April 12, 2008

Can Dick Cheney's War Against Iran Be Avoided?

This article appears in the April 11, 2008 issue of Executive Intelligence Review

by Carl Osgood

In the British empire's desperate global drive for war and chaos, driven by the breakdown of their bankrupt financial system, Southwest Asia is no exception. The late-March visit by Vice President Dick Cheney to the region followed the British script to a tee, and left Iraq-Iran and Israel-Palestine teetering on the brink of full-scale confrontations, including discussions of possible near-term attacks on Iran and Syria. Cheney, a brute who merely carries out the wishes of his British masters, is determined to get a war against Iran before the Bush Administration leaves office, regardless of the heavy opposition, particularly within the U.S. military.

Thus it is not surprising that Cheney gave his blessing, if not orders, for the Nouri al-Maliki government in Iraq to launch what could have been a suicidal assault against the Mahdi Army of Moqtadar al-Sadr in the formerly British-occupied city of Basra, setting off an explosion of violence beyond what had been seen in that nation for a year. It didn't take long for it to become clear that the Iraqi puppet government was losing, and that even renewed U.S. and British military actions couldn't stop the rapid spread of deadly chaos throughout the region.

In the face of this disaster, there has been a unification of common interest among nations in Asia—including Pakistan, India, China, and Russia—to attempt to cool out the crisis; in effect, to run out the clock until the Bush Administration leaves office. It is in this context that the Iranians acted to negotiate a ceasefire between the rival Shi'ite factions—in the holy city of Qom, no less—and put the war on hold.

But, as Lyndon LaRouche has stressed, it would be a potentially deadly strategic error to believe that the impetus for expanded global irregular warfare could be contained by making local agreements. The British empire's strategic determination is to make it impossible for any nation-states, and particularly the Eurasian bloc of Russia, China, and India, to survive the ongoing financial blowout intact, and that mission can only be stopped by taking direct aim at the empire, not its local pawns.
U.S. Military Decides To Act

One week before Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, are set to testify on the situation in that tortured country, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Joseph Biden (D-Del.) began a series of hearings to set the stage for that testimony. EIR's sources emphasize that the impetus for these hearings, which featured explosive attacks on the Cheney/neo-con war clique, came from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who have garnered support, all the way up to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, for their view that an expansion of the war in Southwest Asia, a war which has already destroyed the military, must be stopped.

Biden's first hearing, on April 2, brought in three well-known retired generals, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, Lt. Gen. William Odom, and Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, as well as Michelle Flournoy, a former Pentagon official during the Clinton years, and now the president of the Center for a New American Security, a Democratic-leaning think-tank established in Washington last year. Though not in full agreement with each other, McCaffrey and Odom were particularly stark in their assessments of the situation on the ground in Iraq. But it was only towards the end of the hearing that the responsibility of the Congress and of the institution of the military was brought out.
The Army Is Unravelling

McCaffrey began his opening statement by asking, "How did we end up in this mess?" After praising the current senior civilian and military leadership in the Pentagon, McCaffrey declared that the Maliki government "is completely dysfunctional. There's not a province in Iraq where the central government dominates." The Iraqi government is not only incompetent, but it is rife with corruption as well.

McCaffrey noted, "We've run the Army to the wall and they're still out there," because of the quality of its people, but "it's starting to unravel." McCaffrey noted the testimony of Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Richard Cody to the Senate Armed Services Committee, the day before. The five-brigade surge into Iraq, last year, Cody said, "took all the stroke out of the shock absorber for the United States Army," by leaving no reserve available for other contingencies. The Air Force and the Navy, McCaffrey said, are not in much better shape. One result of the lack of manpower in the military services, has been the huge reliance on contractors. "Without contractors," McCaffrey said, "the war grinds to a halt." He concluded that because there's no political support to sustain the national security policy of the current administration, "we're coming out of Iraq. The only question is, whether it'll take one year or three."
Change Policy on Iran

General Odom was even more pessimistic. "The surge," he said, "is prolonging instability, not creating conditions for unity as the president claims." He said that while violence has come down over the last few months, there is credible evidence that the political situation is "far more fragmented." Maliki's assault on Basra, against his political competitors "is a political setback, not a political solution, Such is the result of the surge tactic." Equally disturbing, Odom said, is the steady violence in the Mosul area, with tensions among Kurds, Arabs, and Turkomen. "A showdown over control of the oil fields there surely awaits us."

Odom refuted the notion that al-Qaeda will take over Iraq if U.S. forces leave. He pointed out that everybody in Iraq hates them, and "The Sunnis will soon destroy al-Qaeda if we leave Iraq." The Kurds don't allow them in the North, and the Shi'ites, like the Iranians, "detest" them. One can understand why, when one takes note of their public diplomacy campaign over the past year or so on Internet blogs, in which they implore the United States to bomb and invade Iran "and destroy this apostate regime."

As an aside, Odom added that "it gives me pause to learn that our Vice President and some members of the Senate are aligned with al-Qaeda on spreading the war to Iran." Interestingly, no members of the committee took up Odom on this point.

Finally, Odom called for a quick withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and a change in policy towards Iran. A sensible strategy to withdraw rapidly in good order is the "only step" that "can break the paralysis now gripping U.S. strategy in the region," he said. "The next step is to choose a new aim, regional stability, not meaningless victory in Iraq," he said, which goal "requires revising our policy toward Iran." Just abandoning the regime change policy on Iran "could prompt Iran to lessen its support to Taliban groups in Afghanistan," Odom said. "Iran detests the Taliban and supports them only because they will kill more Americans in Afghanistan as retaliation in event of a U.S. attack on Iran." Iran's policy in Iraq would have to change as the United States withdraws because "it cannot want instability there."
Congress Can Cut the Funds

The docility of Congress in the face of the Bush Administration's war policy was not raised during the hearing until near the end. Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), after enumerating the costs, in both physical and fiscal terms, asked the witnesses what the U.S. Senate should do.

Odom replied by noting that Congress has two important powers, the budget and impeachment. "You could just refuse to pass a bill" funding the war, he said. "If you want to bring this to a halt, it's in the power of this Congress," to do that. McCaffrey added that Congress "has been entirely missing at the debate." He noted that the Democrats have been fearful of being labeled unpatriotic, and the Republicans "stayed with Secretary Rumsfeld when he was leading us over a cliff." "I think it's time for the Congress to act," he said.

But it's not only the Congress that has been asleep at the switch. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) followed Voinovich by noting that while "the vote for this war was a very regrettable experience for this country, the greatest failure since then has been from the highest leadership (both active and retired) of the military.... Too many military officers didn't speak out." Webb named the few who did stand up, including Odom, retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, retired Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, and former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki—the latter two having been humiliated by Rumsfeld because they wouldn't play his game. That failure, Webb said, "is the most regrettable reason we are where we are." McCaffrey, after noting his own criticisms of Rumsfeld, agreed that "the senior military leadership has been more compliant than it should've been."


By B.Raman

After San Francisco, the Olympic flame is likely to have anxious moments at Islamabad (April 16), New Delhi (April 17) and Tokyo. At Islamabad, the problem, if any, could be from the survivors of the Pakistan Army's commando action in the Lal Masjid last year and anti-Chinese elements in the Uighur diaspora. The Tibetan issue will not pose a problem there.

2.The students of the Lal Masjid madrasas hold Beijing responsible for forcing President Pervez Musharraf to order the commando action, during which about 300 tribal students were allegedly killed. The support of Mrs.Benazir Bhutto for the commando action allegedly cost her her life at the hands of jihadi terrorists. The anger over the commando action remains strong and is directed against the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), the leader of the present ruling coalition, which had also supported the commando raid.Musharraf ordered the commando action after the madrasa students kidnapped some Chinese women working in beauty parlours and accused them of being prostitutes. The anger of the Uighurs is due to the alleged suppression of their ethnic members in Xinjiang and over the successful Chinese pressure on Saudi Arabia during the last two years not to issue pilgrimage visas to the Uighurs in Pakistan.

3. There will be very anxious moments in New Delhi because of the activism of the highly-motivated Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), but they may not have the same kind of street support from sections of the Indian civil society as the Tibetan residents had in London, Paris and San Francisco. The Dalai Lama's departure to the US---though ostensibly in pursuit of long-scheduled programmes---is also meant to cool the temperature so that the Government of India is not embarrassed. Another possible reason is that he doesn't want to give the Chinese an opportunity to make further allegations against him should something go wrong on April 17.

4. In Tokyo, one could again see a mix of Tibetan activism and sections of the local civil society in action.Both the Chinese and Japanese authorities are prepared for it.

5 Unfortunately, in India and the rest of the world, the debate,which started after the violent incidents of March 10 to 18,2008, has failed to make a distinction between the "Tibetan card" and the 'Tibetan issue". Many of the so-called hawks, including some retired officers of the Indian Foreign Service and leaders of the Hindutva group, as well as anti-China elements in the West look upon the post-March 10 developments as providing a "Tibetan card", which can be exploited against China for different strategic objectives.

6. In the case of the Indian hawks, they want the Government to use the Tibetan card to correct the past policy mistakes relating to the totally unwise Indian action in recognising Tibet as an integral part of China without a quid pro quo from Beijing in the form of a recognition of Arunachal Pradesh as an integral part of India.

7. I was myself tempted to join this hawks' brigade, but refrained from doing so after careful thinking. I have come to the conclusion that this will be a cynical approach which could prove counter-productive. We should not give the impression that we are exploiting the spilling of Tibetan blood and the justified emotional outburst of Tibetan youth not for getting a better future for the Tibetans, but to serve our own national interest. Nothing can be more unfortunate than such an impression among the Tibetans.

8. In the West also, many look upon the shocking mishandling of the Tibetan people by the neo Red Guards of the Chinese Government and Communist Party as providing a welcome stick to beat the Chinese with in this year of the Beijing Olympics. The respect for the human rights of the Tibetans is not the primary issue. Needling Beijing is the primary issue.

9. We need policies and an approach in India as well as the West based on the conviction that the long-neglected Tibetan issue---meaning the observance of human rights and giving the Tibetans a genuine voice and genuine political opportunities and religious freedom in their own homeland-- has led to the present situation and that unless the grievances and anger of the Tibetan people are addressed in a disinterested manner the problem is likely to continue. Our policies should be based on a genuine interest in the Tibetan people, their plight and their future and not on exploiting their uprising for serving our own national interest.Let us keep the spotlight on the TIBETAN ISSUE resist the temptation to use the Tibetan anger as a card for narrow purposes.

10. Despite the widespread adverse reaction against China all over the world, the Chinese have not blinked and are unlikely to blink even ifthere are more violent incidents as the flame is taken to the top of the Everest and across Tibetan-inhabited areas of China. In their apprehension, any weakening of their stand on Tibet could mark the beginning of their losing control over China's sensitive periphery consisting of Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia.

11. At the same time, once the Olympics are over there would be hopefully re-thinking in the Chinese Government and Party over the mess created for them by the mishandling of the Tibetan issue by the neo Red Guards and other hawks. This could result in policy and management correctives meant to address the widespread alienation. We in India should not lose our ability for discreetly promoting such re-thinking and policy correctives by taking an unbridled hawkish approach. His Holiness the Dalai Lama should be in the centre of any debate on such correctives.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, the Institute For
Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Musharraf pledges support to end terrorism in Sri Lanka

Fri, Apr 11 07:40 PM

Colombo, April 11 (IANS) Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf Friday voiced his country's support to Sri Lanka in the fight against terrorism.

According to the president's office here, Musharraf gave the assurance at a meeting with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa in China on the sidelines of the multilateral Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference.

'President Musharraf reiterated his country's opposition to terrorism in all its manifestations and assured Sri Lanka of all assistance to defeat terrorism in the country,' an official source here said.

The president's office said that the two leaders discussed bilateral issues, including trade and economic and defence co-operation.

Extending his condolences to Rajapaksa over the April 6 assassination of his cabinet minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, the Pakistani president 'condemned such acts of terror and underlined the need for its elimination'.

Congratulating Musharraf over his commitment to restore democracy in Pakistan, Rajapaksa 'explained the actions being taken to defeat the terrorism of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) in Sri Lanka'.

The two presidents also agreed to the need to transform the existing Free Trade Agreement between the two countries to a Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Musharraf also thanked Rajapaksa for Sri Lanka's support for Pakistan when 'some member states' suspended it from the Commonwealth.

China and Pakistan are the two main military suppliers to Sri Lanka, where a dragging Tamil separatist campaign has left thousands dead.

The BFA conference is being held April 11-13 at Boao in China's Hainan province. The theme this year is 'Green Asia, Moving Towards Win-Win Through Changes'.

The BFA was set up in 2001 as a platform for high-level interaction between leaders from Asia and across the world and with the aim of promoting development goals of Asian countries through greater regional economic integration.

CPM govt bans Tibet rally in Kolkata, China envoy says absolutely right move

CPM govt bans Tibet rally in Kolkata, China envoy says absolutely right move

Posted online: Friday, April 11, 2008 at 0139 hrs

Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay & Mouparna Bandyopadhyay

Kolkata, April 10: Trust the comrades in this city to champion dissent and then clamp down on it — to please Beijing.

Two weeks after it allowed Tibetan activists to hold a candlelight vigil, the CPM-led West Bengal Government has denied them permission to hold a three-day anti-China public rally scheduled to begin today forcing them to go indoors.

Ironically, there were as many as 11 rallies in the city during the day. These included a rally by the Trinamool in Park Circus to protest against the state government’s failure to check prices and a similar one by CPM supporters in Tollygunge to protest against inflation.

“We are shocked and depressed by the government’s decision. It is a democratic country and there is no bar on holding peaceful, democratic protests and rallies,” said D Dorjee, spokesperson for the Tibetan solidarity sub-committee for Kolkata, an outfit of Tibetan students and businessmen in the city.

Praise came from Chinese Consul General in Kolkata Mao Siwei. “This is a correct decision because the Government of India made a commitment to the Government of China that no anti-China rallies will be allowed to take place anywhere in the country,” Mao claimed when contacted by The Indian Express.

When he was told that several such rallies had taken place across India, he said: “I don’t know of other places but I can say that what the Kolkata police have done is absolutely right.”

Members of the Tibetan group had a written permission from the Kolkata Police allowing them to hold the rally and prayer meeting across Metro Cinema in Esplanade. But last night, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Headquarters) Vineet Goyal called them up to say the government had denied them permission. Hundreds of Tibetans from Dharamshala, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Sikkim had already arrived in the city to participate in the rally.

“Deputy Commissioner Goyal called us and said that because of pressure from above they were withdrawing their permission,” said Dorjee.

When contacted, Goyal said: “I am a police official and I have no other option than to abide by the Government’s decision. I have just followed the Government’s orders.”

“We requested the police to allow us to hold the rally at least for a day instead of three since so many people have come from all over India and we have already paid for the pandal. We even told him we will scale down the number of people but he said he could not do anything.” He said that since they had no other option they would now hold their prayer meeting inside Mahabodhi Society tomorrow, an option the police offered.

Said Home Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty: “Permission cannot be given to all rallies considering the situation and the threat they pose. Without seeing intelligence reports, I cannot tell you why permission to the Tibetan rally was denied.”

Said Kshiti Gowami, West Bengal PWD Minister from RSP: “I think both the Centre and the state are confused about what to do with Tibetans. I believe it is because of the trouble in Darjeeling where many Tibetans live that the government denied permission to them.”


Questioning IPS officers: Are they only best talented people to qualify for IB ?

Below is a email we received from one reader tought to reproduce here , however we do NOT subscribe to any of author's view . Readers are free to comment : -- Intellibriefs

Dear Sir,

Here is an article (big one!!!) which is talking about cyber espionage. In particular it mentions somebody (read China) using words (in emails) like --- Indian MRCA, Indian fighter jets and US, Russian and Indian weapons integration and such things to hack the systems of US defense contractors. Here is the full article.


Since Indian private industry is being allowed to come in the defense sector, the govt should make it mandatory that for the private companies to qualify for the tendering/contract process one of the must have conditions is that it should have a certain minimum level of cyber security system. I am sorry to say this but from the public knowledge I have, our intelligence agencies aren't still tech savvy. The level of stone agedness of our security establishment was open to every one when thumb/USB drives were allowed to be carried by the staff of PMO/NSCS which lead to the leakage of information (the CIA operative who got in touch with people in NSCS under the Indo US cyber security forum). Another case was of harddrives vanishing!!!

I hope that our security establishment wakes up and starts realizing that cyber warfare is going to be a reality very soon and it better buckle up for it. The lack of public interaction or their own separate PR by our security establishment combined with goof ups certainly creates a lack of confidence in their ability to deal/cope with the demands in the minds of public. A less tech savvy security agency obviously will not have the technical know how to advice the policy makers on the need to gear up for cyber battle. From my understanding IB has less than 10000 officers (may be around 4000, realistically speaking). For the kind of threat we have is this strength anywhere sufficient. The combined strength of ISI + Pak terrorists + Maoists + B'desh terrorists + home grown terrorists is far far higher than IB can handle. Is the ratio at least anywhere near healthy?? I am sure the answer is negative, considering the fact that half the IB strength will used to spy on political opponents. Added to this is the mind set in the security establishment of our country that nobody can be more patriotic than themselves (and their definition of patriotism will be no better than that of Shivsena's or VHP's --- it's ok/good if you are corrupt and are looting crores of tax payers money when crores of poor people are starving in the country but you a patriotic if qualify for our narrow definition of patriotism/Hindutva. My favorite question hasn't been answered yet!!! :)).... ). IPS officers need not be and are not the only best talented people to qualify for IB. Let me ask this way, while writing the civil service exams the rank holder (who qualify for IAS/IPS) might have answered a question about that Kargil martyr Cpt. Vikram Batra, but how many ever will spare a moment about those soldiers once they become officers? Will they ever argue for the soldier's pay hike? They will happily indulge in corruption even swindling the money meant for war veterans. Those who qualify for IPS are slightly less good at memorizing such things but indulge in passport rackets and such things to make money and I don't know whey our IB still thinks that only people from IPS/civil services are qualified to get into IB. Probably the same mindset persists in RAW too.

Anonymous email .

How much is Hillary Clinton worth?

The 109 million dollar smile


This week Senator Hillary Clinton will seek to recover from another barrage of negative media stories, less than a fortnight before the Democratic party's presidential primary in Pennsylvania. Her campaign has been plagued since late March by a series of damaging flaps, particularly Clinton's 'misremembered' 1996 visit to Bosnia under non-existent 'sniper fire'. This story has done real damage to her political standing, given that voters fault Clinton's 'trustworthiness' relative to her primary opponent, Senator Barack Obama.
A taxing problem?

Attention has now shifted to the Clinton finances, which were the subject of the interminable 'Whitewater' investigation during former President Bill Clinton's tenure in office. After a long delay, on April 4 the campaign finally released her tax returns, which she files jointly with her husband. They revealed that the Clintons have generated 109 million dollars in income since leaving the White House in 2001.

On the surface, the degree to which the Clintons have cashed-in on their political prominence may appear unseemly -- particularly to some media outlets abroad. However, inside the United States there is little stigma attached to high net worth office-seekers.

Indeed, given the cost of funding state-wide or national campaigns, there is some indication that voters actually prefer to back rich candidates, on the assumption that they are 'too rich to be bought' by narrow interests.
Financial information entrepreneur Michael Bloomberg leveraged his 12 billion dollar fortune to become mayor of New York City in 2002; the former New Jersey senator, and current governor, Jon Corzine, spent 62 million dollars of a fortune he earned at Goldman Sachs on his 2001 senate campaign.

Wealth is often equated with virtue in the United States -- particularly when it is the product of success in business. It only has a negative political impact when it is seen as having been earned in an underhanded manner. The Clintons accumulated their millions largely through book royalties and speaking fees, and donated nearly 10 million dollars to charity. Hillary Clinton's Tuzla 'misstatements' may hurt her in Pennsylvania, but her wealth will not -- even among down and out union members in the 'Keystone state'.

Cyber sewer


Our internet tubes are dripping with raw sewage.

A recent study from Arbor Networks' ATLAS portal, which examines traffic flows from 68 internet service providers (ISPs), estimated that up to 3% of internet traffic is clogged up by malicious distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, with peaks of up to 5%. In addition, of the 1.5% of internet traffic that is e-mail, around 66% is junk mail, or spam. MORE

Video: Protesters March Ahead of Olympic Torch Relay


Why the IOC must ban the Olympic Torch from going through Tibet

Friday, April 11 2008 @ 09:23 pm BST

TibetCustom London
Pressure is building on the IOC to ban the procession of the Olympic Torch through Tibet.

Today the Governor of Tibet a Beijing appointed autocrat has stated that anyone who obstructs the Torch Rally through Tibet faces severe penalties, stating he will be personally responsible for their punishment.

The calls for the IOC to stop the procession have a clear and reasonable point to make, not least that China is using the Olympics and especially the Torch Rally as a Nationalistic emblem of their perceived new status in the world and the Tibet length of the Rally is really an imperialistic attempt to justify their tenuous claim to Tibet.

The fact that any demonstrators will be met with sever force and punishments is certainly not in line with either the Olympic Charter or promisses China has made in regard to freedoms and Human Rights improvements which were conditions of their actually getting the games in the first place. Not only have those promisses not been met, conditions have got much worse.

Lastly the Torch is not China's lest the "Olympic Holy Flame Protection Unit" forget the Torch and the Flame are the property of the IOC and represent the IOC and the Olympic Ideal's of Freedom and peace, not subjugation, torture, punishment and Cultural Genocide. So really the IOC has no Choice but to stop the Torch going through Tibet, the IOC has every right to do so, and not to do so would be such a massive abdication of responsibility, it is questionable weather the IOC could survive. If it does ban it from going through Tibet the IOC would at least salvage some moral responsibility, which it has so obviously lost at this moment in time.

It is clear the IOC is worried as today the president of the Olympic committee, Jacques Rogge, called on the authorities in Beijing to respect their "moral engagement" to improve human rights in the months leading up to the games and to provide the news media with greater access to the country. He also described the protests that have dogged the international Olympics torch relay as a "crisis" for the organization.

However they really must go further to rescue any sense that they have any moral authority at all, after all if the flame goes through Tibet then any Olympic Spirit of Peace and Freedom will certainly die right there.

Olympic Torch to Everest: Neo Red Guards Prevail

By B. Raman

Before the outbreak of the disturbances in Tibet and the adjoining Tibetan-inhabited areas on March 10, 2008, the Chinese Olympic Organising Committee had planned to take the Olympic torch to Tibet twice. It was to be taken first to the summit of the Everest from the Chinese side by a group of Chinese mountaineers and then taken to other provinces. Thereafter, it was to be brought back to Tibet for a second time for being taken across Lhasa, the capital, and adjoining areas.

2. The Committee had announced the dates of the second run as between June 19 and 21, 2008, but it had kept the dates of the climb to the Everest a secret to prevent the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) from disrupting it. However, one could guess that it would be in the last week of April and the first week of May,2008, from the fact that the Chinese authorities had imposed a ban on foreign tourists and journalists travelling to the Himalayan foothills till May 10. They had pressured the Nepal Government to ban all expeditions to the Everest till May 10, since they were afraid that the TYC volunteers may climb the Everest from the Nepal side and cause an avalanche on the Chinese side as the flame was being taken to the top of the Everest.

3. It is learnt that in the wake of the continuing unrest in the Tibetan-inhabited areas, the matter was considered by the party leadership in Beijing and a suggestion reportedly made by Prime Minister Wen Jiabo that the torch should be taken to Tibet only once between June 19 and 21 and that the proposal for Chinese mountaineers to take it to the top of the Everest should be abandoned. This suggestion was reportedly accepted. Though no official announcement was made about it, Chinese officials in Beijing and Lhasa indicated that the ban on the travel of foreign tourists to Tibet would be lifted from May 1.

4. However, this position has been changed and Chinese officials have been saying that they are determined to take the torch to the top of the Everest whatever be the consequences and that the ban on the foreign tourists going to Tibet would continue even after May 1 till further orders. They apparently intend lifting the ban only after the torch had been taken to the top of the Everest, brought down and taken to other provinces.

5. The reiteration of the plan to take the torch to the top of the Everest is reported to have been the outcome of a strong opposition from a group of Neo Red Guards consisting of Mr. Meng Jianzhu, the Minister for Public Security, Mr. Zhang Qingli, the head of the Chinese Communist Party in Tibet, and Mr. Qiangha Puncog, the head of the Tibetan Government. It is understood that the policy on Tibet is increasingly dictated by this group, which enjoys the support of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). This group reportedly argued that any plans to abandon the climb to the Everest with the torch could be seen by the Tibetans as a sign of weakness and could further worsen the situation. Its views prevailed.

7. In the meanwhile, after nearly a month of vicious attacks on the so-called Dalai clique, which was held responsible for the uprising in Tibet, the Government controlled media has now turned its gundas on the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), whose activities are being compared to those of Al Qaeda and the Chechen terrorists in Russia. The Government-owned "People's Daily", which has been carrying articles on this subject, has avoided giving the impression that these are its views. Instead, it has been projecting them as the views of Chinese netizens, having their own blogs.

8. Annexed is the text of an interview given by Mr. Zhang Qingli to "Spiegel", the well-known German journal on August 16, 2006.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com)


Text dated August 16, 2006 of an interview given by Mr. Zhang Qingli, to 'Spiegel", the well-known German magazine

SPIEGEL: Mr. Zhang, Tibet is traditionally a deeply religious country, whereas the Chinese Communist Party is secular. Marx called religion the opium of the masses. How do you reconcile the two?

Zhang: Nature is diverse. Different life forms coexist and the world is colorful. This also holds true when it comes to ideology. We emphasize harmony, so that different ideologies and ideas can live together in peace. The Chinese government practices religious freedom.

SPIEGEL: But since when has the Communist Party tolerated religion in its current form?

Zhang: The party and the government have a clear policy on religion. First, we have religious freedom. Second, religious communities must make their own decisions, and we cannot have interference from abroad. Third, they must be conducted and managed according to the laws. And, finally, we show them how to become integrated into socialist society. You can see the way it is in Tibet, where people make pilgrimages to the temples, turn their prayer wheels and pray to Buddha.

SPIEGEL: The Dalai Lama is one of the world's most popular religious leaders, and he is deeply revered by the people of Tibet. But the government in Beijing sees him as a despicable separatist. Why?

Zhang: Five thousand Tibetan soldiers died during the supposedly "peaceful liberation" of the region. In 1959, the Tibetans rebelled against China and the Dalai Lama fled to India. In 1989, a bloody crackdown stamped out a renewed protest movement. Zhang: Our policy toward the Dalai Lama is clear and consistent. After the founding of the People's Republic and the peaceful liberation of Tibet, he was elected to a leadership position in the National People's Congress in 1954. He remained a member of that body until 1964. In 1956 he was named director of the preparation committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region. All of this was done so that religious freedom could be guaranteed, and so that Tibet could be integrated into the great family of socialist nations. He fled the country in 1959. There is no doubt that at that time he was a widely respected religious leader.

SPIEGEL: And is he no longer that today?

Zhang: He did many bad things later on that contradict the role of a religious leader. The core issue is this: Everyone must love his motherland. How can it be that he doesn't even love his motherland? We have a saying: "No dog sees the filth in his own hut, and a son would never describe his mother as ugly."

SPIEGEL: The Dalai Lama doesn't love Tibet?

Zhang: Tibet is the home of the 14th Dalai Lama, but China is his motherland. He deceived his motherland. He rebelled in the 1950s and in the late 1980s he incited unrest in Lhasa that was directed against the people, the government and society. He destabilized Tibet.

SPIEGEL: The Dalai Lama is widely respected worldwide.

Zhang: If I remember correctly, from 1959 to the middle of this year he has made 312 visits to places all over the world, which comes to an average of six countries a year. It was even 12 in 2005. And what did he do during these visits? The goal of these so-called official visits was to form alliances with anti-Chinese forces and to engage in propaganda for his separatist views, which conflict with religion.

SPIEGEL: But much has changed in the world in the last 20 years. China has opened up and trade has become globalized. The question of power on the roof of the world has been resolved. The Dalai Lama has abandoned his claims to independence and agrees to a far-reaching autonomy for Tibet. Why isn't China generous and self-confident enough to allow the Dalai Lama back into the country, as he would like? Does he still pose a threat to you?

Zhang: We have a clear policy. The door to negotiations will always be open to him, but only when he truly and comprehensively abandons his intentions to divide the motherland, intentions that are directed against society and the people, only when he gives up his splittist activities and only when he openly declares to the world that he has given up claims to independence for Tibet.

SPIEGEL: Didn’t he do this long ago?

Zhang: The problem is that his behavior and his statements contradict one another. He says: "I want to take a middle path and I accept that there is only one China." But in reality he has not spent a single day not trying to split the motherland.

SPIEGEL: What do you mean by that?

Zhang: What his so-called middle path means is this: He wants to integrate Tibetan settlement areas in the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai and Gansu into Tibet. He wants to be in charge of this "Greater Tibet" and he demands that the People's Liberation Army be withdrawn from the region. Besides, he wants to see a return to an earlier, theocratic feudal realm, as dark and gruesome as it was. In those days, government officials, noblemen and monks ruled 95 percent of the population. And he wants even more autonomy for Tibet than has been given to Hong Kong and Macau. That is splittism.

SPIEGEL: But haven't there already been talks between representatives of the Dalai Lama and Beijing?

Zhang: His government-in-exile is illegal. Our central government has never recognized it. No country in the world, including Germany, recognizes it diplomatically. There are no talks between the Chinese and his so-called government-in-exile. The current contacts merely involve a few individuals from his immediate surroundings. The talks revolve around his personal future.

SPIEGEL: The Dalai Lama enjoys a great deal of sympathy in America, Europe and in Asia, also because the Chinese Communist Party is not particularly democratic.

Zhang: Frankly, the number of people who know the true Dalai Lama is very small. His supporters include enemies of China, but also the true faithful, who are being led astray by this false religious leader. And, finally, there are those who do not understand the real situation.

SPIEGEL: Nevertheless, the Dalai Lama is a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Zhang: I have never understood why a person like the Dalai Lama was honored with this prize. What has he done for peace? How much guilt does he bear toward the Tibetan people! How damaging is he for Tibet and China! I cannot understand why so many countries are interested in him.

SPIEGEL: For many Europeans, Tibet is still a country full of myths. A new railroad line to Lhasa was inaugurated a few weeks ago. What does it mean for Tibet?

Zhang: We are very pleased about this railroad. Everyone is convinced that what the Communist Party has achieved on the roof of the world is a miracle. It demonstrates China's strength and its economic and technological progress. But, more important, the railroad shows that the Chinese Communist Party is doing everything it can to improve life for the various nationalities in the border regions. Tibet is now economically linked to other provinces and the rest of the world.

SPIEGEL: There are rumors that China has nuclear weapons stationed in Tibet. Can you confirm this?

Zhang: I can assure you with all responsibility that this is all a complete fantasy. There is no nuclear weapons factory in Tibet.

SPIEGEL: The Dalai Lama is 71. He has hinted that there may not be a successor or reincarnation. How will you react? Will you nevertheless encourage a search for a reincarnation?

Zhang: The current Dalai Lama is the 14th. We do not know how much longer he will live. We believe that good people live longer while bad people live shorter lives.

SPIEGEL: Then the Dalai Lama, at 71, must be a good person.

Zhang: It is difficult to say whether he is good or bad. But when we consider his actions, he does not appear to be a good person.

SPIEGEL: If the Dalai Lama doesn't want a successor, will the Communist Party then say that this is a good thing? Or will it undertake its own efforts to search for a successor in Tibet?

Zhang: There has always been a specific system to search for a successor to the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. According to the historic rules and religious rituals, monks must travel throughout the country and draw lots from the Golden Urn. But the central government has the final say.

SPIEGEL: Will there be an official and an unofficial Dalai Lama, one in Tibet and another in India? After all, since 1995 there has been a dispute over the Panchen Lama, Tibet's second most important religious leader. The Dalai Lama recognized one Panchen Lama, but Beijing approved another.

Zhang: The reincarnation of the Panchen Lama has been regulated since the Qing dynasty, that is, since the 17th century. The search for and naming of the 11th Panchen Lama was done strictly in accordance with historic rules. This is why he was recognized by the central government. He is the legal Panchen Lama. The Dalai Lama broke the historic rules during the search for the Panchen Lama. He didn't even have the Golden Urn from which to draw lots. The Dalai Lama creates chaos. But the market for him here in Tibet is shrinking.

SPIEGEL: Religion appears to be gaining strength in many parts of the world, such as in predominantly Islamic regions and in the United States. Isn't religion also on the rise in Tibet?

Zhang: Religion is a historic phenomenon that will continue to exist for a long time. Our religious policy is very relaxed, and it is in keeping with realities. But religion may not operate against the law and may not interfere in justice, education, production and labor. In China, people are free to believe or not. We do not become involved in this personal decision.

SPIEGEL: But you have announced plans to strengthen the so-called patriotic education campaign in the monasteries, which is also directed against supporters of the Dalai Lama.

Zhang: Every nation on earth teaches its people to love their motherland. We are organizing patriotic education everywhere, not just in the monasteries. Those who do not love their country are not qualified to be human beings. This is a matter of common sense.

SPIEGEL: Do you actually speak Tibetan?

Zhang: Just a few words. I have only been here a few months. But I do want to learn the language.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Zhang, we thank you for this interview.

Interview was conducted by editors Stefan Aust, Andreas Lorenz and Gerhard Spörl in Lhasa.

Iran may Replace Turkmenistan in Nabucco Gas Project

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran could replace Turkmenistan in the Western-backed Nabucco pipeline project designed to pump gas from the Caspian to Europe bypassing Russia, the EU's new ambassador to Azerbaijan said Friday.

Alan Waddams told the Azerbaijani ANS TV channel that EU representatives, currently on a visit to Turkmenistan, said Ashgabat had agreed to export gas to Europe via Nabucco, but if the Turkmen side changed its mind, then Iran could step in as an alternative.

The $7-8 billion Nabucco pipeline, backed by the EU and the US, is expected to link energy-rich Central Asia to Europe through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria.

The European diplomat said Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov announced at the meeting his agreement for gas exports.

Some experts say that without the support of Turkmenistan, a major natural gas producer in Central Asia, the Nabucco project is unrealistic.

Construction on the pipeline with a projected annual capacity of between 20 and 30 billion cubic meters has been tentatively scheduled to begin in 2010.

Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan and, more recently, Iraq have been seen as possible suppliers for the project. Iraq is being backed by the United States.

Russia is skeptical about the successful implementation of the Nabucco pipeline in the near future citing insufficient gas supplies.

In what was widely seen as a major blow to the Nabucco project, Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan signed a deal in December to supply the Asian states' Caspian gas via Russia. Moscow also reached deals with Bulgaria and Serbia earlier this year on the South Stream pipeline to pump Central Asian gas to Europe.

Iran Installs 3 Centrifuge Cascades

TEHRAN (FNA)- Tehran said yesterday Iranian experts had installed almost 500 more centrifuges at its Natanz uranium enrichment complex, in central Iran.

Three new cascades of 164 centrifuges have been installed in Natanz facility and are working," an unnamed official told the Islamic Republic News Agency. "These centrifuges are P1 type.

Iran launched 3,000 centrifuges, a basis for industrial scale enrichment, in the Natanz facility last year. But they are the 1970s-vintage P1 design, prone to breakdown.

Thus, Iranian experts have now begun installing 6,000 new centrifuges at Natanz facility, while they have just begun testing an advanced home-made centrifuge in the same facility.

Mohammad Saeedi, the deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, on Friday denied reports that Iran was having difficulties in running its centrifuges at full capacity.

There are no technical problems regarding the development of centrifuges," he told IRNA. Iran says it plans eventually to have 54,000 centrifuges to help produce fuel for a planned network of power plants.

The US-led West claims that Iran is trying to covertly produce nuclear bombs under cover of a civilian program, but it has never presented any corroborative documents or any evidence to prove its allegations to international bodies.

The UN Security Council has already imposed three sets of limited sanctions on Iran to force it give up its right of uranium enrichment - a main and sensitive part of nuclear fuel production. Tehran says the process is deeply needed for ensuring continued operation of its power plants in future.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany will meet on April 16 in Shanghai to discuss whether to sweeten incentives they had offered Iran in 2006 to persuade it to give up its nuclear rights.

Iran, which says it wants nuclear technology to generate electricity, has so far ruled out halting or limiting its nuclear work in exchange for trade and other incentives, and says it will only negotiate with the UN nuclear watchdog.

The US is at loggerheads with Iran over the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran's nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and set a paradigm for other third-world countries. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.

Washington's push for additional UN penalties contradicted the recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran's programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head - one in November and the other one in February - which praised Iran's truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions on Iran seemed to be completely irrational.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran's cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran's nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

Tehran says it never worked on atomic weapons and wants to enrich uranium merely for civilian purposes, including generation of electricity, a claim substantiated by the NIE and IAEA reports.

Iran has insisted it would continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhoveyn as well as its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.

Not only many Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but also many other world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports saying Iran had increased cooperation with the agency.

US President George W. Bush, who finished a tour of the Middle East in winter has called on his Arab allies to unite against Iran.

But hosting officials of the regional nations dismissed Bush's allegations, describing Tehran as a good friend of their countries.

Bush's attempt to rally international pressure against Iran has lost steam due to the growing international vigilance, specially following the latest IAEA and US intelligence reports.

The Spoils of Success

April 10, 2008

By Yelena Biberman
Russia Profile

Dmitry Medvedev Opposes State Confiscation of Privatized Property, In Theory

“Being successful in Russia is risky,” Georgy Satarov, president of the INDEM Foundation and the presidential representative in the State Duma under Boris Yeltsin, said in response to the latest controversy surrounding the renationalization of the Domodedovo International Airport. Satarov noted that the more successful a company is in Russia, the greater are its chances of becoming illegally taken over by the government. The case of Domodedovo supports this logic.

On March 20, a Moscow court backed an order forcing East Line Group, the operating company of Domodedovo International Airport, to return 16 pieces of state property to the Federal Property Management Agency. The agency argued that the property was illegally privatized in the 1990s. East Line has operated the Domodedovo Airport since 1997, and its lease is scheduled to expire only in 2072.

High-flying business

The Domodedovo International Airport is a lucrative target for reverse privatization. In 2007, it was rated the best airport in Eastern Europe by ACI Europe in terms of passenger traffic growth.

The airport served over 800,000 international passengers in March, which constitutes a 24.5 percent increase compared to March of last year. The number of Domodedovo clients flying domestically (roughly 650,000 passengers) saw a similar 23 percent increase. In the first three months of this year (as compared to last year), Domodedovo served 1.7 times the number of passengers traveling to the top ten destinations, which included St. Petersburg, Krasnodar, Bangkok and Vienna.

The number of take-off and landing operations at the airport is significantly growing as well. It was 14.3 percent higher this March than during the same month in 2007.

On April 1, Germany's Lufthansa Airlines, a leader among foreign airlines operating in Russia and the CIS, moved its Moscow passenger flights from Sheremetyevo to Domodedovo. Lufthansa thereby joined the six other Star Alliance members already operating at Domodedovo – SWISS, Austrian Airlines, bmi, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Spanair. Among the special services that Lufthansa made available to their Domodedovo clients is free check-in at the Paveletskiy train station.

Too big to support

The moves against East Line demonstrate that the state is attempting to cash in on its own corruption. The same forces that allowed (and benefited from) the illegal privatization of state properties have returned to reclaim them from a company that has invested over $1 billion into making Domodedovo the leading international airport in Moscow in terms of passenger and cargo traffic.

Most striking about this controversy is its timing. The court ruling came at a time when Russia’s top executive leadership appears to be focused on creating better conditions for business by combating state-sponsored corruption.

Satarov was not surprised by the timing. He argued that the coming of a new president is causing corrupt state officials to scramble to take whatever spoils they can, before the window of opportunity closes.

However, considerable damage is a likely consequence for big business in Russia as well, currently undergoing a transformation “from black to white” –increasingly legalizing by obeying an increasing number of laws.

Doing better than that

The order of renationalization of Domodedovo petrified the Russian business community. The country’s leading business lobby appealed to President-elect Dmitry Medvedev to enforce property rights. If he does not deliver, the aforementioned business legalization process may suffer a severe setback.

In theory, Medvedev stands against what the Federal Property Management Agency is doing. According to Alexander Shokhin, head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, the case of Domodedovo Airport was mentioned at the April 8 meeting with Medvedev. While he did not address this case directly, the president-elect condemned the government’s attempts to forcefully gain back privatized property.

In practice, Medvedev will have to do better than his predecessor. He is not the first to condemn unlawful renationalization. President Vladimir Putin also spoke in support of East Line back in 2005, when the company faced a similar challenge, but to no avail.

Malta improves EIU global e-readiness ranking

by Valerie Fenech - valfen@di-ve.com
Local News -- 12 April 2008 -- 15:25CEST

The Economist Intelligence Unit and the IBM Institute of Business Value have ranked Malta as the 23rd most e-ready country worldwide, improving one position from last year’s ranking.
e-readiness is defined as the country’s state of play in information and communications technologies infrastructure and the ability of government, businesses and consumers of using them to their benefit.

The e-readiness rankings are a collection of nearly a 100 quantitative and qualitative criteria in connectivity and technology infrastructure, the business environment, the social and cultural environment, the legal environment, the government’s policy and vision and consumer and business adoption.

Significantly Malta’s government is ranked the 8th best government in Europe and 11th in the world in terms of the quality of its vision and policy for the ICT sector.

In this regard, Malta ranks above the Western European average and is ahead of countries such as Germany, France, Italy, Ireland and Spain. Government Policy and Vision cover the extent to which the government supports and drives the use of ICT.

In connectivity and technology infrastructure, Malta ranks 16th in Europe and 30th worldwide. This covers the availability, affordability and quality of telephony services, personal computers, wi-fi hotspots, the internet and digital identity cards.

On business environment criteria, Malta ranks 14th in Europe and 24th worldwide. This criterion considers the expected attractiveness of the general business environment over the next five years.

Here Malta ranks at par with Spain and higher than Portugal, Italy and Greece.

Malta ranks 15th in Europe and 25th in the world on criteria relating to the Social and Cultural environment. These consider the pre-conditions of applying e-business, including literacy, education, Internet experience, entrepreneurial attitude and innovation.

The legal environment encompasses the country’s overall legal framework and specific laws governing Internet use. Malta shares the 14th place in Europe with Greece, Portugal and Spain and placed 21st worldwide.

In the consumer and business adoption category, Malta is among the top-performers in Europe and the world coming in at 6th and 10th position respectively.

In this category Malta is ahead of countries such as Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Switzerland, Belgium and France. Consumer and Business adoption cover the prevalence of e-business practices in a country like the availability and the use of e-commerce and online public services.
Now in its 9th year the e-readiness rankings illustrate the amenability of the national market to Internet-based opportunities. The ranking model evaluates the technological, economical, political and social criteria of 70 countries.

Communications and National Projects Minister Austin Gatt expressed his personal satisfaction at these achievements saying that the results are a credit to all involved in building Malta’s information society both from the public and private spheres. “The Smart Island strategy will take us higher and further. We have been confirmed as strong competitors in the ICT sector on a global scale and there is little reason to doubt that we can be recognized in a few short years as leaders and worldwide models”

April 09, 2008

USA : Proteus, the DNI’s Discreet Forecasting Think Tank

Source: IntelligenceOnline.com

Among the numerous programs run by the governmental relations branch of the Booz Allen Hamilton concern - presently up for sale - figures Proteus USA, a think tank founded and financed by the director of national intelligence (DNI).

Since it was set up by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in October, 2005, the forecasting and research think tank Proteus USA now counts over 500 experts who hail from the main agencies (CIA, NSA, NGA, NRO) as well as from the Pentagon and the private sector (see graph below).

Apart from financing research and organizing an annual seminar on geostrategic forecasting - the next will be held in Carlisle, Pennsylvania between Sept. 16-18 - Proteus designs tools and methods to forecast the future and its complex characteristics on behalf of national security leaders. An example is an in-house role- playing program called the “Protean Media Critical Thinking Game”. , New Insights for a New Age

For the first time this year Proteus’ annual seminar will be organized jointly with the Global Futures Forum (GFF), an offshoot of the Global Futures Partnership, a CIA forecasting unit. While Proteus is fairly closed off from the outside world and targets American decision-making circles, GFF has developed a permanent network of international experts from over 30 countries at present. Set up in the CIA with help from Harvard University and the Rand Corporation, GFF operates on the concept of collaborative intelligence and regularly organizes seminars outside of the U.S. (including Canada and at the Center for Security Studies at Zurich) on operational issues: terrorism, illicit traffic, proliferation and the like.

Editorial: Balochistan and a ‘new social contract’

Daily Times , Pakistan
The prospective unopposed chief minister of Balochistan, Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani, seems to have upset a few anchors on TV channels when he hinted at a “new constitution” to placate Balochistan and bring it back from its insurrectionary ways. He was, of course, referring to the accumulated grievances of the people of Balochistan. But some anger against him sprang from his apparent rejection of the 1973 Constitution so sacrosanct to his party, the PPP. Mr Raisani has responded by refusing to apologise. In fact, the governor of Balochistan, Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi, has recommended a dialogue “to end the insurgency” and has asked Mr Raisani to engage in this dialogue.

Mr Raisani has spoken of a “new social contract” based on the 1940 Pakistan Resolution because the 1973 Constitution has not “redressed the grievances of the smaller provinces”. This clearly refers to the overarching federal-provincial relations as embodied in the 1973 Constitution, and the presumed dissatisfaction with them among the “smaller provinces”, in which category he places his own province of Balochistan. This is indeed the main question to which the state of Pakistan has to provide an answer based on democratic norms. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that a new shape has to be given the quantum of provincial rights under the 1973 Constitution.

The PPP seemed to have redeemed its old promise of doing away with the Common List of subjects in the 1973 Constitution — tilted in favour of the Centre — when Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani announced last week that it would go in a year, and subjects not specifically listed as federal subjects would all fall to the provinces. But the history of the “autonomy debate” in Balochistan is long. In fact, it has gone much beyond the “fix” that any removal of the Common List might provide. If one can put it that way, the demand in Balochistan is for “provincial autonomy plus” and it stretches the boundaries of jurisdiction so far drawn in the federal constitutions of the world.

The “rebellious” sardars of Balochistan have been putting forward their “demand” quite frankly but not a little influenced by the bloody stand-off between them and the federal government led by President Pervez Musharraf. The demand is, in a nutshell, for the federation to let Balochistan have all the autonomy minus “defence, currency, communications and foreign affairs”. For those who would do nitpicking, it is interesting to note that this demand is still less in its separatism than the Six Points of East Pakistan which included a separate currency. But let it be said that the Baloch demand springs from the strength of the province’s alienation from the federation. Can Islamabad negotiate with Quetta on the basis of this demand?

The centrist rejectionist view has to be tempered by a stock-taking of the Musharraf policy that culminated in the killing of Sardar Akbar Bugti. The policy has failed, if not fully on the strategy of its stance, then on the fact that it did not have the required political support inside the country and in parliament, and that the military operation it unleashed in Balochistan has not succeeded and has in fact bogged down.

We are therefore on the threshold of a negotiation between the insurrectionists and the elected government of Balochistan, backed by a government in Islamabad of the same party. The Magsi-Raisani call for an end to the military operations should be met and talks between the leaders of Balochistan on the one hand and the representative parties of the federation on the other should begin.

There are some parallels between the situation in Balochistan and that prevailing in the tribal Areas. But one fundamental difference is that there are distinct parties in Balochistan that can negotiate on behalf of the province. There is the elected government with a considerable meeting of the minds with the radical elements, but which can also communicate effectively with the federal government. Balochistan has more variety of opinion if you allow it democratic airing than appears to be the case in these days of conflict, uprising and sabotage.

The PPP-led coalition at the centre is more inclined to grant autonomy to the smaller provinces than any government ever before. Once the talks begin under the Constitution, and such institutions as the Council of Common Interests are allowed to function with greater frequency, new ways of interpreting it in favour of devolution of power to the provinces will certainly be discovered. A new social contract can emerge only from this discussion, far beyond even the 1940 Lahore resolution which promised “sovereignty” to the “states” but did not ensure their survival. *

Second Editorial: Let us get on with improving relations with India

The PMLN leader Mr Nawaz Sharif has stated that he would like the Pakistan government to remove the system of visa for Indian travellers to Pakistan. Before him, the PPP leader Mr Asif Ali Zardari had proposed improvement of relations with India despite the outstanding bilateral disputes. Both are converging to the position taken by them in the Charter of Democracy signed by the two parties in 2006. If one thought that Mr Zardari was too “radical” on Kashmir, now it is Mr Sharif who is “radical” on the matter of movement of people between India and Pakistan.

The truth is that Pakistan is still behind on new thinking on its relations with India, despite the radical initiatives taken by President Musharraf. It has to be conceded that his PMLQ leaders proved to be less conversant with the subject and therefore less supportive than they might have been. Equally, when it came to the crunch, President Musharraf unfortunately fell back on the old bureaucratic policy of “reciprocity” and ignored the interest of the state of Pakistan. Indeed, the country could have taken big strides away from its dangerous revisionist past but for his incomplete understanding of the logic of his own “out of the box” thinking. Fortunately, now that a new parliament is in place, the two big leaders can actually pursue policies that they were prevented from pursuing in the past by the military-bureaucratic establishment in Islamabad. The economic and political dividends from a new relationship with India are palpable and can no longer be ignored

India-Africa Forum Summit :Address by the External Affairs Minister

Address by the External Affairs Minister at the India-Africa Business Luncheon 9th April, 2008, Hotel Ashoka


Your Excellencies,
Hon’ble Ministers,
Presidents of FICCI & CII
Distinguished Guests
Ladies & Gentlemen

It is a great honour and privilege for me to be present here today at this Business Luncheon. I take this opportunity to commend FICCI & CII, who have jointly organized this as the concluding event of the India-Africa Forum Summit. This has provided Indian business and industry a platform to meet and interact with our African guests and impart content to the economic dimension of the Summit. This event is indeed a fitting finale to the Summit.

The India-Africa Summit concluded just about an hour ago. It constitutes a defining moment in the India-Africa relationship. The Delhi Declaration, together with the Framework for India-Africa cooperation, is a clear reaffirmation of India’s deep commitment to the development of Africa. We hope that it will serve as a blue-print for creating sustainable and mutually beneficial partnerships between India and the countries of Africa. I am confident that its implementation will begin at the earliest.

In the last few years, there has been rapid progress in India-Africa relations. We have seen many high level visits and increased economic and technical cooperation. Africa has traditionally had the largest share of our allocation of concessional loans. As the Prime Minister announced yesterday, we intend to double present levels of credit to Africa and allocate $5.4 billion in lines of credit over the next 5 years. This will be for projects prioritised by Africa and thus reflective of their needs. The credits will be utilised, among others, for enhancing agricultural production, development of the infrastructure and energy sectors, small and medium enterprises, irrigation, food processing, IT and pharmaceuticals.

It is India’s intention to enter into a long-term sustainable partnership with Africa. Almost all African leaders at the Summit have spoken of the need to enhance capacity building and human resource development. Prime Minister has yesterday announced augmentation of the Ministry of External Affairs’ Aid to Africa budget for capacity building and technical assistance. Accordingly, we will double educational scholarships for Africa and increase ITEC slots every year. We intend to set up apex institutions for training and value addition in Africa in areas as diverse as trade, IT, entrepreneurial development, education, coal, diamonds, etc.

Our trade and investment partnership with Africa has increased by leaps and bounds in recent years. This is due to the forces of economic liberalization unleashed in both India and Africa. We are also mindful of the need to provide greater market access to imports from Africa. Accordingly, in consonance with our commitment at WTO, we have now decided to extend duty free tariff preference scheme to imports from the 34 Least Developed Countries of Africa.

The Government of India has also worked with Indian industry in forging project partnerships. Last month, I and my colleagues interacted with over 600 delegates from 33 African countries at the 10th India-Africa Project Partnership Conclave in New Delhi. I had the privilege of the wise counsel of more than 30 Ministers from Africa who led their delegations. We were also honoured by the presence of their Excellencies, the Vice-Presidents of Tanzania & Ghana. We intend to carry this forward by organizing 3 regional conclaves in Africa in 2008-2009.

It is a matter of satisfaction to us that Africa has found value in teaming up with Indian companies for diverse projects in Africa. I am confident that deliberations at this Forum will provide further impetus to this process. Building partnerships between the financial institutions of India and Africa would be important in this context.

I would urge Indian companies, however, to do more to step up their engagement with Africa for mutual benefit. Africa is the second fastest growing region after Asia. Africa’s development can and must be accelerated by investments and technology transfer by Indian companies. The continent needs large amounts of investment to build roads, railways and other infrastructure. There is therefore need to mobilize greater Indian private sector participation in the infrastructure development of Africa. The region also has millions of young people who can be employed in the manufacturing and services sectors. The large communities of Indian origin that can be found in many parts of Africa can be an added advantage; they can help Indian businesses understand the social and cultural ethos of the African people. Such initiatives would respond directly to the requirements referred to by a number of African leaders at our Summit.

While direct investments in Africa should be the desirable goal of Indian companies in expanding their presence overseas, one area where further improvement needs to be made is broadening the ambit of trade. At present, only 7.7% of India’s exports are destined for Africa. Similarly, imports from Africa contribute only 6.7% of our total imports. Businessmen from India and the African countries need to take up this challenge to augment our trade levels with Africa. The sectors identified for today’s presentations hold a lot promise for our cooperation. I am confident that business and industry on both sides would take advantage of opportunities in these areas for forging joint ventures and technical tie-ups.

Before I conclude, I wish to flag an important issue to which attention has been drawn by nearly all the leaders at the Summit – and that is food security. Food security is perhaps one of the most critical issues that we are faced with today, particularly the developing countries. Prices of agricultural commodities are on the rise all over the world for a variety of reasons. This has impacted negatively on food security, especially in countries that are dependent on agricultural imports. At the same time, trade distorting agricultural subsidies given by developed countries also act against the interests of the developing countries, particularly their farming communities. The problem is compounded by the fact that, in many countries, arable land is increasingly being diverted for other purposes.

Our decision at the Summit to strengthen cooperation in agriculture can help address the problem of food security. We have agreed to co-operate in this sector and have identified a number of areas for such co-operation. These include capacity building and sharing of experiences, transfer of applied agricultural technology and skills and enhancing market opportunities for African value-added agricultural products. India also remains ready to share its experience in agriculture extension, livestock development, fisheries, water management and measures to confront the growing threat of climate change. In addition, the Indian private sector should look for opportunities for joint ventures in Africa for production of cereals, oilseeds and pulses. This can be for local consumption, as well as for export to India and third countries. I am sure that Indian companies will explore this avenue of co-operation with their counterparts in the private sector in various African countries as well as the Governments of those countries.

With these remarks, I would like to thank the distinguished guests who have honoured us with their presence here today. Once again, I thank FICCI and CII for inviting me to address this important gathering.

Thank you.

First India-Africa Summit : Dr Manmohan Singh's statement

Text of Dr Singh's statement during joint media interaction at the conclusion of the First India-Africa Summit news

09 April 2008

Following is the text of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh's opening remarks at a Joint Press interaction at the concluding session of the First India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi today:

''We have just concluded the First India-Africa Forum Summit. This is a historic Summit between India and countries representing the AU and the Regional Economic Communities of Africa. Over the last two days we have held extremely substantive and productive discussions on all issues which confront India and Africa. The Summit was held in an atmosphere of great friendship, warmth and sense of partnership.

''The Summit has adopted the Delhi Declaration and the Africa-India Framework for Cooperation. These documents constitute the blueprint for our cooperation in the 21st Century.

''Our decision to expand unilateral duty free and preferential market access for exports from all the 50 Least Developed Countries, 34 of which are in Africa, and our offer of lines of credit amounting to $5.4 billion are steps in this direction. The enhancement of our budget for technical assistance and training programmes and, greater opportunities for African students to pursue studies in India reflect the priority we attach to human resource development and capacity building.

''In the Retreat yesterday, we had a very constructive discussion on issues such as food and energy security, UN reforms, climate change and trade. We found several commonalities in the challenges that face us and in our aspirations. I offered Indian assistance in ushering in a Green Revolution in Africa through holistic capacity building in agricultural production, storage and transportation.

''While we have met over these two days at the government level we have also undertaken several outreach events before or concurrent with the Summit. These are: (i) the first ever India-Africa Editors Conference; (ii) joint performances by Indian and African cultural troupes; (iii) a seminar of intellectuals from Africa and India on India-Africa Partnership in the 21st century; (iv) a programme for youth and women from Africa and (v) a business conclave.

''India has also begun to develop cooperation with the Regional Economic Communities of Africa and with the African Union (AU). India's pan-African e-network project is an example of our cooperation at the continent wide level.

''We have laid firm foundations on which to build the new framework of cooperation. It is now time to plan ahead to implement the joint programmes of cooperation and to build a meaningful and productive Indo-African partnership. India looks forward to doing so with all the resources at our disposal.

''We greatly cherish the friendship and empathy that Africa has always shown to India. This is an asset to our foreign policy. We in turn hope that this Summit has enabled us to convey to the people of Africa India's readiness to be a partner in their quest for stability, peace and prosperity.

''I would like to conclude by thanking my colleagues from Africa for their active participation in the Summit and for their whole-hearted endorsement for a stronger and deeper India-Africa partnership.''

''Declaring India's intention to reach out to "mother- continent" Africa, Dr Singh also announced a number of initiatives for including increasing India's Lines of Credit to $5.4 billion dollars over the next five years from $2.15 billion dollars extended between 2003 and 2008.''

India-Africa summit concludes with the adoption of Delhi Declaration news

09 April 2008

Soure : http://www.domain-b.com/

The two-day India-Africa summit concluded in the capital today with the adoption of the Delhi Declaration and the Africa-India Framework for Cooperation that constitute a blueprint for cooperation between the two sides in the 21st century, in the areas of energy, terrorism, climate change and UN Reforms.

The first summit between India and the member states of the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities of Africa focussed on ways to boost relations between the two sides, with particular emphasis on economy, trade, agriculture and human resources.

In his concluding address, prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh said the summit has given a new impetus to India- Africa relations.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had yesterday announced a unilateral duty-free market access scheme for the 50 least developed countries (See: Preferential market access for African exports, PM tells India-Africa Summit in New Delhi) 34 of which are in mineral and oil-rich Africa where India is keen to expand its influence.

The duty free tariff preference scheme specifically provides preferential market access on tariff lines that comprise 92.5 per cent of global exports from these countries, including cocoa, aluminium ores, copper ores, cashew nets, cane sugar, ready made garments, fish fillets and non-industrial diamonds.

Dr Singh said the initiative was being announced as India recognised the crucial importance of market access in ensuring the development dimension of international trade, a gesture that was strongly appreciated by the assembled heads of states and governments of the African states said this would boost the much-desired engagement between the African countries and India.

At a joint press meting at the concluding session of the summit in New Delhi today Dr Singh said Indias enhancement of its budget for technical assistance and training programmes and, greater opportunities for African students to pursue studies in India reflected the priority it attached to human resource development and capacity building.

The prime minister also offered the African states Indian assistance in ushering in a green revolution in Africa through holistic capacity building in agricultural production, storage and transportation.

Dr Singh said India's pan-African e-network project ''is an example of our cooperation at the continent wide level''.

He said, India has laid firm foundations on which to build the new framework of cooperation and it is now time to plan ahead to implement the joint programmes of cooperation and to build a meaningful and productive Indo-African partnership. ''India looks forward to doing so with all the resources at our disposal''.

The friendship and empathy that Africa has always shown to India, was an asset to India's foreign policy., he said

"India wishes to see the 21st century as the century of Asia and Africa, with the people of the two continents working together to promote inclusive globalisation," he told the assembled leaders. .

"Events in India and Africa in the middle of 20th century changed the world. Today, we have a second chance to take charge of our own destiny and give a new meaning to the concept of sustainable, equitable and environment-friendly development," he said.

India, Africa to take oil prices issue to international fora

New Delhi (PTI): India and Africa on Wednesday decided to take up the issue of rising oil prices and the looming food crisis at various international fora and develop a common position on the twin issues.

The African Union also sought India's help in ushering in a Green Revolution in the continent, which has the "capacity to not only feed itself but also the world".

"Food security and high oil prices clearly impact on the economy. All the gains made on the fronts of economic growth and poverty reduction may be lost if these are not reined in," Jakaya Kikwete, President of Tanzania as also the Africa Union, said in his closing remarks at the India-Africa Forum Summit here.

He said leaders from India and African countries agreed at the Summit that there was a need for intervention to check these phenomena.

"We agreed there was need for intervention ...that we should bring these two matters to the attention of the United Nations and international financial organisations like the IMF and World Bank," Kikwete said.

He said attempts would be made to raise the issue at the next meeting of G-8 countries to be held in Okinawa in Japan later this year.

On Climate Change, Kikwete said the two sides agreed to abide by the key principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"We emphasise the need for equitable and fair burden sharing in mitigation which must take into account historical emissions," the Delhi Declaration said

INDO-MYANMAR RELATIONS: Visit of Senior General Maung Aye

by C. S. Kuppuswamy

The signing of agreement on the Kaladan Muti Modal Transit Transport Project during the five day visit of Vice Senior General Maung Aye to India from 2 to 6 April 2008 can be considered a landmark in the growing relations between India and Myanmar. Gen Maung Aye was accompanied by a high level delegation including members of the business community. In addition to his engagements in Delhi, he had visited Bhopal, Sanchi, Jamnagar, Bangalore, Varanasi, Sarnath and Gaya.

While at Delhi Manug Aye had called on the Indian President and the Prime Minister. The signing of the agreements, which included the Agreement and two Protocols of the Kaladan Muti Modal Transit Transport Project and the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement, between the two nations took place on 02 April 2008. He had talks with Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The External Affairs Minister, the Army Chief of Staff and the Leader of the Opposition had also called on him during this visit.

The Kaladan Muti Model Transit Transport Project, as it is called, will use waterway and roadway. The estimated investment of $135 million for this project has been reportedly sanctioned by the Union Cabinet from the “Aid to Myanmar Project”.

The project involves:

The development of Sittwe Port (also known Akyab) in Myanmar strategically located in the Bay of Bengal. A media report indicates that India has been given the right to “build, operate and use” this port. The city of Sittwe is located just off the Kaladan river and is being developed as an offshore hub for Myanmar’s Gas.

The Kaladan river, which begins from the Lushai Hills of Myanmar flows through Mizoram in India and turns back to Myanmar before joining the sea at the Sittwe Port. This river will be used to link Mobu in Mizoram to the Sittwe port in Myanmar

The Kaladan river is generally navigable. Thus the linkage is to be established both by waterway and roadway.

The project is slated to be completed in 5 years, though the two sides expect its implementation a year ahead of schedule.

The benefits that will accrue are:

The land locked North-Eastern States of India will have direct access to International Trade as well as trade exchanges with other parts of the country. Dependence on the narrow “Siliguri Corridor” will no longer be there.

Pulses from Myanmar now going to Singapore and then coming to India, will be shipped directly to India (Chennai and Kolkata) on completion of this project.

The road links within Mizoram will be improved to facilitate easy movement of goods.
The bilateral trade (between India and Myanmar) currently around $900 million will be boosted substantially on completion of this project.

Mizoram will be largely benefited by sending its abundant supply of bamboo to other parts of India and abroad and also in receiving goods (such as rice) directly from Kolkata instead of being transported through Assam via existing rail and road links.


India has played its cards better this time as there were earlier reports of China taking over the development of the Sittwe Port.

India lost out to China on utilization of Myanmar gas from A1 & A3 blocks of the Rakhine reserves despite earlier assurances.

India has also been complimented by the International Media in persuading the military junta to facilitate the last visit of UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari to Myanmar.

There are also reports to show that some fissures are developing within the military hierarchy. As of now the military will have a major role to play in any new form of govt. that may be in power

Hence cultivating the military junta from an overall perspective and improvement in relations will be beneficial both from trade and security points of view.

Time to Deliver for Pak’s New Leaders

Source: SAAG.ORG

Bhaskar Roy

Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani displayed some quiet, but firm maturity. His first move was to order the release of the judges put under house arrest by President Pervez Musharraf. It was the judges of Pakistan’s superior courts, supported fully by the lawyer’s community that helped triggered the wave of opposition to Musharraf’s lordship over the country. As Mao Zedong said, one spark can set a thousand prairies on fire.

Gilani’s next step was to order the army back to the barracks. Senior and middle level military officers are expected to revert to their respective services in two weeks. The rest, the JCOs and NCOs would take some more time to move.

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Asfaq Kyani had already initiated the move following the elections which saw the PPP and PML (N) coalition root out Musharraf’s Party, the PML(Q). Next, Kyani reshuffled the top army brass, especially the Corps Commanders, except the Director General of the ISI. He again shifted out the powerful Military Intelligence (MI) Chief, Maj. Gen. Md. Asif, a Musharraf confidante, and replaced him with his own man, Maj. Gen. Nadim Ejaz. These were clever moves by Kyani. He knew these officers were handpicked by Musharraf and loyal to him.

In the armed forces, loyalists do not shift like politicians. There are exceptions like Musharraf himself, but training and discipline inculcates this character of loyalty. Among Pakistani politicians, Mushahid Hossain is a star example. He shifted his camp from former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s to that of Musharraf after the latter locked him up for a year in jail.

One does not know Gen. Kyani’s mind in any depth or detail. He is reported to be a better listener than talker. He reads the moods of the people, and that of the Islamic terrorists very well. Another military coup, Martial Law or Emergency Rule would not be acceptable to the people. The Americans may have supported such a development with Musharraf as the head in their misunderstanding and strategy in the war against terror.

The top most priority for the army is to win the trust and support of the Pakistani people. Informed media reports from Pakistan have said Gen. Kyani is Washington’s man. But when such a man reaches the top leadership position of an establishment as important as the army in Pakistan, he has to look at the domestic situation for his stable conduct of affairs. Wishes of foreign mentors even for a pressing international cause come afterwards.

It may be noted that Gen. Kyani has not moved the ISI Chief appointed under Musharraf’s signature. The Army Chief would have had a significant say in this appointment and should be a man of his trust. He succeeded Kyani in the post.

The Pakistan armed forces have become too dependent upon the ISI, especially in their political role. The political role of the ISI included a dominant role in Afghanistan, and India-Pak relations. It was through the ISI that weapons were supplied to the Taliban, relations maintained with Al-Qaeda, and terrorist organizations like the Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT), HUJI and Jaish-e-Mohammad were created for promoting terrorism in Kashmir and other parts of India.

Since the ISI is a secret organization its budget is not known. But reports say, with some supporting evidence, that the organization supplements its government budget through Afghan drug deals and gun running. The unofficial revenue earned by the ISI keeps alive its nefarious operations.

Over the years, the ISI has evolved into a deep organization with onion-like layers of levels which generally have their own agenda. Can Gen. Kyani rein in the ISI? Perhaps, yes. Much of this will depend upon the policies the new government pursues.

Prime Minister Gilani has initiated a major step to abolish the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) of 1901, enacted by the British. The frontier area of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan has been a special issue for a long time. The fiercely independent tribals of the region known now as the Federally Administered Tibal Area (FATA) could not be tamed by the British or, following them, the Pakistanis. In a frustrated move the Empire’s minions tried to criminalize the people of this region. Pakistan followed the same recipe, but with obvious failure. FATA is hardly administered by the government in Islamabad. As Director, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Michael Hayden recently disclosed, the Al-Qaeda has established a highly secure safe haven along the Pak-Afghanistan border in the tribal area which they never enjoyed before. Osama bin Laden is hiding there, Hayden added.

Gilani has taken this first step. But a lot of work remains to be done to bring the people of this frontier area within the mainstream of Pakistan in the sense of development.

FATA is a no man’s land. The Taliban and Al-Qaeda leaders like Mollah Omar and Osama bin Laden are afforded shelter here. Parts of this region host international terrorists. If the tribal Chiefs can be convinced that Islamic terrorism is wrong, it will be a major blow to terrorism.

It is easier said than done, however. The new policy to address the issue of terrorism through dialogue and not military might may be a good experiment. It is, however, a very delicate and sensitive demand to address. The tribals are wary and suspicious. They may see their citadels under attack. They have also been conditioned by ISI crafted propaganda mainly through Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda and Mollah Omar’s Taliban to destroy the infidels. The Mullahs of ISI have played no mean role in this effort.

Afghanistan as Pakistan’s strategic depth is unlikely to change in the near future. Therefore, this central policy may contradict its efforts to tame FATA because the anti-India framework in Afghanistan is a strategic priority. It is difficult to see if the new dispensation in Pakistan can discard this policy fixation. There are built-in contradictions in this issue.

Prime Minister Gilani appears to have left a very important aspect of democracy up in the air. Left the fourth estate, the media. He has only shifted the draconian Press and Electronic Media Regulations Act (PENRA) to the Ministry of Information. Musharraf had generally left the media quite free except towards the end of his unquestioned power run. The media, on its part, did more than its fair bit to bring back democracy in Pakistan.

In fact, Mia Nawaz Sharif, as Prime Minister, was much more harsh on journalists who criticized his policies. The Friday Times editor Najam Sethi would vouch for that. If the PPP and the PML (N) really want a vibrant democracy to take roots in Pakistan, the first thing they should do is to abolish PEMRA.

Pakistan’s mainstream media matured quickly under Gen.Musharraf’s draconian measures, since his 1999 coup. In the very initial stages there was support to Musharraf precisely because of the bad name that Prime Minister Sharif, his family and his close allies had earned, because of unbridled corruption. But the media also learnt subsequently that imperfect freedom is better than to be in chains.

The new coalition government went a large step forward allowing unions in Colleges and Universities. It was the military rulers and politicians who killed political learning among the country’s youth, for decades. The political parties will face challenges from this section which will demand mature handling. All said, this is a healthy development.

In his first speech laying down the priorities of his government for the first hundred days, Prime Minister Gilani gave a ball-park picture of his foreign policy perspective. He set his top priorities to counter terrorism, and cordial relations with neighbouring countries. He did not specifically name neighbours, but added that the demands of the Kashmiri people would be taken into consideration in resolving the Kashmir issue with India.

PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari had initially indicated that the Kashmir issue would not be allowed to stonewall improvement of relations with India. An out cry from Kashmiri Jehadis like the Hijbul Mujahidin and their mentors in Pakistan warned that Zardari may have jumped the political gun.

The Kashmir issue, as interpreted by the Pakistani military and political leader for more than half a century is embedded in the minds of both the common people and intellectuals. It is so strong that no person, institution or government could exist in the country with a contrary view. Asif Ali Zardari has to correct his view. Zardari, Gilani and others must keep in consideration that the Pakistani army calls the shots on this issue. And the ISI is not going to let go easily their proprietary role in Kashmir insurgency, and expanded terrorism in the rest of India.

Gilani’s observation on the Kashmir issue cannot be faulted, given the situation. It will take time for the new government in Pakistan to revert to a purely political and bilateral exchange with India on the Kashmir issue.

New Delhi would be well advised not to push the Kashmir aspect in a hurry. Instead, there is an urgent need from both sides to address terrorism including those sponsored by the ISI. The new Pakistan must learn from Musharraf’s multi-angled approach to terrorism. He tried to use them in his own interests but finally brought this curse on Pakistan.

Pakistan’s immediate foreign thrust should be on Afghanistan, USA, China and India, with Saudi Arabia as the rather silent but strong plinth of the country as always. Briefly, each of these countries could play positive roles in their own way extending out to other countries and regions. A spider-web network in a manner of saying for Islamabad’s new external relations strategy.

Afghanistan is, perhaps, the biggest and most complicated challenge for Prime Minister Gilani. It is intimately and intricately connected with Pakistan’s internal stability and security. Pak governments, dictated by the army and intelligence agencies, sought “strategic depth” in Afghanistan for a war against India. With the Americans turning their back on both Afghanistan and Pakistan, following the Soviet withdrawal after the first Afghan war, Islamabad’s policies there had a field day. What happened there after is well known. For the new Pakistani government, and the Pak army led by its Chief Gen. Kyani, the urgent task would be how to disentangle from this mess.

The Taliban is an indigenous force which was propped up by both the US and the western alliance along with Pakistan, to drive out Moscow’s occupation of Afghanistan. It took strong roots even after the war was over, and with Islamabad’s open assistance, tried to force down the throat of the country obscurantist Wahabi Islam. Saudi Arabia was equally complicit with financial and ideological support.

Worst was Taliban Chief, Mullah Omar giving Al-Qaeda base, sanctuary and protection and freedom to act. Osama bin Laden brought in foreign terrorists, some of them highly educated but equally committed to Wahabism. At the same time, the low level foreign terrorists and fighters brought in mainly by the Al-Qaeda may not be totally acceptable to the locals.

Use of military power to fight terrorism cannot be done away with totally. But this has to be used with greater statesmanship. Use of paramilitary power by the US with some help from Pervez Musharraf did damage, but it also had repercussion, with the US losing people’s support. Musharraf played games all around, running with the hares and hunting with the hounds. He looked clever and won many admirers as a master strategist. But such games do not last, and did not.

Pakistan has already made a new, good beginning. The policy to negotiate with their own tribal fighter and the Pakistani Taliban, backed by force if need be, demands appreciation and support from all concerned.

The next step should be to grab the opportunities revealed by Pakistan’s March elections, in which religious fundamentalists were electorally “wiped out”, proving that the Mullahs and their terrorist arms have no support among the people.

The liberal forces in Afghanistan are gaining support. Otherwise, the Taliban would have allowed a show like the “Afghan Idol” to be held, and that too in Kandahar. It shows the people are becoming bolder and gaining confidence to challenge the armed radicals. The Taliban is beginning to realize this. But the hardliners are a determined lot. They have forced the Afghan Information Ministry to stop telecast of Indian serials as un-Islamic. It must, however, be admitted that President Karzai’s Ministers may not hold the same view with him as religion issues.

In both the countries, the terror inflicting religions fanatics do not enjoy popular support. It was not so subtle support from the Pakistan officialdom, basically the Pakistan armed forces and intelligence that gave the fundamentalists their power and success.

It is not only the responsibility of the Gilani government, but an imperative duty, to extend support to President Hamid Karzai, to work together, using a carrot and stick policy to take on the situation. People’s power can be a Tsunami like wave. But they require support from the powers that be.

There is, of course, the age old tribal culture and tradition issue in both the countries. This has to be dealt with delicately and with high sensitivity. These tribals do not like foreigners or external elements among them. They share the same religion but their way of life is different and their traditions and customs are most precious to them. An anti-terrorism plan which respects their way of life is sure to succeed. The Al-Qaeda will have difficulty in operating from the Pak-Afghan border.

People and people’s power are critical, and are waiting to play their role. It may also be unwise to assume that the tribals are unwilling to modernize and develop. The world is no longer in the 18th and 19th centuries. The computer and internet have been instrumental to a great extent for tempting changes, and the tribals are not totally immune to the “world wide web”.

Finally, Pakistan must rethink its policy of using Afghanistan as its “strategic depth”, and stop trying to enforce suzverainity over it. Otherwise, peace and stability will be a difficult objective to achieve.

The United States has been pushing strategic interest in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Washington must realize that with interest comes responsibility, an issue in which the American have not acquitted themselves with glory in most parts of the world.

Going after the terrorists in this region is not exactly like killing the (Red) Indian Chiefs like Sitting Bull or Spotted Wolf. Washington had tried to coax and bribe Mullah Omar to surrender Osama bin Laden in exchange for diplomatic recognition of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan as the legitimate government. Human Rights was not an issue at all in the US offer. Mullah Omar refused.

Washington also tried to work with the Taliban to allow UNOCAL, the oil and gas giant, to build an energy pipeline from Central Asia through Afghanistan that could bring the hydrocarbon out through Pakistan. UNOCAL is reported to have bribed the Taliban for the project. This also did not work. The Taliban would not work with the USA mainly because of the kind of political and cultural influence that could follow.

The White House, Pentagon and all betted on President Musharraf. A dictator, especially one which works to Washington’s dictates, is far more acceptable than a democracy with different voices and influence on the government. The option of Musharraf is fast receding for the US, and they have to work with the new political force in the country.

The US does not have considerably support among the people of Pakistan, especially from March, 2007. Washington continued to support Musharraf when the latter began sabotaging the judiciary. The report is well known history, fresh in the minds of the people.

The foregoing does not mean the USA should withdraw from Pakistan. Far from it, the USA is required for regional balance and also to boost Pakistan’s economy. But it will have to reassess its anti-terror policy.

Pakistan’s relations with China have been long, strong and enduring. Unlike the USA, Beijing has never turned its back on Pakistan. The country’s armed forces are basically armed with weapons made in China; including its nuclear weapons arsenal (hoodwinking all international non-proliferation regimes). Economically also, China has been steadfast in its support. Given all these, China’s political influence in Pakistan needs no elaboration.

From China’s point of view, Pakistan is a strategic jewel. Islamabad has been its bridge head to the Middle East, instrumental in its break through with the US, an anchor in China’s encirclement of India policy, and a solid supporter for China entering the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC). China enjoys much more goodwill among the people of Pakistan than the US does.

China has two important problems with Pakistan about which it may not be openly very vocal, but is acutely sensitive. These are terrorism, and the US dropping anchor in Pakistan.

Uighur Muslim separatists started receiving Islamic indoctrination and arms training in camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan from the late 1980s. These camps were run by the Islamic terrorist groups in Pakistan, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and with some ISI role thrown in. Chinese Premier Li Peng had taken up this issue with Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto as far back as 1992, when she visited China.

With the rising protest and demonstration by Uighurs in China, a senior Chinese leader openly stated that the Uighur body, the East Turkistan Independence Movement (ETIM), a designated terrorist organization of Xinjiang – Uighur Autonomous Region, were being directed by their leaders currently in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This observation by Xinjiang Communist Party Chief Wang Lequan in Late March is very serious which the Pakistani leader will have to address sooner than later. China has lost a number of its citizens in terrorist attacks in Pakistan in recent years.

The increasing American presence in Pakistan is a bigger security challenge as perceived by China. From China’s strategic perspective, India traditionally followed an independent foreign policy (that has changed in Beijing recent assessments), but Pakistani leaders are periodically inclined to close relations with the USA without taking Beijing into full confidence.

During the latter half of the cold war, a US-Pakistan-China axis thrived against a perceived Indo-Soviet axis in the region. Chinese were involved quietly on the US-Pak side against a Soviet thrust in Afghanistan. It was relieved when the US withdrew after the Soviet withdrawal.

This time, however, the US has acquired far more and long term interests in Pakistan. These interests include terrorism, the developments in the Gulf region, Central Asian energy resources and, of course, Washington’s 21st century Asia policy. In addition, Beijing is concerned over the growing Indo-US Co-operation in the area of defence.

On top of all these is the US military presence on Pakistan’s soil with the US-Pak agreement to place their aircraft for counter-terrorism. The US intelligence presence in Pakistan is also a worry for the security of China’s restive Xinjiang region.

President Pervez Musharraf is to visit China soon after a long hiatus. Though Musharraf, the Chief architect of the Pak-US relations may not be able to enthuse confidence among the Chinese leaders, they would listen to him.

The Pakistani leader would have to assure the Chinese they would positively address their concerns. They would have to prove this with some action on the ground. China, however, is unlikely to give up on Pakistan. Their foreign policy does not work in that way.

While prosecuting its relations with the players discussed in this article, Pakistan may find India coming up a large number of issues. These are important bilateral, regional and international issues the Pakistani and Indian governments will have to iron out.

Much will depend upon how the new Pakistani government embarks upon this road. Reports in the Pakistani media say Yusaf Gilani is not a puppet and can be his own man. This is good news. Having said that, the reality is somewhat different. First, no one is sure how long he will be there as Prime Minister, or is he keeping PM’s Chair warm for PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, the de facto head of the party. Next, he is a coalition’s consensus choice for the post.

The coalition government comprises two parties who ran government in the past and rivaled each other. They have their own policies. They co-operated to oust Musharraf. They have promised to bury the past. But this is easier said than done. PML(N) Chairman Mia Nawaz Sharif would like to return as Prime Minister for a third time. Zardari’s and late Benazir’s son Bilawal all of 19 years, is a future Prime Minister in the making.

There is also the case of the armed forces, its intelligence arms like the ISI and Military Intelligence (MI), and the traditional anti-India forces who appear in all sections of people and institutions in some number or the other. The army, till now, held the policy edge on Afghanistan, the Kashmir issue and India. And then Army’s approach in all these cases have been aggressive and pro-active. Let us not forget army/ISI backed terrorism, and Kargil.

History, however, is a witness to many changes. Adversaries have become close friends in the interest of peace and development. Look at Europe. Yet, human and emotional issues, basic questions of land and water, have kept people divided and warring. Look at the Israel-Palestine issue. Between the Palestinians and the Israelis, religion is only a subsidiary matter. Sheer existence is the issue there.

The issues between India and Pakistan do not hold the balance of the existence of either country or their people. In fact, it is quite the opposite. If the two countries co-operate in all aspects, the SAARC will develop into a vibrant and dynamic, economic and social entity and a force in the world to contend with. This region has the manpower in an ideal age bracket, intellect and expertise, and the resources as well.

Pakistanis, especially the army, holds India responsible for the break up of Pakistan in 1971. This is not the full truth. Seeds of separation between the two wings of Pakistan was sown in 1948 in the eastern wing, now Bangladesh. Neither geographically nor politically and even less culturally the wings enjoyed any proximity. Islamabad’s policies in East Pakistan was not only insensitive, but lacked any understanding of the region. Pakistanis who hold 1971 against India as an incident to be avenged, need to introspect honestly to see the truth.

Kashmir is a more difficult problem to resolve quickly. The two sides must keep talking, but as Asif Zardari said, not make it the condition for improvement in bilateral relations. Keep it on the candle-warmer, end terrorism which will in turn see an end to Indian security forces in Indian Kashmir. At the same time, Pakistan must give the Kashmiri’s in POK the right enjoyed by the Kashmiris in India. The process will be slow, b ut well worth the time for all concerned especially the Kashmiris.

The distrust between the two sides on Afghanistan must end. Afghanistan is a sovereign country and enjoys age old close relations with India. Pakistan sees it as its backyard, its strategic depth and it extended sovereignty. This policy is unlikely to work.

Pakistan must understand that while it has its legitimate rights and concerns with the development in a close bordering country like Afghanistan, it does not hold proprietary rights over it. It is not only India, but other countries like China, Russia, the USA and others who are interested in the stability and modernization of this country. Pakistan’s policy of playing footsies with the Taliban has only backfired on itself.

Prime Minister Gilani has sought a 100-day time table for setting the course right for Pakistan. But, there are many things beyond the Prime Minister’s control. The real decisions lie with Asif Ali zardari, Mia Nawaz Sharif, and Gen. Asfaq Kyani. In turn, each of these power centers have their own constituencies to contend with.

Kyani may have neutralized top Musharraf allies in the army, and started withdrawing army personnel from civilian duties. This is an internal matter, however, India is another matter.

The other issue is how to deal with Musharraf. Differences within the alliance have already begun to be aired in the PPP. If Musharraf is retained in his position as President to encash his assets, his policies cannot be thrown overboard in entirety. This is the Gordian Knot.

(The author is an eminent analyst with many years of experience. The views expressed by the author are his own. He can be reached at grouchohart@yahoo.com)