December 29, 2007

2007 marks Manmohan Singh’s Dysfunctional Governance



Source: OFFSTUMPED

If the impasse over the Indo-US Nuclear Deal explained the policy paralysis of a delinquent Government at the Center, one must wonder what explains the current spell of dysfunctional governance ?

433 news releases by the Press Information Bureau in the last 30 days.

Not one on the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, CCEA.

None on the Cabinet Committee on Security, CCS either.

None on from any of the myriad Group of Ministers, GoM with anything significant to report.

None from any of the many empowered Group of Ministers, eGoM either that Pranab Mukherjee chairs.

34 Press Releases with references to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Almost all of them have to do with the Prime Minister inaugrating some conference. With the exception of the Chief Minister’s Conference which saw some sharp policy differences between the Prime Minister and the rising star of the BJP, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, there was hardly anything substantial that the Prime Minister said or did. If that clash brought to fore Manmohan Singh’s Communal Socialism this particular release by the PIB hardly received any press coverage.

Any guesses what this is about ?

please look at the arrangements that are being made for the comfort of our pilgrims. Whatever efforts were required, we made. We have Antulay Ji, Ahmed Saheb, Pranab Mukherjee Saheb, they have taken great pains to ensure that our pilgrims are looked after well. But, if there are any deficiencies, you can point that out and the officials on the spot will be available to set matters right. So with these words, I once again congratulate you for undertaking this sacred pilgrimage. May the purpose for which you are performing this sacred pilgrimage be successful

The Prime Minister taking time out from his busy schedule while not fighting the War on Terror, while not dealing with Internal Security and not while not securing Indian Strategic Interests to meet with the Haj Goodwill Delegation.

Karan Thapar today wrote an editorial on the Modification of Politics. The piece is honest in its assessment of the likely future impact of Mr. Modi on national politics but it is Thapar’s response to what he calls ”Modification” that is amusing.

there is only one person who can do that …. She has to rival Modi’s appeal — both his magnetism and his myth — and symbolise the alternate vision

No not Mayawati. Thapar is not that imaginative.

It’s Sonia Gandhi. It may be an irony that an Italian-born woman, a widow who till 1998 detested politics, should transform into one of the twin poles of Indian politics, but it could also be an inescapable fact. No other person from the anti-BJP parties has the appeal or the nation-wide image to rival Modi.

Offstumped Bottomline: As we enter 2008 the choices will be stark and clear. The likes of Thapar will continue to be in denial that is about being for or against so called liberalism/secularism but the reality is different. It will be a choice between

Executive Delinquency of the Manmohan Singh variety that stoops to appease special interests, Islamist ones at that, or a Strong Executive that delivers while pandering to none.

Events across the border in Pakistan will make an uncompromising attitude on National Security the defining issue in 2008. Manmohan Singh’s lack of leadership, insomina and amnesia will come back to haunt.

Mehsud denies killing Bhutto: Al-Qaida

Agence France-Presse
Saturday, December 29, 2007 (Peshawar)

An alleged Al-Qaida leader Baitullah Mehsud, blamed by the Pakistan government for killing Benazir Bhutto, denied any involvement in her death, his spokesman said on Saturday.

''He had no involvement in this attack,'' spokesman Maulana Omar said in a telephone call. ''This is a conspiracy of the government, army and intelligence agencies.''

The spokesman said he was calling from Pakistan's Waziristan area, a lawless tribal region where Pakistani government forces have been battling Islamist militants.

''It is against tribal tradition and custom to attack a woman,'' Omar said.

He said the transcript released by the government, allegedly of a phone call between Mehsud and a militant discussing Bhutto's death after the killing, was a ''drama'' and expressed sadness over her assassination on Thursday.

He said it would have been ''impossible'' for militants to get through the security cordon around the campaign rally where she was killed.

''Benazir was not only a leader of Pakistan but also a leader of international fame. We express our deep grief and shock over her death,'' Omar said.

Earlier, the Pakistan government had released transcripts of an alleged phone conversation between two Al-Qaida leaders claiming that Benazir was killed by two of their men.

According to the transcripts, the conversation was between alleged senior Al-Qaida leader Baitullah Mehsud and another militant Maulvi Sahib.

The Pakistan Interior Ministry claimed it had intercepted the phone conversation just after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Following is the alleged phone call transcript:

Maulvi Sahib: Congratulations, I just got back during the night.

Baitullah Mehsud: Congratulations to you, were they our men?

Maulvi Sahib: Yes, they were ours.

Baitullah Mehsud: Who were they?

Maulvi Sahib: There was Saeed, there was Bilal from Badar and Ikramullah.

Maulvi Sahib: Ikramullah and Bilal did it.

Baitullah Mehsud: Then congratulations.

Baitullah Mehsud: It was a tremendous effort. They were really brave boys who killed her.

Maulvi Sahib: Mashallah (Thank God). When I come I will give you all the details.

Assassination of Opposition Leader Bhutto Leaves Pakistan’s Transition to Democracy in Limbo

http://www.globalinsight.com/SDA/SDADetail11287.htm

Benazir Bhutto’s assassination has led to further deterioration in the security situation while leaving the fate of January’s parliamentary elections up in the air.

Global Insight Perspective

Significance
Bhutto’s assassination has led to a surge in violence across the country. The party of opposition leader Nawaz Sharif has decided to boycott January’s parliamentary elections while the government debates whether to postpone the polls.

Implications
Pakistan’s parliamentary elections, scheduled for 8 January, will probably be delayed, and it is also possible that a state of emergency will be re-imposed if the escalation in violence persists.

Outlook
Pakistan’s transition to democracy and progress in clamping down on Islamic extremism and political violence has been called into question.

Risk Ratings
Global Insight has decided to leave Pakistan’s political and security risk ratings unchanged until it becomes clear if the current period of instability is to persist and leave a permanent scar on institutional stability.



Benazir Bhutto, the head of the Pakistan People’s Party, was assassinated in a suicide attack yesterday at a campaign rally in Rawalpindi, Punjab province. Bhutto, 54, was killed along with at least 16 of her supporters. The attacker reportedly shot Bhutto in the neck before blowing himself up. Doctors declared her dead at 5:25 pm local time (1225 GMT). The assassination comes two weeks ahead of Pakistan’s parliamentary elections, scheduled for 8 January. Bhutto was buried in the south of her home province of Sindh today. The government has ordered the closure of all schools, businesses and banks as the nation begins three days of mourning.


Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf called the assassination a “big tragedy for the nation” and stated that "this brutality is the handiwork of those terrorists against whom we are fighting". The international community echoed these sentiments. U.S. president George W. Bush called on Pakistanis "to honour Benazir Bhutto's memory by continuing with the democratic process for which she so bravely gave her life". India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh noted that the attack highlighted the “common dangers” faced by India and Pakistan. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that Bhutto's assassination "represents an assault on stability in Pakistan and its democratic processes". Bhutto’s assassination has seen oil prices rise past $97 per barrel and stock markets weaken, as concerns mount over a resurgence in international terrorism in the wake of destabilisation in Pakistan.


Possible Perpetrators

There is already significant speculation over the perpetrators of the assassination. CNN yesterday uncovered an email exchange between Bhutto and her friend and U.S. spokesman Mark Siegel after the first assassination attempt on her return to Pakistan in October (see: Pakistan: 19 October 2007: Carnage Marks Former PM's Return to Pakistan as Bombers Strike Rally). In it, Bhutto said that she “would hold Musharraf responsible” if attacked. She accused the president and former army chief of not providing her with adequate security and claimed that militant “sympathisers” in the government were behind the attack in October. The fact that her assassination occurred in Rawalpindi, which is the base of the Pakistani military and intelligence services, has also fuelled speculation over the government’s complicity in the assassination. The six-week state of emergency that was imposed by Musharraf resulted in curbs on press freedoms, which means that candidates for next month’s parliamentary elections have had to depend on public appearances rather than television broadcasts to campaign, which also put Bhutto at greater risk.


Pakistan’s interior ministry has noted that “extremist elements” were behind the attacks and also noted that Bhutto was on an al Qaida hit list. This follows a report by the Pakistan-based ARY TV network that al Qaida had claimed responsibility for the attack. In a video message this month al Qaida’s number two, Ayman al-Zawahri, called for attacks on all the candidates in next month’s parliamentary elections. More than 40 suicide attacks have occurred across Pakistan in 2007, claiming the lives of over 800 people. Musharraf has also survived a number of assassination attempts, two of which occurred in Rawalpindi in 2003—the same city where Bhutto was assassinated.


Bhutto had also been targeted by a number of other extremist groups. A tribal warlord from the Waziristan region, Baitullah Mehsud, was quoted in a Pakistani newspaper (although he later denied the comments) as saying that he would welcome Bhutto's return with suicide bombers. She was also labelled as an infidel by numerous Pakistani insurgent groups, including Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Hezb-ul Mujahedeen.


Security Situation Deteriorates

A security blanket has been thrown over the country, most notably in Bhutto’s home-province of Sindh, where a reported 16,000 soldiers have been deployed, with 10,000 in Karachi alone. Since the assassination 19 people have been killed in unrest in Karachi and other parts of southern Sindh Province, as well as in Lahore in Punjab province. Government buildings, vehicles and a branch of U.S. fast food chain KFC have been attacked, indicating a heightened risk for westerners and western affiliated businesses. Violence has also been reported in the cities of Peshawar in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Multan in Punjab province and Jacobabad in Sindh, which is the hometown of interim prime minister Mohammedmian Soomro.


Fate of PPP and Pakistan’s Parliamentary Elections

The Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PP)) remains one of the country’s most popular parties and Bhutto’s assassination is likely to grant it further support through “sympathy votes” or a “martyr effect”. As such, it will most likely want the elections to continue as planned, assuming it finds a suitable replacement to lead the party. The feudal structure of politics within Pakistan has led to the dominance of the Bhutto family over the PPP. Benazir Bhutto’s children are too young to take up the mantle of leadership while her husband Asif Zardari is widely regarded as corrupt, being known as “Mr 10%” during Bhutto’s time in office. The most plausible successor is party vice-president Makhdoom Amin Fahim, who like Bhutto is from a powerful feudal family in Sindh province. Aitzaz Ahsan, a lawyer who gained fame fighting against military rule, is also a possibility, although he lacks a sufficiently strong patronage network.


The government has not yet decided whether to delay next month’s parliamentary elections. It has stated that it will announce its decision after consulting all of Pakistan’s political parties. Nawaz Sharif, head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), who also returned from exile in November, has called for a boycott of next month’s parliamentary elections. He has stated that if the government goes ahead will polls they will “not be credible” and will “destroy the country”. He also noted that Bhutto’s assassination was proof that next month’s election would not be free and fair. This is an allegation he has continued to raise on the basis of the curbs on press freedom; the lack of a free judiciary, after the Supreme Court was purged following Musharraf’s declaration of emergency rule in November; the continued detention of former Supreme Court judges, including former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry; and amendments to the constitution that bar the next parliament from questioning the legality of the emergency period. Sharif has also renewed calls for Musharraf to step down as president; he claims Musharraf's re-election in October was unconstitutional as he was voted for by an outgoing parliament while he held the dual role of president and army chief. A resignation is unlikely, however, given the further turbulence this could cause in the country.


While the government has so far not given any hint on whether it will re-impose a state of emergency, it remains a distinct possibility. Musharraf justified imposing emergency rule on 3 November partially through the deteriorating security situation. If the current wave of protests and violence persists, he may re-impose emergency rule in the interests of state cohesion, although such an action is likely to incur further wrath from the population and the international community.


Outlook and Implications

Pakistan is likely to fall back into a period of turmoil over the coming months as an impasse grows. While the United States and the international community have continued to call for elections to be held to schedule, if the security situation continues to deteriorate this will become impossible. Furthermore, even if the elections are held it is no longer clear who could take Bhutto’s place, both within the PPP hierarchy and as one of Pakistan’s most secular, pro-Western civilian politicians. The planned boycott by Sharif further hobbles the credibility of any electoral process, while his call for nationwide strikes and his party's outright opposition to Musharraf's presidency will fuel civil unrest and tensions. The idea of a power-sharing agreement between prime minister and president, which could have underpinned stabilisation in the political environment if Bhutto had won the elections, has also been fundamentally undermined. On the other hand, any further delay to Pakistan’s reversion to democracy or in a worst case scenario, a re-imposition of the state of emergency, could fuel a further deterioration in the security environment throughout the country. Militants may escalate suicide bombings to capitalise on current destabilisation.


Global Insight has decided to leave Pakistan’s political and security risk ratings unchanged for the time being in order to determine whether recent events are transitory or if they will leave a permanent scar on Pakistan’s institutional development, the move back to democracy and progress in clamping down on Islamic extremism. Global Insight downgraded Pakistan’s security risk rating to 4.5 following implementation of the state of emergency in November and held it at this level even after the emergency was withdrawn on 15 December. As such, we believe that the current rating captures the security situation within Pakistan. Nonetheless, we will further downgrade the rating if the current deterioration of the security environment following the assassination of Bhutto persists. Meanwhile, the political risk rating was upgraded in December to 4.0. This came after Musharraf declared an end to the six-week state of emergency; stepped down as chief of army staff before being sworn in for a second term as president; permitted the return of secular opposition leaders Bhutto and Sharif; and set the date for parliamentary elections on 8 January. We will downgrade the risk rating if next month’s parliamentary elections are delayed and, in the worst case, if the state of emergency is re-imposed and the reinstitution of democratic due process is subverted

RUSSIA : The Ghost of Administrations Future

Comment by Vladimir Frolov
Special to Russia Profile

There Are Three Possible Scenarios for Power-Sharing in a Medvedev-Putin Administration

A year ago at the ExxonMobil Russia seminar, I predicted that Putin had already chosen his successor and that the chosen one was Dmitri Medvedev. Three weeks before Putin agreed to lead United Russia in the Duma elections and hinted at he might become Prime Minister, I wrote in my Russia Profile column that Putin saw himself as the Russian FDR. He wanted three terms and planned to move from president to prime minister, the only legally acceptable way for him to stay in power and accomplish his mission – making Russia a first-rate world power.

Since both predictions came true, it might be foolhardy to try one’s luck any further. After all, the road to analytical glory is littered with predictions and forecasts that never materialize.

Still in the spirit of the holiday season (at this time of year, no one reads political columns and your gaffe could easily be missed), I am inclined to venture another guess, to predict how Medvedev and Putin will govern this country….together.

Here are a few questions that are essential to answer.

How will they share power? What are the risks of shared power?

Power will not be shared. Real power will be where Putin is, at least for a while. It is obvious that Putin will not fade from the political scene and will remain the principal player – the Leader of the Team and Leader of the Nation. He will not be a Russian Den Xio Ping. He will be a Russian FDR.

Putin has already said he will not initiate constitutional changes to shift the executive powers from the Kremlin to the White House. That is largely unnecessary – the office of the prime minister under the Russian Constitution is very powerful and endowed with all the necessary responsibilities and powers.

The only crack in the armor is the Russian President’s ability to fire prime-ministers at will and without notice, as Yeltsin and then Putin both did. This provision will be altered to require consent of the Duma. And indeed, according to a recent press report, the Kremlin has already ordered its lawyers to draw up legal remedies to this problem. To usher Prime Minister Putin out of office, the remedies would require a four-fifths majority in the Duma and a two-thirds majority of the Federation Council – an unimaginable scenario under PM Putin. The change would only be for the better; the ability of Russian presidents to fire their governments at any time is a destabilizing factor that needs to be eliminated if stability is the watchword of a Putin administration.

The executive powers will naturally drift to PM Putin owing to his personal authority and popularity with the Russian people. The precedent exists in Soviet history. Brezhnev, as the Party’s General Secretary for many years, did not hold any state positions, but it was evident to everybody, including foreign leaders, who the real boss was in the country.

It is also likely that Putin will become the formal leader of the United Russia Party and will have even more control over the political landscape. We now know why United Russia cast the Duma election as a referendum on Putin’s rule. Medvedev will definitely win the presidential election in March, but I would be surprised to see him win more than 64 percent of the vote, the tally United Russia got in the Duma elections. This will also underscore that Putin has more legitimacy than the new president.

The security services are formally part of the Russian government and Putin will not relinquish his complete control over them. Putin can establish governmental inter-agency commissions that would incorporate the security services and make them report to the Prime Minister. In my opinion, he and Medvedev will alternate in chairing the weekly Security Council sessions on foreign and domestic policy. Moreover, Putin will continue to exercise decisive influence on personnel decisions made by Medvedev regarding the security services. Medvedev is very likely to defer to Putin on this.

And to keep Medvedev politically in check, Putin will pressure him to appoint a Kremlin chief of staff whom Putin can trust to manipulate the political climate in Putin’s favor. That man is likely to be Vladislav Surkov while Sergey Sobianin moves over to the Cabinet (although Surkov’s appointment as Presidential Chief of Staff would also strengthen Medvedev since the two men enjoy a very close personal relationship).

How long will this arrangement last?

1) Medvedev for real – Putin temporary.

Medvedev will not be a figurehead president or a seat holder for Putin. Rather, Medvedev will play the role of junior partner to Putin studiously preparing to take full control of Corporation Russia. Putin will stay for a while to ensure that Medvedev takes full control and the elites do not upset the orderly transition. Medvedev will prepare the day when Putin may decide to retire. This will only come when Putin feels that Medvedev is up to the job of saving Russia. Were Medvedev to prove his mettle, Putin may well retire as CEO in a couple of years. Medvedev will have the ability to gradually build his own governing team and introduce his own policy initiatives.

The only thing we have to figure out now is who will go to the G8 summits. Can they both go? The answer is yes. The precedent exists. In the late ‘90s during the French “cohabitation” President Chirac and Prime Minister Jospin both went to the G7 summits but for different reasons – they did not trust each other enough. Putin and Medvedev may both go exactly because they trust each other completely.

2) Putin for real - Medvedev temporary.


Putin will return to the Presidency in 2012 for another two year term. His position as Prime Minister is temporary and is needed only for the purpose of securing the assured return to the Kremlin. He cannot leave since he wants to complete his mission of saving Russia. He also needs to keep in check the brawling security services that are fighting to secure a better deal in the transition.

The power elites are clearly rattled by his “game of hockey” and Putin perhaps overplayed the orchestration part of his succession. He clearly had different scenarios at play simultaneously sending encouraging signals to different people at once (that is his habit) and people were getting unhinged and disoriented. Siloviki clearly wanted Putin to stay on as president signaling that they might not recognize the authority of someone other than Putin. The war of the services and the arrest of Storchak to undermine Kudrin are clear signs that the services were about to become independent policy actors with their own political agendas. Putin had to stay as Prime Minister to keep his guys in check and will have to return to the Kremlin in 2012 for the same reason.

3) Real President Medvedev – but the country is different.

Putin is elected President of the Union State with Belarus in a couple of years. There are signs that Putin might have been negotiating for this during his official visit to Minsk last week. Putin’s position as prime minister will serve as a good platform for such a transition, but where would it leave Medvedev? A regional governor? And why would Putin do that?

Now an uneducated guess – I would bet money on scenarios two and three, where scenario three could be a combination of three and one.

Will United Russia's constitutional majority and Putin’s leadership of the Party improve governance? Will Putin launch real reforms?

Economic reform will continue. Modernizing infrastructure and social services, particularly health care and the pension system will be top priorities, as well as improving the quality of life in rural areas and small towns which still live third-world conditions.

Diversifying the Russian economy and stimulating innovative industries will be at the top of the agenda, but state capitalism is not on the cards and as Putin indicated yesterday re-privatization will actually occur as the state corporations become globally competitive.

Governance will improve through a more politically powerful Duma and a much more powerful cabinet. Apart from having Putin lead the cabinet, it is now clear that, in September, Putin assembled the current cabinet for himself – it is a Government of the best and the brightest that he can be proud to lead.

The powerful Duma and the powerful Cabinet will become “countervailing institutions” – to use Secretary Rice’s term – to the omnipotent presidency. The system of checks and balances will reappear. Curtailing the powers of the president to fire governments would serve as a powerful stabilizing factor, signaling Russia’s evolution along the lines of the French system.

Most importantly for the Putin system, the “consent of the governed” is essential and measures to manage that consent through propaganda and state controlled media, as the Soviet experience shows, are effective only to a point. Bad governance and incompetence can destroy the legitimacy of Putin and his chosen successor if they fail to ensure a steady increase in the incomes of the governed.

Democracy is a process. It requires hard work of the demos. For now the demos is more focused on inconspicuous consumption, car credits and mortgage rates. It treats the Putin system as the lesser evil that does not interfere much with their lives, but misfortune and incompetence are known to overcome political apathy.

Will the anti-Western rhetoric of the campaign have a lingering effect after the new president takes office, or will it be forgotten as Russia "gets on with business"?

It is true that anti-Western rhetoric has gone somewhat overboard. But this is a reaction to Western misconceptions and a clear anti-Putin bias in Western media and the policy community. When Gary Kasparov is portrayed on CNN as a real rival and an equal to Putin or when Putin is directly accused of ordering Litvinenko’s murder, it makes one wonder whose rhetoric is causing more damage.

The substantive side of Russian criticism of the West, the focus on double standards, the opposition to democracy promotion will be maintained. Russia will continue to defend its interests, but the key characteristic of Putinism is pragmatism, sometimes brutal pragmatism.
This will help avoid a rhetorical race to the bottom of the diplomatic ladder. Medvedev will serve as a moderating influence while Putin may allow himself more leeway.

Will Western business interests be affected by the deterioration of East-West relations? How will the future U.S. administration deal with Russia?

Western business interests will be protected. The Medvedev-Putin Government will be a very good government for foreign investors. The future U.S. administrations will work with Russia on issues where cooperation is achievable and desirable, but will seek to contain damage caused in tense areas.

INDIA : MINISTRY OF DEFENCE ,YEAR END REVIEW

DEVELOPMENT OF BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENCE SYSTEM RFP FOR 126 MULTI-ROLE COMBAT AIRCRAFT JOINT DEVELOPMENT OF FIFTH GENERATION FIGHTER AIRCRAFT
15:51 IST

YEAR END REVIEW 2007

MINISTRY OF DEFENCE



The successful launch of Interceptor Missile (AAD) towards developing a ballistic missile defence system, test flight of Agni-III (A3-02), user trial of Akash Missile by Army and Air Force, Handing over of first batch of land version of BrahMos missile systems to Army and successful conduct of 4th Military World Games were some of the significant events in the Ministry of Defence during the current year. The issue of Request for Proposal (RFP) for the purchase of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft for Indian Air Force, the arrival of first batch of two Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers from UK, Signing of the Agreement with Russia on the Joint Development of 5th Generation Fighter Aircraft, First meeting of Indo-German High Defence Committee, Meeting of the Indo-French High Committee Meeting and approval of Parliament to the Armed Forces Tribunal Bill were some other major events during the year.

INTERCEPTOR MISSILE

The country took a significant step towards Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) and joined the elite club of USA, Russia and Israel when an interceptor missile successfully targeted the ‘hostile’ missile off the Orissa coast twice in early December. The Endo-Atmospheric AAD Interceptor missile test fired from Wheeler Island intercepted the target missile at an altitude of 15 km from launch surface at supersonic speed.

AGNI - III

The Agni – III was successfully launched on April 12, 2007 from the Wheeler Island, off the coast of Orissa. The 16 meter long missile weighing 48 tonnes, lifted off successfully from its Rail Mobile Launcher System leaving a trail of orange and yellow smoke. The missile which has a range of more than 3000 kms is capable of carrying a pay load of 1.5 Tonnes.

AKASH MISSILE

Mobility trials as part of user’s trial for Army were conducted at Pokharan during 11 to 29 Jun, 2007 followed by Flyover Trials of Akash Weapon system as part of Air Force User Trials at Pokharan during 15 to 17 Nov 2007. The User’s Trials were also successfully conducted by ITR, Chandipur during 13 to 19 Dec 2007.

BRAHMOS MISSILE SYSTEM

First batch of land version of BrahMos missile systems was handed over to the Army. Installation of multi-missile vertical launcher was also completed on board naval ship INS Ranvir. The missile, capable of firing from underwater, is ready for evaluation test so that future submarines will have BrahMos missiles. Development of air version and its interface with different types of aircraft is in progress.

LIGHT COMBAT AIRCRAFT - Tejas

Till Dec 2007 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) has completed 785 flights. The program achieved the most significant milestone, when it successfully test fired the Close Combat Missile R-73. This historic event marked the beginning of weaponisation of Tejas. In September, LCA Tejas PV-1 created another milestone as it made a successful first flight with two 800 Ltrs drop tanks under the wing stations. On December 10, the Tejas LCA programme received yet another major fillip with the first successful flight test on PV-2 using Lightening Laser ranging and Laser spot seeking Pod, which can provide the pilot with day and night picture of terrain.

MILITARY WORLD GAMES

The 4th CISM Military World Games was successfully organized from October 14 to 21, 07 at Hyderabad and Mumbai wherein over 5000 soldier-athletes from 101 countries participated. The Games held outside Europe for the first time had 13 disciplines. Three new world records were set up during the games in swimming, parachuting and sailing. Out of 101 participating countries, 49 countries won medals in one event or the other. India’s performance in the Games was the all time best as it secured 10 medals (2-Gold, 1-Silver and 7-Bronze)

ACQUISITION OF INS JALASHWA

Landing Platform Dock INS JALASHWA was commissioned in the Navy in June this year. This is the first ever procurement of a ship by the Indian Navy from the United States Navy under the Excess Defence Article Programme and through the Foreign Military Sales route of the US Defence Forces. It is capable of carrying over 900 fully armed troops along with thirty vehicles, four landing craft and six helicopters.

JOINT EXERCISES

Indian Army held joint exercises with the Armies of China, UK, Maldives, Russia and Singapore. It was for the first time when the Armies of India and China held joint exercise at Kunming in Yunan province of China. 80 soldiers each from India and China attended this five-day long joint exercise on anti-terrorist operations. The Indian Air Force carried out Joint exercises with the Air Forces of France and Russia. Indian Navy carried out joint exercises with the Navies of USA, Russia, Japan, Oman, Australia, France, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore

FIRST BATCH OF AJT

The first batch of Two Hawk Mk 132 Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) aircraft from UK reached India on 12 Nov 07. The Hawk trainers will impart stage-III training to the newly commissioned fighter pilots of the IAF at Bidar in Karnataka from June, next.

FRIGATES FROM RUSSIA


A contract for the acquisition of three follow-on stealth frigates of P1135.6 class has been concluded with Russia on Jul 14, 2006, with the planned delivery of the first ship scheduled in Apr 2011. All three ships are being built at Yantar Shipyard, Kaliningrad. The three follow-on frigates would be fitted with indigenous BrahMos missile system instead of the earlier Club-N missile system

ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES

Indian Army conducted expeditions to Mount Everest, Cycle rally from Leh to Kanyakumari, Motorcycle rally from Imphal to Siachen and Car rally from India to Myanmar. The Indian Air Force’s microlight aircraft flown by Wg Cdr Rahul Monga and Wg Cdr Anil Kumar arrived at Air Force Station Hindon on 19 Aug 07 creating a ‘New World Record’ of fastest round the world trip. Indian Sail training ship INS Tarangini had set sail on Jan 10, 2007, for a ten-month odyssey, named ‘Lokayan 07’. The voyage took the ship to 23 ports spread over 16 countries. The ship entered Kochi on completion of the voyage on Oct 29, 2007.

RELIEF MATERIAL TO BANGLADESH

Cargo aircraft of Indian Air Force and 4 Amphibious ships of Indian Navy carried food and relief materials for the cyclone affected people of Bangladesh during November and December 2007.

JOINT DEVELOPMENT OF FIFTH GENERATION FIGHTER AIRCRAFT


India and Russia signed a landmark Intergovernmental Agreement for the joint development and joint production of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), marking the beginning of cooperation in the development of state of the art new technology major weapon systems. The agreement was signed by the Secretary Defence Production Mr KP Singh and Deputy Director of the Federal Service for Foreign Military Cooperation Mr. Vyacheslav Dzirkaln in the presence of the Defence Minister Mr. AK Antony and his Russian counterpart Mr. Anatoly Serdyukov in Moscow. The watershed agreement was signed at the conclusion of the Seventh Meeting of the India- Russia Intergovernmental Commission for Military and Technical Cooperation.

FIRST MEETING OF INDO-GERMAN HIGH DEFENCE COMMITTEE

India and Germany have agreed to increase defence cooperation in a number of areas including exchange of expertise in peace-keeping operations, disaster management, etc. In the first Indo-German High Defence Committee meeting held in New Delhi, the Federal State Secretary for Defence of Germany Dr. Peter Eickenboom assured India to provide transfer of technology in armament procurement and joint development of armament platforms wherever possible. Germany has also assured India that it will be an open and reliable partner in all areas of defence cooperation.

INDO-FRENCH HIGH COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE COOPERATION

The 10th Meeting of Indo – French High Committee on Defence Cooperation (HCC) was held in New Delhi. The Defence Secretary Shri Vijay Singh and Mr. Thierry Borja de Mozota, Ministerial Representative of the French Defence Minister, headed the respective delegations at the two-day talks. Three sub-committees also met on the sidelines of the HCC. The Sub-Committee on Military Cooperation charted a plan for service to service cooperation activities during the forthcoming year while the Sub-Committee on Strategic Issues discussed matters of mutual strategic interests. The Sub- Committee on Defence Industry Procurement and Research & Technology discussed matters of Transfer of Technology, joint development, production and research.

PROCUREMENT OF 126 MEDIUM MULTI-ROLE COMBAT AIRCRAFT

The Request for Proposal (RFP) for the procurement of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) at an estimated cost of Rs. 42,000 crores for the Indian Air Force was issued to six vendors – Russia’s MIG-35(RAC MiG); Swedish JAS-39 (Gripen);Dassault Rafale (France); American F-16 Falcon (Lockheed Martin); Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon (Made by a consortium of British, German, Spanish and Italian firms). The 211-page document deals with various issues relating to initial purchase, transfer of technology, licensed production and life-time maintenance support for the aircraft.

ARMED FORCES TRIBUNAL

Both Houses of Parliament passed the Armed Forces Tribunal Bill. It had taken long years’ of painstaking efforts to get legislative approval for this Bill. The establishment of Armed Forces Tribunal will go a long way in providing speedy justice to thousands of serving and retired Armed Forces personnel.

Iranian Commander Highlights Army Power

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Threats against our country have not differed in the last 27 years (since the onset of the Islamic Revolution), rather we have grown more powerful, Commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran's army said here on Saturday.



Major General Ataollah Salehi reiterated full preparedness of the army's ground, naval and air force to defend Iran against any possible threat, reminding that the army has grown more prepared and powerful in designing, producing and utilizing conventional and modern weaponries.

"As regards air defense systems, we are capable of targeting any kind of enemy aircrafts with any range," he added.

Enemies Pushed Back by Iranians' Resistance

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- An Iranian lawmaker said here Saturday that resistance of the Iranian nation has contributed a major role in defusing enemies' plots, making them retreat from their belligerent stances against the Islamic Republic.




"As regards the country's foreign policies, specially the nuclear issue, government fortunately adopted and implemented desirable policies which yielded fruit due to national support and resistance," representative of Karaj at the Islamic Consultative Assembly Rashid Jalali Jafari told FNA.

"In the nuclear issue, for instance, when enemies of the Islamic Revolution witnessed resistance of the Iranian nation, they withdrew and announced themselves that Iran had not violated any rules," he added.

"Enemies sought a moment of delay, ignorance or doubt from the side of the Iranian nation in order to deprive the Islamic Republic from its inalienable nuclear rights forever.

"But the Iranian nation luckily stood up to their bullying behavior with vigilance," the legislator concluded.

Medvedev brands to help promote products

15:30 | 29/ 12/ 2007


MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti economic commentator Vlad Grinkevich) - Russian food producers have shown as much political awareness as politicians lately: they are seriously concerned about the next president who could be a useful advertising tool.

The moment Vladimir Putin named Dmitry Medvedev his chosen successor, the Federal Service for Intellectual Property, Patents and Trademarks (Rospatent) received numerous bids to register "presidential" brands, [all of them having to do with bears since "medved" is Russian for "bear"].

It probably won't be long before grocery store shelves become specked with vodka Volodya i Medvedi (Vladimir and Bears), Medvedevka, or chocolates Tsar Medved (The Bear King).

Russians are known for their unfailing trust in a good and fair tsar. Russian market experts cite this belief as the key reason why playing with the name of the current head of state always gives a brand some competitive advantage.

The day after Medvedev was nominated as a presidential candidate, Rospatent had its hands full with applications from producers to register a host of trademarks like Medvedevka, Tsar Medved and Medvedka. The applicant registering these trademarks, Inso-Energo, plans to use the bear-related brand names for alcohol, soft drinks, and candy. Kaufman Production consulting with Vinexim has applied to register Volodya i Medvedi brand, while Postnoff & Co, vodka Russky Medved (Russian Bear).

They have probably been inspired by the success of Putinka vodka, bottled by Moscow's Kristall distillery since 2003 on the orders of Vinexim, the Moscow-based company that owns the Putinka trademark. Within a year, the "presidential" vodka gained 2.7% of the Russian market in money terms and came in second after Zelenaya Marka with 4.2% by the end of 2006.

Despite the multiple assurances from Vinexim spokesmen that their brand had nothing to do with the president, but was derived from the Russia word "putina" which means "fishing season," everybody knows that its skyrocketing sales had everything to do with the current president's charisma.

Vinexim's rivals must have learned that lesson. Marsia-Torg was the first company who rushed to register a "bear" trademark, MEDVEDEVka, two years ago, when Medvedev was only just appointed first deputy prime minister. A year later the company sold the brand to Esperanto Vin, a partner of the Kristall-Lefortovo distillery, which later resold it to La Termo gifts firm.

As far as Vinexim is concerned, market players had warned it even six months earlier about the inevitable "2008 problem." It's unclear how the brand will fare after its namesake leaves office in March. Experts predict an inevitable drop in sales, and recommend that Vinexim and Kristall choose a "successor brand."

Vinexim's top managers assured them there was no such thing as a "2008 problem," and general brand manager Stanislav Kaufman said Putinka's future was as bright as ever. He said that people would be nostalgic for Putin's time and would remain loyal to the brand, even though the new president also has charisma.

Still, the company took the advice and began searching for new marketing solutions.

Some market experts are convinced that direct or indirect associations with a well-known politician can almost guarantee a brand commercial success if several simple rules are observed.

Alexander Yeremenko, BrandLab managing director, believes that the association should be clear and the package design should correspond to the consumers' image of the politician. The Putinka label, for example, is austere and minimalistic.

Practice shows that popular politicians-linked brand names do not always guarantee high sales. Flamboyant LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky found himself on a commercial label at the peak of his popularity. The Zhirinovsky trademark registered in 1994 has been used since then to sell vodka, cigarettes, cologne and even mayonnaise and chocolate bars, but has never had much success.

The same happened to the Mayor men's cologne brand, which popular Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov helped create and promote. Incidentally, Vinexim's commercial rivals who talk about Putinka's vague prospects are very careful about proposing new "presidential" hits. "An Ivanovka or Medvedevka will hardly sell as well as Putinka did, because its success was ensured by Vinexim's clever marketing policy, in addition to the national leader's charisma," said an industry analyst.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

QUOTE OF THE DAY


"The Congress has committed the sin of turning India into a soft state against terrorism for the sake of its vote-bank politics. It has refused to hang Afzal Guru, removed POTA, compromised with Naxalites in Andhra Pradesh and with ULFA in Assam for the sake of votes. The war against terror can’t be selective. The need of the hour is to bring all human forces on one platform against terrorism " -- Narendra Modi

Orissa Violence - Incendiary Entitlement not Communalism

Source: OFFSTUMPED
If the recent violence in Orissa’s Kandhamal District was all about Hindutva Goons hounding Christian Missionaries why did Orissa Steel and Mines Minister Padmanabha Behera, who hails from the violence-hit Kandhamal district, resign from his post ?

In the answer to this question lies the disingenuous template the media has applied in reporting recent events in Orissa.

It is amazing how the lexicon on the controversy changed from what it was before Christmas and what it became after Christmas.

Dig these 3 news stories from October and September.

Sep 22nd Communal trouble brewing up in Kandhmal dist. - No mention of VHP, Hindutva or violence against christians

Oct 9th Communal tension in Kandhamal - again no mention

Oct 15th Kui tribals up in arms in Kandhamal district - no mention

In fact the first time the Christian angle emerges is on Dec 23rd when Christian organizations led by 15-member delegation led by Fr Bijay Naik, Bishop Rt Rev BK Naik and Bishop Rt Rev Gabriel Pradhan urge Kandhamal collector and SP to provide adequate security at churches in light of the Bandh call by Kui Samaj Samanya Samiti on Christmas.

Following this were the incidents related to erection of an arch at Baliguda’s Brahmanigaon village which saw Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati with his supporters was proceeding to Brahmanigaon in a vehicle which came under attack at Dasingibadi under Daringibadi police limits.

The media as usual jumped on the VHP Christian conflict template here to color its reportage and the original Kui versus Pana conflict related to ST status faded into the background. This story in the NDTV is a great example where the Kui get a passing reference.

It is strange that All India Catholic Union in its memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh blamed the Kui Janakalyan Samiti for the assaults with no reference to VHP and Bajrang who are ascribed all the blame in the NDTV story. The Christian Organizations have also glossed over the ST status issue making no reference to it and not before long activists like John Dayal All India Christian Council secretary general jumped into the fray demanding CBI enquiry.

Offstumped Bottomline: The incendiary politics of entitlement in Orissa which are not unlike the Gurjar-Meena clashes of Rajasthan have acquired a communal overtone with the media obscuring the core social issues while playing up the Hindutva versus Missionaries template. The Judicial Enquiry ordered by the Naveen Patnaik Government must establish the truth and hold those responsible for the violence accountable to remind us once again of the dangers of the Culture of Entitlement.

Indian Blogosphere in 2007 - An Offstumped Retrospective

Source: Offstumped
When the year 2007 started Offstumped had speculated if

2007 will go down as the year that ended the Monopoly of the Mainstream Media in selling a Single Version of Truth

little did we know then that an innoccuous post on the costs of a Ceremonial Presidency would ring true many months later with this Indian Express today editorial titled “They the privileged” that said

“a system that accords unaccounted privileges to VIPs will end up undermining us, the people”

It is symbolic that as the Year 2007 winds down, the mainstream media is catching up on an issue that the Indian Blogosphere lead the charge on during 2007.

On 16th June when Congress President Sonia Gandhi foisted on this Nation her choice for nominee of President Pratibha Patil to succeed President APJ Abdul Kalam the mainstream media went gaga over the prospect of the first woman President. The blogosphere on the other hand was the first to set aside Gender Correctness aside to take a close and hard look at her record and ask tough questions to conclude that her Presidency would be a repudiation of everything her predecessor stood for.

The defining moment however came when public intellectuals like Shri Sudheendra Kulkarni took notice of the ground that the blogs were breaking to launch a website and subsequently a booklet that became the center piece of the campaign against Pratibha Patil.

It was a defining moment in the history of Indian Blogosphere as it found itself at the heart of the political firestorm that had gripped the nation.

There were other defining moments too through 2007 that saw the blogs steal a march on the mainstream when the CIA Archives were released, the Tehelka expose and the Nandigram issue.

In closing Offstumped congratulates all those brave bloggers who challenged conventional wisdom to have a qualitative impact on the public discourse in India during 2007.

Offstumped also thanks all you who have raised the bar for this blog with your incisive comments and questions.

Wishing you a Happy 2008…….

'The UPA will disintegrate' - Narendra Modi

December 28, 2007


http://indiatoday.digitaltoday.in/

December 28, 2007


Chief Minister Narendra Modi says the BJP's impressive win in Gujarat is just the beginning of the end of the UPA government at the Centre. India Today Associate Editor Uday Mahurkar spoke to Modi soon after his swearing-in.

Q: So who has won? Moditva or Hindutva?
A: The term Moditva has been coined by enemies of our ideology after they failed to defeat Hindutva. There is no such thing as Moditva. No leader can rise without the help of party workers.

Q: But now you are seen as someone who is bigger than the party.
A: Absolutely false. Those who see me as bigger than the party fail to see the shoulders of the lakhs of BJP workers that I stand on. Is politics so cruel that it asks a son whether he is taller than his mother?

Q: Pundits now say your move to Delhi is not far away and that’s why your party nominated L.K. Advani as its prime ministerial candidate on the eve of the elections.
A: I am a man of mission and not ambition. Secondly, none can be compared with Vajpayeeji and Advaniji. They are our tallest leaders. After Vajpayeeji it has to be Advaniji, naturally. In fact, the move to make him the prime ministerial candidate was aimed against the Congress in the wake of fears expressed by CPI(M) that the Government will go ahead with nuclear deal talks after the Gujarat poll results.

Q: Many senior BJP leaders left you and campaigned against you but you seem ready for reconciliation. You even sought Keshubhai Patel’s blessings after the swearingin ceremony.
A: My voice has always been conciliatory. The only difference is, people have come to know about it this time. Now that elections have come to an end, we must be cordial.

Q: After initially talking about development, you had to ultimately fall back on Hindutva.
A: Let me be clear: our campaign was based on the twin issues of development and security. Development and security are complementary. Without security there cannot be any development. My strong anti-terrorist stand is perfectly valid. And when Soniabehn called me a “merchant of death”, I had to defend myself. I had to throw the ball back into their court and remind them that they were the ones who removed POTA and blocked the hanging of Afzal Guru despite the Supreme Court judgement.


Modi: 'The Congress has turned India into a soft state against terrorism'
Q: If there is one message from this mandate, what would it be?
A: This is a rare mandate for a Government on the basis of its performance and not just promises. It is a positive vote for governance on a developmental agenda. We want this to be a launch pad for Gujarat’s progress and prosperity. This is also a message for the anti-Gujarat bandwagon, which has been soundly defeated for the second time since 2002.

Q: You seem to connect with people quite well.
A: Others who have observed me are better placed to answer this question. But one thing that people don’t like in a leader is hypocrisy. It is possible that they don’t think I am a hypocrite and so connect with me.

Q: You have had a very uneasy relationship with the media.
A: Unfortunately, Indian politics today has become very media-centric. In fact, politicians have found shortcuts to political growth through the media. Some of them survive only because of media management. I am not into this game.

Q: When you took over as chief minister six years ago, you had no experience of electoral politics and administration. Now you are recognised as a good administrator.
A: I have worked with the same system and the set of bureaucrats that have been in place for years. The message is that if you have the will, determination and vision, you can succeed in governance.

Q: Why are you so misunderstood?
A: Democracy gives you the power to criticise and debate. But I am the target of allegations and not honest, democratic criticism.

Q: What will be the impact of BJP’s victory in Gujarat on the UPA-led Union Government?
A: The Government in Delhi is literally working on daily wages. Our win in Gujarat will spur its disintegration. The non-Congress constituents of UPA will grow bolder in their demands, which it will be hard put to meet.

Q: You claim to have controlled terrorism in Gujarat to a large extent when it is increasing in other parts of the country. What do you think of the anti-terror measures taken by the Congress-led UPA Government?
A: The Congress has committed the sin of turning India into a soft state against terrorism for the sake of its vote-bank politics. It has refused to hang Afzal Guru, removed POTA, compromised with Naxalites in Andhra Pradesh and with ULFA in Assam for the sake of votes. The war against terror can’t be selective. The need of the hour is to bring all human forces on one platform against terrorism.

December 28, 2007

Bhutto killing: Time to dissolve Pakistan

An Analysis
Dec. 27,2007
By Ahmar Mustikhan

It’s not nice to be a prophet of doom. But that’s exactly what I am feeling today on the death of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. I had very clearly predicted in a message two months ago when she returned to Pakistan, that Bhutto’s dayswere numbered. On October 19, on news regarding Bhutto’s return to Pakistan I had written on the BalochUnity.org emailing list—the largest emailing list of the Baluch
diaspora—that she was: "Forgetting what happened to her dad and brother." I had also said, "But seems like she is in a hurry to meet her late dad and brother." Bhutto’s death signals to the world that the failed state of Pakistan—not a very legitimate organization in itself--, is dying and any attempts to resuscitate it would further endanger the security of free world, in particular the United States. The best course for the world is to have Pakistan dissolved, without any further delay and set free Baluchistan and Sindh. Pakistan’s failure is a lesson in political history. It’s the world headquarters of Al Qaeda, is the world’s only Muslim country with nuclear weapons, and ranks fifth in the world in the size of its army—just one step behind the U.S. Scientists linked to Al Qaeda are busy designing dirty bombs to be used against the U.S. under the very nose of Pakistani intelligence. Unfortunately, for the people of the world, and in particular the citizens of the United States,
there are some people in Washington D.C., more specifically the White House, who simply fail to see the elephant in the room. It is something beyond one’s wildest imgination can ever fathom, that under President Bush’s official proclamation that states harboring terrorists are enemies of the United States, Pakistan received $11 billion [mostly military] aid since 9/11, in spite of sheltering bin Laden. Pakistan is a sick country, created by a sick man—Mohammed Ali Jinnah. The fraud was evident from day one. Jinnah, a man who loved pork and wine, was suffering from tuberculosis and had nothing to do with Islam but still created Pakistan in the name of Islam.

In fact, interests of the people of the U.K. and U.S., European Union, Canada, China, India and Russia—in fact for people of the entire "global village"—would best be served by a peaceful Balkanization of Pakistan on the lines of the erstwhile Soviet Union. Every single day the shelf-life of Pakistan, the more dangerous place the world becomes for humanity. The Pakistan that Jinnah created sank less than
quarter of century later in the Bay of Bengal. Bangladesh was created after Pakistani troops went on a rampage of rape, plunder and pillage in what was then East Pakistan. At that time Bhutto’s father charismatic Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, came forward to rescue West Pakistan. A new Pakistan, half in size of it was on August 1947, was born. And a strange reward Bhutto got from the Pakistani soldiers; he was hanged April 4, 1979. Power it seems not only corrupts, it also blinds. Bhutto’s brother Murtaza Bhutto, was killed like a dog by the ilitary intelligence
outside his family home in Clifton on Sept. 20, 1996 while Bhutto was still the prime minister. It’s also true father Bhutto had gone on the wrong side of one of the most powerful men of his time U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, had promised to make an example of him. But this time round, there was a different game plan. Behind the scenes, U.S. Secretary of State Madam Condoleezza Rice had personally brokered a power-sharing deal between Gen. ( R) Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s coup leader turned president, and Bhutto that enabled her return to Pakistan from a nearly decade old exile. But even that could not save daughter Bhutto’s life. In particular, it’s time for Her Majesty’s government in Great Britain to come out and state clearly that Jinnah was an agent of the MI-6 agent, the British counterpart of the C.I.A. It’s also time for Her Majesty’s government to release Baluch exiles, Mir Hairbiyar Marri and Faiz Baloch, extricate itself from complicity in direct an indirect military rule of Pakistan, and help create independent Balochistan and Sindh.I now predict Pakistan’s demise in the next 10
years. The sooner, the better.

(Ahmar Mustikhan is a Baloch journalist, who lives in the Washington D.C. area. He can be contacted at ahmar_reporter@yahoo.com)

Remembering Benazir Bhutto : A Conversation With Benazir Bhutto


Aug 15th, 2007

Council on Foreign Relations - New York, NY

Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister of Pakistan, discusses terrorism, foreign aid, democratic reforms, and the military situation in Pakistan with Richard Haass at the Council on Foreign Relations.

MEND warns FG over detention of colleague

Vanguard , Nigeria

Written by EmmaAmaize
Wednesday, 26 December 2007

MILITANTS and close associates of one of the leaders of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND), Mr. Henry Okah who was taken into custody, September 3, by security agents in Angola have called for his release, saying that the allegations of gun-running against him were fabricated and his continued detention would spell calamity for the Federal Government in the Niger-Delta region in 2008.

They said that the mandatory 106 days, which the government of Angola is authorized to keep a person in detention without bail had expired and the Nigerian government should step in and secure the release of the suspect, adding that he could be re-arrested if anything criminal was found on him but must be treated as innocent until found guilty.

Mr. Okah who is also a businessman had been held by the Angolan authorities at the Departemento de Investigaeac Nacional and Criminal without bail since his arrest about three months ago.

He was reportedly tapped on his shoulder while he was making a call in the Passport Control Area of the Luanda International Airport and escorted to the SAA counter by two security operatives. He was, thereafter, refused booking and put into custody.

A shocked Okah was taken to a room and left there for 45 minutes with his companion while his bag, which he had earlier identified as opened and searched without him being present. He was later brought in to identify a paper written in Portuguese on the contents of the package, and he refused to sign the content, saying he would not sign for something that was written in the language he did not understand.

A representative of the militants who spoke to Vanguard on phone, yesterday, said,'Henry Okah was in touch with the present government in Nigeria in the current peace process in the Niger-Delta, you people in the media were the ones that reported that the Vice President visited him in South-Africa. So, he should be treated fairly without prejudice of politics and any intimacy.

We are not aware up till now that he was caught with arms in Angola , he went there on a business trip to inspect a ship he wanted to buy.

The government should know that Henry Okah is a top member of the MEND, which is prosecuting the Niger-Delta struggle, we have allowed them enough time to talk with the Angola government and bring him out but with his continued detention, they are creating more problems for the region because when we start in 2008, it will be disastrous?, he stated.

A close associate of Okah who spoke to Vanguard on travails of the militant leader said, Henry Okah was travelling with his Nigerian passport on a business trip with a companion, a mariner, Captain Edward Atata when they were arrested at the Luanda International Airport in Angola while boarding the flight back to South-Africa.

His Portuguese speaking representative, Nadis Dos Santors arrived Angola on Friday evening, 14th September and on Tuesday, 18th September; she approached a law firm and consulted a criminal attorney by the name of Ludmila Sousa to handle this case.

This attorney?s firm, Rui L. Ferreria and Gurilhermna Prata, after the court case interrogations on Thursday, 20th September, perceived that this case may have a political twist and nature?, he stated.
The source said,Mr. Henry Okah and his companion, Captain Atta, who absolutely nothing was found

on, have been detained for nearly three months without bail under an unlawful and non existent Act. The media have reported false accusations that Henry Okah was caught for arms deal but no evidence or arms were found on him and his companion during their arrest while boarding their plane to South-Africa.

The trip was clearly a business venture to Angola as stated.
His case file number, 113231/07 is handled by Mr. Almerindo on the sixth floor, Department of Orgnanized Crime.

It should be brought to notice that Captain Atta has been immersed and detained unjustly in this matter and should be released immediately, having no case in this whatsoever. He traveled with Henry Okah, as his companion to inspect a ship due to the fact that Mr. Okah has no relevant expertise of ships. Captain Atta, having done his duty, was returning to base?, he added.

Gunmen attack American vessel in Niger Delta, wound 3 crew members

Panapress

Lagos, Nigeria - Unknown gunmen on Thursday attacked an American vessel ferrying supplies to a facility of the US oil giant Mobil at Bonny Island, Rivers state in Nigeria's oil producing Niger Delta region, injuring three crew members, according to state police spokesperson Ireju Barasua.

Barasua said the attack was carried out as the vessel sailed along the Bonny River.

She said the injured crew members were now being treated at an undisclosed hospital in the state, but did not say if their injuries were life threatening.

The vessel, which could not proceed on its journey, is now anchored at the Onne Port in the state.

Barasua said the police had launched an investigation into the incident, which comes two days after several gunmen stormed a police station in the state, killing three policemen and injuring others.

Also, a recent attack on a jetty operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in Okrika, also in the state, left several persons dead.

Violence has been on the rise in the restive oil region in recent weeks, prompting President Umaru Yar'Adua to summon a meeting last week of top security chiefs to find ways of stemming the attacks and kidnappings.

The region's largest militant group, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), said on Wednesday it would soon launch a spectacular attack in the region.

MEND had declared a 24-hour "Christmas ceasefire" which expired on Wednesday.

Lagos - 27/12/2007

Who killed Benazir?


BHUTTO'S FEARS CAME TRUE

Their fears regarding the second scenario centred on four individuals: Lt.Gen. (retd) Hamid Gul, former Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), who was removed from the post by Benazir during her first tenure as the Prime Minister (1988-90); Brig (retd)Ejaz Shah, the present Director-General of the IB, which was responsible for her protection; Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, the present Chief Minister of Punjab; and Mr.Ejaz-ul-Haq, the Minister for Religious Affairs in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.Pervez Elahi is the son of Zehur Elahi, a close associate of Zia-ul-Haq, who was allegedly killed when Zia-ul-Haq was alive by the Al Zulfiqar, a militant organisation headed by Murtaza Bhutto, the brother of Benazir, to avenge the arrest, trial and execution of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, their father, by Zia and his associates. Ejaz is the son of Zia, who suspected that his father was also killed by Al Zulfiqar and not by an angry Shia airman, as was widely believed. It is believed that Benazir had conveyed her fears about a likely threat from them to President Pervez Musharraf before she returned from exile. ( B.Raman , Pakistan: Attempt to Kill Benazir Bhutto)



Anjan

1. Ramzi Yousef (nee:Abdul Karim), better known as the first guy who bombed the Twin Towers in NY, got shelter in a safe house for 2 yrs in Pakistan run by ISI. It was Benazir that cracked the location of this safe house and handed Ramzi / Abdul over to the Americans - thus forever changing the rules of the game between her and the Army / ISI complex.

2. The SWAT is the playing ground for the Zia (ex) - Hamid Gul - Hekmatyar run staging ground for the utlimate assault on India and West. And Benazir stated that she will allow American ground forces into SWAT.

3. Nuclear assets are the prime jewels of the military establishment. AQ Khan / Bashiruddin et al - the nuclear scientists, have all met Osama Bin Laden and handed over nuclear blueprints, enriched uranium (a dozen vials missing in Kahuta??) and delivery systems. Benazir would have meddled in this trade and this was the US agenda more than "democracy" which Pakistani army knew very well.

4. Nawaz Sharif is a JI protege and reared by ISI - he shows two faces but is essentially a modern jehadist. His background is well known to people in the "know", hence rightly he is not trusted by Washington.

At a very basic level, it will be so churlish to state that Al Qaeda killed her. It's elements may certainly have been used - but one should not have any ambiguity about who is really behind this and who gains?



A retired army brigadier, Ejaz Shah is head of Pakistan’s Intelligence Bureau (IB) which falls under the purview of the Interior Ministry. He is also known to be a close friend of Musharraf’s who engineered the electoral rise of the Chaudhry cousins who now head up Pakistan’s king’s party, the PML(Q). By taking a swipe at Shah, Bhutto may be looking to weaken the Chaudhries by taking aim at their chief sponsor.

There is a flip side though. Ejaz Shah may have very well felt threatened by the return of Bhutto as it endangered the Chaudhries’ role in power and thereby his influence in government. Recently, one top official told me, “Ejaz Shah is more sincere to the Chaudhries than he is to Musharraf.” For some time now, there have been some very negative undercurrents flowing in the establishment against the unsavory Ejaz Shah.

I had also reported a month ago in “Benazir Makes a Date” that some sources were speculating that the Chaudhries would likely seek to assassinate Bhutto upon her return. Though both Shah and the Chaudhries have a lot to lose with Bhutto’s return, their roles in the Karachi blasts are highly speculative. This information is provided here for you to make your own informed decision. Plus it’s important to keep in mind that this attack boosted Bhutto’s popularity; Ejaz Shah and the Chaudhries would have known this. With the level of influence and resources they have at their command, they would have been able to ensure an attack large enough to effectively eliminate Bhutto.

Many in the establishment are convinced that these attacks were entirely organized, funded and executed by the Taliban/Al-Qaeda nexus. They have the means, motivation and resources to see this sort of operation through from start to finish.

MORE ATTACKS?
Some lower level intelligence sources on the ground have stated that chatter in Islamist and “Taliban” circles indicates that there are more attacks to come. They’ve heard that militants planned on welcoming Benazir Bhutto with a “21 blast salute” of which they say three blasts have already been executed. They claim that there were three blasts in Karachi, not two as has almost been universally reported. This makes us doubt the veracity of these claims but there is always the possibility that the third bomb may have failed to go off.

Bhutto’s return has proven to be explosive in the most literal of senses. The terrorist attack in Karachi is the largest in Pakistan’s history. If there were ever a time for the forces of moderation to band together against extremism – it would be now.

(Investigatory Findings into the Bhutto Bombings ,October 21st, 2007 · Shaan Akbar · No Comments PakIntel



PROFILE OF Elahi's
By Adnan Adil


Source: www.newsline.com.pk/NewsJul2004/newsbeat2jul.htm


Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, 58, the prime minister-elect of Pakistan, and president of the ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League, has been in politics for the last 25 years. He belongs to the Chaudhry clan of Gujarat, who have always been known to support the military establishment. And, not surprisingly, their biradari tops the list of those political families of Pakistan who have been the main beneficiaries of all military regimes. They have served the military establishment loyally since the days of General Ayub Khan, when Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain's father, Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi, was appointed secretary-general of the Convention Muslim League that had been cobbled together by the military dictator to serve his interests.

Hussain's father, Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi, a police constable in pre-Partition days, came from the lower middle class and had no political background. After the birth of Pakistan, he bought a textile mill and, in the early 1950s, entered local politics with the support of a local influential, Chaudhry Fazl Elahi, who became president of the country when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was prime minister. Zahoor Elahi, however, soon fell out with Fazl Elahi and formed his own faction on the strength of the sizeable Jat clan that have traditionally opposed Gujarat's traditional elite, the Nawabzadgan of the Gujjar clan.

In return for state patronage, hefty bank loans and write-offs, Zahoor Elahi and his family, comprising his sons and nephews, always joined hands with military rulers from General Ayub Khan (1958-68) to General Zia-ul-Haq (1977-88) and General Pervez Musharraf (October 1999) and have served them well. Elahi's family is now one of the leading industrial houses, owning sugar, textile and flour mills, in addition to agricultural farms.

While Shujaat Hussain and his two brothers, Chaudhry Wajahat Hussain, an MNA, and Chaudhry Shafaat Hussain, district nazim of Gujarat, and a first cousin and brother-in-law, Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, the present chief minister of the Punjab, are full-time politicians, his sons, along with the sons of Chaudhry Pervez Elahi run the family business.

Chaudhry Pervez Elahi

Zahoor Elahi was a bitter opponent of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and was detained for several years during his tenure, on charges which did not stand in a court of law, and was later declared a 'prisoner of conscience' by Amnesty International.

When General Zia-ul-Haq took over, he released Elahi and made him a federal minister in his cabinet. It was Elahi who presented him the pen with which Zia-ul-Haq signed Mr Bhutto's death warrant. In September 1981, Elahi was shot dead in Lahore and the blame was laid at the doorstep of his political opponents, the Al-Zulfikar, Murtaza Bhutto's organisation.

Shujaat Hussain entered politics following the murder of his father and, in 1982, was made a member of General Zia-ul-Haq's hand-picked consultative body, the Majlis-i-Shoora, and later elevated to the federal cabinet. In 1985, he won the non-party elections as a member of the National Assembly from Gujarat, a seat that he has won four times since, and lost only once, to the PPP's Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar in 1993. He was elected senator on losing the National Assembly election.

Shujaat Hussain is a shrewd politician; though politically inarticulate and a poor orator, he is a master in the art of wheeling and dealing. He has always remained on the side of the country's military establishment and ditched his civilian bosses and close friends and colleagues, whenever it came to a choice between the two.

Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has served as federal minister with two former prime ministers, Mohammed Khan Junejo and Nawaz Sharif. He left both of them when the military proceeded against them. When General Zia removed Mohammed Khan Junejo, Shujaat Hussain joined the faction of the Pakistan Muslim League that was supporting General Zia-ul-Haq. When Nawaz Sharif fell from grace, the Chaudhrys went with General Musharraf.

In 1986, the Chaudhrys had challenged the then chief minister of the Punjab, Nawaz Sharif, through a no-confidence motion but failed to oust him. Nawaz Sharif subsequently made up with them, but he always saw them as a potential threat and kept them at arm's length. He did not allow their influence to spread and saw to it that Pervez Elahi never became chief minister of the Punjab during his tenure as prime minister of the country.

When Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted on October 12, 1999, in a military coup by President General Musharraf, Hussain waited in the wings for a while to part ways but immediately distanced himself from Sharif, using one pretext or the other. Sharif became so distrustful of him that he appointed his wife, Kulsoom Nawaz, to look after the party's affairs and she, in fact, ran Nawaz's campaign for his release more effectively than party leaders like Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.

After Sharif was sent into exile in December 2000, Shujaat showed his true colours and, using former Punjab governor Mian Azhar's good offices, worked to split the Pakistan Muslim League, and form a faction supportive of General Musharraf. This faction is now ruling the country.

Shujaat turned to Mian Azhar for help because he was known to be an upright man and enjoyed popularity among the workers. When Shujaat's purpose was served, following the October 2002 general elections, which this faction won, Mian Azhar was summarily removed from the position of party president with the help of Prime Minister Zafrullah Jamali.

Hussain's connections with General Musharraf date back to the days when both of them studied at Lahore's Forman Christian College from where Musharraf's confidante, Tariq Aziz, secretary general of the National Security Council, also graduated.

Hoping to govern the country by proxy, Hussain helped his old friend Zafrullah Jamali, a politician from the small province of Balochistan who had no support in the ruling parliamentary party, to become prime minister in November 2002. But, soon enough, he became disillusioned with him. Reportedly Jamali was asked to quit or face the threat of an unceremonious ouster through a no-confidence motion in the parliament. Jamali resigned on June 26.

Hussain is the 20th prime minister of Pakistan and the 11th in the last 20 years. He is down-to-earth and adept in the art of real politik. He suffers from poor health and this may provide his successor, Shaukat Aziz, more room to work as de facto prime minister.

Hussain has already nominated finance minister Shaukat Aziz to be the next candidate for prime minister once he gets elected to the National Assembly's lower house in order to be eligible for this position.

In Pakistan's 57-year-history, no prime minister and president have been known to work with each other smoothly and have always parted on a bitter note. What lies in store for this trusted and obedient ally of General Pervez Musharraf remains to be seen.

Remains of ancient civilization discovered on the bottom of a lake

16:35 | 27/ 12/ 2007

MOSCOW. (Nikolai Lukashov for RIA Novosti) - An international archeological expedition to Lake Issyk Kul, high in the Kyrgyz mountains, proves the existence of an advanced civilization 25 centuries ago, equal in development to the Hellenic civilizations of the northern coast of the Pontus Euxinus (Black Sea) and the Mediterranean coast of Egypt.

The expedition resulted in sensational finds, including the discovery of major settlements, presently buried underwater. The data and artefacts obtained, which are currently under study, apply the finishing touches to the many years of exploration in the lake, made by seven previous expeditions. The addition of a previously unknown culture to the treasury of history extends the idea of the patterns and regularities of human development.

Kyrgyz historians, led by Vladimir Ploskikh, vice president of the Kyrgyz Academy of Sciences, worked side-by-side with Russian colleagues, lead by historian Svetlana Lukashova and myself. All the Russians involved were experienced skin-divers and members of the Russian Confederation of Underwater Sports. We were responsible for the work done under water. Scuba divers ventured into the lake many times to study its bottom.

Last year, we worked near the north coast at depths of 5-10 metres to discover formidable walls, some stretching for 500 meters-traces of a large city with an area of several square kilometers. In other words, it was a metropolis in its time. We also found Scythian burial mounds, eroded by waves over the centuries, and numerous well preserved artifacts-bronze battleaxes, arrowheads, self-sharpening daggers, objects discarded by smiths, casting molds, and a faceted gold bar, which was a monetary unit of the time.

Lake Issyk Kul has played a tremendous role since the inception of human history due to its geographic location at the crossing of Indo-Aryan and other nomadic routes. Archeologists found traces of many religions here-Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Somewhere in the vicinity was Chihu, the metropolitan city of a mighty state of Wusung nomads, which ancient Chinese chronicles mentioned on many occasions.

The Great Silk Road lay along the lake's coast until the 18th century. Even today, the descendants of caravan drivers recollect their ancestors' stories about travelling from Asia to Europe and back.

Tamerlane built a fortress on one of the lake islets to hold aristocratic captives and keep his treasures. The famous Asian expeditions of Russian explorers Dmitry Przhevalsky and Pyotr Semyonov-Tianshansky started from that spot.

The latter left us an enticing mystery. When he visited Venice in 1850, he looked at the Catalan Atlas of 1375 and came across a picture of a lakeside monastery with the caption: "The spot is named Isikol. Here is a monastery of Armenian brethren, which is rumored to possess the relics of St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist."

Semyonov-Tianshansky embarked on a relentless but vain search for the shrine. To all appearances, the monastery was engulfed by water. Hydrologists have not to this day sufficiently studied the unique lake with regular shifts in its water level. Some changes are gradual, others sudden and disastrous since they are caused by earthquakes and torrents of water rush from lakes higher up in the mountains. Floods recede sooner or later, and people come back to the shores-only to become the victims of other floods 500-700 years later.

Throughout the years of their partnership, Russian and Kyrgyz archeologists discovered and examined more than ten major flooded urban and rural settlements of varying ages. Their ample finds generously add to present-day ideas of everyday life in times long ago.

Some artifacts are stunning. A 2,500 year-old ritual bronze cauldron was found on the bottom of the lake. The subtlety of its craftsmanship is amazing. Such excellent quality of joining details together can be presently obtained by metalwork in an inert gas. How did ancient people achieve their high-tech perfection? Also of superb workmanship are bronze mirrors, festive horse harnesses and many other objects. Articles identified as the world's oldest extant coins were also found underwater-gold wire rings used as small change and a large hexahedral goldpiece.

Side by side with the settlements are remnants of ritual complexes of times immemorial, dwellings and household outbuildings. Later expeditions will study them.

The information collected there allows us to conjecture that local people had a socio-economic system hitherto unknown to historians. As a blending of nomadic and settled life, it either gradually evolved into something different or-more likely-was destroyed by one of the many local floods. Legends confirm the latter assumption.

Nikolai Lukashov, a member of the Russian Confederation of Underwater Sports, took part in the the Issyk Kul expedition.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

Clinton Outlines Five Steps Needed To Address Pakistan



Clinton Outlines Five Steps Needed To Address Pakistan in Wake of Bhutto Assassination

In an interview today with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Hillary Clinton outlined five steps she believes must be taken to address Pakistan in the wake of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Clinton called for an independent, international investigation, reiterated the need for free and fair elections, proposed the appointment of a special envoy, discussed revamping U.S. foreign aid, and a renewed commitment to a stabilized India-Pakistan relationship.

The following is a full transcript of Hillary Clinton’s interview:

Wolf Blitzer: There are conflicting reports coming in from the Pakistani government right now about the cause of death, who may have been responsible; perhaps al Qaeda, maybe not. The bottom line: do you trust the Pakistani government right now to conduct a fair and full investigation so that all of us around the world will know who killed this woman and how she was killed?

Hillary Clinton: I don't think the Pakistani government at this time under President Musharraf has any credibility at all. They have disbanded an independent judiciary, they have oppressed a free press. Therefore, I’m calling for a full, independent, international investigation, perhaps along the lines of what the United Nations has been doing with respect to the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri in Lebanon. I think it is critically important that we get answers and really those are due first and foremost to the people of Pakistan, not only those who were supportive of Benazir Bhutto and her party, but every Pakistani because we cannot expect to move toward stability without some reckoning as to who was responsible for this assassination.

Therefore, I call on President Musharraf and the Pakistani government to realize that this is in the interests of Pakistan to understand whether or not it was al Qaeda or some other offshoot extremist group that is attempting to further destabilize and even overthrow the Pakistani government, or whether it came from within, either explicitly or implicitly, the security forces or the military in Pakistan. The thing I’ve not been able to understand, Wolf - I have met with President Musharraf, I obviously knew Benazir Bhutto and admired her leadership – is that President Musharraf, in every meeting I have had with him, the elites in Pakistan who still wield tremendous power plus the leadership of the military act as though they can destabilize Pakistan and retain their positions; their positions of privilege, their positions of authority. That is not the way it will work. I am really calling on them to recognize that the world deserves the answer; the Bhutto family deserves the answer, but this is in the best interest of the Pakistani people and the state of Pakistan.

Blitzer: Senator, just to be precise; you want a United Nations international tribunal, or commission of inquiry, whatever you want to call it, along the lines of the investigation into the assassination of Rafik Hariri?

HRC: There are other institutions that are international that have credibility, like INTERPOL and others. It doesn’t have to be the exact model of the Hariri investigation but it needs to be international, it needs to be independent, it needs to have credibility and nothing that would happen inside of Pakistan would. I’m reluctant to say it should be an American investigation where we send our law enforcement personnel, because I’m not sure that would have credibility for a different reason. So that’s why I’m calling for an independent international investigation.

Blitzer: This is a damning indictment of President Pervez Musharraf. Some are calling on him to step down, do you believe he should step down?

Clinton: What I believe is that he should meet certain conditions and quickly. We should immediately move to free and fair elections. Obviously, it’s going to take some time for Benazir Bhutto’s party to choose a successor. Nawaz Sharif has said that he won’t participate at this time. I believe again some kind of international support for free and fair elections in a timely manner would be incredibly important. If President Musharraf wishes to stand for election, then he should abide by the same rules that every other candidate will have to follow. We also want to see a resumption of the move toward an independent judiciary. I think that was a terrible mistake. This is an odd situation, Wolf. The people in the streets are wearing suits and ties, they are lawyers, they are professionals, they are the middle class of Pakistan, which really offers the very best hope for a stable, democratic country and that is in America’s interest, but more importantly, it is in the interest of the Pakistani people.

Blitzer: I think I understood what you were implying when you said a U.S. investigation probably wouldn’t have credibility for different reasons but explain to our viewers out there why you’re suggesting a U.S. investigation into the death of Benazir Bhutto probably wouldn’t have credibility either.

Clinton: I think it would politicize it at a time when what we want to do is, as much as possible, support the continuing move toward democracy. We need, frankly, an international tribunal to look into this where there can be a broad base of experts who are not aligned with any one country. Obviously I would certainly offer our expertise through the FBI and others to assist that tribunal. But I think it would be much better for it to be independent and impartial and be seen as that. Part of what our challenge here is, is to convince the Pakistani people themselves and particularly the business elite, the feudal elite, the military elite that they are going down a very dangerous path. That this path leads to their losing their positions, their authority, their obvious leadership now. Therefore we need to help them understand what is in their interest and that of course includes President Musharraf.

Blitzer: Over the years, since 9/11, the United States has provided the Pakistani military with some $10 billion. Will you as a United States Senator continue to vote for funding of these billions of dollars going to the Pakistani military?

Clinton: No, and I’m very pleased that finally the Congress began to put some conditions on the aid. I do not think that we should be giving the Musharraf government a blank check and that’s exactly what the Bush Administration has done. Even after Musharraf cracked down on the judiciary and the press and the pro-democracy movement in Pakistan, President Bush was saying he was a reliable ally. Well, I don’t think he’s a reliable ally when he undermines democracy and when he has failed to reign in the Al Qaeda Islamist elements in his own country.

So I think we do need to condition aid. I would do it differently. I would say, look, we want to know very specifically what accountability you’re going to offer to us for the military aid that we believe should be going in the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The Department of Defense is equally unaccountable with the money that passes through them.

I’d like to see more of our aid shifted toward building civil society. I’ve been calling for this. I have legislation that is bi-partisan, Education for All that is particularly aimed -- I’ve talked to President Musharraf about the necessity for us to raise the literacy rate, to reach out with health care and education that would help the Pakistani people to really concentrate on civil society.

We should be working with these rather heroic lawyers and others who are in the streets demanding democracy instead of giving the Bush blank check to President Musharraf and the military.

Blitzer: But aren’t you afraid, Senator, that as imperfect and as flawed as President Musharraf is, there’s a possibility whoever comes to replace him in this large Muslim country with a nuclear arsenal already, heavy al Qaeda presence, a resurgent Taliban - that the alternative could be even worse from the U.S. perspective?

Clinton: Of course. We all fear that and that’s why we need to take remedial action immediately. When I came back from my last meeting with President Musharraf in January of this year, I called the White House, I asked that they appoint an American envoy, a presidential envoy. I suggested that a retired military leader who could relate to President Musharraf on a one-to-one basis and could shuttle back and forth between President Musharraf and President Karzai because there were a lot of tensions.

And also perhaps serve as a kind of support to President Musharraf, military man to military man, about what it takes to really move toward democracy that President Musharraf in every conversation I’ve ever had with him has given lip-service to. But I don’t think the Bush Administration has frankly asked enough of President Musharraf, has provided the right kind of assistance, has given the support needed.

We have this difficult problem in the military. We have a lot of the senior leadership that we have relationships with, we don’t have those relationships for a lot of reasons with the junior leadership. I just think we have given a blank check under President Bush to President Musharraf and the results are frankly not in the interests of the United States, they are not in the interest of Pakistan and they are certainly not in the interest of the region. We should begin to try to have an ongoing process that includes India and Afghanistan. A lot of what you see happening in Pakistan is driven by the very strong concern coming out of the Pakistani government toward Afghanistan, toward India.

We have really had a hands-off approach. We have said, okay, fine, you be our partner in going after Al Qaeda, we’ll turn a blind eye to everything else. That has undermined our position. I believe Pakistan is in a weaker position to combat terrorism today then they were after 9/11, in large measure because of the failed policies of George Bush.

Blitzer: I interviewed your rival, Barack Obama, for Democratic presidential nomination last night and he had some implied criticism of you saying some of your past decisions do not necessarily warrant your stepping up and becoming the next president of the United States. Listen to this:

Obama: I think it’s important for the American people to look at the judgments they’ve made in the past. The experienced hands in Washington have not made particularly good judgments when it comes to dealing with these problems. That’s part of the reason we are now in this circumstance.

Blitzer: Now I think he was referring to your vote giving the President authority to go to war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and your more recent vote to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. In effect, he says that gave a blank check to the President to go to war against Iran. You want to respond to Senator Obama?

Clinton: First, Wolf, I really regret that anybody would try to politicize this tragedy. I personally knew Benazir Bhutto. She was Prime Minister when I visited Pakistan on behalf of our government. I stayed in touch with her over the years. I don’t think politics should be playing a role in how our country responds, both on the personal level to the tragedy of this assassination.

But furthermore, Pakistan has been unstable for a long time. Benazir Bhutto’s father was deposed and killed. Obviously, we know that President Musharraf came to power in a military coup. So the instability in Pakistan has long pre-dated any of the recent events. Therefore, I think you need to have an historic understanding. You need to look at Pakistan as a country that still today - the best information that we have - wants to have a better standard of living, wants to have a democracy and the United States should be doing more to promote that. I regret that President Bush’s policies have failed to create that kind of environment. I hope it’s not too late. I really do. And that’s why I’m calling on the President now to begin to make some of the changes. If he has a good relationship with President Musharraf, which he claims to have, then let’s have an envoy. Let’s have this international investigation. Let’s do what we know will work to try to stabilize Pakistan at this time.

Blitzer: What about the specific criticism of your foreign policy judgment that we heard from Senator Obama, we heard earlier in the day from his chief strategist, David Axelrod. What about that, that implied criticism that some of your decisions on these national security, foreign policy issues raise questions about whether or not you should be president?

Clinton: I just regret that both of them would be politicizing this tragedy and especially at a time when do we need to figure out a way forward. That’s what I’m focused on. I’m focused on extending my sympathy to Benazir Bhutto’s family. I’m focused on doing everything I can as a Senator, as someone with a platform running for president, to try to be both positive and effective in helping to set a course. We have a year to go with President Bush as our president. A year is a long time. We know the threats that could be posed with a nuclear armed country like Pakistan becoming more and more unstable.

I have found that President Musharraf is someone that needs, in my opinion, to have a very consistent message and then frankly the help that would come with helping him and those who are in leadership positions understanding that this is not just about the United States - obviously, we have a very important national security interest. This is about what happens to Pakistan. President Musharraf could become as important to the future of Pakistan if he changed course and began to act in a way that would create more confidence to have these free and fair elections, to restore an independent judiciary, to take the shackles off the press, to say that he trusted the Pakistani people. That’s what I’m hoping will happen over the next weeks.

Blitzer: We’ve got to leave it there. We’re out of time, Senator. Thanks very much for spending a few moments with us.

Clinton: Good to talk to you, Wolf.