by the militants and was declared infidel and agent of the United States of America.

The American presence in Afghanistan and continuous air strikes on the religious seminaries along the border inside Pakistan made the militants more emotional. They succeeded in getting the support of the innocent and simple headed Pukhtun in Pakistan through different means, specially the FM radio. The fall of Taliban accelerated the extremist forces and the coalition of religio-political parties, Mutahida Majlis-e- Amal (MMA), exploited the sentiments of the masses during general election 2002 and won all seats of provincial and national assemblies.

Swat valley is presently witnessing the worst form of anarchy. Militants have challenged the writ of the government. The security forces are paralyzed and the District administration endorses every warning of the militants. Bomb blasts, suicide attacks on security forces confined them to their camps. The criminal silence of MMA government is augmenting the power and terror of the militants. The militants are attacking private properties, Video and Audio shops and barber shops were blown up across the valley. They are threatening girls and forcing the management of Saidu Medical College and other educational institutions to stop imparting education to Female students. When the heads of these institutions brought the matter into the notice of DCO and DPO, these responsible officers of the district administration advised the heads of institutions to act according to the demands of the militants. Women are warned not to go to markets for shopping of day to day utilities.

Swat attracts tourists from all over the world and is considered a haven for national and international tourists and nature lovers. More than 500 hotels and resorts serve the guests. This year tourists avoided visiting Swat, which dealt a huge financial setback to the tourism industry. Mingawara (Mingāora) is a big trade center for the whole of Malakand region. This chaotic situation badly affected the economic activities of the city.

The terrorists have started targeting to kill the influentials of Swat. The attacks on District Nazim and his father, and Mohammad Afzal Khan and his nephew (Tehsil Nazim Abdul Jabbar Khan) in upper Swat created a civil war like situation. But they all have acted responsibly and look towards the government for remedy. The people of Swat considered it an act of target killings. This type of actions hint towards the involvement of agencies who want to achieve their objectives in the international perspective. The old rivalries are instigated for paving the way to civil war. The so called Kisans (peasants) have joined hand with the militants in upper Swat foreshadows the would-be-clashes between the Owners and tenants under the blanket of Sharia’a Movment.

There is uncertainty in Swat because of the hidden enemy and the society is in the grip of severe tension. Human rights are violated on all fronts and no one feels safe on the road, market and work place.

The Provincial government is doing nothing because of up coming elections or probably because of their sympathies with militants and Al-Qaeda. Federal Government is also not taking interest in getting rid of these odds for the reasons known to them. The people of Swat have a feeling of helplessness and are disappointed with the State Authority. They ask the world community and the human rights organizations to put pressure on Pakistan not to create another Waziristan in Swat.

This chaotic situation did not emerge in a single day. It took almost two years. After Sufi’s imprisonment his son in law, Maulana Fazlullah, took over the control of the banned TNSM and started his illegal FM radio in Mamderai, Swat. Maulana declared musical instruments, CDs, TV unIslamic and people were asked to burn them. Female education and polio vaccination were apposed. People were instigated to withdraw their daughters from schools. He not only challenged the government writ but gave asylum to the outlaws of the banned Jaish-i-Muhammad. The Government remained silent spectator then, when it was very easy to curb it. National and international media reported the activities of the Maulana. The people of the area time and again reminded their MPAs and MNAs to do something about it but to no avail. At last the district administration signed a treaty with the clergy and saved its face. The said Maulana has close relations with other extremists residing in Waziristan, Islambad and Bajwar. Maulana’s brother was killed in Bajawar when Army bombed a seminary there. Maulana Supported Gazi Abdur Rashid (now killed in Red Mosque operation) in cash and kind. He used to address big crowds in Mamderai, Swat on telephone.

The Red Mosque incident once again inflamed the dangerous situation of Swat. A series of attacks on security forces began and more than fifty soldiers of Army and police have lost their lives in suicide attacks, bomb blasts and ambushes.

No State authority exists in the valley. Militants have created State within a State or is sit the agenda of the hidden forces? The peace loving people of the world should come forward and play their role in bringing peace to Swat.

Author's Email:

INDIA : University course in missile sciences , helped by DRDO

India college students get chance at rocket science
Tue Sep 18, 2007 1:10pm IST

BHUBANESWAR, India (Reuters) - India's secretive defence research agency has helped launch a university course in missile sciences and opened its labs to students, hoping to infuse young talent into a stagnating technology programme.

India's missile programme has built short- and long-range missiles, including one that can hit targets deep inside China.

But its projects have been hit by time and cost overruns and the programme has also struggled to attract young engineers and scientists in the face of stiff competition from the more lucrative IT sector, experts say.

A first-of-its-kind masters course in applied physics and ballistics, launched this month at Fakir Mohan University in Orissa, hopes to change that, officials said.

"Students have high levels of creativity and we hope their association will help our research activities," W. Selvamurthy, a top Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) official, told Reuters.

"We expect the students from this course to join DRDO after completion of their studies," Selvamurthy, who is DRDO's chief controller of research and development, said by telephone from New Delhi.

Eighteen students selected after a tough screening programme for the two-year course would not only study missile engineering and new technologies, but also get to use DRDO labs in the area where the agency has missile testing facilities, officials said.


"We are trying to open our labs to more and more universities," Selvamurthy said.

Formed in 1958 with a network of 10 laboratories, DRDO today has 51 labs where 5,000 scientists and 25,000 other employees work, according to the agency's Web site.

In April, DRDO successfully tested its most ambitious and longest-range ballistic missile, the Agni III, which is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead more than 3,000 km.


Following is the text the of President, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s address at the second convocation of the fakir mohan university at balasore, orissa today:

“I am delighted to participate in the 2nd Convocation of Fakir Mohan University. My greetings to the Vice-Chancellor, faculty members, staff, students and other participants. I am happy that the name of the University has been derived from Fakir Mohan Senapathy, who was the first nationalist leader of Orissa and is considered to be the father of Oriya literature. I recall his inspiring call in the poem Utkal Bhraman “when there is the bustle of progress everywhere, will Utkal be still in slumber?” Youth will so decide that we will make Orissa an economically developed State. This will be Orissa’s homage to the great thinker Fakir Mohan. He is definitely a great role model for the faculty and students of this University. I take this opportunity to congratulate all the teachers, students and staff of this University and all those who are contributing in building this University into a centre of excellence during the last six years. I am happy to know that this University has been established by an act of legislature for meeting the higher educational needs of Balasore and Bhadrak Districts of Orissa. When I am with you I am reminded of a major event which has made a lasting impact on Indian history regarding the birth of Ahimsa Dharma.

When I go back to 2500 years in history, I see in front of me the Emperor Ashoka conquering all parts of India and walking with great pride. When he came to Kalinga region, the great Kalinga war took place, which is now in the present state of Orissa. With his mighty army, Emperor Ashoka fought and fought and the Kalinga kings were defeated. Emperor Ashoka happily proclaimed and annexed the Kalinga country. In that great full moon night, with the success behind him, Emperor Ashoka walked in the war ravaged battlefield. He stopped suddenly and saw the blood flowing over hundred thousand people who were killed, and many souls crying and moaning. That crying was engulfed with gloom. Suddenly Emperor Ashoka stopped and asked himself, “O! Almighty, what have I done?” This spark of thought entered into the mind and soul of Emperor Ashoka and the great principle of Ahimsa Dharma was born in this land of Orissa.

This Ahimsa Dharma was used by Mahatma Gandhiji in South Africa. The people of South Africa remember the courageous action of Mahatma Gandhi and they are grateful nationally. Apartheid in South Africa at that time were indeed an experience for Mahatma Gandhi and he proved first against apartheid in South Africa. The same principle Mahatma Gandhiji used for liberating India from foreign rule. The youth of our country will get inspired, how our nation was enriched with new philosophy of peace by two great souls: Emperor Asokha and Mahatma Gandhi.

The Balasore region is very close to me and Chandipur was my theatre of action for nearly two decades, when I was in DRDO. I used to spend 50% of my time in the Chandipur and Wheeler Island. From here only, one of the powerful missiles of India AGNI class of missiles have been flight tested and made operational. I am sharing with you this experience which highlights how a vision can be transformed into missions and then it becomes a reality. Success has many dimensions and problems indeed is a partner to the success. Since I am amidst of young people, I thought of sharing some experiences.

Birth of a missile test range at "Chandipur at Sea" is indeed a huge programme for the country. The Interim Test Range and Island missile test centre, now called Integrated Test Range were established in record time of 3 years. It was indeed a great excitement for the technologists and the staff of DRDO when the first AGNI launched successfully during May 1989 in the midst of cyclone threat. Later, establishment of Island Test range in the Wheeler Island followed. The combination of these launch complexes is indeed a world class missile test range. Orissa is fortunate to have this hi-tech complex. Particularly, the students and teachers can become research partners in some of the problems such as meteorology, cyclone prediction, forest environmental development and synthesizing the data from radar, kinetheodolite and telemetry system. Students and Faculty of Fakir Mohan University should have a good link with integrated test range at Chandipur. Let me explain another experience in the island test range.

Considerable amount of tumultuous activities were taking place in the Chandipur range for launching multiple types of missile systems. The most important event which happened in the range was the launch of Agni-II on 11th April, 1999. Six hundred parameters from the missile were monitored in real time through a series of radars, telemetry stations and ship borne instrumentation networked with our own communication satellites. The AGNI with its payload reached the pre-determined target at 2000 kms. The partnership of many labs with academic institutions and industries brought this important success and it is another triumph for self reliance, amidst several technology denials by developed countries.

While establishing the Missile Test Range, DRDO mounted a large programme of planting trees in the whole range area at Balasore, Chandipur, Dhamra, Wheeler Island and road connecting between Chandipur and Dhamra. We had planted over five lakh trees as a part of the afforestation programme. At Chandipur we created an artificial lake called NISARG in a three to four acres of land. Nearly, 10,000 birds of different varieties used to come to this lake every year. Some of the popular birds are Purple Herons, Shoolers, Pintale Ducks and Russian Cormont. To provide good environment to the birds we used to pump water in the lake during summer. In addition, we were also providing a good environment for Olive Ridley turtles at Gahim Matthan in collaboration with the forest department and coast guard. Whenever major facilities are established environmental upgradation has become a part of our programme. Similarly, when RCI (Research Centre, Imarat) was established at Hyderabad, three lakh trees were planted even before the facility became functional. These trees are providing a beautiful green cover for the whole area. In a way, the successful launch of AGNI resulted in getting the sanction for providing dense forest cover in RCI, Hyderabad and Chandipur at Sea. Now, I would like to discuss on the capacity building in the university education.

A good educational model is the need of the hour to ensure that the students grow to contribute towards the economic growth of a nation. Can we sow the seeds of capacity building among the students? There will be continuous innovation during the learning process. To realize this, special capacities are required to be built in education system for nurturing the students. The capacities which are required to be built are research and enquiry, creativity and innovation, use of high technology, entrepreneurial and moral leadership.

The 21st century is about the management of all the knowledge and information we have generated and the value addition we bring to it. We must give our students the skills with which they find a way through the sea of knowledge that we have created and continue with life long learning. Today, we have the ability, through technology, to really and truly teach ourselves to become the life-long learners. This is required for sustained economic development.

The management of knowledge in the 21st century is beyond the capacity of a single individual. The amount of information that we have around is overwhelming. The management of knowledge therefore must move out of the realm of the individual and shift into the realm of the networked groups. The students must learn how to manage knowledge collectively. When the information is networked the power and utility of the information grows as square as stated by Metcalfe's law. Information that is static does not grow. In the new digital economy information that is circulated creates innovation and contributes to national wealth.

Every student in our colleges should learn to know how to use the latest technologies for aiding their learning process. Universities should equip themselves with adequate computing equipment, laboratory equipments, and Internet facilities and provide an environment for the students to enhance their learning ability. In the midst of all of the technological innovations and revolutions we cannot think that the role of the teachers will be diminished. In fact the teacher will become even more important and the whole world of education will become teacher assisted and would help in “tele-porting” the best teacher to every nook and corner of the country and propagate the knowledge.

The aptitude for entrepreneurship should be cultivated right from the beginning and in the university environment. We must teach our students to take calculated risks for the sake of larger gain, but within the ethos of good business. They should also cultivate a disposition to do things right. This capacity will enable them to take up challenging tasks later.

Moral leadership involves two aspects. First it requires the ability to have compelling and powerful dreams or visions of human betterment. Moral leadership requires a disposition to do the right thing and influence others also to do right things.

In sum, inquiry, creativity, technology, entrepreneurial and moral leadership are the five capacities required to be built through the education process. If we develop in all our students these five capacities, we will produce “Autonomous Learner” a self-directed, self controlled, lifelong learner who will have the capacity to both, respect authority and at the same time is capable of questioning authority, in an appropriate manner. These are the leaders who would work together as a "Self-organizing Network" and transform any State as a prosperous State. The most important part of the education is to imbibe the confidence among the students is the spirit of "we can do it". These capacities will enable the students to meet the challenges of our national mission of transforming the nation into a developed country by 2020.

Any University is judged by the level and extent of the research work it accomplishes. This sets in a regenerative cycle of excellence. Experience of research leads to quality teaching and quality teaching imparted to the young in turn enriches the research. Research brings transformation and development and also enhances the quality of education. One of the areas where the University can focus in Balasore district is the development of PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) which involves creation of a cluster of villages and providing physical, electronic and knowledge connectivity to the entire cluster which will provide economic connectivity for a typical population of about 30,000 people. Let me illustrate through an example.

I had visited Periyar Maniammai College of Technology for Women, Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu and inaugurated a PURA Complex. I thought of sharing with you the developmental concept of a cluster of over 65 villages near Vallam, Thanjavur district of Tamilnadu which involves a population of 3 lakhs. This PURA complex has all the three connectivities - physical, electronic and knowledge - leading to economic connectivity. The centre of activity emanates from the women’s engineering college that provides the electronic and knowledge connectivity. I understand that now five of the Periyar PURA villages have been connected with Wi-MAX connectivity. Periyar PURA has health care centres, primary to post graduate level education and vocational training centres. This has resulted in large scale employment generation and creation of a number of entrepreneurs with the active support of 850 self-help groups. Two hundred acres of waste land has been developed into cultivable land with innovative water management schemes such as contour ponds and water sheds for storing and irrigating the fields. All the villagers are busy in cultivation planting Jatropha, herbal and medicinal plants, power generation using bio-mass, food processing and above all running market centres. This model has emanated independent of any government initiative. The committed leadership has been provided by a Women’s Engineering College. Similarly, Fakir Mohan University can select and adopt a cluster of villages near Balasore on the sea coast and give a plan action for development to the Government or corporate houses. The University can become a partner in this rural development effort.

Dr. P.S. Rana, Chairman HUDCO has made a detailed study on the development of coastal PURA in different coastal regions. The salient features of the coastal PURA developed by him are as follows.

Construction of jetties and small and medium sized boat landing centres on the coast in the interval of 10 to 15 km range. Each of these will have a good link road to the main coastal road. Some times road transportation may be complemented with waterways. Establishment of Community Sheds for repair of nets, storing the nets and related equipments of the fishing community and Boat building and repair small scale industries. Electronic Connectivity: All the fishing villages on the coastal areas have to be linked with the District Headquarters through the Broadband fibre and wireless connectivities. Fishing community should be provided with broadcasting facilities through Satellite radios and HAMSAT network. Mobile cell phone with GPS facility may be provided for each boat for emergency communication. This will also provide the local fish school data, local meteorological and local sea state data through SMS from the Village knowledge Centres obtained from near by the Meteorological station, Disaster Management stations, District Headquarter station and the other service providers.

Government should facilitate the training of fishing community in cost effective safe fishing techniques, application of technology for improving the productivity, storage and preservation systems and cost effective marketing, banking & financing systems through the District Headquarters Studio and the connected village knowledge centers. It will also provide adequate warning data for the fishing community on the sea to return to home safely.

These three connectivities -physical, electronic and knowledge will lead and enable the local population to create economic centres such as Cold Storage infrastructure, Fish processing and packaging and marketing for realizing the value added price. This will also provide alternative employment oriented schemes during non-fishing days and for people who are involved in agriculture and other activities. Such economically oriented job creating activities should be the objective of our rural development schemes.

The University can invite Dr PS Rana, Chairman HUDCO, for further discussion and planning of the PURA complex.

For knowledge value addition, knowledge sharing and transmission of lectures by good teachers in real time and interaction with students, Fakir Mohan University has to do networking of institutions through tele-education using EDUSAT connectivity.

I would suggest that Fakir Mohan University can develop a portal which can become a common platform for providing connectivity to the University, affiliated colleges and other institutions. The website can document the case studies and special achievements of each one of the colleges which can benefit the other colleges of the University. You could also include provision for the students to ask questions about their specific problems connected with education, further studies, research and creation of an enterprise in different places in Orissa. This will lead to automatic generation of a database of problem solving and provide quality advice to students of Fakir Mohan University. This website can be used for creating awareness regarding various issues of interest to the faculty members and the students and seeking suggestions for constantly improving the education system of the University innovatively.

Now I would like to recall a great clarion call of indomitable spirit, which was given by Sir CV Raman, at the age of 82. The message is still reverberating in my mind: “I would like to tell the young men and women before me not to lose hope and courage. Success can only come to you by courageous devotion to the task lying in front of you. I can assert without fear of contradiction that the quality of the Indian mind is equal to the quality of any Teutonic, Nordic or Anglo-Saxon mind. What we lack is perhaps courage, what we lack is perhaps driving force which takes one anywhere. We have, I think, developed an inferiority complex. I think what is needed in India today is the destruction of that defeatist spirit. We need a spirit of victory, a spirit that will carry us to our rightful place under the sun, a spirit, which will recognise that we, as inheritors of a proud civilization, are entitled to a rightful place on this planet. If that indomitable spirit were to arise, nothing can hold us from achieving our rightful destiny."

My congratulations to the all the graduates who are passing out from this University today and my best wishes to all the members of Fakir Mohan University in their mission of providing quality education to the youth of Balasore and Bhadrak Districts.”

Hunt oil deal with Kurds creating tension in Iraq: US

The KRG passed its own oil law in August and immediately entered into the exploration deal with Hunt.

The US embassy official, who would not be named, told a media briefing the signing of contracts by the KRG while a controversial national oil bill is still before parliament was undermining national unity.

"We think that these contracts have needlessly elevated tensions between the KRG and the Iraqi government," said the official.

"Both parties share a common interest in the passage of a national law on hydrocarbons and energy sharing. We are pushing all parties to negotiate in good faith and knock off the things that will undermine national unity."

The official said the future of the contract signed for Hunt to prospect for oil in Iraq's northern autonomous Kurdish region was far from certain.

"We advise companies that they could incur significant political and legal risk by signing contracts with any party before the national law is passed,"
said the embassy official.
( AFP)

Official Calls Kurd Oil Deal at Odds With Baghdad

Published: September 28, 2007
BAGHDAD, Sept. 27 — A senior State Department official in Baghdad acknowledged Thursday that the first American oil contract in Iraq, that of the Hunt Oil Company of Dallas with the Kurdistan Regional Government, was at cross purposes with the stated United States foreign policy of strengthening the country’s central government.

“We believe these contracts have needlessly elevated tensions between the K.R.G. and the national government of Iraq,” the official said, referring to the Kurdistan Regional Government. The official was not authorized to speak for attribution on the oil contract.

The tensions between Kurdistan and the central government go well beyond the oil law. Already a semiautonomous region for more than 15 years, Kurdistan in many respects functions as independent state and wants as much latitude as possible to run its region. Recently, the Kurdistan government has pushed to extend its borders to include nearby areas that have sizable Kurdish populations.

Hunt Oil, a closely held company, signed a production-sharing agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government this month. The company’s chief executive and president, Ray L. Hunt, is a close political ally of President Bush and serves on the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

Hunt Oil and the Kurds signed the contract after the Kurdish government passed a regional oil law in August. But it is unclear how the regional law will interact with a national oil law under discussion in the Iraqi Parliament.

Under draft versions of the national law, the central government would have a say in whether individual oil contracts are legal. The Iraqi national oil law is one of the 18 benchmarks established by the Bush administration to evaluate the Iraqi government’s progress.

The senior official said the State Department had advised Hunt Oil, before the signing, that contracts with the Kurdistan Regional Government might contravene Iraqi law once national oil legislation was passed by the Iraqi Parliament. “We think they are legally uncertain,” the official said of Hunt’s contracts with the Kurdistan government.

Iraq’s oil minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, has said the Hunt Oil contract is not valid, though there is a provision for reviewing and possibly approving it in the proposed oil law. The intent of that law is to pool oil revenue to distribute it equitably to the Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish areas of Iraq.

The embassy official said at least four other American and international oil companies had consulted with the State Department about energy investment in Iraq, and all received the same advice.

Kurdistan faced trouble from neighboring countries on Thursday because of the activities of Kurdish separatists who are using the region as a redoubt from which to launch attacks on Iran and Turkey. Kurdish officials said that Iran shelled two areas along the region’s eastern border on Wednesday evening. Ten Iranian artillery shells struck Rayan, a small village about 15 miles from the Iranian border, destroying four houses and killing villagers’ animals. Twelve Iranian shells also hit the Qandil Mountains close to the border, said Jaza Hussein Ahmed, the mayor of nearby Qalat. There were no casualties reported.

Iraqi Kurdish officials bristled Thursday at word that the Iraqi central government would sign an agreement with Turkey on Friday that Kurds fear might pave the way for Turkish soldiers to cross into Iraq to pursue Turkish Kurdish separatists who take refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Turkey has long been in an armed conflict with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), which launches hit-and-run attacks on Turkey from camps in the northern Iraqi mountains. They are fighting for autonomy for Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast.

American forces said Thursday that they were investigating the deaths of nine civilians in a village about 60 miles southwest of Baghdad. The bodies — five women and four children — were found after a raid in Babahani village by American forces on Tuesday, according to a news release.

“Coalition Forces conducted operations in the area using ground and air assets prior to the discovery of the bodies,” the release said.

According to Iraqi military sources, the American raid began around 11 p.m. when a bomb was dropped on one of the houses in which the women and children apparently were staying. Shortly afterward, a second house was struck, killing two men and wounding two others, according to an officer from the Iraqi Army’s Eighth Division, First Brigade. Soldiers then entered a mosque and detained the imam, Mohammed Hassan al-Janabi, the officer said, and the operation was over by 1 a.m.

Recent intelligence reports suggested that staying in one of the houses was a local leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown Sunni Arab extremist group whose leadership is foreign, according to Western intelligence sources.

Nine bodies were also found in Baghdad on Thursday, according to an Interior Ministry official.

Sebnem Arsu contributed reporting from Istanbul, and Iraqi employees of The New York Times from Sulaimaniya, Hilla and Kirkuk.

KRG signs oil and gas contract with US-based Hunt Oil

Erbil, Kurdistan- Iraq ( - The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) together with Hunt Oil Company of the Kurdistan Region, a subsidiary of Hunt Oil Company of Dallas, Texas, and Impulse Energy Corporation (IEC) announced today that they have signed a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) covering petroleum exploration activities in the Duhok area of the Kurdistan Region. Under the terms of the agreement, Hunt Oil Company of the Kurdistan Region will serve as operator. This is the first PSC to be signed by the KRG since the Oil and Gas Law of the Kurdistan Region was issued by the Kurdistan National Assembly, Kurdistan's parliament, in early August, 2007.

Hunt Oil Company of the Kurdistan Region will begin geological survey and seismic work by the end of 2007 and plans to be in a position to drill an exploration well in 2008.

Dr Ashti Hawrami, the KRG Minister for Natural Resources, commented, “The signing of this PSC by Hunt is evidence that the KRG's enactment of a modern and balanced oil and gas law has created a supportive and transparent business environment which promotes investment by international oil companies in our Region for the benefit of all. Revenues from this Kurdistan petroleum development will be shared by the KRG throughout Iraq, consistent with the Iraq constitution and the new Oil and Gas Law of the Kurdistan Region.”

Mr Ray L. Hunt, CEO of Hunt Oil Company in Dallas, Texas, said, “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to be a part of these landmark events by actively participating in the establishment of the petroleum industry in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.”

Mr Mathew Heysel, an IEC representative, added, “We are pleased to partner with Hunt Oil on this important project to develop the oil and gas resources in the Kurdistan Region.”

Hunt Oil Company of the Kurdistan Region is a wholly-owned affiliate of the Hunt Oil Company, Dallas, Texas, USA, which is a part of the Hunt family of companies directed by Ray L. Hunt. Hunt Oil Company is one of the largest privately held independent oil companies and conducts a variety of petroleum related operations in several regions of the world, including a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Peru which is considered the largest project ever built in that country. In addition to oil and gas interests, the Hunt family of companies is engaged in real estate; private investments; refining; electrical power, ranching and farming interests.

Impulse Energy Corporation is a private company that invests in the energy sector in developing economies targeting oil, gas and power.

Kurds welcome US senate resolution calling for federalism

Spokesman for Presidency of Kurdistan Region welcomes US Senate resolution on federalism in Iraq

Spokesman for the Presidency of the Kurdistan Region

The people and government of the Kurdistan Region welcome the adoption of the US Senate resolution calling for the rebuilding of the Iraqi state on the basis of federalism. This resolution conforms with the pillars of the Iraqi Constitution. A federal arrangement for the Iraqi state does not mean division, but rather voluntary union. It is the only viable solution to the problems of Iraq.

Federalism is the sound motor that will drive the construction of the new Iraq. It recognises, without exception, the rights and duties of all constituents in Iraq.

The people of Kurdistan, who have struggled for decades to achieve democracy and freedom, see in federalism the promise of stability and freedom from dictatorial regimes. We welcome this significant resolution in support of federalism, which guarantees the survival of Iraq on the basis of voluntary union.

Turkmenistan and Central Asia after Niyazov

Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.

President Sapirmurat Niyazov, the all-powerful leader of Turkmenistan, suddenly died on December 21, 2006. Because Central Asia is a cockpit of great power rivalry and a potential theater in the Global War on Terrorism, no sooner had Niyazov died than the great powers were all in Turkmenistan seeking to influence its future policies away from the neutrality that had been Niyazov’s policy. Turkmenistan’s importance lies almost exclusively in its large natural gas holdings and proximity to the Caspian Sea and Iran. Because energy is regarded as a strategic asset as much if not more than as a mere lubricant or commodity, Russia, Iran, China, and the United States have all been visibly engaged in competition for influence there. The outcome of this competition and of the domestic struggle for power will have repercussions throughout Central Asia, if not beyond. The author shows the linkage between energy and security policies in Central Asia and in the policies of the major powers towards Central Asia. Beyond this analysis, he provides recommendations for U.S. policymakers as to how they should conduct themselves in this complex situation.


....U.S. diplomatic objectives should work toward opening Turkmenistan to fewer police pressures, moves towards more stable administration with a truly functioning state apparatus that encompass steps towards greater control over the police and Ministry of Interior forces, and the opening up of the country toward foreign competition on an equal basis. Key diplomatic and economic objectives also must be the encouragement of Turkmenistan’s new rulers to consider favorably the possibility of joining the BTC pipeline and making progress towards the TAP line. There also is no doubt that the American position regarding pipelines is one that should coincide with the Turkmen government’s new interests in maximizing commercial benefit and avoiding a Russian monopoly, even though they themselves want to own Turkmenistan’s pipelines. Therefore, Washington should lose no opportunity to point out this harmony of interests. On the other hand, Washington should not adopt a position on the Caspian Sea’s demarcation, especially one that opposes both Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. But since the Azeri and Kazakh regimes support the present proposal for division by coastal...

To succeed in Turkmenistan, the U.S. Government must undertake those policy steps that will offer it the possibility of competing successfully with Moscow, Beijing, and Tehran. To do so requires that we do the following.• First, the administration must ensure that it has the capacity to conduct a unified,multidimensional, and interagency policy in Turkmenistan and, for that matter, across Central Asia.

• It must also realistically assess what our goals for Turkmenistan are, specifically with regard to its remaining neutral or aligning with one or another power.

• This assessment must also include an evaluation of the importance to Washington of the BTC and TAP or TAPI pipelines; the significance of any Caspian participation in U.S.-aided defense projects concerning the Caspian littoral; and critically the extent to which Turkmenistan will open access to U.S. investments in energy related fields and ultimately other industries.

• Especially in view of the recent Russo-Turkmen- Kazakh deals, Washington should make every effort to assist U.S. energy firms to explore in Turkmenistan, discover the additional gas that Berdymukhammedov believes is there, and work to facilitate decisions for alternative pipelines rather than those going strictly to Russia.

• In this context, it is also essential to identify those players who would be receptive to our interests and help them find their way into power and influence in Turkmenistan, while trying to provide for a balanced and stable arrangement that does not let the succession struggle degenerate into violence.

• It also is equally important that we encourage others to work with us or forge a line that commands support among such players as key European states, India, and IFIs.

• Similarly, the readiness to provide military assistance, but only as requested for the limited aims which we ow have there, should be stressed along with the readiness to move forward on the TAP line and greater Central Asian projects outlined in Secretary Rice’s statements and State Department documents.

• Specifically, this means that U.S. diplomatic objectives should work toward opening Turkmenistan to fewer police pressures, moves towards more stable administration with a truly functioning state apparatus that encompass
steps towards greater control over the police and Ministry of Interior forces, and the opening up of the country toward foreign competition on an equal basis.

• U.S. policies ought to aim at reducing the economic and police pressure upon the population and at providing the kinds of social services and counternarcotics assistance that the new regime has called for.

• Key diplomatic and economic objectives also must include encouraging Turkmenistan’s new rulers to consider favorably the possibility of joining the BTC pipeline and making progress towards the TAP line so that Ashgabat can maximize its commercial interests. • Therefore, Washington should lose no opportunity to point out this harmony of interests.

• On the other hand, Washington should not adopt a position on the Caspian Sea’s demarcation,especially one that opposes both Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. But since the Azeri and Kazakh regimes support the present proposal for division by coastal share, we should not oppose Turkmenistan’s decision to support that proposal if it comes about. Continuing uncertainty only holds back investment in energy and in the greater Caspian area more generally. Moreover, stabilization of the Caspian along this line marks a major defeat for Iran. Indeed, given current trends, Iran is the big loser in the Caspian since no major investment in pipelines or exploration in its share of the Caspian appears to be forthcoming.

• In regard to the TAP line, since the ADB strongly supports it, Washington should promote more support from the ADB and work to remove the political difficulties among India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan towards greater energy
collaboration. This also means, of course, a comprehensive effort to stabilize Afghanistan internally and rebuff the growing tide of Taliban attacks there.

• But in Turkmenistan, Washington should also be providing economic and humanitarian assistance, all the while reminding the new rulers of Turkmenistan that diversification in the choice of pipelines and foreign investors is the surest guarantee of Turkmenistan’s independence, their self-proclaimed point of reference.

• As for military issues, Washington should not rush to offer forces or seek bases, which in any case clashes with current policy. But it should make clear that it will look favorably upon the resumption of an active Turkmen cooperation with the PfP program of NATO and facilitate such a return to the PfP program.

• Second, Washington should also make clear that if Turkmenistan, again of its uncoerced free will, wishes to participate in the programs associated with Operation CASPIAN GUARD and help defend its own coastline against proliferation, smuggling, and terrorists, that it would be glad to help Ashgabat to the same extent that it helps
Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in this program. Internal security assistance, however, must be more strictly conditioned than has been the case in earlier examples in Central Asia lest we end up supporting a regime whose actions increase repression and likely instability as in Uzbekistan.

• In crafting our policy toward Ashgabat, we must always remember that demands for major political reform prior to delivering on socioeconomic reform will not advance any of our interests there. Turkmenistan will only listen to an American message when it believes America is a credible friend and will not listen to our political sermons beforehand. Toward that end, a long period of stability and gradually increasing prosperity is essential. Furthermore, the conditions that are necessary for democracy as Americans understand the term are utterly lacking in Turkmenistan. They must and can only be introduced from within, not from above or by force. So we must work with Turkmenistan, not for it or try to lecture to it. Policy should therefore aim at achieving what is realistically achievable in Ashgabat, not what is dreamt of in Washington, for there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of on the banks of the Potomac.

The Emerging Pattern of Geopolitics

Authored by Dr. Peter W. Rodman.

Without ignoring the two wars that are currently taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) sought to reframe the debate over security within a global context. Thus Mr. Rodman’s address sets contemporary security challenges to the United States within a framework of both an Islamist challenge rising from the Jihadi movement across the Muslim world that mostly finds its expression in terrorism and in the dynamics of the rise and decline of great powers. READ MORE

Byting Back -- Regaining Information Superiority Against 21st-Century Insurgents

RAND Counterinsurgency Study -- Volume 1

By: Martin C. Libicki, David C. Gompert, David R. Frelinger, Raymond Smith

U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed to exploit information power, which could be a U.S. advantage but instead is being used advantageously by insurgents. Because insurgency and counterinsurgency involve a battle for the allegiance of a population between a government and an armed opposition movement, the key to exploiting information power is to connect with and learn from the population itself, increasing the effectiveness of both the local government and the U.S. military and civilian services engaged in supporting it. Utilizing mostly available networking technology, the United States could achieve early, affordable, and substantial gains in the effectiveness of counterinsurgency by more open, integrated, and inclusive information networking with the population, local authorities, and coalition partners. The most basic information link with the population would be an information technology (IT)-enhanced, fraud-resistant registry-census. The most promising link would come from utilizing local cell phone networks, which are proliferating even among poor countries. Access to data routinely collected by such networks can form the basis for security services such as enhanced-911 and forensics. The cell phones of a well-wired citizenry can be made tantamount to sensor fields in settled areas. They can link indigenous forces with each other and with U.S. forces without interoperability problems; they can also track the responses of such forces to emergencies. Going further, outfitting weaponry with video cameras would bolster surveillance, provide lessons learned, and guard against operator misconduct. Establishing a national Wiki can help citizens describe their neighborhoods to familiarize U.S. forces with them and can promote accountable service delivery. All such information can improve counterinsurgency operations by making U.S. forces and agencies far better informed than they are at present. The authors argue that today’s military and intelligence networks — being closed, compartmentalized, controlled by information providers instead of users, and limited to U.S. war fighters — hamper counterinsurgency and deprive the United States of what ought to be a strategic advantage. In contrast, based on a review of 160 requirements for counterinsurgency, the authors call for current networks to be replaced by an integrated counterinsurgency operating network (ICON) linking U.S. and indigenous operators, based on principles of inclusiveness, integration, and user preeminence. Utilizing the proposed ways of gathering information from the population, ICON would improve the timeliness, reliability, and relevance of information, while focusing security restrictions on truly sensitive information. The complexity and sensitivity of counterinsurgency call for vastly better use of IT than has been seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here is a practical plan for just that.


What kind of information system should the United States employ to conduct counterinsurgency most effectively? How can the system best serve users (rather than what someone has determined are users’ needs)? How best can the qualities of timeliness, reliability, and security be balanced? How can information supplied by the intelligence communities, by the observations of security forces, and by information that only the population can provide be integrated in one system? How can such information capture the complex dimensions of the human terrain over which insurgencies are fought?

No breakthroughs in information science or massive investments in network infrastructure are required to improve information capabilities for counterinsurgency. Nevertheless, the following suggestions could make information capabilities work better:

Face recognition technology based on likelihood-of-appearance indicators.

The integration of the various desiderata of the cell phone system into a coherent software suite.

The integration of near-commercial-quality video cameras into helmets, rifles, and other portable gear.

Methods of porting the Wiki model to cell phones.

Improved indexing and categorization of incidents, observations,and other material relevant to counterinsurgency.

Automated relevance and reliability-ranking methods.

Improved techniques for auditing computer usage for signs of suspicious activity.

Human behavior and learning research to improve our understandingof how users might be trained to make effective use of ICON, notably in countering insurgency

Egypt's NDP votes amid turmoil

Egypt is on the edge of its greatest political upheaval in a quarter century, and must foster genuine and inclusive civil, media, political and security reforms to prevent a potentially fraught transition of power.

Commentary by Dominic Moran in Tel Aviv for ISN Security Watch (28/09/07)

Beset by rumors of his failing health, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's government is seeking to clamp down on the opposition media and political groups as it goes to the polls amid growing popular discord.

Despite rumors to the contrary, National Democratic Party (NDP) cadres are expected to confirm the 79-year-old president as party chair at the upcoming party congress in November, delaying the inevitable choice of a successor.

Many analysts believe that Mubarak's son Gamal is being groomed to take over from his father at the next presidential election, which is currently scheduled for 2011 but may be pushed forward if rumors of the president's ill health are borne out.

The three-stage internal NDP elections, reportedly involving up to 1.1 million party members, continued this week with polls at the governate level. They are designed to bring an infusion of new blood into the party, setting the stage for the NDP's ninth congress.

The polls look set to shape voting blocs for the meeting, in which delegates will vote for the first time for the party chair and the party's central decision-making bodies: the 29-member general secretariat and 13-strong politburo.

Speaking to the daily Al-Ahram, independent MP Gamal Zahran alleged that the surprise decision to maintain the right of the president to nominate chairs of the 28 NDP provincial offices - and his untrammeled right under party rules to nominate politburo and secretariat members - demonstrated that the NDP was not serious about opening higher positions to meaningful democratic contest.

The head of Mubarak's staff, Zakaria Azmi, appeared to confirm that there would be no run-off for the NDP leadership, claiming the existence of a consensus within the party on the re-election of the president as party head.

The NDP congressional ballots will be watched closely by analysts for signs that the group of younger cadres associated with Gamal are asserting their dominance over proceedings, or whether a genuine opposition to the father-son succession is coalescing within the party.

It is unclear whether the president will be willing to increase speculation that Gamal will replace him by securing his election as NDP Secretary-General at the conference - a move he has appeared to baulk at in the past.

Efforts to display a patina of democratic process within the NDP stand in stark contrast to an ongoing crackdown on the opposition media and political parties.

Four editors of independent Egyptian tabloid publications were sentenced to one year in jail and LE20,000 (US$3,500) fines on 20 September after being found guilty of insulting the president and the "symbols" of the NDP in recent stories that included pieces alleging Mubarak was in waning health.

A military tribunal - acting under newly passed, constitutionally mandated powers allowing the president to choose which judicial bodies will hear sensitive cases - is hearing the cases of 40 Muslim Brotherhood members charged with money laundering.

The Brotherhood members were picked up during a series of arrest sweeps in recent months that have seen the detention of several hundred members of the banned Islamic movement. The recurrent arrest raids have targeted leaders and financiers of the organization, which, through independents, snared 88 seats in the 2005 parliamentary elections.

The government refused this week to allow the Brotherhood to hold its traditional Iftar celebration - a meal marking the end of the daily Ramadan fast. This gathering has become an annual show of strength for the movement and the refusal to countenance the celebration shows the lengths authorities are willing to go to in order to prevent the Brotherhood from enjoying a public platform.

The opposition united for the first time in March in a mass parliamentary walkout over constitutional amendments strengthening presidential prerogatives and limiting judicial oversight of elections.

These political machinations are occurring against a societal background blighted by a series of scandals involving security force abuses; a Bedouin protest movement in the Sinai against alleged mistreatment and state bias; and a wave of labor unrest marked by a series of large-scale strikes.

On Friday, 27,000 textile workers in the northern town of Mahal entered their sixth day of strike action, claiming US$10 million they believe is owed them in back wages by the Misr Spinning and Weaving Company.

Ultimately, the Mubarak government has no interest in fostering even transient alliances between opposition parties, which undermine its efforts to sideline the Brotherhood, or of fomenting a popular backlash against free market economic reforms.

On the cusp of its greatest political upheaval in a quarter century, Egypt needs to foster genuine and inclusive civil, media, political and security reforms to prevent a potentially fraught transition of power and secure the legitimacy of the current governance system.

Dr Dominic Moran, based in Tel Aviv, is ISN Security Watch's senior correspondent in the Middle East and the Director of Operations of ISA Consulting.

Tracking Yemen's 23 Escaped Jihadi Operatives – Part 1


By Gregory D. Johnsen

In mid-September, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh issued a stern warning to the Wa'ilah tribe in northern Yemen: turn over the six al-Qaeda suspects you are sheltering or face serious repercussions (al-Wasat, September 12). The six men that Saleh believes have found refuge with the tribe near the Saudi border are the remnants of a group of 23 prisoners that escaped from a Yemeni political security prison on February 3, 2006. The prisoners escaped by tunneling out of their cell and into a neighboring mosque, which has since been detailed in a lengthy narrative written by one of the escapees and published by the Yemeni paper al-Ghad. The escapees included a number of prominent al-Qaeda militants, among whom were individuals convicted of carrying out attacks on the USS Cole in 2000 and on the French oil tanker Limburg in 2002.

Six of these suspects have since been killed in clashes with Yemeni or U.S. forces, 11 have either turned themselves back in to authorities or have been recaptured and six of the suspects remain at large. Many of these individuals have continued to fight for al-Qaeda since their escape, and one of them, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, has since been named the new head of Al-Qaeda in Yemen.

Despite differences of age and background, the 23 men who were being held in the cell were linked together through shared experiences. Nearly half of the escapees, 11, were born in Saudi Arabia to Yemeni parents. Several of the men were arrested in late 2002 after a series of bombings in Sanaa and Marib. Seven of these men were part of a 15-man cell that was later charged with planning to attack five foreign embassies as well as to assassinate the then U.S. Ambassador Edmund Hull. Three of the men were convicted of being part of an 11-man cell that was charged with plotting to carry out attacks in Yemen and abroad. Among the escapees, there are also two sets of brothers, Hizam and Arif Mujali and Mansur and Zakariya al-Bayhani, who are themselves brothers of Ghalib and Tawfiq al-Bayhani, who are currently in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay. Two other escapees, Qasim al-Raymi and Fawaz al-Rabay'I, also have brothers in Guantanamo.

This two-part series presents a biographical sketch of each escapee, along with his current status.

The Dead

Umar Sayd Hasan Jarallah (1979-2006): Jarallah was from the Red Sea port city of Hudaydah. Jarallah was also known as Abdullah al-Gharib and Ibn Hafiz. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in February 2005 for his role in the attack on the Limburg. Along with al-'Umda, Huwaydi and Zayd, Jarallah was hidden for one month following their escape by Muhammad Hajir (22nd May, April 29). He killed himself along with Ahmad Muhamad al-Abiyad in a failed suicide attack on an oil facility in Marib on September 15, 2006. One guard was killed in the attack on the Safir facility (al-Sharq al-Awsat, September 21, 2006).

Shafiq Ahmad Umar Zayd (?-2006): Zayd was born in Saudi Arabia to Yemeni parents and is known by the kunya Abu Abdullah. He was extradited to Yemen from Saudi Arabia along with two other individuals in 2003. He was part of an 11-man cell, which was charged with forging passports, weapons and explosives possession, planning to travel to Iraq and forming an armed gang to carry out attacks in Yemen. Along with Mansur al-Bayhani and Abdullah al-Wada'i, he was convicted only of forging passports. Ibrahim al-Muqri, who was part of the same trial, was cleared of all charges (Yemen Times, March 24-27, 2005). All of the men, however, remained in prison until they managed to escape in February 2006. As was mentioned above, Zayd was sheltered by Muhammad Hajir for one month following his escape. He killed himself along with Hashim Khalid al-'Iraqi in a failed suicide attack on an oil port in Hadramawt on September 15, 2006.

Fawaz Yahya Hasan al-Rabay'i (1979-2006): Al-Rabay'i was born in Saudi Arabia, the third of four brothers and four sisters (News Yemen, October 9, 2006). He is also known by the kunya Furqan al-Tajayki (al-Ghad, October 2006). He attended al-Falah school in Saudi Arabia, where he learned to recite the Quran. Along with nearly one million Yemenis, the family was expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1990 as a result of Yemen's support for Saddam Hussein following his invasion of Kuwait. His mother is known as Umm Hasan, after her oldest son. Hasan is a bus driver with six children. According to his family, Hasan is no longer close to them, as he was arrested on two separate occasions in order to put pressure on his younger brothers. Hasan complained that his brothers were trouble makers, and that when he was in jail his children went hungry.

The second brother, Abu Bakr, is currently awaiting sentencing in Yemen for his role in a series of al-Qaeda plots. The youngest brother, Salman, is being held by the United States in Guantanamo Bay (News Yemen, October 9, 2006). According to his father, he was sent to Afghanistan by his family to search for Fawaz, and was subsequently arrested and turned over to the United States. His father denies that either Abu Bakr or Salman have any links to al-Qaeda (News Yemen, October 9, 2006).

During the late 1990s, al-Rabay'i took a job in the personnel department in the presidential office in Yemen. In early 2000, he traveled to Afghanistan with two other men, including a former agent in Yemen's Political Security Organization (News Yemen, October 9, 2006). Like many young men who head off to fight in Afghanistan or Iraq, al-Rabay'i did not tell his family where he was going. Later, he called his father, Yahya, to tell him that he was in Afghanistan. The family claims that they knew nothing of his activities in Afghanistan, although he did mention to his father that his salary contradicted Islamic law and that his goal was to die as a martyr (News Yemen, October 9, 2006). According to one source, al-Rabay'i trained with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan (al-Ghad, October 2006). He is also known to have spent time with at least two of the September 11 hijackers, Muhammad Atta and Zayd Jarah (al-Ghad, October 2006).

Al-Rabay'i spent one year in Afghanistan before returning to Yemen in 2001, as the head of a 12-man cell (News Yemen, October 9, 2006). In 2002, the United States asked Yemen to arrest him on the suspicion of belonging to al-Qaeda. He escaped security forces two separate times that year before finally being captured in 2003. In August, he managed to escape a raid on his house in Sanaa dressed only in his pajamas (al-Sharq al-Awsat, October 2, 2006). The raid did result in the death of one member of his cell, Samir al-Hada'. He also escaped from a security checkpoint, when the car he and Hizam Mujali were traveling in was stopped in the southern governorate of Abyan. Instead of allowing their car to be searched, the two shot one of the two soldiers, Hamid Khasruf, manning the checkpoint and fled (Yemen Times, April 7-13, 2004). The pair was later arrested in March 2003 in Marib (BBC, April 5, 2003). During the time that al-Rabay'i was on the run, he was sheltered by different tribes in Marib and Abyan.

On August 30, 2004, al-Rabay'i was sentenced to 10 years in prison for attacking a Hunt Oil helicopter in November 2002, which was reportedly done with the authorization of Abu Ali al-Harithi (Yemen Times, May 31-June 2, 2004). He was also fined 18.3 million Yemeni riyals, roughly $99,450, for his role in a 2002 attack on the Civil Aviation Authority building in Sanaa (News Yemen, October 1, 2006). Six months later, in February 2005, al-Rabay'i was again on trial for his role in the attack on the French oil tanker, Limburg, and for killing a soldier. The court sentenced him to death on these charges. During his trial, al-Rabay'i frequently alleged that he was being tortured by Yemeni security officers (Yemen Times, December 27-January 2, 2004-2005). He did, however, find time during his trial to arrange to be married to a daughter of Yahya Salih Mujali, the brother of Hizam and Arif (News Yemen, October 9, 2006).

Following his escape from the security prison in February 2006, he was charged with planning the dual suicide attacks in Marib and Hadramawt on September 15, 2006. This operation was partially funded by four million Saudi riyals that al-Rabay'i received from Bandar al-Akwa through Said al-'Akbar. Both al-Akwa and al-'Akbar are currently awaiting sentencing for their roles in the attack (22nd May, April 29). During this time, he also paid a visit to his father, Yahya, who was in the hospital. According to reports that surfaced after his death, al-Rabay'i did not wear a disguise when he made the visit (News Yemen, October 9, 2006). Al-Rabay'i was killed on October 1, 2006 along with Muhammad al-Daylami during an early morning shoot-out with Yemeni security forces in the Bani Hashish region just north of Sanaa. In a story about the escapees, the Yemeni newspaper al-Ghad mentioned that some sources claim that al-Rabay'i was murdered in "cold blood" after he surrendered himself to soldiers (al-Ghad, June 25). Security forces also arrested three individuals it claimed had assisted the pair (al-Sharq al-Awsat, October 2, 2006).

Muhammad Ahmad Abdullah al-Daylami (c.1978-2006): Al-Daylami was charged with participating in the November 2002 attack on a Hunt Oil helicopter, planning to attack five foreign embassies and a 2003 plot to assassinate Edmund Hull, the U.S. ambassador in Yemen. He was sentenced to five years in prison in February 2005. In October 2006, he was killed along with Fawaz al-Rabay'i in a shootout with Yemeni security forces in the region of Bani Hashish.

Yasir Nasir Ali al-Hamayqani (c.1978-2007): Al-Hamayqani was also known by the kunya Abu Khalid. He was charged with traveling to Iraq. Al-Hamayqani was killed in clashes with Yemeni security forces in the Sabah district of the southern governorate of Abyan on January 15 (al-Sharq al-Awsat, January 17). According to a security official, al-Hamayqani was in possession of a machine gun and two hand grenades when he was surrounded by security forces. He managed to wound two officers before he was killed (al-Sharq al-Awsat, January 17).

Mansur Nasir 'Awadh al-Bayhani (1974-2007): Al-Bayhani was born in 1974 in the city of Tabuk in Saudi Arabia to a Yemeni migrant worker from al-Rida'a in the governorate of al-Baydha. He took his kunya, Abu 'Assam al-Tabuki, from his boyhood home. Mansur's brother, Zakariya, was also among the escapees. Additionally, both his older brother Tawfiq (1972) and his younger brother Ghalib (1980) are currently in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay. Al-Bayhani made his way to Afghanistan via Pakistan in the 1990s, where he joined the Taliban. Later that decade, he was part of Samir Salih Abdullah al-Suwaylim's Arab brigade that fought in Chechnya against Russian forces. During their time in Chechnya, al-Suwaylim, who was better known as al-Khattab, was poisoned by Russian security forces, while al-Bayhani was wounded in the right eye. Following the death of Suwaylim, he traveled back to Afghanistan to fight U.S. forces, before returning to Saudi Arabia where he was arrested and extradited along with five companions, including his brother Zakariya, to Yemen.

Al-Bayhani was eventually brought to trial, along with 10 others, on charges of forging passports, weapons and explosives possession, planning to travel to Iraq and forming an armed gang to carry out attacks in Yemen. He was acquitted in March 2005 of all charges save for forging Saudi, Iraqi and Yemeni passports (Yemen Times, March 24-27, 2005). Shafiq 'Umar and Abdullah al-Wada'i were also convicted of forging passports. Ibrahim al-Muqri, who was part of the same trial, was acquitted of all charges. All of the men, however, remained in prison until they managed to escape in February 2006. Al-Bayhani later turned himself in to Yemeni authorities, and was later released following a security guarantee. Mansur eventually made his way to Somalia, where he was killed in a U.S. naval strike by the USS Chafee on June 2, 2007.

** Part Two of this article will examine those suspects who have surrendered or were captured and those who are still at large.

Increasing Talibanization in Pakistan's Seven Tribal Agencies

By Hassan Abbas
Source: Jamestown Foundation

The government of President Pervez Musharraf is facing policy failure in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. Taliban forces and their sympathizers are becoming entrenched in the region and are aggressively expanding their influence and operations (especially in Tank, Dera Ismail Khan and Swat Valley in the North-West Frontier Province). A lethal combination of Musharraf's political predicament and declining public support, a significant rise in suicide attacks targeting the army and the reluctance of soldiers deputed in the area to engage tribal gangs militarily further exacerbates this impasse. Observing this, many militants associated with local Pakistani jihadi groups have moved to FATA to help their "brothers in arms" and benefit from the sanctuary. In the midst of this, election season is descending upon Pakistan and Musharraf's survival prospects are diminishing. This dim scenario has consequences for Pakistan's policy in the FATA region. Pakistan will predictably revert to "peace deals" in the short-term, leading to a lowering of the number of military checkpoints in the area (Daily Times, September 23). If history is any indicator, this will help Talibanization in the region and provide more opportunities to the ISI to indirectly support some Taliban commanders sympathetic to Pakistan's objectives. Overall, this will likely reduce trouble in downtown Islamabad, but the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area will remain on fire.


Poor coordination between the Pakistani army and NATO/ISAF, Hamid Karzai's failure to make Afghanistan a functional state and the abundance of drug money in southern Afghanistan are some of the important variables in this context. Additionally, Musharraf himself admits that the crisis in the area is increasingly turning out to be a Pashtun insurgency. However, the factors that "limit" Pakistan's effective clampdown on all things Taliban in FATA remain linked to its fear about increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan if the Taliban are comprehensively defeated, and the lack of Pakistani public support for anything that appears to be done in pursuance of the U.S.-led global war on terrorism. These perceptions significantly affect the morale of army commanders and soldiers operating in the region. Musharraf has largely failed to make a strong case to his people about the need for strong military action against the Taliban in FATA. He has often called this policy as being in the "national interest," but has not convincingly explained how the army alone defines the national interest. More so, Pakistanis have seen the military defining such interests too often in the past with devastating effects for the state, and interpret Pakistan's current fight against the Taliban in terms of succumbing to U.S. demands and interests.

With this backdrop in view, this analysis outlines what is happening today in each of the seven tribal agencies in FATA and what the implications are for Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States.

Bajaur Agency

Bajaur Agency overlooks Afghanistan's Kunar province, where U.S. forces are battling al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri escaped the reportedly CIA-led attack at Damadola in Bajaur on January 13, 2006, while one of his close relatives was among the 18 killed. Damadola is considered a stronghold of Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) units, and the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) has representation in parliament from Bajaur (Daily Times, February 13, 2006). Bajaur during the 1980s and 1990s was known as the "Poppy Kingdom," and many Afghan refugee camps (functioning until 2005) were a source of pro-Taliban recruitment in the area.

In August this year, talks between the Taliban and a tribal jirga (supported by the Pakistani government) to improve the law and order situation in Bajaur failed as the Taliban wanted the government to first release some arrested militants (Daily Times, August 7). Trouble had broken out in the area with the news of the proposed construction of a U.S. helipad in Afghanistan's Kunar province as the tribal leaders sympathetic to the Taliban framed it as a threat to Pakistan (Daily Times, June 17). The strength of the Taliban in the area can be gauged from two recent events: since July this year, they have successfully enforced Friday as the weekly holiday instead of Sunday, which is the official weekly holiday (Daily Times, July 14); secondly, Abdul Ghani Marwat, who headed the government's vaccination campaign in Bajaur, was killed in a bomb attack in February this year amid the Taliban-sponsored rumor that the Pakistani government-run polio vaccination drive was a U.S. plot to sterilize Muslim children (Daily Times, February 20). The rumor was so widespread (projected by Taliban fatwas) that, according to government estimates (which are always conservative), parents of around 24,000 children had refused to give them the polio vaccine (Daily Times, Feb 20).

Khyber Agency

Khyber Agency is the main artery connecting Peshawar to Kabul via the Khyber Pass. Today, many men are seen wearing traditional caps in the agency because of fear, as a local religious outfit sympathetic to the Taliban, Lashkar-i-Islam (Army of Islam), has declared it binding on all men of the agency to wear caps. The leader of the group, Mangle Bagh, in his radio address last week issued this edict and announced that violators' heads will be shaved and they will face a monetary fine (Statesman, September 22). It is pertinent to point out that there is a serious battle going on in the agency between Ansar-ul-Islam—led by Pir Saif ur Rahman—and Lashkar-i-Islam—led by Gul Maiden and Mufti Munir Shakir—since 2005-06 (Daily Times, November 17, 2006, April 1, 2006, December 3, 2006). Both factions have built their militias over the last few years and have entrenched themselves in castle-like strongholds. In essence, this is an intra-Sunni (Deobandi vs. Barelvi) war (Daily Times, March 30, 2006).

After banning music in the tribal areas, the local Taliban in Khyber Agency have also started fining taxi drivers and citizens Rs 500 (about $8) for listening to music cassettes in their cars (Daily Times, March 1). Also recently, militants started distributing pamphlets in Bara Bazaar in Khyber Agency saying that the "Taliban have finally reached Bara," while warning that "if anyone tries to hinder our movement and activities, we will launch a holy war against them" (Mashriq, September 3).

In comparison to other tribal agencies, Khyber Agency (because of its proximity to Peshawar, the capital of the North-West Frontier Province) is more accessible to Pakistani government functionaries and some development work has been done in the area. For instance, in 2005, Stephen Hadley, the then adviser on national security to President Bush, inaugurated a primary school building project in Surkamar town of Khyber Agency that was financed by the U.S. and Japanese governments in collaboration with the FATA Secretariat (Daily Times, September 28, 2005). Conditions have changed for the worse since then. The extent of the writ of the state can be ascertained from the fact that around a dozen people were killed in June this year when the Taliban attacked the house of the Khyber Agency political agent, Syed Ameeruddin Shah (Daily Jang, June 1).

Kurram Agency

Surrounded by lofty mountains and Afghan territory on three sides, Kurram Agency is the second largest tribal region in FATA. Its headquarters is in Parachinar, just about 90 kilometers from Kabul. According to intelligence estimates, it was also the first geographical point where fleeing al-Qaeda members from Afghanistan landed after the September 11 attacks. Within Pakistan, the route to Kurram goes through Kohat district of the NWFP where permits are obtained to travel to Kurram. Many al-Qaeda militants had moved on to Kohat because Kurram Agency is widely known as pro-Northern Alliance because of its significant Shiite population—a factor that has impacted Taliban objectives in the agency negatively. Shiite-Sunni violence remains the hallmark of this agency, as pro-Taliban factions believe that the Shiites of the area are active against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Various peace jirgas were instituted to bring peace to the area, but without much success (Mashriq, April 14). In April 2007 alone, around 100 people were killed in sectarian clashes (Daily Times, April 28).

The government of Pakistan is planning to construct two small dams in the agency at a cost of 400 million rupees in fiscal year 2007-08 to improve the agricultural sector and thereby improve the economic situation in the area. This will be an important test case for Pakistan, success of which can help the state machinery to increase its control at least in this area as it is an important transit point for cross-border movement into Afghanistan.

Mohmand Agency

Sandwiched between Bajaur and Khyber agencies, this area was considered to be a relatively peaceful region. Pro-Pakistan government tribal leaders still have some control, which is evident from the fact that houses of those giving sanctuary to some proclaimed offenders were attacked as recently as last week (Daily Times, September 23). This was in pursuance of a recent peace deal inked between the Mohmand Agency political administration and the Safi tribesmen, in which the Safi tribesmen agreed to not provide any sanctuary to foreigners (The News, September 15). They also agreed to protect government property and allow the government to move freely in the area, ensuring the safety of roads that pass through the agency. The presence of 200 tribal elders during the signing of the agreement shows some element of success on the part of the government, but the very nature of the deal explains that the government's writ was failing before.

The relative peace in the agency in the last few years owed a lot to the constructive work done by the Pakistani army in the area in 2003-04—by building roads, clinics and schools (Daily Times, July 15, 2004). One of the secrets of this success was sealing the agency's 68 kilometer border with Afghanistan by the Pakistani army in late 2003 (Dawn, July 14, 2004). Unfortunately, conditions have changed since then. In recent months, Taliban militants occupied two Khasadar checkpoints in the Qandharo and Halimzai areas of Mohmand Agency and snatched weapons from officials manning the post. In early September, 10 soldiers of the Frontier Corps were kidnapped in the area as well (Daily Times, September 3). The most tragic development, however, has been the blowing up of a hospital, al-Sehat, earlier this month. It was built by an NGO and located about 10 kilometers away from the Mohmand Agency headquarters, Galanai. It was meant to discourage NGOs operating in the area as the armed men mercifully forced the hospital staff to leave the facility before the attack (The News, September 17).

North Waziristan Agency

As early as late 2005, Pakistani Taliban leaders had declared an Islamic state in North Waziristan. Pakistan opted to cut a peace deal with the power brokers in the area in September 2006 (after convincing the U.S. administration of its utility), but the strategy failed (Daily Times, March 2). Now, abductions of government functionaries and soldiers of the Frontier Corps are a matter of routine. The Taliban of the area maintain that direct U.S. attacks amounted to a violation of the peace deal and hence they are retaliating. Roadside bombs are now a common occurrence. Even those providing food to the army units in the area are targeted (Dawn, September 24). For Musharraf, this is the worst of times because given his precarious political situation, any military action before his re-election as president in October this year is expected to backfire politically. Furthermore, he has committed to give up his position as the army chief after the presidential election, which means he will no longer be actively commanding the Pakistani army.

Orakzai Agency

Orakzai Agency was also largely considered a relatively better governed area within FATA until 2005, but Shiite-Sunni battles of the adjacent Kurram Agency spilled over, creating sectarian tension that consequently attracted the Taliban to this agency. The quarrel over a shrine that both communities venerate became a point of contention. The government was tardy in resolving the dispute and the political agent of Orakzai Agency unduly sided with one of the groups, further complicating the crisis (Daily Times, October 22). Even before this issue, the Taliban patron in Orakzai Agency, Akhunzada Aslam Farooqui, was known to be a close ally of Taliban leader Mullah Omar (Dawn, November 6, 2001).

Like other agencies, Taliban activities are expanding into adjacent districts of the NWFP from this agency as well. In a recent development in Kohat, which is part of the NWFP and borders Orakzai Agency, local Taliban have warned tailors to strictly observe religious codes while sewing clothes for men and women. In a letter sent to tailors, the Taliban threatened to blow up the shops of those not following the orders (Dawn, September 24).

South Waziristan

South Waziristan is at the center of Taliban and al-Qaeda activities in the region along with neighboring North Waziristan. Recently, Mehsud tribesmen aligned with Taliban forces abducted 205 Pakistani troops (135 army soldiers and 70 Frontier Corps troops) along with seizing 20 of their vehicles. The most striking fact, however, is that the government forces offered no resistance while being kidnapped. After more than three weeks, a majority of the soldiers are still in the custody of the Taliban, and the government has been practically forced to engage in negotiations with them. This reflects government weakness in the face of their growing strength and influence, to say the least. Pamphlets being distributed in the agency, while warning local tribes not to side with government forces, assert that "like in Afghanistan, we have established suicide squads for attacks on troops and their allies in Pakistan" (Daily Times, September 3).

Earlier this year, the Pakistani army partially succeeded in tackling al-Qaeda through supporting Maulvi Nazir, a Taliban leader somewhat sympathetic to government objectives. He started an effective campaign against Uzbek militants aligned with al-Qaeda in the area and largely accomplished his goal of evicting Uzbeks from the agency. However, he is pursuing his religious agenda unabatedly, and it is hardly distinguishable from the Taliban's worldview. The death of notorious militant leader Nek Mohammad (now remembered as a hero in the area) in 2004 has helped the Pakistani army take some control out of the hands of Taliban militants, but the vacuum created by his elimination seems to now be filled, and Taliban forces have revived their influence and control.


A UN report released earlier this month said that 80 percent of suicide bombers in Afghanistan had come from the Waziristan agencies. Yet while the Pakistani government has offered to introduce reforms in FATA, little has been done (Dawn, September 26). Political agents continue to dole out funds to handpicked people, often in an attempt to buy peace—hardly an inclusive policy. The $750 million worth of U.S. aid for the uplift of FATA is in the pipeline, but there is no publicly known strategy in place on how to channel the funds, leading to much apprehension and conspiracy theories about who will really benefit in the area.

Furthermore, Pakistan has been rattled by 39 suicide attacks in 2007, so far killing around 350 people, and most of these attacks targeted the Pakistani army, the Frontier Corps and government officials in FATA and the NWFP (GEO TV, September 19). A series of attacks in the Rawalpindi region in August this year were especially meant to attack the Special Services Group (an elite commando unit) and the ISI. This is unprecedented in Pakistan. Many interpret these attacks as a consequence of Musharraf's tough handling of the Red Mosque crisis in July. Clearly, a majority of these attacks relate to the volatile FATA situation and the Pakistani army is now on the defensive. The killings of Abdullah Mehsud and Mullah Dadullah were expected to hit Taliban forces hard, but the Taliban are showing uncommon resilience. Indeed, Musharraf's capacity to respond militarily is curtailed because of political compulsions. For Afghanistan and the United States, this means a troublesome scenario. Pakistan's return to democracy may potentially change things for the better, but Musharraf's move in this direction is sluggish and uncertain.